What Is Content Marketing?
You’ve probably heard the term “content marketing” thrown around quite a bit in the last few years – and you’re finally taking action to learn just what exactly this phrase means.
A SIMPLE DEFINITION IS THIS: Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing high-quality, relevant content to your audience through a number of important mediums and channels – with the objective of driving conversions and positive ROI.
That sounds great, but what exactly does this really mean for you and your business?
Let’s take a deeper dive into content marketing to help you learn why it’s the #1 SEO opportunity that your business may be neglecting in 2020. Here is a quick content marketing course to get you started in the right direction.
Why is Content Marketing Important for My Business?
In 2020, the world is more digitized than ever. More than 60% of the world has internet access, and it’s beginning to reflect in the buyer’s journey. In fact, 81% of customers now conduct internet searches before making a purchasing decision.
But, 95% of Google searches never leave the first page…
This means that if you aren’t able to rank on the first page of Google, you’ll probably never get a click for that result, and likely never get a sale for it either.
A lot of business owners think that this is easily avoidable, simply opting for paid content promotions and not producing organic content for their websites. But, in recent months, organic search has resulted in 51% of traffic to content – meaning that search results pages (SERPs) still play a massive role in your website traffic and brand awareness.
This is reflected very well by the traffic that long-form content generates over short-form blog content. Roughly 9x more leads are generated by long-form blog content over the lifetime of a post.
But content marketing doesn’t stop there, it consists of a myriad of mediums through which people consume content, including:
- Blog content
- White papers
- Case studies
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Online classes
- And more…
Put simply, content marketing is important to your business because it is the #1 way you interact with your audience on a daily basis. It is the first point of contact that thousands of prospective buyers will have with your brand.
THE REALITY IS THIS: If utilized correctly, content marketing can have a positive impact on your entire marketing and sales funnel – from building awareness, to closing a sale.
How Does Content Marketing Tie Into SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website to appear better in search engines, and rank higher for specific keywords that you are targeting. Read more about what is SEO here.
It goes without saying then that the content you produce has a massive impact on your site’s ability to rank well in the SERPs.
But just how important is content marketing for SEO in 2020?
While the ranking factors that Google and other search engines use to organize their search results are proprietary, there are thousands of studies out there that have allowed us to build a fairly confident model of how they work.
Here’s what we know for sure:
- Search engines look for authority and comprehensiveness – A simple Google search for just about any term will typically be dominated by well-known, massive brands that are established thought leaders in their space. Sometimes this is even true when the content that they have provided is subpar and does not necessarily fulfill user intent as well as it could. You’ll also notice that encyclopedia sites such as Wikipedia tend to rank very well for just about any head term – because of the comprehensiveness that their site offers for information on or related to the subject matter at hand.
- Internal and external links play a massive role in authority and rankings – It’s no secret that creating a strong backlink profile for your website is what will allow you to catapult to relevancy in SERPs and dramatically improve your domain authority over time. Well, in order to build your own internal linking structure to show Google comprehensiveness, and in order to have content to link out to in third party blog posts, you need one thing – CONTENT – and lots of it.
- User intent drives search rankings – If someone clicks on your result in SERPs and stays on the page for a few minutes, reading the whole thing, then clicks on another resource on your site from that page – it sends good signals to the search engine that this is a relevant and helpful piece of content for users making this search. The exact opposite is true as well. In order to send consistently good signals to Google, you need to produce consistently good content that people want to read, while making it readable for search engines as well.
To give you an example of the importance of content marketing for SEO, here is a recent Twitter thread I found myself in:
As you can see, the performance of this e-commerce store in SERPs was directly tied to the content they were producing, even though this content was not specifically made to rank for these terms.
In other words, their SEO was directly impacted by the fact that they produced relevant content in their industry. The rankings from these pieces of content and the link juice from them was directly transmitted to their collection pages that sold similar products. When they moved their blog to another domain, they lost almost all link juice to these collection pages and their rankings dropped significantly.
