What is content marketing and why does your business need it? Find out how running a business blog will help you find new customers and grow your business.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing has two major benefits for your business. Put simply:
- SEO – it’s the essential tool for Search Engine Optimisation
- It attracts visitors to your website, who you can convert into customers
Content marketing and SEO
Search Engine Optimisation relies on keywords – these are words and phrases that people type into search engines such as Google when they are looking for web pages with information, services or products that fulfill their particular need. By finding out what people type into search engines when looking for the products and services that relate to your business, and adding these keywords to your website you can put your website in front of potential customers.
The steps are simple:
- use a keyword research tool to find what your customers are looking for online
- create articles and pages that answer the problems using those keywords
- put the content in front of your audience (e.g. Facebook).
Google has a keyword research tool (now only available with an active adwords campaign so Bing is the next best thing or there are many paid services of you are serious, and I don’t suggest you be anything other than serious when it comes to your business) that tells you what people have typed in when looking for information, including how many times and how much competition there is for the terms. This is gold. All your customers’ problems laid out in front of you for you to solve.
Create the content with the keywords
Your customers are telling you what they want to know. Answer the questions, solve the problems, ease the pain with how-to’s, information, guides and tips. Create one page or article per keyword and add it to your business blog, or why not make a video and put it on YouTube, then put an article on your website and stream the video on there. Your site should be the go-to place for information on how to solve problem X with service Y or product Z.
Make sure you have a minimum of 300 words and only 1 keyword phrase per page. Over time your website will become a repository for information relating to this subject and Google will rank your site higher in search engine results for the keywords you’ve already established that people are already searching for.
Reach out to your audience
So far you have a site with lots of information on it that will be a Google magnet, but you will need to do some extra work and take your blog to the market. The trick is to hang out where your customers hang out, for example if you sell spares for old Volvo cars, find Facebook groups and forums where enthusiasts hang out and contribute. This will also give you vital information as to what problems your target audience are experiencing and more ideas for your blog.
Turn the visitors into customers
Here’s how one company used an article with no sales information on it to turn me into a customer.
I like old Volvos, no apology forthcoming. On one particularly beautiful old girl the lights went off, so I needed to check the fuses. Problem – couldn’t find the fuse box. So I searched online for something like ‘Volvo 240 1993 fuse box’, and an article came up on how to locate the fuse box, which fuses were which and how to change them, provided by a company that sold fuses and bulbs for cars online. Guess what? The fuse had gone. I needed a new one pronto so what did I do? I just bought a pack from the company who provided the useful information, and some bulbs too.
But that page had no sales message, it was just information. How did they get the sale?
Well, for a start, convenience. I wasn’t going to start my search again when I was only a few clicks away from solving the problem any way. And I was grateful for the assistance, so why not return the favour? Hey presto. Solve problem, sell stuff.
Content marketing is a long term plan for success
You may think that you are giving your industry secrets away, or that because you are not creating pages that directly contribute to sales that this is a waste of time. Don’t be fooled. This is a long game and it’s a strategy to win and keep on winning. Not now, but in 6 months to a year’s time and beyond. You need to do everything by the book, and make sure your site is update proof to avoid penalties from future updates. The key is to make your site natural, don’t stuff keywords everywhere, write naturally as if you were speaking to someone and make all the pages focused on your customers wants and needs.
Google wants to see a site that serves it’s customers well, not a spammy sales site. Not that there’s anything wrong with selling, but be sure to give first, and your visitors will appreciate the gesture and give back. Plus, if your site shows you to be an authority in your market, who else would you want to buy from but an expert?
Where to publish?
You can add a blog to your existing site, or have your website redesigned to incorporate a blog using a popular Content Management System such as Joomla or WordPress (this site is based on WordPress, which I consider to be a superior platform).
Or you can host you blog on a dedicated blogging site. WordPress has a free site you can blog on, or you could use Tumblr or Blogger. Add links to your site from your posts to generate sales, but remember don’t be spammy.
You can also use social media to publish content. Facebook, Google Plus and Linked In are excellent places to build audiences and push traffic to your website. In fact, use these platforms as well as your blog.
When to Publish?
Ideally you would be adding content to your site or elsewhere everyday, but unless you are dedicating all your time to content marketing instead of running your business, then realistically aim to add a blog post to your site every week, and at the very least once a month.
Stay in touch
If you are publishing great content that people love, stay in touch with your audience by adding an RSS feed to your site which will update subscribers when you publish new articles. Alternatively allow fans to register their email address with you and send them a monthly update on the content you have added to your site. Above all, encourage your visitors to stay on your site and come back again and again. Eventually the time will come when they are ready to buy and loyal fans are loyal customers.
Running a blog is hard work, but well worth it, but it’s not for everyone. We are all busy doing our job and running our business, and it takes a lot of work to build a run a successful blog.
You may need help setting up your blog – most web designers will be happy to assist with either designing you a custom blog or creating a site based on a pre built template. Expect to pay anything from £200 to £5000 for this service, depending on your particular needs and who you go to.
If you are struggling with keyword research, either your web designer (if he’s switched on) or an SEO expert will be happy to consult with you over your keyword strategy. You could arrange an hourly or monthly rate, or pay them a retainer. Either way it’s money well spent and it’s good to know that you are writing the right content for success.
Writing your blog
Obviously there is a huge time commitment connected to writing a blog, or maybe writing just isn’t your thing. In that case you can enlist the services of a writer. You can hire an agency to write, or a professional or freelancer. Freelance help can be found for only a few pounds on sites like Fiverr or Fivesquids, but the quality of writing is hit an miss on these sites, so try a few authors out until you find a good fit. You could also strike a deal with a professional for supplying your articles over time. Either way, it will make sure you have good quality articles on your site, but don’t be too hasty – try a writing a few articles yourself and see if you get a feel for it. I can be good fun, and after all who knows your industry and business better than you?
I’ve only briefly covered the art of business blogging here. If you see the benefit, then it’s something that is worth while researching a learning over time. There a so many benefits to blogging and you really should consider content marketing central to your business growth strategy.
By Jeff Guest on Tuesday, November 1st, 2016