(guest post by Patrick Foster)
SEO is certainly crucial to your content strategy, but it’s only a small slice of the content marketing pie.
Focusing all your content efforts on SEO is short-sighted and will harm your business. You want to create content outside of core SEO deliverables.
Here are some of the reasons why content marketing should be about so much more than just chasing after organic traffic…
Recommended reading: Everything you need to know about SEO
SEO results aren’t always guaranteed
Here’s some news you might not want to hear when it comes to SEO: sometimes you just can’t win.
Yes, as much as everyone will tell you that you need to focus on SEO — it’s not always a foolproof strategy. Sometimes, in fact, it can be a wild goose chase.
- You can spend a lot of time and energy pursuing certain keyword phrases, but you may never make any real progress if other companies are aggressively targeting the same ones.
- You may also find that SEO content just doesn’t seem to convert visitors, or that there isn’t enough search volume for your products or services (yet)
- SEO is a long game and there are no guarantees, so diversify your content strategy and embrace disciplines like PR and social media. They might be more suitable for your company anyway!
Search engine optimization is just one facet of content marketing. You should be doing a lot of other things to market your business online.
You need to look at:
- Influencer marketing
- Social media marketing
These are important to any business, but especially so for new entrepreneurs. If you’re thinking of setting up your first business, you must make a diverse content marketing strategy one of your focus points.
Check out the video below for some top tips on planning out your content marketing strategy:
Audience connections go deeper than SEO
Search data is one thing — but to foster meaningful relationships with your customers, you need more.
Content marketing is not a passive practice. The words you publish don’t simply sit on your blog listlessly. They form part of a two-way conversation in which you communicate and connect with your customers.
And like the best conversations, your content should be rich and diverse. It should go beyond simple blog posts, spanning video, stories, infographics, photography, and more. A variety of content formats engage your audience on a deeper level — it’s rewarding for your customer, and your marketing.
But to effectively communicate with your customers via content, you must have a clear understanding of your audience:
- Who are they?
- What drives them?
- What are their hopes?
- What are their fears?
- What questions do they have and what answers are you providing?
These questions help build up your buyer personas, fictionalized characterizations of your customers. These are are a perfect example of how content marketing is about more than SEO. How? Because they show the value of data.
Using the data you’ve collected on your customers allows you target your content to specific segments. This means you can create campaigns which have a higher engagement rate and better ROI.
There are many ways to collect data beyond Google Analytics.
FoxMetrics is an excellent tool that lets you build segments based on customer characteristics and behaviours such as marital status, location, spending habits, and more. It also integrates with many other tools and platforms such as WooCommerce, Demandware, and Silverpop.
The video underneath gives great guidance on buyer personas:
SEO doesn’t sell your product or service
So your keyword strategy is on-point and it’s sending traffic to your website. What next? While SEO might got their attention, it won’t hold it. SEO can get your foot in the door, but it’s not going to close the deal for you.
Beyond SEO, your content marketing has to sell. It should tell visitors about your product or service and convince them to purchase. Search engine optimization alone can’t do that, and if you rely solely on SEO to get the job done, your strategy will fall flat.
Make selling your product or services a key feature of your content marketing. Features of content that sells include:
- Enticing headlines that compel your customers to click.
- Informative, well-written content that resonates with your audience.
- Guest posts contributed to authoritative websites.
- Engaging, gamified content like quizzes or challenges.
Content marketing is one of the best ways to sell your product or service if you’re a small business because it has an exceptional ROI.
For example, SMEs who use a blog as part of their sales content marketing strategy have 126% more lead growth than businesses who don’t — it increases their value as a business.
And the proof is in the pudding. Look at any online business for sale and you’ll see that the ones that sell for more are the ones that have an engaging, regularly-updated blog. Because blogging isn’t just an indulgence for big brands. It’s a valid marketing practice that has a visible impact on your business — it’s a necessity, not a luxury.
Watch the following video for some great advice on how to sell through content marketing:
The entire point of content marketing is to create a relationship with your past, present, and future customers. You don’t just want them to land on your website, buy something, and then leave. You want them to continue coming back in the future. That’s something SEO can’t accomplish on its own, and it’s something you should put ahead of all else.
If you succeed in creating great relationships through your content marketing, you can’t lose. If you put way too much of an emphasis on SEO, you likely will.
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog that shares the latest insights from the sector, spanning everything from business growth hacks, to product development. Check out the latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.