According to the experts at the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, consistent, and relevant to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience-and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” This is true of both traditional marketing campaigns and of business-to-business models. Traditional content marketing can present old information in a new and exciting way, explain the impact of new data on a specific organization, or attempt to simplify complex concepts so they are more accessible to a larger audience.
Thought leadership takes traditional content marketing channels and uses them to solidify the author as an undisputed expert on a particular topic or in a specific field. New or existing information is examined, explained, and dissected in such depth and with such authority that the audience can’t help but recognize the author’s mastery of the subject.
Turning Content Marketing into Thought Leadership
The basic requirements to transform traditional content marketing into thought leadership are experience, knowledge, and writing ability. The author needs to have extensive knowledge of the topic, concrete experience working within the field that the topic covers, and the ability to convey their experience and knowledge in an engaging way. Basically, the author not only has to be an expert in a field, but they also have to be able to convincingly display their expertise to their target audience.
When to Utilize Thought Leadership
The reason that thought leadership shouldn’t just become the default strategy for any organization or campaign is that there are few things more detrimental to an individual or a brand than a failed attempt at thought leadership.
With traditional content marketing, differing opinions or points-of-view are welcome and generally encouraged. The author is generally seen more as a facilitator of discussion and less as an authoritarian provider of information. This is especially true in the B2B realm where organizational expectations are different than traditional consumer expectations. It is possible for an author to be “wrong” about a particular topic and still be successful because they may have increased brand exposure or helped generate organizational contacts simply by being part of a given conversation.
Thought leadership shifts the paradigm. Thought leadership is not an attempt to be a part of a conversation, it is an attempt by an organization to establish themselves as the heart of the conversation. The benefit is, of course, increased exposure and message control with regards to a particular topic. However, the cost is a lack of insulation against being “wrong”. Thought leaders cannot afford to be wrong because they have established themselves as an authority on a given topic or field. In the case of a thought leader, being “wrong” means a catastrophic hit to brand credibility and an overall loss of consumer trust. A good solution is to find a PR agency to help you with branding and your companies voice. This website lists pr agencies that have been awarded and could lead to a credible ally for your company.
If your budget for your company’s online marketing is limited, you may wonder how to appropriately allocate your funds between things like the design of your website and the content you’ll use to fill that website. Both are necessary to promote your business online, but design is usually a one-time cost (with some money set aside for web maintenance and possible future redesigns), whereas content is a long-term investment. As far as which is more important and should get a larger percentage of your budget, it depends largely on your goals.
According to Inspired Mag, the average user only reads a quarter of the content on any given web page they visit. That makes it seem like content is unimportant, and when it comes to a site visitor’s first impression of your business, the web design is undoubtedly most important. In the matter of seconds, a visitor makes the decision as to whether or not to stay and whether or not to potentially become one of your customers. When it comes to “design,” it’s not a matter of the aesthetic look alone, although that’s a large part of it. Design also includes:
- The site’s ease of use
- The site’s compatibility with both mobile devices and PCs
- Easy access to all important information (such as your company’s physical address, phone number and email address)
- Limited use (if any use) of pop-ups and advertisements – these should not be distracting, if your company feels it must use them at all
When originally creating your website, it all starts with the design.
Digital Current discusses the importance of and shares tips about effective content creation. As essential as design is, content still has a large role to play in the success of your company’s website in the long-term. Even after a person has seen your compelling website design, they need something to repeatedly draw them back to your site. Repeat visitors are the most likely to convert into buyers and loyal customers of your brand. Content offers visitors something new to look at every time you update (which should be at least once a week, if not more often). While they’re reading or watching your new content, they’ll be reminded of your brand and may remember to buy again.
Which Is Easier to Produce?
Both website design and content production are best handled by the respective professionals most suited to produce them. Only experts know how to make a website both look good and operate without errors. Professionals are most experienced at writing content that’s both compelling and likely to prove search engine optimized.
