August 11, 2015 / Social Media 101

Content marketing is never one size fits all. It involves a deep understanding of an industry, brand, audience, and much more. Despite the nuances every content marketer will face, there are universal best practices to guide content creation.

Website content in particular is closely tied to your business or organization’s overall search marketing success. Large volumes of visitors and interactions on a website strongly correlate with higher rank on search engine results pages. Web pages with high-quality content applied as landing pages on pay-per-click ads can also positively impact the quality score of an ad group.

Despite the technical benefits, however, website content must be created with the user in mind in order to attract the necessary traffic. Keep reading for an overview on how to craft website content that keeps your audiences engaged and interested in your message and how to use social media to leverage it.

Think Like a Marketer, Write Like a Reader

Digital marketers often have a variety of tools at their disposal to help inform decisions. If you have access to an SEO tool or team, perform some basic keyword research to guide your website content buckets. What terms and phrases are people using to describe or find your business? What are some related searches? How often do people search for a specific service versus general information about the industry? The answers to all these questions will help you determine content topics. Begin by developing content that answers the most common questions about your business and industry, and be sure to include the keywords across the board. It is easy, however, to go overboard when incorporating keywords into content. While it is a best practice to include terms that attract large search volumes, always keep the reader in mind and refrain from plugging too many buzzwords into a single content piece.

As a general rule, content should be clear, concise, and relatively short. Lengthy pieces usually do not perform as well as shorter ones for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, however, longer content may simply be a good fit for particular audiences (perhaps as observed through audience subset research); in those situations, try to segment long-form content into shorter content pieces to appeal to a wider audience. For example, divide a lengthy white paper into a few short blog posts that can easily be shared via social media and include a link to download the full version in each.

Content Marketing

Know Your Competition

Look at the content your competitors are sharing on their websites and across the web. Do they have an active blog? Are they developing thought leadership materials? Is this website content shared across their social media channels? Is there an audience interacting with it?

Taking a look into the kind of content published by those with similar business goals, as well as any feedback and engagement from the audience receiving it, will help you formulate your own website content strategy.

Know Your Audience

Mass targeting is not always the best strategy for content marketers. Take a look at the content sharing habits of your target audience on various social media platforms to get a sense of the types of pieces your target demographic seems to read, enjoy, and share. Once you have an understanding of what’s popular, try to develop creative iterations of the content—essentially give the audience what it wants—but with added insight or benefit that would draw audiences to your business in particular.

It is likely that within a broad general target there will be subgroups who interact with content in different ways. An understanding of the demographics of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn will help you determine which platforms you should use to push out your own website content. A quick way to get a feel for this is to take a look at the accounts an individual is following and retweeting from on Twitter, then mimic some of the strategy of those accounts.

You can also divide general target groups into highly specific subsets that represent your typical audience members. For example, in a broad group of “search marketing professionals between the ages 25 and 50,” one subset may be young, entry-level professionals who enjoy short-form content about introductory topics, while another may be seasoned middle-aged experts who prefer an in-depth thought leadership piece. When developing content, be sure to take each of these subsets into account. Devise a varied strategy that includes at least one piece of content that will appeal to every major subset of your target demographic every week, month, or quarter.

Aesthetics Matter

Content marketing is a highly visual realm. Try to include a visual element in every piece of content you create, whether it’s a research paper, blog post, or Tweet. Data visualization is a great way to incorporate a useful visual element into content. At the very minimum, include a relevant and captivating photo in every piece of content. Research consistently shows that social media posts with images perform better than those without.

Although many tools claim to simplify social media management by allowing for auto-scheduling and more, content marketers must pay careful attention to how posts actually appear on the news feeds of each individual channel once published. Every channel has nuances that must be taken into account in order to maintain the visual appeal of your organization’s profile. A social media profile with an abundance of formatting errors may appear messy and neglected to clients and customers, leading them to ignore your website’s content altogether.

In Conclusion

Effective website content keeps both the search engines and the users in mind. Content pieces and messaging across social media channels should be tailored toward the audiences receiving them. Developing content that boosts your site’s overall SEO while answering your audience’s most basic questions is a good place to start. Creatively borrowing from content sharing strategies that work across the social web is a great way to expand website content strategy. While there is no single formula for website content success, keeping these practices in mind will help you determine the best strategy for your particular audience.

Do you have any tips on creating website content that keeps audiences engaged? Share them in the comments!

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