If you’ve had your doubts that content is king in the past, I implore you to lay them to rest. You need to accept that content will continue to dominate and begin creating the most effective content possible. To help you do so, we boiled down the information our SEO team gleaned at the Search Marketing Expo in New York into a five-step, actionable content plan.
Step 1: Brand Across All Forums
Now, more than ever, people are discovering businesses through social media. It’s not that people don’t Google things anymore—they do—it’s just that consumers are increasingly turning to social media to research the best attorneys in their area. And when this swelling wave of social-media-savvy consumers hits you, you better be ready.
How to make it work for you. You need to accept the reality that social media isn’t going anywhere. The combination of traditional Internet searching and social media queries allows potential clients to either confirm or deny their assumptions and first impressions of your brand.
“Content is the fuel of your marketing engine, and today, all search is social.”
—Tami Cannizzaro, Global Director of Marketing, Social Business, IBM
Match your messaging accordingly. You need to be prepared to meet the expectations of someone who discovers you through social channels. This means getting a firm grip on your brand, your message, and weaving a common thread through social media, your website, and your marketing materials. You need to be a complete picture, so that when they search for you, they get the same feeling of confidence they initially felt when they found you.
Step 2: Don’t Be Afraid to Tap Into the Cultural Zeitgeist
If there’s a relevant current event or topic that you can talk about and use to your advantage, do so. Some of our clients have had great success with using a hot topic to show they are paying attention to current events—that they understand what their audience wants to hear about.
“Technology doesn’t equal strategy. Keep [content] simple and informative. Data aren’t people, automation isn’t strategy. Don’t build technology to avoid people.”
—Kevin Ryan, CEO, Motivity Marketing
How to make it work for you. Talk about what’s trending not just nationally but locally as well. This could mean getting behind a local charity and tweeting about it, giving your thoughts on a high profile legal case in your area on Facebook, or highlighting a national safety campaign on your blog. Keep your eye out for topical content, write your own well-developed piece and run with it.
A few words of warning: When jumping on a hot news item, tread carefully and do your research. It’s very easy to make a fool of yourself on social media by using the wrong hashtag at the wrong time or pontificating on a subject of no interest to your audience.
Only you can prevent insensitive pandering on social media!
People are also turned off if an attorney’s Facebook feed contains multiple rants about “kids these days and their selfies,” or “I can’t believe Brain Orakpo tore his pec again.” Keep it relevant to what you do. If you can’t tie it back to your business or your brand, skip it.
Step 3: Think Like a Journalist, Not a Marketer
A marketer bangs out copy with an eye on Google-optimized keywords and a strong call to action. A journalist finds a topic that interests her reader, does extensive research, checks her facts, and crafts a piece worthy of reading and sharing. Nobody shares a sales pitch dressed in content’s clothing. Nobody even reads it!
How to make it work for you. If you want to produce content that converts, you need to think like a journalist, not a marketer. Because the secret to successful content is writing a compelling story that evokes an emotional response from the reader. Successful content isn’t made of optimized keywords, it’s made of expressive content that connects with your audience. To achieve this, all copy you write has to address the fears of your target client. Your writing should speak to the things that keep her up at night, helping her stop the loop of fear that plays in her mind by addressing her worries in a meaningful, detailed way.
There’s still a time and place for marketing-oriented ad copy (like your retargeting ads and your email drip campaigns), but the lion’s share of your online content should be compelling, evocative storytelling.
Step 4: Use the Skyscraper Technique
There is so much content on the Internet that for your piece to succeed, it must be the lone skyscraper in the skyline. If a site like Lifehacker or Buzzfeed already has content about the topic and this content appears at the top of the search result pages, you’re not likely to “skyscraper” it, so don’t bother trying!
How to make it work for you. Instead of trying to take down the big dogs, create a more comprehensive piece of content. Make sure that your piece offers a fresh perspective, that it expands on the topic at hand, and, as we discussed above, that it speaks directly to your potential clients’ needs, hopes, and fears. Also, don’t forget to stay consistent and connect your piece to other content. Consistency communicates trust, reliability, and dependability. Connection—in the form of internal links or a related link box—will keep the reader engaged and advance your image as an expert in your field. Win-win!
Step 5: Research Topics, not Keywords
Effective SEO used to rely much more on tactics; my days were spent agonizing over keyword density and fitting exact-match keyword phrases into titles and headings. But these standards have changed! Now, post-Hummingbird, your content and your SEO needs to be strategic. Your content has to address a specific topic holistically and thoroughly.
How to make it work for you. Take keyword ideas and drill them down to a niche topic that your audience wants to know about. Find niched topics for your clients by asking yourself, “What topics do I get asked about the most?” Then take these frequently asked questions and build rich, robust content around them. So instead of trying to build content around “the best attorney in Richmond,” build content around the stress points we discussed earlier. The benefits of doing so are twofold: strong content converts, and it also pleases Google.
The Big Picture
All of this advice can be boiled down into one idea: Well-written, journalistic, robust content wins every time.
“429 of the original Fortune 500 companies are no longer in business today”.
—Joanna Lord, VP of Marketing for Porch
The lesson here is adapt or die. Publishing the same trite content over and over is a surefire way to become number 430.
Your good name and the success of your business hinge on effective content. If you’re not a writer or simply don’t have to time to craft killer content on a regular basis (and we don’t blame you), then consider hiring a professional writer. If you’d like to see what our team of writers can do for you, call 888-886-0939. We would love to help you beat out the competition with effective, dynamic content.