One Big Introduction to Content Marketing

A Newbie’s Introduction to Content Marketing

A good introduction to content marketing will tell you that today,  it’s all about getting customers to search for you, instead of you having to go out and searching for them.  That makes selling a whole lot easier than it was before there was this thing we call the internet.

People only Look Online!

Nowadays people look for everything online. People generally get a lot of information online, and they inform themselves quite well before they set out to buy anything, because the resources for getting information today are just huge, compared to what they were in pre internet days. Where do they look for that information?  They look online and they use search engines.

What content marketing means to the business owner

Understanding that is simple, and can be a huge advantage to the business owner.  To stay ahead of your competition, regardless of the nature of your business, you have to learn to take full advantage of what the internet can do.  And it’s not really rocket science! If you figure it out, you’re going to be light years ahead of any of competitors who have little or no interest in figuring it out!

How do people find information today?

Content is information.  People find it with search engines.  Search engines help people find the information they introduction to content marketingwant and that they’re are looking for. If you want to successfully use your website to bring new business, its your job provide that information to people, and make it easy for them to find it. It gets found, through search engines, by the people that are looking for it.

It’s up to you and you alone

introduction to content marketing Nobody is going to figure out that your business has a certain expertise, if you don’t make that information known, and easily available in the exact place they are going to be looking for it.  That place is in online searches. If you put a billboard on a busy road, that’s going to get you more attention than if its not there.  But not everybody that drives by that billboard is interested in what it offers.  That’s the problem with conventional marketing.  It’s impossible to know how many people the ad is going to convert into a customer. Search engines fix that problem.  If your online content contains what people are looking for, then the search engine only brings people to the table that are actively searching for it. Think about that.  Let it sink in. The people who find your website were actively thinking about and searching for your product at the moment they found it.  That’s powerful!

 Traditional Marketing versus Content Marketing

The difference between content marketing and traditional marketing is that with content marketing your potential customers have a lot more potential to become your customers because they already have targeted themselves.  Because they knew what they were looking for they searched online for it,  they found it on your website, and then, they contacted you!

Effective content marketing makes customers target themselvesintroduction to content marketing

Those who contacted you after finding you in online search results target themselves as your customer,   because you made it easy for them to discover that you have what they want! If you don’t make it easy for them to find you, then they probably won’t find you.  Instead, they’ll find your competitors, who most likely did make it easy for them to find out something.  They found out that your competitor has just what these folks were looking for too.  And they didn’t find you.

The Printed Yellow Pages are DEAD!

Back when there was only the printed Yellow Pages, there were only a couple of ways people could find your

Introduction to Content Marketing

A Sign of the Past

business. They had to either know your business name, or find it in a search of a category of businesses. There wasn’t content available about businesses.  Business owners generally kept most of their informational content to themselves until they identified a specific customer.  There were trade shows and niche oriented presentations, but no such venue was as effective at targeting customers as is online content marketing. With a website, or sometimes with multiple websites, you can post an unlimited amount of information about yourself online, make it easy for everyone to find, while also weeding out the people that aren’t going to be your clients anyway.  And it’s virtually free! The cost of maintaining a website is going to be somewhere between a hundred and at most three hundred dollars per year.  And you can add to, change, or edit its contents anytime you want to, at no extra charge.

How is Online presence better than conventional advertising?

The changes you are free to make to your website at any time can be designed specifically to help you identify and draw in and target new clientele.  What can a yellow pages ad, or any type of fixed format, fixed price ad do that even begins to compare with that?

How does it work?

You already know that when you search and find what you’re looking for on Google, you do it by typing in a key word that has something to do with what you’re looking for, and then you get some results back. That is exactly how people are looking for your business today.  You can take advantage of that!

