I’m often baffled by how intimidating people find content marketing. I have clients that have successfully built offline businesses from the ground up that seem to tremble at this whole content marketing thing. Throw SEO in the mix and they practically run for the hills. Or, start throwing “consulting” money at me like I have the cure for cancer.
Which is silly.
Content strategy should cover three objectives:
Objective #1: Keep Your Promises
If you want to rank for a key term like “chicken salad”, then all you have to do is create a page that is the go-to resource for chicken salad. This means it has tons of info, supplemental material, links out to appropriate places, etc.
I like to call this the “Storyboard test.” Imagine you are back in junior high and you have a school project; one of those awful storyboard projects where you have to explore all sorts of perspectives of a particular topic. I vividly remember a storyboard project I did on the Lindbergh Trial. Everybody has one of these memories.
Is the page you are trying to rank for this keyword full of enough info to fill a storyboard? Does it, at the minimum, provide enough options for the person to find all the info they need?
Keep in mind that huge traffic/more generic key terms like “chicken salad” are casting a much wider net then say “chicken salad recipe with pecans.” That’s where the “keep your promises” part gets a little tricky. Because even though you might have one singular focus (to sell your chicken salad kit for the office lunch), your potential visitors do not. They have a variety of wants/needs/desires when they type in “chicken salad” – if you want to rank well and keep those visitors, you have to provide them what they want, whatever that may be.
Think of it this way:
Let’s say you run a grocery store and a young person like myself walks up to the deli counter and asks about a chicken salad recipe with pecans. Which would you prefer?
Option A: The deli clerk to provide me her advice; maybe directs me to a stack of recipe cards or suggests I try the chicken salad she has and just add pecans.
Option B: The deli clerk tells me to get lost; she’s busy with paying customers.
How you run your business is up to you, but I think you get my drift about which one of these scenarios plays out on your landing pages. Just like the grocery scenario above, the key is to pinpoint your copy to your ideal audience without alienating the rest. Chances are high that a person who types in “chicken salad” may very well want to buy a chicken salad kit for lunch sometime down the road.
Objective #2: Maintain Trust
In this post-panda/caffeine/penguin/etc. world, trust is a beautiful thing. In order for your content marketing to be effective, you must maintain your visitors’ trust in a variety of ways.
– Leverage trust signals like accreditations, use real face pictures when appropriate, actively engage on social media, and more.
– Provide easy navigation. Feeling trapped does not exude trust.
– Whatever you do, do it consistently. Blogs are historically inconsistent. The irony is just when you start to gain some traction many people jump ship. Unless you are using services like JumpLead, you often have no idea who is lurking on your site.
– Pick your friends wisely. Don’t recommend items to your audience based on commissions or include advertising on your site from places you don’t recommend. Essentially, “If you go to bed with dogs, you wake up with fleas.” Be mindful who you link to or otherwise, allow associating with your site.
– Stop cutting corners. Saving a few bucks here or there might just ruin your business if you aren’t careful. Be frugal, not stupid.
Objective #3: Conversion
There is a reason that converting is the third objective and not the first. In fact, rather than objectives, you should treat each one of these points as if they were a separate sieve. If whatever you want to do (site design, blog post, etc) doesn’t achieve objective #1, then modify it before you proceed.
However, if you have a new page chock full of resources that satisfies both objective #1 and #2, then you can start worrying about conversion.
The good news? All the hard work is mostly done. Now it is just tweaking your copy or doing some A/B testing to untangle the funnel to conversion city!
When you keep your promises and maintain trust, you will be viewed highly by Google and thereby viewed often by visitors. This is where your creativity can really flourish. Keep these parameters in mind and your common sense content marketing will bring you lasting results both in SEO and in sales.
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