Inbound marketing is all about getting the right leads to come to you so you don’t have to waste your time and energy chasing people who just aren’t interested in what you have to say. Marketers know that stellar SEO can make or break their content marketing efforts, so it’s typically an integral part of their strategy — and understandably so. The problem is that the rules of SEO are constantly changing and it’s no easy feat to stay in-the-know.
The one rule that absolutely never changes is give your readers value. As Mr. Erez Zundy so elegantly points out, “What does that even mean?” So many marketers offer this vague piece of advice that it’s practically cliche — but not necessarily irrelevant. SEO is crucial to driving web traffic, but at the end of the day, we should be writing for people, not algorithms.
Content With a Real Person in Mind
For me, it always comes back to the buyer persona. You can’t write content that resonates with readers if you don’t know who those readers are. (Seems like common sense, no?) Maybe it is, but lots of marketers out there create content to cover topics within their niche, but not necessarily content that their readers are looking for. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Take some time to really think about who your audience is and answer some fundamental questions about the people you are trying to target.
Take this one step further and start talking to your leads or potential leads. Social media is a fantastic tool for this. Ask the people questions about their work or play — whatever you need to know to start creating media that matters to them.
As much as I appreciate a fantastic blog, it’s important to recognize that content doesn’t just come in the form of the written word. The world is pretty fast paced these days, and some people would rather get their information via audio so they can listen on the way to work, a slideshow that gets the point across quickly and painlessly, or something even more engaging like video. Find out which formats make the most sense for your personas.
Value-based content is specific and targeted.
Content That isn’t Trying to Sell
Many marketers and small business owners try to write brand-centric or product-centric content when they should be writing content that fulfills some purpose for the reader. Then, marketers can use a strategic call to action to leverage qualified leads. A blog should be all about what you can do for your readers, not what they should be buying from you.
Take the information you gathered from the interactions you had with leads on social media and think about how you can solve your connections’ business or personal problems. This will give you plenty of topics to write about that will definitely speak to people who could be qualified leads. Put selling on the back burner and use your blog as a space to nurture your audience.
Value-based content focuses on solutions.
Content That Engages
The sole purpose of creating value-based content is to engage your audience, yet this is one of the biggest challenges for marketers. Most marketers only view content as a way to ramp up their SEO by flooding their site with keyword-stuffed articles, all in an effort to please the search engines. Because of this, they tend to grasp for ideas just so they have something to publish, which doesn’t contribute to the development of remarkable content.
Don’t be afraid to tackle controversial subjects or be innovative in your approach. Top five posts are always amusing, but they aren’t likely to get people talking. If you take the time and energy to write it all out, make sure it’s worth reading.
Value-based content makes you think, and it’s worth talking about.
Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13 times more likely to enjoy positive ROI. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014). This fun little tidbit isn’t simply about cranking out posts so Google starts to notice your blog — quite the opposite actually.
Make content creation a priority by researching your topic, talking to leads, and developing concepts and ideas thoroughly before you even glance at the keyboard. You can produce a whole bunch of fluff to populate your blog with all the right keywords, but if no one wants to stick around and read your content, then you’ve failed.
Value-based content takes time to produce.
SEO and Value-Based Content
Even high-quality, value-based articles can’t stand alone. SEO is a vital part of the content creation process, but it should always be done last. It’s easy to fall into the trap of writing just to get the keywords in so you can get the green light from SEO Yoast. That’s not the way to offer your readers value.
Do your research and find what words and phrases you’d like to rank for, then start writing with the topic in mind, not the keywords. Chances are that your keyword or phrase will naturally pop up in your writing along the way. If you’ve really taken the time to write an amazing, engaging piece that focuses on solutions for a very specific individual, then you’ve got something valuable to offer your audience, and they’ll continue to come back to you every single time.