Recently, I heard the misconception that search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing are two separate things, and that you must choose one on which to focus your energy. This is not true. Content marketing is an increasingly critical piece of an overall SEO strategy, and requires its own strategy to be most effective.


Refresher: SEO is a series of best practices (which plays by the rules) with the goal of helping a website rank as highly as possible in search engines. Content marketing is offering valuable, relevant information on a consistent basis to a target audience, in order to keep existing customers and attract new one.


What is considered content marketing? There are so many possibilities, which is what makes it fun. Infographics, instructional or informational videos, blog posts, downloadable e-books or guides, Pinterest boards – these can all be part of a content marketing strategy. Here are some more great examples of content marketing.


How do you know what to offer? You must understand your audience. Who are they? What questions are they asking? What problems do they have? Where and when are they looking for answers? Who else is talking to your audience? The answers to these questions are the base of your content marketing strategy.


Why is content marketing important? There are a few reasons. Content marketing is a way for you to build your brand and lead the conversation taking place. When you offer consistent information that addresses questions your audience is asking, you establish your company as an expert in its field. It’s also a way to communicate with your audience in a way that is not blatantly “sales-y.” Successful content marketing leads to sales without the customer feeling they have been sold to, but rather that they have made a wise decision by choosing to do business with you.


How does content marketing help SEO? If you are offering content that people find useful, they are going to share it with their networks, which helps your SEO. Search engines also look favorably on fresh content, so the more frequently you offer new content (via your website’s blog, for example) the better it is for your site’s ranking.


Some things to remember:


People want quality. There are all kinds of places for your customers to find what they are looking for. They want something that stands out as truly valuable, and meets them where they are. If your content marketing strategy is successfully building a community around your brand, that appeals to a lot of people. Finally, you cannot fake content marketing. You have to provide something that is genuinely useful to your audience.


Content marketing can be a good opportunity to collect customer contact information, but don’t get greedy. Real life scenario: I started the process of downloading a guide offered by a blog I follow. Before I could get the guide, I found myself stuck answering a long list of questions. I was annoyed, and I ended up abandoning – the content they were offering was not worth the time it was taking me to get through their questionnaire. I felt a little tricked. Never let your customers feel tricked.

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