Good content helps potential customers find you. Great content converts them to customers and builds lasting relationships. However, 59 percent of companies are still in the dark about how to create effective search engine optimized (SEO) content, according to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).
Search Engine Land Contributor, BrightEdge Founder and CEO Jim Yu uses a checklist of 14 “SMART” goal-setting techniques to make your online marketing more effective at winning new business. S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
S — Specific Language: Design content based on understanding what your audience is expecting to hear.
- Research your audience. Know where to find your customers on the web, why they are searching, and what actions they are likely to take.
- Search multiple topics. Take a test run as an online consumer. Search for multiple topics to find content gaps in your competitors’ sites that can give you the upper hand on search engine results pages.
- Choose multiple formats. What types of media will best illustrate your message? Including multiple media formats, such as socially shareable images, short videos, and SlideShares, will strengthen your message and help searchers find you in multiple search result formats (eg. Google Images, YouTube, SlideShare internal search engine).
M — Measurable ROI: How can you make your content marketing results measurable? Metrics are essential to proving value to your CFO and tracking progress toward business goals.
- Choose metrics that matter. Site traffic, lead quality, social shares, time spent on your site, and conversion rates all tell a compelling story of the consumer life cycle and your role in it.
- Focus SEO content strategy. Keep language clear and concise. Optimize title tags, subheadings, image and meta descriptions. Include landing page links to key search terms, keeping visitors engaged by dangling your best-performing content carrots.
- Use marketing automation. Simplify your workflow so you can focus on the big picture. Software such as Hubspot or Marketo monitor customer interaction with content on websites and ad campaigns and give insight into real-time changes in your consumer landscape. Automated platforms also offer valuable feedback to help determine the most effective messages and refine your lead generation process.
A — Achievable | Actionable Content: Does your content answer customers’ questions and inspire action? Does its shelf life go beyond an initial promotion?
- Back it up with the right technology. If you’re going to spend the time creating killer content, you have to have the right technology to support it. Meta data, site structure, internal links, mobile readiness, site speed, coding errors, and other technical SEO issues can affect your content ranking and customer experience.
- Fish where the fish are. Which customers are on Facebook or Twitter? Know where your customers are spending their time online and make sure your marketing budget includes multiple channels and optimize content for social posts that fit each venue.
R — Relevant Content, Time, Place: Are you casting your line in the right streams? Increase your promotion results by knowing your customer’s behavior and sending messages when and where they’re most effective.
- Test the waters. Thanks to low minimum rates on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you can kick the tires before deciding where to spend the bulk of your online marketing dollars. For a small upfront investment, you can track and measure what’s engaging audiences and converting them to customers. The bump from ad traffic also boosts your content authority, which triggers a positive response with search engine algorithms.
- Syndicate outside your network. Republish content on sites that give you exposure to another outlet’s audience. You can take an organic approach or use services like Taboola, Outbrain or Zemanta. Use caution with large-scale syndication so you don’t set off red flags with Google.
- Email call to action. According to a 2015 MarketingSherpa survey, 86 percent of customers actually want to hear from you by email. Your subject line, content, and click through call to action will either guide them through the consumer cycle or tune them out.
T — Tangible Results: Key performance indicators, like site visits and social interactions, are great, but how does it affect your bottom line?
- Drive performance with call to action. Which conversion pages work best and why? Remember to imbed performance tracking software to study and refine your strategy based on which calls to action get attention and give visitors what they are looking for.
- Create multi-purpose content. Not all content should be about sealing the deal. It’s important to build brand authority, educate, and inspire visitors. Position key employees and executives as blog authors and thought leaders in the industry.
- Optimize ROI with content management. Your marketing technology stack should be integrated so changes due to Google updates and other situations don’t need to be handled manually.
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