Why is Content Marketing Important for My Business?
That’s just one example of the importance of content for businesses in 2020 and beyond. On top of that, you need to consider the overall sales revenue that can be generated from content.
FOR EXAMPLE: Let’s assume you have a website that generates 100,000 monthly visitors. Of these visitors, 5,000 of them end up on your top ranking blog post, “how to fix your carburetor”. On this page, you have all sorts of helpful information such as tips, tricks, resources, etc… You may even have a link to share this content on social media, as well as a video link to your YouTube channel.
In addition to all of this, you also likely have an email newsletter subscription capture form somewhere on the page as well. This would be where people are prompted to submit their information to receive more helpful content in the future.
Lastly, you probably have a call to action that leads to a landing page where you offer them a service to help fix their carburetor for them if they can’t figure it out.
Let’s run the numbers. Assuming you have a normal click through rate, conversion rate, email capture rate, etc… here is what this one piece of content could do for your business every single month:
- 100 new emails of highly qualified leads
- 100 leads for people who need your services
- 50 new clients for carburetor fixing services
- 10 new social shares that can reach thousands of people
- 50 new social media followers
- 35,000 new impressions of your business name and this post in SERPs
- 50 clicks to other pages on your site
- 5,000 new people who now associate your brand with expertise in your industry
Now obviously the overall ROI of these numbers to your business will differ based on a lot of different factors. But the point remains: imagine having a lead generation magnet that worked for your business non-stop, 24/7/365 to collect information on potential leads, and convert them?
That’s what content marketing does for your business if leveraged properly. This example makes things seem a bit simplified, but in reality, the only way to get these types of results from your web content is to develop an in-depth content marketing strategy and remain consistent over a long period of time.
Building A Content Marketing Strategy for Your Business
When it comes to building an effective content marketing strategy, there are 5 key factors you absolutely need to succeed in 2020 and beyond:
1. Understanding Your Audience & Industry
This is by far the most important factor when it comes to building an effective content marketing strategy in 2020. Here is the basics of what you should understand:
- Buyer personas
- Stages in the buyer’s journey
- What works well in your industry
- What your audience is searching for
- What ranks well for each keyword you’re targeting
- How your audience prefers to consume content
- How different types of content shape your buyer’s journey
At the end of the day, you need to know what drives consumer behavior in your industry. You want to have a very detailed understanding of 3-7 buyer personas for your business, and for each of them you want to develop specific pieces of content for each stage of their buyer’s journey.
On top of that, you want to understand your competition as well as your industry as a whole. What type of content ranks well for specific keywords? How can it be improved upon? What content seems to be missing? How can you fill in the gaps with your content strategy?
You also want to understand the scope of your strategy. This means understanding the total potential search traffic you can capture from all of your content. This will help you to estimate ROI, and know how much money you can justify spending on content, as well as how much you can expect in return once your content starts performing well in SERPs.
2. Creating Comprehensive Content
This is by far one of the most important, yet most overlooked factors behind effective content marketing strategies. Here’s a great article on optimizing your content strategy using Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines.
As you know, many business owners want to get by with 400-700 word pieces of content. They do this for the simple purpose of “improving SEO”. This does work to a degree to help boost service pages over time. However, this strategy is missing something major.
But if you are really serious about rolling out a content strategy that gets results, you are going to want to do more than just that. You will want to be consistently putting out highly comprehensive content that helps users get value, answer their questions, and find more relevant resources to learn more.
It all comes full circle. In order to produce comprehensive content, you need to first understand your audience, their personas, their journey, and your industry as a whole.
With this understanding in your hands, you should have no problem creating comprehensive content that is written for users, but also keeps search engines in mind – to help boost SEO and get the results you’re looking for. Read how blogging helps SEO.
3. Content Distribution
No matter how good your content is, you need a little bit of help getting your message out there and getting it off the ground when publishing.
