Small Business Owner’s Guide to Content Marketing

Whether in the form of blogs, videos, newsletters, or articles, having exceptional content is imperative as a local business.

Content marketing is about creating and sharing meaningful, valuable information to your target audience online. The content you create should facilitate a conversation between the information you post and the needs of your customers. Regardless of the medium you choose, the content you create has to generate value for your customer. 

Content marketing tells a story and speaks about more than just your brand: It speaks about your values and your appreciation of customers. Think about your day at work. You are helping customers in every way, whether through answering questions or educating about a product. 

If you create great content but fail to promote and manage it, you’re hurting the odds of increasing your online visibility, which is vital as a small business. As a local business, what you need is a content strategy. With all the information on the Internet, what is going to convince someone to look at your content over a competitor’s? 

A good strategy consists of planning, development, and management of the content that your site will host and promote. 

Building a Content Strategy 

Creating quality content for the internet means creating something timeless. A “timeless” piece can be a general help page, how-to article, 101’s, or FAQ’s. Think about things people will likely still be Googling three, five, ten years down the line, such as “How to Tie a Tie in 5 Easy Steps.”

An Example of Evergreen Content Marketing

Many marketers refer to this type of content as “evergreen” because it will remain relevant for years to come. For additional help and understanding, SEO Nick Eubanks outlines, in a case study, the true power of evergreen content.

An article on “how to tie a tie” in five easy steps is an example of evergreen content because this it is the type of content that will still be important in the near future. On the other hand, a timely article, which is only going to be relevant for a short period, such as a local concert review, is important when it is published — but only shortly thereafter does it have relevancy. 

By creating content that will be relevant in the future, you’re providing helpful information with lasting value.

Having evergreen content is an important part of being recognized both nationally and locally; but as a small business, you’ll also want to be sure to also optimize your site for local search.

Remember: What’s trendy one year may be outdated the next, but there are simple principles that you should follow to consistently have interesting, new content. 

With the right strategy, you can remain relevant in your market for years to come.

Base Your Content on Research

In a survey conducted by Gleanstar Research and Kapost, 90% of marketers felt that redundant content was an area in which they were least efficient.

The study found inefficiency as a downfall for marketers, and meeting task deadlines was the number one area marketers were most inefficient. Good content marketing is more than writing for Google and search engines — it’s about providing value to your target audience.

When performing your keyword research, think about the terms that your customers (or prospective customers) may be searching for when looking for your product or service. It’s simple enough to do your keyword research. All you need to do is use a keyword research tool, such as SEMRush, which is free to use up until a point.

Performing Keyword Research as A content marketing strategy

SEMRush is a vital tool to use in content marketing. Take a relevant keyword(s) you are wishing to rank content on your website for, plug it into SEMRush, and then see the results page. You will be given a results page that outlines how many monthly searches there are for the keyword and how similar keywords rank. Try typing the keyword(s) you wish to rank for on Google and see what your competitors are doing to rank for that term. By seeing which are the top-trafficked pages will help you know which keywords you should be implementing. 

Don’t stuff your keywords to the brim, though. Long-gone are the days of finding a keyword or keywords and mindlessly posting it to gain site traffic (even if it has little relevance). A keyword density of greater than 5.5% may make you a victim of keyword stuffing, which could result in Google penalizing your page.

You may be the most knowledgeable person on your niche, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to continuously research new trends and algorithms, meaning, you should be on the lookout for Google’s updates. 

Making sure you are always doing your research is an important component in your content marketing strategy. Whether it’s researching the best ways to reach your target audience, or finding the ideal keywords to optimize your SEO, research is a continual process. As a small business owner, you don’t necessarily need to target the biggest and boldest keywords, but rather, the most relevant ones that your competitors may be ignoring.

Remember to always cite your sources either in the body or at the end of your content. Otherwise, you will be less trusted by readers who have no problem clicking away from your article and re-googling their query. 

Content Marketing is SEO

Crafting quality content can help customers find you online. In fact, local search engine optimization and content marketing go hand-in-hand.

No matter how small or how large your business, you’ll need to have a steady stream of content to appear on local search results. In order to rank on search engines, you need to implement those keywords we mentioned early into your content, whether you’re writing a short blog post or a lengthy case study. It all matters.

You need to think as your local customers think and be sure to use effective, local keywords that your customers are going to be searching for online.

Unfortunately, your content isn’t going to go very far if people can’t find it when they are searching on Google. To make your content found, you need to utilize SEO.

In order to be visible to your audience and attract prospective customers, you’ll need to utilize SEO (especially local) in your content marketing techniques. 

Don’t Assume You Know Everything Your Audience Wants

Catch your audience in every stage of the buying process

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know all of your audience’s wants or needs. For example, if you own a clothing store, don’t just think that customers are looking for a very specific “red shift dress.”

Customers may not be this far in the buying cycle. 

