It is no secret that content marketing has grown tremendously over the past few years. In fact, 93 percent of B2B marketers reported using content marketing as a part of their online marketing strategy. Though I think it is excellent that many website owners have embraced the concept of content marketing, with its more widespread use has come lots of differing opinions and tips from experts and practitioners.
One theme that is popular among content purists is the “Build it and they will come” school of thought. Many believe that if you create compelling content and publish it on your website or blog, your work is done; your audience will flock to it based on its merit alone. Yes, this may happen once in a while, but the chances are very slim. Content marketing is not a “set it and forget it” strategy, and those who treat it as such are putting themselves at a serious disadvantage.
Content marketing is about much more than creating compelling content; it’s also about making sure your audience discovers and shares the content you worked so hard to produce. Though creating high-quality content is essential, if you do not take the necessary steps to ensure your content will be found, you are leaving important opportunities on the table.
At Vertical Measures, we use an 8-step content marketing methodology, and more than half of those steps occur after our piece of content has been published. Let’s take a deeper dive into the four post-production steps that I believe are crucial to content marketing success:
Content optimization is the first step you need to take to increase the likelihood of your content being found. However, this process can be tricky, as optimizing content for the sole purpose of achieving high search engine rankings will most likely result in a poor-quality piece that consumers won’t waste their time with. The key is to create content that is targeted to the needs of your audience while keeping search engines in mind, as well — audience first, search engines second.
When you optimize your content, you provide data that search engines use to determine what your content and your company are about. Depending on the type of content you’re looking to optimize, this data can be communicated in a variety of ways. For example, when you optimize text content, you need to consider title tags, meta descriptions, H1 tags, and URL structure. But for images, you will want to provide relevant alt tags, image tags, and filenames, while keeping file size in mind, too. Search engines then use this information to rank your content in the search engine results (SERPs). If your content is optimized, it’s more likely to be listed on the SERPs when a user enters a relevant search string.
Searchers themselves also use the search-optimized information you provide to decide if your listed content will be worth their attention. Most searchers decide to visit a website they found through search by reading the title (title tag) and description (meta description) that appears in a SERP. If that information isn’t relevant to the content it describes, it will be evident to users, and they may avoid clicking through to your site — no matter how well it ranks in the search results. Conversely, a non-optimized title and description may cause a visitor to bounce from your content immediately — and feel like they’ve been duped by content that lacks relevance to their search intentions.
As you can see, optimization is necessary in order to provide search engine bots with the necessary context to accurately rank your content. Without these clues, your content may not appear in the SERPs for desired search terms and you will miss out on organic search traffic — as well as a chance to connect with interested consumers.
Content promotion is another essential step of successful content marketing. You can’t rely solely on people finding your content through search engines; you have to put it out there in other ways, too. Luckily, there are a number of ways to get your content in front of potential customers. Consider the following:
- Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Be sure to share your content on any social network you participate on and ask brand advocates to do so as well.
- Blogs: Promote your content not only on your own blog, but on other industry blogs as well.
- Email: Consider sending an email announcement to your subscribers describing your content.
- Press releases: If your content is newsworthy, think about crafting a press or media release to promote your piece.
- Podcasts: Discuss your content by creating an industry-relevant podcast.
And the list goes on. Find out wherever your audience is hanging out online and look for opportunities to promote your content there. This will largely depend on your industry, audience, and the type of content piece, but is crucial for success.
Like promotion, distribution is about getting your compelling content in front of relevant eyeballs, but using a different strategy. You can get much more out of your content by distributing it on multiple platforms — a practice that often requires content repurposing.
For example, let’s say you wrote a lengthy article about a hot topic being discussed in your industry. In addition to publishing the article as you normally would, you can increase content distribution by:
- Turning the article into a series of blog posts
- Sharing key facts and statistics on social media networks
- Recording a podcast in which you discuss the article in additional detail
- Creating a video to illustrate the article’s concepts and content
- Breaking your article into separate sections, and publishing them individually as a slide presentation on a site like SlideShare
- Using the article topic as the starting point for an in-depth white paper or free guide to help readers take action on your discussion points
- Developing a webinar based on the article topic, and inviting notable industry experts to participate
Content distribution allows you to truly get the most out of your content. While repurposing your content for additional circulation takes extra work, turning one round of brainstorming and research into multiple pieces of content will save you time and effort in the long run.
4. Link building
Link building has gained a reputation for being spammy; however, it doesn’t have to be. Even Google’s own Matt Cutts recognizes that, “not all link building is bad.” Though engaging content should attract links on its own, proactive link building can be beneficial — if done correctly.
There are many link building tactics that do not violate search engines’ terms of service and still provide value, including the content promotion and distribution strategies discussed above. The more people discover your useful content, the better your odds of getting links from those people.
Guest blogging or writing just for the sake of a link isn’t a sustainable (or recommended) strategy, but legitimately sharing compelling content on an external blog or social media platform is great for branding, and often provides a link you can share through additional channels. Also, try the reverse of guest blogging by inviting talented people in your industry to contribute to your blog or social media outlets. Bloggers will want to promote their “extracurricular” content efforts in their own communities — which helps to spread your insight and influence — and will perhaps even reference the post in other content they produce, resulting in an additional link for you to share.
Or, you can consider producing a press release to highlight a single piece of content that has been performing well for your business. This can often create dozens, if not hundreds, of high quality links that point new viewers directly toward to your content.
Though it’s nice to think that our content will show up on the front page of Google on its own, unfortunately that’s not usually the case. Sure, content can go viral, but these instances are few and far between. Therefore, it’s important to remember that publishing high-quality, compelling content is just one of the many necessary steps in the content marketing process. Optimization, promotion, distribution, and link building are all imperative for achieving solid, sustainable content marketing success.
Looking for more ideas for increasing content engagement? Read CMI’s Content Marketing Playbook: 24 Epic Ideas for Connecting with Your Customers.
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