In simpler times (i.e. before the internet), content was an tenet of marketing that didn’t really exist. Of course, care needed to be taken in ensuring that the right language was used for advertisements and brochures, but that’s pretty much were it began and ended.
Little did the business world know, when Tim Berners-Lee had the idea in 1989 of connecting computers across the globe, the game was to change forever. The World Wide Web shifted customers’ purchasing behaviours enormously. Rather than window-shopping and leafing through catalogues, consumers began firing up their PCs and trawling websites.
Search engines, keen to provide them with what they were looking for, developed algorithms ensuring the most relevant websites featured most prominently. The algorithms worked (and continue to work) by analysing the volume of relevant key words and phrases on websites, and putting these websites at the top of their search-results forms. Needless to say, these were the websites that then enjoyed the most traffic, and consequently, the most custom.
Online was to become the new battleground, and content was now the Weapon of Mass Attraction.
In this paper, we will show you how you can utilise content to get your website where people can easily see it, and not leave until they’re filling out contact forms, or fumbling for their debit cards.
SEO – Learn it. Know it. Live it.
The funky name that was given to the process of packing websites with the words and phrases customers were likely to use when searching for products, was Search Engine Optimisation. Better known as SEO.
However, as search engine algorithms have become more intricate, so has the art of optimising your website. Key words and phrases, while still critically important, are no longer the only component of a good SEO strategy. Factors you will need to consider are:
Key words and phrases – We’ll start with the big one. Ensuring your website has the right, and adequate number of key words and phrases will require a little research. Let’s say, for example, your business makes candles. Use a search engine to find companies that do the same, and look at the websites that sit at the top of the results form. They sit there, in no small part, due to the fact they’ve learnt what customers are typing into the search bar, and have incorporated these phrases into their content. Generate a list of these phrases and use them in your own content. Please though, whatever you do, don’t be tempted to copy content. We’ll explain why later.
Links – When we talk about search engines, generally we’re all thinking of the same one. Google. It’s the biggest, quite frankly the best, and the one whose tune you need to be dancing to. Of the various algorithms Google uses is one called PageRank. PageRank operates by counting the number and quality of links to a web-page before establishing an estimate of how ‘important’ the website is. The assumption on which PageRank works, is that more important websites are likely to contain more links, both internal but particularly external.
Internal links are easy to implement. Make sure that each page on your website links to another one. Spread the wealth as well. It’s common for websites to link all their pages to the contact page. It’s understandable, as this is where you want visitors to end up, but PageRank enjoys balance. Achieve this balance by sharing the links as equally as you can between pages.
As alluded to, external links are the more important of the two. But more about these further down.
Optimise all elements of a page – When you upload content onto your site, you’ll notice fields asking for information to be inputted beneath the main piece. Do not ignore these.
Title tags in particular need to be filled. Meta descriptions, though losing importance in terms of SEO, do provide a good place to insert some compelling copy to entice users to click from the search-results page.
Using a plugin like Yoast will help you regulate the length and relevance of your title tags and meta descriptions. It will also alert you to make use of elements such as H1 tags, content word-count, text formatting, internal and external links, and use of images.
Produce original and stimulating content
The shift towards search engine optimised content has had one unfortunate impact. Such is the compulsion to pack copy with keywords and phrases, this has taken priority over ensuring content is well-written, engaging, and sensitive to the needs of the reader.
It is pointless working to promote your website to the first page of a search-results form, if once a customer enters your site, they can make neither head nor tail of what you’re talking about. It is imperative that you stick to some literacy basics when formulating your copy.
- Make sure spelling, punctuation and grammar are all perfect. Content that contains errors across all three looks amateurish, and does nothing at all for your credibility, apart from diminish it.
- Get to the point. Most visitors to your site will skim-read the copy. This means you need to get your point across clearly and succinctly. Keep sentences short, make use of sub-headings and bullet points, and avoid overly technical language and jargon.
- Use images. People like images. They break up text and if the right ones are used, can enhance what is essentially a sales pitch.
- As alluded to earlier, do not be tempted to copy from other websites. You may well see some web copy that is compelling, and fits exactly with what you are trying to achieve. However, Google is a shrewd beast and it will know if your content has been lifted from elsewhere. You will be penalised accordingly, usually with a swift relegation to the wastelands of page 10 and beyond in search-results forms.
What any business really needs to acquire to have the best chance, is a competent copywriter. Such professionals stake their reputations on ticking off the above bullet points. But they also do something else. They write well, and produce content that people actually want to read. This is invaluable for something else we alluded to earlier.
Internal links are easy to achieve, you just need to make sure all pages on your website link to another. External links are harder to procure. You can buy them, but Google is wising up to this, and does check external links to websites. If they are deemed spurious or irrelevant, they will be deemed to have been bought, and your website runs the risk of incurring penalties. What you need are quality links from relevant sites. For this, you need absorbing content that captures a reader’s attention. And for this, you need a proven copywriter.
Get trigger-happy with social media
Eight years ago, you could have gotten a disciplinary for being on Facebook at work. Today, it’s some people’s full-time job to be on social media. How times change.
Social media isn’t just a great way of marketing your company, these days a strong social media presence is a necessity. Especially so if your website is regularly being updated with fresh content.
Whenever something new is published on your site (blog, whitepaper, infographic, case study, biography etc) post a link to it on the platforms you use. Most businesses do this anyway, but what some don’t do, is post links to the same content repeatedly. They assume that once a link has been tweeted, or shared on LinkedIn, then it can never be shared again. Wrong. It is entirely advisable to share the same content again and again to achieve as comprehensive a reach as possible. Obviously, be judicious with this. Don’t share a link to the same blog three times a day for a month. Build a planner for your content, so that it’s shared on a rota-basis.
Lastly, for this piece, is consistency. In 2016, the Content Marketing Institute discovered that on average, content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, yet generates three times as many leads. That return can only be secured with a commitment to regularly updating your website with fresh content.
A good rule of thumb is to be posting something new at least once a week. Not only does this allow you to share fresh material across social media, but all this content packs your website with key words and phrases. Also, if you’re producing quality copy, you’re boosting your chances of earning SEO-loving external links to your site.
When producing content, the stumbling blocks you’re likely to run into, is how much time it takes to decide what topic you want to cover, how long it’ll take to research, how long it’ll take to write/design, and then getting it shared across social media. Big companies have the luxury of being able to employ full-time copywriters. If this doesn’t fall within your budget, outsourcing to a company that provides this service, and has a great track-record of delivery is much more preferential to the DIY option.
Kontent Engine provides all forms of content marketing. We have experience across a range of sectors, and have delivered for organisations ranging from start-ups, to blue-chip multi-nationals.