What is a blog post for?
Come to think of it, what is content for?
Sure, content should inspire our audience to form a relationship with the brand so they can be nurtured to a purchase decision that ultimately drives revenue. Duh.
Which is great. That’s what we want content to do. But—and forgive me for sounding like a broken record—what is it for?
The best answer I’ve seen comes from Dan Blumenthal: “Content Marketing is what web searchers are looking for.” Nine words. Mic drop.
That’s what our content is for—it’s for providing the best answer to people searching for information. It’s for delighting someone who clicks on your link in a search results page. If your content nails what it’s for, then it has a much better chance of accomplishing what you want it to do (form relationships/drive revenue/etc).
So, while a good marketer creates solid content based on a content marketing strategy, a great marketer takes it a step further. They make sure to be what web searchers are looking for. To do that, they optimize and amplify their content, then use it to capture an audience. Here’s how:
#1 – Optimize Content
Your content may be the answer to every web searcher’s dreams, but unless it actually shows up high in search results, their dreams can’t come true. That’s why great marketers bake SEO into their content.
That doesn’t mean you have to wade hip-deep into the mad science of SEO. You don’t have to know your penguins from your pandas. Just include keywords in your text that let searchers—and search bots—know what you’re talking about. And realize, as search engines get smarter, they get better at knowing what your content is about without you repeating the keyword twenty times. It’s useful to think of topic-based search as well as keywords, as Rand Fishkin explains:
Crosslinking is another way to raise visibility for your content library. Internal links help you build search engine credibility for multiple topics (see the links to other TopRank blog posts above. They add value for the reader, but also help us earn search engine cred).
#2 – Amplify Content
Strategic amplification of your content can help it reach people beyond the front page of Google. These days, social media is as much a destination for web searchers as search engines are. Social sharing brings more seekers to your content, which leads to higher search engine credibility, which leads to more social sharing…it’s a beautiful thing. These three tactics can help your content reach a wider audience:
Organic (earned) Sharing
The best way to make your content get shared is to make it 1)worth sharing, and 2)easy to share. Your content strategy should nail the first part, ensuring you create content people want to read.
For the second part, add social sharing buttons to content so people can share with a single click. You can also make shares more engaging by adding rich content, like Twitter cards.
You can also rehost your content on a social platform like LinkedIn. Publishing on LinkedIn can bring you a new audience and new opportunities to share.
Sites like Facebook are rapidly becoming pay-to-play, as the organic reach of posts steadily dwindles. That doesn’t mean you have to bust your budget with paid amplification, but a little strategic spending can go a long way. Facebook and LinkedIn give you plenty of control over budget and targeting to make sure you get the most for your investment.
There’s a reason influencer marketing is such a hot topic in marketing circles: It’s a cost-effective way to reach a much, much wider audience. The nuts and bolts of running an influencer campaign are a little complicated, but here’s a quick overview:
- Identify influencers, using tools like BuzzSumo and Traackr*
- Establish a relationship with influencers
- Create content incorporating the influencers’ contributions
- When the piece is published, provide material to encourage influencers to share
When done properly, an influencer co-created content boosts your credibility and theirs, and helps bring your content to a new audience.
#3 – Capture Leads With Content
As Dan said up top, content marketing is what web searchers are looking for. And it’s rare that a searcher is only looking for the answer to one question. They may start by searching for “cat shaving instructions,” but their ultimate goal may be to purchase the right razor to shave their cat with minimal injury to the animal or themselves. (TopRank Marketing does not endorse cat-shaving.)
For your content to be the best answer, then, it needs to lead readers into your marketing funnel, where they can be guided to what they’re really searching for. Each piece of content should contain a call to action—a clear next step for your reader to take. That could be signing up for your newsletter, subscribing to updates, reading gated content, or other lead capture methods. For those that leave your site without signing up, retargeting can help bring them back to stay.
What separates the great marketers from the good? Great marketers understand the business function of content, but also what it’s for. They make sure their content is designed to be the best answer: they optimize it so it can be found; they amplify to reach a broader audience; and they capture to make sure the relationship goes beyond the blog post.
To help you stay firmly in the “great marketer” category, we created this fun-sized storybook with the takeaways. Read it to your kids before bed tonight! Or, at least share it with your fellow marketers.
Need some great marketers on your side? How can we help?
Disclosure: LinkedIn and Traackr are TopRank Marketing Clients