Category Archives: Content Marketing

Why you can’t ignore content marketing as an SEO expert

The title of this blog post comes with a touch of irony. I address you as an SEO expert and then I try to explain why you cannot ignore content marketing. But it is not a complete irony – I still come across well-meaning SEO professionals who think that content is important, but it is optional and good search engine rankings don’t necessarily depend on good content. So this blog post is for them.

You may also like to read Why SEO companies are putting more stress on content writing?.

What exactly is SEO? Is it merely getting good search engine rankings? I remember once a client came to my office and requested me to set his website as my homepage so that every time I loaded my browser, it would increase his visitors count. I asked him what he was trying to achieve by that, and he said, it would instill confidence in his other visitors. When I asked him what effect a higher visitor count had made to his business, he flatly said, “None.” SEO hadn’t become a buzzword back then and nobody on this planet had heard of social media.

Why your SEO needs a healthy dose of content marketing?

I’m not an SEO expert but over the past 12 years that I have spent eking out a living on the Internet I have found out that there are 4 things that decide your search engine rankings

  • The quality of your content
  • General well-being of your website
  • The quality of your incoming links
  • The level of competition you face

The recent addition, the fifth thing that has an impact on your search engine rankings, is your author rank – how much social relevance your name enjoys on the Internet.

The relation between content marketing and SEO

What are people doing when they are using the search engines? They are looking for content in the form of information or entertainment. They seek information to keep them aware, to educate themselves, for researching, to find product or service they need, and to make good buying decisions.

Suppose you get good rankings for “garden sprinkling system” but when people come to your website they cannot make out what you are trying to do. The content is not convincing. Or it is full of errors. Maybe you haven’t highlighed the greatest benefits of the sprinkling system. Are you merely providing information or you want people to buy from you? And if they should buy from you then why? Just because you have got good search engine rankings or your sprinkling system is actually better than the others? People don’t do business because of your search engine rankings; they buy from you when your written content, your copywriting, is able to engage them and convince them.

This is just one aspect of content marketing. Once you have written credible and convincing content you also need to make it accessible to as many prospective visitors as possible.

The relationship between content marketing and quality incoming links

The days of paid links are gone, or going. Google heavily penalizes websites that aggregate incoming links by either paying for them or through link-exchange schemes. People should link to you for the value you provide, in terms of content or branding. Two legitimate ways of getting quality and reliable incoming links are:

  • Website owners, authors and bloggers voluntarily linking to you
  • You write for other websites and blogs and your link appears in the small bio or profile on the same link as credit

In both the cases you need high-quality content. If people voluntarily link to you then they must find something worth linking to. If you write for other blogs and websites then too, they won’t publish your blog posts and articles unless they are of a certain standard.

So you can see, whether you are focusing on onsite or off-site SEO, ultimately it’s the combination of the quality of your content and a well-coordinated content marketing strategy that decides what sort of search engine rankings you are going to experience.


Inbound marketing with content writing

Content writing and inbound marketing are interrelated. Not much explanation is needed for the former term, but the latter may require some explaining. Inbound marketing is the opposite of outbound marketing (you may also call it conventional marketing).

We live in an interconnected world. This connection is not through businesses, companies and organizations, it is through the people. Of course these people use platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or blogging to share their thoughts and opinions, but at the crux of everything that goes on, it is the people-centric conversations that make up the world these days. Most of the reading, writing, communication and interaction happens online. Even opinion-making is happening online to a great extent. Even the politicians are taking people seriously these days due to the way people have been empowered by accessible publishing tools and information dissemination services.

As a business you need to participate in these conversations in a constructive manner. Once you become a part, inbound marketing begins to manifest. When people come across you for the first time they’re not bothered about what a great service you provide and what a magical product you have got to sell. They want to know you as an individual. They want to know how they are going to benefit from you if they allow you to post messages on their timelines. Whether they follow you on Twitter, add you as a friend on Facebook or like your Facebook page, it basically means allowing you to share your messages with them. Among friends, colleagues, family and prospective mates they don’t want to experience your business overtures.

