Blurring the lines between content marketing and SEO

Blurring the lines between content marketing and SEO

Blurring the lines between content marketing and SEO

If you want to spend money, if you need to allocate budget, what do you do? Do you invest in content marketing or SEO? Or both?

Frankly, the lines between content marketing and SEO are constantly blurring and a greater number of SEO companies are focusing more on content and less on the conventional “SEO tactics”.

Read How content marketing actually improves your SEO

What is SEO these days?

After the various source code optimizations have been implemented, there is nothing much an SEO company can do on your website. After the on-site optimization process, 99% of SEO work involves getting you high-quality links.

So, conventional SEO has pretty much turned into getting you high-quality links. Of course, these companies have their own sources from which they can get you good links and if you try it on your own, it will be very difficult.

SEO also involves keyword research. An SEO expert can use various tools at his or her disposal to tell you which keywords and search terms you should target for.

Through ongoing SEO analytics, he or she will also tell you which of your keywords are performing better and which need more focus.

Content marketing and SEO are two sides of the same coin

Content marketing and SEO: two sides of the same coin

Content marketing and SEO: two sides of the same coin

A big difference between content marketing and SEO is that content marketing doesn’t always focus on search engines.

SEO, on the other hand, means “search engine optimization” so the entire essence of SEO is to improve your search engine rankings.

Content marketing gets you quality traffic from different sources. You can totally ignore search engines and still do well on the web by driving traffic from other websites, email marketing, and blogs and social media and social networking platforms.

In that sense, although SEO completely depends on content marketing, content marketing doesn’t necessarily depend on SEO. But that’s just an academic topic.

We need to be realistic.

Everybody needs search engine traffic.

In fact, 99% of our clients hire our services because they want to improve their search engine rankings.

Why they want to partner with a content marketing and content writing service rather than a full-fledged SEO company is based on the fact that more and more people are realizing that it’s primarily the content that has the greatest impact on SEO.

If, theoretically, content marketing can totally sidestep SEO, then why do I say that they are both two sides of the same coin?

Because just as SEO depends on content marketing, content marketing too has to apply the principles of SEO to be effective.

The changes in the Google algorithm in the past 5-10 years have been constantly shifting their focus on content quality and content relevance. Your search engines depend a lot on the quality of your content, and the sort of experience people have when they access your content.

Even your CTR can have an impact on your existing search engine rankings. Your current search engine rankings of your particular links can move up or down based on how many people click your search engine listings.

Further, how much time people spend on your website after finding your link on Google also has a direct impact on your future rankings.

Suppose you have good rankings now, but when people find your link, click it, go to your website, and then immediately come back to carry on with the same search, your rankings are degraded because Google takes it as an indication that you don’t have the right information for the search term your link is currently ranking for.

So, no matter what route you take, ultimately you reach content marketing.

How content marketing improves your search engine rankings

Importance of content marketing in SEO

Importance of content marketing in SEO

Let me explain it in points:

  • Google gives lots of importance to quality, relevance, and context of your content.
  • Although its ranking algorithms can analyze the keywords and phrases that you have used when writing your content, they cannot analyze the intent and the relevance of your content.
  • This is why the Google ranking algorithm depends on the human feedback that your content gets.
  • If more people share your content from their social media and social networking profiles, Google thinks that your content is valuable, useful, or relevant.
  • If more people are linking to your content, then your content must be good.
  • If, after finding your content in search results, people go to your website, stay there, and explore your website further, the Google algorithm thinks that you satisfy the search intent (why people are searching for that particular phrase?) and hence the keyword for which your content is currently ranking, is relevant, and consequently, may further improve your rankings.
  • In fact, Google attaches so much importance to the human reaction to your content that even in its Google AdWords program, if your advertisement draws more clicks, you pay less, per click.
  • The more content you publish, the more frequently Google’s crawlers crawl and index your content, sometimes featuring your content in the search results within seconds.
  • If you publish your content using multiple platforms (guest posts, social media and social networking updates, news websites, other niche websites and portals) it becomes easier for Google to find your link and through that, reach your website.

I have used “Google” for every search engine.

You can see that for every SEO aspect, you need content.

Not just content, you need to market that content. You need to make sure that people are able to find your content, and not just find it, but, react to your content.

In some way it should change people’s behavior, only then Google thinks it’s good quality content.

SEO principles, when you fully apply them, make you implement a good content marketing strategy.

Content marketing principles, when you fully apply them, make you implement good SEO strategy.

What do you rely on then, content marketing or SEO?

What to use? Content marketing or SEO?

What to use? Content marketing or SEO?

