The agency (TopRank Online Marketing) that I started with Susan Misukanis celebrated it’s 10th Birthday this year and in all my time as an Internet Marketer, no other combination of marketing tactics has yielded results like Search Engine Optimization and Content. Over the past 5 years Social Media has entered the mix as an even more powerful amplifier to the effect of optimized content.
But there’s a key problem with how content marketing is implemented by many SEO-focused agencies and practitioners. Creation of “content” has escalated to amazing levels but there is a lot of that content fails to achieve the desired objective. In the midst of keywords, links, rankings and search algorithms there are several important pieces missing.
SEO tends to be viewed as very tactical when it’s actually not only an important piece of a business internet marketing strategy, but it’s a compelling way to view online marketing overall. I’m talking about an “Optimized” state of mind that focuses on customers more than keywords and outcomes more than the trendiest online platforms.
Part of solving this problem is for those who employ SEO and Content Creation, Optimization and Promotion to think of optimization as a strategy. What can be searched can be optimized for better performance. That’s a holistic approach beyond keywords in title tags, Page Rank and inbound links. Not only is there benefit to view any electronic file that an be published online as a potential marketing asset, but understanding how they can work together is something that can elevate and scale a company’s content marketing effectiveness.
So, what does this mean at the individual content tactic creation and optimization level? I recommend Internet Marketers ask a few key questions for every content object they create. Whether it’s an email, blog post, press release or article for a publication, it’s essential to think about the answers to these questions:
- What is this article’s key message and how does it relate to the brand?
- Where does this content fit within the mix of brand content created on the same/similar topic?
- What target search keywords is this content focused on?
- What are the compelling social sharing motivations for this content?
- What media can support this content (video, audio, images, interactive)?
- What is the first level, second level audience?
- What need or pain point does this content solve?
- What’s the hook? (creative angle, metaphor,
- What’s the punchline (revelation and call to action)?
- How will this content inspire the reader to the next step, to action?
- How can this content be repurposed and/or reposted in the future?
- What promotion channels will be used to automate distribution?
- How will the content be promoted, pitched, shared at large and with relevant influencers?
- What are the target key performance indicators for this individual content object and for it’s category?
Answer those questions and think about the flow of the content. Does it identify a need or opportunity? Does it empathize with an audience or a problem? Does it suggest a solution or conclusion? Is there a compelling call to action? Does it inspire the reader to do what you want them to do? (act, share, feel, experience). Does it have a purpose relevant to customers and the brand that stands alone outside of SEO and Social Media?
Regardless of the type, format or length of content, these are important questions to answer in order to produce relevant and compelling content that drives business as key components of a Search Engine and Social Media Optimization strategy. In the context of content marketing, an “optimized” approach is holistic and adaptable at making content easy to discover by the right audience, meaningful to consume and motivating to engage and act on.