In the world of marketing, content is currency. No, we’re not talking about cryptocurrency. Instead, it’s a sort of brand currency that can increase the value of your products and services. Whether you’re a habitual blogger or trying your hand at new methodologies like adaptive content, the best content marketing strategies drive knockout SEO and, in turn, get your brand noticed.
Content Marketing Strategies Aren’t Just Important; They’re Essential
In our Golden Rules of Content Marketing blog, we discussed how content marketing is about educating and entertaining your audience rather than simply selling to them. It’s also the best way your brand can build a strong, long-term relationship with customers. And while part of building out good content strategies includes deciding what types of content to produce (blogs, videos, white pages, courses, etc.), the how and why of this content is arguably just as important as the what.
And, yes, content marketing will require your team to put their creative hats on consistently, but the potential brand benefits are worth it. When done right, content marketing can lead to loyal audiences and social followers, better leads, improved conversions, and overall more brand awareness.
So, Where Does SEO Fit In?
These days, SEO has become a bit of a marketing buzzword. If you have a website, you know it’s important. But why? And how is it connected to content marketing? We’re glad you asked.
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” It refers to a set of on-the-page and behind-the-scenes practices that ensure your content is 1) easy for search engines to find and index, 2) relevant to real-world search terms, and 3) actually valuable to the person interacting with it. But when we say “optimization,” what exactly are we optimizing? That’s right: content.
SEO makes your digital content and web pages more findable, useful, and relevant to search engines, and potential customers by extension. Because you can produce all the content you want, but if nobody sees it, it’s not doing you any favors. At the same time, it’s hard to build a strong SEO game without some strategy behind the content you’re creating. In an ideal world, your content marketing strategies and SEO go hand-in-hand to improve your overall digital presence.
Strategy 1: One Word, Keywords
Before launching your website, you likely took some time to review a keyword strategy with your team or agency. If not, don’t fret! Content marketing now can help you get a handle on your keywords. But when done right, this list of search terms includes both short-tail (one or two words, general) and long-tail (three to five words, specific) options. The goal of these keywords? To target the same queries your users will be searching so you can connect and convert.
An ongoing keyword strategy is similar to the one you used in your initial planning, but it’s tailored to your content marketing goals. For example if you’re doing an awareness campaign around a new service or product, your keywords will likely be more long-tail or explanatory as searches are more general and research-based at this stage. Whereas, your keywords will be more location-specific if you’re opening a new location and want to expand your local brand reach.
To get started, you need to understand your audience. Where do they live? What do they value? What are their habits? Then, you’ll need to narrow down if their user intent is transactional (to purchase), navigational (to search), commercial (to research), or informational (to inform).
Create a strong keyword strategy by:
- Making a list of relevant topics and questions your audiences need to be answered.
- Identify keywords that fall into the topic categories you identified.
- Verify user intent to move the topics/keywords into types of content marketing like blogs, videos, social posts, etc.
- Find related search terms with tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Moz, or Wordstream.
- Begin integrating keywords into your ongoing content marketing strategies.
Let’s use an example to bring the concept to life.
Say your brand, PetFresh, delivers fancy pet meals to customers’ doors. As a relatively disruptive brand, it can play around with long-tail keywords like “luxury fresh pet meal,” “pet meals delivered to me,” “curated meals for pets,” and “pampered pet meals.” The ongoing strategy will need to focus on brand awareness and customer education, which the brand can achieve with regular blogging, social posting, social ad campaigns, and email marketing.
Overall, if PetFresh starts with a strong keyword strategy, they can weave branded, local, and custom keywords into content that drives brand awareness.
Strategy 2: UX To Impress
It’s a common misconception that content marketing is all about blogs. In reality, the list includes things like videos, infographics, emails, podcasts, quizzes, webinars, and white pages. But whether you’re churning out blogs every month or trying a webinar or course, user experience is crucial.
The first step in user experience design is not letting the search engines steal the show. What we mean by that is don’t cater to Google with your keyword and forget there are real, human readers on the other side of your content. Ask yourself questions like:
- Does this make sense for my brand?
- Will my audience find value in this?
- Another relevant question could go here
- One final relevant question based on UX
If the answer is yes, go forth. If the answer is “No, but Google will like it,” take a step back and strategize.
