Turns out, Google’s search algorithms have an appetite for originality and they like to gorge their bellies fairly frequently.
Being successful at content marketing requires that you feed this picky and fussy beast in fairly predictable patterns. While there’s much, by design, we don’t know about the search-engine algorithms, there are a few strategies you can employ to improve your search engine results.
Here are a few things we’ve learned—some knowledge imparted to us from our fantastic web development partner Newfangled—and some gleaned through our own content marketing initiatives.
Me Google. Me Hungry.
A healthy content marketing diet requires 3,000+ words of new copy every month (the number our friends at Newfangled have identified as critical mass.) This can happen anywhere on a website, though it often finds its way as thought leadership on blogs, news items, or case studies.
The key thing is this needs to be original content—not replicated elsewhere on the web. And Google will reward you for writing in depth on a topic—a minimum of 500 words demonstrates substance to the search engines.
What’s more, the search engines are like broadcast advertising campaigns—they like a content diet based on frequency. If Google’s spiders come and crawl your site and don’t find new content, they ascertain your site as being slightly less relevant and might delay a subsequent crawl of your site.
So the objective isn’t to write that 3,000-word article each month—it’s to break it up into several articles published across time. You might publish two 500-word articles and two 1,000-word articles to meet that 3,000 word monthly commitment.
By way of note, this will be the fourth article we’ve published this month. It adds 913 words of fresh content for a monthly total on our blog approaching 4,000 words. Content ranged from an article about our employment policies for maternity and paternity leave to an interview with a change maker in the field of higher-education sustainability.
Brand Positioning is Critical to Qualified Search
The subject matter is a critical element of the content as well. Not only does it have to be new and unique, it should also work to support and differentiate your brand positioning. Writing abundantly about topics that deepen your expertise focuses your content for search, but perhaps more importantly it enhances engagement for site visitors (bounce rate, page views) and leads to increased conversion (from email and phone inquiries to online sales). After all, no need to write about public relations tactics if you’re in the business of manufacturing sustainable technology products.
Use Keywords Intelligently
And of course, the use of strategic keywords within your copy is important. You can’t machine gun and pepper them everywhere. They have to make sense within the context of your writing. We found that it helps to get a guide for these—we use a keyword research tool called Word Tracker, which gives us insight into which terms have the least competition and highest opportunity for ranking in search. We also use this tool to identify high-value search terms and then shape story development around them.
Develop A Content Marketing Process
No doubt about it, content marketing is a commitment. Depending upon the size and skills contained within your organization, 3,000 words of web content each month can be a little or a lot. We’re an eight-person organization and for the last year we’ve managed to keep to the schedule—here’s how we approach it.
We’ve attached an assignment editor to the project. She manages the editorial calendar, oversees story ideas and assignment of articles. Right now we’re trying to develop a calendar that goes three months out so that we can stay ahead of the game and keep the content pipeline filled.
Our positioning is to build brands for purpose-driven companies, so our content serves to support this specialization. Here’s how we guide story development.
Content needs to fit with that positioning—for example, published research on the motivations of consumer-driven consumers or an article on corporate social responsibility.
We focus our expertise in food marketing, technology marketing, and health and wellness marketing, so content relating to these vertical markets is also fair game.
As a brand marketing firm, we also write about specific skill-sets that support our expertise, from web design to public relations to … content marketing.
Content Marketing Provides Measurable Reward
It doesn’t happen all at once.
These actions and content marketing inputs and search indexing accrue over time. What we have experienced over the past year by applying this methodology to our website has been pretty rewarding. Our site is ranked significantly higher on Google for our brand positioning, and continues to improve with time. This has led to increased traffic for our website. But more importantly, this has been qualified web traffic—clients that are looking for what we have to offer based on their search queries.
In our case of increased and qualified web traffic, if you haven’t already guessed, we are reaping the rewards (which is why we’re writing about it.) We’ve used our content marketing to facilitate the march of new business prospects from lead to active prospect to client—the real reason we’re churning out 3,000 words of new content each month. Because it works.
By Russell Stoddard and Oliver Russell