TopRank Online Marketing CEO Lee Odden gave a solo presentation at Search Engine Strategies 2010 on content marketing optimization. Following is a summary of Lee’s comprehensive presentation including 10 essential steps for your organization to achieve success.
The core of any search or social media marketing program focuses on content. But what exactly is content marketing? It’s creating and distributing relevant content to attract, acquire and engage customers which you know detailed information about.
It’s different than search – where you’re seeking in-demand phrases and creating content. In content marketing, which grew out of the B2B marketing space, you’re developing personas. In addition to this you should activate the intersection of search and content marketing.
Customers are expecting more. It’s not enough anymore just to publish features/benefits and expect someone to buy something. First they search, then they ask their friends, then they purchase. Sales cycles are getting longer and consumers are getting smarter.
Content is why search exists – to organize the world’s information. Content is also an outcome of social interactions. And, search engines are indexing much of that social content.
Content is essential for social SEO and sits at the intersection of search and social. What many traditional marketers are doing to leverage content and give customers what they want is delivering content in many avenues (press releases, blogs, videos, Ebooks, webinars, etc.). What if you leveraged search in tandem with these items to expand their reach.
To do this, let’s consider what has changed recently in the world of search.
SEO’s effectiveness has not changed, it still equals increased conversions. SEO is in fact the most effective online marketing tactic as ranked in a recent TopRank poll on digital marketing tactics.
Search itself however has changed – the major engines are constantly changing the landscape of search results. A best practice of SEO is staying agile and following how engines are serving results, shifting what you are doing based on that.
If it can be searched on, it can be optimized – and that’s what guides a holistic online marketing strategy.
For an optimized content strategy – start with goals. What are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to chase just sales every month or are you actually trying to build engagement and a community which can help scale all results?
Fundamentally, what search is about is increasing revenue – but don’t just think about it like this, consider that it can also reduce costs. People don’t just search to buy things; they also search for many other reasons (i.e. – what if you can reduce call center costs by answering common questions on an optimized page).
Where do search and social media collide? It’s at the point where you create content.
10 Things to consider to get the most out of content and SEO:
Increasing revenue is key, but there is more to establishing goals. Think of building engagement (and permission) with an audience.
2. Buyer personas
Buyer persons leverage demographic and psychographic information on customers in order to provide content that actually resonates.
You’re doing keyword research already for SEO, but what about social? Think about this: in the way you conduct keyword research to discover demand for search terms you can also conduct social keyword research. And, social conversations drive search. If you attain insight into what it is people are talking about, you can use that to fulfill future search demands ahead of competitors.
4. Content & digital assets
The first thing is to make sure you are actually publishing new content. If you understand your customers, you understand what it is they need and should be answering this through content. But where to get content? There are many avenues, including tapping social channels and taking inventory of existing digital assets (for example, you may find you have offline media you can put online. No matter where you decide to take inspiration for content, you will need to create it consistently.
5. Editorial plan
After understanding of an audience, you’ll need a plan (informed by keywords). Further, understanding all elements of where people are in the buying process will help create content for prospects in all stages.
6. Operationalize SEO
Many folks in the content optimization process within a company might not care about SEO. But if you can share keyword lists with team members to inculcate their messages with, these team members can help. It’s important to make everyone a part of the process.
7. Develop off-site assets
You can search-optimize your website, but you need to socially optimize your website too. This includes building off-site assets. This is important and comes into play when repurposing content. Creating unique versions of content on social destinations and linking back to the original can help get your content up and off your site. When designing your strategy, plan in advance to repurpose content in a compelling way across platforms.
You’ve got to build social networks. If you are repurposing content to various destinations that have social networking components – you need to take advantage of building a community there. For example, if you aren’t creating connections within StumbleUpon or other social sites, you will never truly tap them. You need to build an audience anticipating your next story.
Build it and they will come is a fallacy. Bad content with a great title will win against great content with a boring title. Part of your editorial plan must be promotion. If you engage with audiences in the course of developing networks, you start to understand how to share it. Also, and a key tenant of social media optimization, you need to be promoting content in a way that demonstrates value.
Not just web analytics or KPIs, but also take a look at social media monitoring and engagement metrics. You can monitor what people are talking about and how they are reacting to your content. The takeaway is to ensure you’re leveraging both web analytics and social monitoring offsite.
- Develop & optimized content with persons in mind – go beyond just the keyword you are optimizing for
- Create and promote content regularly
- Develop channels of distribution & social links
- Leverage both web & social media analytics
At what point are you ever concerned about duplicate content?
If you have great developers and can mix/match content, you can avoid duplicate content while mashing up and repurposing. The link footprint also makes a big difference. Make a certain percentage of change to the content in order to make it unique and useful for search engines and users.
How much new content and on what frequency do you need it to satisfy users and search engines?
Search engines would love it if you published consistent unique articles every day. But it has to do with the audience you’re trying to reach. As a takeaway, you need to start somewhere – so let’s say you’re thinking about videos. Consider creating a video every month (or even 2 weeks) – choose an interval and keep at it. Be patient and stick with it, the right strategies will pay off. There is no “magic interval,” but consistency is crucial.
When you try to teach 20-30 web editors how to re-purpose an article, how can you ask them to re-write it without frustrating them?
This shouldn’t be done after the fact, plan it out for someone to create and repurpose that content originally. It can create debate when done after the fact because it doesn’t set expectation. Also, be sure to share the results with that person from the extra piece of content they created. Reinforce success by sharing metrics and you can motivate your team.
How do you determine that you have created buzz or reached a “tipping point” for clients?
A social media monitoring tool or your web analytics tool will allow you to see results of your efforts and see spikes in activity. What you’re monitoring lets you use the results.
We’d like to start syndicating our content for backlinks – how should we start?
Make it easy technically for content to be syndicated (via RSS, for example). You could create another topic-specific site and syndicate there (along with other useful, niche-relevant content). If you could do some clever queries to blogs that are open to guest posts, that could be a good avenue to find other sites who would be interested in your content.
We want to engage in social content, but we’re afraid of negative comments about our brand. What should we do?
If users are already saying these things about your brand, why not have those discussions in your own backyard. This provides an area to respond to them. What if because you do have a blog, someone decides to comment there as opposed to doing something like submitting to Rip Off Report where you can’t respond? At least here, you have the ability to counter the negativity and share your side of the story.