As a small business owner, you know that effective online marketing plays a significant role in the success of your company. The competition for internet users’ attention is fierce, and if you want to make your company stand out from the competition, you have to stretch your marketing budget as far as you can. You might not have the money to take out Google ads or even to pay for Facebook advertising, but that doesn’t mean that you have to accept lackluster marketing results.
The key to help your company succeed is to make use of content marketing. “Content isn’t just words on a page, It’s everything you put out there on the web to engage your audience.”
When you make the effort to create unique and valuable content to share online, you can let what you create speak for you without having to spend a lot of money. The kind of content you create, as well as how and when you share it, are both important when it comes to spreading the word about your company. With that in mind, let’s look at 6 content marketing strategies that you can use to help increase traffic to your website and grow your business.
- Concentrate your content creation efforts on evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that isn’t likely to feel dated anytime soon. For example, a blog post about a current event would not be considered evergreen; a post that defined some industry terms and jargon would be considered evergreen.
The key is to find topics that will interest your current and future customers for some time to come. Some examples might include how-to guides, tutorials, frequently asked questions, and posts addressing problems that are common to your customers. For example, if you own an apparel store, a post about dressing different body types could have a long life online because it will always be of concern to the people who shop at your store. You can and should re-post evergreen content periodically, and make updates as needed.
- Concentrate your SEO efforts on getting high-quality backlinks and using local keywords. If you know anything at all about search engine optimization (SEO), you know that it’s a broad topic and one that is constantly changing. In the early days of the internet, all a webmaster had to do was stuff websites with keywords to get a high rank on Google. Today, search algorithms are very sophisticated. Keyword density is only one small piece of the puzzle.
Ranking for top keywords will be difficult, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about keywords. For local companies, the best option is to focus on long-tail keywords with a geographical component. Instead of aiming at a keyword like “video games,” you might decide to try to rank for “buy video games in Forest Grove.” It’s a longer keyword, but one that local customers are likely to use when looking for a local retailer. The same is true of backlinks. The number of backlinks you get is less important than the quality of your backlinks.
There are certainly sources where you can buy backlinks, but that’s considered a “black hat” SEO practice and is just as likely to earn you a penalty from Google as it is to bring traffic to your website. Instead, look for guest blogging opportunities on websites that are relevant to your business. You can also try to get your site listed in industry directories.
- Use social media wisely. A lot of small companies make the mistake of looking at Facebook (or Twitter or Instagram) as a way to advertise themselves. The problem with that it is that it completely leaves out the social aspects of social media. The people who follow you on social media are not doing so because they want to be at the receiving end of an endless stream of promotional messages. They do it because they want to be entertained, engaged, and informed.
“At least 80% of your social media content should be aimed at providing value to your followers.” That means that for every five things you post, four of them should be entertaining, relevant, and devoid of any overt sales pitches. The other one can be a direct marketing appeal, but even then, you should make sure to include something of value for your followers.
- Encourage readers and followers to share your content. The whole point of content marketing is to bring new visitors to your website and ultimately, to your business. For that reason, it isn’t enough simply to create compelling content; you must also make that content interesting enough to share, and provide people with the means of sharing it.
To make it interesting, write a great headline – many people who write online say that they spend as much time on their headlines as they do on the rest of their content combined – that includes numbers or compelling words like tips, tricks, ways, ideas, lessons, or facts.
It’s also important to keep your headline short, no more than 65 words so that the whole title can be viewed on a list of Google search results. In terms of making it shareable, you should embed social sharing buttons on your website and blog, and actively encourage your followers to share your content. You won’t want to do it on every post, but on something that you think is especially likely to attract new customers, come right out and ask people to share what you’ve created.
- Find ways to make your content visually compelling. The average internet user is exposed to hundreds of pieces of content per day. You can make yours stand out by adding compelling images – originals are best, since many stock photos are generic and not very exciting – infographics, or videos are even better. An infographic can be an especially good way to share a large volume of information or data. It’s easier to read and absorb than an article would be, and infographics are highly shareable, and videos are naturally more engaging for visitors than reading a lot of text.
- Submit a Press Release. Don’t underestimate a well written PR, it’s like a news nugget that online search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing love as well as it attracts local press. It’s an easy way to boost your online visibility, and marketing your business at the same time. Once you’ve submitted your PR online – contact your local news media and ask if they would publish it too – you may be surprised!
Whether you do it yourself through directories like PR Web or PR Newswire or hire marketing agency to create and submit it on your behalf, press releases are a great content marketing strategy for any local business.
If you use these six strategies, your content will always be compelling, entertaining, and valuable to your followers. The more value you provide, the more likely it is that one-time customers will become repeat customers, and that new visitors to your website will end up buying from you.