Content marketing is one of the most powerful forms of promotion because it provides consumers with valuable information or entertainment in exchange for their attention. The distribution of articles, images, videos and white papers can often entice potential customers to visit a website, provide personal information, establish a relationship or make a purchase.
In the current state of internet marketing, SEO or search-driven content marketing tactics may be executed directly on an organization's website or on an external third party site. External sites can take numerous forms including guest blog posts, press releases, directories, question / answer sites, forums, etc.
Utilizing a search-driven content marketing strategy directs people to your website through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques and through social media referrals is the most successful option for most companies. Using a high ranking on Google or Bing results pages drives traffic from these supremely important portals, while Facebook and Twitter's millions of users may find you through your content on those platforms. SEO and social media are the two major drivers of ecommerce success.
Search-Driven Content Marketing Requires Superior Content and Regular Updates
Search-driven content marketing techniques which revolve around improving visibility on the major search engines like Google and Bing are exceedingly important in the digital marketing arena. According to Econsultancy, almost 51 percent of marketers utilize content marketing to improve their SEO strategy. Marketing professionals recognize that premium content attracts visitors through organic search and have devoted more resources for content production.
SEO Remains the Primary Portal for Finding New Customers
If you are having doubts about SEO, you should look at these statistics:
- Ninety-three percent of online visits begin with a search engine
- In 2013, there were 2.2 trillion Google-assisted searches
- Fifty-four percent of B2B purchasers initiate the buying process through search
- Fifty-six percent of searches for phrases with four or more words leads to a clickthrough, while only 30 percent for single word searches
This data shows that the vast majority of online activity begins with or involves a search engine.
Content Creation is Integral to Maintaining SEO Performance
There are numerous techniques involved in raising a website's rank on a search engine results page (SERP), but the one that is most often used in 2014 is content creation. A study by Ascend2showed that almost 57 percent of marketers believed premier content production was their most effective SEO technique, making that the most trusted among the marketing community. Almost 92 percent of marketers cite content as very or somewhat effective for SEO purposes, and almost 76 percent with SEO campaigns invest in content creation. About 80 percent of B2B marketers integrate their SEO and content marketing efforts.
There are numerous reasons why quality content is key to SEO. First and most importantly, Google has emphasized quality content in their algorithms such as Google Panda. Fresh and valuable content is typically ranked higher because visitors are most likely to be satisfied by such information. Secondly, content is quite effective at elevating a brand which instills authority and trustworthiness. This encourages visitors to make return visits in the future, which encourages search engines to rank them higher.
Keywords Must Be Carefully Chosen
In any content creation, it is vital to choose the most relevant and popular keywords. It is generally a good idea to pick long-tail keywords as they are less competitive and are easier to rank higher on search query results. There are a number of tools you can utilize to do keyword research, most notably would be the Google Keyword Planner Tool.
Proven Search-Driven Content Marketing Techniques
If you are looking to produce outstanding search-driven results for your website, there are a number of powerful ways to appeal to the search engines and visitors. These include:
- Blogging & Guest Blogging -this is one of the most successful content marketing tools because it provides fresh content on a regular basis. It also serves as a portal for new visitors to find your site. In a recent survey by HubSpot 92% of sites that blog frequently generate leads.
- White papers- An extremely powerful tool in B2B sectors. These thought leadership driven compositions help engage and educate new prospects by offering technical information that is unique. In a 2013 survey by Eccolo Media, 49% of B2B Tech Buyers favor whitepapers over all other forms of marketing.
- Videos-this type of content appeals to most visitors by offering easily digested information and entertainment. Videos have been proven to keep visitors on sites and lead to a higher rate of conversions. Video demand and implementation will continue to grow - a 2013 survey from BusinessBolts.com indicates that 53% of small business plan to increase their resources for this channel.
Changing the focus to Social Media-Driven Content Marketing
In the light of search's dominant role in finding customers, you may be tempted to ignore other marketing channels like social. Instead, you should also combine your SEO efforts with a robust social media-driven content marketing strategy. The major social media organizations offer billions of users who are ideally suited for engagement marketing opportunities. More importantly, these sophisticated platforms have already segmented users into communities with common interests, which allow businesses more easily drill down to uncover key opportunities.
