Marketers, Stop Ignoring Your Content Marketing Strategy

As I write this, I’m on the plane heading back from DMA09. While I was moderating the Search Marketing Experience Labs, one common element ran through every site review: When you ignore your SEO content marketing strategy, you’re hobbling your conversions, ignoring your customers and forfeiting your search engine rankings. Here’s why.

Seth Godin had it right when he said, “The best SEO is great content.” A well-written product page can skyrocket your conversions. A fantastic blog post can gain your company new leads and incoming links. The right Twitter tweet can gain not just followers but evangelists for your brand.

It’s really that important.

I’ve been in the SEO industry for 12 years. During that time, I’ve seen companies spend six figures on design, embrace five-figure monthly PPC costs and chase the latest “sexy” online marketing tactic.

Yet unfortunately, these same companies will ignore the foundation of their SEO and conversion success—creating customer personas, developing a keyphrase strategy, and developing useful, keyphrase-rich content that helps prospects across the buy cycle and engages customers.

Instead, the content becomes an afterthought. The one piece—heck, the only piece—of a company’s marketing strategy dedicated to engaging with customers becomes, “Isn’t SEO content supposed to be stuffed with keywords in order for me to get a high ranking?”

And that’s sad.

Think of your SEO content marketing strategy as your online salesperson, enticing your prospects to learn more and communicating with your audience. Your SEO content strategy could encompass many things, including:

  • Product/service pages.
  • Blog posts.
  • Articles, FAQs and white papers.
  • Twitter tweets.

Every word you write is a way to engage, inform and, yes, sell. But most importantly, a content marketing strategy helps you communicate with your prospects on multiple levels.

Fortunately, some companies “get it.” Forbes reported in its 2009 Ad Effectiveness Survey that SEO (and yes, that includes your content play) was the most effective online marketing tactic for generating conversions. Furthermore, Mediaweek reports in its article, “Marketing Must-Have: Original Web Editorial,” how AT&T created more than 100 how-to articles targeted to small business owners. Paul Beck, senior partner and executive director of Ogilvy Worldwide, is quoted as saying, “Having a core content strategy is the secret to engaging an audience.”

Described as a fast-talking, fiery redhead, Heather Lloyd-Martin is a 20-year marketing veteran, a recognized author and considered the pioneer of SEO copywriting. Recognized worldwide as a first-generation search marketing expert, she has been training corporate in-house SEO copywriters and creating revenue-driving Web site content campaigns via her consultancy, SuccessWorks.

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  • http://AmyC.Teeple Amy C. Teeple

    Heather, I just heard you speak at PubCon in Vegas and love that you discuss similar beliefs here.<br />
    <br />
    As a both an analyst and writer in the SEO world, I was happy to hear you discuss the importance of well-written copy. Unfortunately it seems as though too many businesses want copy for copy’s sake. They are not looking for who can provide then with the best copy for their website, but who can give them the cheapest copy. <br />
    <br />
    When they hear that "content is king (or queen)," all they seem to hear is that they need non-duplicate copy on their websites. They miss the point of what well-written copy can do for them – not just in the realm of search engines, but also in the conversion of website visitors. It is frustrating how they miss the big picture.

  • http://Andrew Andrew

    Amy,<br />
    <br />
    Look forward to following this series. <br />
    <br />
    But… the link to your RSS feed is producing a 404. When all is resolved feel free to shoot me an email with the URL. Would love to subscribe; I’m a big fan of what you’re been putting out over at<br />
    <br />
    Best,<br />
    <br />

  • http://GraemeMac Graeme Mac

    Looking forward to reading more in the series. <br />
    <br />
    From someone who is on the in-house side of marketing I’d love to learn more about "ownership" battles & how to avoid – or win them.

  • http://GlennMurray Glenn Murray

    Subscribing now! Looking forward to your posts, Heather!

  • http://HeatherLloyd-Martin Heather Lloyd-Martin

    Hi, Graeme Mac :)<br />
    <br />
    Ah, that’s a good idea. In-house challenges (and how to negotiate them) is a fantastic topic. Thanks for the feedback!<br />
    <br />
    Can you share what specific kinds of challenges you’re facing now?<br />
    <br />
    Thanks for reading!

  • http://HeatherLloyd-Martin Heather Lloyd-Martin

    Andrew – <br />
    <br />
    Hmm, sorry about the 404 error. I’ve let the folks at Target Marketing know – and I’m sure that they’ll be on it soon.<br />
    <br />
    Thanks for reading (and for letting us know about the RSS glitch!).

  • http://HeatherLloyd-Martin Heather Lloyd-Martin

    Amy-<br />
    <br />
    You’re right – many businesses want "copy for copy’s sake." <br />
    <br />
    It’s actually something a bunch of us were discussing during the second day of PubCon. I was mentioning how I’d receive emails that basically say, "These are the pages I need written. How much?" Although I totally appreciate how companies have to be frugal, "cheap" copywriting is not necessarily the answer. A well-written page offers incredible, measurable value – and that should be factored into the equation.<br />
    <br />
    As one friend said, "Once it’s all about the price, it’s over." Prospects should instead be asking questions like – how much revenue can this page drive, what kid of overall branding lift can I gain from a good search ranking, how does this fit into our overall marketing/SEO/social media strategy, etc. <br />
    <br />
    People wouldn’t go to a "cheap" attorney or a "cheap" accountant to save money – they’d be scared what the final result would be. Why people go to "cheap" copywriters and expect good results…well…that’s beyond me. :)<br />
    <br />
    Thanks again for your comment!

  • http://mikey mikey

    I just found your website and think it is a perfect tool to help me move my websites into the stratosphere of Internet kingdom. I designed my pinstriping website ( 9 months ago using yahoo sitebuilder and now it is on the first page when you are looking for "pinstriping". Yahoo siterpages is a simple no bull, plaform that works fine for me. One reason many business do not reach that first page poition is you must keep it active. I keep mine busy with content changes and picture updates every week. I’ll be adding video soon as well. Although it is a successful site, I feel that it is still inferior in design comared to others. But for crude marketing devise it has brought me tons of business and has paid for it self one thousand fold. Maybe I can use my experience to do this sort of work, SEO copy and design.

  • http://MelanieRembrandt Melanie Rembrandt

    Great blog Heather! Thanks for all of the practical information people can actually use to boost sales.

  • http://Bill Bill

    I’m a newcomer to writing SEO content but learning fast. Wish I’d come across all of your resources about 12mos ago.

    I’d be interested in seeing a sample editorial calendar (of sorts) that might work as a template for clients.

  • http://LocalInternetMarketingServices Local Internet Marketing Services

    Even this article was written a year ago, it will be true for manny yrs to come. When most of the companies are hunting keywords, PR, links, etc… they forgot exactly what this article is talking about.

    Great stuff Heather !


  • http://art art

    Which spoke in your content wheel provides the most leverage from a search engine perspective? From an end user, video is typically most effective.