So how do you become a part of a conversation that doesn’t involve your business but still makes people aware of your business?

Through targeted content writing. Actually, since I provide content writing services I am speaking about this particular medium, but when it comes to sharing content you can share any format such as video, audio, photographs and images, presentations and animations. Multiple channels can bring multiple inbound marketing opportunities.

Persistent content writing helps you build a vibrant platform that facilitates inbound marketing. You share your expertise. You provide answers to all the questions your prospective customers and clients may have. You talk about topical issues in the context of your business and show that you are interested in people’s day-to-day lives.

The ideal situation is that by the time a person is ready to do business with you he or she is fully aware of what you stand for and what is the value of the product or service that you provide. Through methodical content writing you can achieve that. People again and again come to your website whenever they seek useful information.

In inbound marketing it’s not necessary that people straightaway click your links. They can come across your information on other people’s profiles and timelines. They can find your content among search engine results. Your guest blog posts and articles on other blogs and websites can highlight your links. One of your articles, videos or images can go viral and this can make people aware of your website.

Why inbound marketing, supported by content writing, is more effective?

This graphic explains the basic concept of inbound marketing vis-a-vis content writing:

Click image to enlarge

In the beginning, people are strangers. Neither you know them, nor they know you. Then they start coming across your content. They start finding what you have written useful and interesting. Regular content writing makes you familiar to them. They start visiting your website again and again, you encourage them to sign up for your e-mail updates and they become your leads. As you constantly keep in touch with them via quality content writing, they are bound to purchase from you as and when the need arises. And if you keep them happy after they have purchased from you, they become your friends, they start promoting your product or service without you having to tell them to do so. This is the power of inbound marketing.

Here are a few reasons why inbound content marketing is more effective:

  • People don’t want to block you: You must be aware of the fact how people constantly try to block out advertisements and promotional materials. On the Internet there are pop-up blockers. There are also some online services that allow you to access the content without accompanying ads. Many TV services these days allow you to fast-forward advertisements or at least pause them while they are being telecast so that you can fast-forward them after a couple of minutes (we do this at our household all the time). This doesn’t happen with inbound content marketing because people access your content at their own discretion, at their own convenience and according to their own preference. There is no inherent resistance as you see in the case of conventional marketing.
  • It easily scales: Content based inbound marketing is easily scalable and this characteristic can be of great use when people are accessing your content via multiple devices and channels. So the same blog post can be read on a computer, on a laptop, on a tablet and also on a smart phone without much inconvenience.
  • It suits every budget: The great thing about inbound marketing with content writing is there is no entry barrier. You can initiate your inbound marketing strategy by publishing just a single paragraph on your website or blog. From day one you can start uploading slides, videos and text. Even a single 20-minute advertisement on television may cost you a year’s worth of content production and distribution.
  • It doesn’t have recurring costs: Once you have created high-value content it is always there. The inbound traffic that that content generates is free of cost once it starts attracting traffic. For instance, if your blog post or article is able to get good rankings on search engines, the traffic that comes from there is practically free. Agreed, you needed to pay your content writer or had to spend a few hours creating that high-quality content, but after that it gives you free traffic forever. Just imagine having to pay for every click for the 2000 clicks that your recent blog post generated.
  • It is more targeted: With inbound content marketing you’re not throwing darts in the darkness. You know exactly what you are doing. For instance, if I am writing something on content writing and content marketing, I am pretty sure that people interested in these topics will be reading it. I also know that many among these people one day will become my clients. This sort of precision is not available in conventional marketing.
  • It is inclusive: Inbound marketing via content writing (or whatever sort of content publishing you may find fit for your own business) is inclusive and engaging. Rather than talking to people, you talk with them. You engage them in conversations. You get there feedback and then create the subsequent content accordingly. You take their questions and concerns seriously and then try to provide as many answers as possible on the website and blog itself.


