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How Does Content Marketing Work?

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How does Content Marketing work? How most people think it works is far different from the real world. Content Marketing, Social Media and SEO work together in a synergy that no modern media or traditional advertising can match.

How Does Content Marketing Work?

The common perception in the small business market – How most people think content marketing works

The general difficulty in understanding exactly “how does content marketing work” is that the vast majority of business owners are looking for a short term “quick fix” type result. The common perception among business people is that they are thinking (or more accurately hoping) that they will be able to create a few well written articles, then share these on their website and then sit back, and as if by magic, they expect to see a mass of targeted customers all interested in their products and services come visit their website for the first time.

how does content marketing work - Magic!The sad reality, is that this actually gets worse.

These otherwise sane business people then expect that a fair number of people will have a overwhelming desire to succumb to a sudden magical impulse and share this content around the internet. Indeed, they believe that a fair portion of this brand new audience, will be converted to paying customers in time for payroll day.

I’ve seen this. I’ve talked to these owners. They write a blog post, and write another, and another, and another until they run out of ideas or just burn out. All the time thinking hundreds, if not thousands, of would-be-customers will see these well-written articles and this will result in some magical new sales in just a few days or weeks.

Need evidence? Look at some websites. Or better yet, see the Facebook icon on their website? Click on it. Facebook is littered with businesses that started sharing content, only to stop after just a few weeks or months.

How does content marketing work - Real WorldAnd not a single post since.

Ghost Town.

Of course I talk to many business people and some will point to their competitors noting that they tried it but “they haven’t posted on their website or Facebook since August of 2013”, gleefully basking in an “it obviously doesn’t work” mode.

The blogs and social networks are littered with the broken dreams of business people all over the world.

how does content marketing work - starts with a mobile friendly websiteHow Does Content Marketing Work?

How Content Marketing Typically Works in the Real World

We live in a world where most of us retrieve news and information from search engines, blogs and social media. It is important now. more than ever, for brands and businesses to create quality content that reaches their relevant audience and communicates – in the right way – who they are as a business. It gives business owners a way to build their brand.

So really… how does content marketing work???

There are two ways to approach content marketing. But for each of these, you need to understand, it’s not a program, it’s not a promotion, it’s not advertising with a start and end date. It’s something you do, and keep doing.

Forever.

The do it yourself approach

This approach combines your website blog and social media, but leaves out professional SEO.

Now that we are back in the real world, you will create a blog on a sub-directory of you main domain. Something like this: www.yourwebsite.com/blog. Be aware the “Build Your Own” website builders lack this ability. If you get serious about this, you’ll need to go in a different direction (and you should anyways).

Reading content - How does content marketing workNow create some blog posts and you will likely attract no visitors at all. If you are exceptionally lucky, you’ll get a few that read your blog posts. Of those, some might actually read the entire post, and one or two make it to the very end, and think to themselves “that was good”.

Then they leave your website, forget everything they read, and never think of you again.

Now since we’ve told you to never stop, you continue to create content. You share it on Facebook, Google+ or some other social sites. If you are lucky, someone will stumble across you again, recognize the logo or branding and think “I’ve seen this before”.

So now that’s twice that someone read your content.

Reading content Again! - How does content marketing workOnce this happens a few more times, they’ll begin to realize that you’re creating content about the things that matter to them. They might leave a comment on your blog or perhaps bookmark your website in their “favorites” section. Maybe a handful might subscribe to your newsletter, or start following you on Twitter or Facebook or some other social site.

Now you have some people that are paying more attention to you. Now they “may” even share your content to their audience. The benefit of all this waiting is that a share is a referral. It’s an endorsement that means “this matters to me”.

Eventually, there may come a time when this person needs the type of product or service your company provides and at this time.

  • They know you.
  • They like you.
  • They trust you enough to share your content.

They are likely, more often than not, to turn to you to provide the products or services they require and give you the sale.

This is why content marketing is a powerful marketing tool. It’s why businesses have embraced social media as an outlet for content. Content marketing builds long-term relationships that establishes brand authority and trust, and sales automatically follow.

It’s never a short-term “quick fix”. It’s a long game for sure. But it builds and builds. This way typically takes a minimum of 8-12 months to generate any kind of measurable results and well over a year of continual blog work, through thick and thin, day after day, week after week, month after month, regardless of how busy you get. and guess what?

After a year, you are just getting started. But you have begun the process of turning “passive content seekers” to “active buyers”.

How Does Content Marketing Work? The Real Way with Inbound Active Users

Again, we live in a world where most of us retrieve news and information from search engines, websites, blogs and social media, and it is important now. more than ever, for brands and businesses to create high quality content that reaches their relevant audience and communicates – in the right way – who they are as a business. Content Marketing gives business owners a proven way to build their brand.

