There are quite a few tactics at your disposal for driving traffic to your website. You can promote your site directly to your target audience – perhaps you’re posting about your website through your social media channels, or you’re using more traditional means like handing out business cards with your URL on it. You can also use paid search – buying pay-per-click ads through Google or other search engines.
Of course, if you’ve done a great job of building your brand, your customers will be seeking you out by name. But if your website is new, or if you still want to drive more visitors (nobody ever has enough!) to your site, you’re going to want to look to build more organic search traffic, and the best way to do that is through content marketing.
Content marketing is a somewhat broad term that isn’t exclusive to digital marketing. Content marketing can be seen often in print or on television, but in this post, we’re going to talk about creating content that you can use on your website to increase your ranking on search engines, and increase the organic search traffic to your website through compelling content.
An engaging blog will do wonders for your SEO, or search engine optimization. You want to increase organic traffic to your website. Paid search ads are fine, but without organic traffic, you’ll blow through money quickly. You need great SEO to ensure that your website is being found for the right reasons. This is where the blog comes in handy. A blog is the perfect place to add all kinds of relevant content and keywords.
Right here is where the content marketing element of blogging comes into play. Generally speaking, a good blog post is not a sales pitch. There are other parts of your website where you can talk about a specific product or service. Sometimes, a blog post is barely about your brand at all. Use your blog to provide context, substance, and value to your reader, so they feel a stronger connection to you and your brand.
Think about the other blogs you’ve come across on the web, whether it’s a food blogger, travel blogger, parenting, home repairs, business, or what have you. The blog posts you’ve read are most likely not the same thing you’d hear if you’d invited that person to your office for a sales pitch.
If you’re in real estate, for example, you won’t want to put your listing presentation in a post – you’ll probably have it as a standalone page elsewhere on your website. You’ll want to blog about real estate trends, new marketing ideas, the neighborhoods that you work in, home decor, and that sort of thing.
Your blog is where your personality comes through, and to satisfy the SEO gods, it’s also where you put all kinds of keywords that might be hard to fit on the rest of your site.
Exactly how big a role keywords play in SEO is up for some debate, but what’s certain is that they definitely matter. Part of your strategy when planning your blog posts (and you should definitely be planning them!) needs to be clearly identifying, to yourself as the author, what you’re going to write about in each post, and the relevant keywords that you’ll be focusing on.
What you want to do is engage your readers with strong content that is both entertaining and shareable, but also that search engines will index and help boost your ranking.
Think about content marketing as providing value to your target audience. Any other type of marketing can have an ask or a hard sell. That might work fine for a customer with an immediate need, or one that knows exactly what they want.
But content marketing tells a different part of your brand’s story that speaks to a different part of the buyer. It can subtly build trust and loyalty in ways that other types of marketing can’t.
Think about the Michelin Guide. As automobiles were in their infancy, Michelin wanted to promote the use of the automobile, so they created a travel guide to help motorists plan their long-distance trips, identifying restaurants, gas stations, accommodations, and attractions. The guide is still published and widely used over 100 years later. All Michelin did was provide value for their target audience.
So, how does all this translate into more website traffic? For one, don’t expect your blog to go viral. There are over two billion blog posts published every year. That’s 2,000,000,000. That’s a lot of content, and the last thing you want is to put all this effort into your blog and have no one see it. This is where a bit of SEO knowledge comes into play.
There are keywords and there are long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords, sometimes called keyphrases, are three words or longer and are a bit more specific. “New homes” is a short keyword. “New homes in Forest Acres” is a long-tail keyword. Short keywords are quite common and it can be hard to wade through the noise. Long-tail keywords are where you can make a big impact on your blog traffic. Keywordtool.io is a great free resource to help you research the type of keywords that your audience might be interested in.
Of course, you can always try your keywords in the search engine itself. If your chosen topic isn’t getting much search volume, you might want to reconsider and look for something that people are actually searching for. The bottom line: keyword research goes a long way.
You’ll hear a lot about phrases like link building, backlinks, internal links, etc. Quality backlinks and link building are a tricky but important part of your marketing strategy that we’ll cover in another article, but be liberal with adding links to your post (without driving away your own site traffic!). You can link to another blog (ideally they’ll link back to you, hence ‘backlink’), you can link to other content on your website (like where to book an appointment or a product page), or anywhere that’s relevant. The better quality link (i.e. a blog with high traffic versus one with low traffic), the better it’ll be for your search ranking.
The title of your blog should not be poetic or ambiguous. Search engines take a good, hard look at your title, and it should be directly reflected in your URL. Take a look at the URL for this blog post as an example. The title clearly states this post is about content marketing, and content marketing is right there in the URL. That’s a couple of extra SEO checks in our favor.
Depending on the type of blog post you’re writing, you may have need of some organization in the form of headings. If you’re familiar with very basic HTML code, these look like <h1> or <h2>. Either way, your website builder will offer a way for you to add these codes to your headings. It’s a simple trick that will make a difference both to your SEO and to the visual appeal of your site.
Meta descriptions and tags:
Find the spot in your website builder where you can write a meta description. This little bit of code will help you control how your blog posts appear on search. It gives you just an extra little bit of quality control. In the same area, you’ll probably also have the option to tag and categorize your post. Don’t overlook the importance of this. As your blog grows in both quantity and traffic, you’ll want your site visitors to be able to search through your content with ease.
Your blog needs at least one image for several reasons. You’ll need it for social sharing, because social posts with images get at least four times the engagement of posts without. It can also break up the text and give readers eyes a bit of a break for longer posts.
If you don’t have your own images at hand that fit your text, you can either create them using Canva or Adobe Spark, or you can get free stock images from Pixabay or Unsplash.
And most important, don’t forget your <alt> tags. This the text that comes up when you hover over an image. There are two main reasons why this is important. The first is that search engines will understand the alt text easier than understanding the image itself. The second is that it offers quite a few advantages for people who are visually impaired, either because they’re having the website read out loud to them, or they don’t view images and will only see your alt tags.
This is not about SEO, but about using your time, and staying focused as you get busy. Part of any content strategy is planning. If you sit down to write without an idea as to what you’re going to write about, you’ll likely waste a lot of time and the blog might not get done at all. So, using the example of a real estate agent who wants to blog monthly, you should write out six to 12 content ideas. Maybe you’ll plan them around seasonal changes, like preparing for the spring market. And if you really want to save time and stress, write as many of those blog posts in advance as you can.
Whatever business you’re in, you’re going to have busy periods. You don’t want to end up realizing that a month has gone by and you don’t have a new blog post. So plan what you want to write, and then write as much of it as possible ahead of time.
Content marketing is hundreds of years old, and it should be a part of your marketing strategy. You need to write first and foremost for your audience – real human beings – but without losing sight of the importance of SEO to growing that audience and growing your business.