Content marketing is easy and free if you’re doing it yourself.
It could be your big ace in the hole that lets you one-up over Fortune 500 companies with big budgets and branding power.
That being said, there is no one-size-fits-all rule that magically redirects traffic to your website. What you need is a well-thought-out content strategy, keyword research for appropriate on-page SEO, a fast website, lots of backlinks, and a host of other factors.
Pro Tip: Having a website that loads in the nick of time is one of the precursors to ranking well on Google. We’ve done an in-depth comparison of the best hosting providers here if you’re still looking for a hosting provider.
This blog assumes that you’ve taken care of all the SEO essentials. To get the most use out of your content marketing plan, you’ll need to optimize your website around technical SEO. We’ve covered technical SEO in much more detail here.
Once you’re done with the basics, you can finally start leveraging content marketing and derive unlimited value over the course of your website.
In this post, we’ve provided 14 actionable and effective tips that will help you take your performance to the next level.
The Beginner’s Guide To Content Marketing
Publish Comparison Posts
Comparison posts are like:
- “GetResponse vs. ClickFunnels”
- “Yoga vs. treadmill”
- “Uber vs. Lyft”
These posts are one of the most effective ways to generate traffic.
First of all, there aren’t many websites covering comparison posts in great detail. For rare topics (with reasonably high search volume) there are only a dozen or so websites publishing in-depth comparisons. In these cases, Google has no other choice but to place your website in the top results because there aren’t many other contenders!
Second of all, people who search for comparison keywords tend to be very savvy and well-informed. They probably already know about the tools and are seeking expert opinion.
This is why the CPC (cost per click) on comparison posts are sky-high: you’re attracting a well-informed user base with deep pockets and an incentive to convert.
Look for Grammatical Errors
Grammatical errors make you look silly and less professional.
Think about it this way, will you pay money to someone who can’t even perform basic spell checks on their own website?
There’s another reason why grammatical errors should be taken care of right away: they can destroy your rankings.
See, Google and other search engines want to deliver authentic, high-quality results to a well-informed user base. It doesn’t reflect well on Google to link back to spammy and low-quality websites that can’t even perform a spell check.
But what if you’re not a writer? Well, you can hire content writing freelancers or outsource to an agency. If you insist on writing your blogs (which is a good thing), you can use a free tool like Grammarly to take care of basic grammar issues. For the most part, you won’t have to worry about their ‘advanced’ plan. It is pretty subjective anyway and doesn’t provide accurate results.
Grammarly integrates with most tools that you commonly use online, such as your Word processor and browser. This simple installation can make or break your professional image, so be on your guard!
Write Relevant Content
In order to perfect your sales pitch, you have to first understand customer pain points regardless of the niche you specialize in.
This is why content marketing proves to be so useful. It’s proof of your domain authority in your specific field.
If you can write a blog post that not only addresses your customer’s pain points but also provides actionable tips (as opposed to being too generic), you’ll earn customer trust.
Does your content marketing plan provide customers with valuable advice that they don’t already know?
If you don’t think your content addresses these specific issues, your article isn’t ready for publishing yet.
What Are Your Content Marketing Goals?
Did you know that most content marketers don’t even have a marketing goal?
Only half of those with content goals can achieve them.
Here’s a pro tip: content marketing is an exercise in futility if you don’t have a goal.
To make content marketing truly work for you, you’ll have to first understand your business and marketing goals.
Your content marketing efforts must revolve around those goals.
Now, if you’re writing a blog purely to express your personal ideas, then go ahead and write whatever comes to your mind.
But if you’re writing content to attract traffic, you will need a strategy to help you get the most out of your time, money, and efforts.
Here are some business goals worth targeting:
Increase Customer Loyalty
Repeat business and a solid base of referral is the cornerstone of a great business.
Companies only get repeat business if they have brand loyalty and provide optimal services. This is important because customers don’t return if they’re not happy with what they’re served and if they feel that the product or service is too inferior or costly.
This is where content marketing comes in. You can create a richer experience for the customer who bought your product and services by pairing it with actionable content. Furthermore, an email newsletter can go a long way in helping you add more value to your services. There are various autoresponder tools that let you send customized newsletters to clients, including repeat customers, our favorite is GetResponse.
If you keep providing value to your customers after long after they bought your product, they will eventually reward you for it.
Address Pain Points
Is your prospect looking for ways to solve a very specific pain point? Examples of pain points include time or price, when using a certain tool.
Write a blog post that shows how your solution can save time and money in the long run.
Do your clients think that your solution is too complicated to use? Write blogs and articles that show customers how they can use your products… effortlessly.
Try to understand the main reasons that prevent customers from buying your products, and then find creative ways to resolve those issues with content marketing.
Attract New Prospects
This is probably the most obvious business goal for generating content: attracting more prospects.
In order to be successful at attracting more prospects, your content has to be engaging enough to generate a strong enough buzz that attracts backlinks, social media shares, and conversations.
Why is this important? Because in the era of search engine marketing, content is how people find you.
Even if you have a steady stream of repeat clientele, you need new prospects to keep your business running efficiently.
