With the rise of inbound marketing, content has become one of the most essential ingredients of digital marketing success. The prettiest website in the world won’t help your bottom line if the content isn’t up to par. Read on to learn how to use content to attract visitors, boost search engine success, and convert leads into customers.
Welcome to part three of our series on 21 Website Must-Haves. In part one, we introduced you to the principles of getting discovered online. In part two, we discussed how the usability of your website affects how visitors interact with it.
In part three, we’re exploring the role that content plays in web strategy, the qualities of great content, and how to find an audience. Most importantly, we hope to convince you of the important role content plays in the success of your website. We’ll do that by asking 5 key questions.
Let’s start with a primer on content marketing basics.
What is content marketing?
For better or worse, the rise of social media has transformed the internet. People can now share and consume a steady stream of content at the touch of a button. Content marketing harnesses that power and uses it to make your website a lead generation machine.
The basic premise of content marketing is that by creating and sharing entertaining and informative content (blog posts, videos, infographics, etc), a brand can stimulate and spread interest in their wares without expressly marketing to consumers.
Think of content marketing as the first step in your sales funnel. Publishing useful, shareable content online helps you build an audience. Once you’ve attracted an audience, you can begin working to convert these people into qualified leads and eventually into customers.
Because they’ve already identified some value in your company by virtue of your content, this audience will be more receptive to future messages. That makes leads acquired through content marketing the most valuable leads in your CRM.
Now that we’ve established what content marketing is and how it generates leads, let’s move on to some of the forms content can take.
What forms does content marketing take?
When most people think “content,” they think text. But content can take on a variety of different forms, and the more diverse your content offerings are, the more effective your content marketing will be.
Diversifying your content also allows you to get more mileage out of a few key messages without using as many resources. Instead of starting from scratch with each new piece of content, experiment with repurposing content into different forms. For example, take the content from a blog post and turn it into an infographic.
These are some of the most popular forms of content:
- Blog post
Choose the two or three forms of content that you feel most comfortable producing, and then start experimenting!
Why should I bother with content marketing?
Creating a content strategy, developing content, publishing and managing it, promoting it...it all sounds like a lot of work (and it is). But even if you don’t have the bandwidth or resources to tackle a robust, diversified content marketing strategy, you should at least be blogging.
Here are just a few of the benefits of adding a blog to your website:
- Search engines reward relevance and freshness. Publishing a weekly blog post shows that your site is current and actively maintained.
- Publishing high-quality content establishes authority both with search engines and as a thought leader within your industry.
- Blog posts give your audience a reason to keep coming back to your site, helping to build relationships and trust.
- Blog links drive traffic and leads from your social platforms back to your website.
Remember, blogging doesn’t have to be a full-time undertaking. Publishing one blog per week of 300-500 words is a great starting point. You can always increase your publishing rate, post length, and content diversity over time as you start to see returns on your investment.
What makes for good content?
When it comes to content marketing, quantity is important but quality wins the day. Posting a blog post every day isn’t going to help you if nobody wants to read it. Your resources are better invested in creating fewer pieces of high-quality content than cranking out mediocre content by the dozens.
The particulars of what makes a piece of content resonate will vary by audience, but there are a few qualities that stand true across audiences, formats, and platforms.
We’ve identified the six qualities of outstanding content. They are as follows:
1. Usefulness:Content should always provide some kind of value to the reader, whether that be entertainment or information.
2. Easy-to-read: Your content should always be easy to read, both in composition and presentation (good design).
3. Voice: Don’t default to robot speak just because you’re on the internet. Great content offers personality and a point of view.
4. Rewarding: Great content is immediately rewarding and shareable. That’s why “how to’s” and puppy videos go viral.
5. Length: It surprises most people that the ideal blog length is 1,000-1,500 words. Don’t be afraid to go long.
6. SEO: Do your keyword research to optimize your content for search and establish authority, both with readers and search engines.
How do I find an audience for my content?
Give your content marketing the best chance for success by optimizing it for social media and search. Search engines now include social behavior in their assessment of a website’s quality, so optimizing this relationship is essential for ensuring that your content finds an audience online.
Here’s the recipe for search + social success:
1. Optimize Social Channels: Equip your profiles with all essential info about your brand, including a keyword-rich summary, branded visuals, and a link to your website.
2. Control Search Results: All essential information about your company should show up in search results. Take control of your results by completing metadata for your site.
3. Google Business Listing: If your company has a physical location, make sure your Google business listing is up to date, complete with correct and consistent information.
4. Social Sharing Plugins: Make it easy for web visitors to become brand ambassadors by installing social sharing plugins across your website.
5. Be Active: The best source of search authority comes from inbound links, but proactively sharing your own content on your social profiles is a good starting point.
6. Curate Reviews: Reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp have a huge impact on search results. Solicit reviews from customers to boost your rankings.
7. Optimize Each Post: Each new piece of content you publish should be optimized for search. Include metadata and alt tags to feed search engines the info they need.
If you’ve made it this far in our 21 Website-Must Haves series, you’ve learned how to set up your website for discovery, engage your audience with a seamless user experience, and create content that feeds your sales funnel with new leads. Next up is the final installment in our series, the end goal of the previous three categories: Conversion.
You can get the whole series right now by downloading our free 21 Website Must-Haves e-book. Wouldn’t hurt to have all these tips consolidated in one place, now would it?