Think about a consumer who is just looking for a dress, unsure of which exact style and fit she wants. You’ll want to have an engaging website that catches your customers early in their purchasing journey. Don’t solely think about a customer who already has her mind made up. Think about a customer who may be just casually browsing, but discovers a helpful website with a dress she loves, and then decides to buy it. With proper content marketing (and the right content), it can be your website that convinces her to make a purchase after all. 

By publishing articles online, you can answer a potential customer’s questions without even having to directly reach out. By publishing the advice and information you give in your store, you are able to provide a way for people to find and connect with you. You earn their trust and respect, and their business.

If you’re a clothing retailer, you can benefit by acting as both a publisher and retailer. Educate and inform your audience in the same place that they can buy your products and services.

With that in mind, studying your audience’s content preferences, is also extremely useful. 

Research your Audience 

Use tools, such as BuzzSumo, to analyze what your audience is searching for

Just as you shouldn’t assume you know everything your audience wants, you also shouldn’t assume you know how your audience consumes content. It is vital to always be doing research to see what it is your audience likes the most when it comes to content.

Always use search and social media to see what your audience needs and wants to know about your company. For example, see what kind of content your audience shares the most, whether it’s images, videos, listicles, blog posts, or infographics.

For performing research on your audience, a vital tool to use is Buzzsumo, which makes content research easier and faster.

Just as you know how and why your audience consumes your product, know how they’ll consume your content. Is your content going to be filled with industry-specific jargon, or is your content going to be more image and video-heavy? Find out if your audience likes to read quick, three-minute, informative articles, or if they prefer reading 2,000 word articles, full of informative quotes, detailed content, and few images.

With that in mind, you must always stay on top of your site’s analytics. You need to regularly analyze your content to see what is working for you and what isn’t working for you. If your audience fails to watch your ten-minute video tutorials, you should find out if they like, share, and comment on shorter videos.

Use Original Headlines 

headline writing basics for optimal seo

This goes without saying for being extremely important mass-communication. When would you want to click on a link with a dull, run-of-the-mill headline? It’s just like judging a book by its cover — there’s no way to avoid it.

In the world of content marketing, unique headlines still remain your best shot at notoriety. First of all, your headline should be relevant to your keywords, since it will appear first in search results.

One way to have your headline stand out is to include numbers — think about how Buzzfeed creates so many numbered lists, known as “listicles.” Writing lists is a simple way to make your piece of content stand out from other similar articles out there. It also gives the reader an idea of the article’s length before they start reading it. 

Secondly, if the headline is not unique, it will have a hard time standing out on a result page even if  a user searches your headline word-for-word.

Think of it this way: When you’re doing research or shopping online, will you click on a headline that doesn’t catch your attention? Not likely. No matter how interesting the article, if it doesn’t have an enticing title, people will ignore you and click through a different link with the headline that catches their eye. 

As a local business, it works the same way. You can’t expect to write a lackluster headline and attract the attention of your customers or prospective customers. You need to think as your customers do and write eye-catching headlines to entice your audience to keep reading.

By having a relevant headline, you’re increasing the chance that someone will view your article. Make sure you include your most vital keyword in your headline (without sounding generic). Write a headline that you would want to read, and search engines will also want to crawl.

Don’t Generate Content…Write It

Writing Content over Generating Content

No one wants to read something they’ve seen time and time again. All it takes is one piece of bad content to lose your audience and valuable customers. Don’t just write for the sake of writing: take your time, perform your research, and have another set of eyes edit your work before hitting publish.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a large amount of content right at your fingerprints that you could be creating. There is a great deal of marketing potential in the day-to-day aspects of your business. Remember that there is a great amount of content you could be using in your content marketing. You could write an FAQ piece, answering all the frequent questions customers ask you in a helpful post (or, if you want, you can make a video out of this material).

If you’re writing about something people have read before, make it different.  Originality is key to success in content marketing. Tell a personal story, write a case study, or craft an “FAQ” article based around your audience’s pain points. Having a steady stream of genuine content that is crafted, not produced, is key to connecting with your audience.

Always write with your audience in mind. If you are a high-end tech blogger, don’t talk down to your audience like they don’t know what they’re talking about. Techies know their stuff, and they want to read articles from people who speak their language.

With blogging, it really is important to speak to your audience as if you are talking to someone with similar interests in person. Similarly, mommy bloggers can share silly stories that their readers can relate to, without worrying about sounding extremely professional. Having the right structure when writing for your specific niche is vital as a content marketer.

Whatever the case, keep your writing unique to best draw in the attention of your viewers.

Add Variety to Your Content Strategy 

Add visuals, videos, and infographics to your marketing mix

MDGadvertising created a captivating infographic  about imagery in content. The infographic tells us that articles with relevant images receive 94% more views compared to articles with no images at all.

