Following the major panics initiated by Panda and Penguin, and now with the introduction of the Hummingbird algorithm, it is clear that any marketing strategy must include a well-designed content plan. Creating content that is highly relevant, informative, well written, admired and shared through social media, thereby abandoning the keyword filled SEO junk of the past, is now an urgent priority!
The fact is that Google will now reward great content created by trusted authors and this needs to be the key focus when creating an effective content plan. Just putting content out there randomly is no longer enough and is likely to be as effective as whistling into the wind.
Website content must now be attractive and of real use to readers, keeping them engaged and prompting revisits. If that is achieved the site will start to rank well in the search engines. In order to achieve this the content needs to effectively match the reader profile. Knowing the audience is the first step. What are their interests and needs? What pushes their buttons?
Formulating a content plan might be regarded as rather daunting and time-consuming, particularly for a small business or a sole operator outfit. This is the likely reason that many choose to forge ahead without any real plan and just hope for the best; however, it need not be too demanding and can in fact be surprisingly simple.
Taking a little time to think things through is the best starting point and at this stage of the process the things to determine are:
Who is the content for?
• Identifying likely customers and their main issues and concerns is number one. Content can then be created with this target audience in mind.
• Becoming established as a go-to expert for clients is the goal to aim for. Addressing clients’ needs and providing information to help solve their problems will increase the value and authority of your content.
• Research into possible client profiles will provide invaluable insights into the type of content that will draw the best response.
• The best place to start research in understanding customer needs is with the customers themselves. A simple survey is all that is needed and will reveal a treasure trove of material to work with. Content can then be designed to interest and inform just the people you are targeting.
Where to place the content?
• Decide where the content will garner the maximum exposure to the target audience. Naturally the first place that springs to mind is the website or blog; however, effective content distribution these days has to include social media platforms. Ignore them at your peril!
• Two-way engagement creates trust and the social media presence is a powerful medium for achieving interaction and feedback.
• The audience once captured needs to be retained, otherwise all the effort will have been in vain. It amounts to getting noticed and then retaining engagement via compelling content.
Monitor the progress
It takes time for any content strategy to take full effect and the results are never immediate. Monitor progress every three, six and 12 months to evaluate and then adjust the plan if necessary.