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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Content is King. But a lot of companies ignore the King! Don't be like them.
If you want to drive traffic to your site, investing in content is a great way to sneak up on and bypass the competition. Why? Well, for one thing, there’s a good chance your competition has undervalued content. And even if you set aside what the competition is doing, having good content will help you earn trust and engagement from potential customers.
Here are my tips on how to hack your SEO strategy using great content:
Understand What Makes for Great Content
Content serves two purposes: it provides users with valuable, actionable information and it populates your site with keyword-rich information that helps search engines connect you with the people who want to buy your product.
Creating great content does take some investment. You'll likely need an SEO expert to help you define your content strategies, and talented writers who can bring that strategy to life. People often think hiring writers should be cheap, but before you go that route I recommend reading what Quartz had to say about their experience hiring three Fiverr writers at rock-bottom prices.
Basically what you want to do as a brand, is answer the questions that people are already asking about your product. Curious what those questions might be? There's a tool I love called Answer the Public that will help guide you. For example, let's say you have an online store that sells sunglasses. If you enter "sunglasses" into Answer the Public's search query, it gives you 193 questions that people are asking Google about that topic.
Remember that Content is a Long Game
I've worked with many clients and it's always the same issue. The organization is too focused on short-term KPIs and gains, and they don’t look at the long term. Developing good content for your site is definitely a long game. Yes, it is slow. But when I compare results for clients who invest in content to the results for those who don’t, there is a big difference over time.
SEO in general is more of a long-term play, and content is part of that strategy. If companies even doubled current spending on content they would be way ahead of their competitors. Often, they are more focused on things like landing pages, email and getting leads. There are benefits to that, but by avoiding content they are not working on educating their potential customers.
Giving free info that is valuable and actionable creates a sense of trust around your brand and your product. This strategy may not get you an instantaneous conversion. But if you have good, informative content they will think of you when they have the budget and/or are ready to buy. By giving the customer that knowledge, it means they can buy from you with less friction when they are ready to convert.
Content is Less Pushy Than Other Sales Strategies
Before I went in-house with PieSync in June, I was working with a lot of different SaaS (Software as a Service) clients. Often these companies are more focused on persona-based landing pages. But I always told my clients that they should also have more educational content. Why? People don't like to be sold stuff all the time!
How many times have you walked into a store to buy something, and you encounter an annoying salesperson? They come right up to you, ask you questions about what you are shopping for and start offering suggestions you didn’t ask for. When this happens to me, it actually decreases the chance that I am going to buy something. Because it’s annoying and it makes me want to leave the store. Well, it’s the same thing online. Only instead of a pushy sales person, you might see annoying call-to-actions or worse, pop ups.
I was talking about this with my friend Emilia the other day. She is a content writer, and has worked in marketing for the last six years. She said she has a theory that this type of in-your-face selling happens because marketing and sales people tend to be extroverts. If they are excited about their product, they just want to tell you all about it. Content is definitely a more nuanced approach. You start by listening to the customer – find out what information they are seeking online – and then you supply them with what they are looking for.
I think this is particularly interesting because people in the SaaS industry tend to be more introverted or at least ambiverts. They want to think about each purchase carefully and buy when they are ready. And from an SEO standpoint, I really think you need a good mix of in-your-face selling that drives conversion, and having content that is thoughtful and not pitching or selling all the time. Why not have a mix of various types of content that cater to various types of people?
Diversify Your Writing Staff
If your goal is to cater your message to different types of people (and that should definitely be your goal), I recommend working with a variety of writers. You can't just depend on one or two people. The more resources you have, the better. Different writers bring different skill sets and different voices. It's also a good idea to have a good mix of in-house writers and freelancers. In-house writers tend to have a close relationship with the product you're trying to sell, which is great. But sometimes they can be too close to a product and don't see challenges of an outsider looking in. This is where a freelancer can help to offer a fresh perspective.
I think content is gold, and so really every industry would benefit from investing in it. You should value content writers and please give more budget to your content team!
I hope this post gives you a deeper understanding of how good content can support your SEO strategy, and even hack future growth!
Want to know more about content? Check out my post on the best Apps to Step Up Your Content Strategy, or learn more about the evolution of content and keywords with my deep dive into The History & Future of SEO.