CONTENT MARKETING AND SEO

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1 CONTENT MARKETING AND SEO How to Use Content Marketing and SEO to Reach Customers and Business Goals What do you consider the most essential ingredient for your business s marketing success? In today s interactive, multi channel, full throttle marketing world, the thing a business cannot do without is content. Whether it s website text or in person appearances, articles or ad copy, video or audio or pictures, the life of a marketing program depends on a steady supply of nourishing content. Making sure your content gets noticed is the other essential part. With all the social media, traditional media, online and offline publishing choices available today, that s a real challenge. Fortunately, getting content found is where search engine optimization comes in. It gets really exciting when a strategy aligns content marketing and SEO with revenue goals. Goal focused content producing companies today are watching KPIs climb. A New Definition of Content Marketing So what is content marketing, exactly? Here s our definition: Content marketing achieves business objectives by strategically creating and sharing content. Content marketing is not: Creating robotic posts stuffed with keywords Writing long winded sales pitches Stalking or pestering your customers in social media Proliferating content just because you think you have to Sharing a diary of what you ate for lunch on your business website Scraping content from other websites Publishing everywhere your competitors do without considering what is right for your brand Copyright 2013 Murray Newlands and Bruce Clay Page 1

2 Content marketing is: Communicating effectively Making connections Sharing the right content Engaging your audience Being in the right place at the right time Seizing opportunities Inspiring customer action Nurturing the needs of your customers Showcasing your personality/culture in a way that fits the brand Why Do Businesses Need Content Marketing? People have been telling stories since the dawn of time. We are hard wired to understand information that way. The Internet has leveled the playing field for content creators, allowing anyone the opportunity to create and distribute almost any kind of content. We live in an age of great opportunity where marketers have more power than ever to tell stories through content. But while it s easier than ever to simply publish content, it seems harder than ever to make meaningful content that effectively generates business. More voices mean more clutter, more competition, and a heightened need to strategize, adjust and adapt. The marketer s responsibility is to tell the right story to the right people and organize content around business objectives. Connecting with the right people at the right time in the right way with the right message to advance your business goals that s what content marketing is about. Truly great content marketing communicates effectively, builds community, and moves leads closer to being customers. Sharing stories through text, videos, photos, podcasts and memes can be a powerful force to induce sales, retain customers, communicate a brand, or even promote a cause. The goal might be to bring customers into a store, rally people to an event, or attract visitors to a website via a search engine. Great online content will achieve these goals through ranking on search engines, drawing links from other websites, and generating inbound traffic. The saying is true that with great power comes great responsibility. For marketers, that responsibility is to tell the right story to the right people and organize content around business objectives. The challenge is not only to get good content out there, but also to make your it the right it, and to create and share it in a way that cuts through the fluff and makes an impact on your bottom line. Copyright 2013 Murray Newlands and Bruce Clay Page 2

3 The work of a marketer is to utilize the human needs for connection and story and to communicate messaging that compels people to not only listen, but also buy in and become customers. Can t I just skip the social media party? A lot of business owners would rather just do business as usual without worrying about Twitter, Facebook, blogs and the like. The problem is that online is where your customers are. When you build community online, you re building your customer base and protecting your business reputation. When you don t participate, rest assured competitors will fill in the silence with their own community building. Or worse, negative online reviews and comments could take away your customers without you even knowing why. The smart marketer joins the party, but does it efficiently with compelling content. Content has the potential to get people s attention. Developing and sharing useful content for your audience is critical to your bottom line. Plain and simple. In the twenty first century, content marketing affects: How people perceive your brand How many people know you exist Whether leads convert to customers Whether customers become return customers What people say or don t say to their friends about you The Age of Execution It used to be enough to just be online and publishing content. It meant you were ahead of the curve. Five years ago everyone was talking about the value of starting a blog, sharing content socially, and optimizing that content to be found by search engines. These days that s all common practice. If you re not doing those things on some level, you are behind the curve. While it s easier than ever to publish content, it seems harder than ever to make meaningful content that generates business. The age of experimentation for its own sake is over. It is now the age of execution. Creating and sharing content for its own sake, or throwing content at a Twitter or Facebook wall to see what sticks, aren t good enough anymore. With so much content being created, the new challenge is to make sure that the content you do create is tied to business objectives, speaks to the right audience, and effectively reaches that audience. Any new content approach needs to be Copyright 2013 Murray Newlands and Bruce Clay Page 3