How content marketing is different from conventional advertising

Conventional advertising is constantly telling you to buy something. It’s normally one way – you come across it on TV, radio, print media or in the form of banner ads, landing pages and text link ads on the Internet. Conventional advertising is interruptive – instead of providing any value, it simply starts telling you buy this product or subscribe to that service. Of course it is exorbitantly expensive from business perspective.

In the absence of any other option, it was considered to be the best way of reaching out to prospective customers and clients. Content marketing not only altered the perception, it completely changed the rules of marketing and engagement.

We have all grown up in the midst of advertising, but content marketing is something very few people understand. Lack of proper understanding prevents many people from even taking it seriously, let alone considering it as an alternative to conventional advertising. What exactly is it?

Just because it is called “content marketing” it doesn’t mean there is lots of marketing. It simply means, indirectly marketing through valuable content. What is valuable content? Content that informs, educates, creates awareness, engages prospects, or even entertains. While implementing a content marketing strategy you don’t overtly tell your prospective customers and clients to do business with you. You constantly provide them highly useful information that they actually appreciate. Through your content, you are constantly communicating with them. The main ingredients of an effective content marketing strategy are:

  • Relevance
  • Value
  • Timeliness
  • Engagement
  • Regularity

Is content marketing an Internet-specific buzzword?

Although content marketing has certainly gone mainstream with the advent of easy publishing through the Internet, it’s origin definitely cannot be traced just back to the Internet. In the modern times (around 100 years) businesses have been using valuable content to strengthen their brands, reach out to their customers and clients and create an engaging presence in the market. Those in America may like to research more on the Michelin Guide for example. Been published since 1900, it is a very famous travel guide that provides highly valuable information to travelers such as where to live, where to eat and where to rent good automobiles.

Do you know that the G.I. Joe comics were created to boost the sales of the eponymous toys? Another good example is Richard Branson – he constantly participates in activities (for instance covering great distances in a hot air balloon) that get quite media coverage.

So one way or another, content marketing has been at the forefront of branding for many years. It has just now become accessible to almost everybody due to a publishing revolution called the web.

Why big businesses like Coca-Cola are ditching conventional advertising in favor of content marketing?

By now every content marketer, one way or the other, has talked about this famous Coca-Cola content marketing roadmap.

These videos were created for their own staff.

So why content marketing? Because it works. People these days don’t like being talked to. They don’t like interruptions. They want to be engaged. They want to find you when they need you. For that they may use their favorite search engines or their favorite social networking and social media websites. The moot point is, if I want to purchase a particular camera I would like to obtain the right information myself rather than you as the camera seller pushing that information down my throat when all I want to do is watch my favorite TV show or YouTube video.

Today’s customer is empowered by unprecedented connectivity. He or she can immediately log onto the Internet and find the needed information. He or she should be able to find you exactly when he or she needs you. This becomes possible through a carefully implemented content marketing strategy.

Big businesses are switching over to content marketing because one, conventional advertising is not as effective as content marketing, and two, conventional advertising is a lot more expensive and short-lived compared to publishing and distributing targeted content.

I will share more thoughts on this in the coming blog posts, so stay tuned.


Content marketing doesn’t merely mean publishing more and more content

Before Panda and Penguin updates people were creating massive amounts of content to improve their search engine rankings. The 2012 updates from Google changed the game. Rankings disappeared overnight and businesses based on merely creating content for the purpose of getting higher search engine rankings were basically ruined.

It was also a year when content marketing evolved into a specialized profession. A glimpse of this E-Consultancy survey shows that over 90% companies recognize the overwhelming importance of content marketing. Coca-Cola, the biggest consumer brand in the world, has drawn out a 20-year content marketing strategy that is being considered as one of the most comprehensive paradigm shifts in the way brands are going to promote their products and services.

