Whether you have an established online presence or have just published your first website, you can always achieve more online. Opportunities to increase traffic, drive high value leads and ultimately convert are virtually endless. So how can you access the bounty of the web without breaking the bank? The answer is content marketing. And the proof is this very article—after all, if you’re reading this, then our marketing efforts are paying off! You can do it too. To help you become a GIANT online, here is the definitive guide to digital content marketing for small business.

What Is Content Marketing?small business content marketing

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Boiled down, this strategy requires publishing regular, high quality content that is consistent with your branding and campaign goals. When it comes to digital content marketing, a powerful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy is absolutely essential. In fact, many consider these two faces of the same coin (see our article, Content Marketing vs. SEO for more).

Benefits of Content Marketing for Small Business

nectar done

Read how an effective small business content marketing strategy helped Nectar Sunglasses increase organic traffic by 21%.

Just like major brands, small businesses can benefit greatly from a powerful content marketing campaign. This strategy is the best way to improve organic search results for key terms related to your business. If you can reach the top positions for major keywords in your industry, you can:

Increase sales and engagement. As your content begins to dominate search results, more users will visit your site. With a solid call to action, you can drive sales, encourage readers to subscribe to your mailing list and more.

Drive cost savings. With the advent of Google AdWords, more and more companies are paying premiums to display at the top of search results. With an effective content marketing strategy, your small business can achieve top rankings at a significant fraction of the cost. Organic rankings offer the additional bonus of coming off as more authentic. Without the glaring “sponsored” tag, customers may view your organization as more genuine and approachable.

Improve lead quality. When someone searches for a keyword relevant to your industry, that means they are already interested in your products and services. If you can attract them to your site with effective content that tops Google’s search results, you’re half way to closing a sale. Forget cold calling and broad advertising that won’t be effective to 90 percent of its reach.

Establish a returning customer base. Once users are hooked with your high quality content, they’ll keep coming back. To drive further engagement, you can include a CTA to join your mailing list. Google Remarketing is also highly effective here, allowing you to display targeted ads to users who have visited your site in the past. With remarketing, you can be present wherever they go online. With a constant reminder, they’ll be more likely to visit you again.

The verdict? Content is king.

How Long Does It Take to See Returns?

alder content strategy

Alder Energy increased online leads by 32% and topped Google search results for a range of keywords by posting regular blog posts over the course of one year.

The time to return on investment for a content marketing for small business campaign can depend on the amount of authority your small business already has online. If you have a major presence and are topping search results for many keywords, you can begin to see immediate payoffs from your content marketing. This is because Google is more likely to rank an authoritative site higher for a particular page than one that is less well known. If you’re doing really well, you may be tempted to think that you’ve already tapped out the value of your most important keywords. But this is where content marketing becomes even more important. There are thousands of long tail keywords that provide virtually endless opportunity to drive more and more traffic to your site. Cast a wide net, and you’re bound to pull in a major catch.

If your small business is just starting out, however, you need to establish trust with Google. Regular, high quality content is essential here. As you produce more and more content online, you will become more established in your industry and in Google’s search rankings. Over time, you can see significant returns on a relatively low investment. But just because you’re starting out doesn’t mean you won’t see any big wins. You may even gain immediate returns if you research effectively, target the right keywords with low competition and build out high quality content that ranks well right off the bat. This is a little easier to do if you are mainly concerned with local traffic, but it can be achieved at national and global levels as well.

Creating a Content Marketing Plan for Your Business

sat rankings together

Read how Jantzi Test Prep improved their web scores and “graduated” top of page.

So all of that sounds great, but how does it actually work, and how much work does it take? Here is a brief guide to creating a content marketing plan for your business. We’ll also share insight into tools and services that can help you get started.

Research, Research, Research

You can throw a dart with your eyes closed and possibly hit a bullseye. But you’ll have a much better chance of succeeding if you study the board first. With content marketing, research is the first and arguably the most important step. Take solid notes so you can act with confidence. Here’s what you need to lock down during this process:

Who are they? What are they looking for? How are they searching for products and services similar to yours? If you’re attempting to make a sale, you need to understand your customer. Try looking into forums relevant to your industry and study the firsthand commentary from your prospects.

Why do all of the work yourself? Determine the top 3-5 businesses in your industry and check out their websites. What kinds of content are they publishing? How is their site structured? What keywords do they appear to be targeting? A handy tool here is SEM Rush. You can enter a competitor’s URL and gain insight into traffic volume, keyword usage, organic search rankings and more. A tool like Rank Ranger is also useful for measuring how your site stands up to the bigwigs.

Is your audience primarily on desktop or mobile? If you don’t have Google Analytics already set up for your site, now’s the time. The tool provides incredible insight into your traffic and usage patterns. You can even track sales and conversions to analyze the effectiveness of your campaigns, test changes and improve. If you find that most of your traffic is coming from mobile devices, you better be sure that your web design is optimized for mobile. If you find that users are spending some time on a particular page but then “bouncing” away, you may need to write a more direct or prominent call to action to get them engaged.