Build Authority With Search Engines
Lots of content marketers get SEO wrong: they think if they optimize their content around search engines, they’re golden.
This is wrong on so many levels.
Firstly, search engines will only find your content valuable if searchers find you valuable.
To this end, search engines will actively hunt for various signals (a major ranking factor for Google’s algorithm). These social signals include backlinks and social media conversations.
So make sure your content marketing strategy is optimized around users first, and then search engines later.
Use Analytics to Track Performance
A well-written blog is important, but it won’t mean much for your business if visitors are not converting. This is where analytics come in.
They help you carefully track, watch, report, and monitor on certain KPIs (key performance indicators) to help you gauge what’s working, what isn’t, and what you can improve.
Traffic is an important KPI, but it’s not the end-all and be-all for businesses that sell products and services.
Your conversion rate is probably the single most important metric that translates into revenue and sales. Think of it this way. Suppose you’ve got 100,000 likes on Facebook, and 1,000 traffic on your blog.
The 100,000 FB likes result in almost no conversion or only lead to about 10 new buyers.
But the 1000 readers on your blog lead to about 50 new buyers.
This should tell you that while Facebook likes are important, your blog is critical for sales, and shouldn’t be ignored.
Focusing on analytics help you continuously refine and adjust your strategy to get better conversions. Here are a few questions that you should explore with the help of analytical tools:
- Which platforms (blog or social media), apps, and tools are performing the best and which aren’t?
- What is the ideal time for the sales team to be available to maximize sales?
- Which areas of the content strategy can be improved and refined?
Make a Content Schedule
Scheduling content is a vital aspect of content generation. Just like an editorial calendar, a content calendar can guide your strategy through a given timeframe. This is where you’ll want to include special events and major holidays that are relevant to your niche and the local area. You’ll also want to leave some room for trending topics or unpredictable but relevant events that you need to write content for last-minute.
Now is also a good time to plan where your posts go. Create a multimedia strategy that leverages guest posting and PR. Include different distribution channels that fit into your sales strategy along the course of the next few months.
Repurpose Your Content
Different types of content have different purposes and can influence your marketing efforts to varying degrees. It is a good idea to use a combination of content formats to maximize the use of your time and resources. For example, you can use guest blogging to establish authority on other websites, send email newsletters to your user base, and engage your audience on social media with small pieces of content (valuable content)
One effective tool is to revisit old blog posts and develop a strategy to repurpose this information through different channels.
Here are a few examples of ‘content channels’, to name just a few:
- Create a video series by borrowing data from a series of blogs
- Create eBooks if you’ve got lots of long-form articles
- Develop case studies and whitepapers from blogs
- Create an infographic if you’ve got tons of data to leverage
- Create a webinar from your articles
Write Longer Headlines
Want to tap into shorter attention spans?
Write longer headlines and use power words to trigger human emotions.
Here are 4 basic headline types that are most likely to capture user attention.
List Posts (aka listicles)
List posts are easy to navigate and provide users with a list of things. They essentially cut the research journey short and give users an idea of how long they’ll have to spend reading an article.
A few examples of list posts include:
“20 Funniest Memes of 2019”
These posts help users achieve a specific desired result. How-to posts are valuable and helpful, which explains why they attract so much attention from bloggers and readers alike.
Here are a few examples:
Question posts provide direct answers to popular questions that the readers are actively searching for on search engines. They easily go viral and if done right, may get featured on Google Snippets, earning you the much-coveted, zero rank.
Here are a few examples:
These are lengthy guides that contain a massive amount of content providing the complete solution to a very specific problem. Here are a few examples:
To further stand out from competitors on the search results page, your headline will need a few emotional trigger words to communicate with audiences about what the article is about. Here is a list of words that you can use to create emotional headlines:
People are drawn to the word ‘free’ which plays an important role in catching (and holding) their short attention spans.
Most of us can relate to the power of ‘free’ stuff. It basically means that you’re not personally risking your neck (and cash) to see if something works. Most people (and businesses) will try to get their hands on free stuff.
Before you can convince people to spend their time and money on a product or service (even if it is free), you’ll have to provide a reasonable level of guarantee that they will be well compensated.
Most businesses provide guarantees such as “1 Month Money Back Guarantee” or “Satisfaction Guarantee”.
You can have a field day with the word “guarantee” in your headlines, here are a few examples:
If you’re new to something, chances are you’ll want to learn the easy stuff first before you can progress to the advanced tips. Most people look for an ‘easy’ way to solve or fix a particular thing. It’s got to be easy and effective. Once again, the goal is to minimize risk and time.
Here are a few examples:
“40 easy ways to make money” (40 easy ways of … will rank on search engines in a shorter period of time)
“40 easy ways to burn more calories right now” (notice the use of the term ‘right now’ suggesting that the tips offer near-immediate results)
“SEO so Simple a Child Can Do It: In 5 Easy Steps” (Searchengineland.com managed to call their user base ‘children’ without offending them)
Keep Your Content Fresh
You can bet that tips and tricks that were relevant 10 years ago are obsolete in 2020. But online marketing and its resources are changing at a rapid pace. This means that every new change is an opportunity to write new content.
