Content Marketing Strategy
The following is my content marketing strategy. This is part 3 of a 4 part “Marketing for Robots” tutorial by Rob Bertholf. Content is the lifeblood of any successful SEO efforts.
If you have not already done so I recommend you start with my SEO Strategy first as this document references many concepts in the earlier document.
If you are stumbling onto this post and wondering what my SEO credentials are, for the last 5 years I have taught strategies and tactics on SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing and Web Analytics at the University of Hawaii’s Pacific New Media program. I also rank #1 in Google for the term “Search Engine Optimization Expert“.
What is Content Marketing?
Wikipedia describes it as:
A marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
While content marketing seems elementary, a content marketing plan can take a good deal of planning and thought to execute consistently providing the most value to the recipient. Too often marketers generate inconsistent and irrelevant content which will not prove to engage their customers. By first mapping out a keyword plan you will ensure that your content is on point and consistent. By further understanding what your customer finds useful you will build a loyal audience to market to.
What does this have to do with SEO?
Simple answer, Everything.
As we learned in the last sections, Search Engine Optimization (“Manipulation” if we are being honest) is getting the search engines to perceive your site as authoritative and recommend it to their searchers. The way the search engines originally assigned authority to your website was under the idealistic concept that if you generate great content people will link to it. For years SEO’s took the lazy approach of falsifying a websites authority by generating links unnaturally to a website… to be honest it is easier than generating unique content. Today the web spam teams of search engines have caught up to these techniques and are using content performance factors to determine if a website is authoritative or not.
[TODO: Link to post on increasing CTR]
This leads to this guide on content ideation and marketing even though you are in the “Marketing for Robots” (search engine) strategy guide. Please note that the information listed here is very one-sided for catering to search engines through content marketing. It is highly recommended that you also read the “Marketing for Humans” guide where I explain content marketing as it pertains to social media and visitor conversion which is found at http://robbertholf.com
In this strategy guide you will learn tips on how to gain the most reach by working smart and maximizing the visibility and effectiveness of each piece of content.
Wearing our “Robots” hat let’s continue, shall we?
One cannot create quality content if one does not know who they are or what they are trying to achieve. For this it is critical that you get a handle on your brand positioning.
In the book by Jim Collins, Good to Great, the success of a number of companies were analyzed over a 15 year period. The book attributes a number of factors, one he called “The Hedgehog Concept.” The term is explained as the defence mechanism of groundhogs vs other animals behavior when threatened. The hedgehog has perfected one move. There are lessons to be learned by this singularity in focus.
Great companies live at the intersection of these three circles:
- What are you passionate about?
- What can you be the best in the world at?
- What drives your economic engine?
Before you begin your content marketing efforts you really need to understand and define the following:
What do you love to do as a company? What is it that permeates this culture that you are a part of?
You may enjoy doing some things, are you the best in the world at them? Do you have the people, resources, and processes in place to be world-class?
Your Revenue Model
What is it that’s actually driving revenue? Where does the money come from?
When creating content, what is the voice it should be written in? Maintaining a consistent message is important to a cohesive brand. To flesh this out it is important to define the following:
What does your brand sound like? If it were a celebrity who would it be?
How do you come across? How do you want to be perceived?
What kind of words do you use?
What are you trying to achieve through your content?
Creating the Keyword Plan
A successful approach to content marketing is to first visualize your topics, keywords and hashtags. The four types of keywords/key-phrases can be visualized like circles. It is my recommendation to work backwards starting with the brand, then identifying your offering (be it a product, service or cause), then define what questions would be asked to find your offering and finally who would ask the question. This is inverse to starting with your customer and working forward but is a more logical exercise with an established offering set.
This visualizes as Brand > Offering > Expertise > Lifestyle as illustrated in the diagram below:
What words would be used to refer to your company?
A great place to start is by identifying words which would only be associated with your brand (e.g. trademarks, product names, executives, etc.). These will be used to identify customer service related content or conversations, brand reputation management issues as well as word of mouth & advocacy content.
What words would people use to ask for your [Product / Service / Cause]?
These are your customer acquisition keywords/key-phrases. You can start the list by identifying the following potential queries:
- [Product or Service] Names
- Trending Queries
- Competitor Terms
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Customer Feedback
Take this list of words and run them through keyword lookup tools such as Google Adwords keyword planner to determine how often the word is searched. You will want to focus on words with high search volume while still staying focused on niche words which will bring the most qualified customers.
Now identify the organic conversions associated to each of the queries noting the priority of the query based on historical conversion. Consider profit margins on your [Product or Service] to further define priorities.