As before in the “do-it-yourself” scenario, Social Media channels spread the content to the passive users.

The addition here is that every blog post targets a keyword or common search engine phrase (long-tail search) that needs every bit of professional SEO for the “active content” seekers using Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Content marketing works best when it lands on GoogleConsumers are looking for authenticity, they are looking for relevancy, and they are virtually demanding valuable information, all while living in a world where information is readily available. At home, at work and on the go. And all of this comes in the form of content found through search engines, most commonly, Google.

And More and More And More And More…these searches are performed on Smartphones.

UPDATE January 30th 2017 – Google is rolling out Mobile First Indexing. In a nutshell, Google has given 2 separate search return lists; one to desktops and laptops and one to phones. That all changes this year as Google slowly rolls out Mobile First. This means all search returns, regardless of device used, will get the mobile search returns. Now more than ever, you must have a mobile-friendly website.

Case now closed. You MUST.

The correct way to do content marketing adds the “active buyers” to the “passive ones” on Social Media creating a powerful synergy, crafting a strategy that leads both passive and active customers directly to you.

Curious Fact: According to Internet Live Stats – 16% to 20% of queries that get asked every day have never been asked before.

That means a hair under 1 out of 5 Google users search for something that has never been searched for before. Ever.

These are the “active seekers” and if your content is not professionally optimized for searches (especially Google), your content is not seen by these potential buyers. Your content is still over there on Facebook or Pinterest, and there’s nothing wrong with that mind you, as hopefully, passive buyers will eventually become active ones.

But you are missing one of the most important aspects of content marketing.

How does content marketing work - SEO is vitalSo How Does Content Marketing Work? For Real?

Content Marketing works best when using professional SEO. It’s like baseball and hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly. Pizza and…well, you get the idea. They go together.

While SEO is a more narrow, technical endeavor, the content should be broad and holistic. So how does this go together? The way to apply SEO in a broader way is to channel its specific technical endeavors into content marketing. Conversely, the only way to ensure the success of content marketing is to apply SEO techniques in its implementation.

How does content marketing work - Without SEO, how do you expect to compete on Google?Case and point;

SEO demands keywords

Content marketing means using keywords

SEE? Content Marketing and SEO go hand-in-hand.

So how does content marketing work? It works best when you are found by an active user on Google!

Here Are a Few Handy SEO Tips for Content Marketing

Now here’s where we get technical, so hold on.

Research – First and foremost, Content marketing starts with research. Google Analytics and Google Trends are good starting points. A good third party paid site is KeywordEye. My favorite is Google Keyword Planner. Find common searches by product, service, locality and a host of other parameters including gender, income and more. Find the common searches and use those keywords first. Then expanding to others as time goes on. Sometimes the best approach is to use a combination of keyword services. You know what they say about “proper planning“.

Here is the main screen for Google Keyword Planner.

how does content marketing work - Research of keywords is key

People think differently. That’s why we have Democrats and Republicans. Politics aside, it’s true. So go to the source and see what people are actually searching for, as well as all the variations and then work your content around those keyword and long-tail searches. It makes no sense not to see exactly what people are typing, and increasingly saying, to Google.

Select a Keyword or Long-Tail and begin to create your content.

Some Text SEO Hints

  • 300 words or more. It’s hard to convince Google that it’s worth reading (and indexing), when it’s under 300 words.
  • Shoot for 1 to 3 percent keyword content – more than that may get you penalized.
  • Write for humans and not for the search bots – cramming keywords might turn off readers as unnatural.
  • Use H1 and H2 and include the keywords and long-tails (bold and italics don’t factor for SEO).

Use appropriate images – Some Image SEO Tips

  • Don’t upload the file name from the camera (062820166345.jpg) – rename it using the keyword for the post.
  • Google looks at the “Alternate text” for a description of the image – add 4-10 words here, but no more – include the keyword.
  • Add a description to the image, but more more than a sentence.
  • For multiple images on a single post, vary the filenames, Alt and desc., while continuing to embedding the selected keyword or long-tail phrase for that post. Remember, none of this works on GoDaddy! The Build-Your-Own-Website builders block image indexing. And that hurts your page SEO. Big Time. 
  • You’ll want to use a professional image manipulation software such as Photoshop. Google strongly suggests putting your logo in as many photos as possible. See our post on Universal Search.

Very basic SEO Tips Before Publishing

  • Does the keyword or post title have stopwords? (pet supplies IN Cincinnati vs pet supplies Cincinnati)
  • Is the meta description compelling, answer the search query, or have a distinct call to action? (the meta appears below the URL in Google Search)

    the post meta description
    An example of multiple keywords recognized in the Google search- EMT supplies, EMS, EMS Supplies. and Florida all highlighted in the meta description
  • Does the Title, Slug and the URL contain the keyword(s)?
  • Have you researched your competitors descriptions for common keywords?
  • Meta descriptions can be any length, but search engines generally truncate post descriptions longer than 160 characters. It is best to keep meta descriptions between 150 and 160 characters.
  • You can use nofollow and outbound links, but don’t overdo it.