4 developed and tested within the context of objectives, and those objectives defined as specific desired behaviors from a specific target audience. Today, all the pieces need each other. As marketers, we ve realized by now that social media is less of a shiny new toy and more of an opportunity to do what we ve always done, only in a new way. And it s the same with every new online content delivery medium. A video that lives online is one incarnation of a moment that happened offline. A blog post is not a separate entity from a live event. There is no need to distinguish between online and offline anymore. They need each other, they enhance each other, and they are all pieces of the same pie. No matter how it originates or how it is shared, content lives through communication. Good communication tells a compelling story. Great content marketing ties that communication and storytelling to business objectives. The Role of Search Engine Optimization Content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) go together like bread and butter. They complement one another in an inseparable kind of way. You write content hoping the right people will read it at the right time; the search engine s job is to find the right content and deliver it to the right people. You have everything to gain by improving how search engines access, crawl, and interpret the content you create. And, conversely, everything to lose by ignoring it. Applying SEO best practices helps make your excellent content worthy of ranking so people can find it through search. Search engine optimization is the part of the content marketing equation related to whether people can find you. How technical is SEO? Do I have to be a programmer? A few years ago, SEO was an exciting new innovation. Today it s standard practice and mandatory, not optional, for websites that want to be found through search engines. If you are in the market to be seen and make money online, you need a basic understanding of search engine optimization to launch new content successfully. Copyright 2013 Murray Newlands and Bruce Clay Page 4

5 You don t have to learn HTML or be a programmer to write optimized content. Some SEO elements do involve code though, so you ll want to have someone on your team who can implement necessary SEO changes for your content pages. For you as a content creator, what s more important than having technical skills is understanding the principles and best practices of search engine optimization. Google, Bing, YouTube and the other search engines decide which results are most relevant and most authoritative for any query. Applying SEO best practices helps make your excellent content worthy of ranking so people can find it through a search engine. TIP: For an excellent introduction to SEO, watch Bruce Clay s Free Executives Guide to SEO at executive seo guide.htm. Content Marketing in the Right Direction All too often marketing campaigns get started from the wrong direction. Imagine the scene. Someone on your team reads about a new social media platform and opens an account, starts connecting with people, and shares some content. As they get used to the network, they start to figure out who the most active people are. And then, a few weeks later, the team meets again to talk about what the company could try to do with this new account and these new connections. Soon the meeting becomes a brainstorming session about what everyone thinks could be done with this new network presence. Action items include looking into it and reporting back at the next meeting. We've all been at those meetings. Maybe you were at one this morning. It's backward. That model looks like this: 1. Content 2. Audience 3. Objectives Is there a better way? Content creation is a part of your marketing strategy and as such, should be approached strategically. Does it make any sense to execute before you have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish? Before there are established objectives and the research to support them? The time of throwing content at the wall to see what sticks is over. We re not discovering the Internet, blogs, social media, apps, and all the rest anymore. Whatever content you re creating for whatever platform, you shouldn t bring it into existence for its own sake. Creating videos because your office got a new camera isn t content marketing. Using Pinterest because it s new isn t strategic content marketing. Copyright 2013 Murray Newlands and Bruce Clay Page 5

6 In order for your communication to be effective, you have to know who you want to communicate with and how your whole team defines effective. For instance, is your content effective because a person buys a product? Stays on the site for a certain amount of time? Reads more content? Likes you on Facebook? Every business model will have different goals. It s impossible to know if your content strategy is meeting these goals if no one has decided what your goals are. That said, a successful content marketing strategy flips the ineffective Content Audience Objectives model outlined above upside down and emphasizes figuring out what you want to accomplish and who you want to communicate with first, before any effort is spent creating content. The new model reorders the content marketing process like this: That s right. The Content in a successful content marketing campaign comes third. To see success, it s absolutely essential to figure out who you re talking with and why before you start yammering. Remember, we re not creating content just for the sake of creating content anymore. It s crucial that all efforts be rooted in purpose and driven by the needs of your target audience. This paper is excerpted from the book: Content Marketing for Professionals: How to Use Content Marketing and SEO to Communicate with Impact, Generate Sales, and Get Found by Search Engines By Murray Newlands and Bruce Clay Available through Amazon.com November 2013 To sign up for the first alert mailing list and receive exclusive content visit marketing book.htm Copyright 2013 Murray Newlands and Bruce Clay Page 6

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