Why Quality Content Reigns Supreme

Developing and Deploying a Comprehensive Content Plan is the Foundation for a Successful Marketing Strategy

It has never been more important to create and implement a comprehensive strategy to develop and deploy valuable content as a foundation for your marketing efforts. The quality of your content is what influences your audience’s decision on whether or not to invest their time into viewing your website, articles or advertisements. Thought-provoking text, coupled with visually stimulating multimedia, have the power to inform, attract and persuade readers. Content affects every facet of marketing, from lead generation to portraying your organization as an expert. View your content as one of your most valuable resources. Producing valuable content on a regular basis shows your organization’s knowledge, authority and expertise in your industry.

It is essential to cater content to your clients, not your own ego. When people visit you online, they are not looking for commercials. Instead, they are looking for information to help them make a decision or to inform them about a topic which they are unfamiliar with. Show them that you are a thought leader in your field, don’t just tell them. Content should be useful, interesting and valuable to your targeted audience. Excellent content, published on a variety of platforms, is an essential component of any effective marketing strategy.

This article outlines the importance of content, knowing your audience and their needs, how to build a content library, how to schedule content, where to share content and a case study of The Public Relations and Marketing Group’s content strategy.

Why is Content So Important

SEO — A high search engine ranking will drive more traffic to your website. Strong, fresh content is quickly picked up by the major search engines and pushed to the top of the search results. Publishing excellent content as consistently as possible is key to enhancing SEO.

Position as a Leader —To position your organization as a leader in your industry, it is important to produce fresh and unique content in a variety of outlets. For example, write articles about topics in your field and provide your own insight and suggestions. You may also comment on industry news, events or controversies.

Media Relations — If your business is producing quality content on a regular basis, media outlets will also begin to distinguish you as an expert in the field. This results in more positive publicity and media coverage for your organization. For example, if they should ever need advice or an interview on a related topic, your organization will come to mind first.

Know Your Audience and Their Needs

When you are creating content, determine who you are targeting. Some articles may be very general and intended to reach a broad audience while others may target specific groups. For example, you may write a general “Marketing Tips” article that is meant for any organization, or you may be writing suggestions specifically for restaurant owners. Once you have determined what is of interest to your audience, you can better cater your content to meet their needs.

Build a Content Library

Blog — Use your blog as your online content hub. Excellent content related to your industry and organization should be published weekly, at the very least. You may also add photos to your blog posts and embed related videos to incorporate a multimedia element.

Website — Your website should be complete with well-written, interesting and informative content. This is the most important element in influencing people whether or not to stay and return to a site. If your content is strong, readers will be more likely to visit your other Web pages and respond to any calls to action on your site, such as signing up for an e-newsletter or connecting with your organization via social media. Your goal with website content should be for people to become repeat visitors, link to your site and bookmark it.

Off-line — Even in this digital world, it is important to have an off-line library of content. From brochures to print newsletters, your organization should also have an off-line database of content to share with clients, potential customers and bring to meetings and presentations. A good library of information and strong content is vital to your organization’s marketing success.

Reinvent Your Content — Maintaining a client library on and off-line will make it that much easier for you to reinvent and recreate content. While you will always need to develop new content, reusing your existing material will make it that much easier to consistently produce content. You can also reformat your content to be published in different outlets. For example, you publish an article and then create a PowerPoint and video relating to the same material. Not only do you want to write what’s of interest, but also what will be easiest for you to devote the time to. Building upon already existing articles will be less time-consuming and ensure that your content is current. For example, if you wrote an article on Facebook advertising when the service was first created, the content needs an overview of newer features and tools for it to be accurate.

Schedule Your Content

It is important to determine what content you can create on an ongoing basis so you don’t encounter a shortage. You should be able to produce ongoing content that relates to your organization and builds upon its credibility. Whether you can produce weekly articles, monthly e-newsletters or daily tweets, it is crucial to always engage your audience with a fresh supply of content.

On the other hand, if you have a lot to say, don’t say it all at once. Having your content spread out gives your audience the opportunity to take in one thing at a time instead of being bombarded with multiple posts. Programs like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow you to schedule your tweets to keep your profile consistently updated. Likewise, you can schedule blog posts as well. Ideally, your blog should be updated at least twice a week.

Share Your Content

Social Media — Excellent content is easily and quickly spread on social media sites. If people read an article that is of interest to them, they may post the link on their Facebook wall to share with friends or tweet a small blurb about why their followers should check it out. Because of the 140-character limit on Twitter, we advise that you use a free service such as Bit.ly to shorten your URLs. This leaves more space for text and a call to action for your followers.

Article Directories — There are thousands of article directories that will enhance your Web visibility by publishing your content and offering backlinks to your website. These free directories, such as Bpubs, Articlesnatch, Articlecube and GetYourContent, sort articles in relevant categories so interested readers can easily browse through the database and find the information they are searching for. For example, if your law firm published an article, it would be published in the legal section of these directories.

