Tag Archives: Content Marketing

Written by Caroline Cox on Jun 27, 2022

Quality content is key to a successful, growth-minded marketing strategy.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How content benefits businesses
  • Tips for creating a content strategy
  • The various types of content marketing
  • Why regular content audits are key

Author and entrepreneur Andrea Fryrear once said, “Our job is not to create content. Our job is to change the world of the people who consume it.” 

And it’s true: at its core, content is about messages, communication, and connection to educate and drive change.

The fact is that content is part of your brand, no matter your industry. From your About page, blog, and social media posts to paid search ads, product descriptions, and everything in between, it all falls under the umbrella of content.

Publishing great content can boost your SEO, help gain your target audience’s trust, and allow you to rise through the search engine results page (SERP) ranks.

Whether you’ve got a process that needs refreshing or are starting from scratch, here’s what you need to know. 

hawksem - content marketing

Having educational, interesting content on your website helps visitors see your company as one that’s trustworthy and reputable. (Image: Unsplash)

Why does content marketing matter?

A solid content strategy can benefit your brand in multiple ways. It can increase your website’s organic search engine traffic, grow your email newsletter list, and expand your reach on social media, to name a few. But that’s not all content is good for.

Having educational, interesting content on your website helps visitors see your company as one that’s trustworthy and reputable. It also shows that you’re paying attention to your customers and your particular industry. 

Content helps people find your business, learn more about you, and, ideally, become customers.

Pro tip: For even more expert insight, check out our posts on how to write killer content for B2B brands, e-commerce, and meta descriptions.

How does content marketing affect SEO?

Many brands make the mistake of randomly churning out unedited content, posting it on their site, then wondering why no one is reading it. But creating content without a plan or strategy in place likely won’t do much to boost your SEO.

Your time and resources are valuable, so it’s worth it to invest in creating a solid, sustainable content marketing strategy that has SEO in mind.

Among other things, the steps to creating a proper SEO content strategy include:

  • Conduct keyword and topic research
  • Build out a content calendar
  • Write for people, not search engines
  • Amplify your content 

How do you target your audience through content?

The most effective content speaks directly to its target audience. Think about it: a blog focused on wedding planning likely won’t use the same tone and verbiage as one about BMX biking. 

It’s not that the same person wouldn’t be interested in both, but each site has different offerings and, thus, different goals.

If you don’t already have your personas fleshed out, now’s a good time to do that. Personas help you envision the people you’re speaking to by offering additional demographic information, like their job title and where they reside. 

The good news: You probably already have all the info you need to develop ideal client personas. Look for this data in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, Google Analytics, or the analytics section of your social media profiles. 

If you want to build it out, you can always create a customer survey to garner additional feedback. Looking into this data will be especially interesting if you begin to notice behaviors or interests that you weren’t expecting or previously targeting. 

Pro tip: When sending out surveys, you’re asking clients for a favor. While a customer feedback survey should only take a few minutes, you may get a better response by sweetening the deal. For example, you could promote the survey via email and mention that one random responder who completes the survey will win a $100 gift card. 

How many types of content marketing are there?

If you only think of “blogs” when you hear the phrase “content marketing,” then you’re not seeing the full picture. 

Content can be many things, from blogs, guides, and whitepapers to e-books, offsite sponsored content, webinars, podcasts and more.

Videos, for example, are a content type that can positively benefit your SEO. “If it’s a well done video, it can be very engaging to your users,” one of our SEM experts explained in our SEO content strategy webinar

Plus, videos can also keep visitors on your website longer while they watch or listen to your content.

E-books and case studies can help you set yourself apart from competitors, and you can leverage these more in-depth content types as lead generation opportunities. The same goes for your PPC and paid social efforts. 

Once you’ve built up a sizable content library, you can work on expanding your reach through experimenting with other content types. See what your audience responds to, then optimize (or try a new content type) from there. 

