As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
Whenever I've kicked off a new content strategy, I’ve gotten a lot of valid questions from clients.
How do I know this post is going to rank?
Is this keyword getting enough traffic?
How long before we start getting organic traffic?
I’m sure that you’ve had similar ones.
The truth is, there's no way to know when (or if) a post will rank, which is frustrating. You can do everything right and wait months, even a year before you get a return on an asset. Honestly, a lot of companies shy away from organic marketing for this very reason.
Some people may tell you to be patient, but if you're like me, patience isn't your strong suit. And while I don't disagree that organic marketing is playing the long game and worth the wait, that doesn't mean you can't get some content marketing performance in the short-term.
That's why I've found additional ways to boost my blog and website content without Google's help. In my experience, it’s necessary insurance to get a return on whatever you create.
Getting Optimal Content Marketing Performance
A lot of marketers will tell you that regular social media distribution is the trick to getting more ROI from content. And again, I don't disagree. But sharing a link across different platforms a few times a week isn't going to do it. If you want results in the short-term, it's going to take some creativity and hustle.
If you're not willing to put in that extra work, and if you can't afford to be patient with organic marketing, it may not be the right approach for you. However, if you can continue to regularly invest in content and use some of my suggestions in the short-term, you can get the long-term results you want.
Sound good? Here we go.
Make Content With More Than One Objective
It's easy to get caught up in keyword selection and rank when you're choosing your topics. Because when brands create content, there’s usually one goal: get as much organic traffic to your website as you can.
But you also need to be thinking about the questions that your customers are asking, at every buyer journey stage. That's where setting an intention for every post is essential. Aside from just the numbers of views or clicks you want this post to get, what is the content going to help the customer do?
Here are a few examples of how your content can provide additional value to your customer.
#1. Provide more in-depth answers to frequently asked questions.
A lot of brands have a FAQ area on their website, but the answers to your customer's questions aren't always succinct. Some require a lot more insight and explanation. HubSpot is an example of a company that's great at addressing these questions. And they don't just stick to blog content - a lot of these questions are answered on their YouTube channel, too.
Some topics even have a specific playlist, such as this collection of videos with commonly asked questions about social media.
If you can continue to produce content that specifically answers questions, your customers will know to look for it across your website and social platforms.
#2. Give additional context to topics on your website pages.
A website best practice that I often see neglected is not having any dead-end pages. But a lot of people think of dead-ends in terms of having a place to click next. I think of other dead-ends, such as a sudden drop in context.
Consider Hootsuite. Hootsuite does a phenomenal job of connecting the dots for their customers. They anticipate their knowledge gaps.
For instance, if someone finds Hootsuite because they've heard it's a platform of scheduling content, that's probably what they want to learn more about.
Alternatively, maybe they're looking to track their social media performance and seeking more information about analytics. You don't always know. That's why throughout their homepage, there are opportunities to branch off to more in-depth content about any of their key competencies.
#3. Onboard new customers to your platform or service faster.
When you finally get someone to become a customer, you want to provide them with as much value as possible. Because they'll need content to help them understand how to get the most from your partnership. Opencart does this with content about adding new products, categories, and profiles to your online store.
Intercom does this with sections of their resource center dedicated to growth, product and design, and engineering.
#4. Share and walk through an essential resource.
Some of my favorite content to produce are checklists, tutorials, and worksheets. Because not only can those resources be excellent content, you can create something that your customer needs.
Qualio, a QMS software, has blog content with compliance checklists for their customers to improve their internal QC processes. Gary Vee has a ton of material about repurposing content and his content pyramid slide deck.
These are free, ungated resources that your potential and actual customers will repeatedly use because they need them.
Invest in 2-3 Pillar And Key Pages
Whenever a brand starts a new content strategy, it's all about the blog content. But that's a short-sighted view. If you want to get the most ROI from your content, without Google, you need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
You want to create an entire content structure for your site that will make it easy for readers to navigate and find what they're looking for.
Again, HubSpot is the ideal example of this.
HubSpot knows what their core areas of expertise are. Marketing, sales, and services. That's why when you visit their website, you start by self-selecting your area of interest. For HubSpot, it helps segment new leads and contacts. But it also tells the new contact:
Hi, we're HubSpot. This is what we're experts in.
HireVibe, who provides services for both job seekers and hiring managers, provides the opportunity to self-segment as well.
You can get hired or hire talent.
