Driving traffic to a website it one of the things that business owners struggle with the most. Content marketing has been the best way of doing that for a long time. Back in 2016, an impressive 90% of businesses were already using content marketing to drive traffic to their site.
So why has content marketing taken over the online ads of the past? With an increasingly sceptical audience turning their noses up at online ads it’s imperative to immerse your brand into their digital habits.
An effective content marketing strategy not only achieves this but can drive your website up the SERPs resulting in a massive increase in organic traffic.
As the world became glued to their smartphone, having an online presence became imperative. Soon, just having a presence wasn’t enough. Businesses were buying online advertisements. It made sense to put the adverts where the target audience were spending their time. But it didn’t go down well at all.
Consumers hate online advertising. It’s slow and increases page loading times. There are too many of them all over the internet. And most importantly, the over-targeting was damaging people’s trust in brands.
Gone are the days of pop0ups and banners. Traditional online advertising was becoming less effective. Digital marketing had to grow up. Digital strategy now encompasses web design, social media marketing, influencer marketing, search engine optimisation, email marketing and content marketing.
• Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is all anyone seems to care about at the moment. This is understandable considering it is the easiest way to get your brand seen by thousands of people. Over the last twenty years, we have made the shift from the offline to the online world.
The high street is shrinking, paving the way for E-commerce businesses like Amazon to take the reign. The problem is, without a physical presence how are these businesses managing to compete for consumers.
The answer is SEO. Search Engine Optimisation. SEO is the art of curating the perfect online presence to get noticed by not only your target audience but Google and the other search engines as well. An effective SEO strategy is your ticket to the top spot on those search engine results pages (SERPs).
Search engines such as Google or Yahoo aim to create a user-friendly environment. They want digital platforms to be easier, more efficient and more fun than traditional ones. That is why they continuously scan web pages in an aim to improve their service and become more relevant to the audience.
• Understanding SEO Algorithms
The digital world operates very differently to the high street. Rather than borrowing from fields such as psychology, sociology and behavioural economics to plot trends, the search engines can just use algorithms.
Your business presence depends largely on your SEO strategy. Great news if you know your stuff. Luckily this guide can turn even the most clueless into an SEO expert in no time. Once you start to understand the algorithms, you can start to optimise your SEO. It’s not cheating. It’s just the easiest way of showing search engines that you can provide the most useful information on the web.
As the transition to the online world began, the need to get to the top of the SERPs became crucial. SEO agencies started cropping up, promising you the elusive top spot if you followed their rules. And everyone did.
Keyword jamming, H1 and H2 optimising, image alt attributes, and all the necessary changes were bring made. Having a digital presence was no longer enough. You had to rank. Websites were being updated daily. And search engines were updating their algorithms just as quickly to keep up with the latest SEO agency hacks.
These hacks were designed to get your website ranking as quickly as possible and required little effort. A well-curated headline and metadata with a sprinkling of keywords were almost enough.
Before long, websites were seeing their efforts snubbed by Google and the other search engines. Sites were being dragged down the SERPs for duplicating content or metadata, long tail keyword stuffing, broken links and using too many H1 tags. The search engines began to recognise these ‘quick fixes’ and they didn’t like it.
If typical search engine optimisation techniques are frowned upon, what was a website owner supposed to do?
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is the latest trend in marketing strategy. Almost 100% of small business B2B marketers use some form of content marketing. The technique consists of creating and distributing relevant, valuable and consistent content. In doing so you are aiming to attract attention, gain an audience or readership and drive customer action.
Content doesn’t have to be a blog or social media post, there are a variety of different types including:
• White papers
The idea behind content marketing is to produce content that your target audience wants to engage with. Marketers burnt their fingers on the first run at digital marketing. Content marketing is about slipping a brand or business seamlessly among someone’s online activity.
Think of it as a subliminal strategy. Your target audience are engaging with your content. They are seeing your brand name and building a relationship with you. They trust your authority in that industry. All of this is great. It’s effective. But it’s not the only reason all businesses will need to adopt a content marketing strategy soon.
• Content Marketing for SEO
Search engines don’t like seeing websites cheat their algorithms, remember? To utilise SEO strategies a website has to be updating content regularly. And that means content marketing. As well as optimising your meta tags, doing your keyword research and reducing your page load speed you need to be producing regular, relevant and high-quality content.
