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Have You Noticed a Surplus of Blogs in 2019? Or, For the Particularly Observant, in 2002?

Back then, you may have shrugged it off as a symptom of an emerging generation of uploaders; the internet was an exciting new way to share our thoughts to a wider online community. But, now — in a time when the content management system (CMS) with the prettiest blogging interface is also the one with the most users — blogs are near impossible to ignore. And there’s more than one reason for the online Invasion of the Blogs.

One of Odd Dog’s favorite uses of blogging is as a way to increase organic traffic. In short, this is one modern application of content marketing, a marketing technique that has taken many forms in previous centuries… and shows no signs of becoming obsolete.

Guide to Content Marketing
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What is Content Marketing?

You heard us right: content marketing has been around since Benjamin Franklin published the first Poor Richard’s Almanack to promote his printing business back in 1732.

All in all, the technique hasn’t really evolved much since then, though it has begun to appear on more modern platforms. Turns out, providing valuable content to win potential customers is a pretty timeless strategy.

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. And, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Though large populations still subscribe to timeless examples of content marketing (think: the Michelin guide books), the marketing technique has found its largest modern audience online. In fact, publishing great online content is like striking gold from an SEO perspective. It’s a tried-and-true driver of organic traffic.

What Does Online Content Marketing Look Like?

Creating great online content that brings people to your website isn’t as simple (or as common) as our example makes it seem.

In 2015, Moz founder and Seattle resident Rand Fishkin coined the term “10x content” on his weekly vlog known as Whiteboard Friday (which, by the way, is a great example of content marketing geared toward marketing/SEO professionals). 10x content, as Fishkin explained, is content that is “10 times better than the best [search] result out there.” It’s what’s necessary for modern content publishers to win the attention of their desired audience in the wildly oversaturated online world.

Rand’s guidelines certainly hold up after three years (which is a lot in technology years), but they’re not the hard-and-fast rules to creating content in the modern world. In its essence, great content means providing value to your users — and, as marketers, that means giving readers something for free before they become customers. It’s a trade-off system, and you have to offer your readers content that’s just as valuable to them as their purchase would be to you.

Creating compelling content that users want to read is one thing, but creating compelling content that readers need to read is another, more powerful alternative. When considering new topics to write about, SEO tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, or Ahrefs, are your best friends. They’re your posse, they’re your primary confidants. By reviewing organic search terms, and their search volume, on any of these platforms, you can get a better idea of what your readers need based on the specific questions they’re asking search engines. In such a data-driven environment, that kind of information goes a long way.

Fishkin Outlines the Process of Creating 10x Content in Five Steps:

  1. Gain Deep Insight. Basically, do your preliminary research.
  2. Get Unique. Take an angle on the topic no one else has taken.
  3. Uncover Powerful Methods to Provide an Answer. Find a thorough and convincing way to answer the question.
  4. Find a Unique, Powerful, Exceptional Way to Present this Content. Communicate your findings in a compelling way.
  5. Expect You’re Going to Do this Five to Ten Times Before You Have One Hit. Recognize it’s tougher than it looks.

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The Results:

Year Over Year Increase of 264% in Organic Traffic

Our Most-Shared Content: A Case Study

Here are the facts: on May 8, 2018, Odd Dog published a blog post called “Ultimate Guide for Google My Business.” Since its publication, we’ve seen a year-over-year increase of 264% in organic traffic. Google My Business-related search terms continue to flood our reports, driving thousands of curious users to our site. Maybe that’s how you found us too!

Were we the first “Ultimate Guide for Google My Business” out there? Not by a long shot.

Were we the most up-to-date when we published it? Nope. In fact, Moz released their updated guide days before we did.

Moz Guide For Google My Business

So What Worked?

Well, we were focused in our keyword targeting. We targeted “Google My Business” as our primary keyword and made sure to use it throughout the piece. It’s used at least once in the article heading, page title, page URL, meta description, and 18 times in the page content.

