Lesson One: What is Content Marketing?
Welcome to Module 3. In this and subsequent lessons in Module 3 we look at Content Marketing, which is essential if you want to grow your business online.
We have a saying in our SEO Agency, all our clients must ‘deserve to rank’, essentially what this means is their websites must be better than the competitions and we accomplish this through great content.
In this first lesson we explain what content marketing is..
Watch the next lesson: Lesson Two: Local Content Marketing
Hello and welcome to module three of SEO Success.
This module is entirely focused around content marketing. What exactly is it? Well, in this first lesson, I’m going to explain what it is, why it’s so important … no, scrap that, why it’s vital for your business to succeed online, and I’m going to give you some real life examples using my own agency clients to show you first hand how small and medium sized businesses can do content marketing really well and how you can, too.
Now, if you have a blog on your website or other means of sharing information and providing value to your customer, then you are at least doing part of content marketing already, which is great stuff. A word of warning.
One of the most common mistakes that businesses make is they opt for the … what I call the publish and pray approach. That’s where you have a blog or other means of sharing content and you come up with an idea off the top of your head. You write it. You publish it and then, effectively, you pray and hope that the rankings and the traffic is just gonna come flooding in.
It doesn’t work. It’s not good quality content marketing, and it’s not what we’ll be doing. If you have been doing anything like up until now, now is the time to stop.
I have started working with many small businesses over the years. When I asked them what they’re doing with their content, I see that they’ve been churning out content on a weekly or sometimes even daily basis. When I asked them why, they say, “Because we should ’cause Google wants fresh content.” When I actually dive into their analytics and look at their rankings, their traffic, and their online visibility, you very quickly see, more often than not, that their blog gets almost no visits at all.
It adds no real value. In essence, all that time, energy, and sometimes money that they’re putting into creating content is a great big waste of time. We need to be, and we’re going to be, much more strategic about how we come up with content ideas to ensure they’re of value to the end customer or to your target market, and that content is part of a wider content marketing strategy.
In its simplest form, content marketing is just the process of researching, creating, publishing, and then promoting content that is of interest to your target customers and/or the influences within your industry, and secondly, to showcase your products, services, and crucially, your expertise. Now, whether or not you’re producing any content right now, it’s really important to understand the thinking behind why you need a content marketing plan and to not just produce content sporadically on an ad hoc basis.
For years, I’ve been going to meetings with new and existing clients and explaining the content marketing process and why it’s so important. It boils down to this. If you want your business to rank top and beat the competition, then your website must deserve to outrank the competition and be in those top spots. You can only accomplish this by providing great value that surpasses what your competitors are doing and showcasing your business’s expertise. It really is as simple as that. You have to deserve for your website to rank number one.
Think about that for a second. If your website is never updated and doesn’t have anything great to offer the end user, if there’s no added value, then why should your business deserve to rank well in Google? Does it deserve to rank top and out perform the competition? Probably not. No. Instead, what we need to focus on doing is creating great content that we research and we know your audience, be that your target customer or the influencers, that they are interested in that content.
Once we publish it, we then need to focus on sharing it and promoting it so that your business and your website is providing lots of value and; therefore, deserves to rank top in Google.
I can better illustrate what I mean by sharing some real world examples from my own experience. I’m going to highlight how educating people and providing valuable, practical, and useful information is one great way to go about a content marketing plan. First up, we have London Drainage Services. Now, you may recognise these guys because we previously used them in other lessons. They’ve been one of my agency clients for many years. We realised in the plumbing and drainage industry that people have a lot of questions.
They go online to find the answers and the actionable information, whether that’s they’ve got a plumbing issue at home or at work, whatever the case may be. We also realised that the traditional blogging is not the right answer here, because people aren’t gonna be going online looking for a blog necessarily. We took a blog, put it on his website, and we simply renamed it to information and guides. This, then, gave us the opportunity to create lots of highly actionable, useful content.