Allocate a larger portion of your budget for your website design before you launch your site and then pour more of the money into content over time. If your website is effective and designed well, it shouldn’t need much maintenance or require a redesign for many years. Whether you outsource design and content production, you do it all in-house or a combination of both, focus on designing first, but don’t underestimate the importance of content later.
In 2016, you’d be hard-pressed to find a corporate or small business website that hasn’t embraced search engine optimization. For more than a decade, SEO has proven to be an effective method for grabbing the attention of prominent search engines and attracting scores of new visitors. When most companies set SEO efforts into motion, their primary aim is Google. As Statista reveals, Google is far and away the most widely-used search engine worldwide, so it makes sense for businesses to seek its recognition. Unfortunately, trying to curry favor with Google may actually hinder a company’s SEO endeavors. Going about search engine optimization in the wrong manner, whether intentional or unintentional, is liable to elicit penalties from the world’s most beloved search engine. The following tips can help your company’s efforts to avoid the infamous “Google penalties.”
Produce Natural, Organic-Sounding Content
If there’s one thing Google hates, its keyword stuffing. This refers to the practice of overloading a blog post, feature article or any other piece of text-based content with search engine-baiting keywords. Although skilled writers are able to organically insert keywords into the content they produce, individuals who are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of SEO have a tendency to openly embrace keyword stuffing. There’s no question that doing this can help boost a site’s search ranking in the short term, but the instant Google becomes aware of what’s going on, that site’s ranking is going to take a nosedive. Additionally, keyword-stuffed content is of little to no practical value to readers, so it’s not really conducive to attracting repeat visitors. There’s nothing wrong with sufficiently-spaced-out, organically-inserted keywords, but being shamelessly excessive with your keywords is bound to cost you.
Exercise Caution When Selecting Guest Bloggers
While guest blogging can be an effective way to drum up new interest in your site, it can also work against you in certain instances. With all the new visitors they attract, guest posts often bring in a plethora of outside links. If these links are relevant to your company and the industry it serves, there shouldn’t be any problems. However, if they’re far-removed from your industry or offer little in the way of relevance, a Google penalty may be in your future. This isn’t to say you should swear off guest blogging entirely – in fact, you definitely shouldn’t – but you should be very selective about the people you ask to produce guest blogs and make sure their work meshes seamlessly with the other content found on your website.
Frequently Review Google’s Guidelines
Since the actions that result in Google penalties are constantly being updated, it’s in your best interest to review the company’s webmaster guidelines, which can be found at https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en, at least once a month. This will ensure that you stay abreast of each actionable offense, enabling you to make changes to your site and its content accordingly.
Google penalties can put a huge damper on your business’s best-laid SEO strategies. In many respects, getting on Google’s bad side essentially constitutes biting the hand that feeds you. Even inadvertently going against the aforementioned search engine’s increasingly elaborate rules stands to plummet your site’s Google ranking. Remaining in Google’s graces gets more difficult by the day, but being exercising caution with your keywords and guest blogs and staying current with the company’s webmaster guidelines can help you avoid drawing the ire of the world’s favorite search engine.
In this day and age, it’s important for every company website to feature a regularly-updated blog. Whether you’re a massive conglomerate or a small business, a well-written blog can drum up interest from prospective clients, keep existing customers engaged and increase your site’s visitor numbers. However, in order to enjoy all of the aforementioned perks, you’ll need to produce a blog that’s worth reading. In 2016, there’s no shortage of business-oriented blogs, and if yours isn’t up to snuff, interested parties can easily get their fix elsewhere. When setting out to create a blog that’s fresh and consistently entertaining, the following pointers are sure to come in handy.
Even if you have a seasoned writer handling the bulk of your blog posts, periodically enlisting the aid of guest bloggers can be an effective way to spice things up. When shopping around for guest bloggers, look for prominent figures in your industry – preferably people who aren’t in direct competition with your company. Journalists who specialize in matters concerning your industry also make good guest bloggers. Additionally, the subject matter covered in guest posts should be well outside of your resident blogger’s area of expertise. If the name of a certain guest blogger carries quite a bit of weight, you can expect to see a sizable increase in your visitor numbers. Assuming these new visitors like what they see, there’s a good chance they’ll continue visiting your site on a regular basis.