Pro tip: AI content writing tools have been generating quite a bit of buzz lately. However, Google’s webmaster guidelines state that the search engine considers AI-generated content as spam, which could lead to a penalty.

hawksem - content marketing

Writing down your content strategy makes it easier to optimize, build on, and update as time goes on. (Image: Unsplash)

How do you create a content marketing strategy?

Whether you’ve got a digital library full of content or are starting at square one, there’s never a bad time to implement a cohesive content strategy. 

A good content strategy:

  • Keeps you organized
  • Helps you work smarter, not harder
  • Can boost your website SEO
  • Attracts visitors to your site
  • Helps educate and inform your audience
  • And more

Everything in this post can fall under the umbrella of content strategy. But the key aspects are understanding your audience, knowing what keywords you want to rank for, analyzing which content performs best, having a cohesive brand voice, and being consistent. 

It helps to map out your strategy to ensure transparency across your team and the company at large. Writing down your strategy also makes it easier to optimize, build on, and update as time goes on.

How do you brainstorm content ideas through keyword research?

Keyword research is table stakes for any thought-out content strategy. Not only does it help you determine what topics you want to tackle through content, but it also reveals what keywords you’re already ranking for, if any.

You can conduct keyword research through tools like Moz, Ahrefs, and Semrush. These sites can reveal insight into what industry-related questions and topics people are already searching for on search engines.

They can also provide insight into related keywords, the volume of people searching for certain keywords, and how competitive certain keywords are when it comes to ranking for them. 

Once you pinpoint the keywords you want to rank for, it’s a good idea to create a spreadsheet that includes these keywords, and pull in info about volume and competition too, so you can prioritize accordingly.

Once you determine the topics and keywords you want your site to rank for, don’t skip doing your own research on Google itself. The SERP can show you what other keywords and questions Google is associating with your key terms. 

The SERP can be a good indicator of what other things people are searching for when they’re searching for your product or service. See what comes up in the “People also ask” box and under “Related searches,” as well as the source behind the featured snippet.

All of these places can spark ideas about how to tackle keywords through content.

Pro tip: Check out your website’s Google Search Console profile to see some of the terms that you’re currently ranking for. 

How to use content to beat competitors

Speaking of checking out the SERP, this is also an opportunity to see what your competition is outranking you for — and how you can use content to fight back. (You know, figuratively. No roughhousing!) 

See what content ranks at the top of the results page as well as in the featured snippet section. How is the content formatted? How long is it? When was it published or last updated? 

You don’t merely want to copy what another brand is doing in a thinly-veiled attempt to outrank them, but this can give you helpful insight into what you might do differently. 

Outside of the SERP, check out a few of your competitors’ websites. (And if you’re not sure who they are, simply search for your specific business and see what other related sites come up.) It’s hard to outrank the sites of big-name brands, but you should at least be able to glean ideas about what content they cover and how they present it. 

How to keep your content strategy organized

Having a strategy mapped out is one thing — having an organized system in place to make it happen is quite another. But if you want your plan to be sustainable and manageable, organization is key. That’s where a content marketing calendar comes in.

Many content marketing teams create a cloud-based spreadsheet (like a Google Sheet) that can be modified, shared, and updated as needed. This spreadsheet can be a catch-all for your content. 

A content calendar often includes elements such as:

  • Content type 
  • Title
  • Author
  • Due date for the final content
  • Publish date
  • Keyword
  • Funnel stage

A content calendar can be as basic or as detailed as you need it to be. The more people on your team, the information you may need to add for transparency and to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities, such as editing, proofreading, and uploading. 

It also helps you plan for the content you want to publish in the future, so you can make sure you’re posting the right mix of topics, keywords, and funnel stages for your audience.

