Content marketing consists of all marketing activities that focus on the creation and sharing of information. If you’re serious about your SEO, it should definitely be part of your strategy. But nowadays, it’s also crucial for branding. Sharing valuable information is a great way to attract an audience and show them that you’re an expert in what you do. In this post, I’ll explain what content marketing is, why it’s important for SEO and how you can set up your own strategy!
What is content marketing?
Content marketing comes down to sharing valuable and relevant content with your audience. Free content that helps them solve their problems or understand more about a topic they’re interested in. Your audience will benefit from the information and will perceive you and your company as experts in a particular field. In the end, your expertise will be the reason why people will buy your products or services. And probably the reason they will keep coming back to your site.
Types of content marketing
A first example of content marketing is a blog where you regularly post new articles on topics in your field of expertise. This can also be the easiest way for you to start. At Yoast, content marketing is one of the main things we do. We share our knowledge on our SEO blog and make sure to also share this on social media and in our newsletter.
To be able to help all our users we write articles for people new to SEO, such as what is SEO? and articles for people with a bit more experience, such as our article on Google’s NLP model BERT. And although it might feel contradictory, sharing our knowledge on SEO has a very positive effect on the sales of our online SEO courses. Our audience perceives us as experts (probably through all the content we share) and is willing to pay money to get access to more of that knowledge.
In addition to a blog, there are lots of other forms of content marketing you could look into. For example, some sites choose to create E-books, informative videos, quizzes, apps, podcasts, and even events. All with a focus on sharing valuable information on a subject that their audience is interested in. And valuable information means that it’s in-depth, educational, and preferably unique. So that does mean that creating this content needs time and should be an ongoing process where you keep updating it when necessary.
Why is content marketing important?
As we just discussed, creating valuable information that you offer for free is the very essence of content marketing. So why are we telling you to create content to give it away for free?
Trust and expertise are essential
The web has given us a whole new way to get in touch with new people, discover new companies and even make our decisions. You probably do it yourself too. Online research before you make your decision on something, from getting a cat to purchasing a new laptop. As new competitors pop up every day, users become more critical about where and what they buy. Their decision on where to buy their products is increasingly based on their trust in and relationship with a company. A well-thought-out content marketing strategy can help you build a strong relationship with your audience, based on expertise and trust.
An example of how this works
Say you’re looking for a new laptop and you’re not quite sure which one to get. You might search for ‘how to choose a laptop’ and get shops that lead you directly to their laptops. However, you’ll also get sites that offer you a laptop buying guide that helps you decide which laptop is the best fit for you. By asking you questions on what you’re looking for, but also giving you easy-to-understand information on what the differences are between their laptops. Would you prefer going directly to a list of more than 100 laptops or go to a page that helps you filter the right ones?
The laptop buying guide above is a great example of content that helps a user with their question. And with it, gains their trust in their products. This shows you how powerful content marketing can be to build a great relationship with your audience. You could compare it to a shop assistant in an offline shop. If a shop assistant is friendly and takes their time helping you, this makes for a much better user experience than if they point you to their selection of laptops without saying much more than good morning. That’s why you should also think about your tone of voice and use storytelling in the content you create.
It’s beneficial to your SEO
In addition to creating trust and building a relationship with your audience, content marketing helps you with your search engine optimization (SEO). An important part of SEO is writing quality content, focused on your users. Because your users aren’t the only ones reading your content, Google and other search engines also read your text to decide when to show your pages in the search results. If you’re new to the world of SEO, consider using our Yoast SEO plugin that takes care of a lot of the technical SEO stuff to roll out the red carpet for search engines.
If content marketing is an integral part of your marketing efforts and you work on creating quality content, you will likely write a lot of content related to the terms your audience is searching for. Your website will start to pop up more and more often, as you write more blog posts. Overall, your rankings will go up. And, all of these new visitors are potential buyers. So, in addition to increasing traffic, content marketing could increase your sales as well.
Read more: What is quality content and how do you create it? »
How do you set up your strategy?
First of all, you need to start with keyword research to make sure you’re writing about the right things. This doesn’t mean you can’t write about what you want, but it can help you use the same words as your (potential) customers. Which is important, as this will help them find your content. Conduct your keyword research to create a list of keywords or keyphrases that you can write about. After you’ve created this list and decided on the priority of these keywords, you can start planning.
Create a realistic planning
Be realistic in how many blogs you and your team can write per week or month, as it is important to spend enough time on your content. Make sure to create an editorial calendar, sit down with your team of authors, and brainstorm about who wants to write what. And from what angle, to make sure you’re sending unique content into the world. Also, keep an eye on the variation in what you write about and leave room in your planning to write about last-minute news that you can’t plan ahead on. A well-thought-out content planning can really help you stay on top of your content marketing.
Choose your cornerstone content
Make sure to think about cornerstone content when you are setting up a new content marketing strategy. You should have about 4 or 5 articles that are invaluable to you, your company and your audience. These articles should be informative posts or pages. When you have written these articles, you should write tons of other blog posts about topics similar to these cornerstone articles. Make sure though, you write each of these new blog posts from another angle or about another subtopic. And don’t forget to link to your cornerstone articles from these blog posts.
Keep reading: What type of content should a cornerstone article be? »
Think about your site structure
Now that you’re starting to create more content, it’s important to think about the effect this will have on your site structure. Creating (or keeping) a clear site structure helps your users find their way to the information they’re looking for. The same goes for Google and other search engines. So, this is important from both a usability and SEO point of view. Check out our ultimate guide on site structure to review the structure of your site and what improvements you can make when it comes to all of this new content you’re creating.
Keep your content fresh
I wish I could tell you otherwise, but hitting publish on your well-written blog post doesn’t mean you should never look at it again. For both your users and rankings, it’s important to revisit your existing content from time to time. This way you can keep your content fresh and up to date, by making the necessary changes to keep it relevant. Make these updates of your existing content part of your content planning and make sure to do this on a regular basis for your most popular blog posts and pages.
If you’re using WordPress our Yoast SEO Premium plugin can help you with all the steps mentioned above. By warning you when you need to update your cornerstone content, providing you with internal linking suggestions, easily redirecting old URLs to new ones and much more! A subscription to Yoast SEO Premium also gives you full access to our academy courses, such as our course on SEO copywriting, site structure and keyword research.
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Content is the way to go
In this blog post, we discussed what content marketing is and why you should consider creating your own content strategy. Which in a way, is a great example of content marketing itself. I hope this article has provided you with valuable information that helped answer your question, as this is the essence of content marketing.
I would like to once again stress the importance of creating enough space for content marketing and remember that this is a long-term strategy. So it will take some time to become the number one search result! But this will definitely be worth it in the long run, so get started with your content planning right now:
Read on: Content planning for a blog 6 easy-to-use tips »