Regularly adding fresh content gives the SEO bots another chance to index your site. New content indicates that you are a trustworthy and authoritative source of information. This is why content marketing has become a fundamental element of SEO.
• Content Marketing for Business
As we have identified, content marketing is key to integrating your brand into an individual’s life. It’s also an important element of SEO and making sure your website ranks well in the SERPs. So how can a business utilise this strategy?
Content covers a huge range of areas, from your website to your email marketing. If you are taking content marketing seriously you must ensure it is executed perfectly across the board. You should aim to create valuable content regularly, whether you have an in-house marketing team, a spare body or hire an agency to run your content creation.
As everything that you create is marketing material, hiring an in-house content writer tends to be the preferred option. You may think your business is too small and this role is not necessary but you’d be amazed to find out how much content you already produce, and are likely to produce with a full-time content creator on board.
– Agencies and Content
Content marketing agencies can produce amazing, SEO friendly content to update your website with. Social media marketing agencies will keep all your feeds looking lively and interact with your followers. SEO agencies can boost your SERP rank by a few points at a time. But this takes time and there is no guarantee the result will align with your business.
– Your Voice, Your Brand Identity, Your Content
The reason you need content produced in-house is that you need to demonstrate one consistent brand image across the board. Your internal and external content have to demonstrate who you are as a business.
Outsourcing this responsibility or getting a spare body to complete all these tasks is counterproductive. If the quality isn’t there the content won’t get shared, grow organic traffic, help you rank in SERPs or gain those precious backlinks.
– Can’t your marketing team do it?
A recurring problem that many businesses have is not finding anyone, agency or employee, to complete the content marketing role. This leads to last-minute, rushed and low-quality content. Remember content marketing aims to provide value to your audience, not to throw together website updates.
Creating high-quality content takes time. Giving the responsibility to members of your marketing team isn’t an ideal solution. It would be difficult to prioritise the amount of content that needs to be created alongside the day-to-day workload.
In-House Content Writers
A dedicated in-house content writer is submerged in your business. They know your industry and your brand through and through. There’s a high chance they know more about it than you do because they are researching and writing all day long.
Employing someone to fill this role means you can be just as reactive with your content as you are with your customers. Big news breaks? Your content writer can talk about it. Huge increase in searches for a keyword you rank for? Your content writer can share and update your content. How do you think ASOS got to where they are? Great content in a published magazine and a team of content writers awaiting the next trend.
In-house content writers are quickly becoming an integral part of the office environment. They might dip in and out of multimedia content creation, but a content writer has a clear and concise aim. Interact and engage with the target audience whilst boosting their rank in SERPs.
To fulfil this aim, a content writer looks at internal content (anything that appears on your website) and external content (anything that doesn’t).
• Internal Content:
Internal content refers to anything that is going onto your website. This can be in the form of imagery, video, links and layout. Your businesses logo, ‘about us’ page and link to your Twitter account is all internal content.
Internal content is different from external content because it reaches a different audience. People who are visiting your website are likely looking for something specific. You are not trying to reel them in or convince them they need a product or service. Internal content aims to convince its audience that you are the best business for the job.
The primary function of internal content should be to provide information. As discussed, prospective customers are already interested in what you do. They just might need a little bit more information.
a) On-Page SEO
First and foremost, a content writer should take care of all of your web pages. Each one should be informative and tell the reader as much information as possible in as few words as possible. Each page must also be optimised, according to the latest SEO rumours. This is an ongoing task that a content writer will keep picking up as and when search engines change their algorithms.
A content writer will write all the content for this (obviously) to improve the website ranking and provide visitors with fresh, relevant and valuable information about their industry. It starts to get more interesting when you are talking about a company blog or news page.
The most effectively optimised company blogs or news pages are the ones that answer real queries. They tend to be in the format of guides, how-to articles and numbered lists. Writing a piece of content that answers a frequently asked question better than anyone else on the internet has then you’re increasing your chances of ranking on the SERPs.
b) Building a Landing Page
Creating content like this, curated to answer questions and rank on the search engine results pages, is a strategy that aims to bring organic traffic to your website and raise brand awareness. These blog posts and news articles help to grow organic traffic. Essentially, you are building landing pages that cover a diverse range of topics within your industry and pit you as a reputable industry expert.