Pro tip: Another way to organize your content is through pillar pages, also known as the hub-and-spoke style of content publishing. This means you create larger, more broad pieces of content (such as this one about, uh, content!) that are considered the pillar or hub, and then link to more specific pieces that are considered the spokes. 

hawksem - content marketing

Content audits help you identify content that’s outdated or no longer relevant. (Image: Unsplash)

Content marketing stats and facts for 2022

  • 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing.
  • Companies with blogs receive 97% more links to their website.
  • 72% of marketers say content boosts engagement and leads. 
  • 43% of marketers say consistent production is their biggest struggle when it comes to creating engaging content.
  • Nearly half of companies with a content marketing strategy leverage blogging.
  • 81% of marketers view content as a core business strategy.
  • 72% of companies plan to increase their content marketing budget in 2022.

Want more insight into how content can help take your digital marketing to the next level? Hit us up!

The best ways to publish and promote content

Once your content is edited, finalized, and formatted correctly, it’s time to publish. Whether you’re a team of one or 100, your content should be as high quality as possible. 

That means checking for common content marketing mistakes like misspellings, grammar errors, wonky formatting, and dead links before your content goes live.

And with all that goes into the strategy and creation, it’s easy for the task of promoting it to fall by the wayside. But failing to promote your content is a huge mistake. If no one reads what you publish, then what’s the point? 

After all, you’re writing for people, not search engines — if you want your content to be truly effective, that is.

Carve out time to regularly promote your content, both new and older pieces. You can promote organically and through paid efforts. On the organic side, you can post links to your social media pages. 

The most effective organic posts generally feature a visual element — like a graphic, GIF, video, or photo — and short, eye-catching verbiage about why someone should click through. You can also promote this copy through your company newsletter.

On the paid side, you can boost some of your social posts and turn them into paid social efforts. You can also gate some of your longer-form content and promote landing pages that offer that content once someone fills out a form. 

Conducting content marketing audits

The longer you publish content, the more likely it is that some pieces will become outdated. That’s one reason why conducting regular content audits is so crucial. 

Content audits (also called revamps or revitalizations) help you identify content that’s outdated, redundant, or no longer relevant. This way, you can update these pieces without losing the link authority the URL has built up.

If a post is more than six months old, chances are it could at least use revisiting to make sure all the links are still active and all the information is accurate and up to date. 

Audits are also a great opportunity to look for:

  • Thin content (blogs that are less than 600 words, for example)
  • Posts with similar content that could be combined or redirected
  • Data or statistics that have more recent numbers tied to them
  • Content that is underperforming and could be reworked or fleshed out

The takeaway

With all the benefits that come from content marketing — from better SEO to increased reach — brands that don’t prioritize it simply can’t compete with those that do. 

By investing the time and effort it takes to produce high-quality content for your target audience, you can show them that you understand their pain points, can provide them with solutions, and are a trustworthy resource in your industry. 

This article has been updated and was originally published in April 2020.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Apr 7, 2022

Pillar pages keep your content organized while boosting your SEO.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What pillar pages and topic clusters are
  • How these pages improve SEO & PPC
  • Ways they enhance existing content
  • Tips for creating your own pillar pages

Here’s a springy simile for you: Think of your content like branches on a tree. Each sturdy limb is a helpful, high-quality piece of content, and keywords are like the leaves.

In this scenario, pillar pages are the trunk. They’re the essential part of the content tree from which all the limbs grow.

In digital marketing, pillar pages allow you to organize content while making your website more appealing to search engines. If you ask us, these pages are an essential part of content creation.

Let’s dig deeper into the importance of pillar pages for SEO and your overall marketing plan.

view from the ground of a tree with pink flowers on a sunny day

You can think of a pillar page as a high-level table of contents for a certain topic. (Image: Unsplash)

What are pillar pages?  

A pillar page is the main part of a content cluster. These pages contain general information about a certain topic and links to supporting “cluster” pages. 

The cluster pages explore parts of the general topic in-depth. (This is also sometimes referred to as “hub and spoke” content.)

Pillar pages revolve around a keyword and provide valuable insight. However, they leave room for more detailed content that a user can find on other pages.