But no matter how mainstream it becomes, people are still confused about how to implement an effective content marketing strategy. Many still confuse it with creating and publishing lots of content. Of course you need content, but there is more to that.

In order to implement a successful content marketing strategy, you need to understand why people would look for your content. Why they would like to read or consume what you have published, but be it video, text or images? “Why” is very important. If you understand this “why”, 90% of your problem is solved.

If you are in the entertainment industry, then people access your content to get entertained. They may also access your content to know more about the people who entertain them (for instance, celebrities and players). If you are a news agency then people will access different categories of your content according to their interests such as politics, sports, industry, technology or science. If you are selling smart phones people want to know their various features and advantages over other smart phones.

Different people have different content needs and as a content marketer it’s your job to figure out what they’re looking for. Once you have sorted that out, you need to find out what format your target audience prefers, and tools and services your target audience uses in order to find the content it is looking for.

So content marketing doesn’t just involve publishing lots of content to improve your search engine rankings. It’s primary objectives are

  • Finding out what content your audience is looking for
  • Creating content that your audience is looking for
  • Publishing relevant and topical content as the need arises
  • Making that content available in a format your audience prefers
  • Making that content scalable so that it is accessible across multiple devices and platforms
  • Optimizing that content so that it is easier to find it on search engines
  • Making it easier and attractive to share that content on social media and social networking websites
  • Streamlining existing content and producing new content according to rapidly changing preferences of your audience

These may seem like lots of points, but whether you are a big business or small enterprise, in one way or another you can implement these points to drastically cut down your costs on conventional advertising.


Is content marketing the only marketing left?

This is something Seth Godin said in one of the interviews he keeps giving on various Internet marketing forums, that content marketing is the only marketing left.

Many people tend to disagree, but they don’t get the import of the thing. They always equate content marketing with something that necessarily has to do with the Internet. Of course a major part of content marketing evolves on the Internet, but it goes beyond the realms of the world wide web.

Content marketing in its truest sense means two-way engagement. Unlike conventional advertising you are not simply broadcasting promotional messages using various channels (print magazines, newspapers, TV, radio and even some form of Internet advertising), you are actually trying to reach out to your target customers and clients. First with the arrival of the contemporary Internet and then with social networking and social media, the dynamics of how people consume content (information, education or advertising) have gone through a paradigm shift. It’s no longer about passively receiving messages. Now people immediately respond to those messages and also create their own messages.

This, is a big difference. People talk to businesses and they talk among themselves. Your business and your brand must be talked about in order to remain relevant. This can only be achieved by engaging content, and hence the relevance of content marketing.

Again, although I mostly deal with writing, content, it can be anything. It can be a video, and info-graphic, an audio, a presentation, a PDF file, your postings on social networking websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. It can be images and videos on Pinterest and YouTube.

The biggest reason why content marketing is the only marketing left is that people “search” on the Internet before doing business with you. People no longer buy your products and services after seeing your advertisements and flyers. They log onto their favourite search engine, and they search for your product name or your service name (and various other combinations involving your product name or your service name), and read and view information and opinions about it. If not their favourite search engine, then they use their favourite social networking website (most such websites like Twitter and Facebook are making search a big part of their offerings) to know what people are saying about your product or service.

Conventional marketing brings you brand awareness. Content marketing brings you brand involvement, and this is what you need in the current scenario. You want conversations to happen around your brand and business, and if possible, positive conversations. This happens when you create and promote content people can share, respond to or react to.

Content marketing also gives you an ability to measure various aspects of its effectiveness. Take for instance blogging. At a particular time, using analytics tools, you can easily find out how many people are reading your blog posts, from which geographic regions, at what particular time of the day, during which days of the week, etc. By actively engaging them in your comments section you can even get more information.

The same holds true for social networking websites like Facebook. The amount of information its analytics can give you is unparalleled.