Content marketing is all the rage, and has been for some time.
From blog posts and e-newsletters to basic Web copy and lead-magnets like whitepapers and buying guides, marketers across all verticals have made content their top priority.
With online research playing an increasingly important role in many purchases, the burden has fallen to marketers to create and publish content that is easy for buyers to find, that gets shared and that ultimately leads to more conversions.
Here's how you can start winning the content race with a strategy focused on achieving the powerful trinity of findability, shareability and convertability.
Content and SEO are intertwined. But many marketers fall into the trap of thinking that more content is always better, or that cramming a bunch of keywords into their content is going to make it easier to find on search engines. In truth, the most effective strategy for making your content search-friendly includes a combination of the following:
Be high quality
Your content should be designed for a specific audience and address a topic of interest to them. More than that, it should take a unique approach to the topic and you should be able to map the topic to an exact stage in your target audience's journey to purchase. Know exactly who you are talking to with your content and write it with the goal of moving the reader one step closer to purchase.
Use relevant keywords
Do you know what words and phrases your prospects use at each stage of the customer journey? Take a look at your content inventory and make sure those words and phrases are intelligently used throughout each asset. Your content should "answer" a searcher's query and meet their expectations once they begin reading it.
Produce meaningful interactions
Once a person clicks through to your content, how long do they stay there? The time they spend is an engagement metric used by search engines to assess the value of your content relative to the search term used.
Are you constantly generating new quality content? Search engines love fresh content, and a blog that gets updated frequently with quality content will get indexed frequently too. Just as important, posting fresh material will also help build loyalty and authority.
Speaking of authority, your content efforts will be amplified when you establish Google Authorship by linking your Google+ profile with all the content you produce. Google Author Rank determines the quality of content based on the credibility or reputation of its author. The higher the credibility of the author, the higher the placement in search results.
It's impossible to talk about findability without also talking about shareability. Your content needs to be so interesting, unique, insightful or funny enough that people are literally compelled to link to it or share it. Having your content shared increases your trust and authority, and is one of the factors that contribute to better search rankings.
What makes content share-worthy? According to a study done by the NY Times called "The Psychology of Sharing," key factors that influence sharing include:
People need to trust you and the accuracy of the content
in order to want to share your content.
Content that is simple is more likely to get shared.
Things that are funny, convey urgency, or connect people to a cause are all particularly share-worthy.
The study revealed some interesting motivations that people have for sharing:
To bring valuable or entertaining content to others
To define themselves to others (by sharing things that reinforce an image they'd like to present)
To connect with people who share their interests
To get feedback and interact with others
To get the word out about causes or brands
When you produce content, think about how you can tap into this insight to motivate sharing. Introduce a new or contrarian viewpoint to a hot issue, simplify something that is complex, provide solutions to common problems or shine light on a new tool or resource. Also give it an enticing title and weed out extraneous marketing fluff.
Lastly, don't forget to make it easy for people to share your content by including share buttons for all of the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) and the option to email the page to a friend.
Content that doesn't lead to conversion isn't marketing. Your content can go viral and achieve top search rankings, but if it doesn't appeal to the right audience and lead them toward conversion, it has virtually no value to your organization.
Generating content that is optimized for conversion starts with knowing who your audience is. If you haven't done so already, build buyer personas that detail the concerns, needs and interests customers have at every stage of the buying cycle. Know how to appeal to them, what they need, what they are searching for and what influences them. Once you understand your customers, their pain points and their decision process you can start identifying what types of content would help move people closer to conversion.
Early on in the buying cycle, people may be more interested in a buying guide or comparison chart, whereas people who are considering a purchase might be more intrigued by relevant case studies, product guides or tutorials. Know how to address a customer's questions and concerns at each step along the sales funnel, and customize your content specifically to address those needs. Then, add a relevant call-to-action that gently encourages movement toward your conversion goal.
Content is central to a successful inbound marketing strategy. It's what will generate awareness, create interest, help buyers make a decision and spur them to action. But great content that can't be found and read is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.
And equally pointless is content that doesn't help move readers into or down the sales funnel. Challenge yourself to achieve the content trifecta by generating content that is search friendly, share-worthy and optimized for conversion.