WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING?
Content is information. Content Marketing, however, is the strategic use of that information to promote (increase visibility and targeted traffic) and help convert that targeted traffic into actual leads and sales. In other words, content marketing is information organized and used in such a way as to increase lead generation. There is nothing new to content being a key ingredient to success online, but the strategies used and the emphasis placed on valuable content, original content, and content that is so useful that it is going to be shared by others is stronger than ever.
Video, Audio, images, & of course the written word can all be used in any content marketing campaign. Video is huge these days for a variety of reasons and should be used often.
WHY IS CONTENT MARKETING IMPORTANT TO SMALL BUSINESSES?
The short answer is visibility. Small businesses often struggle because they have a hard time obtaining new customers due to lack of exposure. Content marketing will allow you to stand out more online and will create a seat for you at the banquet table of customers wanting the services you provide. However, you will have to earn that seat. You will earn that seat by creating value. Once customers see that you are offering value and a unique sales proposition, they will gladly create a place for you at their table. In fact, they will put you at the front of the table if you give them enough value. Furthermore, Google will help get you that seat by announcing your name to those customers and show them you are ready to help them accomplish their objectives. Once you have an established seat at your customers table, you can expand and dine at other tables with customers with different appetites for other services you offer. That’s right, you can have a seat at multiple tables simultaneously!
Content marketing is the gift that keeps on giving. Depending on your industry, you can enjoy tables in different geographical areas as well. The benefits go on and on and the strategy is relatively low cost in comparison to traditional SEO alone. One thing to be aware of, creating valuable content is an effort. It can be fun, but it will take your time and energy. Many of our clients prefer to have content created on a regular basis for them due to the time involved, but it is always worth the investment.
Another critical reason for small business owners to create content is to carve out their own piece of the Internet pie. Depending on other directories and listings, platforms, and “pay for lead” websites and services can not only get expensive, it can change at any time. Businesses get bought out, prices change (usually increase) and your business will suffer. We always recommend that small business owners take command and control of their Internet Marketing and content marketing will not only increase your visibility, it will help anchor down your results so that they do not fluctuate as often. The more weight and relevance the content on your site has compared to others in your industry, the more authority your domain will carry over time. Remember, the content you create is yours and cannot be taken away. It is worth the time and energy to do things the vast majority of your competitors are not.
At GMS our desire is to help the small business owners get the basics down so they can create traffic to their websites and get the phone to ring. The basics will do exactly that. As you do more, you will grow more. It is not necessary to know everything to get started, but it is necessary to get started. Keep in mind, GMS is always here for you as a resource to help. Our office is always here to help small business owners whether they are clients or not.
STRATEGIZE – The key to success!
The first thing to know is that in order for your content marketing strategy to be successful is that your content must have a purpose. Simply filling up pages with information that can be found everywhere else and is not truly aimed at helping others or providing any value is going to provide minimal results. The days of just going online and copying and pasting articles that others have written are over. If you do your homework, do your research, offer informative and valuable solutions, you will be rewarded. For small business owners, the content on your site should demonstrate that you are competent, capable, and build AUTHORITY. Authority of your business and the authority of your domain name in terms of rankings are critical to increased traffic, sales and ultimately revenues.
One well known fact is that customers want to do business with those they know and trust. When a new visitor comes to your site for the first time, they have neither knowledge of you or trust in you or what you do. We need to convince the visitor that even though they don’t know you, they can have a high expectation of success when engaging in your services. Your website, if it conveys authority, will do this. If it doesn’t, most visitors will move on. So, let’s build our strategy around the objective of building up trust on the various services that your customers are seeking out. Keep in mind, the visitor may be skeptical, but they are looking for solutions or else they wouldn’t be searching. In other words, let’s give them what they are looking for and remove as many of their doubts and fears as possible. Creating valuable content that is being actively sought after is critical to creating traffic.