Here’s an example from our own blog: This is HawkSEM’s SEO pillar page. The piece includes links to more specific content we have under the SEO umbrella, such as explainers on technical SEO, Core Web Vitals, and search engine algorithms.

You can think of a pillar page as a high-level table of contents for a certain topic. While you provide answers to important questions and using high-volume keywords, you can also guide readers to in-depth content on your website.

Pillar pages & SEO

Both pillar and cluster pages create a strong, thorough website structure. They show the search engines that your content is relevant to specific search queries and can be trusted as a credible source. 

Long gone are the days when search engines just looked for keywords to determine a webpage’s rankings. These days, they can also recognize synonyms, relevant phrases, subtopics, and answers to frequent questions that users have when researching your industry.

Authority

When your content is properly structured into clusters, Google and other search engines can see that your website contains in-depth content on specific subjects.

The easy-to-browse content structure also makes your website look more trustworthy to the users, bringing it closer to the top of the search engine results page (SERP).

Relevance

Often, searchers are looking for general information about a certain industry topic. If they stumble on your pillar page, they can get high-level info about a subject, as well as links to other relevant offshoot topics.

As a result, this structure can improve user experience, increase engagement, and reduce bounce rates.

Structure

Reports show Google prefers well-structured websites with strong internal linking practices. One efficient way to achieve this is to use pillar and cluster pages.

HubSpot launched their own experimental feature to demonstrate the benefits of the topic cluster strategy. They found that the more high-quality internal linking they did, the higher the website climbed on the SERPs.

Search Engine Journal recommends sticking to three key objectives when linking internally: 

  • To support and provide authority to the domain for key search terms
  • Provide relevancy for top- and middle-of-funnel search terms
  • Act as further education resources for users, empowering the need for your solution
view from the ground looking up at the corner of a column building structure

Pillar pages generally focus on broad, top-of-funnel content that attracts a wide audience. (Image: Unsplash)

Pillar pages & PPC

Along with getting your content more visibility on the SERPs, pillar pages can also be beneficial for paid search marketing. That’s because a well-organized content structure can help raise your Quality Score.

Once you’ve created a thorough pillar page, you can launch a paid search campaign. Ideally, this will get the page more traffic, build your brand awareness, and inspire visitors to click around on your site to learn more.

How to incorporate pillar pages into your content marketing strategy

Pillar pages generally focus on broad, top-of-funnel content that attracts a wide audience. As a result, the search volume for pillar page keywords is usually high. 

Pillar page keywords are short-tail keywords that people use at the beginning of their search.

The topic cluster approach is based on topics, not keywords. At a high level, here’s how to create one:

  • Choose a topic that revolves around your ideal client persona’s pain points.
  • Conduct keyword research and group various key phrases into topics.
  • Write a pillar page and optimize it with metadata and links.
  • Create cluster pages and add relevant links to the pillar page.

Some content marketers find it easier to create cluster pages before they write a pillar page. Both approaches work.

Pro tip: Experts suggest pillar pages should be around 3,000 words

Leverage existing content for your pillar pages

If you already have a decent amount of quality content on your site, then a bulk of the work is already done.

See which posts you can cluster together and combine via links on a pillar page. From there, you can review the content and create a pillar page that highlights all of the existing content, with links to those pages if readers want to know more. 

When you identify possibilities for revamping existing content during your next content audit, you can also check which pages can become a part of a topic cluster. 

You may also find an article or a blog post that only needs slight revamping to become a pillar page.

Creating a pillar page can do wonders for reviving your old content. You can rekindle the interest in older posts and articles by adding them to a content cluster. Just don’t forget to review these posts and make the necessary updates as needed when things become outdated or less relevant.

The takeaway

If you aren’t taking the topic cluster approach to content creation, now is an excellent time to start, especially if it’s what your competitors are doing.