Not just that, but the article was long: 3,638 words, to be exact, and broken into sections which made it easy for search engines to crawl for answers as people searched. We also made it comprehensive and informative enough for other websites to link back to our post as a trusted resource.

What Does Content Marketing Look Like in 2019?

So SEO tools have led you to your next topic – that’s great!

Providing a thorough, thoughtful answer is valuable to your specific online users, especially if you can do it better than anyone else. Not only that, but it’s in the best interest of search engines to present the most relevant and helpful answers to their searchers. But how do you get your valuable content in front of those searching for it?

In 2019, distribution of content is just as important as the content itself. Most of today’s consumers can see through clickbait. Not that we would recommend that as a distribution channel in the first place, but it’s especially important to avoid as consumers grow more comfortable in the online landscape. One of the top considerations for distributing content over the last several years has been search engine optimization. Providing trusted answers to commonly searched questions is not only helpful to the searcher, but it’s also helpful to the search engine; a search engine also wants to provide value to their customers (in the form of relevant answers, all in one SERP). Your relevant answers ultimately improve Google, Bing, and other search engine’s service.

With that in mind, you do have to play by the search engines’ rules — or, rather, you have to understand what they’re looking for. There are certain qualities that great online content must adopt to achieve top positioning on those result pages. Queue the anatomy of a search engine.

Anatomy of a Search Engine Optimized Blog Post

We think blogging is the most accessible method of content marketing right now. It’s inexpensive, it’s accessible, it’s easy to publish, and it’s effective if done correctly.

Part of doing the blog thing correctly is making sure search engines can easily find and organize your blog posts. If your blog provides an answer to a heavily searched question, we want to make sure search engines know about it. And since search engine bots are limited in their ability to read and organize information, online writers have to write in certain formats and with certain features that bots can understand.

While there are larger, sitewide adjustments you could make to improve SEO performance, you can also follow these on-page guidelines to ensure your blog post content reaches its intended audience.

On-Page Guidelines

Length: WordPress plugin Yoast SEO will tell you to shoot for a minimum of 200 words on each page, but you’ll likely have to set the bar a little higher: 3,000 words seems to be the sweet spot.

 

Keywords: Use SEO tools, like Google Analytics or Ahrefs, to find keywords best optimized for your specific users and goal.

 

Internal/External Links: Search engines will assume the pages on your site with the largest number of internal links are the most important to you. External links, on the other hand, will not only encourage others to link to your site (i.e., earning backlinks of your own) but, high-quality external links also act as an opportunity to improve your site’s credibility, which both users and search engines love!

 

Linking to Your Homepage: Link to important pages, but also dig deep for pages you’d like to give a boost.

 

Images and Other Multimedia: Optimized image size is between 75KB and 100KB. Including keywords in your image file names is not only ADA compliant, but beneficial to SEO too.

 

Image Alt Text: Write concise alt text that contains keywords, but more importantly, describes what’s in the image.

 

Keyword-rich Metadata: Title tag, heading, subheadings (H1 and H2 tags), and meta description … and repeat.

 

In-text Subheadings: So Google and other search engines can make sense of the structure and main points of your blog post.

Difference Between Pages vs. Posts on WordPress

One important distinction to keep in mind when checking out our tips for search engine-friendly blog writing is the difference between a post and a page on WordPress. WordPress is the most popular CMS in numbers, boasting nearly 18 million websites. It’s an open-source platform that got its start catering to the blogging community, an audience it still diligently services today. Though the general SEO rules are pretty similar for both, WordPress distinguishes between “Posts” and “Pages” in the backend.

Key Differences:

Timely vs. Timeless: Search engines typically prioritize the most recent content (Posts), but will occasionally pick evergreen content (Pages) instead if they deem it more relevant or if page authority plays a big role. Consider your entire web catalog when picking blog post topics, and choose unique, distinct subject matter.

Social vs. Static: Posts are not only more easily shared on social media, but they also encourage reader engagement and conversation on the page. Pages, on the other hand, usually don’t feature a comments section and offer less timely, social media-appropriate information.