How much content per topic? This is a great question. Make sure that your pages have at least 750 words on them, but if you want it to be robust, make sure the content has 2000 or more words, but do not ramble on. Once again make sure the information is valuable and interesting. Make the page as specific to the target as possible. One mistake is to try and put a ton of information all on one page while discussing multiple services. This is a big mistake. The more focused the information, the better in both Google's eyes and in the eyes of the visitor.
Example #1… If you are a Chimney Sweep and provide both cleaning and repair of Chimneys, I would have a page for both "Chimney Repair" and "Chimney Cleaning". Both are solid search terms with plenty of volume, but the visitor will probably be focused on one or the other… not both. Separate them and provide valuable content on the process, the analysis, and the service. Add photos to the pages and for a real nice touch, add a testimonial or two to the bottom of the page with links to your testimonials page as well. Video would be a bonus, just like the video on this page. All of this separates you from competitors that may simply have "Chimney Repair and Cleaning" as a bullet point on their services page. If you were Google, what site would you rank higher?
Content Marketing tip…. In the example above, if you provide "environmentally safe chimney repair" and the search volumes warrant it, make a page specifically for this niche. Let's say "Chimney Repair NJ" gets 800 searches per month and "environmentally safe chimney repair NJ" gets 20 searches per month. It may take 6 months or more (if ever) to rank on page 1 for "chimney repair NJ". However, a page dedicated with robust content for "environmentally safe chimney repair" may rank within a few weeks or sooner and even though the volumes are lower, it is much better to come up #1 on Google for a key term or phrase with 20-30 searches per month than on page 6 with over 1000 searches per month. The point is to always do your homework, think creatively and find multiple ways to reach your objective. (This is just an example for illustration purposes.) Once you build this page, then optimize it, you have just carved yourself out another 10-15 visitors per month. Do this 10-20 times for multiple topics and services and you can quickly attract hundreds of highly targeted visitors to your website. Remember, highly targeted visitors convert much better than those coming through broad terms.
COMPETITION TOUGH? Get Creative!
Want to compete with competitors with deep pockets? Well, better get your pencil and paper out and get to work. This is your opportunity to out-work your competition and create separation from those who spend all their resources on traditional SEO. It all works together, but when content is part of your Advanced SEO strategy the results can be explosive. Depending on the competitive nature of your industry, it is absolutely critical. Remember, there are many ways to attract traffic to your website.
Coming up high for the highest volume key words is not necessarily the best strategy. In fact, many times it is not a good strategy at all. How targeted is that high volume key word or phrase? Are there more focused, less competitive key words that are higher converting targets for you to go after? If they convert at a better percentage and have less competition, you can create content around those targets and even though they may have less volume, you will increase lead generation.
Example #2… If you are a home loan specialist, trying to make your site rank high for "home loans" in your state may be a tough mountain to climb. So, break it up a little. Create a page for "reverse mortgage home loans" and create valuable and strategic content around this target. A home loan specialist has multiple loans to choose from. Create a services page with many options and link off of those pages with specific topics that are targeted. This strategy works for almost any business in any industry very well. It will take a little time to write the content and make videos supporting your service, but it is well worth it. The elderly couple looking for a reverse home loan will appreciate landing to the exact page you have created with valuable information as well. This makes both Google and your potential client very happy… and a much higher chance of the visitor becoming a lead because you have built up instant trust with all your valuable information about the subject.
Whatever door your visitors use to come to your site, valuable content will keep them on your site longer, returning often, and converting into leads more often. The higher priced your service, the more important content on your site becomes. When selling a $15 pizza, research is not super important. Very few visitors will ask where the tomatoes on the pie are from. However, when discussing a $50,000 deck, the materials used are guaranteed to become important to the customer. In either case, content will help both the pizzeria rank higher as well as the deck specialist, but the deck specialist has a much longer lead time to purchase. Remember, over 80% of most web searchers are not ready to purchase "today". The vast majority of visitors are doing their research and due diligence. They may purchase in the near future, but they will need to feel confident that your business is the best solution. Valuable content marketing will go a long way to accomplishing this goal.