On that note, keyword strategies of yore (i.e. the last few years) become outdated with each Google algorithm update. So, while it used to be practice to “keyword stuff,” adding keywords for the sake of ranking higher on Google is now a confirmed negative ranking factor.
Strategy 3: Strengthen Your Back
Your backend, that is. On the flip side of user experience is the important behind-the-scenes data that communicates with search engines. This is also where you can use your strategic keywords to drive your content further and grab the attention of search engines. And, just like any strength-building exercise, repetition is best—in this case, that means optimizing your content at every chance.
How to optimize your…
…blogs: Include your keyword in your headings and meta descriptions and write to the optimization standards of your website (including word count). Be sure to also modify your URLs by adding your keyword and deleting duplicate content so search engines can prioritize your production as high-quality content.
…images: Your visual content also matters and should play into your content marketing strategies. For this, your image tag, title name, and file size all matter.
…videos: When optimizing videos, your keyword should be in the title and the video description. And don’t forget about on-site optimization.
Bottom line: adding great content isn’t enough; you also need to focus on SEO data in the backend.
Strategy 4: Quality Over Quantity
This is a golden rule for most things marketing. When it comes to your content marketing strategies, you’ll make the best impression with the most positive overall impact by creating high-quality and informative content. Whether you’re sharing top product tips on a blog, hosting a webinar, or working with an influencer to produce seasonal content, aim to be authentic, entertaining, and engaging.
To produce the highest quality content for your brand, you should integrate the above points and consider your brand goals, audiences, and channels. Often, it’s about maintaining a balance of consistency and flexibility. Those are hallmarks of great content, along with the ability to capture the right tone, adapt to current events and trends, and offer value to your customers.
The Brands In Action section below shows how quality content works IRL and can make waves for your brand. However, there are some rules you can follow to make content that connects:
- Find what your audience needs and create content that meets those needs.
- Set your brand up as a voice of authority and trust in your industry.
- Make your content easy to read/view and keep it engaging. (Yes, that means probably avoiding the super technical terms or jargon-y phrases).
- Keep your content up to date (more below)
Strategy 5: Feed the Beast
“The Beast” meaning the search engines’ and social media sites’ constantly-updating algorithms. Having an ongoing content marketing strategy shows the data machines that you are relevant and an authority on your subject.
The easiest way to do this is by having a plan for your content (annually or quarterly is best) and working with a digital marketing agency who can produce strategic, memorable content. In addition to fresh, regular content, you should also work on a strong backlink strategy, update outdated content, review metadata, and share past content when relevant.
Remember: the beast is always hungry.
Brands In Action
Whether we admit it or not, we all have a commercial or ad that lives rent-free in our minds. You know the one—where you jam out to the theme song or quote the character with perfect recall and intonation. From a marketer’s standpoint, this memorability is priceless. It’s also the result of content marketing strategies in the right channel at the right time. These are some of our favorite content marketing examples that combine brilliance with strategy.
Every December, the music streaming site releases its Spotify Wrapped Playlist to its users. The highly-anticipated campaign rounds up to top genres, artists, years, and other listening stats with colorful graphics that are easy to share on personal social accounts. This campaign is a prime example of informative and entertaining content that increases brand awareness with a hyper-personal experience.
What started as viral, gamified wordplay became an incredible example of content marketing. After the New York Times purchased the free online game in January 2022, the page received over 10 million organic views. Wordle is a great example of simple (and subtle) content impacting a brand’s overall strategy.
Chewy is a B2C pet product brand that built its reputation on caring for its customers (and their fur babies). The brand’s YouTube channel furthers its educational, conversational tone with advice for pet parents and valuable product information.
Airbnb Design Personality
While we love a good blog, sometimes unique content marketing can help a brand connect. Airbnb’s Design Personality quiz is a great example of clear, engaging, and simple content that also integrated a brand partnership (with Domino) to give value to customers.
Stay Savy With Fresh Content Marketing Strategies In 2023
By now, it’s probably clear what we mean when we say content marketing is a sort of currency for your brand. Whatever content marketing strategies you and your teams plan to integrate in the new year, just remember to keep it fresh, authentic, and valuable. If you’re stuck, let’s brainstorm together.