One misconception about content marketing is that the process ends with the production of great content. Unfortunately, this is pretty far from the truth. Even the best infographics, blog posts, and videos in the world are nothing without promotion—and the chance of an individual piece going viral or receiving powerful links without some kind of manual intervention is very low.
The Internet is highly saturated with content from thousands of producers, thanks in part to the popularity of content marketing. In fact, there is so much content online that some fear there will eventually be a phenomenon known as “content shock,” where consumers will have to be paid or otherwise pressured to read online content, because it will no longer excite them.
This theory, which many have argued against, aside, the widespread availability of online content means that your business will have to push very hard to gain attention. How can you do this? Here are a few ideas.
Content marketing with SEO is more than a best practice—it’s a necessary practice. While you’re creating content, you should always be thinking about how you will optimize it to outrank your competitors, attract links, and appear in search for the keywords most relevant to it.
Without SEO, your chance at organic promotion—that is, appearing naturally in search engine results when someone searches for the words or phrases most closely related to your content—is slim to none. If you’re new to search engine optimization, here are some free resources you should try:
- Our five minute CEO’s guide to SEO
- Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO
- CMI’s Basics of SEO for Successful Content Marketing
If your time and PR budget are both limited, a successful SEO foundation will do some of the work for you, as far as online promotion goes. However, SEO can’t do all the work, so it’s best to attempt some combination of the methods in this chapter to promote your content.
Outreach and Link Building
Although technically part of SEO, manual outreach with the goal of building links is such an important part of content promotion that it deserves its own spotlight.
There are two strong reasons to build links to your content:
- Links from other websites = more people reading your content, and
- Links from other websites = more authority to your website, which can increase your ranking in search engines.
Although many links occur naturally, manual outreach is one of the best ways to achieve links to your content, especially if your website is fairly new. The process involves emailing website owners and asking them to link to your content. Sounds simple, right? Or does it sound terrifying?
Link building is both a very easy and complicated process: easy because anyone can ask for a link, but complicated because getting those links often involves jumping through hoops, writing additional content, doing favors, dealing with nofollow links that don’t carry any “weight,” and keeping up to date with what Google does and doesn’t consider a “good” link.
Don’t get scared, though. Here are some resources you can read to learn everything you need to know about link building—and how to score your first few links—in just a few minutes:
- Paddy Moogan’s Beginner’s Guide to Link Building
- How to Build Your Very First Link
- Earning Backlinks in Real Life
Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube can be excellent locations on which to spread or cultivate conversations around your content. However, using social networks to promote your content isn’t as simple as posting a link once and seeing what happens, nor are the number of shares an indicator of your content’s real success.
Here are some social media best practices and tips you should be aware of when using social media to promote your content:
- Share more than once—Your followers are busy, your reach is limited, and your content may not always be seen on the first share. Share links to your content at least three times, spaced out appropriately. Buffer has a great article on the subject of reposting content right here.
- Use hashtags—Add one or two hashtags that are relevant to the subject of your content. This will allow those browsing that hashtag to find and click your link.
- Offer some context—Don’t just post a link, or a link with a non-descript title. Take the time to write out a short description (or even borrow some copy from the introduction of your article or blog post) so people know what you’re sharing.
- Respond to comments, shares, questions, and other interactions—If someone retweets your content, consider thanking them. Similarly, if a Facebook user asks a question about your infographic, make sure you answer them!
- Participate in conversations—Conversations about your content don’t always happen where you started them. Keep an eye out for additional shares where new comments may have been added or questions may have been asked.
One final piece of advice: social media can be a great way to promote content, but don’t be fooled into thinking something is successful simply because it has 1,000 shares. If the goal of your content marketing program is to increase sales, and not a single one of the people who shared your content spent more than 30 seconds on your website, signed up for your email, looked at your products, or made a purchase, those shares aren’t helping you much.
The best way to avoid running into situations like this is to construct content that will make those who see it want to learn about the rest of your website. Again, a well-written article about new Apple products may be highly shared, but it won’t help you meet your business goals if the website it’s attached to has nothing to do with technology.
While there are a wide variety of free content marketing promotion methods, there are also some paid ones you can try as well. You might opt for these when you have a special piece of content that you want to give an extra “nudge,” like an infographic or ebook, that had a high level of investment on your end.
Some paid promotion options include:
- AdWords—Google’s pay-per-click program allows users to bid on specific keywords and write ads around them.
- StumbleUpon—StumbleUpon offers a Paid Discovery format where publishers can promote their content to SU users for a base price of 10 cents per stumble.
- Social media advertising—Promoted Tweets, Facebook Ads, Promoted Pins, and other social media PPC programs can bring you traffic and attention at a very low cost.
- Press releases—Although falling out of favor, online press releases can still bring you some attention, especially from media contacts, and are relatively inexpensive.
- Independent website advertising—Some websites, like reddit, offer their own advertising options. If your targeted industry has a highly popular website with paid advertising or sponsorship opportunities, you may want to take advantage of this.
Above all else, avoid buying links to your content. Google frowns upon buying and selling links, and actively penalizes websites found to be engaging in this practice by banning them from the search results.
Other Ways to Promote Your Content
These are just a few suggestions to increase the reach of your content marketing after it’s published. There are many other ways you can explore, including:
- Asking your employees to share content they’ve produced or had a hand in
- Email marketing
- Repurposing content (using part of a guide in a blog post and linking to the full guide at the end as a call to action, etc.)
- Traditional promotion methods like direct mail, advertisements, etc.
- New age promotion methods like online radio advertising, webinars, etc.
Don’t be afraid to explore, experiment, and find what works best for you. You may just find an undiscovered form of marketing that works incredibly well for you and doubles your sales!
We’re nearing the end of our guide. Let’s move on to the final step in your content marketing process, which will have you measure the effectiveness of your content pieces and determine any changes that need to be made moving forward.