Video Tips

  • Make sure you have a separate landing page for each video so search engines can find and index each video asset individually. Multiple videos on a single page doesn’t help SEO the same way images do.
  • Don’t allow them to autostart. I’ve been on websites where two separate videos started auto-playing on the same landing page.
  • Be sure to populate hidden tags in the HTML code of your video landing pages, specifically Facebook’s OpenGraph tags, Schema.org’s microdata tags, and even sometimes Twitter Card tags are a good idea.
  • Add video transcriptions directly to the HTML text of each of the pages where your videos are hosted. Transcriptions give your viewers the option to “read” a video if they can’t watch and listen to it, while providing the keyword richness a search engine needs. A few years ago, many news sites, most notably CBS, threw up videos with no basic transcription and watched in horror as the ranking virtually disappeared. They fixed that and now have a text description below the video strictly for SEO. The same holds true for audio files.

Send it out to social media – some more content marketing tips

  • Most social media channels employ the use of hashtags.
  • Use a tool like HashtagifyMe to search for associated hashtags that may match your keyword or long-tail phrase.
  • Remove hashtags when posting to LinkedIn (They don’t use them) as you will look kinda dumb copying and pasting from your Facebook feed..
  • Twitter has a 140 character limit, (though that is about to change soon) so you can only use a few hashtags, Vary the hashtags using the same url in different tweets.
  • Conversely, don’t go crazy with hashtags on the other networks with no limits. That can work against you, especially on Facebook and Google+. 
  • Speaking of Google+, it’s not dead, still loved my many, but Facebook is the daddy. That being said, since it’s a Google property, be there for sure.
  • Speaking of Facebook, the business reach on a small business post is hovering between 3-5% of your followers (at best). We know this sucks, but we rarely suggest “Boosting”. An alternative is to tell your Facebook followers to hover over the like button and click “All Notifications”. Those folks will now see 100% of your posts.
  • Consider using a URL shortener when posting to social media. This has two benefits. One is a shorter URL, saving needed space. The better shorteners also offer great tracking tools to see who in interacting with your content.
  • Use a social media planner to schedule your content marketing. the better ones allow image and video attachments, while others have great information on when the best time to post is for each of the networks.
  • Don’t forget locality hashtags when posting. While most national brands can skip this, it’s integral to small business owners.

Miscellaneous tips

  • If you are not on Google maps, you don’t exist. This needs to be done NOW.
  • Speaking of Google, be sure they have your business hours and phone number in addition to your address.
  • If your website is not approved by Google as mobile ready, you are not only being penalized in searches, but the user experience is sub-par to say the least. You can test your website HERE

telephone-586266_640Speaking of “mobile ready”, with 13 straight months of more Google searches on phones than desktops, laptops, and pads combined…it’s pretty useless to do any content marketing without a mobile responsive website. It goes without saying. Your content marketing is on your website. You’ve used google searches for active buyers and social media channels to drive visitors to your site. And BAM! Doesn’t work on my Samsung Galaxy. You would be wasting your money. So if you don’t pass that Google test, Don’t Do It on Your Own, and Don’t Pay Anyone a Dime for Content Marketing.

If that is your only takeaway here, we’ll be happy to know we saved you some time and money.

SEO demands onsite technical optimization. Content marketing demands great UX

SEO is about more than just long-tail, keywords, and outbound links. SEO is about optimizing the robots.txt, enhancing metadata, meta description, utilizing proper tags, alt info, H1 and H2, title, url, and more while constructing a strategic approach to show up in SERP (search engine result page) pertaining to the user request for information.

And yes, it’s directly related to UX (user experience). 

how does content marketing workThis technical optimization (SEO) is put in place for the good of the user, whether the user is searching, selecting, or reading your content. It’s accurate to think of these enhancements from a (UX) perspective. These technical SEO components are present in order to serve the user and promote your content.

Again, the link between SEO and content is inextricable. Why do you want professional SEO? So people can more easily find and access your content. Why do you want an optimized robots.txt? So search engines can better crawl your site, and so readers can see the content. Why do you want the right tags in the right places? So your content can get stellar indexing, accurate search results, and more readers of your content.

While some people think SEO and Content marketing are two different things, in summary it’s best to think of it this way.

  • Your SEO campaign will fail unless you integrate content marketing.
  • Your content marketing campaign will fail unless you integrate SEO.

They are that linked.

cropped-iconHow does Content Marketing Work? It works wonders when combined with SEO for Search Engine Results and Social Media.

So you know you have to do this to compete, and you want to do it right? Web It 101 has packages to fit most every budget.

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