Content and SEO Beyond Marketing – Optimized Digital Communications

optimized digital communications

Content is the reason search began in the first place.

In the days before Google, directories, lists and forums were the way to discover new content on the fast-growing world wide web.

During those early days, the web was as much about the experience of discovery, aka “surfing”, as it was about finding specific answers.

Answers to what? Many marketers would have you believe the only content that exists is the information created in support of buyers to discover, consume and transact.

But there’s far more to the web than demand generation and advertising. Content is created by companies to serve a variety of business functions from customer service to corporate social responsibility to talent acquisition.

4 Ways Marketers Can Learn From a Journalist’s Approach to Content Planning

media-journalist-content-marketing

“Be the media” isn’t just a buzz phrase. It’s a live process and philosophy that brings in leads and moves products and services. It’s the concept of content as sales staff. It’s “write it and they will come.” OK, so I got ahead of myself with that last one. It’s not quite that simple.

As marketers have moved to content to help tell their stories that draw in customers, they have brought journalists in to help with the storytelling.  Now that many marketers and journalists are working side by side, they have developed similar processes and have begun to merge cultures. They are finding common ground, overlapping and crossing career paths.

Here are a few areas in which I think that content marketers can learn from journalists:

How to Be Creative AND Brand Compliant in Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing

Ask social media managers about “brand standards” and you might elicit some uncomfortable expressions. Brand standards, created to ensure uniformity with brand messaging and imagery, can sometimes feel like restrictions for creative social development.

“Do I really need to include all these brand logos and elements in every social message?”

The answer (most often) is yes, but don’t let this dampen your spirits. Maintaining a consistent brand identity is vital for long-term business growth, and you can still flex your creative social muscle within brand guidelines. Here are some tips that can help you stretch your brand’s identity to its creative peaks:

White Papers: Pros, Cons, Examples and Best Practices

White  Papers.jpg

Not every piece of content we produce resides at the top of the sales funnel spinning up awareness. If that were the case, our jobs as marketers would be much easier.

When digital marketers roll up their sleeves and generate leads, many have found that white papers provide a utility for which potential customers are willing to give up a name and email address. White papers are more substantial pieces of content that allow customers to solve an information problem that represents the solutions your company can offer.

Do marketers still use white papers?

Falling Behind on Content? Catch Up With These Content Repurposing Tips

content marketing repurposing

Remember all that content you were going to have completed before you left for holiday break? Remember the editorial calendar that was going to include all of Q1 2015 that you scaled back to be only January, 2015, that you scaled back to be … well … nothing?

The holidays were great, and you were able to only half occupy your mind with pending work deliverables scheduled for early January. If you are like me, you even planned to use some of your off time to work ahead on a few work tasks, then the holiday events and the family fun got in the way (in a good way, of course).

Content is not just a platform: Why I left journalism and joined TopRank Marketing

stack-of-newspapers

[Note from Lee: TopRank has made many advancements in the content marketing space over the past 5-6 years and that leadership has resulted in growth – including the addition of 15 new people to our team in the past 7 months.  Among those new faces is content marketing smartie, James Anderson, our new agency Director of Content Marketing.  

James spent over 9 years as a journalist and editor before moving into the brand publisher space. And now he’s made the full move over to the marketing realm.  You’ll be seeing a lot of James here in the coming days and weeks as he helps me advance the TopRank content marketing machine even further – please make him feel welcome!]

Where Brand Journalism and Native Advertising Can Fit Within Content Marketing

integrated content marketing

Over the past year the discussions about what content marketing is and isn’t as well as the role of content within marketing and PR functions of a business have been interesting to watch. Especially the discussions around whether brand journalism and native advertising fit in the content marketing mix. Here’s my take:

Content Marketing is all about customers and providing them the information they need to inspire action. The themes that align buyer interests and brand goals as part of a content marketing strategy can inspire the focus of any content or media whether it’s part of a brand journalism effort, native advertising or content marketing program –  just in different ways.

How a Shift from All SEO to Social & Influencer Content Boosted Page Views by 500%

social influencer content

A small business technology company was focusing their online marketing efforts on SEO and this approach proved to be effective for several years.

Research revealed relevant keywords in demand from searchers actively looking for solutions in this software category. Existing content was optimized, cross linked and new content was created where needed. Content was promoted to attract links and social shares to ensure a presence on crawlable social media platforms.

But then organic traffic began to slow down in growth and eventually decline, despite following SEO best practices capable of the most specific Google scrutiny.

A decision needed to be made: Will more aggressive SEO tactics be used or was it time to shift perspective?

Customer Insights Are Key for More Persuasive Marketing Content

Persuasion Content Marketing

For experienced marketers it’s no surprise that understanding the motivations of buyers and what influences them can be instrumental for creating persuasive content marketing campaigns.

While that statement makes sense intellectually, old habits die hard.

Most marketers continue to focus on how digital channels like email, social networks and search work vs. how customers understand those platforms or even why they use them. Day after day, content is being created and keyword optimized by marketers with little more than intuitive insight into customer interests and preferences for content discovery, consumption or engagement.

This is a source of great disconnect and dissatisfaction when “best practices” content marketing and SEO tactics don’t produce the intended results. An increase in search and social traffic isn’t very valuable when those visitors don’t engage and the content doesn’t resonate.

How to Incorporate SEO and Influencer Content

Optimize Influencer Content for Search

Make no mistake, discovery of content through search engines is more important than ever. But the practice of optimizing content for search visibility has changed substantially.

As search engines look for signals of credibility amongst content and links, humans do the same thing. In the way that links alone used to drive the search visibility of a web page up, endorsements and mentions from industry influencers can still boost the visibility of a brand. As a result, the trend towards influencer and advocate marketing is on the rise.

While SEO and influencer content might seem more meatball sundae than PBJ, I assure you, the combination can be whatever you want it to be, because it’s content. Understanding demand for topics reconciled with the brand’s ambitions around a topic, search optimization insights applied to an influencer content program can boost both the quantity and the quality of attraction.

10 Must Read Content Marketing Posts for 2015

must read content marketing posts

Over the past 5 years we’ve published over 380 articles about content marketing here on Online Marketing Blog. It’s a big topic after all – with plenty of opportunity to help marketers better understand the planning, creation, management, promotion, measurement and performance optimization of content.

After digging in to our web and social media analytics, I’ve identified 10 of the most popular posts on content marketing that I’m sure you’ll find useful. From our Content Marketing Maturity Model to tips, tools and measurement – the 10 posts summarized below will help you finish off 2014 in style and put your planning for 2015 in the right direction.

TopRank Content Marketing Maturity Model

How to Be the Best Answer with Topic Targeting

Be the Best Answer - TopRank

This weekend I had the good fortune to present at the Minnesota Blogger Conference where nearly 300 local bloggers gathered to learn, get inspired and network.

For my part, I gave a presentation on how blogs are still an incredibly useful tool for marketing. Keeping the reason for blogging top of mind as well as empathy for reader preferences in how they find, consume and act on information are essential if a blog author expects marketing outcomes from their efforts.

When a blog or any content hub can become “the best answer” for the topics that are important for buyers, the return on blogging goes way, way up. One way to execute a content plan to become known as an authority is through topic targeting.