Content. It’s what every digital marketing professional refers to as …
King. Lord of the Realm. One content piece to rule them all.
So we all know that content is king. That, however, is not always necessarily true. In order to lend credibility to that claim, we need to add one simple adjective: good. Yes, good content is king of digital marketing. If you’re not in our industry, that still may be some gobbledygook a marketing agency said to explain—at least in part—why you’re not ranking well in Google searches.
Whether you’re a novice to writing for the digital sphere or a business owner looking to employ a new agency, I want to share with you a process that I think every writer should follow. Naturally, I can’t give you the secret ingredient (go ask grandma for that recipe for Italian gravy—and God speed), but this can help you prepare to ask a few questions the next time someone says, “I can help you with your content marketing.”
The process. The results. For the win.
Let’s talk about the process I think is important to help get the results you want for the win in ranking. Keep in mind that there are many other factors that contribute to your success in content marketing, but this piece focuses purely on the writing part of it.
Collect the data.
There is no doubt that telling a coherent narrative is important. Actually, that should be a given. So we don’t need to focus on the quality of writing. Our first step in the process is collecting data to make a calculated decision about content.
What webpages are consumers visiting?
Where does my client rank for the products or services he/she offers?
Can I glean any blog post topics or social media pieces from this?
By looking at Google Analytics, you can immerse yourself in data that can drive decisions. For example, you have a client who owns a dental practice in Hershey, Pennsylvania (Good place to be a dentist. Am I right?). When you dove into the analytics, it comes to your attention that the “teeth cleaning” page is getting very little traffic; and conducting a Google search, it turns out this dentist’s practice doesn’t show up on the first page of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Hershey, we have a problem.
You know that this webpage needs fresh content that utilizes the right keywords and present information that is both engaging and valuable for the consumer. But what keywords and synonymous terms are winnable for “teeth cleaning”? And by winnable, we mean which terms have a high search volume but medium to low competition?
You need to know who’s searching for your products, how often their searching per month, and how your competitors are doing. Is it a competitive field? Or is there an opportunity for you to dominate? The data will guide you.
Hershey, we solved that problem.
Research the topic.
In digital marketing, you need to become the resident expert. Speak with your client to gain insight. Perform extensive research to acquire knowledge. Apply all of those skills that high school and college taught you: notations, notations, notations … take a breath … notations, and review those notations.
You want to have confidence about your topic. If you don’t, then you will not provide a semblance of value to someone who searches for that term. You’re just there. And you just lost them. Watch that bounce rate, friend!
The second part of being the resident expert is understanding the client. You need to know about the company:
- How was it founded?
- What’s their philosophy?
- If their company were a person, what’s he or she like?
- Are there any phrases or words they don’t like to use?
There are dozens of potential questions you can ask to acquire a better understanding of the client. So, even if you have the confidence in the topic, you may not appropriately capture the voice and tone of the client, which can honestly cause you to lose a client.
Developing a business information sheet can help. In this form, you can write down all of the tangible information about the company: location, phone number, et cetera. You can also include a series of relevant questions that you and your writing team can always refer to when needed.
Now comes the fun part. You’ve collected the data. Studied the topic and client. Asked the right questions. And you get to write the right content. I’m not going to coerce any writer to create an outline, write a first draft and then a second or third draft, and submit a final copy. We all have our own process, and I don’t want to infringe upon that.
But creating a draft and submitting it for a peer review is always a smart decision. Another set of eyes can capture grammatical errors, spelling errors, or even make suggestions about tone and voice.
Use humor when appropriate. Convey expertise when needed. And always write for the correct audience.
Links are almost as important as the drafts and the research. And, oftentimes, you can find some valuable information to add to your piece. If you’re working on a webpage, internal links are key. If you’re working on a blog, inbound links and outbound links are both extremely valuable.
For webpages, internal links go to the client’s blog and other webpages.
For blogs, internal links do the same: other blogs and webpages. Outbound links should land on authoritative sources that can lend credibility to your claims. Typically, they should be .edu, .org, .us, and others—though, you’ll have times when a .com is a valuable resource. You can survive without outbound links, but you likely won’t thrive without these.
When your client creates a new webpage because he or she is offering a new service, share it on social media. When your client does something for the community, share it on social media. And when you write a quality blog post, share it on social media. This is an avenue to gain traction with your content; however, don’t do it impulsively.
Strategize. You should plot out how and when you’ll post that content. And you can use data to do that, but we’ll talk about that in another blog post. For now, just realize that the appropriate hashtags and formatting of your social posts for as many social media outlets as makes sense is vital to the success of good content marketing.
If you’ve read through this entire post, you might’ve noticed something. The further into the process we got, the less content there was to write. So where do you think the bulk of the work is completed?
Without a process like this, with these strategies, your content is likely to flounder and desiccate.