Like most gadgets and tools in life, content requires routine maintenance. If you’ve got tons of content on your website already, it’s time to keep it up to date and relevant.
Updating content is essential if you don’t want your users to find information on your website that is no longer valid. If you’ve written high-quality posts that are optimized well and rank well on search engines, make sure you update them as and when needed. The entire point of writing content is to help users find relevant information.
Keeping older content updated is important for SEO as well. If you rewrite your older article, Google will notice this and update its index appropriately. If you make sure your content is up-to-date regularly, Google will make sure you retain (or climb up) your spot on the search results page.
You could either update a blog, with or without changing the date, or you could rewrite the post and publish it anew.
Write on Both Trending and Evergreen Content
Both trending and evergreen content should be incorporated into your content, but we prefer to focus 60% of our efforts on evergreen topics, while the remaining 40% goes to trending topics. This will help you get the best of both worlds.
Trending topics, for all the good they do, are likely to last for a shorter time than evergreen topics. They also give you the most bang for your buck by staying relevant and continuing to attract more traffic
But if there’s a trending topic in your niche, make sure you cover it. Try to cover the unique statistics and angles that you’ve discovered.
Use a Simple and Conversational Language
Here’s a rule of thumb when writing topics: use non-technical language that is both conversational and user-friendly. At the same time, you don’t want to water down your content.
Remember, you’re not writing a high school textbook and you’re most definitely not writing a research thesis. Most people read blogs in their free time and hardly have the patience to sit through overbearing technical lingo. Use words that trigger an emotional response instead of being too monotonous. Content gives a unique voice to your brand and makes you appear super friendly.
This is true irrespective of your target niche.
For example, if you’re a law firm, you’ll want to sound like you know your stuff, but you can make the content easily digestible with casual lingo and everyday examples that readers can relate with.
Channel Content in Different Directions
Suppose you already have the complete outline for your content strategy and have enough writers to make your goals a reality. Your content strategy addresses different stages of the customer buying journey and is repurposed into various media. You’ve established your content goals as well.
But it is just as important to understand where each piece of content falls into.
The list below will provide some context into different types of content that you must optimize your blog post:
- Customer Outreach: Landing pages, explainer videos, Facebook ads, infographics
- Conversion: Long-form blog posts, podcasts, social media, how-tos
- Closing: Reviews, email newsletters, questionnaires
- Customer retention: Discounts, exclusive offers, surveys, contests, emails
To do well, you’ll need to know how each type of content fares across different audiences and platforms.
For example, to stay relevant in 2020, you’ll have to bank more on videos and infographics to stay relevant.
Write Compelling Meta Descriptions
Meta Descriptions are designed purely for SEO purposes, but they speak directly to your prospect since they’re one of the first things that users notice.
Meta descriptions provide users with a brief idea of what your blog is all about.
Note: Try not to stuff the meta description with keywords. Google isn’t the target this time around!
If the meta description is succinct and compelling enough, it increases your click-through rate. And this, in turn, tells Google that your content is worth ranking.
Google’s algorithms try to gauge the actions of their user base and they do certain things.
The meta description is probably the best way to gauge user behavior.
Content Marketing Tool Kit By SEMrush can help you in many ways.
Step by Step Towards a Bright Content Future
- Find a Topic in Topic Research – An effective content plan is based on information about your audience’s interests. SEMrush Content Platform allows you to conduct topic research by giving you the full picture of what your audience needs in just a couple of clicks.
Create a content plan in Marketing Calendar –Planning and managing content activities requires constant monitoring. The SEMrush Content Platform helps you to keep track of your team tasks and deadlines to ensure all activities will be implemented in time.
Write an article with SEO Content Template – Quality, search-optimized content can improve your site visibility and increase the volume of traffic. SEMrush Content Platform provides you with a content template with recommendations on how to create winning content.
Optimize the article with SEO Writing Assistant – Content optimization of new or existing texts is no longer a time-consuming struggle with the help of the SEMrush Content Platform. Our writing assistant helps content creators to ensure their texts are unique and search-optimized in just a few clicks, right in Google document or WordPress account.
Analyze mentions in Brand Monitoring – Choose the most effective PR channels for content distribution and analyze your or your competitors’ brand presence there with the SEMrush Content Platform.
Measure impact in Post Tracking – The lifecycle of your content posted on external blogs doesn’t end with its publication. With the SEMrush Content Platform you can track the performance of up to 50 external articles, yours or your competitors’.
Revise and improve in Content Audit
This is very important for content based websites. This will help you in optimising your content and hence can expect better ranking in search engine ( Google )
Key Takeaways from the Article
Hopefully, these content marketing best practices have given you all the context you need to stand out from the crowd and cut through the noise.
To summarize the most important aspects of the article:
- Make sure your blog is fresh
- Use relevant keywords
- Keep user-friendliness in mind when curating content
- Remember, user-friendliness first – SEO late
We’d love to hear how these tips worked for you and if you’ve found the perfect content marketing practices for your website. Do let us know what you think in the comments below!