Natural Keyword Incorporation
In an online marketplace that’s increasingly dominated by search engine optimization, keyword incorporation has become many companies’ go-to SEO strategy – and for good reason. If properly executed, keyword incorporation can boost your Google ranking and point scores of new visitors in the direction of your website. However, getting these people to your site only represents half the battle; keeping them engaged in what truly matters. As Time reports, the average Internet user takes only 15 seconds to decide whether or not a new website is worth her time. Needless to say, if first-time visitors arrive at your site to find a blog post that’s packed to the brim with haphazardly-inserted keywords and phrases, they’re liable to write your blog off as a glorified ploy for attention from prominent search engines. With this in mind, if you’re dead-set on incorporating keywords and phrases in your posts, instruct your writer to do so as organically as possible.
If you want your blog to incorporate a variety of voices, reach out to your staff for ideas. Even if the same person writes up all the posts, she can collaborate with individuals from various departments to cover a wider range of subject matter. Not all of the people with whom she collaborates are going to be skilled wordsmiths, but they can still provide her with detailed notes and valuable info. Expanding the scope of your blog can go a long way toward expanding its audience.
Over the last decade, blogging has become an art form. Not surprisingly, as the number of business blogs has increased, people’s expectations have done the same. As such, a boilerplate, by-the-numbers blog isn’t going to do your company any favors. To ensure that your blog is able to entertain and maintain visitor interest, reach out to guest posters, naturally incorporate industry-centric keywords and never underestimate the power of collaboration.
You probably recognize the importance of ensuring your company’s website is mobile-friendly because so many of your repeat and potential customers rely on their mobile devices. According to Comscore, the number of Americans who access the Internet via mobile devices outgrew the number of Americans who prefer PCs as of 2015. However, while you may be concerned about making the design mobile-friendly, you might not have thought about how and why to make your SEO mobile-friendly. To do so, focus on local searches.
Context of Mobile Searches
Consider what kind of context a potential buyer would be using their mobile phone to make a search in. Say you sell pizza and a hungry customer is nearby. She will google pizza in her area and will find your business. Before she’s had time to debate whether or not she should have pizza today, she’ll drive up to your store. It’s an impulse buy. Google reports that 18 percent of local smartphone purchases (compared to 7 percent of non-local searches) in 2014 resulted in a purchase within 24 hours. That’s a sizeable number.
Even when using a mobile to search from home, a potential customer is more likely to type a city name along with a search term. If he wants to try on shoes, he’ll type something like “buy new shoes Chicago” so he can find places in his city to try them on. He doesn’t care about businesses states away when he needs a product or service locally, so he’ll make sure to put his city or state name in virtually every search he does. Make sure your website is among the first sites to come up for a local relevant search term by putting a city or state name in every search term you focus on.
Study the Search Term Data
What are the most popular search terms for businesses in your industry? If you find something like “buy used books” or “affordable yoga classes” are among the top contenders, don’t compete with every business that wants to be among the top results for those keywords. There are too many businesses and if your company is largely local, you don’t need your business to appear in searches for customers around the world anyway. Add a city, state or area name to each term, such as “buy used books Houston” or “affordable yoga classes Minneapolis” to zero in on the local customers and decrease your competition.
Offer Local Incentives
Even while on the go and more likely to impulse buy, shoppers want to save money. Add terms like “affordable,” “cheap,” “discounted,” “savings” and “coupon” to your search terms in addition to the area name. Offer coupons exclusively to anyone who mentions a deal from your website to incentivize a visit to your store or office.
More focus on local searches will actually pay off with consumers who search on their PCs as well as with consumers who primarily search via mobile devices, so there’s no reason not to make local search terms a priority when developing content. Just by adding a city or state name in front of a search term, you’ll gain more relevancies and compete against fewer other businesses to get consumers’ attention. It’s a simple tweak to make to your current list of SEO terms, and it pays off substantially.