After all, pillar pages are an integral part of content marketing — they boost SEO, keep your content organized, and show that your brand is an industry thought leader.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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Written by Caroline Cox on Nov 22, 2021

A proper content calendar can ensure your SEO plan is competitive, organized, and poised for SERP success.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How a content marketing calendar benefits your company
  • Tips for creating your own calendar
  • What elements make up an effective content calendar
  • How calendars can make content audits easier

For the past few years, I’ve opted for a no-gift gift for my parents during the holidays. I donate to an organization they care about, then slip the receipt in a nice holiday card. It’s win-win — a good deed that doesn’t take up space. 

But there’s an added bonus: A certain wildlife organization I donated to years back clearly put me on some sort of mailing list, because now I get a nice animal-themed wall calendar every year. 

Once I started putting the wall calendar up in the kitchen at the beginning of each year, I realized it’s actually a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the forthcoming weeks.

Here’s what I’m getting at: the same can be said for a content calendar. It’s an SEO tool that can keep you organized, ensure that you’re building a robust library, and add a level of accountability. 

woman creating a content calendar

A content calendar isn’t one size fits all. Yours can be as basic or in-depth as your needs, team, and bandwidth require. (Image via Unsplash)

Why do I need a content marketing calendar?

Content is a crucial pillar in a well-rounded SEO strategy and a key element in a solid digital marketing plan overall. 

Great content offers a ton of business benefits, from increasing your organic traffic from search engines and expanding your social media reach to growing your email subscriber list and more.

A content calendar will keep you organized so you can continue to publish, promote, and revamp your high-quality content.

Many companies will just throw a blog post up whenever inspiration strikes. While that may work for them, the most effective content strategies involve consistent ideation, planning, researching, and auditing. 

A calendar will also protect your time and resources. If nothing is codified or written down and your head of content leaves or is unavailable, you could find yourself in a bind. Plus, you’ll greatly reduce your risk of creating duplicate content that could compete against itself for search engine results page (SERP) rankings. 

How do I create a content marketing calendar?

Like most aspects of marketing online, a content calendar isn’t one size fits all. Yours can be as basic or in-depth as your needs, team, and bandwidth require. 

We recommend creating your calendar on a cloud-based spreadsheet, such as a Google Sheet. This way, you can access and update your calendar from multiple devices and places. Plus, various team members can be granted access to the calendar to view or update it in real time.

Your calendar can include whatever pieces of information will provide the best visibility into your strategy and keep everyone on your team on the same page. We’ll dive into this more in the next section, but often, this includes things like the URL, the keywords featured in the content, the content type, the publish date, and the author.

Pro tip: As HubSpot explains, you can also create a content calendar for social media posts to keep tabs on your posts across the various platforms.

hawksem content cal example

A snippet of a past content marketing calendar from the HawkSEM content team

What are the elements of an effective content calendar?

When it comes to your own company’s calendar, you can add as many deadlines, checkpoints and columns as you want.

A content calendar may include elements such as:

  • The content’s due date
  • When the content will be published
  • The content topic
  • The status of the content
  • What form the content will be in (blog post, guide, etc.)
  • Keywords the content features
  • The content URL
  • Who is writing and/or editing the content
  • The intended audience
  • The meta description
  • Related content links

We use most of these elements for the HawkSEM content calendar. This way, we know what stage various pieces of content are in, which topics we’ve recently covered, what’s coming down the pike, and more.

Need B2B content tips? We’ve got ‘em.

How do I use a content calendar for content audits?

We’re big fans of content audits here at Hawk. That’s because we’ve seen how they can enhance a brand’s overall SEO. Content audits help ensure your content is accurate, up to date, and relevant to your audience.

Luckily, auditing your content is a manageable task when you have a thorough, updated content calendar. To start, add a tab to your spreadsheet, then list all of your content URLs. 

From there, dig into the data and see how many sessions and backlinks each page has from the last 6 months or so. This is also a great time to pinpoint any thin content or competing posts that could be combined.

After that, see which posts feature things like years or older statistics that have more updated numbers or facts. you can swap in. Lastly, make sure to redirect any dead links that lead to 404 errors. And you’re done!

