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The State of Content Marketing for 2016

The State of Content Marketing for 2016

Content marketing is the hub around which all other forms of inbound marketing run. By creating compelling and helpful content, companies can attract visitors to naturally engage with the brand without having to use traditional paid forms of marketing.

Expected Change in B2C Content CreationContent marketing is no longer an emerging field. It has emerged. Marketers across the globe have adopted content marketing as a core element of their strategy and in a comprehensive study of the field, 77% expected to create more content in 2016.

With that in mind, the question isn’t if you’re using content marketing, it’s how you’re leveraging other marketing strategies to amplify your work.

This is Forthea’s fourth and final part of our State of Search for 2016 series. A well run content marketing strategy encompasses all the components already discussed – paid search (PPC), SEO, and social media. Discover how your company can integrate content marketing with your existing marketing components.

Content Marketing and SEO

Before you can start a successful content marketing strategy, you need to get SEO right. While SEO and content marketing may have started as distinct fields in years past, today they are highly complementary, making it nearly impossible to succeed in one without working on both. Old school, black hat SEO strategies revolved around things like backlink farms and hidden text, essentially the name of the game was tricking Google that your website was better than it was in reality.

Well, Google’s gotten a lot smarter and modern SEOs are faced with a much more difficult – and more ethical – problem: how to provide the best user experience.

Technical SEO – Building it Right

User experience starts with the technical SEO cornerstones. If you’re going to be using your website to host content and create leads, keep a few critical things in mind:

  • Usability: Users are viewing your website on their phones. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, that creates a bad user experience for them and Google will penalize the site.
  • Speed: As more users are reaching sites on mobile devices – and on mobile networks – site speed is crucial. 40% of users bounce if a website takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
  • Popularity: While buying a load of Chinese backlinks won’t get you very far in today’s SEO, Google does still rank inbound links as an important factor for your site. The best way to get links in 2016? Make good content.
  • Optimize: There’s no need to use a single keyword phrase 20 times on a page, but as you build content marketing strategy, ensure you’re writing content people want. Using simple tools like Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner can help you find new content ideas.

Content and SEO – A Perfect Marriage

Google is hungry for content. Content marketing strategies that are initially sent to that prized email list of tightly curated personas can have a second life as your site gains authority, if written with an SEO strategy in mind.

A great way to think about the marriage between SEO and content marketing comes from Kissmetrics: SEO finds a need; content marketing fulfills it. By using SEO research and strategies to help influence the topics written about in a content marketing campaign, both can succeed.

Inversely (and additionally), there’s an inherent need in SEO for good, strategic, content that can be satisfied through content marketing.

Starting in 2011 with Google’s Panda update, the search engine put premium content and it hasn’t looked back since. Today, creating winning SEO and content marketing strategies are intertwined. Use the strengths of both fields to guide your company to success.

These two branches of marketing work best when they are considered together.

 Content Marketing and PPC

The flexibility of search engine marketing allows for seemingly infinite possibilities when it comes to marketing. While most associate pay per click (PPC) advertising campaign to just marketing a website or company as a whole, there’s a real opportunity when you begin merging your content marketing with PPC ads.

Your strategy will be dictated by your content and target audience, but promoting a white paper, let’s say on the State of Search Marketing (for instance) and target the same user persona that drove the topic and tone of the paper to increase the audience size. Using demographic targeting information available in Google’s basic AdWords campaign allows you to target age, age, parental status, location, interests, and more.

Additionally, this is a great opportunity to use remarketing to engage with those familiar with your brand. By identifying users that visit your website (or if you want to get more specific, target users that have visited key landing pages but didn’t convert) and try some banner ads to get their attention. If banner ads aren’t your thing, consider trying Remarketing List for Search Ads (RLSAs). This relatively new feature in Adwords allows you to use the same technology (cookies) to remarket to users who have visited the site, but instead of following them around with banners, you can bid on traditional Google search results pages. Not only are these users pre-qualified because they are familiar with your brand, but ad copy, bids, and budgets can be tailored to reflect previous engagement with your website. RLSA audiences also give you the ability go beyond the tightly targeted keywords and broaden them, thus casting a wider net because those users have previously visited the site.

Using our previous example, I would open an RLSA campaign to anyone who visited the Services pages on the Forthea website, then bid on any digital marketing search queries from that user pool. The search volume may be low, but it’s highly targeted and should offer a higher conversion rate for a valuable group of users.

Content Marketing and Social

The relationship between content marketing and social media has traditionally been one directional, with social media channels pushing users to well-executed content marketing campaign. Marketers often fall to the trap of chasing viral content, but regardless of quality of the content, that elusive goal of “virality” is nigh impossible without social media.

However, this relationship began to change in 2015. and there’s no signs of slowing down in sight. Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook have brought back the long dead concept of walled-gardens. This approach was a staple of AOL in the early 2000s, but today this tactic is more refined and limited.

The most obvious example of this is Facebook’s Instant Articles, but LinkedIn Pulse has also experimented in the space.

This new tactic allows platforms like Facebook to completely control user experience. As users click on articles from selected sources, instead of being pushed to an external website, the content is hosted within Facebook. Pages are styled to mimic the source website, but users stay within the Facebook Ap. In this experience, ads will be served on these pages through Facebook’s service. Hosting content will increase pageviews, driving up internal ad networks, but will also ensure a consistent experience for users. One benefit of Instant Articles, and other similar services, is the implementation of proprietary tools like Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which promises much faster page speed for users on mobile devices.

While Instant Articles might be the biggest services, other social media channels are hinting at similar offerings, including Twitter’s leaked 10,000 character tweet limit.

While this new content delivery system, which will ultimately lower referral traffic and skew data for content marketers, may require a new paradigm, ultimately benefitting creative content marketers searching for their target audiences.

The State of Content Marketing is Strong

Content marketing has never been more important. Sure, with more content than ever being published, it can be difficult to push through the noise, but for the thoughtful and creative marketer, there are new opportunities around every corner to help get content seen (by the right people) to help drive your business. This is the biggest takeaway: content for content’s sake is no longer enough. Be strategic. Be memorable.


Nick Lindauer
Nick is the vice president, client services and operations at Forthea. He’s been working in internet marketing since 2002, when – ironically – he answered an ad in the newspaper. When he’s not at work, he’s off spending time with his family, working on his house, building furniture, cooking on his two Big Green Eggs & brewing hot sauce.

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