What is content marketing?
Content marketing is “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,” according to the Content Marketing Institute.
Marketing influencer, Neil Patel, takes it a step further by adding that content marketing, “is a long-term strategy that focuses on building a strong relationship with your target audience by giving them high-quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis.”
I’m going to take it one step further and put a finer point on it. I believe that an effective, growth-focused approach involves consistent delivery of quality content through your established communication channels, as well as, finding new channels to deliver your content to.
This is vital because if your marketing campaign consists of simply reposting your content on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, thus limiting your reach to that one group, you are unlikely to see growth. Furthermore, you will find it very difficult to increase your rank on search engine sites like Google.
If you want to see your content climbing the ranks of search engines like Google, there’s a bit more you need to be doing. Google says they look for “a diverse set of information in formats that are most helpful for a type of search.” Therefore, a well-rounded approach to content marketing includes the use of bookmarking sites, commenting, outreach as well as asking for linkbacks in addition to social sharing. Here’s an in-depth look at each of the strategies that make up an effective content marketing plan.
Make Good Use of Bookmarking Sites
What are bookmarking sites?
Bookmarking sites allow users to save links to web pages that they like or want to share. These “bookmarks” are usually made public, so they can be viewed by other members on the site. Here is an extensive list of examples of bookmarking sites. Some that I have personally used as a content marketer include BizSugar, GrowthHackers, Medium, Quora, and Pinterest.
How do bookmarking sites improve content marketing?
Bookmarking sites can help you establish yourself as an authority in an area. Typically, when consumers want to learn about a topic, they search for experts in that area. Your profile, content, and comments can help to position you as an authority in an area. Users can then follow, vote and re-share your content which they will if it’s thoughtful and engaging.
Each of your posts produces a new link that search engines can add to their compendium. Quora, for instance, has a question and answer format. Submitting relevant content that is helpful and receives good feedback from other users, is likely to get the attention of Google’s web-crawler.
Pro Tip: To make the most effective use of bookmarking sites, submit original content on a topic and include a relevant link back to your site that adds value to your post. This reinforces your position as an authority in that area and furthers the likelihood of increasing your search ranking.
Comment Properly On Related Content
What do you mean, “comment properly”?
Believe me, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Honestly, I even have trouble sometimes making effective use of comments. Just saying, “Good post” or some other general compliment is not enough. In fact, that’s a waste of your time. Not only are you unlikely to get the attention of the author, but more importantly, their audience isn’t going to look twice at your comment, and they’re your real target.”
Ok, so how should I comment?
There’s an art to it.
You don’t want to come across as a marketer trying to steal traffic from that site. You want to engage as a legitimate, enthusiastic fan of the topic. If you don’t make that shift, you will completely lose the opportunity to connect with that audience. And worse, you might burn a bridge.
Commenting might be super easy if you’re marketing your own content that you’re already super passionate about. But if you are marketing someone else’s content, you may not feel a personal connection to it.
In that case, you need to be a good researcher and learn how to put yourself in the shoes of the target audience. What matters to them? What are they looking for? How can you an authentic connection to them? These are the questions you need to answer before beginning your comment campaign.
Pro Tip: Make sure to read the post and try to find an opening to connect your content to theirs. So for instance, saying, “Great post. I wrote a similar post here (insert link)” is a big no-no. A more organic and sincere approach would be to say something that indicates you actually read the post, enjoyed it and can relate to it in some way. Then, keep the conversation going with a link to your site or content.
Reach Out To Influencers
What is an influencer?
An influencer is “an individual who has the power to affect the purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with their audience.” These people are the authorities everyone wants to hear from.
Every content marketer should aspire to become an influencer in their niche. In that way, you become the ultimate source of what to do and how to do it for anyone interested in learning. But we all have to start from somewhere. You may have a lot of knowledge in your field, but your target audience doesn’t know that yet. This is where collaboration with an influencer can help.
How can an influencer improve my search rank?
An influencer should, in theory, already be ranking very well in relevant searches. Partnering with them to promote your content, vice versa or collaborating on a project together will ultimately help you leverage their ranking to boost yours.
The influencer you work with should have the same target audience as you, or very closely related, for maximum effectiveness. So in addition to boosting your SEO, working with an influencer can expose you to a wider market which will also work to your benefit.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that these people are inundated on a daily basis with requests that will be similar to yours. Before you reach out, do a little research on them.
In my experience, I have found that the best approach is a direct, brief communication that includes a value proposition- meaning, that you offer them something of value in exchange for working with you or giving credit to you. Often times it is a piece of really great content, that they don’t already have, that would be extremely valuable to their audience.
Ask For Linkbacks
What is a link back?
Very simply, a link back is a hyperlink to your content that is embedded in someone else’s content. It should be relevant and it should add further value to the piece it’s embedded in. Again, this will help boost your ranking as it will alert a search engine crawler that other sites find your content valuable, and therefore, it deserves a higher rank as more value typically means more relevance to a search query.
Pro Tip: Something I do before reaching out to sites and asking for a link back is to check their Domain Authority. I tend to look for a score of at least 30 to make sure that a link back will be worth the effort I put into researching and outreach.
How do I find opportunities for linkbacks?
You’re not looking to find sites in your specific niche because they are most likely going to be competitors and far less willing to work with you as opposed to someone in a related field. For instance: Let’s say you are a managed WordPress hosting service. You wouldn’t be searching for other hosting providers. Instead, you might look for sites that discuss WordPress or WordPress developers. These are the people you want to connect with and ask for a link back that will add value to their customers.
If you’re ready to take it a step further, this guide from the Ahrefs blog is one of the most beneficial articles I have read, for how to find opportunities for linkbacks. For those that are new to content marketing, I will admit some of the concepts discussed in this article are a bit more complex, but I encourage you to take the time to learn them as they are invaluable to your efforts.
Content Marketing is more than social sharing. A strategic, long term approach cannot just be reposting your content in the same way to the same people. At least not if you ever expect your search ranking to improve.
An effort to produce growth and improve SEO should include campaigns to have content shared, reposted or linked to in a variety of ways on a variety of platforms. It should include the use of bookmarking sites, blog post commenting, influencer outreach and asking for linkbacks.
I hope that you find these tips and tricks helpful in crafting your own effective content marketing plan.