A Guide to Content Marketing

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the use of content of any kind to help you achieve your business goals. It could be to attract new customers, retain existing ones, or raise brand awareness in general. It is a strategy of producing and publishing information that builds authority and trust among your followers. It should help your brand become recognisedas an authority in your industry.

Why is it relevant to SEO?

SEO and content marketing are distinguished in several critical areas, and yet the two are intrinsically linked. SEOis the specific, technical process of utilising content.Whereas content marketing is encompassing a broader spectrum of more holistic marketing methods.

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‘Content is king’ is a popular phrase among online marketers; this is because, regardless of the form it takes, content is at the heart of all marketing. It is about communicating a message to an audience. SEO would not exist without content; it is simplythe practical implementation of content marketing. Equally, the only way to ensure the success of content marketing is to apply SEO techniques to it. SEO is, therefore, critical in content marketing and needs to be considered throughout the creation of any marketing content.

Strategy

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How and why your content is going to be created and managed should be your priority when you are developing a content strategy. You should be thinking about all your potential customers at the various stages of a potential purchase. How is your content going to push potential and existing customers further along the sales process? To answer this accurately, it is vital you have a strong understanding of your audience. Who are they; their gender, age, location?What other sites are they visiting? What channels do they use to communicate? Once you have a clear idea of who your audience are, you can begin to think about tailoring your content towards them.

You should also complete a content audit. Look at the content you have already created. Pay attention to the tone and style; look at what pieces have been the most successful, and look for areas you can build on and areas that need improvement. It is important that all your content reflects a uniform tone and style that is in line with the overall quality your company wants to reflect.

Once you know your audiencehave understood where you have already been successful, and the areas you need to improve upon, you can start to develop some goals for your content. These goals should be meaningful and measurable. They should reflect how you want your content to represent the business. Ask the questions: how is it going to convey the company as an authority in the industry; how is it going to increase engagement rates; promote customer loyalty; lead generation and sales? All these questions (and answers) should relate to your content strategy; everything needs to be somewhat linear and help improve your search engine rankings.

Link Building Demands Great Content:

Once you feel you understand your audience and have a clear idea of the direction, you need to understand what makes a great piece of content great. This varies from business to business and niche to niche, but there are certain aspects all content should embody to make it worthy:

  • Detail: Content should be thorough; it should offer readers something unique and insightful. Rather than focus on outputting new content all the time, concentrate on publishing quality pieces that offer real value.
  • Be consistent: Having said that quality over quantity is important, it is crucial that you do publish on a regular basis. No matter how good your content is, you will not get a good return on your content investment if you’re not consistent in your output.
  • Headlines are essential: No one will read your content if you don’t advertise it with a great headline.However, make sure your headings are relevant and not generic; the more descriptive, the more genuine your content will look.
  • Social profiles: Your brand should have strong social media profiles. It is important that you build up Twitter, Facebook and, if applicable, Instagram profiles so that you can share and spread your content. It is also important that you think about these platforms when creating content; make sure all yourcontent is shareable on a diverse range of social media platforms.
  • Interesting infographics: Content is much more digestible if you couple it with visual aids. Your content is much more likely to get viewed if you have interesting and helpful images to go alongside it.Video is also a key player in creating trustworthy, reputable content.

Keywords and Content Optimisation

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It is vital that you use keywords naturally; Google is becoming increasingly adept at being able to tell when people are keyword-stuffing their content, and are inclined to penalise people doing it. Whenever you create content, return to your content strategy, think about who your audience is and the direction you want your content to take. If you do that, you'll usually find a way for you to naturally optimise important keywordsinto your content. Also ensure you don’t get lost in how many times you can include a keyword, otherwise, your content will end up being compromised and your overall goals will never be achieved. Having said this, and aswe’ve discussed previously,there are key locations on your site that should include keywords to optimise content for search engines:

1. Headings: Generally, you should only have one H1 heading per page and then a few subsequent H2 subheadings. These headings should contain keywords while being relevant to the content on the page. Make them as descriptive as you can without it being “too much.”
2. Body Text: Usingyour keywords within the content of your page is vital, though it should not just be placed randomly or be overly used. Search engines assess the relevance and quality of keyword placement within the body of the text.
3. URL: The URL should describe a page to visitors and search engines. Keywords that appear in a URL help search engines determine relevancy directly.
4. Meta Description: Meta descriptions are not used directly in search engine rankings, but they are still important. If the Meta description incorporates a keyword query, it will usually show up in the search results and can play a big part in whether users decide to click through.
5. Images and Image alt attributes: For search engines to be able to properly index an image, ‘alt tags’ need to be added to the image. It can help the image show up in an image result of a search and, indirectly, it is useful to have a visual representation associated with a brand name or site.