Categorized vs. Hierarchical: Posts are organized using distinct categories and/or tags, often not included in the URL. Pages are hierarchical, contributing to the overarching site architecture and organized in parent/child fashion.

RSS Feed-Friendly vs. Contained: Because they’re published for a specific date and time, Posts are often featured in RSS feeds (notifications that publicize your most recent post updates on a variety of platforms, like email). Pages are single entities with no time or date.

Authored vs. Anonymous: WordPress users have the option to display authors and bios on Posts, but are not able to do so when publishing a Page.

 

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How to Utilize Content Marketing in Your Business:

“Content” can describe anything from blog posts to web copy, books to videos — it’s a pretty broad term. And because the term itself can assume so many forms, content marketing is also very diverse. There’s a lot of room for flexibility, making content marketing the perfect opportunity to assess and apply your business’s strengths.

With this in mind, a content marketing strategy can work toward a variety of goals outside of search engine optimization. Video, for example, is a content medium that may be geared toward achieving a certain number of views or shares — so, generally, increasing awareness of the brand.

The outdoor brand Yeti, for example, publishes an impressive video series called “Stories.” Each video shadows a person’s life, typically a part that is on-brand with Yeti’s values in outdoor sport and exploration. The videos are incredibly well-produced, featuring artistic shots of interesting places around the world. Many of the stories are compelling to those within Yeti’s primary audiences.

Here’s the thing, though: “My Mom Vala” doesn’t mention Yeti a single time. The video isn’t produced as a direct communication of the brand — it’s produced by Yeti, but strictly to entertain potential clients. Someone who has never used a Yeti product before could see this video, appreciate or benefit from the content, and become interested in the brand. Ultimately, this high-quality content reaches audiences in all phases of the decision-making process, leading to more shares, more followers, and more sales.

Producing professional video content is challenging and often expensive. But don’t worry: there are more attainable methods of content marketing for the small business. Share your specific expertise and industry knowledge with others in whatever format you excel in or in a medium your target audience will appreciate most.

Here are some ways you could utilize content marketing in your business:

1. Start a blog:

With WordPress and other blog-devoted CMS platforms, starting a blog in 2019 is easy … it’s producing high-quality articles on a regular basis that poses a challenge. Deliver genuine value to your users and, as they say, write what you know. Our Odd Dog blog focuses on local SEO and other marketing techniques we feel confident in our knowledge of — and provides useful tips to readers, even if they’re not working with us as a client.

2. Create a guide or compile a list:

Have you recognized a need in your local community? Maybe a list of concerts coming to your area this summer, or a collection of top-reviewed restaurants in your neighborhood? What is it that your desired audience really needs … that you can relate back to your product or service?

Publish in print or online — whichever platform your audience can more easily reach or is already using frequently.

3. Publish a photo gallery:

If you’ve got photography chops in your office, use them to draw people in! Photography is an art form that’s accessible to most people, and compiling a thematic collection of your impressive works could be a great way to develop your brand.

4. Host a webinar:

If you prefer to communicate your expertise verbally, then hosting and recording a webinar on a specific topic can be a great way to collect informative content.

The Odd Dog team hosted a webinar in June 2019, discussing how Instagram can improve your local business strategy. It was a fun way to showcase our office’s personality to a larger audience, prompting conversation and a better understanding of our followers.

5. Produce a tutorial:

If the success of America’s Funniest Home Videos tells us anything, it’s that people don’t mind if the quality of film isn’t the best — as long as the content is intriguing. Or if it involves someone getting hit somewhere painful.

Basically, you don’t have to be a professional videographer to win in the video medium. So if you feel this channel will resonate with your audience, then we say it’s worth testing! Plus, without incredibly careful editing, producing tutorials that answer hot questions can be a relatively quick way to share interesting information, especially if you’re recording live.

6. Design an infographic:

We took our own advice on this one! As seen above, infographics are a creative way to jazz up data and decrease bounce rate, leaving a lasting impression on the viewer. Ninety percent of information transmitted to our brain is visual, after all, so infographics are a stimulating method of communicating numbers and statistics.