I’m not advising you to pick one thing in favor of the other, but by the end of the day, if you have your content marketing strategy in order, your SEO is automatically taken care of.

Follow the fundamental SEO rules of thumb when creating and distributing content:

  • Creatively use your keywords and targeted search terms in the title of your web page or blog post.
  • Use your keywords and targeted search terms within the first 100 words of the body text.
  • Use your keywords and targeted search terms after every 150-200 words, as exact expression or as individual parts (for example, “content marketing”, and then somewhere “content” and somewhere, “marketing”).
  • Once or twice use your keywords within headings and subheadings – <h2> or <h3> tags (the <h1> tag should be used just once, for the main heading of your web page or blog post).
  • At least once, use your keywords within the hypertext, linking to another relevant and related blog post or web page, from within the body content of your current blog post or web page.
  • Try to use an image after every 300-400 words.
  • Try to make every web page or blog post at least 1100 words.
  • Use your keywords in the last 100 words.

All these steps are within your hand. You are in total control. You can keep these tips in mind and implement them when you are writing or creating content for your website or blog.

After you have created optimized content, you need to market it, distribute using all the available channels.

You can use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ to showcase your content in front of your followers and friends.

You can use your mailing list to send an update to your subscribers that you have published new content or when you have updated your existing content.

You can repurpose your existing content by creating slides, PDFs, videos and infographics, and short-form social media updates.

Also network with your other industry influencers so that they can easily discovered your good quality content and share it on their own timelines and even from their own blogs.

When you follow these fundamental content marketing steps, your search engine rankings automatically improve, and you don’t have to do your SEO separately.

7 Features of Successful Content Marketing Plan

Creating a successful content marketing strategy

Creating a successful content marketing strategy

Guest post

There are a number of companies and businessmen that have created content marketing plans with little success. A number of possible reasons exist for why a content marketing campaign does not hit the intended goal. This could be because the content lacks quality, or the wrong type of content is used.

In this article you’ll learn the top tips for a successful content marketing plan. Therefore, you’ll avoid the common mistakes of others that have failed before you. With the list of tips mentioned below you’ll realize that implementing a successful content marketing plan can be a straightforward process.

Understand the audience

It’s important to figure out who your audience is and cater the content to them. For example, consider the type of problems they have, what kind of hobbies they take part in and their financial status. The more information you can find out about the demographics of your audience the more relevant the content will be.

Writing content that the audience can relate to allows for high rates of engagement. They are more likely to stick around to the end of the blog post and see the call to action.

Call to action

The point of content marketing is to generate new leads for your business. However, without a CTA the conversion rate for each piece of content is going to be minimal. You need to include the CTA in a variety of locations. For example, if you’re trying to get new subscribers to your email newsletter, then at the end of every piece of content tempt the viewer to sign up.

You can also have the CTA in the middle of the content if it’s in the flow of the writing. This might increase the conversion rate of your content marketing campaign even higher.

Solve a problem

The type of content you put out should aim to solve a problem for the audience. Not every piece of advice that you give should be behind a pay wall. By offering free and helpful information the customer is more likely to buy from you.

For example, if your website is about weight loss, then you could give advice on how to avoid putting on weight during a vacation. Actionable advice that’s targeted is always great for a content marketing strategy.

Consistent output

Regardless of how great your content is, an infrequent posting frequency will not work. Audiences expect regular content to digest – this ensures they will be coming back for more – even expecting it before it arrives.

The best approach is to send out daily content so that followers have a reason to visit your website on a daily basis. Once you have built up a large library of content you’ll also receive a large volume of traffic from the search engines.

Measure the performance

To understand what’s working and what isn’t, the performance of content should be measured. A breakdown of different statistics for every piece of content should be noted and organized. This includes the bounce rate, number of new subscribers, traffic and social shares.

Over time you’ll begin to see a pattern regarding what type of content receives the highest amount of attention. This means you can increase the ROI of your content strategy by focusing on what works. Before coming to conclusions ensure the amount of data gathered represent a decent sample size. Perhaps 1,000 visitors are enough to see how well a piece of content is performing.

Optimize for the search engines

If you are going to create content, then you might as well make the most of it by optimizing for the search engines. The common SEO principles to adhere to is the use of relevant keywords, optimization of meta tags and backlinking to other pages of your website within the content.

The last point is SEO friendly and it also improves the usability for the end user.

Repurpose your content

Working smarter always outperforms working harder. With that thought in mind repurposing your content is a great idea. For example, after writing a blog post you can use a portion of the content for an email or social media post.

