If you’re anything like me, you intentionally switch off to traditional advertising mediums. I’m personally not a fan of being bombarded with the same T.V. commercial every few minutes, I automatically switch radio stations when I hear the DJ say ‘and after the ad break...’ and I find that a 10 metre high bill board is an unwelcome distraction when I’m travelling 100 km down the motorway. When it comes of online advertising, the situation is much the same – banners go unnoticed, websites are often frustratingly irrelevant to your search and pop-up ads are quite simply, infuriating. Cue the rise of content marketing.
Regardless of whether you’re an amateur marketer or a thoroughly experienced CMO, content marketing is undoubtedly a topic you’ve about heard time and time again. Far from being just the ‘flavour of the month’ however, content marketing is well and truly a top priority for anyone in the online game with 90% of Marketers expecting content marketing to increase in importance over the next 12 months.
So what exactly is content marketing?
Content marketing is all about using online mediums to create and share free, you guessed it – content. It’s about enticing potential customers interact with your brand over the long-term by giving them information they actually want rather than a ‘hard sell’ which is characteristic of traditional marketing both offline and online. This content can be communicated via a number of different forms including blog posts, videos, webinars, infographics, white papers, email newsletters and much more. The ultimate purpose of sharing this kind of content is to engage, attract and ultimately convert a very specific target market that has been meticulously researched and defined.
And how exactly will content marketing impact SEO campaigns?
Well, by now you probably know that Google is becoming more and more like a human every day. The search engine’s quest for humanity is indeed the reason why there have been so many algorithm changes, many of which have severely hurt the websites that are overly optimised. These overly optimised websites typically have content which is tailored to the search engine, rather than to the user. The particularly cheeky ones are characterised by keyword stuffing, spammy links and invisible text which is a big no-no for Mr Google. The difference with content marketing however, is that the user is always front and centre. For this reason content marketing is viewed favourably by search engines and if done properly, will mean qualified traffic and higher rankings.
Aside from the fact that putting the user first is rewarded by Google, content marketing will also help in your SEO efforts by:
1. Ensuring that you’re providing fresh content.
With content marketing, you are constantly adding, updating and breathing new life into your content. Google loves this and users love this. Each video that you create and each blog that you write shows that you are remaining at the forefront of updates in your industry. This is important because regardless of your area of business, everything will change and evolve at one stage or another and if you’re caught behind the curve, no one will take you seriously. To demonstrate why fresh content is important, consider a health and wellness business that claims to be at the forefront of research and innovation. Their website seems pretty decent from an SEO point of view– optimised H1, a relevant title tag, a neat URL – but once you click on the blog, you notice that the last post was made on 11 July 2011. That is some very old and probably very outdated content! If the information they provide is so outdated, who’s to say that their products aren’t equally outdated? Will you take this company seriously and consider purchasing from them? Highly doubtful. This is where content marketing steps in.
2. Creating more pages on your website.
Each piece of content that you upload to your blog adds a new page to your website and when it comes to SEO, the more pages, the better. A word of warning should be made at this point however. Quality is always better than quantity. Don’t be tempted to create irrelevant, ad hoc or half finished content just so you can add pages to your site or to meet a quota. Content marketing needs to be done properly and with 110% effort or it’s not worth doing at all because resources will be wasted creating information that will never be read, shared, tweeted or liked!
3. Ensuring effective content optimisation around the targeted keywords.
It’s important that you do proper keyword research when developing content for your website because after all, you need to make sure that you are creating something that users are searching for. In addition to this, targeted keywords will ensure that your content gets to not just any user, but to the right user – the one who is likely to engage with your brand, share your information and probably make a purchase at some stage in the future. In this way, content marketing is working in tandem with the existing, optimised content on your actual website to help drive more qualified traffic.
4. Creating influential social signals.
As the famous Gossip Girl once said, ‘you’re nobody until you’re talked about’. Luckily, effective content marketing will get your name out there and ensure that you are not merely talked about, but also that you’re re-tweeted, shared, pinned, uploaded and +1’d. The more of these social signals you have, the more you’ll look like an authority in your industry and the more Google will reward you with better rankings.
All in all, content marketing is a fascinating and growing area within the marketing and particularly the SEO field – all you need is a dash of time, a spoonful of research a cup creativity.