Not an Adobe Suite wizard? Not a problem. Try using simpler, online programs like Canva.

7. Record a podcast:

Podcasts are growing at an impressive speed in the US, experiencing the largest jump in monthly listeners year-over-year in 2019. As a channel that appeals to both old and young demographics, podcasting is an excellent way to share content with a larger audience.

8. Write an eBook:

Whether it’s distributing industry know-how or sharing a fun and fictional story, knowledge is sometimes better suited for a long-form medium. An amateur eBook is easy to publish and can act as a great lead generation tool in the future!

9. Hold a discussion or give a lecture:

Similar to a webinar, participating in a lecture series prompts a two-way discussion that ultimately leads to a better understanding of your audience. Face time with your target demographic is incredibly valuable; if you create an engaging presentation and discussion environment, it makes for a meaningful experience for both you and the members of the audience.

10. Share other people’s content:

Let’s refer back to Step #5 in Rand Fishkin’s 10x content strategy: “expect that you’re going to do this five to 10 times before you have one hit.” Meaning: they can’t all be winners.

The good news? There’s an entire online network of content creators, each creating one hit out of 10 attempts. When you add them all together, that’s quite a few hits to go around! And if you want to share quality content more often than not, utilizing this network is crucial.

With ethical and responsible tagging, linking, quoting, and crediting, you have the ability to share another author’s expertise with your audience. Followers are not a finite resource — they can be shared amongst both cohorts and competitors, ultimately broadening support for the market. That said, avoid linking to a direct competitor’s content, especially if you’re in an industry with high conversion value or customer lifetime value.

So, if you just read a blog post you think your followers would also appreciate, let them know by sharing it to your page too. Be open to the idea of guest writers and content creators. Make your contribution to the online sharing ecosystem … and, who knows? Maybe your content will earn a share in the future because of it.

Trends in Content Marketing to Look Out For:

In fact, collaboration among brands and influencers seems to be an emerging trend in content marketing. Brands — typically from different industries — are combining forces to create content that is on-brand with both companies, as well as beneficial to their desired audience. Take, for example, the case of Spotify and Starbucks, who teamed up to produce employee-curated Spotify playlists. These playlists not only fill the speakers of Starbucks stores across the nation, but are also available for the listening pleasures of Spotify users internationally — quality, curated content that brings value to Spotify users.

GoPro is a brand that frequently partners with companies to create amazing video content. In 2019, they announced a partnership with Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) to inspire scuba divers to submit videos of their underwater adventures, raising awareness for the creatures that occupy the world’s under-the-sea landscapes.

Influencers and micro-influencers are also becoming a great resource for content creation in 2019 and beyond. Inspire or sponsor a local influencer to dig deeper into what they’re passionate about and famous for. Maybe it’s commissioning a well-known outdoorsman to write about their recent travels on your website, maybe it’s a trusted lifestyle blogger who could share a recipe that uses your product — it could be a lot of things! Find an influencer represents your brand and values well, and provide your audience with authentic content. Avoid the spammy call-outs!

Last but not least on the horizon? Keep an eye on the emerging popularity of voice control and command. Content that translates well into the voice medium is positioned to be more successful as smart home devices continue to evolve. Publish video scripts, write in a conversational tone easily read by Google Home or Alexa, and stay up-to-date on algorithm shifts and new features for all voice control devices.

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In Conclusion...

One advantage to the phrase “content marketing” being so broad is that it is continuously expanding into new mediums. It is adaptable, and can take many, many forms. Today’s trends in content marketing mirror previous trends in content marketing — but with a modern twist, of course.

Revenue from content marketing globally has nearly doubled since 2014, and if you’re not using it in your marketing strategy, then you’re missing out. Whether it’s a thrilling video, an informative blog series, or a sponsored article from a local influencer, find a medium that most accurately communicates your expertise to the world or most easily provides value to your audience.

If you’re interested in developing content to promote your business, drop us a line! We’ll be happy to answer questions and talk strategy with you.