Content is king. And when it comes to search engine optimization, producing original content is your key to success. This is largely due to the significant changes we’ve seen in the Google algorithm over the past two years. As the algorithm has evolved, it’s forced SEO’s like me to get really clear on our goals and produce a very targeted content strategy that will attract the type of individuals we want interacting with us and sharing our content. Content Marketing is very important in digital marketing.
Websites thrive on publishing new content that is targeted to their audience and niche. Using fresh, original content to develop inbound links to your website, blog, or other digital assets, is one of the most powerful optimization methods available. It’s also a great place to start any search engine optimization initiative.
Although the area of “Content Marketing” is now very popular in SEO circles, it’s actually been around for quite some time. Originally referred to as article marketing —the practice of writing articles within a given subject and distributing those to information-hungry websites across the web has been a common practice for many years. Google has evolved their thinking on article marketing, however, moving away from traditional article directories to focusing on original website content in various formats including blog posts, images, video, PDFs, and other digital assets. The goal of content marketing is to share content on your site, and other websites, that is attributed to YOU. This attribution may come in the form of an inbound link to your website or use of an author tag. Either way, when others link to your website through content, your website gains valuable link juice that influences organic rankings.
With the addition of position zero, sometimes it’s not even about sharing or distributing your content but making sure you’re answering important questions that your audience is in search of. Using long-form, organizing your content properly, and optimizing your on-page factors are essential for having a chance to appear at the top of SERPs. However, not every piece of content you create will be a fit for position zero. That’s when you want to seek out other sites that might be interested in sharing your content with their audience or audience partners.
Content distribution sites use a basic concept that provides a number of SEO related benefits. Even though the authority of content distribution sites, in general, has been limited by Google over the last few years, they are still a good way for brand new websites to begin the link building process. When used properly, content distribution resources not only give you a link back to your website when content is published, they also distribute your information to third party websites and webmasters seeking content. This happens by registering with some kind of content aggregator, adding your content to the relevant category on their site, and submitting it for review. One of the more popular type(s) of content distribution sites currently in favor is blog networks. By joining a blog network (ex: BlogDash), you can write and distribute guest blog posts on a variety of websites.
Once your content has been submitted, reviewed, and approved for publishing, it’s posted on a blog and sometimes distributed to website networks. The benefit of a guest post isn’t the content itself but rather embedded links back to your website. You leverage this content marketing method by including a link back to your website in the About the Author section using the proper link text (which includes your URL or keyword phrase[s]) or using the rel= “author” tag. The author tag links your content to your Google profile.
Each of these content distribution sites allows you to include an About the Author section at the conclusion of your article. Sometimes the author section has a header that says About the Author and other times it just appears at the end of the article. Don’t submit an article without some type of link back to your website or tag that indicates the author. This is where the true value of content marketing comes into play for SEO. The main goal is to acquire a link back to your website – passing authority from a third party website to your own website or a specific web page.
The best part is that this link-building activity costs little or nothing to implement but carries a lot of impacts. Keep in mind that you don’t need to rely on blog networks to distribute your content. Research authoritative blogs in your niche and send an email to the blog owner with ideas for guest posts, results of a study you completed, an interview, or other exclusive content they can’t find anywhere else.
Tag The second opportunity to leverage content marketing is to use the author tag. The concept is fairly simple and I’m sure you’ve already seen what it looks like when someone tags their content appropriately. Using the author tag not only helps your content stand out in search engine results but also gives you credit for that content wherever it appears on the Internet.
I strongly recommend using the tag on content published to your own website primarily as well as guest posts. This is to protect against others copying your content and claiming it as their own. It will also increase the popularity of your content specifically click-through rates when appearing in search result listings. Tagging on third party sites using this method is less important but may be used selectively and is a great way to build an association between you and your content.
To claim content, be sure to link authored articles and posts to your Google My Business profile or other social sharing accounts. Go one step further and add a link to your blog, for example, in your email signature and anywhere it can generate exposure to your content. Don’t expect someone else to find your content, proactively share it wherever you can.
