How to get the best results from your content marketing
Welcome. You’ve just taken the first step towards improving your content strategy in 2020.
This blog post isn’t for absolute beginners. It’s for marketers looking to boost their visibility and get better returns on the content they’re already putting out there.
If you were to take three pieces of content marketing advice this year, it should be the ones we cover in this blog post.
- SEO for lead generation and mapping your keywords to the buyer’s journey to get better results
- Topic clusters and show you how to build internal links to boost your SEO
- Measuring content performance and making the most out of the content you already have
Let’s get straight into it!
Step 1: Rethink your keywords
The average blog gets 66.47% of its traffic from search. Of that, 99.77% is organic. Given these numbers, no matter how appealing the notion “write for people, not for search engines” is, we simply cannot ignore Google Almighty.
Keyword research is still a fundamental step that precedes content creation. However, content marketers often make the mistake of relying solely on the intelligence of software-based keyword research tools.
Of course, these tools can be tremendously helpful thanks to the incredible amounts of data they aggregate. But in content marketing (and this may be an unpopular opinion) common sense often trumps data.
Let’s look at three ways to rethink keywords – and keywords research – that can help you rank higher in search engines, bring relevant traffic to your blog and reach more prospective customers.
Use SEO for lead qualification
You’re most likely already doing keyword research and optimising your blog posts for high-volume keywords. But did you know that SEO has a more complex role than just driving traffic from search engines? It can also help qualify leads for you.
Keywords are extremely effective filters. The more specific they are, the more relevant the traffic they bring to your website. This is important for a couple of reasons:
1. Relevant traffic strengthens your SEO.
2. Qualified leads can be retargeted.
So how do you make sure your keywords are acting as lead qualifiers?
Use long-tail keywords
Generic, untargeted keywords may get you lots of pageviews but they can actually hurt your SEO.
Most people who land on your website will not find what they’re looking for. They’ll spend a few seconds skimming through the page and then leave, resulting in a low Average Time on Page and a high Bounce Rate – both of which are red flags in the eyes of Google.
That’s why it’s important to use highly-targeted, industry-specific long-tail keywords and create content that answers specific questions that customers have.
By using long-tail keywords and mapping them to your buyer’s journey, you can leverage SEO to qualify leads for you. Every time you get a click from a customer, you’ll know which stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in (based on what they searched for) and this will inform your retargeting efforts.
You’ve managed to attract a bunch of relevant traffic to your blog using highly-targeted, long-tail keywords. Now what?
It’s time to capture those qualified leads. Make sure you embed CTAs and lead magnets throughout your blog. Think newsletter signup forms, downloadable content buttons – such as ebooks, infographics and cheat sheets – webinar and demo signup boxes, etc.
These assets will help you build mailing lists and add users to your CRM so you can start nurturing them in an environment that you can control (=email). Always have at least one strategically placed, relevant lead generation asset in every one of your blog posts.
Map your keywords to the buyer’s journey
A well-planned content marketing strategy involves creating different types of content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Why? Because to pique a customer’s interest, every piece of content needs to take into account where its audience is in the marketing funnel.
While an educational blog post may appeal to someone in the Awareness Stage, a webinar or a free demo will be more effective at capturing a lead in the Decision Stage.
However, creating different types of content is not enough. You also need different keywords for each stage of the buyer’s journey so the right audience can find your content.
Find keywords by search intent
When typing in search queries, people use different words to express their search intent depending on what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in.
The goal is to create content that matches what people are looking for. So what you need to do is look at the search intent of customers in each stage of the buyer’s journey and map your keywords to it.
Awareness stage: informational queries (this is where you educate)
Prospects in the Awareness Stage are looking for answers that address their pain points. When creating ToFu (top of the funnel) content, use keywords that correspond with informational queries such as how to, guide, tutorial, tips, resources as well as words like improve, optimise, increase, etc.
Consideration stage: investigative queries (this is where you nurture)
Customers in the Consideration Stage are looking to find the best solution to their problem. In MoFu (middle of the funnel) content, target keywords that reflect this investigative intent, such as review, comparison, top, best, pros and cons, versus, vs, etc.
Decision stage: transactional queries (this is where you close the deal)
Buyers in this stage are ready to make a purchase. BoFu (bottom of the funnel) content is going to be your most promotional content where you can target words like demo, trial and buy in combination with terms that are specific to your brand and products.
Do you know what keywords your customers are actually typing in?
To understand the language your target audience speaks, look for reviews of your product on third-party websites. They’re goldmines of real talk!
It’s essential to include non-jargon expressions in your list of keywords to target so that you’re meeting your customers where they’re at.
You can also look on social media or ask your customer service team what expressions they’ve heard your customers use in relation to your product or their pain points.
For a roundup of the best free keywords research tools, check out our content strategy infographic.
Step 2: Master content architecture
Next to having a solid keyword strategy, mastering content architecture is also an essential pillar of SEO.
The way that your content is organised is going to be the basis of your internal linking strategy. Google loves intricate internal link webs. So it’s time to put some thought into the relationship between individual pieces of content on your website and your blog.
One way to really master internal linking and smash content architecture is to start focusing on topics instead of individual blog posts.
