Folks, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to bring you an interview with the amazing Lee Odden this week!
If you are an SEO, then I guarantee that you already know Lee from reading the popular TopRankBlog. He is also an accomplished author, a highly-regarded speaker, and one of the most respected people in the entire SEO industry. Period.
At each state, there are key pieces of information that are useful to buyers and knowing the questions a prospective customer has at each stage helps inform content ideas.
Lee graciously accepted when we asked him to answer some burning questions surrounding content creation and promotion for our readers. And off we go...
1. When it comes to content, what is the MOST important factor for a website owner to be aware of in today’s online world?
Without question, empathy with the buyer is the key that unlocks doors to what kind of content, topics, distribution, and offers will be most effective.
Understanding how customers discover solutions information whether it is search, social, publications or websites; how and who they are influenced by as well as preferences for media consumption and engagement allows website owners to create relevant and meaningful content experiences that are easy to find and compelling.
2. Is there anything a site owner could do with their content that would get them in trouble with Google? What should they avoid doing?
Since virtually every site owner wants top visibility on Google, I will define trouble as anything that gets in the way of great search visibility.
Duplicated content that is yours, and especially if it is not, thin or not very useful content, slow loading content and content that presents different information to Googlebot than to humans can all create problems with visibility on Google.
3. When working with a client, where do your content ideas come from? What research is involved?
Our content ideation is very customer-centric. We work to understand the customer and the journey they take from awareness to consideration to purchase. At each state, there are key pieces of information that are useful to buyers; knowing the questions a prospective customer has at each stage helps inform content ideas.
More formally, we conduct customer research to develop a persona based RITHM Report that documents customer preferences for content types, topics, and offers. Content ideas come out of an understanding of that research as well as from competitive analysis with tools like SEMrush and use of answer research tools like BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer for Forums, StoryBase and the Questions option within the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool.
4. How can a website owner best promote their content without coming across as too self-promotional?
Publishing relevant, useful content driven by what customers want to know, vs. what brands want to push out, is the best way to promote. Website owners need to consider whether they are just publishing information or are they publishing answers that customers can actually benefit from?
An accounting software company might want to tout its new cloud-based platform with all new features, but the customer might just want software that can handle new compliance rules for their specific industry and how those new rules might impact their company. They might not care at all that the software is “in the cloud.”
Useful content with relevant context helps lead buyers to their own conclusion that yours is the company they should do business with.
"Website owners need to consider whether they are just publishing information or are they publishing answers that customers can actually benefit from?"
5. What three tips do you have for helping a website owner do better with their content and promotion?
Companies are publishing so much content in a world that is already overloaded with information, that it can be a big waste if that content isn’t accountable for performance. Here are three content accountability criteria that we use to ensure our client content investments reach the right audience in a meaningful and actionable way.
Every content asset produced should answer these questions:
1. Attract - How will this content attract the right audience and on the most relevant channels? Includes search keywords, social network topics, forums, subscription content, the media, blogs, advertising, events, local listings, influencers - really any relevant venue for information discovery that is relevant to the customer and their goals.
2. Engage - How will the content create a meaningful experience for the customer? What are the content preferences of the buyer? Is the content really relevant to what the buyer needs to know in order to buy? Considerations include text, video, audio, images, and interactive. Also, short or long form, how to, case study, supported with reviews, story-based or more technical, inspirational or practical.
3. Convert - What triggers will motivate your customer to take action? Content created for marketing should be relevant to the stage the buyer is in and when it comes time to make a decision, you can’t leave it to chance. Does the buyer buy based on value/price, convenience, features, the influence of peers or experts, testimonials from other customers, certain offers, etc.? Not every visitor to your content is ready to buy, so always give them something to do next.
I dig into each of these areas specifically in the book, Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating Search, Social Media, and Content Marketing (Amazon).
- Strive to understand your customer before creating your content. Why? Because it unlocks topic ideas.
- Content ideas also come from understanding your customer research and from using competitive analysis tools.
- Don't publish information. Publish ANSWERS.
- When it comes to your audience, attempt to attract, engage and convert with your content.
Content creation is by far one of the most difficult aspects of marketing your business. Use Lee's tips to up your game and take your sales to the next level.
A big thanks to you, Lee, for dropping some content marketing wisdom on our readers, and for all you do for the community at large.