The Role of SEO and Social Media
Content marketing and SEO complement each other in that SEO can be used to ensure that your content is effectively optimized and found by your target audience. But creating content is only half the battle. You have to ensure that your content is found by your target audience when they are typically in the research stage of the buyer funnel. This means your content pages must be SEO-friendly and optimized for the search engines so that they can be found.
Promotion and Distribution
Your content marketing strategy should not be limited to creating quality content, but also promoting and distributing the content after it’s published. You want people promoting your content by liking, sharing and commenting on it. This means you’ll need to leverage the distributions channels that work best for your content. These include social channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ where your target audience hangs out, and content sharing sites like SlideShare and Scribd.
A slew of social signals to your content will force the search engines to take real notice of your brand resulting in more traffic, more leads and ultimately more business. And the more relevant, meaningful and valuable your content is, the more your target audience will trust you as a source of credible information.
On the flip side, if your content is generally viewed as thin or meaningless dribble, this will do more harm than good to your brand because it will turn people off visiting your site. If people are not returning to your site, this will send the wrong signals to the search engines.
An effective content marketing strategy is crucial to the success of any lead generation campaign, and the numbers bear this out. According to research by HubSpot, B2B marketers that use blogs get 67% more leads than those that do not. And the number of leads rise substantially when companies use content ad networks to amplify this work.
The Freshness Algorithm Update
In 2011, Google rolled out the freshness algorithm update. This update was primarily designed to prioritize the freshest content by ranking webpages with the most up-to-date information higher in the search results. Webmasters responded by boosting their content production in a bid to benefit from the algorithm.
However, this quickly led to the proliferation of poor quality content in the search results, and Google Panda was released shortly after to combat this trend. With the release of Panda, millions of low quality webpages which Google described as “thin and duplicate content with little or no added value” were filtered out of the search results. Google Panda is also a site-wide filter, which means that when the filter is applied to a single webpage, the entire site is penalized.
The freshness algorithm update is still very much in play, and the search bots will index your site more regularly if the site’s content is updated on a frequent basis. It is important to keep in mind however, that the Panda algorithm is also still in play. If the content on your site is deemed to be of low quality, it will lead to high bounce rates, and the site will be end up being penalized and filtered out of the search results.
To benefit from the freshness algorithm, you need to feature quality, original content that is meaningful and aimed at your primary audience on a consistent basis. You can even repurpose this content so it appears fresh. The more relevant and valuable content you have out there, the easier it becomes for your prospective clients to find you on the search engines, and the more people will trust you.
Quality content that is targeted to your niche will not only help you build awareness for your brand and attract organic search engine traffic, it will also increase your visibility and position you as an authority in your field. The better the content you have on your site, the more people are trust your site as a credible source of information.
And Google’s quality guidelines clearly spell out what they’re looking for from quality content.
Here are their exact words:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging.
- Make your website stand out from others in your field.
One of the key fundamentals of an effective content marketing strategy is teaching users about your product or service. Regardless of what you’re selling, it is imperative to produce various types of content that will educate consumers about what you’re selling.
Bearing in mind what you know about your target audience, think about what form of content would be best suited to selling your products given the apparent complexity of your product. Your ultimate objective should be to make an emotional connection with your target audience, and you can accomplish this with the right type of content.
Here are examples of the different types of content you can use as the basis of your content marketing and lead generation strategies and campaigns.
- Blogs: an active blog that is focused on the needs and problems of your target audience and industry should form the basis of your content marketing strategy.
- Press Releases: Producing newsworthy press releaseses on a regular basis can increase your exposure because many sites have RSS feeds that grab news releases off the press wires using specific keywords. You can also earn backlinks from press releases.
- Resource Pages: Resource pages with excellent resources are some of the most linked to pages on the web because they are usually a collection of the most relevant and useful articles on a particular topic. Users typcially find them very convenient.
- EBooks: EBooks are a powerful marketing and lead generation tool that can be used to build your brand and demonstrate your expertise in a given subject. You can also add video, audio and appealing graphics to EBooks to captivate and entertain your audience.
