December 02, 2014

Content Strategy

There’s an old rumor out there that SEO and content marketing is simply in the business of obtaining links. Around 2005, links became a huge factor regarding content creation – remember just a few years ago, when experts taught us that the best way to drive users to focus pages was through a link or two scattered around on the blog or website? Sure, when you’re creating content for your business or for clients, this is still an important foundational concept to remember. But just as our industry has changed the way we produce content has changed. Our needs are different now. Along with clients and internet users in general, they’ve expanded; they’ve matured. What we give people has to meet growing and changing thoughts, desires and needs.

Can a simple link meet those needs? In an ideal content marketing world, perhaps. You understand that your business or your client’s business produces a product that can meet many different needs, and it’s your job to pinpoint those within the realm of all content you produce. Can a link to a landing or other type of page do everything you want it to? Not necessary to Google, and not necessarily to the people out there searching. When someone argues to you that content marketing doesn’t work, tell them it’s not just about links anymore. It’s about… well, everything.

So what have you been doing wrong? Why haven’t your SEO strategies been working?

1. It deserves to be said again – it’s not just about links!

When it comes to written content, it’s probably best to start to thinking about links like you think about punctuation. In certain spots, these things have to exist in order to build a functional, acceptable piece of information. Unlike period marks, you don’t want them sprinkled everywhere. Like exclamation points, use them sparingly and with great attention to how they function. Keep them short, sweet and in highly effective places.

Remember when your mom used to send you text messages and every sentence ended with an exclamation point? Awkward, right? The same feeling arises when a person pops onto a piece of content peppered with link after link. First, the general rule is that more than one link per 100 words comes across incredibly spammy and overwhelming. Second, if you come across a reader that actually doesn’t think it looks spammy, chances are he or she will not know where to click first, so he or she won’t click at all.

2. You make it, they want it

Not necessarily. You, of all SEO strategists and content creators, know that just because something is on the internet doesn’t mean it’s actually reaching out to people. If it worked that way, as I’m assuming it might have say, around 1995, you wouldn’t be aiding businesses or clients achieve discovery and success. There wouldn’t be detailed internet strategies working to please search engines and those that use them. Nothing is that easy, so stop thinking that your content is desired by all mankind.

Truthfully, if you’ve researched your audience, taken the time to understand them and know their needs and their desires, your content is needed by someone. Creating information that answers questions and needs is a part of your work. Like anything, however, it takes hard work, patience and of course, promotion, to get the ball rolling and achieve success.

3. Blogs are it

You should know by now that blog posts aren’t the only way to create content. Like all parts of an SEO strategy, a blog is merely a piece that supports another piece that supports another piece.

Blog posts are shareable and full of rich, useful verbiage. They are a place to publish other sorts of content you create, from videos to infographics to contests. However, you can easily create these things on other portions of a site, or even off-site via social media networks, apps and so much more.

What I will always say is great about a blog, however, is that while the people-reading-blogs-all-the-time phase may be waning, it’s a place for someone to come back to. It’s a place where someone can easily find an image to pin, or a video to share via Facebook, or a site to bookmark for future reference.

An onsite blog can be difficult to maintain for some, and even possibly a waste of time for some industries, but the support a blog can provide is difficult to find elsewhere.

4. More is more

This principle depends on how many people are visiting your content daily. Sites with thousands or millions of engaged visitors deliver content as often as cities deliver electricity to their residents – on a rolling basis.

But with a place that has a generally small amount of interactiveness, too much content can cause people to tire so quickly of your information that everything becomes less and less effective and unfortunately, more annoying.

Do you ever want to be annoying?

Content that is produced on an organized and frequent basis is much more effective than content just spewed out randomly with the idea that the more you share, the more popular you become. A tiny amount is ineffective; too much is ineffective. Stay away from extremes and find a schedule that works for your business.

5. Content is the most important thing to focus on

Of course not! What have we said about mixing it up? About cohesive SEO strategies? The best strategy is the one that begins with a diagram of all functional pieces, each just as important as the one that is completed before it.

Another important aspect to remember about content is that it’s not effective without a link or two and without a Call-To-Action (CTA). The right links in the right place will take someone to the place they need to be, and that’s how links work productively. A CTA finishes the dialogue to also usher someone to where they need to be. It doesn’t have to be cheesy, as those midnight commercials can be. It just needs to be informative, assertive and relatable.

Speaking of CTAs, what are we missing here? What types of strategies have you tried that don’t seem to be working?

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