The content marketing space is an ever-evolving environment. Staying abreast of what’s on the SEO horizon is essential to being successful on the web. As a content marketing strategist, I need to know what works now, and what hasn’t work in the past, so I can provide my clients with the most up to date recommendations that will generate the highest value.
In reality, I’m often the go-to resource on all things SEO for my busy clients. And sometimes, I get cringe-worthy questions about marketing practices I know my clients shouldn’t be using. To be clear: These questions aren’t unwelcome because it’s a nuisance to answer them or provide information, but because it ignites a concern that marketers are investing in content marketing for the wrong reasons.
Here are five questions a strategist never wants you to ask (and what they should tell you if they’re looking out for your best marketing interests!):
Few people can predict what will or will not “go viral.” And when I get that question, I have to wonder how serious someone is about his content marketing strategy. “Going viral” is not a goal you should set forth when creating your marketing strategy because it’s very unpredictable and near impossible to measure.
In order to go viral, your video has to be better, more educational or more humorous than ALL other videos out there. Considering that users upload an average of 100 hours of video every minute and online videos are expected to grow to make up 55 percent of consumer internet traffic by 2016, it’s going to be extremely difficult, time consuming and expensive to produce a video that might go viral.
Additionally, if you‘re focusing all of your energy on going “viral” how much time are you spending on other important things, like understanding your buyer personas or improving your brand value? Nine times out of 10, the answer is: Very little, if at all.
You need to focus on providing value to your target audience. That’s how you’ll see marketing results.
Content marketing focuses on improving your organic search presence. Organic means it’s natural, and it can take time to build momentum. You might not see the same quick wins that you would with paid search because you’re utilizing a content strategy to build an audience and gain credibility.
Would you buy a car from someone you didn’t trust? Or would you take advice from someone that you didn’t see as a knowledgeable expert with experience in the industry? I know I wouldn’t. Website visitors also need evidence about you to be confident you’re the brand that will be able to meet their needs. And that doesn’t happen overnight. To earn your audience’s trust, you need to put in the time and work.
You might not see remarkable results at the end of the first month of your content marketing strategy, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on it. That’s like backing out of a construction project just after the foundation’s been laid because it doesn’t look like your dream house yet. You need to give it a reasonable amount of time to come together. I understand that time is money, and you need to see ROI to justify your investment so what you CAN do is set up a reasonable goals with manageable benchmarks in order to measure healthy progress.
3. When will I get on the first page for X keyword?
There’s a lot of outdated information out there about keywords:
- How many should you be targeting?
- Should they be long tailed?
- Are they relevant at all anymore?
Contradicting, confusing and opinion–based keyword information that renders a simple search for “keyword relevance in 2015” is unhelpful, at best.
When planning your content marketing strategy, it’s important to understand why the focus on keywords has been phased out in the past few years. Google (and other search engines) have launched a great many updates over the past two years to revolutionize search results. But perhaps the most significant is semantic search and the focus on user experience.
Here are some additional resources:
Search engines no longer have a fixed focus on short or long keywords that are typed into the search bar, because that’s not how people are looking for information. They’re asking entire questions and conducting voice searches. And the result is that Google isn’t looking to match their queries with specific keywords. It’s looking to match them with the most relevant answer. To find the most relevant content, it’s evaluating the quality of the entire site containing the content desired. A series of a dozen keywords on your pages will not make a difference in this search environment, but having great information that’s well-written will.
4. Why do we need social media? Our audience doesn’t use social media.
This question, and subsequent assumption are deeply concerning from a content strategist perspective. This may sound like a hackneyed phrase but if content is king, promotion is queen.
Every industry I’ve ever worked with has a potential audience on social media. It’s 2015, it’s inescapable!
Some audiences are more active than others, which means they’re looking for you (or don’t know they should be), so you need to make sure you’re putting yourself in front of them. If you’re not guiding the conversation in your industry, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Where there is social media, there are conversations to be had and your brand should be leading the discussions in your industry. The numbers speak for themselves:
- Facebook has 1.44 billion active users monthly
- Twitter has 302 million monthly active users
- Instagram has 300 million monthly active users
- Linkedin has over 332 million registered members
- Pinterest has about 70 million users
That’s over a billion people. I find it hard to believe that not one of those people wants to discuss your industry. Let’s get promoting! Here’s a free guide to building your social media marketing strategy with content.
5. Why aren’t we using guest blogging?
Here’s an easy one. Guest blogging is a thing of the past. It could have been a great source of interaction between quality websites that desired to build SEO rank and link building into their strategy, but alas it was used and abused and its credibility has been lost.
Guest blogging is now associated, in large part, with spammy websites and black hat SEO that can actually make your website a target for Google penalties. In short, my recommendations for guest blogging is to not do it.
If you don’t believe me, believe Matt Cutts, who declared the practice dead over a year ago.
There’s no such thing as a bad content marketing question
Questioning your content marketing strategist is encouraged because it’s an opportunity for education, and it also stimulates creative thinking on both the client and agency side.
If you’re looking for quick wins or corner-cutting ways to rocket your website to the top of search result pages, content marketing isn’t for you. You should be investing in content marketing because you understand your audience. Every audience in some capacity is online, and you need to be there to tell them what you do and why they should trust you as a business partner. That is how you build a strong web marketing presence and a high value content marketing strategy.