Bookmarking Sites — Social bookmarking sites allow readers to favorite an article or website and share it with others. The top three social bookmarking sites are Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon. A tip is to include these icons and links in your blog so readers can easily share and bookmark posts. On WordPress, there is the option of adding social bookmarking, as well as social media icons, under the title of every post.

PRMG’s Case Study

At The Public Relations and Marketing Group, we regularly publish content on multiple platforms. Our blog and website serve as our content hubs. The focal point of our content strategy is our weekly e-newsletter. In our e-newsletter, we include a featured article, an advertising spotlight, and an overview of “What’s Happening at PRMG.” The “What’s Happening at PRMG” section includes public relations and marketing successes on behalf of our clients. These successes provide our audience with case studies of what we can do for their organization. Advertising spotlights are also easy to produce consistently. These spotlights are sent to us from media outlets, which we summarize and include as our suggestions for our audience. Our advertising spotlights provide valuable information and opportunities to those who may be interested. As successes and advertising spotlights occur, they are posted on Facebook and Twitter. This basically just leaves the featured article, which takes up roughly 4-6 hours of our time. However, we find that this article is helpful in educating our audience and positioning our organization as a thought leader. Any time we publish fresh content, we notify our audience through our social media sites, post it on our blog and see how we can add it to our website or microsites. We also utilize LinkedIn, article directories and social bookmarking sites to share our articles and favorite websites with a broader audience.

No, We Can’t Get You Those Results Overnight

Long-Term Strategies to Improve Your Search Engine Ranking Through Off-Page Optimization

With millions of Web pages flooding the Internet, search engines must sift through the clutter and develop a ranking system that allows the strongest sites to be given optimal exposure by placing them at the top of search engine results. Since the majority of website traffic comes from these major search engines, it is imperative that your site has a high ranking. Off-page SEO includes anything you can do to secure a high page rank for your website in order to reach the ultimate goal of high Web visibility for your organization. In contrast to on-page optimization, the phrase “off-page” refers to the ways to promote your website and enhance your search engine optimization outside of the pages within your own site.

The most important factors of off-page SEO are linking, link value, bookmarking, social media, blogging, press releases, articles and Web directories. These factors will help build quality links back to your website to help improve your site’s rank with search engines.

Linking — The most important off-page optimization factor is gaining inbound links that direct others to your website. The first step in securing inbound links is to produce fresh, interesting and flawless content. Search engines love unique and frequently updated content. Once your site is completed with strong content, a clear navigation scheme and carefully chosen keywords begin to request links from other sources. For example, reach out to bloggers and demonstrate that you read their site and understand their audience. Send them a link to the content you created that you think will be valuable to them. This is important because you are offering them something of value while increasing your own Web presence.

Keep in mind that there is such a thing as overdoing it with backlinking. If you build more than 50 backlinks in one day, search engines may treat you as a spammer, diminishing your site’s ranking. A good goal is to keep within the range of 10-15 backlinks per day. By integrating linking techniques into your Public Relations and Social Media strategy, you shouldn’t have a problem with this. For example, each time you contribute a press release, post the release to the free posting sites cited below. Likewise, each time you publish an article, post it to the article directories also discussed below.

Link Value — When building backlinks on the Web, it is important to understand link value. There are several factors that determine the value of your link:

• The first step is to determine whether the link is a no-follow or do-follow and always strive for the latter. For example, never leave links in the comment sections of blogs. These links will automatically be marked as no-follow, providing no SEO benefit.

• To get SEO authority, get as many backlinks as possible from as many high-authority sites as possible. The higher the authority of the page that your link is on, the more of this authority will transfer to your site. For instance, Google gives high authority to newspaper websites. Having an article published in these online papers with your link is worth a lot more than many other websites.

• A second factor is the number of other links on the page that is linking to you. The more links that are on that page, the less SEO benefit each is given.

• The anchor text of the link is also crucial to its strength. Be sure to use relevant keywords in the anchor text so you will rank higher for those keywords.

You can check your website link’s popularity at http://www.linkpopularity.com/. The higher your link popularity is, the higher your page ranking will be.

Bookmarking — Bookmarking is an effective means of driving traffic to your business’ website. On bookmarking sites such as Digg and StumbleUpon, users can bookmark important Web pages that they visit regularly and would like to organize as favorites. Bookmarking sites are the hubs for one-click marks of approval. It is important to first check if your URL has already been listed on these sites and then, if it hasn’t, submit your link along with a website description, articles and tags. Each bookmarking site offers different features. For example, Delicious lets people bookmark a URL while others let users vote. Once your site is listed, encourage social media users who are on the myriad of social bookmarking sites to bookmark your website and post and vote for your articles. It is important to submit strong quality content to these social bookmarking sites that will attract reader interest and votes.