This ensures that you are able to make the most of each piece of content created. You can then add a link to the original piece of content if they wish to read the entire piece.

Conclusion

The combination of the 7 tips for a successful content marketing strategy can increase the profitability of your campaign. You’ll see that by using these common marketing tactics the process is simplified. You can even outsource the entire operation to professionals.

Ensuring that your content marketing strategy hits targets is important to the overall success of your business. A well-implemented strategy can be the difference between achieving a consistent flow of many customers, and struggling to get any at all.

How to build a big business out of a small business with content marketing

Grow your business with content marketing

Grow your business with content marketing

Here is a nice article in the Forbes magazine that explains how as small business, especially as a start-up, you can use content marketing to grow a big business.

Even if you don’t believe in the various studies available on the Internet that prove that advertising no longer remains as effective as it used to be (it was never effective, there was no other alternative), use your personal experience.

How much attention do you pay to advertisements on the net, or even on TV? Given a chance, don’t you fast forward advertisements especially when you are watching your favorite program? Don’t you switch to the premium version of your mobile app so that you can get rid of the advertisements? I do.

On the Internet people devise various ways to avoid coming across ads. Millions of people have installed browser add-ons that let them block ads.

To be fair, advertising is a big business. Google has made billions selling ads through its search engine. Facebook is selling ads. Twitter is trying to sell ads. LinkedIn is constantly encouraging you to advertise on their platform. Ads are being sold on Instagram.

So, if advertising is so great, why you are being constantly told that you should embrace content marketing instead of conventional marketing and advertising?

The big difference is, advertising is about selling, content marketing is about building relationships.

Through advertising, people may come across your promotional message, buy from you or not, and then move on.

With content marketing, you are constantly in touch with your prospective customers and clients through providing them valuable content.

Advertising isn’t cheap, especially when you have many competitors who are doing well and are ready to spend more than you can.

Even if you want to promote your business using Google AdWords, you will need to bid on individual clicks based on how much your competitors are bidding.

Your business name and your brand are in front of your prospective customers and clients only till you advertise.

In advertising, “out of sight out of mind” prevails in its truest sense simply because there are scores of other businesses that are constantly vying for the attention of your customers and clients.

Content marketing on the other hand, leaves an imprint in the minds of your prospects. This is because instead of telling them to buy from you, you are giving them useful information that helps them work better, or sleep better, or entertain themselves better, or do something else better. You are enriching their lives.

When you enrich their lives, they remember you.

The author of the above Forbes article rightly says that content marketing is not about explicitly selling products or services, but getting everyone interested in what is being offered.

People these days want to make their own decisions, and this is why in-your-face marketing doesn’t work.

Building a big business out of a small business with content marketing

The biggest upside of content marketing is that it easily scales according to the size of your business. If you are a small business, you can use content marketing at a lower scale and as the size of your business increases, you can also raise the scale of your content marketing.

In simple terms, the purpose of your content marketing should be:

  • Reaching out to people who may need the product or service you can offer
  • Keeping them aware that you offer that particular product or service
  • Keeping them interested in your product or service
  • Constantly telling them the benefits of using your product or service
  • Educating them so that it becomes very easy for them to use your product or service
  • Constantly keeping them engaged even when they have purchased your product or service for further word-of-mouth marketing and customer loyalty

This can be achieved even by publishing a simple blog and sharing your knowledge through it.

Here are a few reasons why content marketing can work wonders with your small business and then help it grow into big business

  • Starting a blog is very easy
  • You can either start your blog on your own or you can pay someone a small amount to set it up for you
  • Once your blog is set up, if you are already hosting your domain, there is no extra cost for running your blog
  • Getting quality content for your blog is easy
  • You can either create content for your blog on your own or you can hire someone, like a content writer, to do the job
  • You can start building a mailing list
  • Almost all the email marketing services on the web allow you to set up your initial campaigns for free
  • Whenever you publish content on your blog, you can broadcast it to your mailing list
  • Use social networking platforms like LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter to further promote your content
  • You can also repurpose your existing content and create slides, images and small animations and then again promote the repurposed content

Suppose, you are spending $100 every day on advertising. A decent content writing service can deliver you two good quality articles or blog posts in the same amount. Even if you want a lengthier blog post or article, it can be easily prepared for $100-150.

Even if you publish two blog posts every business day by the end of the month you are going to have 40 odd blog posts covering your major keywords and search terms.

In three months you are going to have 120 blog posts.

These 120 blog posts are going to get you traffic from search engines and other sources continuously as long as you maintain your momentum.

Whether you are getting 10 people from search engines, 100 people, 1000 people or 10,000 people, you are not paying extra.

