There's a lot of noise on the internet. Establishing yourself as an expert with relevant content can help you break through that noise and drive customer traffic.
With the rise of online and mobile-consumer businesses, online advertising has become extremely noisy and mediums like Google or Facebook ads are very expensive. A comparatively inexpensive and scalable way to rise above the fray is for a business to produce original expert content related to their industry. This content can be anything from original blog posts to eBooks, which increase visibility on search engines and organic discovery.
Nonetheless, many entrepreneurs are uncomfortable positioning themselves as experts and fear the time commitment needed to develop rich content.
At my startup Travefy, an online group travel planner, we established ourselves as travel experts early on and began producing original travel content daily. At one point 80 percent of Travefy's traffic came from content efforts, including our blog where we post original articles daily and our eBook on budget travel.
Here’s what we’ve learned from our experiences as best practices for an effective content marketing strategy.
Establish yourself as a domain expert (because you are). Whether you have 20 years experience in your field or are a first-time entrepreneur entering a new market, chances are you have spent hundreds of hours on market validation. From reading industry reports to interviewing customers, you have absolutely built expertise and know more about your industry than 99 percent of the population.
Be confident in this expertise and use it to your advantage. Keep a company blog and write regular original content on your industry that consumers would want to read. This can be anything from short form lists to full-length eBooks. Additionally, feel comfortable putting yourself out there to reporters and bloggers to speak to your industry. There are many great sites that help pair companies and reporters like Help A Reporter Out.
Know that original content lives forever. When weighing the return on investment between traditional online advertising and developing original content, remember that ads are fleeting, but content lives forever.
Although a clever ad -- like Oreo’s famous Super Bowl blackout ad -- can go viral, most advertisements simply disappear without any residual effects.
Rich content served on your site, conversely, will last. For example, even if your blog post “The Top 10 Vacation Spots in Miami” isn’t a smash hit when first written and shared on social media, it will pay dividends over time. Search engines will crawl the post providing you two huge benefits. First, this content (in aggregate) will increase your SEO score, giving you higher visibility. Second, you now have permanent content that can pull customers when they most need your product or service. In 18 months when someone searches for “vacation spots in Miami” there is a reasonable likelihood that they will land on your article and subsequently discover your travel service.
Look beyond Facebook and Twitter. Many companies limit themselves to sharing their original content as well as third-party content on Facebook and Twitter, which can severely hamper reach. Don’t forget the other great social media platforms that are often under-utilized by content marketers. Create habits to share your content regularly on everything from Google+ to Reddit and even LinkedIn. There are even great tools out there like Hootsuite that can help you manage it all in one place.
Also, be strategic and recognize the hidden gems like Google+ that provide residual effects. For instance, Facebook and Twitter heavily restrict the data Google can see when performing searches hindering the SEO impact of your content shared. This is not the same for Google+ meaning that any social content shared on Google+ also provides profound SEO effects.
Remember that SEO is more than just text. When developing content, think beyond pure text. Videos and images have many of the same properties that can significantly impact SEO and your ability to organically reach customers. Giving your image a descriptive name and alternate text among other things can enhance the "searchability" of both the image and the original blog post.
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Lastly, never put all of your eggs in one basket. For Travefy, our content strategy has been a game changer, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way we reach customers or that it will work for everyone. Make sure to diversify your efforts and to slowly test a content strategy before allocating significant resources.
And remember, you are now an expert, so leverage your knowledge and share it with world (much like I’m doing)!
Related: The 7 Secrets to Shareable Content