• External Content:
External content refers to anything that is going on a site that doesn’t belong to you. This could include social media posts and links on other websites directing back to yours. Rather than the audience coming to you, you are going to them. Therefore, it often requires a different approach.
The purpose of external content is to establish yourself as an industry expert. A well-written article on an external source builds trust between you and your audience. The more your brand name gets out there, the more authority it holds.
The ultimate aim is to have a content market strategy that encourages your audience to share your internal content on their social media channels. In doing so, you build an army of loyal brand advocates.
That’s not the only reason brands and content writers are desperate for external content opportunities. Building a healthy, diverse profile of backlinks has become crucial to off-page SEO.
a) Off-Page SEO
The majority of a content writer’s day is spent curating internal content with little worry about off-page SEO. Only the best content marketing strategy can get the benefits of off-page and on-page optimisation.
Off-page SEO refers to your link profile, local SEO and social media (to an extent). Content writers have to create valuable, sharable content to achieve these goals. This is the only way to guarantee shares on social media and an increase in backlinks.
In terms of local SEO, content writers can use on-page strategies to boost their visibility. The basic premise of this is to make it obvious where you do business. If you operate on a national or international scale it can prove quite difficult.
When you see event organisers talking about different venues and locations – that is part of a content writers local SEO strategy. When a client-centric business uploads a case studies from national and internal clients – that is part of a content writers local SEO strategy. Local SEO is usually an afterthought. The key focus of an off-page SEO strategy tends to focus on your backlink profile.
b) Link Building
Backlinks are important. Links are online referrals to your site that tell the SEO bots they can trust you. If a lot of people told you that a restaurant was good you would visit that restaurant. Having a high number of backlinks is the equivalent of having lots of word-of-mouth reviews.
Search Engines trust sites that have a lot of these referring links. Something a lot of people don’t know is that getting these links is often the job of a content writer.
One way to build your backlink profile is to produce the best content on the internet. If you’re ranking well on the SERPs and genuinely providing the reader with useful information you’ll likely receive these links naturally.
The other way is to write guest posts. Writing articles for other websites, blogs and magazines is known as guest posting. Why would you want your in-house content writers to spend time writing content for other people? For those embedded links, that’s why.
Your content writers have the time and ability to create thought-provoking content that other people will happily share on their site. Those pieces of content contain a backlink to your website and before you know it you’re climbing up the SERPs.
Building a strong profile of backlinks isn’t as easy as it sounds. That’s why you need people on your team prioritising this task. Everything that an in-house content writer does aims to improve your visibility in the search engines and grow your organic traffic. Everything that an in-house content writer does will improve your domain authority.
Good SEO increases Domain Authority
Domain authority is a metric that shows a websites authority. The higher the score, the easier it is to trust the site. The higher the domain authority of a site, the more likely you are to find genuinely useful information on there.
Moz are responsible for creating this metric. Using similar algorithms to the search engines, Moz indexes each webpage regularly. They want the sites with the highest domain authority to be the most useful so the crawling bots lookout for data that tells them that.
If you haven’t guessed by now, sites with the highest domain authority also rank highest on the SERPs. SEO and domain authority go hand in hand in that respect.
Making the necessary changes, updating your content and improving your backlink profile will improve your domain authority and your ranking in SERPs. Unlike SEO strategies, you can monitor your domain authority. This enables you to monitor the success of our SEO strategy and see how or where we could be performing better.
A top-ranking landing page and a high domain authority solidifies your position as a trustworthy brand. It is the only way you can gain brand authority online.
Conclusion: Great Content is Brand Authority
Of course, the reason for all of this is brand authority. You want to rank so you can be seen by thousands of people as an authoritative voice in your industry. You want people to enjoy your content so that they form long-lasting, trusting relationships with your brand. And you want to generate as much organic traffic as possible so that you can outperform your competitors bring in more business.
Creating unique, insightful content ticks all the SEO boxes without cheating the system. It helps you gain a strong backlink profile and positions you as a trustworthy source of information. It automatically gives you brand authority.
That’s why you need in-house content writers. You need dedicated brand ambassadors at the forefront of your content marketing strategy. Or what was the point?
Natalka is a full-time content writer for leading exhibition stand design agency, Quadrant2Design. Her passion for content, SEO optimisation and writing developed following the growth of her personal blog, and it was when she was selected as a finalist for the UK Blog Awards 2018 that she knew she had to pursue a career in content.