Those of us who dedicate ourselves to the field of marketing have seen a dramatic shift in how we approach our marketing strategy. Ever since search engine marketing became a thing, companies have been obsessed with ranking high and have made it the focus of their entire digital strategy. Of course search engine marketing is a vital piece of the overall marketing plan, but this blind obsession has led to brands making bad decisions when it comes to content.
SEO is an important tool but letting it dominate your marketing is a thing of the past. We are now seeing that the best way to gain fan interaction and brand recognition is to focus on publishing high-quality, relevant content and making it the centerpiece of your marketing strategy. Let SEO guide – but not rule – the way you approach content.
The old way that brands approached content was to publish useless pages on their websites that stuffed as many top-performing keywords as possible into the page. These companies became so laser-focused on their site ranking highly in search that they ignored other key factors, such as customer experience and loyalty. Did these pages get the high ranking they hoped for? Most likely. But did it give users a good impression of the brand and drive engagement? Most likely not.
You want your brand to be known for its quality and reputation with a positive site experience. If customers don’t find what they are looking for quickly and easily, they will never return. The example below shows an article about why firepits would be a great thing to have in your home.
In order for their top performing keywords to rank high on the search engines, this company created a content piece about firepits that crammed as many words into the page as possible. While I’m sure it may have ranked high, the piece is basically a placeholder and is not at all informative to a user. Any potential new customers would click off and never come back. Yes, the brand can chalk a click up on the board, but they are potentially losing a ton of new customers.
The best way to have addressed this would have been to create a thoughtful article about different types of firepits, perhaps something to the effect of “How to Choose the Right Firepit for Your Home” or “The Top 10 Firepits That Won’t Break Your Budget.”
…And the New
The new approach to marketing is creating an in-depth and actionable content strategy. This strategy will be the center point of your marketing, focusing on creating campaigns based on each content piece. You want to create unique content that is relevant to your audience, shareable, easy to digest and reflective of your brand and its ideals. You want to create informative content first, then incorporate your top performing keywords or those keywords you wish to rank high for.
How Do You Do It?
Creating a content strategy that is perfectly in-line with your brand can be a daunting task, so it is best to break it down into steps. Always remember the importance of staying organised and planning ahead.
Look at Your Analytics
By this point, you should have some form of keyword tracking in place, be it Google Analytics or something else. If you don’t, then that would be the first place to start. I will not go into an analytics strategy in this article, but perhaps we can explore that in the future.
Take a look at your top performing keywords – these will help drive some relevant topics. This is something you should do regularly; though I wouldn’t recommend building a strategy around one month’s worth of data but rather look at patterns and trends over a longer period of time.
I perform marketing consulting work for a physical therapist and we review our keywords on a monthly basis. Here is an example of the top five keywords that we have seen in past months:
Users are clearly searching for what do for a pulled hamstring, labral tear, torn shoulder and how to use tape. Right there are some great topics for future content.
Create a content calendar
As mentioned in a previous article , putting together an in-depth, well organised content calendar is essential to a successful marketing plan. It allows you to organise and plan your topics ahead of time. It will also allow your contributors enough time to create, edit and publish pieces in order to meet their deadlines. It also gives you the opportunity to make your topics timely and line them up with upcoming events and holidays. For example, if a marathon is coming up, you can tailor the “pulled hamstring” post towards how to prevent a pulled hamstring when training for a marathon, and publish it leading up to the big race.
Write Your Pieces
Now that we have our topics in place, let’s focus on the first one – how to treat a pulled hamstring. I serve as the Marketing Manager for my company, but I definitely don’t have any knowledge of this subject. This is the time to get other people involved. You should engage subject matter experts – colleagues, friends and other leaders in the industry – and ask them to contribute. It is essential to have a variety of writers with differing styles and opinions; feel free to invite guest bloggers to write for you.
Remember: your contributors don’t have to be professional writers. Their pieces don’t even have to be complete – if they are not confident in the strength of their writing abilities, have them send a rough draft or outline of key points and have a copywriter craft the story. Your editor should always keep in mind the writer’s unique voice and perspective while sticking to your brand guidelines.
Incorporate Keywords and Tagging
Once your piece is written and ready to go, make sure your keywords are well represented. Scan the article and see where you can organically weave them in. Stick to the top keywords (in our example, “pulled hamstring,” “how to treat a hamstring injury,” etc.). Consider changing up your headers to incorporate them. You don’t need to repeat keywords over and over, rather make it as natural as possible.
Check your title and headers. For our article, we’ll use a descriptive title, such as: “Five Ways to Treat and Prevent Pulled Hamstring Injuries.” Then properly tag your pages and make sure your photos are appropriately named. In future articles we can explore how to properly tag your posts.
Once your content is complete, you’ll want to share it wherever you can. Disseminate it across social media platforms, put it on your blog or website, and include it in your email campaigns. If you have unique content that is informative and helpful to your readers, then people will be likely to hit that “share” button. Make sure they are re-written appropriately for each individual social media platform, properly hashtagged (where applicable) and include a clear call to action. Don’t be afraid to re-post your content again in the future – just repackage it a bit differently, and don’t re-post it too many times.
Track Your Success (or Failures)
Give your content a little time to get out there – I’d recommend about 1-3 months – then check your analytics to see how it performed. If a particular piece of content gets a lot of engagement, look for patterns to determine why. If your content didn’t perform as well as planned, then conduct the same analysis and try not to replicate it in the future. Sometimes it’s the time and day, the type of post (list vs. article), or the use of images and video vs. not. This analysis will help you to wisely plan your future content pieces and continue the content cycle.
So there we have it, a handy guide to how you should be approaching content marketing for your brand. Hopefully you will be able to employ some of these practices in your own marketing strategy and you will start attracting new business. Now share this article so we can start ranking!