Facebook boasts more than a billion worldwide users, while Twitter has more than 200 million. LinkedIn is smaller compared to the two giants, but its members are almost exclusively professionals and is prized by B2B organizations. According to WebDAM, 43 percent of companies found a customer through LinkedIn and 52 percent found one through Facebook.
The final reason to invest in a social media-driven content marketing strategy is that your competitors are already there. If you fail to connect with key online communities, you can be assured that your rivals will soak up that lost market share.
Marketers are Investing More in Social Media
The key to success on these important marketing platforms is quality content. Users are always hungry for the latest news, video, posts and tweets about a product, company or brand. A study conducted by Ad Age found that among large company executives, almost 58 percent found the most trusted metric of social success to be content shares. This suggests that the number one priority among marketing teams is producing content worthy of syndication and re-distribution.
It should then come as no surprise that the marketing industry is committed to increasing expenditures on content production. Overall, the business community expects to double their social marketing budgets in the next five years. The 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report found that 86 percent of marketing professionals believed social media was important for their organization; this was up from 83 percent in 2012. The report goes on to say that YouTube will be the most targeted social site, with 69 percent of respondents indicating they will increase video content production. Almost seven out of 10 marketers will increase their content creation for social media in 2014.
Social Media is a Powerful Channel for Content Distribution
If you are devoting marketing resources to content creation, be sure to commit some of that investment exclusively to social media content. A study by Unisphere Research found that almost 68 percent of marketers consider social media an important content distribution channel. Almost half of these respondents stated that they produce original content exclusively for social media outlets.
Videos and Photos are Ideal for Social Media Driven Content Marketing
Among the most important forms of social media driven content marketing are videos and photos. Social media content marketing opportunities like YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram have proven highly popular among consumers because they are visually appealing. It is important to note that social media users share pictures more than any other form of content. Ipsos OTX found that almost 70 percent of internet users have shared some kind of content on their social media pages in the past month, with a leading 43 percent sharing images. If your business is not producing images and other visual content, you are actually losing out an important marketing tool-re-sharing.
Social Media-Driven Press Releases Broaden Your Content Marketing Reach
In line with photo and video sharing is distribution of written content. While there are a number of ways to create content which may be re-shared, one of the most effective forms of written content is press releases. Press releases are among the most shared forms of content with almost 23 percent of social media users sharing a news item in the past month. These forms of content may be quickly disseminated on PR services and they have the potential for syndication if major news organizations pick them up.
How to Use Social Media Effectively for Content Marketing
Creating outstanding content for your social media pages is an imperative, but there is a great deal of freedom in what kind of content you may wish to create and post. When you implement a content marketing campaign, it is wise to adhere to these guidelines:
- Listen to Consumers-even if you are producing rich and powerful content for your Facebook or LinkedIn page but no one is interested, then that is a pointless investment. Before you begin creating, it is important to immerse yourself in those online communities to understand what is relevant to the users. Not only will this help you choose topics, but it will also help you find key words and phrases to integrate into your content-which will elevate the visibility of those pages to Google and the other major search engines. It is also important to keep reading responses to your posts, to help understand if your message is hitting the mark; if not, go back and retool.
- High Quality is more important than Quantity-While it is important to update your social media pages regularly with new material, it is often more rewarding to produce the most outstanding quality content that you possibly can. If you are merely rehashing old information, not only will that be less appealing for visitors, but Google may label similar content as spam.
- Interact with Industry Leaders-the value of social media is its ability to cultivate relationships. While you may immediately focus on key demographics, you should also devote some time to learning from authoritative figures in your business sectors. If you follow these industry leaders long enough and establish yourself as credible figure, you may be able to secure a mutually beneficial friendship. You may be able to convince this leader to provide guest content, thereby lending additional credibility to your organization.
An Integrated Search and Social Media-Driven Content Marketing Strategy is the Only Viable Marketing Plan for Future Success
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to inspire enough interest in the minds of potential customers that they will seek out your organization. The most compelling way to attract new customers is to offer something of value which may take the form of a blog, white paper, or video. This form of value-added content marketing is most successful when integrated with well-managed SEO and social media plans. While both of these channels can be powerful in their own right, when they are combined, they produce immense rewards for your organization.