When you identify those core areas of expertise, you can bring them over to your content strategy. Those will be the topics you write about. They'll be the guiding star of your content strategy. And you can use each core topic to inspire and map out sub-topics.
Ideally, those core topics and sub-topics will also inspire high-quality pillar pages and key pages for those topics.
A key page will be a primary website page that serves a critical role in the buyer journey, such as HubSpot's marketing or inbound marketing page. It won't be a huge traffic generator, but both are important to the buyer journey. Unless you bring in a new offer, these pages probably won't change.
Now, a pillar page is a deeper dive on a broad or sub-topic, such as our pillar page for our HubSpot vs. Wordpress pillar page. These are topics you want to own that relate to your core competencies.
As you can imagine, sometimes, you can use a pillar page as one of your key pages. Neil Patel's consulting page is long-form pillar content.
Go Omnichannel With Content
Most companies know they need to share blog content to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But they don't do anything but post the same link and image on a platform and call it a day. They don't effectively bait the reader.
You might get a few clicks this way, but you'll never create value.
When you create a blog post, find at least one other way to repurpose it on a different platform.
A few ideas I've used include:
#1. A Facebook Live covering the topic of your blog post
I did this for my travel blog, Driftyland, and a post I wrote about finding cheap flights using Google Flights.
#2. Answering relevant Quora questions and adding a related blog post link
Quora isn't exactly a revelatory tip, but if you invest the time and provide exceptional answers, you'll stand out from a lot of the junk.
#3. Turn a how-to post into a short pre-recorded video webinar
Kevin did a great live brand strategy workshop, which you could easily repurpose into a pre-recorded webinar. You can also record videos walking through how-to content, or save Facebook live recordings. The key is editing the blog content to a video or script format.
#4. Spinning content into a LinkedIn or Medium article
If you're like me, you cover a lot of points in your content. Often, I take 1-2 of those points and repurpose them on another platform. For instance, I took a topic from a post I wrote for Lean Labs, 20 Tactics For Finding Business Blog Post Ideas, and expanded on the idea, turning it into a separate post on LinkedIn, No One Reading Your Blog Posts? Try This One Thing.
Improve Your Internal Linking
Whenever you create a new blog post, you should find at least three other places to link it to within existing blog content. This way, when you do get traffic to a post, those readers can explore related topics, getting you even more clicks.
Moz has a great Whiteboard Friday session about internal linking, which I highly recommend watching:
Here are the takeaways:
- Google rewards internal linking.
- Providing an internal link that gives benefit to the reader is always a good call.
- A lack of internal links can hinder your ability to get crawled/ranked.
- No page should be more than three links and page hops away from another.
If you have HubSpot, improving your internal linking is a breeze. You can see every link within a blog post through the optimization tab. This will include any navigation and footer links. You can also use Screaming Frog and a few other tools to visualize your internal linking structure.
Showcase Your Team
One of the best ways to get more value and traffic without Google?
Get your team to share your content. In a perfect world, your team is consistently sharing your articles and videos and distributing them across Quora, their personal Twitter feed, and more.
I write a lot of our content, and I'm always finding other places to talk about it.
Why does this matter?
Consumers trust each other more than brands.
When I talk about an article I wrote, it's different than when you see the content shared by Lean Labs. It's more personal. And even if a majority of your team isn't involved with content creation, you can find ways to include them.
You can interview team members for content, quote them in posts that relate to their subject matter expertise or even ghost-write for them. Then, those team members can spread that content across their network.
It makes them look good, and it gets your content out there. Win-win.
Refine Your Content Creation Process
In most content creation processes, there's waste. That's why when you're waiting for content to rank, you should consistently find ways to improve your processes. And you can do this without waiting for organic traffic.
#1. Get feedback from your content team. How long does it take to create content? What do they like and dislike about it?
#2. Ask existing customers if the content is useful, helpful, and engaging.
#3. Hire third-party editors to review content and give recommendations for stronger, more compelling writing.
#4. Find ways to streamline your content creation without sacrificing quality. Are there ways that you can accelerate your content creation?
#5. Explore ways to level up your content with snappier headlines, more attention to meta descriptions, and better images.
Getting The Most From Your Content Marketing Efforts
Content is a significant investment, and there are no shortcuts to peak content marketing performance. You have to earn it. And no matter how long it takes to get results, you're not going to grow unless you make a serious commitment to producing excellent content.
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