Target Longtail Keywords

longtail keyword research

 

Ok, this part of creating an effective content marketing plan also involves some major research. But it’s a beast of its own. Targeting the right keywords is a crucial component of any business’s digital content marketing campaign. In this step, you will need to take your key findings from your initial research—audience, competition, etc.—and determine which keywords will be most effective for achieving your goals.

At ClickGiant, our mantra is long tail, holy grail. The golden days of SEO are now in the past. As more and more businesses are becoming savvy in digital content marketing, competition for rankings has increased tremendously. If you’re selling engagement rings, for instance, you will be hard-pressed to rank well for the keyword “engagement rings.” With an estimated 1.5 million searches per month, you can bet there are many, many sharks in the water trying to do the exact same thing. You need to get creative.

Google rankings before & after

Google search result rankings for our client, Hitchcock & Potts, before and after implementing our content strategy.

A more effective strategy is to determine your niche and then use a tool like Google Keyword Planner to compile a list of keywords with decent traffic but less competition. You will find that the majority of these will be “long tail” keywords, or keywords with longer strings. Longer phrases are less likely to be searched and less likely to be targeted by competitors. Keeping with the engagement ring, example, the following keywords could be great topics for blog posts or static web pages on your site: Vintage Engagement Ring Styles (170 searches / mo), 19th Century Engagement Rings (50 searches / mo), Antique Platinum & Diamond Engagement Rings (30 searches / mo), Vintage Halo Style Engagement Rings (30 searches / mo).

These keywords should form the backbone of your content marketing campaign. If performed effectively, you could rank well and draw much more traffic than you could by targeting high volume, high competition keywords. If you rank on page one for five longtail keywords showing 100 searches per month, for instance, that’s a potential for 500 hits per month. If you rank on page two or worse for single keyword that shows 500 searches per month, your hit potential is reduced significantly. Strike your target from different angles all at once. Sun Tzu probably has something to say about that. To implement a powerful digital content marketing strategy for your small business, chip away at the block instead of attempting to smash it all at once.

Implementing Your Content Marketing Strategy

content marketing strategy

With a solid keyword list in hand, you’re ready to begin producing content. The first step is to ensure the main pages on your website (all pages displayed in your navigation menu) are optimized with content reflecting your research. Be sure to follow SEO best practices as you work. A good place to start is your on-page SEO elements. Ensure your title tags and H1s reflect the keywords you are targeting based on your research. Be sure that your meta descriptions are written appropriately for each page as well. See our more in-depth guide to on-page SEO elements for more tips and strategies.

With on-page SEO taken care of, it’s time to ensure your copy and design is great site-wide. Determine if any new pages need to be added to your site to take advantage of some keywords and areas uncovered in your research. If they’re not already present, building out service pages covering your main offerings is a good strategy. If you’re an ecommerce business, managing content for all of your products is a challenge on its own. See our comprehensive guide to ecommerce SEO for more info.

Once your site is a killer content machine, you’ll likely notice your rankings begin to improve. When that happens, you’ll begin to draw more traffic and hopefully earn more conversions. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop. From here, we recommend beginning a regular blog. Simply use the same content marketing for small business strategy and research discussed above, and your blog can be a cost-effective marketing tool with high returns. Target keywords that you have not already targeted with your static website pages. Each blog post you produce will then serve as a landing page to draw traffic that otherwise may have never found your site.

SEO Best Practices for Digital Content

There’s a lot going on here, but we’ll boil down the key points for you. Generally, Google likes to see at least 300 words of copy on a page. Shooting for 500-600 words has been effective in our SEO work with clients. You’ll want to ensure that adding copy does not impact your design or UX, however. You can implement “Read more” tags” to help keep it out of the way if it is a concern. Avoid keyword stuffing, but be sure to include your targeted keywords a few times, and make sure that those are aligned with your title tags for that particular page. Include engaging imagery and follow all SEO best practices for titles and alt tags. There is much more to consider here. For a more in-depth discussion, see our Quality Signal Checklist.

Get Help Today

Sound like a lot of work? It definitely is—and we didn’t even mention social media or dive too deeply into AdWords and PPC. Content marketing for small business is most effective when regular and wide-reaching. You should be going at it from all sides. This can be overwhelming, we know. But we’re here to help. We love the challenge and take pride in helping our clients achieve more online.

At ClickGiant, we develop custom marketing campaigns based on a Google-friendly, content-centric approach. Improve exposure with on-site SEO and increased traffic via content marketing, PPC & remarketing, social media, sponsored influencer marketing and more.

Contact us today to implement powerful content strategies that get results. Become a GIANT online!

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