Content Marketing is never complete. A website is never done. It needs to be made an ongoing part of your business unless you want others to jump right past you. A stagnant site is not good and it will affect rankings. Once your site has built robust services pages and then subpages off of those pages, just continue to blog or add a learning center to your website. Learning Centers are resource centers that provide an unlimited number of articles about your business and your industry. These articles can be added 1, 2, 3 times or more per week.
We recommend at least 4 blog posts per month for best results. Some sources depending on the industry, recommend 10-12 articles per month. It is not always easy to do and even if you have to pay for content building or hire a professional, it is worth it. Just make sure that the information is authentic and original. Content writers are not always cheap. Some charge as much as 50-75 cents per word or more. Do your research and if you don’t have the funds, do it yourself. Make it a part of your weekly routine. After all, who knows your business better than you? I hope you answered "nobody"!
Just like with other aspects of SEO, Google is trying to eliminate "cheating" the system and has multiple ways of "not rewarding" and in many cases "penalizing" cheaters. The biggest no-no is simply copying and pasting others work. The next no-no is just plugging in a bunch of key words into your articles but not making the articles worthy of reading. These techniques will ultimately catch up with you, so just make the wise decision of placing awesome information full of unique and useful information and you will be on your way to making your website shine like a star in the midnight sky!
Google purchased YouTube in 2006 for $1.6 billion dollars. Need I say more? If content is king than video is the kings sword. In other words, use it. Do yourself a huge favor and start a YouTube channel if you haven't already and begin adding solid video to it. It is easy and most small business owners do not do this even if they know how. Why, because they are busy. You will have to carve out time, but trust us, it is worth it! Google and YouTube actually index the spoken word just as though it was text. By streaming video on your site, you are adding content on that subject right to your webpage! The best part? It is free to do. Don't simply embed video on your site. Make sure you load and stream the video through YouTube. This will allow for your videos to be shared easier, prevent interruption, and you will receive extra authority for streaming the video through YouTube.
One other important thing to note is that YouTube is the 2nd most used search engine behind Google on earth. If that doesn't motivate you, I am not sure what will. Videos also get shared and go viral. If you are creating written and video content on multiple topics, you are actively growing your footprint online for the world to see. It will take some effort, but soon you will begin to get calls and leads from sources and terms you never knew you could. Be sure to track everything by installing Google Analytics on your site so you can evaluate and analyze your sources of traffic.
SHARE THE LOVE - BE SOCIAL!
If you are a business owner and have Facebook Fan page, YouTube Channel, Twitter account, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social media channels, be sure to post links on those channels and share the information. Also, don’t be shy… Share it a few times at different times of the day. If the information is valuable, people who like your page will share the post or video and that will also send signals to Google that your content is valuable. What are we gaining? That’s right… AUTHORITY! You will find that as you do more, you will get the hang of it. Keep your personal and business channels separate. As you share your content, you will find loyal followers. Not only will your website gain authority, but you will be a trusted resource in your community.
Content Marketing is good, but STRATEGIC CONTENT MARKETING is optimal! Make sure you have a plan, objectives, and consistency when starting your content marketing efforts. The key is to get started and keep going! Don't put it off. Remember your website is a never ending adventure and it will change. Your content will change and grow. Be sure to evaluate your services, create subcategories and then analyze the results. Never copy and paste others work and make sure when your page is done it is worthy of others time and energy. Do not be "salesy" but rather be informative with an expectation of nothing in return but thankfulness for the information. Many readers will reward you with a phone call because you have exemplified authority and gained their trust.
We find that our best clients are very aware of what needs to be done, they just don’t want to do it. Keeping your client informed will allow them to help you even more as they will tell you how to please them. Once they understand exactly what you do and why, they will appreciate your work all the more and give you all the ways necessary to make them happy when engaging in your business. So, spread the content freely and without hesitation. If you give, it will come back to you.
Any questions or if you would like to discuss your project in detail, feel free to contact us at any time.