Building your business empire is costly and it’s getting more so. There are so many new and so called ‘essential’ elements being thrown at small to medium business owners every day that require more attention and, above all, more money. Unfortunately, your marketing content is not the least of these; and it’s a beast that keeps on growing.
Once upon a lovely time, business owners could build a shiny new website, upload it and leave it alone. Not anymore. Now, the content marketing leviathan has taken over and is gobbling up your budget and your time. I know, it’s frustrating and seemingly never ending but, unfortunately, the content juggernaut is showing no signs of slowing down yet and, if you want a top ranking website, you’ve really just got to knuckle down and do it.
So, how can you do it as inexpensively as possible and without it taking over your entire workforce? Here are a few suggestions, from the perspective of a freelance sep copywriter that will not only help you provide effective content on the cheap but may also give you a few chances to enhance your business.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a massive subject; it basically covers any type of media or publishing that is used to market a product; that means websites, newsletters, emails, videos; anything you can think of that advertises your business or product.
In terms of SEO, and relative to you as a business owner, content marketing is the term that encompasses the massive volume of content that is now required to keep a website high in the rankings and it’s something that many a seo consultant have yet to come to terms with (even if they say they have!) The purpose of this blog is not to go into why you need a massive volume of content to get your website to rank so, if you don’t understand what I’m talking about, please read Don’t Scrimp On The Content.
One of the biggest problems with content marketing, apart from the fact that you have to create so much of it, is the fact that everyone else and his dog are also doing it. Google loves content and Google can’t get enough of it, so websites are churning out blog after article after newsletter; it’s chaos and, as you can imagine, most of it is rubbish.
Eventually, the content apex will be reached, the bubble will burst and only the best content and marketers will be left standing, but we’re not quite there yet. In the meantime, you must future proof yourself by ensuring that your content is plentiful whilst also being erudite and useful.
How Do You Produce Content On A Budget?
The fact that content needs to be so frequently refreshed means that it can quickly become a drain on your resources; you can’t keep thinking up new ideas to do it all yourself and you can’t fork out thousands of pounds a month to a big shot SEO company. Don’t despair! There are a few ways that you can create original and interesting content without it costing the earth.
Look To Your Business
It may seem obvious, but look to your staff and your internal departments for content that can be uploaded to your website.
If you have a small business with only a few members of staff, ask each of them to contribute something; this doesn’t have to involve them spending all their time writing blogs when they’re already overstretched, but could entail a piece of work that they have already produced. A research project, a policy document or an information leaflet are all potential content that could be utilized effectively.
Alternatively, if you have a medium sized business with specific departments, your PR, Customer Services or Sales departments will all have produced documents that could be advertised on your website.
Encourage Work Experience
Making links with your local school or college and volunteering your company to take on work experience students will provide you with students able to produce content for your website. Additionally, you could employ an intern for a period, who will be similarly able to write or find quality content.
What’s more, in addition to providing you with a steady flow of content, students and interns are more likely to be aware of the latest trends and technologies available, so will be able to keep your website at the vanguard of web evolution.
Invite Customers To Contribute
Your customers have a unique perspective on your business and their opinions are vital. By asking them to contribute to your website, you will not only create that all important word of mouth effect, thereby creating trust in your business or product, but will also gain an invaluable insight into the opinions of your customers that will help your business grow and develop.
Here, content such as customer reviews, survey results or even a more in depth interview piece with a customer can all add valuable content that visitors to your website will find advantageous. Similarly, asking customers to respond to specific question could serve the dual purpose of providing content whilst at the same time answering queries that future customers may also have.
Invite Notables In Your Sector To Contribute
Make use of other people in your business sector by inviting them to contribute to your website, without making it obvious that you need them to ease your content burden! Every business sector has its experts and spokespeople, so ask them for an interview in order to share their experience or perspective with your customers. This interview could either be filmed in person and posted to your website as a video or it could be a list of questions that could be sent to them to complete and return to you in their own time.