Let’s look at an example

introduction to content marketingIf you live in West Plains and you have a Koehler engine on your garden tractor the engine just broke down, then you’re probably going to go to Google and search for Koehler engine parts or maybe Koehler engine service in West Plains. The first business that appears on the first page that appeals to you, and that has what you need, is probably going to get your business, because you need to mow your lawn. But what would have happened if that store owner’s website didn’t come up on the search results list, even though he did stock the parts you need?  You never knew he existed, and you would have probably gone to his competition, who did appear on the search results list, and you would have gone on not knowing anything about this other business. That first store owner would have given up that business – your business –  to his competition, and without even knowing that he did that, because he didn’t do his search engine optimizing homework for his website.  And it happens all the time, all over town, right here.

What should the first store owner have done?

The first store owner should have taken steps to ensure that his website appeared at the top of the search for all the key words that have to do with “Koehler parts or Koehler service  West Plains”, or for all the variations on that phrase that people are likely to use that have to do with Koehler engines and West Plains.  Maybe he didn’t do that, because he was stuck in the old yellow pages mindset.  How many people are still thinking the old school way? If you live in an area where people in general are still thinking in terms of how the yellow pages worked, and are only beginning to think in this new content marketing way, then you are at a great advantage!

The major search engines

In descending order of search engine importance, we have Google, YouTube, Bing, and Yahoo.  These 4 search introduction to content marketingengines account for about 99% of online searches. Google’s search algorithms are the most significant and the most complex. If you rank well with Google, you will by default rank well with Bing and Yahoo. Bing and Yahoo algorithms are less complex and tend to change less.  If you follow the rules for ranking with Google, you will find yourself ranking well in Bing and in Yahoo much sooner than in Google. Knowing how to rank in the Google system covers it all, and is the most important search engine to understand. Although YouTube is not commonly thought if as a search engine, it is.  YouTube is the second largest used search tool in use next to Google. Keep in mind that Google has owned YouTube for a couple of years now. That means that Google search algorithms are set up in favor of YouTube hosted videos, and it’s perhaps the biggest reason that embedding YouTube videos into your web pages is so vital to enhancing your standing with Google searches.

Search Engine Algorithms

An algorithm is a fancy word for a mathematical formula.  Google has a complex algorithm that they use to evaluate every page on the internet.  There are probably a couple of hundred factors that they look at that have to do with what is on your website, and who has links to it on their websites. Keep in mind that all of those 200 factors do not have an equal weight.  They use a really complex evaluation algorithm, and that algorithm changes, probably on an almost daily basis.  The factors they examine can be broken down into two major categories called “on page” and “off page” factors.  Obviously, something has to be “on a page”!  Your collection of pages is called your website.

The value of a website

introduction to content marketing

Everybody is online!

 If you’re going to get your products found in online searches, your product and service information content must have  a home where it can live and be found. Just getting a website doesn’t win the business race!  Every business faces competition, and every business competes to increase its revenue by finding ways to reach a broader customer base online. That means that you are always competing with rival businesses for online attention.  If you choose not to compete, but they do, they win. Getting a website only gets you to the starting grid with your competitors who also have websites.  You’re all lining up to race.  When the gun goes off, you’ve got to run with your website faster than they can run with theirs. In other words, if you do your homework on key words and search habits, your website will come up above your competition’s website for the same search term.  The more effort you make to put your website above the others in the searches you know are important to your business, the more consistently will your content be read in favor of the competition’s material.

Launching your presence online

If you hope to come out ahead of your competition, you have lead the race to the top of search results. When the results come up, you’ll win if it’s your content, and not theirs, that’s on top! The most important kinds of content that go on a website are text and video, with pictures probably in third place. You can use all three independently, and together with your website. The more content you can get published online, the more often will your material  be found, and watched, or read, or listened to. Online content exists in a multitude of forms – blog posts, videos, online articles, podcasts, etc.  Well presented content that builds your “brand” and influences how people perceive you as an authority in your field.  

