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In 1996, Microsoft founder and computer magnate Bill Gates wrote an essay titled ‘Content is King’. ‘Content’, he wrote, ‘is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting’.
The essay in its entirety made a lot of uncanny predictions about the internet, but the general consensus amongst those in content marketing is that this particular forecast was right on the money in terms of content’s importance. ‘Content is king’ has become a veritable mantra for those who work in digital marketing.
Why is that?
Content marketing focuses less on specifically promoting a brand than typical marketing. Rather, its main goal is to create and share content that is relevant to the brand and, by extension, its customers. The content in question could be infographics, blog posts and articles, videos, and any sort of media that imparts meaning and value to the consumer.
The strength of content marketing is that it communicates with customers far more effectively than forms of marketing that only aim to push brand awareness. Content marketing can answer your customers’ questions, provide education on matters surrounding your product or the industry it inhabits, and keep enthusiasts abreast of the latest news.
Of course, it’s no good just copying the content that already exists on the internet. Not only does this not reflect well on your brand, but duplicate content will also be recognised by Google and penalised accordingly. Content marketing needs to come from a place of originality. Even if the subject has been written about extensively, your efforts shouldn’t just be a carbon copy of someone else’s.
Content marketing doesn’t necessarily need to open a two-way dialogue with your customers, but it is an invaluable chance to impart extra value to them and solidify your business in their minds at the same time. A blog or news page that is rich with well-produced content is more likely to bring regular traffic, and it implies that the people behind a business are informed and authoritative when it comes to their subject matter.
It’s exactly like Aqueous Digital’s founder, Jonathan, puts quite plainly: many results on Google are saying the same thing. If you take them at face value, like looking at the tip of the iceberg, you will likely find that many are saying the same thing. And when so many pages are saying the same things, how are you supposed to differentiate and choose the best option?
Beneath the water line, as Jonathan says, is the key. This is where your content lies, and your content is your biggest chance to set yourself apart from your competition.
Though Bill Gates opened Content is King by speaking of the monetary value of content, he was right in that it carries the most value from a marketing and user experience standpoint. Content marketing is a vehicle for your brand’s voice and values to shine through, engaging with customers and giving them more value than simply selling them a product.
As part of their algorithm and quality guidelines, Google uses a rating known as Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). Google itself places high importance on the E-A-T of a result. Though the metrics by which E-A-T is judged extend to several elements on a page, your content needs to express these values as much as possible.
Content is also a highly effective SEO tool. It allows you to take the questions your customers are asking and answer them in depth. With clear, well-structure language and helpful multimedia elements such as videos and infographics to support, your content is more likely to earn backlinks and spread to a wider audience, showing your position as a trusted voice of authority in the process.
Lead generation is always important, of course, and content marketing is just as useful for that in its own way. Having a regular schedule of good content means that your audience are more likely to return regularly, thereby giving you more chances to inject the value of your business in your content.
Your content may also persuade your audience into buying behaviour by unveiling problems they didn’t know they had. This also carries the benefit of answering a genuine need, as opposed to inventing problems for your product to solve.
Any good marketing strategy should start with a plan. Content Marketing needs to have a very strong ethos, otherwise it will not only lose effectiveness, but can actually work against you. If an audience sees a brand putting out content that is copied, low-effort, or made to satisfy quantity rather than quality, they will probably form a poor opinion of that website and aren’t likely to factor it into their buying choices.
Starting out with a strong idea of what your content will be, how regularly it will be delivered, and what it should set out to do will ensure that you won’t be simply throwing out content as and when it’s created. Generating ideas will also be easier when you know which directions you wish to steer your audience.
The actual content you create can take many forms:
This is a form that we at Aqueous Digital believe in quite strongly. Written content is easy to host on our website, as many website platforms support having a blog section on your site and it doesn’t require any particular plugins or embedding. Writing goes hand in hand with SEO, allowing you to target keywords and phrases that you hope will bring in the specific traffic that you’re looking to capitalise on.
Written content is also very easy to share through emails and social media posts, and it can even be spread across different campaigns, e.g. transforming a blog post into copy for a brochure or newsletter.
If you don’t have your own in-house copywriter to handle your content, it’s now easier than ever to find freelancers on various online platforms who can do the writing for you. Or, better yet, obtain the help of a marketing agency with a specialist copywriting team who can see your content taken care of, with all the necessary SEO and optimisation work included. This means that if you’re specifically targeting a city like Manchester, then Google will see Manchester SEO and push your results to local searchers.
Graphics are often used to support another piece of content, such as images in an article. Graphics can be powerful pieces of content on their own, however. Infographics have become a popular medium for sharing data and factual information in a digestible and accessible format.
Infographics are easily shareable as they comprise a single image or a slideshow of simple images. They typically use simple vector icons to support bite-sized pieces of information, which lends some context to their information whilst being more visually appealing. Infographics are also usually quite colourful to add some levity, making even the driest statistics more engaging to look at.
Graphics are ideal pieces of content to share on social channels, particularly on platforms like Instagram.
Videos are engaging, contemporary, and can communicate information in a way that’s far more straightforward than other mediums. Videos are particularly useful for brands marketing a product that ideally needs to be seen in action to be understood, and they can provide an enticing taster of something that you’d like potential customers to see in more detail at a business meeting or at an exposition.
The biggest problem with video content is that it’s arguably the most difficult to do well. Speaking in front of the camera takes a certain kind of confidence, and getting the right take can demand a fair amount of patience. Not everyone has a video camera lying around, so you might also need to pay for a crew to come and help you out with the actual recording and editing.
That having been said, a well done video can grab a portion of your audience who would rather watch a three-minute video than read a 1,000 word article.
Audio content still has a firm place on the internet. Radio may have seen a decline in recent years, but the rise of the podcast has been steady.
Podcasts can be a novel way to show that you have a deeper engagement with your industry whilst giving your audience valuable content that can be entertaining, informative, and anything in between.
Similar to video, recording audio content takes a certain level of confidence and patience, as it demands more presence of a person than writing an article. Today’s internet audience are also very content savvy, so your audio content will need to be of a quality that feels genuine and up to scratch.
Once you’ve begun to create content, it can be shared through channels like email lists and social media with the hopes that readers, viewers, or listeners will share it further and increase the spread of your work.
We at Aqueous Digital believe that a focused scope is the best approach to content. Yes, you can produce a wide array of content types and try to interest the broadest audience possible, but this risks spreading you thin.
SEO optimised written content, supported with relevant graphics, allows you to target the interests and search terms of your customers so that you can respond to them directly. Their questions become your headlines, giving your content the purpose of answering their needs rather than trying to hook their interest with something unrelated to their lives.
It can be hard to know exactly how much difference your content is making. Monitoring and analysing user data, however, can shed some light on what your efforts are yielding.
Tools like Google Analytics can reveal some key information about what your audience are following and what they are responding to in terms of your content. The embedded business tools of social media platforms can also give you data in this vein, showing you which sorts of posts get the most engagement.
From here, you can infer the topics and content approaches that are of most interest to your audience. You can also monitor the rate of new followers, likes, and interactions month to month, giving you a healthy picture over time of how much your content marketing is making an impact on your brand’s online presence.
We thought you’d never ask.
Our approach to content is tried and true. Our customers see an average 310% return on investment, and our specialist team of SEO analysts, copywriters, and marketers can bring in the results that you need. Whether it’s clients in Manchester, customers in Liverpool, or investors in London – let us take your content marketing to the next level.
To see more about how we prove that content is king, contact us today.