If your offering is the answer, what is the question?
The true content opportunities exist beyond the product. You should uncover topics relevant to your product/service to showcase your rich expertise. Examples include:
- What is the best …
- What should I know about…
- How do I…
Further examples of relevant expertise content include:
- Frequently asked questions regarding your offering
- Buying guides and product/brand comparisons
- Trending topics in your space
These queries will be leveraged to create topical expertise driven content which is relevant, timely and interesting for your customers.
Who would ask these questions and what is valuable to them?
Clearly define who your target customer is and consider further grouping them by interest. Next identify what they value and what types of queries would encapsulate this.
A large opportunity in the lifestyle space is in curated content. Your focus should primarily be on Branded, Product and Expertise related content and you should create and curate lifestyle content.
Optimizing for Target Keywords
Using the answers to the above questions you can then action on them as part of your search engine optimization and content marketing strategy.
If you are a new company you will want to create appropriate content on your website to establish your site as an authority for your branded keywords.
Create Website Content
If applicable create pages on your site using your branded keywords for the following:
- About Page
- Press & Media
- Location / Directions (if physical location)
Create Your Asset Network
What I mean by this is you will want to have a network of managed websites that you can post your content to. While there are thousands of websites you can post your content out to, there are only a few dozen that will give you the most authority.
If you have not already you will want to ensure you have also claimed these words on social networks. Start with the basics, register an account on the main networks: Google+ (Personal & Business), YouTube, Twitter, Facebook (Page), Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Reddit.
Then create a second tier of assets like WordPress.org, Tumblr, Vimeo, etc. You will also want to create profiles on topical sites based on your industry.
* If you would like assist building this out feel free to contact me for a quote
This process will provide a healthy amount of branded keywords in your backlink profile. This is also very important process to claim your brand identity online so nobody else can.
Build out your [Product / Service / Cause] pages
These are for Customer acquisition. Ensure these words are found in your website in your services page, product pages
* NOTE: Internal linking is critical. If you would like help to create a content structure feel free to contact me for a quote.
Expertise & Lifestyle Keywords
Create blog posts and topical pages
Leverage these keywords for building topical value and internal linking.
* NOTE: There is a different use for this same keyword exercise when optimizing for humans. e.g. Lifestyle can be used for content curation… learn more on my other website for Marketing for Humans.
[TODO: Discuss content sources as part of greater strategy]
You are surrounded by content sources.
- Each page of your site
- Offering pages
- Each blog post
- Videos, Images, etc.
- Testimonials / Reviews
Website Content Anatomy
Think about each piece of content in a deconstructed state. These pieces of content may then be constructed to match the requirements of each platform.
To gain the most exposure for each piece of content you generate consider ways to repurpose your content as various content types for maximum reach.
As an example let’s take a blog post. You could take a few of the best quotes from the post and overlay them on images and upload to Pinterest or Instagram. You could record you reading this and it is now a podcast you can upload to SoundCloud or iTunes. You can take the content and images and turn it into a presentation you can upload to Slideshare. Then you could take the audio recording and overlay it with the presentation and it is now a video you can upload to YouTube, etc.
So from one piece of text you could potentially create a dozen pieces of content you can distribute. This is working smarter not harder. The other benefit from this is you maintain consistency of message throughout the different channels.
Blog to Instagram
Distill down the message into soundbites you can overlay onto an image and post it to Instagram and Pinterest.
Blog to Podcast
Record yourself reading (or better yet talking about) the blog post and save it as an audio file you can leverage as a podcast.
Blog to Slide Deck
Take key points from your slide deck and break them into slides to form a presentation.
Audio File & Slide Deck to Video
Think about taking multiple content types and combine them to a new content type. An example as stated earlier is to take the Audio file you created for your podcast and the slide deck and combine the two into a video you can upload to YouTube, Vimeo, etc.
The wrong way
It is a natural thought process to content creation/marketing to take a siloed approach to creating and posting content directly inside each social platform.
This however is time consuming and lacks continuity. More importantly from an SEO perspective, there is no SEO value to creating content directly into the social platform without a link in the post back to the website.
The right way
The right way to think about content marketing is to view your website as the hub of all your marketing efforts. Create content (in the form of a page or blog post) on your website first. Then take the URL generated by the page and share it out to your social networks.
Importance of Schema & Open Graph
It is important to note that sharing a link can fall flat if you do not utilize Schema markup to serve up relevant details to the social platforms. Examples include the page title, description, image and more. In addition to Google other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest all have their own markup that is advised to include into your website. This will give a much richer experience when sharing the content.