7 Tactics to Make Your Content Marketing Search-Friendly
Since roughly one out of six Google daily search queries have never been seen before, you must provide relevant content marketing about your organization, brands and products that your current customers need and prospects seek to make their purchase decisions.
Your content by itself isn’t sufficient; it must be findable by your target audience. Therefore, content marketing and search optimization must go hand-in-hand to generate bottom-line results.
To ensure your content marketing efforts super charge your search optimization, here are seven actionable marketing tips.
1. Understand your target audience’s needs and hot buttons. Without this information, you can’t create effective content that your prospects seek. To this end, put yourself in your prospects’ shoes and think like a customer, not a marketer.
- Listen to your audience’s conversations. Pay attention to what they find important and interesting on social media platforms, through your internal resources such as customer service and sales, and by asking them directly with surveys.
- Develop marketing persona to get inside your audience’s head. Include customers, influencers, and decision makers. Specifically consider how they seek information, when they look for it, and what devices they use to find it.
- Include social signals. Therefore create a social media persona to help you develop the signals your audience will best respond to.
2. Select your keywords with care. This research isn’t an intellectual exercise. Your goal is to focus your content creation efforts on the needs and topics your prospects and customers are seeking information on and to pick the words and phrases they are likely to use. (For detailed information on this topic, check out Ron Jones’ Keyword Intelligence. )
- Brainstorm appropriate words. At a minimum, use the tools that Google supplies.
- Consider every aspect of the purchase process. The words your prospects use change as they get closer to purchase.
- Use your audience’s words. Get outside of your organization’s internal talk to hear the specific terms your buyers use.
3. Create unique, engaging content that provides valuable information for your audience. You’re not just writing for search bots, rather you’re developing content that your audience seeks and wants to share. Of course, your content should support attaining your business objectives in the process.
- Tell your story. Go beyond the basic facts since the chance of beating Wikipedia for the essentials on search engines can be slim. Learn from Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made To Stick and tap into the power of storytelling to make your content memorable and sharable.
- Think beyond plain text to offer non-text content that attracts attention. Include images, video, presentations and audio where appropriate because other forms of content appear on SERPs. Also realize that not everyone starts his information journey on Google. YouTube is the second largest search engine! Use a Google-friendly format for non-text content and ensure it’s findable (code for searchable) by adding text, specifically the title, tags and metadata containing your keyword(s).
- Re-imagine your content for other platforms. Finding strategic content creation events may be difficult for your business, you can take advantage of Todd Wheatland’s twenty to one content ratio to develop different pieces of content around the same subject that is contextually relevant. Remember duplicate content is a no-no for search engines.
4. Integrate your 360° degree brand into your content. Ensure your audience recognizes your content as quickly as possible.
- Incorporate your company’s voice and language. Make sure your content sounds like your firm without being empty corporate-speak. If your firm’s description is generic, it won’t rank highly in search results.
- Use colors, fonts and images to show your brand association. Avoid using stock photography – it looks like stock photograply – your brand is unique!
5. Optimize each piece of content for one keyword phrase. This should be integrated into your editorial calendar.
- Incorporate your keyword into the title of your content, preferably near the beginning. Also, include the keyword in the first sentence of your piece and throughout your content and associated metadata where it makes sense. BUT don’t stuff them into your information. Remember you’re writing for people.
- Include at least one internal and external link. To support your business, link to your products where appropriate.
- Use words in your content’s URL. Don’t just accept computer-generated numbers. Where possible, incorporate your keyword(s).
6. Format your content for easy human consumption. Bear in mind that your audience has a variety of ways of consuming content that’s influenced by the situation and device. Understand that what works best for both humans and search robots.
- Pay attention to content length. I recommend writing at least 500 words to ensure you’re providing value and can stand out in the sea of information because it’s difficult to convey important concepts in fewer words.
- Craft attention-getting headlines. Pull your readers into your content since only 20% of them will read the rest of the article. Don’t underestimate the importance of headlines for driving social sharing which can lead to additional readers and search signals.
- Use bolding and outlining. Make your content scannable for people on-the-go.
7. Incorporate social media. Social signals are an important component of search. Don’t assume readers will automatically share your content. Besides, your goal should be to maximize the content distribution in any case.
- Share your content on relevant social media platforms. Use tailored, platform appropriate messaging. (Also, don’t just promote your own content!)
- Add social sharing options. Make it easy for readers to distribute your content to their friends and colleagues.
- Include a contextually relevant call-to-action to extend your reach across platforms. Nudge visitors to distribute your content.
- Claim your Google authorship. This links your content to your Google+ page and helps your content stand out and perform better in search.
Leverage the power of your content marketing by ensuring that it’s optimized for search. To this end, know your target audience so that you can develop information that responds to their needs and hot buttons. Maximize the impact of your content marketing by making it findable, consumable and sharable.
What challenges have you had when optimizing your content marketing for search?
Join me & Kevin Spacey at Content Marketing World 2014 Meet me in real life at CMW 2014 in Cleveland.
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Also check out The Art of SEO by Eric Enge, Rand Fishkin, Stephen Spencer and Jessie Stricchiola
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/7071545621/