 If you don’t do it, it won’t happen!

introduction to content marketingYou can possess a beautiful website that might even contain a lot of useful information, but if you don’t take advantage of understanding what Google wants to see on to get you ranked in its system, then your wonderful website is just going to sit and look pretty.  It won’t get the attention it deserves. The more content you publish, the more people will find it, and your online presence does not need to be restricted to your website.

Let’s not forget to give “off page” SEO some recognition

 Up to now we have been talking about “on page” SEO.  “On-page” SEO refers to things that happen on the page, and that deals mostly with how key words are used in text and picture content on both pages and blog posts.  “Off page” SEO deals primarily with backlinks. It is important and significant to Google when your site gets a link from other websites which their system considers to be significant.  Backlinking is an entire pseudo-science of its own, the rules of which vary as a function of Google’s ever evolving search engine algorithm.  Backlinking SEO is a complex topic of its own, not addressed in this article except to mention its existence. “Off page” SEO often plays second fiddle to the more obvious “on page” factors which primarily involve the effective placement and use of key words.  Of course it’s easiest to first get a good command on-page SEO before moving on to the study of backlinks, and it’s probably fair to say that say that in general, great SEO is approximately  a 50/50 mix of off page and on page SEO factors.

More on the concept of targeting customers

Introduction to content marketingIn content marketing, search engines help people to target their customers, and the basic website is a “catch all” target.  The basic website includes all of the most essential information you need to present, such as who you are, where you are, your essential products and services, and of course your contact information. The addition of a blog to your site widens its targeting abilities, enabling your website to catch a wider array of searchers who otherwise might pass by your site.

Blogs and Blog Posts

Blogging content usually includes short articles, pictures, and YouTube videos.  The blog allows your website to grow, post by post, without altering anything in its basic structure.  Its growth widens the target, catching more and more online searchers as it develops. Maintaining a blog gives you an always-growing library of content which features the key words that are important to getting your website found in Google searches. As time goes on and as your business develops, you’ll find that you start to identify new key words that are important to your getting new business.  Maybe it’s just new ideas, or maybe your business takes on a brand new line of products or services. You can write a new blog post about every one of those new ideas, as they come along in your business life.  Every one of them increases the tendency for your website to be found, because you are beginning to discover more and more search terms that are being used, and that are important to attracting new business to you.

What search engines do for you and for all

There’s only one reason that search engines exist, and that’s to deliver the best answer to the question, or key word,

introduction to content marketing

Google robots in action.

that has been typed in.  If it doesn’t do a good job of that, then people won’t use it, and the search engine won’t make any money either. Google does what it does, based on their best understanding of how people search.  They make their best estimate of where the key words people are searching for would be found in your content.  So, if you put key words in those places, Google sees them, and the people searching for them find your content in their results list.  If you don’t, you might get overlooked. At this time, there is no way for search engines to identify what is in a picture, or what the content of a video is, unless we tell them.  When their robot messenger comes around and looks at your web pages, it only sees ones and zeros in the picture data.  That robot is not sophisticated enough to look at picture or video data and decide what it is. So, that means that besides putting your key words in the right places in your text, you also have to tell Google what’s in your pictures, and you have to tell YouTube what’s in your videos.  If you don’t tell Google what a picture is about, then having the picture in your post isn’t doing anything for you in terms of SEO, even though it might look good.  In SEO, the objective is to get more people to find your content in searches.  SEO generates viewers of your content.

For an in depth discussion of these topics

That was just a basic introduction to content marketing.  We will be discussing the material outlined in this article by example and illustration in the March 18, 2014 workshop on content marketing at the OzSBI Building, 408 Washington, West Plains, MO. If you miss the workshop or don;t live in our area, after the workshop is completed we will also be providing a two part YouTube video of its contents right here. Stay tuned, and thank you if you made it to the end without skipping any material!

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Hi! I'm a blogging enthusiast and coach. I specialize in content creation, SEO and teaching others the fine art of blogging. My credentials are: BS Electrical Engineering Ohio State University 1979, Engineer, Small Business Owner, Entrepreneur and Content Marketer Extraordinaire!

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