- Reviews: Take advantage of the massive popularity of reviews by adding educational pages that provides unbiased reviews of related products and services in your niche. This will be valuable content for your target audience who are looking for research information.
- Interviews: You can include interviews with industry experts that discusses how they tackle common problems. You can present these interviews in different formats: audio, text-based or video.
- Lists. Lists are some of the most popular forms of content on the web because people love lists, usually because the attention-grabbing headine makes the benefit of reading the article very clear. These types of posts are also perfect for building your authority and demonstrating your expertise in your field. Lists are the most popular form of content on sites like BuzzFeed and Reddit.
- White papers. White papers are authoritative documents that are typically 10-20 pages in length. They are used as a marketing tool by B2B companies to demonstrate thought leadership and to promote their solutions. They can contain research findings or survey results related to featured products or services. The three main types of white papers are:
- Backgrounder: These are typically used to describe technical or business benefits of a product or service. They effective for explaining complex aspects of a particular product or service.
- Numbered list: These are used to present a general overview of a particular topic.
- Problem/Solution: These types of white papers are particularly effective at generating leads because they describe a problem within your industry that was solved by your product or service. You can use logic, facts and figures to promote your solution.
- Roundups: Roundups bring industry experts together around a specific subject and allows them to weigh in with their opinions. They are often a powerful link building and branding resource.
- FAQ’s: You can create content that addresses common questions from prospective and existing customers relating to your product or service such as pricing issues.
- Slideshows: Slideshows are an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise and distribute your content to your target audience through the use of presentations featured on sites like SlideShare.
- Podcasts: Podcasts are a massive distribution channel that can be ued to build your brand, image and authority. They can be either video or audio, and can be used to turn your blog posts into audio format.
- Curated content: Content curation as a supplement to your original content is a great way to demonstrate your industry knowledge. You can curate content on your site by taking the best and most relevant content in your industry and presenting it on your site in the form of a blog post. You would typically post a summary of the content which can include blog posts, video, white papers and so on. Provide a compelling reason why it is so valuable, and include a link to the original content source. This kind of page could generate a ton of organic backlinks for your site. Examples of content curation tools include Curata, Curationsoft, trap.it and Uberflip.
- How-to guides: Free how-to guides can be used to generate leads by placing content behind a lead capture form and requiring uers to fill out their contact details and a few qualifying questions before gaining access. They are valuable because they will help to establish your brand as a trusted authority and a credible source of information.
- Memes: Memes are typically captioned photos that are meant to be funny, often as a way to publicly ridicule human behaviour. The main appeal of memes is their humor, and they can be used to attract traffic, links and a significant amount of engagement in the form of likes and shares. All it takes to creat a meme is an image and some text, and you can have a piece of content that can out-perform some of your best blog posts.
- Case studies: Case studies are very powerful and effective marketing tools because they highlight satisfied customers that have used your product or service in a real-world scenario. They typically illustrate a problem and a solution with a testimonial and light amount of data to demonstrate how your product or service led to the customer’s success. A case study could include video, audio, graphics and charts in addition to text.
- Newslettter: Newsletters allow you to have an ongoing relationship with your potential or existing customers and keep them updated on your products or services.
- Webinars: webinars can be used to demonstrate industry knowledge, and are an excellent way to directly engage customers and prospects with solutions to specific problems. The key feature of webinars is their interactive elements that provide the ability for users to give and receive feedback.
- Images: (shared on Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube)
- Audio (podcasts on websites, SoundCloud, YouTube)
- Infographics: Infographics are a type of image that use a combination of images and text to convey information in a visual and interesting manner. They are a powerful way to drive traffic and generate links.
- Product Pages: You can showcase your product pages by adding compelling content that makes them unique. For example, you can spruce up your product descriptions by making them more useful, more helpful and more interesting than the typical product description.
- Video: Video is an excellent medium you can use to educate your target audience about your product or service both pre- and post-sale. They can be an excellent sales tool that you can leverage to sell your product or service for users who want to fully learn about and understand a product or service before commiting themselves to it.