For example, we created guides and information around blocked toilets, around shower issues, around soil stack issues, even around gutter maintenance, all the services that this client offers. We created highly actionable, useful, DIY guides that provided lots of value to the end user. Ultimately, a lot of these customers are probably gonna turn in … well, a lot of these visits are gonna turn into customers when they read the article and they realise actually they probably need professional help.
Were it not for this content that is of lots of value and far surpassing what the competition are doing, were it not for that, the client would stand no chance of ranking and performing well in Google.
If we didn’t have this content marketing strategy in place and simply stopped at the keyword research and the on page optimization phase, yes, their website would be optimised and would perform well for their primary optimised term, such as drainage London, and blocked drains London, things like that. They wouldn’t stand a chance of appearing for the very specific terms, how many people search every day, such as how to unblock a drain, or soil stack cleaning, or one of many, many other terms that the client now ranks for, thanks solely to this content marketing strategy.
This is just one of a hundred different ways that you could deploy your own content marketing plan. It’s simple, right? It’s so easy to do. Just remember, content marketing is about deserving to rank. This particular example, what difference has it made on the client’s business? Well, their organic traffic, year on year, thanks solely to this content strategy, shows an increase of 1,489%. That is massive. It’s made a huge difference to the client’s business.
Moving on to another example now. Ski Bonjour is a ski chalet company based here in the UK, but with properties out in France. I first started working with these guys a few years ago. We soon realised that the best way to drive traffic, build brand awareness, and brand loyalty would be to create great content. The content we created was around ski education and the locations from which they operated. We focused on giving insider tips and expertise.
We created a blog and filled it with travel guides for their locations, ski planning guides, how to’s, checklists, chalet reviews and insights, all the sorts of useful content that new or pro skiers would want to know before they travel and when deciding on a location to go skiing. This combined placed Ski Bonjour as a go-to resource because they had lots of valuable content that people wanted to know, wanted to read and engage with. The results of all of this? A huge 74% increase in organic traffic to their website and an 81% increase in new visitors. That is a lot of potential new customers right there.
What difference has all of this had to the client’s actual business? Well, they tell me for the 2016/17 ski season they’ve just added several new properties and they’re already sold out. I could share many more similar success stories, but you get the point. A content marketing strategy is the key to growing your business and gaining more traffic and more online visibility. How can you create a content strategy for your business? Well, during the course of the next few lessons throughout module three, I’m going to share with you a ride variety of strategies and walk you through the process step by step of how you can research and create fantastic content that ensures your business deserves to rank. Then, as we move into module four, we’re going to take this newly created content one step further and learn how to promote it.
Now, before we move into lesson two, I want to explain the two main types of content marketing strategies that you need to be thinking about. All of my agency clients adopt either one of these strategies or combine the two. Depending on your type of business, we’ll define which strategy is going to work best for you. First, we have local content marketing. This works especially well if you’re a business that targets a very specific area. Maybe you’re a bricks and mortar business that only work within a set number of miles from a physical location, or if you’re any type of small business that just works within a set target area. If this is you, then a local marketing strategy is going to be imperative for your business. Secondly, we have authority content marketing. This is where you showcase your expertise, your knowledge, and your experience to build your reputation online. Often, this is not localised to a given area. However, it can be combined with a local content strategy. I often recommend that it is.
Authority content marketing is about placing your business or brand as the experts on a given topic, subject, or business sector. It’s about establishing what is out there already and then raising the bar, creating something bigger, better, more informative, more impressive, more useful, whatever the case may be. The aim of authority content marketing is to create content so good that it surpasses anything else available online and Google has no choice but to rank it at the top of the search results.
Exciting, right? Now you’re starting to see why I love it. Over the rest of module three I’m going to delve into both of these content marketing strategies in much more detail, sharing with you everything that you need to know and give you lots of ideas and inspiration. Best of all, everything that I’m going to teach you is with small businesses and independents, like you, in mind. It isn’t going to be hugely time intensive. It isn’t going to cost you a fortune. You aren’t going to need a huge team of people to make this a reality. It’s DIY content marketing at its very best. Click through to lesson two and let’s get started.