Pro tip: We recommend repeating this audit process regularly — such as twice a year — so you have a good feel for the status of your content library. 

The takeaway

We’ve seen firsthand how fierce the competition is on the SERP these days. To rank, you’ve got to be strategic and thoughtful about what you’re publishing on your business website.

That’s where a content calendar comes in handy. This document can keep you on track, offer helpful visibility, and ensure that what you’re putting out there online is top-notch, helpful content that’ll help your target audience get answers to their questions — and find your company in the process. 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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Written by Caroline Cox on Nov 12, 2021

A content audit can ensure what you’re publishing is accurate, high quality, and relevant to your audience. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • What a content audit is
  • Why these audits matter
  • How to conduct an audit of your own content
  • Why regular content audits are key

You always want to be publishing the latest and greatest content. Not only does content provide value to your audience, but it helps illustrate that you’re a knowledgeable thought leader in your industry.

If you’re not conducting regular content audits, you may be doing your brand a disservice. Especially if you’ve got years of published content in your library, there’s likely information on your site that isn’t accurate or relevant anymore. 

We’ve done content audit exercises with several of our SEO clients and seen impressive results. One client actually saw a 61% bump in blog traffic alone after implementing changes uncovered during the content audit process. 

Ready to make a content audit plan of your own? Here’s where to start. 

creating a content audit spreadsheet

There’s no magic number when it comes to exactly how many words a quality piece of content should have. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Create a spreadsheet 

First off, crack those knuckles and pull up a new spreadsheet. (If you’re a “spreadsheet person,” you’ll love this part, but if not, you’ll get through it!) Then put all of your blog URLs into the spreadsheet. 

If you have a sitemap, you should be able to easily pull in the URLs from there. (If you don’t have a sitemap, we recommend implementing one for best possible SEO).

You can also head to Google and conduct a “site:” search for your domain. This should bring up all of the pages that are indexed in search results on your website.

2. Dig into the data

Now, it’s time to analyze your blog’s performance data. You can start by determining how many sessions each page had over the past six months or longer, depending on how much traffic comes to your site and how much content you have. 

You can do this using Google Analytics or your preferred analytics tool. Looking at how many sessions each post has will tell you how many people are visiting the page.

Next, see how many backlinks point to each page. You can use Ahrefs, SEMrush or other similar tools to gather that info. Checking out backlinks is important because not all posts are necessarily meant to drive traffic. 

There may be another reason you published a piece of content, and it may be benefiting you by earning high quality, high authority backlinks, even if it’s not necessarily driving traffic or visits. 

You may also find that there’s a big batch of content with zero or few backlinks and no visits. For these posts, you may want to ask yourself why this content is on your site, since it’s not providing any SEO value. 

By identifying that batch of pages, you can brainstorm ways to repurpose and make the most out of this content, since it already exists on your site.

3. Identify pages with “thin content”

There’s no magic number when it comes to exactly how many words a quality piece of content should have. 

Generally, longer content ranks better, but you shouldn’t be writing content just for the sake of hitting a certain word count. After all, it’s about providing value to the user, not beating the search engine algorithm.

Thin content is classified as pieces that don’t satisfy a user’s search intent. Pages with only 200-300 words probably don’t provide a ton of value to the reader (though there are exceptions, of course). Search Engine Journal reports thin content “can negatively impact your search rankings and on-site user experience.”

See how you can make this content more robust. Can you build it out and include related topics, or should it simply be removed for your site with the URL redirected elsewhere?

4. Look for posts with duplicate or similar topics

As time goes on, especially in niche industries, it can be hard to branch out into different topic ideas for your content. Even if you follow all the steps for keyword and topic research, it can get difficult at a certain point. 

This is especially true if a lot of people have worked on your site over the years. You might find you have posts that aren’t the same word-for-word, but that cover the same topic in a similar scope. 