When you do, you will increase visits and engagement with your content. Additionally, if the content is formatted correctly and includes social sharing icons, it will benefit from additional shares, signaling authority, helping it rank in search results.
Get noticed as a content provider
When you distribute your content and take the proper actions necessary to ensure its protection, you are following SEO best practices and giving your own website a boost in the SERPs. The added value of the content distribution is that in addition to getting links to your website from the article site, you also get the viral effect provided when others post your content attributed back to you via inbound links and possibly an author tag.
The viral effect is when a webmaster sees you as a contributor and reaches out to you for the content they can publish on their own website. Over time, web visitors may point to guest content on his site or copy and paste the article onto their own websites or blogs, generating even more one-way links back to your website.
Before you begin a content strategy, think about your area of expertise, relevant sites you’d like to approach with content ideas, and how to position yourself as an expert. After you’ve narrowed the search by utilizing a blog network or researching sites on your own, the next step is to reach out and start writing.
What if you don’t have anything to write about?
Knowing what the latest online marketing trends are will allow you to assess whether the proposed strategy is a good idea or not. Before developing content for your website or blog, there are a few things you can do to get started. Truthfully the best place to start is with trending topics like those you can find on Google Trends, Reddit, Buzz Sumo, and virtually any social network. I’ve spent a lot of time working with companies who are struggling with content generation and learned a few things about developing and distributing content effectively for SEO purposes. In particular, I have found the following to have an immediate and lasting impact on any content management program.
1. Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is essential for any website owner. Your goal, the goal of your website, should be to develop topical authority. Topical authority means that in your niche, you’re producing and distributing targeted content that matters to your audience. This content can be distributed as an article, blog post, image, infographic, video, audio recording, etc. Regardless of the format you chose, your goal is to produce something that’s relevant and often planned. Creating spontaneous content is good because it allows you to leverage the news or emerging trends, but evergreen content is effective for long-term SEO. This is why an editorial calendar is so important to the optimization of your website.
Developing an editorial calendar is simple. Start with a blank sheet of paper, spreadsheet, post-it, or napkin. Write down 12 different topics related to your niche. For example, if you are focused on health and wellness, you may write down things like the healthiest foods, dieting, exercise, sleep habits, maintaining the health of your vehicle, etc. You know your area of expertise better than anyone else so chooses popular, evergreen topics, you write or comment about.
The next step is to come up with 2-3 ideas per month that you can talk about and decide how you will deliver your content. Whether you write a blog post or record a video with your mobile device, the goal is to stay focused around a particular topic or keyword and consistently produce content for distribution. The more focused your content, the quicker you’ll develop a deep reservoir of expertise and authority on the topic.
As you work through your editorial calendar week after week and month over month, focus on distribution. Use your website and social media channels to distribute your content to a targeted audience. As you package and distribute your content, you’ll be creating a larger footprint on the internet and providing more opportunities for individuals and other websites to point back to your site.
The second thing to consider is the amplification. Once you make the effort to develop content, you must create a strong interest in and awareness of your content. The only way to do this is to increase your reach. There are two primary organic ways to achieve amplification. The first is using social media and the second is through the use of influencers.
Each time you create new content on your website or for a third party site, leverage existing social media channels to amplify the content – push it out to those who are interested in consuming it. This could take the form of share buttons near the content you are trying to amplify (ex: AddThis.com) or posting on your Google, Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter accounts and pages. As you post the information, others will share it with their networks.
The second way to amplify content is to leverage influencers in your market. Find people with influence and ask them to contribute by writing a guest post for your website or being interviewed for publication or podcast, allowing you to share their expertise. After completing the work with this individual, ask them to distribute the content you’ve created with their audience. You’d be amazed at the impact of having an existing authority to endorse and promote your content.
Help with content
If you are struggling to write your own content, there are some tools to help you find things to write about that stem from your chosen keywords. Sites like Answer the Public or Google Trends can be quite helpful in getting ideas flowing.