Be creative in publishing your content. Writing content in the form of eBooks, blogs, and white pages are beneficial, but they need to be complemented with other media, such as pictures, videos, checklists, and live events.

Adding visual elements in your content post makes it easier to digest large amounts of information.

Make your Content Shareable

Add Social Share Buttons to your Content

Another great way to think about your content is always make something you consider “shareable.” This could be done by having detailed and informative content, relevant information, and a variety of words and images. 

You should also make sure that people are sharing your posts by putting social share buttons where people can easily see them.

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By making the “share” buttons easily available, a reader can post the piece on a social media platform, which gets published to all of his or her friends/followers.

There is an overabundance of poor content available for consumption, so write quality, thought-provoking content that people will want to share. Be the educator and teacher instead of focusing on churning out as many articles as  possible.

Asking questions is a sure-fire way to get people more engaged with your content.  By presenting knowledge to your audience, then asking for their opinions, you’ll encourage a conversation. In the modern age of the Internet, conversations will exist in the comment section of your content, as well as through social media channels. The more you invite your audience to give you their thoughts, the more likely your content will gain a buzz through social shares and comments, bringing in valuable visits to your site.

Also, be sure to use all of the social platforms that your business uses to publish the content. (Just make sure you’re not just posting a link without a description, or just asking someone to, “Check this out.” You still have to lure them in!)

Getting social is going to help humanize your brand and help you directly interact with your loyal fan base. Receiving positive recognition online is a great way to receive more customers and encourage current customers to keep coming back. 

Acquire Online Reviews From Your Trusted Fans 

Small Businesses Acquiring Reviews

Starting a Google My Business is essential for local search. What exactly is a Google My Business page? A Google My Business page allows you to manage your business’ online presence with Google.

When you Google a local search, such as, “Pizza in Philadelphia,” it’s your Google My Business page that lands your business on the results page (along with competitors’ sites).

On Google My Business, you’re showcasing your brand in a different light. You can build your reputation by showcasing images of your brand and allowing for customers to write up reviews of your company.

When customers write reviews, you can interact with them directly, and you can answer any questions, comments, or concerns they may have. People aren’t able to review your website directly and can only fill out your contact form or e-mail you with questions. But, with a Google My Business page, people can review your services/products directly, and you can communicate with them. 

In fact, in a study by Search Engine Land in 2014, 88% of customers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business. In fact, many trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. With positive reviews comes trust. With trust comes an established, brand!

Always be Optimizing

One of the best (and most important) things you can do for your local SEO is including your business information consistently and accurately in as many places as appropriate across the web. Most importantly, your NAP (name, address, and phone) should be consistent everywhere it is posted. The online reference to your business’s NAP is called a citation.

How to have a consistent nap

When you’re posting content that will reach people in your local market, include your NAP at the end of the post or within your email’s signature. With a methodical approach to keeping your information consistent, you will do a great deal for your local SEO.

In addition to inserting your NAP and business info into the content on your site, it’s also very important to have consistent citations created on the major business directories that Google and other search engines will cross-reference to determine the credibility of your site.

The citation-making process can be much more tedious and methodical, so you may want to find a company to outsource citation making and SEO-building from the citation side, while you focus on your content.

If you find the task of SEO to be fearful and intimidating, you can check out the citation building and maintenance packages we offer at I’m From The Future’s Local SEO Division. 

If your content is researched, shareable, and SEO-optimized, you’re on the right track to finding success in your business. But SEO isn’t just about finding the right keywords and writing from there. If you’re not writing content that matters or is interesting, people won’t care, no matter how easy it is to search for.

How Every Business Can Succeed at Content Marketing 

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Marketing wouldn’t be possible without having outstanding content. Whether writing Facebook posts, crafting an online newsletter, or sending out a press release, marketing relies on content. 

The key to having a successful content marketing strategy for your small business is to create consistently high-quality content designed for your readers eyes first (with the search engines eyes in the background).  Remember, you are your own business for a reason! 

In delving into your content marketing strategy, always begin with research. If you were a consumer shopping for your products, what would you search for on Google? 

Once you have your main keywords, focus on writing and use the keywords as important words to revolve your writing around. Don’t write a post with as many keywords as possible; write a post using the keywords appropriately and evenly spread throughout your content.

Once you have your content, make sure to always promote it and allow your readers to share and promote it as well.

If you discover that something isn’t working, change it. If your readers prefer informative, quick 3-minute blog posts, write in that format. If your audience prefers in-depth video tutorials, utilize video in your strategy. Just make sure that are you fulfilling your target audience’s needs.

Be personal and genuine. Be consistent with your blog, your social media channels, and your newsletters and post on a timely schedule. Be original when speaking as the voice of your company. Remember: having a successful content strategy will help your business build its online presence. All it takes is a little bit of creativity.

Now is the time to get started on your content marketing strategy.

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