Hubspot was among the first to recognise the potential of this mindset shift. By implementing what they call the topic cluster model, they’ve been able to significantly increase organic blog traffic. And we’ve seen the same strategy work extremely well for our own clients.
Let’s take a look at how it’s done.
What are topic clusters?
Topic clusters are made of two elements: a pillar page and cluster content.
The pillar page is the heart of the cluster: it’s a complete, broad overview of a topic that your customers are interested in and searching for.
Cluster pages are posts that break down individual aspects of the pillar post’s topic. They are shorter than the pillar and focus on only one of its subtopics, discussing it in detail.
Now for the important part. Each cluster page contains an internal link to the pillar page, and vice versa. This allows your pillar page to gain authority on the topic it covers.
Build internal links
So why is it beneficial to build topic clusters? Because the Google algorithm is now smart enough to see beyond the actual keywords that searchers type in. It can also understand the search intent in the context of a broader topic. And pages with higher authority on a certain topic climb higher in SERPs.
To get started, come up with a broad topic, for example, fantasy football. Write a long, 2000-word blog post about it with a general title, like “Everything You Need to Know About Fantasy Football”.
Then, create as many cluster pages around it as you can, dedicating one to each subtopic of the pillar post (5 Ways to Join a Fantasy Football League”, “The Purpose of Fantasy Football Explained”, etc).
Add your internal links and watch your pages climb up in SERPs!
If you want to make sure that your page appears at the top of SERPs, it must be better and/or more complete than other content out there. Backlinks aren’t enough: the quality of your content must be impeccable, too.
Writing complete content is a great way to outrank the competition. Answer all possible questions regarding a certain topic (use Answer the Public for ideas) and make sure that your content is greater in scope and substance than your competition’s.
Your pillar page should be a well-researched, in-depth, comprehensive guide. It should aim to meet the criteria for 10x content (content that is ten times better than what’s already out there): exceptional UX, superior quality, trustworthiness, originality, practicality, etc.
Step 3: Update, repurpose and promote
We often hear the question: “So how much content should I create? I don’t have the time or the resources to put out a new blog post every few days.”
The good news is, you don’t have to. More content is not always the answer. Updating, optimising, repurposing and promoting your old content is just as important as creating fresh content, if not more. A sustainable, long-term content marketing strategy involves creating evergreen content that can be constantly amended with new information.
The best kind of content is shape-shifting: it can appear in many different forms, for example, transform into a blog post from a podcast episode. Your best-performing content can even take the form of paid ads.
Let’s see how to make the most of the old but gold!
In order to know which piece of content is worth updating or repurposing, you need to measure the performance of what you’re putting out there.
Evaluating the success of your content is not only important so you can show stakeholders that your efforts are worth the investment. It’s also crucial to know what works well and what doesn’t so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Depending on what business goals you’re trying to achieve with your content, use data tools like Google Analytics to keep track of metrics such as overall traffic, social shares, leads generated, etc. This way, you’ll know exactly which piece of content is performing best.
Update old content
Once you’ve started measuring how well your content is doing, pick the top 10 blog posts with the most organic traffic. Take a day to go through all of them and update them with new information, add relevant internal links, optimise CTAs, etc. Then move onto the next 10 and do the same.
Updating old content is a great way to optimise your best-performing work, boost your ranking in SERPs and attract even more views. In fact, according to a recent study by Orbit Media, 68% of bloggers regularly update older content.
Things to keep in mind:
- Try to create mostly evergreen content instead of time-sensitive content so you can update it later.
- Don’t change the URL of the post: you want to keep the SEO juice flowing.
- Update the publishing date so users and search engines can see that your content is up-to-date.
Repurpose your best work
Another way to squeeze the most out of the content you already have (instead of creating something from scratch) is to repurpose your best work.
Most content works well in different formats. Try turning your:
- podcasts into blog posts
- blog posts into infographics
- interview series into ebooks
- newsletters into guides
- webinars into video tutorials
- internal data into case studies
- listicles into individual social media posts
Every time you repurpose a piece of content, you can reshare it on social media and present it as brand new.
Combine content with PPC
You’ve probably heard of the benefits of paid marketing or PPC (pay-per-click) ads, but you might think that content marketing and PPC campaigns are mutually exclusive.
As it happens, paid marketing can actually help boost your content marketing. SEO is a long-term strategy and requires a lot of time to finally start bringing results. So why not give your traffic a bit of a nudge?
As an experiment, try promoting your content with PPC campaigns on social media. Facebook and LinkedIn both have options to sponsor posts, reach broader audiences and target them more specifically. They’re called Boost Post on Facebook and Sponsored Updates on LinkedIn.
Boosting your best-performing social media shares can help you gain some ground and produce ROI while you’re waiting for your SEO to kick in.
If you have a great headline that has worked wonders on social media, repurpose it and use it in your ad copy.
When running PPC ads on social media and Google, you need headlines that really capture your prospective customer’s interest.
Take the top 10 blog posts that performed outstandingly and see if you can use the same headlines for paid ads.
The ads might be linking to your services page instead of your blog, but you can still leverage the power of an engaging headline.
A last word
We hope you found this guide useful and you’ll take away some actionable tips that you can start implementing into your content strategy.
If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out!