If you’re not a writer or don’t have the time to put into content creation, you can also hire an agency, freelancer, or ghostwriter to develop content on your behalf. In fact, a much larger portion of our workload at Big Fin SEO is focused on producing content for clients. From blog posts to custom images and video, the content generation has become an essential part of search engine optimization. This is due to the changes to the Google algorithm we’ve discussed, giving more value to sites producing valuable, engaging content on a regular basis.
Even if you’re a small business, I recommend budgeting time or dollars to generate content on an ongoing basis. Unfortunately, it’s become table stakes in the game of SEO. Updating your site once a year is no longer an option. Rather, producing content on a daily or weekly basis helps your site continually expand, provides more value to website visitors, and helps you to stay current. If you don’t have time, or the talent to update your site with new content on a regular basis, I strongly recommend finding a dependable resource. Whether it’s you, a member of your staff, or an agency, it’s important to your SEO success.
If you’re looking for someone to simply write for you, instead of managing your overall SEO, I would recommend using a popular site called Upwork.com. You could likely negotiate with someone depending on your topic and pay as little as $25 per blog post, image, or infographic.
Writing original content or having original content developed for you can be worth every cent. For me, article creation, blog posts, and presentations have created thousands of links back to my websites.
It is widely reported that Google penalizes sites for publishing duplicate content. To avoid these penalties, it’s important that you create unique content that can be shared and posted online. A good habit to get into is to use the rel=author tag if writing for another website or blog. This gives you a claim to the content as your own. Once you begin distributing the content, make sure that each submission is unique. Doing so increases the chances that your content gets published online and provides the “link juice” you want from your content marketing efforts.
The challenge with unique content is that even if you have an original article and publish to your own website, that content is no longer unique. What happens when you start submitting to third-party sites? How can you create unique content each time you submit or share an article? The answer to that question is a concept called Article Spinning.
Spinning an article means that you use a tool to generate multiple unique articles from a single article. Although not as popular as it once was, article spinning is an option if you have a limited budget and are willing to put in the time to edit your article revisions.
The way the article spinning works is simple. You begin by writing or having someone write for you an original article or piece of content. From that one article, you create multiple, unique versions before submitting to article directories. There are a variety of spinners on the market that help you with this process. I recommend using a spinner (that can create an article that is 70% unique or better) if you are manually submitting to other blogs or content distribution sites.
There are a variety of services that can help you write, spin, and distribute content. Although Google has devalued many traditional article resources, having the ability to generate original content is still incredibly valuable, especially among blog networks. Additionally, content creation goes way beyond articles. Think of all the different types of content you interact with online from video to social media. Types of content matter in Drive More Traffic, also are proven to draw a large audience, increase engagement, boost SEO, and help you build a solid brand. When it comes to content, regardless of the type, pace yourself. This ensures that links aren’t built too quickly, resulting in the Google penalty. This way content marketing is very important in SEO.
The key to link building is to establish inbound links to your site in a slow and steady manner. This is especially true with content marketing. Keep in mind that tools that help with content distribution generally submit a large batch of articles or blog posts all at once. This is a bad idea – throwing up links on low authority websites quickly is a sure way for Google to stand up and take notice that you’re intentionally trying to game the system. Remember that Google is watching. Content distribution is valuable for building inbound links and website authority if done over an extended period of time. Your pace is up to you as long as it’s done gradually.
In my opinion, content marketing is a great way for any website to start building links and get your site noticed. Remember, however, you must use original content and limit your submissions to only the top directories, blogs, or forums. You want only quality links, so make your content creation seriously. I suggest creating one to two blog posts per week and distributing them to top sites in your niche for publication. This can increase your SERPs both short and long-term if done properly and consistently over time.
As you get more comfortable with content creation, start to look for new or innovative ways to distribute your content. You’d be surprised by how many websites or bloggers would like to have new, original content on a regular basis. Research sites in your niche and contacts them offering free, original content in exchange for a link back to your website. These partnerships can have a significant impact on your website authority, ranking, and even your owner’s personal brand. Some of the partnerships I’ve developed for content distribution have also turned into join venture partnerships and good friends. Continue to network and seek out opportunities in your niche.