Unlike advertising, the growth with content marketing is not linear.

Assuming you are spending $100 every day on advertising, you will go on spending $3000 every month for a long period, and as soon as you stop spending these $3000, your business comes to a halt.

In content marketing, once you have gained traction, you can reduce your content marketing budget. Once your brand is known through quality content, you can come down to one blog post every day instead of two. You can even publish 2-3 good quality blog posts every week instead of posting one post every day.

Remember that Marcus Sheridan example I referred to in my blog post 6 indisputable benefits of content marketing?

Before content marketing his fibreglass swimming pools company was spending $250,000 per year on conventional advertising and marketing. After two years of content marketing, the company was spending $40,000 per year on content marketing and it had become the biggest fiberglass swimming pool company in North America.

How do you create a space for your small business with content marketing?

Doing business with big brands has its own charm, but people prefer to do business with companies and agencies they can relate to, trust, and rely on.

Normally, if you’re a small business and you don’t have the budget to hire an expert content marketing team, you are pretty much clueless about where to start.

Even when you know that content marketing can pay big dividends, you don’t know exactly what to do.

Start exploring other blogs and websites in your niche. What are the publishing? How does their audience respond? What are the topics that they talk about?

Most important: is there a gap you can fill?

Can you write or publish content the others are not publishing? Is there a demand for such content? Are there some topics that would be useful to your audience, but they cannot be easily found on the web?

This, is where you can start.

Start covering topics that are not being covered by the others. This way you will quickly start drawing attention from people who really want content on these topics, but they are not getting.

You will also get higher rankings on search engines for phrases that are not easy to find.

You can create a space for your small business with content marketing by covering less-competitive topics and then, as your rankings improve and as people begin to recognize you as an authority, you can gauge up your topic competitiveness and aim for more competitive topics.

Do’s and don’ts of republishing your content on Medium and LinkedIn

dos-and-donts-of-republishing-content-on-Medium-and-LinkedIn

Here is a nice online forum thread on the do’s and don’ts of republishing your content on Medium and LinkedIn.

A long time back I had written a blog post on whether you should use the Medium blog publishing platform for content marketing and publishing your content.

As long as you stick to the basic tenets of content quality, I think on the web, when it comes to creating sources for inbound traffic, the more is the proverbial merrier.

Although there are pros and cons for using your own as well as external publishing platforms, every platform and content channel has its own advantages.

The biggest benefit of publishing on websites like Medium and LinkedIn is that they already have a ready-made audience. Even your first blog post over there can go viral. These websites already enjoy better search engine rankings.

With limited budget it is not possible to publish unique content on every major platform, including your own blog and website. This is why, sometimes you have to republish your content – what you have published on your own blog you also publish on Medium and LinkedIn. This is called content republishing.

But then what about the duplicate content penalty?

Google doesn’t like crawling, indexing and ranking the same content again and again. This is why, it’s algorithm frowns upon duplicate content.

So, if the same blog post exists on your own blog, on Medium and also on LinkedIn, it can end up annoying the Google algorithm.

As mentioned by Rand Fishkin in the above thread, even if Google doesn’t penalize you for publishing duplicate content, your traffic may get diluted because instead of ranking your link higher, Google may end up ranking the Medium or the LinkedIn link higher. All the traffic due to your high-quality content will be lapped up by these publishing platforms.

The benefit would be that may be your link never had a chance anyway, so your content wouldn’t have gotten so much attention if it hadn’t been published on Medium and LinkedIn. A valid point.

What would you prefer? 3000 views on Medium or 30 views on your own blog? Decide on your own.

These days I am republishing my content on Medium. How do I do it? Why do I do it?

How do I do it without running the risk of getting into the “duplicate content” penalty?

I use the canonical tag in the original blog post.

Insert image of the canonical link

When you use the canonical tag within your web page or blog post you tell Google that the link containing this canonical tag is the original link, the original source of the content and wherever else the same content appears, it shouldn’t be considered for search engine rankings.

It’s a good practice that whenever you republish, in the end, link to the original content and specify it that the original content exists somewhere else.

These days I am republishing some of my blog posts on Medium for the reason mentioned above. The exposure that I may get on Medium can be exponential.

I don’t hope to get business from Medium although, it cannot be totally ruled out. My main attraction is the newsletter signup form that I include with every post. If one of my posts begins to get lots of traffic many visitors are bound to subscribe to my email updates. This is what I’m targeting for by republishing my content on Medium.

Do you know you can improve your CTR by 200% by tweaking your title?

