With the explosion of interest in content marketing, brands are diving headfirst into content production and publishing. But all too often the effort is sporadic, poorly planned, inadequately optimized, never promoted, and barely tracked. This leads to bad results and general grumpiness.
Content marketing efforts are typically held to ROI metrics – this is “weaponized content” that is supposed to generate traffic, sales, or engagement – so let’s begin with the ends in mind and map out the best possible content marketing framework. It may not be reachable, you may not be able execute every element, but at least you know what to shoot for. So let’s get started on defining our own personal content marketing perfect state.
Start With a Strategy
The first and most important step in making sure your content is keyword-focused and aligned to you keyword strategy. And what drives your keyword strategy? Your users, target market, and potential customers. Keywords represent concepts, and concepts are shaped by content, so take what you want to say and distill it down to keyphrases.
There are lots of great posts on about creating a solid content marketing strategy and translating this strategy into a solid editorial plan. Dig into this body of knowledge.
Once you have a keyword-informed content strategy in place, you start creating the content. This is another big area deserving an article in itself, so suffice it to say your content is cost-effectively produced, meets quality standards, and is appropriate for your audience and the context (social, website, mobile, etc.).
Give Your Content a Push
Now it’s time to publish your content and give it a gentle shove out the door. This is where real “content marketing” begins and where many efforts fall flat. As we all know, for most brands it’s not a matter of “build it and they will come”; it’s more like “build it and then optimize it and push it out through channels and promote it with spend and they will come."
There is so much involved in optimizing and promoting content, that in the interest of time, it’s best to fall back on the handy checklist format.
The overall framework for the checklist is simple: Plan and produce content with marketing in mind; publish content with SEO and inbound marketing in mind; and track and report on content metrics (links, visits, impressions, shares, sales) and adjust accordingly.
Content Marketing Nirvana Checklist
Is your content marketing checking all the boxes?
- Content (article, video, image) is keyword-focused and aligned to keyword strategy and editorial calendar.
- No technical SEO issues are present (duplicate content, bad URLs).
- On-page SEO is flawless (page titles, description, copy)
- Article content includes a well made image/data graphic/infographic with embed code, ‘Pin’ button, social media birdseed (Visual.ly makes this easy).
- Open graph code is optimized and tested.
- Web pages include link to rich, authoritative Google+ profile of author.
- Content is linked to from other internal or owned properties using keywords.
- Content has off-site link building support (Zemanta, guest posts, sponsorships, shout-outs).
- Content is promoted with media spend via paid search, auction-based display media, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social / web 2.0 channels.
- Content is syndicated in appropriate channels (RSS, Reddit, PRNewswire, whatever’s appropriate for your content & industry).
- Content performance is tracked, reported on, and optimized – calendar is updated with learnings to form closed loop.
Not everyone can hit every one of these elements, so pick the easiest tactics and try to execute accordingly.
Much of content marketing happens on non-technical platforms, so it’s not like your developers are holding you back. It’s a matter of will, of determination, and of hard work.
Nobody said it would be easy to reach content enlightenment, but once you make it you are ensured peace, contentment, and serenity. At least until the next Google update.