The Three W’s (and one H) of Content Marketing

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Many small business owners hesitate to invest time or money in a website and the SEO tactics that help prospective customers find their way to the website. That’s an incredibly shortsighted approach and one that will ultimately lead to having to play catch-up later (at best) or more likely, a failed business. You really do need a website and a non-stop flurry of SEO to get ranked highly on Google. Social media helps too.

Maybe you’ve heard that Content Marketing is the new SEO. And that all you need to do is write outstanding content, find guest blog opportunities, identify good quality sites, apply and get accepted for a guest post, set up and manage social media, share the content on social media and so on. And you’re thinking “…all I need to do??!” Each one of those tasks takes hours, days…or forever! Content marketing is hard.

Go into it knowing that it is hard but also knowing that it’s doable and necessary.

W #1 – The What

Self-promotion is out. Educational, informative, problem solving content is in. Let’s say you own a dog grooming business, catering to the pampered pup.

Don’t write about your first-class grooming services, your line of herbal doggie shampoo, your relaxing puppy massage and spa services, your blinged out collar collection for the fashionista dog, etc. That’s self-promotion. That’s not content marketing.

Do write about the benefits of puppy massage, how to bathe a dog and what products to use, the location of dog parks in your city, strategies to stop your puppy from chewing everything in sight, do-it-yourself dog grooming tips like how to clip a dog’s nails, etc.

W #2 – The Why

Why would a dog groomer write instructions for a dog owner, a potential customer, on how to bathe a dog or clip the dog’s nails? The idea is for the dog owner to read your article in which you throw in a few cautionary tales about home dog grooming. You know, the subtle message that even the sweetest dog may lash out when provoked by a scary nail clipper. So that reader thinks, “maybe I’ll just spend the money to get it done by a professional.” Whose business name is on that article? Yep.

Starting to make sense? If not… THIS, right here, this is content marketing. I work for an SEO reseller but I’m not writing about the specifics of my company’s products and services. I’m here to educate small business owners about SEO and content marketing. Maybe a small business owner will read this and decide to inquire about our services. Let’s be honest…that’s the point! I do know that this article will be blasted all over social media. I have a network of people who will get that underway pronto. And that process does not involve paying for likes and followers!

W #3 – The Where

Find guest blogging opportunities. Look for websites that publish information about your industry and pitch a story idea. Sign up for blogger linkup, a place where you can find people to write for you AND you can apply to guest blog on other sites. Use on SEOmoz — enter the URL of other websites in your industry, find out where they’ve guest blogged and apply for a guest post. Don’t be discouraged if you get turned down. It happens to the best of us! Keep trying and you’ll get a sense of how to tailor your guest blog application for the particular website on which you’d like to post your article.

Important: Your content is not to be wasted on a poor quality site. Numerous factors determine a site’s overall quality. If the site’s content is poorly written and overloaded with links and ads, it’s probably not the best place for your content. You can also check the Page Rank (scale of 1-10) and Domain Authority (1-100). If it’s on the very low end of both rankings, look for a site with higher rankings.

Your content that’s published on or off your website–share it on social media. Tweet it, post it on your Facebook page and anywhere you can push it out. Social media is a task that can be outsourced; it too is a forever task!

And Finally, The How

Content marketing is extra hard for people who don’t like to, don’t want to or don’t have time to write. None of that excuses you from doing what has to be done. Have you any idea how many people are willing to write for you? Freelance writers are everywhere. You may have a talented writer or two in your employ or even among family and friends. Ask around. Ask for a few writing samples before you hire anyone though. Give them a test run by asking them to write an article that is appropriate for content marketing, as described above. It may take some trial and error to find the right person/people. Just because someone thinks he or she is a good writer…well, you know.

Content marketing is part of a much bigger SEO puzzle with about a million pieces. Everything SEO is subject to Google’s algorithm updates. It’s important to keep up with that whole world of crazy if you plan to go with the do it yourself approach.

Ellen Gipko

Ellen Gipko

Content Marketing Specialist at HubShout
Ellen Gipko is a content marketing specialist at HubShout, a US based white label SEO reseller, website reseller and web marketing firm with offices in... Read Full Bio
Ellen Gipko
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  • This is a great intro to content marketing. It’s certainly a buzz word, but it’s one that I think is here to stay. Today’s consumers, particularly in the younger generation, do not like being pitched to. Spewing out a sales pitch is easy, which means it’s easily ignored. Taking the time to generate high quality content is more time consuming, but the pay-off is much greater. Not only will you rank better in search engines, you will build a dedicated readership base and establish your company as a credible authority. In marketing as in life, the greater the effort, the greater the reward.

  • Adam

    Very good stuff here. A sort of just do it’ approach. I agree. It has to be done.

  • Charles Cawlishaw

    Great article, easy to read and straight forward. I have been telling not only my clients but potential clients as well about self promotion and how it can negatively effect your social media. I tell them about the dedication it takes when doing it on your own and I encourage them by sending them White Papers and articles by trusted industry sources but alas they they seem to stay in the same rut and don’t understand why it is not working for them.

  • Jesse M.

    I feel that content marketing will soon become the new norm. Before, online marketing specialists could focus all of their energy on just getting their clients a higher ranking. With content marketing, they will be able to do that, while also providing something that is extremely high in quality to their clients.

  • Nicole

    Great explanation of the difference between content marketing and advertising/endorsing. I do think there is a time and a place for each – but it’s important to know when and where. And more and more, content marketing is supplanting the hard sell.

  • Nick

    Google has been making it very clear lately that it looks for strong content above most things. Writing strong content is one of the best and most straightforward ways to improve your rankings.

  • Dave

    Haha I love the article and particularly the 3 W’s and 1 H. Great content is the push for 2013 and beyond. Might as well hop aboard.

  • Matt

    the key is to provide useful info that people will actually use

  • One important element in the content marketing strategy is the way in which content is packaged. It is important to make use of strong visuals to support your text. InfoGraphics is a good examples of this. InfoGrpahics are 30x more likely to engage the user and 30 x more likely to be shared. Then, let’s say you’ve created a stunning InfoGraphic; you can re-package the assets for video, a PowerPoint presentation, as support images for a blog article on the subject, etc. Then you have the media formats to distribute your content on YouTube, Vimeo, SlideShare, PInterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, on your website, your blog, your news letter, etc. In this way you get enormous reach form your content and that means more leads. You also have powerful content to increase your conversion rates.

  • Wibbe

    #3 has always been difficult for me. Does anyone have a more extensive list of sites that will allow you to post content?