Content marketing success can take longer than you might think if the blogging landscape in your industry is competitive. But it’s not impossible. With hard work and attention to a few important tasks, you’ll see your efforts pay off.
Creating great content and building an audience takes hard work
There’s a lot more to blogging than simply writing good content and uploading it to your website. You need to build an audience. For that, you’ll need great content and distribution channels.
SEO is an important channel for most content marketers, because it lets you bring in traffic passively. To get that point, though, you need to produce enough content and put in the effort to grow your domain authority and reputation. Some of this you can put on autopilot, by outsourcing your blog writing, for example, but other activities may make more sense to do yourself. Especially if you’re just starting out with content marketing, you probably don’t have resources to hire an agency for growing your social media presence, building backlinks, and setting up content partnerships.
If your immediate blogging goal is to support sales conversations rather than SEO, then you’re going to want to have more of a hand in developing your content. You’ll need to set aside time to speak with your writer and give input and feedback on each piece of content so it reflects your expertise.
And both approaches need help getting the content in front of the right audience. So let’s take a look at the essential activities behind content marketing success.
How to succeed at content marketing — a checklist
Content marketing can be broken down into two main activities: creating great content and then getting it in front of people. The following checklist outlines ways you can accomplish both of these things.
1. Find your focus
The more specific and unique your blog, the better. Make sure you write about topics that people will be genuinely interested in reading. Google is careful to weed out unoriginal content, and your potential customers won’t be interested if they can find the same information everywhere else, too, so it’s vital that your blog is filled with original ideas.
2. Produce high-quality content
To be successful, your blog needs high-quality content. This means each blog post:
- Offers something new — an idea, angle, perspective, information/data, etc.
- Is well-structured, clear, and easy to follow
- Has personality
Be sure your writer can cut through the fluff to offer solid substance on topics that matter for you. This may mean spending some time speaking with them every month. If you’re looking for a more hands-off approach, check out the agency’s writing samples to get an idea of what to expect and make sure it’s up to snuff.
3. Promote your content
Promoting your content is an essential part of SEO. If you simply publish content and do nothing else, it could take years to move up in Google rankings.
You first need to build distribution channels so you can get it in front of people via other methods. This is especially important when your site has low domain authority, say, under 40. (Check your domain authority in MOZ here.).
The more people who see your content, the more likely it is to get shares, links, and clicks — and this activity is important for SEO. That’s one reason 97% of bloggers use social media to improve their results.
Some things you can do to promote your content:
- Post to your personal and company profiles on social media
- Republish your blog posts on LinkedIn, Medium, and industry sites
- Use your blog posts to answer questions on Quora and Reddit
- Use paid promotion on industry websites to get relevant readers to your content
- Offer the option to subscribe to your blog
- Negotiate content partnerships with other companies
- Publish guest posts on industry blogs that link back to your own blog
- Email people in your industry to let them know about your blog (and hopefully they’ll share it with their followers, too)
See How to Promote an Article for some low-lift ideas.
4. Optimize your blog for SEO
It’s important to focus on using SEO best practices so that every piece you produce is set up for the success of your blog as a whole. A solid foundation in SEO requires you:
- Conduct keyword research and use keywords in your content
- Use the main keyword at the beginning of your title tag/headline, in subheadings, and near the beginning of your article
- Code headings with a hierarchy by formatting with H1, H2, H3
- Write meta descriptions that encourage click-throughs from social shares and search engine results
- Give attention to technical considerations like page loading speed
- Use descriptive file names and image alt text to optimize your images
- Add internal links to other posts in your blog (and links from older posts to newer ones)
- Include external links to high-authority websites
Want to dig into SEO more? See a complete list of all 200 SEO factors as proposed by Backlinko.
5. Build backlinks
Backlinks are an important part of building authority for your blog’s SEO. When other sites link to yours, this demonstrates to Google that your website is part of a wider conversation and is worthy of a higher ranking. It also helps future customers find out about you.
Some ways to build backlinks:
- Submit guest posts on industry blogs
- Use Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to answer queries by journalists in your industry
- Build highly linkable resources and promote them
6. Engage with readers
Your blog can be a launching point for action. When a reader engages with your content it helps create a sense of community and brings them closer to choosing you over competing choices.
To build engagement, try the following:
- Allow comments on blog posts
- Offer social sharing capabilities via a plugin like Share This
- Add a subscribe button to grow your email list
- Use a chat button to take immediate questions
- Include a “Contact us” link or button below each post to encourage clients to reach out via email
7. Incorporate images and videos in your content
Break up written content with images and video. This will not only make your posts more appealing, but it can improve your blog’s SEO. In fact, articles that contain images tend to receive an average of 94% more views, helping to keep readers engaged.
8. Create a consistent schedule
A key part of successful blogging is creating a consistent schedule. The number of posts you create per month can make a big difference. Momentum is important to help you reach success faster.
9. Study your analytics
Keep an eye on your blog’s analytics. Which posts are popular? Where are the majority of your readers coming from? And so on. Use this information to make informed decisions about upcoming content.
10. Pay attention to layout and design
An attractive, clean design can make a big difference. Great design signals that you put effort into your content, creating a feeling of authority and quality. Plus, a good aesthetic just feels better to the reader. You risk losing readers if your blog is unpleasant to look at!
Start with content quality, then build distribution
If all of this feels a little overwhelming, don’t worry. Trying to tackle everything listed above at once is inefficient, anyway.
Where to focus your efforts first? Content quality. Work on building a blog that will help your reputation as an authority in your industry. Once you have nailed what your ideal customers want to learn from you, then you can scale your promotion and distribution efforts. (See How to Measure Content Marketing Success When You’re Just Starting Out.)
We’d love to chat with you about the challenges you’re facing with your blog. Learn more about our various packages and talk to us about how to transform your blogging strategy today.