Tips for writing great content which ticks both the quality and SEO boxes.
The pressure really is on businesses to prioritise SEO when it comes to their content marketing strategy or apparently risk disappearing forever into the black hole of – gasp - page 6 of Google Search results.
Yes, SEO is an important element of any strategy and there are plenty of technical on-page steps you can and should be taking to make sure your website and online content is performing well. But to anyone who still believes that SEO just means peppering your website and blog with keywords in every other sentence, you’re forgetting something crucial. Google Search isn’t your target audience. It’s a channel to reach your target audience. If you’re a slave to the SEO keyword, you may tick a few of Google’s boxes (actually not as many as you think, more on that below) but you will undoubtedly alienate your prospective customers because your content will read so badly that they’re unlikely to then trust you with their business.
When it comes to content marketing, the not-so-secret ticket to success is quality. In today’s world of keywords, topics and featured snippets, it’s easy to forget that Google actually places far greater emphasis now than ever before on content that is well written, and rewards said content with a higher ranking in search results. In fact, unintelligible content that’s been written for an algorithm rather than a human will now actively count against you.
But don’t panic if you’re finding that your content isn’t performing as it should or not driving quite the interest that you thought it would. Here are three tips to improve your content marketing:
Quality is king.
That means that your blogs, whitepapers, e-books, case studies and the like need to be well written, error-free, no typos or dodgy grammar, no keyword gibberish. But they also need to be on the right topic and engaging for the reader, and that means content which helps or educates is far more likely to perform better than a brochure which sells your product directly. It sounds like some sort of paradox, but content marketing is at its very best when it raises awareness of your business without pushing your services directly. Good content should position you as the go-to expert for your particular specialism, ensuring that you spring to mind first when the reader, a prospective customer, needs your services. It should drive loyalty which in turn drives purchase consideration. But we’ll say it until we’re blue in the face – quality, quality, quality.
Keywords should be treated like seasoning.
A light sprinkling of the right ones leaves a much better taste than a dredging with every word possibly associated with your business. It’s very easy to find yourself down a keyword rabbit hole when deciding what to hook your content on, particularly with so many online tools available, but I guarantee you’ll be left with more questions than answers: should I include longer tail keywords with a lower MSV, or a shorter keyword with broader reach but fierce competition? What even is a long tail keyword anyway? Keywords are important as they do after all ensure that your content will pop up when people are searching for that subject, but we really want to avoid keyword soup at all costs. We suggest you keep it simple, particularly as an SEO beginner: start by thinking about what you want to be famous for as a business – content marketing, for example - and then consider the key questions that prospective customers may have when searching for help on that subject – Should I write a company blog? How do I start an e-newsletter? What is the difference between a whitepaper and an e-book? Turning each of those questions into a blog post or how-to guide will make sure you’ve got the most important keywords covered. Obviously, this isn't the only way to work with keywords, but it will at least start you on the right track. Keep it tightly linked to the services that you offer to make sure it’s relevant (Google takes this VERY seriously), and don’t forget to link back to your website.
So, you’ve written a brilliantly engaging, insightful blog post with just the right number of relevant keywords. But there’s little point in getting this far and then have the blog sit on your website with no eyes on it. The final consideration then when it comes to content marketing should be how to disseminate your content properly. Here it helps to think first about the channels that you already own, such as your social media, an e-newsletter out to your customer database or internal comms to your own employees and then out to their own networks. And then you can think about other people’s channels that you can piggyback on. Can your content sit as a guest blog on someone else’s company site? Can you do some simple PR outreach to target media and see if they’re interested in running the piece? Can you repurpose an older blog that has already run by turning it into new shorter ‘how to’ social media posts?
Hollye Kirkcaldy is a Director at Sparro House Creative, specialising in content marketing. She is a former journalist with more than a decade of experience crafting copy for B2C and B2B businesses.