Seven Key Elements Of Effective Content Marketing
Having a strong content strategy can be game-changing for your business. From improved SEO and thought leadership in your industry to increased organic traffic, more email subscribers and an edge over your competitors, there's no arguing that investing in content is well worth the effort.
Whether you have a strategy that needs a refresh or are starting from scratch, these are some key pillars that have helped us build a content strategy poised to stand the test of time.
Before you start publishing, make a plan.
If you thought the actual writing was the beginning of the content creation process, think again. In reality, the writing happens closer to the middle — and it’s much easier when you’ve put a few other steps in place first.
The building blocks for your strategy should include conducting keyword research, defining your ideal client persona, and creating a content calendar. Keyword research will tell you what keywords people are searching for to get to your site, along with which keywords you can tackle through content to rise through the SEO ranks.
Knowing your ideal client persona will help you know who exactly you’re writing your content for — their pain points, goals, interests and other demographics. Lastly, your content calendar will keep you organized. You can use this to plan what topics you’ll tackle next, which team members are assigned to which parts of the process, what the deadline is, and more.
Keep SEO top of mind.
Your content strategy should be driven by the principles of SEO. That doesn’t mean your content’s main purpose is to attempt to “game” the search engines. Rather, it means making sure your content is optimized for maximum exposure and published in a way that Google will recognize as accurate, helpful and legitimate.
A proper SEO content creation process involves each content page having its own keyword to rank for (without keyword stuffing, which search engines may penalize you for). It also includes meta descriptions that summarize your content, adding alt tags to images, and following Google’s E-A-T standards, which the search engine uses to prioritize content that illustrates expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
Quality will always win over quantity.
Publishing a ton of content that’s badly written, not properly edited and poorly designed won’t do your brand any favors. Not only will search engines not rank this content highly, but it defeats the overall purpose of creating content in the first place: to inform, educate and help your target audience.
Instead, figure out a cadence that makes it possible for you to publish the most high-quality content you can, whether it’s created in-house or through an agency partnership. Once you get into a good groove, you may find that your team has the bandwidth to publish with more frequency. But if not, just keep doing what you’re doing.
Establish your brand’s voice and tone.
Your brand’s content should have a uniform voice and tone that appeals directly to your target audience and adds consistency to your overall company. If your ad copy, blog posts and website pages sound like they were all written by completely different people, then it’s time to reassess.
Get with your team and determine how you define your brand’s voice and tone to best appeal to your audience. Should it be more conversational or formal? More witty or to the point? You can even codify this by creating a brand style guide so everyone at your company can be on the same page.
Venture outside of blogs.
Sure, blogs may be what you think of first when you hear “content.” But there’s way more to creating content than just blogging. You can also explore content types such as case studies, guides, checklists, white papers and more.
These content types are beneficial in that they allow you to delve deeper into topics, you can pair them with blog posts to help guide readers down the funnel, and you can use them as lead-generating opportunities by offering them as downloads in exchange for filling out a landing page form.
Promote your content.
Just like all the steps that come before writing, there are important ones that happen once you click “publish.” Namely, to get your content the most exposure possible, promoting it should be a priority as well.
You can promote your content in multiple ways — from paid or organic social media posts and email marketing to paid ads, partnerships, aggregate sites, backlinks and more.
Conduct regular content audits.
After publishing content regularly for several months, it’s natural for some posts to become outdated, less relevant, or in need of updated information. You can avoid having stale content sitting on your site by creating a plan for regular content audits.
A content audit gives you a chance to reevaluate your content library. Create a spreadsheet with links to all of your existing content. From there, go through and identify issues like thin content, pieces that are redundant and could be combined, content that needs updated stats, and any links that route to a 404 URL.
A solid content strategy is one of the most important pillars of good SEO. Follow the tips above to ensure each piece you publish is high quality, accurate and helpful to your audience.
By Sam Yadegar, Co-Founder & CEO at HawkSEM, helping brands “crush it” through ROI-focused, results-driven digital marketing programs for over 12 years. First published on https://www.forbes.com/ August 20, 2020