For these posts, you can consider removing or combining them into one longform piece. Figure out which one is performing better or is better written, or combine both into one awesome piece that provides more value for your site. 

Want more content insight? Check out our 10 Steps to Creating a Content Strategy for SEO webinar recording.

content audit plan

It’s wise to keep a running list of posts that need to be updated on an annual basis so you don’t have to dig through and find the post later. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Identify posts with outdated content or older statistics

As more information becomes available, you want to make sure you’re updating these facts and figures in your content. Particularly in the digital marketing world, things change really fast. 

Think about it: If you’re searching around online and find a post from 2014 in 2021, you might think it doesn’t contain the most relevant or up-to-date info. 

See what posts contain data or statistics that have been updated, like results from an annual industry survey. You don’t have to totally rewrite the post, but once you update this info, make sure you mention that the post is updated or revamped. 

Adding a small note as the bottom of the content and updating the date it was published usually checks off these boxes.

6. Redirect posts as needed

Don’t forget to redirect posts removed from your site to avoid 404 errors. Depending on where you host your site, there should be a plugin that makes this relatively easy. 

If you find a bunch of pages that need to be removed, make sure you redirect those URLs either to the most relevant post or to the main blog page. 

You want to put redirects in place because you don’t want 404 errors or links to 404 pages. Unsurprisingly, Google isn’t a fan of having broken or dead links on your site.

7. Plan to repeat this process regularly

Digital marketing audits are never a one-and-done task. Usually, auditing your content once or twice a year is enough to ensure your content library is fresh and relevant. You can set a calendar reminder for accountability. 

The frequency for your company will depend on your bandwidth. This is a time-intensive exercise, depending on your content volume, but one that’s well worth it. 

It’s also wise to keep a running list of posts that need to be updated on an annual basis (like posts that reference the current year) so you don’t have to dig around to find the post later.

Need more help getting your content on track? That’s why we’re here.

The takeaway

Content audits are a great way to zoom out and get an overall picture of how your content is performing. You can see what’s resonating with your audience, what’s not, and what simply needs a refresh.

By prioritizing content audits, you not only set your site up for maximum SEO, but you can feel confident that you’re providing as much value as possible to your site visitors and content readers. 

This article has been updated and was originally published in August 2020.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Nov 10, 2021

Quality B2B content is what your SEO strategy needs to succeed.

Here you’ll learn:

  • How to develop a B2B content marketing strategy
  • What to consider when creating your buyer persona
  • Top-performing B2B content channels
  • More expert B2B marketing tactics

More than half of B2B buyers are reportedly more likely to convert after reading a company’s content. 

If your B2B company hasn’t prioritized content creation, now’s the time to start.

Between competitors vying for the same customers and the B2B buying cycle tending to be longer than in other industries, the most efficient marketers rely on a variety of tactics to increase the chance of a conversion. 

Content not only boosts your SEO by gaining you more visibility in search results, but it can enhance your credibility while educating your audience, which leads to brand loyalty.

Let’s take a closer look at designing and revamping B2B content marketing tactics for SEO success.

person's hands typing on computer

Creating a buyer persona can help you focus on the audience’s needs when designing your content strategy. (Image via Unsplash)

How to develop a B2B content marketing strategy 

Whether you’re developing or tweaking your B2B content marketing strategy, these steps can help you stay on the right track.

1. Identify your target audience

You can’t create helpful, effective content for your audience if you don’t know who they are. Even if you think you’ve got a good idea about your target demographic, it’s worth digging into the data to make sure the picture you have in your mind is accurate.

Creating a buyer persona can help you focus on the audience’s needs when designing your content strategy. Depending on your niche, you can either have one or several segments of the target audience.