Popular bookmarking sites:
Digg
Reddit
Mixx
Delicious
StumbleUpon
Tweetmeme
Fark
Slashdot
Friendfeed
Newsvine
Diigo

Social Media — Aside from being a crucial marketing tool for your business, social media also provides great off-page SEO benefits. Social networking sites can improve natural search visibility for your organization. Sharing, commenting and linking are at the core of social media. This shared content can get your website exposure, traffic and possibly a high number of inbound links. Since you can reach a vast amount of people using social media, there is a greater likelihood of gaining more links, which is one element that major search engines look at when ranking sites. Anything that raises awareness of a business or a particular website is good for SEO. Keep in mind that social media sites are also “do not follow,” meaning you won’t get SEO benefits from just posting links to your site on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Each of your social media profiles should link back to your business’ main website in a variety of ways. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the main social networking outlets that your organization should have a presence on, but there are many sites to choose from. Facebook status updates, your profile descriptions and tweets especially should include links to drive traffic to your website.

Popular social media sites:
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
YouTube
Flickr
Myspace
MyLife
FourSquare
Vimeo
Photobucket
Avvo (attorneys)
JDSupra (attorneys)

Blogging — The major advantages of having a blog are that you will establish your company as a thought leader in your industry, change your site from an online brochure to a living, breathing hub and give your visitors a way to engage with you. Blogs also provide off-page SEO benefit by driving readers back to your website in order to learn more about your business. It is necessary for blogs to produce fresh, unique content so make sure to update your page at least once a week. Include keywords in the titles of your entries and diversify your posts by adding video and photos. Within the actual text, turn keyword phrases into hyperlinks to point to your website. Once you’ve started your blog, promote your entries by posting your link on social media outlets, bookmarking sites and discussion forums such as Yahoo! Forums and LinkedIn Answers. Also, interact with other bloggers to gain exposure. In order to build a name for yourself in the vast blogosphere, it is important to interact with bloggers who write about your field. Add to the discussion in the comment sections of another blogger’s work. Likewise, make sure that your readers can leave comments on your own blog and subscribe via RSS and email. Maintaining an effective blog is key to maximizing your off-page optimization strategy.

At The Public Relations and Marketing Group, we use WordPress to host our blog and would highly recommend using this site. However, there are other popular blogging sites out there such as Blogger, Blogspot and Tumblr. We generally recommend that businesses incorporate their blog into their website versus a separate site. This way, your blogging and link-building will benefit your website and you won’t have to work on SEO for two separate sites. However, doing this does involve a bit more programming when setting up your site.

Press Releases — Publishing professional news and press releases in various online outlets is crucial to your off-page optimization success. Posting press releases, media advisories, media availabilities and events is a great way to generate interest in your organization and drive traffic back to your website. Each time your release is posted on another website, the inbound link from that page to your website helps increase your SEO rank. It is important to write releases that are complete with keyword-rich language used by your audience and to include links that point to a specific offer or landing page on your site.

Consider using a service such as NewsEdge, Dow Jones Factiva, LexisNexis and Marketwire to deliver raw press releases.

Free press release sites:
www.longisland.com (regional)
www.openPR.com
www.prLog.com
www.pressmethod.com
www.pr-usa.net
www.PR.com
www.PR9.net
www.pressabout.com
www.press-base.com
www.prbuzz.com
www.PRUrgent.com

Articles — Publishing articles is a great way to demonstrate your area of expertise and portray yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Strong articles can also lead readers back to your business’ website. At the end of your article, place a link back to your website. Add links back to your site for related articles as well. If the article is thought-provoking and interesting to your audience, readers may feel compelled to share it with others, learn more about your business and click on your backlinks.

Thousands of online article directories will publish your articles for free and enhance your Web visibility by offering backlinks to your website.

Free article directories:
www.bpubs.com
www.articlesnatch.com
www.joinandpost.com
www.articlecube.com
www.articlesbase.com
www.ezinearticles.com
www.isnare.com
www.articlealley.com
www.articledashboard.com
www.businessknowhow.com
www.buzzle.com

Web Directories — Free Web directories are great for listing your website and quickly building your link popularity. These sites can help to boost your website’s rankings on popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo! by categorizing link submissions. Web directories list websites by category and subcategory so that readers can easily find what they’re searching for. There are several paid and unpaid Web directories and it is best to take advantage of the free directories first.

Free Web directories that offer a one-way text link:
www.dmoz.org
www.geniusfind.com
www.busybits.com
www.hotfrog.com
www.somuch.com
www.skoobe.biz
www.gimpsy.com
www.exactseek.com
www.clickey.com
www.canlinks.net
www.zeezo.com
www.surfsafely.com

Track Your Progress — Once you’ve implemented these off-page SEO techniques, it is important to monitor your progress over time. Monitor your keyword ranking with a program such as Web CEO. Website Grader is also an excellent program to monitor the strength of your site and best of all, it’s free. Using Website Grader, you can build a custom report for your website to determine its strengths and weaknesses. It is important to regularly monitor your grade and make changes as needed.