Improve your CTR with web page and blog post titles

Improve your CTR with web page and blog post titles

Your web page and blog post titles are very important. I have lost a new client who insisted that I create titles for his blog posts for the same amount he was paying for writing the blog posts. The titles are so important that I charge extra for coming up with them.

Your web page and blog post titles are so important that they come under content marketing and content strategy because they can pretty much define the direction of your entire content marketing approach.

What are your title tags and why they are important?

Although your page heading and title tags can be the same, they can also be different. The heading is something that you enclose within <h1> and </h1>.

The title tag is something that you enclose within <head><title></title></head>.

Both are important. It is your heading, or the headline that hooks people to your web page or blog post when they come to your link. But, on search engine result pages, it is your title tag that matters.

It is your title tag that appears as a hyperlink when people search for your business:

Web page title as hyperlink in search results

Web page title as hyperlink in search results

Your web page and blog post titles are not just important for CTR (click-through ratio), they are also important for your SEO.

Google re-ranks your content according to your CTR. If your appearance in the search results does not attract many clicks, Google lowers your ranking for that link. If it attracts more clicks, it increases your rank for that link.

This blog post on Seige Media gives an in-depth analysis of how to test which web page and blog post titles perform the best through A/B testing, with the help of Google Search Console (previously known as Google Webmasters Tools). The writer also says that if you improve your title, you can experience a click-through increase of 20-200%.

Good web page titles can increase your CTR by 20-200%

Good web page titles can increase your CTR by 20-200%

A/B testing, as explained in the above link, can be a time-consuming exercise but it is worth your effort if you really want to make sure that you create optimized web page and blog post titles for maximum CTR.

It basically involves

  • coming up with the best title you can think of in the beginning,
  • publishing your web page or blog post with that title,
  • and noting down when your link begins to appear in the search results.

This is assuming that you are using Google Search Console to track your search engine appearance and your clicks.

Let things happen for two weeks.

Start noting down values such as number of clicks, click-through ratio and impressions for that particular link in the past two weeks.

Then, change the title and resubmit the link. Make sure the link has appeared in the search results.

Repeat the above process after two weeks.

This way you can create a detailed analysis of how various titles perform.

How do you write web page titles and blog post titles for maximum CTR?

Aside from the main keywords in the search terms that you should use within your title, the intent is also very important. What moves people to click your link?

The most commonsensical way of knowing what matters the most to people is, addressing their main concern within the title.

If you are looking for a blog writing service, then obviously something about a blog writing service is going to attract you towards a certain link.

But you are not just looking for a blog writing service, you are looking for a blog writing service that can help your business in a certain way.

This is where longtail keyword optimization can help you. Try to pack as much information as possible without making things too complicated.

“Blog writing service” may get me a good CTR, but “blog writing service for my car repair service” may get me even better CTR.

So, if people have a question, provide an answer. If people have a problem, provide a solution. If someone asks for “how many?”, give him or her “these many”.

Neil Patel suggests that you can use emojis in your titles to improve your CTR. This is something I didn’t know. Of course, if all the links on the search engine result page are without emojis and there is a single link that is with emojis, people will tend to click it.

Neil also suggests that mention numbers when you are creating titles for your blog posts and web pages.

“77% increase in CTR after this” gets more clicks than “awesome increase in CTR after this”.

Be more specific when writing titles

Be more specific when writing titles

This Hubspot blog post on creating web page and blog post titles people cannot resist clicking suggests that you make your titles very specific. For example, if your web page contains an interview, then mention it somewhere in the title. If it contains a podcast or infographic, mention it. The post claims that titles that contain specific information that says exactly what the web page or the blog post contains get 38% more clicks than those titles that don’t.

The Hubspot post also has some rules of thumb on how to come up with clickable titles. Even small things matter.

Some title formats that always work

“How to” titles seem to work quite well, especially with search engine and social media users:

“How I increased my website traffic by 200% with just this simple SEO trick”

The title clearly tells that you are going to reveal what SEO trick you used that increase your traffic by 200%. Such titles draw lots of clicks.

“10 ways you can sell your old mobile phone online within 24 hours”

“Painstakingly learnt 25 content marketing lessons that are 100% failsafe”

“If this method doesn’t give you an 8-hour peaceful sleep, nothing will”

“Why” and “how” seem to do quite well because they trigger a sense of curiosity and also provide some valuable information in a concrete form.

Conclusion

Your web page and blog post titles need to cater to a strong desire, or need. They should also give concrete information. Something like “Get 1500 leads in 3 weeks” will always be more convincing than “Get more leads faster”.


Content Writing Services for Businesses

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Different content writing and content marketing services