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Improve Your Content Marketing to Increase Your Business's Reach Worried about Google's new algorithm? Consider these five strategies for optimizing mobile and making your content more sociable.

By Mel Carson Edited by Dan Bova

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Today, businesses are becoming increasingly savvy about how to create better content for their websites and social channels. And that trend is making it more and more difficult to stand out online. Clearly, there's a lot of great content out there vying for your potential customers' attention, whatever your industry niche.

Related: A Guide For Creating Consistently Great Content

Still, there are things you can do. As the founder of a consulting business that regularly deals with social media strategy, digital PR and personal branding, I have collected some ideas over the years as to how to use content marketing to raise your business' reach to the next level. Here are five of those ideas.

1. Segment your audience and its behavior.

Delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time is often seen as time-consuming and tricky to track. Nevertheless it should be your mantra. You're probably already targeting customers, via organic search or advertising paid placements, on the search engines or on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. But for good ROI, you can't do this blindly: You need a thorough grasp of the demographics of your audience and the behaviors its members demonstrate throughout the purchase funnel.

Understanding your customers' journey down the sales path will not only help you make decisions on what marketing channels matter, and when, but also assist you in extracting deeper insights as to why customers act the way they do. This knowledge will help you craft a better message.

2. Make your content searchable and sociable.

Making your content friendly to the search engines like Google and Bing is hugely important and means your content has the opportunity to get more eyeballs on it. Use keyword research tools to figure out what information, related to your business, people are searching for; then build content around that. You want your business content to be discoverable, sharable and memorable. So make it so useful and impactful that people want to share it with their friends and tell your story for you.

Related: 3 Tips to Maximize the Synergy of Social Media and Content Marketing

3. Make it easy.

There are three reasons why your customers use search engines: navigating, seeking information and transacting. So, whatever content you publish, once your customers are hooked, ensure that that content is easy for them to find, understand and use as the basis for a purchase.

You want to publish just the right amount of high-quality text and images. And you want to do this by using on-page ranking factors, to enable the search engines to present your content high up in results lists for searches using your target keywords. At the same time, you don't want to bamboozle your target audience by offering information that is complicated, hard to understand or otherwise likely to turn them off rather than into buying customers.

4. Garner some links.

Links to your content from other reputable websites are like gold dust because good-quality links are a major ranking factor for the search engines to determine the most trustworthy web pages. If you're seen as trustworthy, you're more likely to rank higher. When you're building your set of content assets -- whether video, infographic, blog post, images, etc. -- don't just link them together. Make sure they constitute the type of content that people are going to link to, by way of citation, to build up the trustworthiness of that content in the eyes of Google and Bing.

5. Optimize for mobile.

In case you missed it, Google just rolled out an update to its ranking algorithm to ensure that searchers get a good user experience when they click on a search result using a mobile device. Mobile search has now overtaken searches from laptops and desktop computers, so ensuring that your content takes into account a potential customer's device is crucial. Not only will you demonstrate that your company "gets" digital, but you'll be a step ahead of your competition by showing off your wares anytime and anywhere.

The biggest mistake businesses make with content marketing is assuming that if they shove any old content up into cyberspace, it will reach their audience. Instead, the key to great content marketing is building digital assets that are authentic, useful, relevant and actionable.

Make sure that marketing is also discoverable and shareable; not only will people will want to link to it, but you'll overreach your competition.

Related: Brands as Publishers: Success Follows Successful Content Marketing

Mel Carson

Founder and Principal Strategist at Delightful Communications

Mel Carson is founder of Delightful Communications, a Seattle-based social-media-strategy, digital-PR and personal-branding consulting firm. He is co-author of Pioneers of Digital and speaks about digital marketing and communications at conferences globally. He spent seven years at Microsoft as its digital-marketing evangelist.

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