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Posts Tagged ‘inbound marketing’

It’s a fundamental premise of blogging for inbound marketing. In other words, blogging to drive search engine optimization and lead generation.

  1. Identify a core set of words and phrases that support the marketing positioning you wish to own.
  2. Publish posts about topics in which you reference those keywords.
  3. Optimize each post by including one of your keywords or phrases in the title, meta description and the post content itself.
  4. Repeat frequently and consistently over time, and you’ll likely rise in search results when prospective customers search on your keywords.

If this sounds smart and familiar, or if it’s a recipe you’re now following, that’s great. As I wrote at the top, it’s a fundamental premise of blogging for SEO and lead gen. It proven to work. And it’s solid, legitimate inbound marketing strategy.

But here’s where it can go seriously wrong:

When you’re so focused on “owning” a narrow set of keywords, and so intent on posting about topics for which your company provides solutions, your posts start to sound artificial. Programmed. Mechanical.

Like one of those wind-up monkeys, banging the little cymbals.


Pounding Away at Monotone Themes

Do you know a corporate blog that looks and sounds like that? I do. I did a quick analysis of the firm’s last dozen posts. I had to squint to identify much of a difference between most of the titles. Made me wonder why they didn’t just combine a dozen posts into two or three. But we know why: Because search engines reward those who publish content frequently.

Will all the pounding away at a few positioning keywords help this firm rise in search rankings? Probably.

But I wonder if it also sends a message. Will customers and prospective customers find value and credibility in the posts? Will they see a service provider truly interested in connecting with them at a strategic level, ready to listen to their objective and challenges? Or will they see a marketer following a formula? Gaming the online marketing system, to a degree. Simply to get found in search. 

If you’re taking this approach on purpose, your audience probably will notice. Whether they’ll see it as a positive or a potential negative, well, that’s for you to find out.

Don’t be surprised if our friends at Google notice, too. They have a way of updating their algorithm to reward those who publish relevant, engaging content. Don’t be shocked if they identify, and find ways to foil, marketers who publish content around keywords by rote.


Make Music. Don’t Monkey Around.

How can you keep your blog content from getting too narrow and mechanistic, driven more by SEO than by striving to add value and stimulate conversation within the community you’re seeking to build? Here are three ways:

  • Elicit, don’t dictate, topic ideas: If the person who manages your blog is doling out most of the topics to post contributors, that could become problematic. Ideally, you want contributors coming forth with plenty of original insights and perspectives. Ideas which strike them as useful, entertaining or important to share with your audience. That’s how your blog will sound like an orchestra, as opposed to a pounding, repetitive percussion section.
  • Focus on people more than words. Are you spending lots of time thinking about keywords and how to weave them into future posts? Make sure you or someone spends even more time and effort thinking about your audience. Write posts that speak to their concerns and interests, let keywords find a proper place, and your blog will be more valuable and engaging.
  • Think click through, not just search rank. Climbing the search rankings is important. At some point what you hope is going to happen will happen: Someone, maybe a lot of someones, will click through and read your blog. When they do, what will they discover? A collection of thin, similar-sounding posts that could have been produced by a content farm? Or will they find your people, personality, passion, ideas, questions and maybe even some expertise on display. Varied. Multifaceted. Sometimes even funky.

If you monkey around with blogging, focusing on a narrow set of keywords and posting incessantly on very similar sounding topics, your audience might end up experiencing mostly noise.

And even when it emanates from the top of a search engine ranking, noise is still noise.
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What do you think? Does what I’m suggesting fly in the face of smart, efficient content strategy and inbound marketing? Or do you, too, believe value and sense of community get drowned out in the racket when a blogger appears to be posting primarily for SEO?

This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.

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I read quite a few business and marketing books. Some I blow through and scarcely find a few paragraphs, even a handful of sentences, that strike me as particularly noteworthy. Others, I find myself madly underlining, making stars and exclamation points in the margins, and using those few empty pages in the back to scribble notes and to-do lists.

Inbound Marketing: HubSpot founders Shah and Halligan serve up plenty of takeaways.

I just finished reading Inbound Marketing, by HubSpot founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan. As a long-time content marketing strategist, reading THE book on inbound marketing is probably a little like a political scientist reading Thomas Paine, or a humorist reading Mark Twain. In other words, the reader in each case is predisposed to find strong relevance and resonance with the author. 

Still, I was surprised at how quickly I filled up two pages of notes and quotes in the back pages of Inbound Marketing. If you consider yourself a content or inbound marketer, and maybe especially if you don’t, this book is definitely worth a careful read. In fact, you can almost see the foundations of inbound marketing thinking and how-to taking shape in the quotes jotted in the back of my copy:


Strategy

“What are you the world’s best at? If the answer is nothing, rethink your strategy to get narrower
or innovative around alternatives.”

“Ten years ago your marketing effectiveness was a function of the width of your wallet. Today,
your marketing effectiveness is a function of the width of your brain.”


Content

“Either write something worth reading about or do something worth writing about.” (Ben Franklin)

“A blog is a durable asset that delivers durable value that lasts.”

“The counter-intuitive thing about remarkable content is that the more you give, the more you get.”


Search engine optimization
“The best way to rank well in the Google search results is to create content that is rank-worthy.”

“Working with search engines instead of trying to exploit them is the only approach to SEO that works in the long-term.”

“…stay away from robotic approaches to building relationships online. Social networks are about being social and building genuine relationships for mutual gain.”


Lead generation
“The true power of inbound marketing lies in its ability to not only stretch the top of your sales funnel (and pull more people in), but also stretch the middle (get more to convert).”

“Every page on your site should have a call-to-action, not just your home page and landing pages, and the call-to-action should be context sensitive.”

“A good landing page can convert 50 percent of its visitors into qualified leads while a poor one will convert less than 1 percent. Using landing page best practices can dramatically improve your conversion rates and lower your cost per lead.”

“Many marketers spend 80 percent of their time worrying about conversion rates and 20 percent of the time on getting more visitors in the first place. For most businesses, it is prudent to flip those ratios around..”


Measurement
“The old saying ‘I know I’m wasting half my marketing budget, but I’m just not sure which half,’ is no longer true in the inbound marketing era.”

“Measure your overall visitor to-lead conversion rate on your site religiously and work to increase it through testing.”


Staffing
“In inbound marketing, an ideal hire is a four-tooled player:  a Digital Citizen who is Analytical, has Web Reach, and who can Create remarkable content.”


Getting started
“If you want to run before you walk with inbound marketing, then you’ll need to cross the least productive outbound marketing items off your to-do list and add a few of the new inbound marketing items (e.g., content creation), measure the results for awhile (e.g., three to six months), and then continue to eliminate the unproductive tactics at the bottom and replace them with new more productive channels/campaigns.”

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