The modern world of online marketing is all about content marketing – anyone who tells you differently has found some magic beans or more likely is in a position of market dominance or just a really small niche. The thing is you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a joined up approach from everything from your brand to your content to your SEO.
I love marketing and I love being a marketer, but sometimes I take a look around at what other marketers are doing and I have to ask myself “why?”. There are some amazing content marketing professionals who understand that as a content marketers it’s essential that every piece of content needs to be aligned to the brand and joined up with other marketing efforts (and I’m really thinking about SEO).
So what should content marketers be doing to help their SEO endeavours?
Relying on the wrong websites
All too often I see content marketing machines that simply use their social media channels to promote the content they produce. This is great because it gives you an audience to attack, however the problem with using your own channels is you’ll only speak to the people you already speak to (and a few more hear and there). On top of that the links you get back from social media sites are all nofollowed and less than worthless.
For those people are new to trying to build up the authority of their domain, probably the best place you can put your content is on your own website! Stop syndicating and promoting other people’s brands.
You can always tell when a content marketer doesn’t really get SEO. They’ll be slogging away at producing reams and reams of pieces of content however they have no outreach strategy. Just because you’re creating great content doesn’t mean it will automatically get viewed. When I first started out in SO I used to be able to create content that always ranked but the world has changed and that content now needs to be effectively promoted – and no, that doesn’t mean just posting it on your social media accounts. You’ve got to achieve reach which includes getting it in front of the eyeballs of people you’ve never engaged with before who are in your target audience.
Probably the best way to achieve this is to create a social buzz. But how do you do that?!
Finding the key influencers
You should already know who some of the most influential people are in your audience, get a list together and ensure you engage with them effectively. This means making friends with them and it takes some time but it will pay off massively when they start wanting to help you and your marketing efforts.
Once you’re friends you’re going to need to work out how to get them to share your content and which content they’d actually want to share for you. Targeting the content to the influencer is a good place to start.
Whatever you do don’t go in all guns blazing at this point. Take it slow, demonstrate that you’re in it for the long haul and you want to be successful with them and help them be successful in what they’re doing.
A real phone call always helps. If you can meet in person even better.
Bear in mind there will be loads of people out there asking them for their time, their shares and their backlinks – so what makes you different? Personally I think it’s got to be about the story you tell and the quality of the content you’re producing.
And once you’ve got what you want from the influencer don’t let it stop there. These are the guys you want to be able to pick up a phone to or send an email to and they’ll be happy to help you. You need to foster that relationship.
What’s keyword research?
I see this all the time. People claiming to be content marketing experts or SEO specialists and it’s clear when you’re reading their content that they’ve never even opened up Google Adwords Keyword Planner. Remember the six Ps of planning because it counts here: Proper preparation prevents p$ss poor performance. If you want to get a website ranking for certain terms at least have an understanding of what words you’re targeting, steer clear of those industry terms that you probably love and which are meaningless to you customers too!
In addition to keyword research you should grab all your team together and figure out what words they use when they’re speaking to customers, whether it be your sales team or your customer services team you’re bound to find some nuggets of information.
In addition to Google keyword tool (and the numerous other keyword tools you should be using before writing) make sure you include a search with Google Trends. You’ll find here the terms which are becoming more important and those which are becoming less important and searching trends naturally change over time.
Be outcome focussed
Most of us will sit down in the morning and develop a to do list. The thing is, when writing a to do list you should always have in the back of your mind your long term goals – how do these tasks get you closer to your long term goals and are there others that can get you there more quickly? If there are, do those first!
Similarly if you are creating content, concentrate on creating the type of content your audience wants to read and see or hear, and make sure it’s content you can actually promote.
Use 301 redirects wherever you can
To most SEOs this is one of the most basic elements of their craft. If something is moved it needs a 301 redirect so all that lovely history a URL has acquired can be passed on to a new one. Many people accidentally use 302 redirects which are next to useless for passing on the authority of a page.
Probably even worse than 302’ing a redirect is when a url takes a user to a 404 page – all the link equity of the page is completely lost.
Understand where you are before you begin the race
Before writing any piece of content it’s essential that you are able to learn from the successes and failures you’ve had previously. To do that you’ll need to have them written down somewhere – this shouldn’t just be a thing that you’re remembering because you need to be able to pass this on to other people so you can scale things.
To do this, you also need to understand your initial metrics before you set anything live. You need to know how many followers you have on social media so you can tell if there has been a spike in activity, you need to understand your link metrics – because one link could be all it takes, wouldn’t you like to know where that came from. What’s your websites DA?
After launch you need to keep tracking and learning and tweaking where necessary or possible. Does the hero image work? Does a link in the text get clicked or turn people off?
Whilst tracking what’s happening on your own campaigns why not start to track your competitor’s changes as well? That way you can learn from their mistakes as well as your own!
Thinking you’re an SEO expert
OK some content marketing professionals are SEO experts as well – some SEO specialists will also be content marketers, naturally. But not all of them are, and it’s sometimes best to know your limitations and not try to do too much.
By accepting your skills and abilities and focussing in on honing those you are doing yourself a service and not a disservice. If you try to do too much you’ll end up making mistakes, either by thinking you understand something, by misunderstanding something, or by buying one of the things that a self-proclaimed SEO consultant has told you. I know this because I’ve seen it.
I’m a marketer first, much of my skills are built around brand building in a content marketing era and online. They always have been. I’ve developed my SEO understanding from experience over the years but I don’t claim to be the finished article when it comes to search marketing, I’m sure there are lots of consultants and freelance consultants out there that know a bit more than me about something and a bit less about others. Do get some opinions in though – that’s the best place to start.
Whatever you do with your content marketing strategy make sure you spend some time thinking about it from an SEO perspective as this is a crucial method of amplification of any piece of content.