Generating Ideas for Your Content

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So, now you understand why content marketing is important and what you should be doing, how are you actually going to do it? Perhaps the most basic obstacle content teams’ face is to constantly generate new and interesting ideas. While your ideas will depend on your business and the industry it sits within, there are certain things you can do to help your team produce fresh and exciting content ideas:

  • Keep up with trends: Stay in tune with what your audience is reading, watching and discussing. You can do this by setting up Google Alerts for relevant keywords.This keeps you informed whenever something relevant is mentioned online. Keep track of social media profiles to keep up with online conversations. What are your competitors talking about and who are they talking to? It is vital you stay on top of industry news and developments so that you can make intelligent industry comments on behalf of your company. These techniques will help you develop new ideas and interesting perspectives.
  • Interact and talk to people: Having real conversations with people is a terrific way to think of innovative ideas. Talking to people helps to mature your own opinions. You may develop views that are radically different from the mainstream, but this can be can used to form unique perspectives on the industry and help distinguish you from other companies.
  • Look for Gaps in the conversation: Are there areas of the industry that aren’t being discussed? Is something happening in the industry that isn’t being talked about online? Is your company doing something different from everyone else? These areas are the best themes for your content;this is where you can offer something unique that will be of genuine interest to your audience.

Planning your Content:

Having great ideas isn’t enough to produce great content; you need to evaluate, refine and then fit them into an editorial plan and your overall content strategy. Your plan should be informed by your strategy, but it is not the same thing. Other factors will affect your plan such as your production schedule, your available resources, and how much lead time you need to be able to produce different types of content. Your content plan is the nitty gritty of how you are actually going to achieve your content strategy and overall goals.

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In addition to an editorial plan, content management is necessary to keep your content efforts focused and on schedule. You should be outlining who is taking responsibility for each piece of content,and who is actually going to write the content? Who is taking care of the technical elements? Who evaluates your content performance? It is vital that you clearly define the roles within your content team and everyone understands who is responsible for each aspect of the content creation process.

The writing of a piece of content itself can take a lot of time and energy, especially if you want to fully realiseyour overall goals. It can feel a little daunting when you are faced with an empty page and a specific brief to fulfil. The best way around this is to break the tasks into small and manageable steps:

  • Research: Read and gatherrelevant sources. Collate them so that can develop an informed opinion and have an interesting angle.
  • Plan: Consider the structure you want your content to have. Think about paragraph headings and key points you want to include.
  • Write content: If you have done enough research and have formed a coherent plan, the actual writing of the piece should be relatively straight forward. You should remain relatively faithful to your original plan, but don’t afraid if you suddenly have a moment of inspiration; sometimes ideas aren’t fully formulated until you write them out!
  • Peer review: It’s always a good idea to get another member of your content team to review your work. Have you remained on message and in line with thecompany’s overall content strategy? It’s easy to get bogged down in a piece of writing,especially if it is a feature length, and so a fresh pair eyesis always good to make sure you stay on message.
  • Develop headline: Now that your content has been written out, think of a title or headline that captures the overarching message of the article and is attention grabbing enough to make readers want to read on.
  • SEO check: Make sure the content and the page it sits on is fully optimised with keywords in appropriate places.
  • Final edit and image selection: Make anylast minute changes or updates and select appropriate images that will peak interest and complement the content.

Content Analysis

Content analysis is not the same thing as a content audit. Your analysis should be constant and ongoing, and every piece of content you put out there should be analysed at some point. When considering the success of yourcontent, you need to think back to your content and your overall organisational aims, brand awareness, engagement, customer loyalty and sales.
There are an infinite number of metrics you can use to analyse whether these goals are being achieved. However, most content marketers consider some core metric values the bestindicators of successful content. These include traffic analysis, engagement metrics, link analysis and social metrics such as Facebook and Twitter shares. There isa vast range of metric tools on the web to help you stay on top of your metric analysis andup to date on how your content is doing. Here iswhat we consider the best tools for metric analysis:

Google Analytics
Disqus

Finally…
The secret to content creation comes down to three things: creating great content, making sure it gets found in search engines, and promoting the content to your audience.