Going Beyond SEO: Content Marketing

3rd October 2012

Almost every new client I quote for asks the same basic questions about SEO. How can I optimise my site for Google? How can I rank on the first page for my chosen keywords? How can I use search engines to draw visitors to my website? But few are actually asking the right questions. How can I get more traffic? And, how can I get more customers?

A good SEO strategy may pull in hits, but what’s going to keep them coming back? What will convert those visitors into customers? How will you then get repeat business from these new customers?

A more complete strategy looks beyond just search engine optimisation. It uses content marketing techniques to convert visitors into customers and keep them coming back for more.

What is Content Marketing?

Content Marketing is a broad term, but essentially it is about creating and sharing content in order to attract and engage new and existing customers. The idea is that by providing valuable content to visitors, they will ultimately reward us with their custom and loyalty. In essence, if we give something to them then they will give something back to us.

How does content marketing work?

The lynch pin of a successful content marketing strategy is of course great content. If your content is a load of rubbish, you actually risk doing more harm than good.

Remember that the aim of content marketing is to attract and engage new and existing customers, so think about what they might find useful. What information do you have to offer that your visitors might be interested in? How can you demonstrate your knowledge and prove you’re an expert in your field, in order to distinguish yourself from the competition? How can you solve a problem for your visitors?

Once you’ve worked this out, you’ll need to decide on an appropriate format for your content, and then a platform by which to get it out there.

Getting started with content marketing

Building an audience

There’s no point putting out great content if you haven’t got anyone to read it, so you need ways to build your audience. Our old friend SEO will do some of the work, but you can also try guest blogging and article sites. There’s no reason you can’t also promote yourself at face to face networking events and through people you know, either.

Blogging, articles and eBooks

Think about your target customer and what they might want to read about, then choose the right format to present it to them. Industry news perhaps? Tutorials and instructional articles? Guest blog posts from other people in the industry? Your blog is also a great way to foster engagement, by opening up comments and getting involved in discussions. Articles can also be posted to larger sites, and eBooks make great giveaway incentives for your Facebook page or eNewsletter.

Webinars, Q&As and podcasts

Go one step further and really demonstrate your knowledge. Conduct webinars, host live Q&A sessions and upload podcasts. The wider your selection of media, the more channels you open yourself up to.

How-to videos

Solve someone’s problem by creating a targeted instructional video. Not everyone wants to sit and read through reams of text, so this is a great way of opening up to a new audience. You can also share your videos and create a following on sites like YouTube and Vimeo, as well as embedding them into your blog.

Social networking

Social networks provide a great way to engage with potential clients and other users who are able to recommend you. As well as sharing your videos on Youtube and creating resource boards on Pinterest, you should also be getting feedback and building up conversations with people. Extend topics you’re already talking about elsewhere, such as on your blog, and encourage people to contribute their own opinions.

Top tips

  • Content is king – it doesn’t matter how many people you draw in initially, if your content is of poor quality then they won’t return
  • Make consistent efforts and don’t give up when you don’t get results straight off
  • Before you post a piece of content, ask yourself whether you would find it useful. If you’re not interested, it’s unlikely anyone else will be
  • Make it easy for your visitors to share content they like and have found useful
  • Never use your content to directly try and sell your products and services
  • Have clear goals and monitor progress

Helping your search rankings

You may have read through all this and thought that a lot of the content marketing techniques mentioned have also been suggested to you as part of an SEO strategy. Creating keyphrase focused blog posts, using social networks, guest blogging to procure inbound links, and so on. You should also be able to see that by marrying the two, you have a much more rounded overall strategy for bringing in new visitors and keeping them wanting more.

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