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Are you suffering from small business content marketing overwhelm?

If-content-is-king

If you manage a website for your small business, you are probably aware that to be competitive it is not enough to just launch your website and then forget about it. You need search engine optimisation or SEO. SEO is probably something you have heard about and know you should be doing.

You’ve probably also quite likely heard various things mentioned in connection with SEO; like ‘content marketing’ or 'digital marketing'. You are probably also aware of the benefits of having an active presence on one or more social media channels but how does it all sit together and what exactly is content marketing?

To compound things SEO best practises are ever changing and what may have worked effectively a couple of years ago is not going to work now so you need to keep up to date.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a form of marketing online or digital marketing, that involves the creation of material online with the purpose of raising awareness of your brand or business. The type of online material that you should be creating can include;

  • videos (via something like YouTube),
  • blog posts (on your website) and
  • Tweets, posts and status updates on various other social media platforms.

The content should not necessarily advertise your business and products directly, but should be generating interest and raising awareness while encouraging visitors to your website.

Used effectively, content marketing is currently considered to be one of the best SEO techniques.

What is SEO?

SEO is the practice of generating interest in your website and getting it to rank highly within organic (free) search engine results. Website SEO can be split into two distinct categories: onsite and offsite.

Onsite SEO, not surprisingly, is all to do with what’s happening on the website itself:

  • How you developed the website in the first instance (keywords, headings, alt picture tags etc.) and,
  • how you manage it on an ongoing basis and keep it up to date.

Offsite SEO is all down to what activity you undertake away from your website to drive traffic and generate interest in it.

There are various aspects of both onsite and offsite SEO, but this post will focus on content marketing or content generation as an SEO strategy and how to attack it.

Current thinking is that content generation is one of the best combined onsite and offsite SEO strategies.

Website content alone is not enough, and social media management (SMM) has become inextricably intertwined with SEO as a vehicle for driving traffic to your small business website.

In other words, stellar content that you have written and published on your website needs to be shared to a captive audience who will re-share it on your behalf to their wider audience on your chosen social channels. This in turn will raise your profile and drive traffic to your website bringing awareness of you and your business to more potential website visitors. Simple?

Feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start? Is it still sounding like a foreign language? Then read on.

What is content?

As touched on briefly, earlier in this post, content, in this context, broadly encompasses anything that you publish online, either directly on your website or via a social media channel like Twitter, Facebook or Linked In etc. It’s important that you get the context or tone of voice right for both your website and your social channels whichever you have chosen. (Remember not all channels will be a good fit for your business and it’s better to have a strong presence on one rather than trying to spread yourself too thin.)

Website content

Your main website pages should be regularly monitored for performance and regularly updated and tweaked as necessary.

But there is a limit to how often you can re-write your ‘About’ page for example, so one of the best ways of routinely adding content to your website is by creating a blog. It goes without saying that this should be an integral part of your website and not on a separate site otherwise the content will not be working for your website.

A blog post can also be a major source of material for you to share on your social channels, so my advice would be write the blog post and then from that carefully crafted content you can probably generate multiple Tweets or Facebook Page status updates that will all lead back to the blog post and your website.

When you’re writing your blog post consider the following key points:

  • Long form posts perform best so try and aim for up to 2,000 words per article. The average high ranking page on Google has 1,500 words or more.
  • Try and get inside the heads of your potential customers. Work out what they want to read about and what challenges they face. Most of my customers are small business owners who are managing their websites themselves once they have got it up and running, so I need to use language that they will understand and answer some of the questions they may have about maintaining their websites on subjects like SEO and blogging!
  • Content that can be backed up by proven research performs well with links back to your sources and articles that will answer frequent questions.

Social media content

This content is anything that you share on a social channel be it generated by you and linking back to your website or generated by another. Content other than links back to your own blog or website could include:

  • Memes and images that you know will appeal to your audience.
  • Links back to articles and other websites that will provide valuable information to your audience.
  • Simple re-tweets or shares of information that people you follow have posted.
  • Tips and advice that you can offer to your audience.

In other words it's all content.

Shaing your own content

Once you’ve written your blog post you are ready to share it on social media … and I mean share, share and share again. Keep the following points in mind when drafting your Tweets and status updates:

  • Emotions on social media increase engagement, either in the form of direct interaction with the Tweet or status update by a comment or a further share. So, try and evoke an emotion that will encourage the reader of the Tweet or post to click your link and then read the article associated with it.
  • Tweets and status updates including pictures perform best. Include graphics with links back to your blog to encourage sharing and clicks.
  • Sharing an important snippet from your blog post can encourage a click back to the post or your website for further reading to find out more.

Use social media as an important part of your SEO strategy and don’t forget:

  • Visitors who come from a direct search on Google are already likely to be wanting to purchase so the content on the website itself needs to acknowledge that and make the process appealing and straightforward.
  • Social, visitors are less likely to buy but are more likely to share your content for you so use a less salesy tone on pages that are arrived at from social media. Nurturing relationships on social channels can only benefit your business. They may not become your direct customers, but if they are sharing your posts and status updates and interacting with you they are indirectly helping your small business and directing traffic to your website and improving brand awareness.

It takes time to build up a readership of your blog and to get regular visitors and loyal readers. But social media is very fast moving and gives you the opportunity to reach thousands, or even tens of thousands, relatively quickly.

Use social media to boost your SEO efforts. There is no limit to the potential number of people you can reach via social media and drive them towards your blog and small business website.

To conclude: A simple step by step process to get you started with small business content marketing

  • Identify who you want attract to your website (who are your customers).
  • Write blog posts as if you are talking to them directly – this is a fantastic opportunity to show some personality and use slightly less formal language than the rest of your website. Write about topics that will be of use to your customers in their own right ... not just selling your products. Remember you're adding value and giving customers, both potentially new and existing, a reason to keep coming back to your blog or website for all the useful tips and advice you can give them.
  • Decide on a blog post publishing frequency. The more frequently you can post the better, but this can present a challenge for a time stretched small business owner. I try a longer post once a month. If you can manage more frequently so much the better. But most important of all … be consistent. If you decide on weekly, make sure you stick to it. Better to be realistic and start with something you can maintain. A flurry of activity over several weeks, followed by 6 months silence will create all sorts of negative impressions to new visitors to your blog.
  • Once the blog post is published share it on your social media channels. The frequency of the shares will be determined by the channel you are using. For example, it’s OK to Tweet it multiple times. Twitter is so fast moving and you want to make sure it reaches as many people as possible, so try various times of the day on different days and write different Tweets that link back to the same article.

Most important of all don’t overdo the self-promotion. Whilst it’s great to share your own content and drive traffic to your website, content marketing also involves sharing useful information and content created by others that is relevant to your target market and will be of interest to your audience and potential customers. Social media is just that … social.

So, while sharing your content, don’t forget to interact and engage with others and you’ll probably find they will share your content too.

If you’re just thinking about getting your blog up and running and could use a little bit of help, why not get in touch 01494 537612.

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Thursday, 13 December 2018

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