Additionally, you could invite other personalities in your industry to contribute as guest bloggers, either as a one off opportunity to share their opinions or by giving them a regular slot in your blogging calendar. Again, this option has many advantages, as it not only eases your content burden slightly but also educates your customers, offers an alternative perspective, allows both parties to promote their business and builds relationships between your business and the community in which it operates.
Embrace Social Media
As Google is becoming better and better at recognising and rewarding social media recommendations, making full use of these is not only free but is also a fantastic way of enhancing the profile of your business.
Here, the most fundamental social media site to connect with is Google+, which, as it is owned by Google, is crucial to getting your website ranked, but Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are also vital to your marketing campaign. If there are any additional social media sites that are important to your business sector, such as LinkedIn for example, then make sure that these are also linked to your website.
The most effective way of utilising social media is to create a profile for your company on all platforms and ensure that they are linked to your website via meta tags. Any content that you add to your website, such as blogs or articles, should additionally have the sharing buttons at the bottom, to allow readers to share the content easily with their social media friends and followers.
Once everything is set up correctly, you will be able to add content to your social media sites via the content that you add to your website and visa versa, thus easing the content burden slightly. More importantly, social media will not only allow you to promote the new content that you have added to your website but will also enable you to create that all important ‘buzz’ that will result in your content being shared and commented upon.
Engage With Your Community
As the world becomes smaller and the internet enables businesses to trade worldwide, it is easy to forget the local community in which your business operates. Yet this local community, whether it be your local neighbourhood or your business community, could potentially be a great source of content to enhance your website.
Here, it is important to network: reach out to local groups or associations, find out about events that are happening in your area and post related content to your website. Similarly, local businesses or other businesses in your sector could contribute by way of blogs or a ‘local news’ page that would prove mutually beneficial. Better still, involve your company in local events or organise your own event to bring the community together; it is not only a fantastic way of advertising your company but will also provide a wealth of content to enhance your website whilst at the same time building links, both web based and personal, that will prove invaluable.
Sponsor A Charity
Allying your company with a charity, whether or not that charity bears any connection to your business sector, serves the dual purpose of helping both your company and the charity. As with the local community, you could post some of the charity’s marketing content to your website, along with advertisements for upcoming events or fundraising. This will create revenue for the charity and promote their cause whilst also providing you with free content and enhancing your business profile.
Make Use Of Free Content
Anything that’s free is always worth making use of; there is an abundance of content available on the internet that could be utilised on your website. In particular, there is a lot of publically available, government produced information that is available for free use at data.gov, not to mention the vast array of downloadable factsheets or statistics, for example, available elsewhere on the internet.
When using free content, however, there are three factors that must always be taken into account;
Take Heed of Copyright
It is imperative that the copyright of a document must be established before you use it on your website. If something is still within copyright then you must not use it unless you have been granted specific permission to do so. The best way to avoid this predicament is to only use documents for which the copyright has expired.
It is often tempting to fill up a page or two of your website by ‘copy and pasting’ something that you have found on another website. Even though the content may be exactly what you are looking for, copying it word for word will only lead you into trouble, as any quick search on Google will likely expose your theft. If you are adamant that your website needs that particular piece of information, then the best policy would be to re-write it in your own words and acknowledge your sources, thereby avoiding any accusation of plagiarism.
Make Sure It Is Relevant
There is no point in posting something on your website that is completely irrelevant to your business, so make sure that everything that you upload relates in some way to your company or your staff. Bear in mind that any content that is free to you will also be free to everyone else, so make sure that you enhance it in some way by tying it to your marketing strategy, pointing out why it is pertinent or by presenting it in a better way.
Make It Good!
Wherever you decide to get your content from and however you choose to make it, the most important thing to remember is that it must be good. Yes, Google wants lots of content on a website but those that have pages and pages of irrelevant or poorly written content will be penalised.
The websites that will be rewarded with rankings are those that are packed with well written, informed, educational and interesting content that is refreshed regularly. Nobody said it would be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.