Content distribution is the process of promoting and distributing your content once it’s published in order to generate buzz, build links, drive traffic, and send the right signals to Google.
Overall, this can be done in a number of ways, from generating press releases to coordinating your various channels to repurpose and promote your own content internally. It can also include things like guest posting, paid promotions on social media or search engines, and more.
You don’t necessarily need to do this for every single piece of content you publish, but you should at least have a general idea of the promotional opportunities that exist for that specific piece of content. You should also try to have a plan in place for how to promote and share your content across your various social media platforms in an effective manner.
4. Link Building Strategies
Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors on Google. All of the top sites on the internet have thousands of relevant and trusted backlinks from resources in their industry.
As a small site starting out with content marketing, one of the most ROI positive things you can do is to build a linking strategy for your site. This should involve processes like:
- Finding high authority, relevant linking opportunities from sites in your industry
- Developing outreach templates for your various link-building campaigns
- Amassing contacts that sell links on various media outlet sites
- Building a list of linking opportunities for each piece of content you make
- Building a separate list of linking opportunities for more important pages on your site
- Developing an internal linking strategy for your site that helps users and search engines
- Creating pillar pages that link out to various relevant resources on your site
- Budgeting and tracking the ROI of your backlink outreach
Essentially, what backlinks help you to do is piggy back off of the authority of another well-respected site in your industry.
FOR EXAMPLE: say you run a cupcake shop that sells cupcakes online and in store. You want your blog post “10 Best Cupcake Recipes for 2020” to rank #1, but the competition is tough. Your site is fairly new and small, with just a few thousand visitors, but you know your content is on point and want a way to improve your site’s authority in Google’s eyes while improving the post’s metrics as well. So, you amass a list of relevant backlinking opportunities on high-authority cupcake and baking sites, then reach out to them in attempts to get a link to the keyword “best cupcake recipes”. Chances are, they may either sell you a link outright, or have you build a guest post for their site, where you can link a “dofollow” link to the post of your choosing. This backlink then passes along some of their link juice and essentially acts as an endorsement of your site from theirs in the eyes of Google.
Over time, this type of strategy can greatly influence key ranking factors and SEO factors such as:
- Domain authority
- Keyword rankings
- Page rankings
- And more…
The important thing to remember about link building is that it works internally as well. The internal link structure of your site tells search engines a lot about how your site is laid out, what is on it, and how it helps users.
For example, when it comes to your menu or site architecture, you may want to consider making pillar pages that link out to other resources to help Google figure out your site better.
5. Content Optimization & ROI Tracking
Just like anything else in business, the numbers should do the talking. Tracking the ROI and other KPIs of your content marketing strategy are the key to success.
You’ll at least want to track some very important metrics for your content, such as:
- Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
- Conversion Rate (CVR)
- Bounce Rate
- Average Session Duration
- Social Shares
- Keyword Rankings
- Behavior Flow
Almost all of these statistics can be tracked using Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Data Studio. Becoming familiar with these platforms will be essential to your success over time, and it will also give you key insights into your content, your audience, and how to improve your results.
FOR EXAMPLE: You may find that some of your content has not moved up the rankings in a while for the specific keyword you’re targeting. So, you go back and add a few sections that seem to be in the other top posts for this subject matter. Doing this on a continual basis will help your content to stay fresh and relevant – two factors that are very important to Google.
Upgrading your existing content can be the small push it needs to make it to the next level. Something as simple as tweaking a title, description, introduction, or a few headers in your content may be all it takes to jump up the rankings by a few places.
Properly tracking your content metrics is one of the first steps towards making optimizations to your content on a continual basis that can make a massive difference in your ROI.
How to Succeed in Content Marketing in 2020 and Beyond
Want to find a partner that can help you succeed in content marketing in 2020 and beyond?
At Bizmap LLC, we help put businesses on the map through strategically planned SEO strategies that implement high-quality content. If you want to learn more about the benefits of SEO, read this article on how SEO helps your business.