Try to build your persona with information like:

  • Demographics – including age, education, industry, company size, and job seniority
  • Communications – places where you can reach the persona (e.g. LinkedIn, email)
  • Hierarchy – who the person reports to and their role in the decision-making process
  • Decision drivers – what drives the person to make a decision, including business goals
  • Challenges – what keeps them from achieving business goals

And since your business is B2B, it’s helpful to know what kinds of businesses you want as your clients. What size are they? What’s their average profit or budget? What industries are they in? These questions can guide you during the content ideation and creation processes.

2. Choose content format and channels

Once you’ve identified your target audience and business types, you can consider the channels you’ll be putting your content on. For B2B companies, the key channels to leverage are often:

  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • SEO
  • Paid ads

When it comes to B2B content, you don’t just have to stick to blogs. According to Lauro Media, the top 5 formats B2B marketers used to “distribute content for marketing purposes are email (93%), social media (92%), blog posts (79%) real-life and in-person events (56%), virtual events, and webinars (55%).”

Experiment with a variety of content channels, such as:

  • Blog posts
  • LinkedIn posts
  • Industry studies
  • Newsletters
  • Guides
  • White papers
  • E-books
  • Podcasts

Got content that’s performing well with your audience? Repurpose it! A popular blog post could be inspiration for a long-form guide. A social post with high engagement could be expanded into a podcast episode.

Not only does repurposing help you maximize your content, but it saves you money to boot.

3. Get organized

You may have heard the phrase, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It probably wasn’t about B2B content originally, but it applies nonetheless.

Identifying and planning relevant topics for your B2B content marketing strategy involves several stages, which can look something like:

A content audit will give you a bird’s-eye view of where your content stands (if you have any), what topics haven’t yet been addressed through content, and what needs updating, revamping, or consolidating. 

A competitor analysis will show how you’re stacking up against the competition. This is also a good opportunity to not only see how other B2B brands are marketing themselves, but you could learn about new tactics or content features that you can try out yourself (just make sure you’re not simply copying another company, of course). 

Creating key performance indicators (or KPIs) can serve as helpful benchmarks when you’re reviewing your content performance down the line.

Building some sort of content calendar will make it easy to keep track of what content has been created, what’s in the works, and what needs to be tackled next. Lastly, keyword research will illuminate the words people are using to search for your products or services, so you can fill out your calendar accordingly.

4. Create your content

Once you’ve planned and prepared your content strategy, it’s time to create the actual content. Depending on your team size, budget, and bandwidth, you can decide whether you want to create the content in-house or outsource it to a content agency.

No matter which avenue you choose, make sure you allot enough time to ensure the quality is top-notch. Not only will low-quality content not be helpful for your audience, but search engine bots may not rank it as highly as more well-written, thorough content.

Once the content is written, either let it “rest” so you can read it at a later time with fresh eyes, or have another team member give it a read to offer feedback or catch any errors the writer may have missed. 

5. Promote your content

Promotion is just as important as creation when it comes to B2B content. After spending all this time and effort on creation, you want people to see it! 

There are a handful of both organic and paid options for promoting your content. You can leverage:

  • Newsletters
  • Email marketing
  • Social media posts (organic and paid)
  • Paid ads
  • Guest posts
  • Internal linking from your own high-performing web pages

Need more help with your B2B content marketing plan? That’s why we’re here.

person writing out a strategy on a sticky note

You need to keep auditing your website and monitoring conversions to understand whether your strategy is working. (Image via Unsplash)

B2B content marketing pro tips

Once you’re in a good groove of content ideation, creation, and promotion, these tactics can take your strategy to the next level. 

1. Pay more attention to LinkedIn

Today, 61 million senior-level influencers and 65 million decision-makers use LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn is an excellent place to share high-quality content, including long-form articles, blog teasers, and exclusive posts. If you have a limited budget, LinkedIn should be your priority channel.

2. Leverage collaboration

Guest posts can help you achieve a variety of content marketing goals, including brand awareness and authority building.

Reach out and explore teaming up with other B2B companies who have a similar target audience but aren’t competitors. You can offer to share content for their websites or platforms while they do the same on yours, or you can create a joint piece of content, like an exclusive infographic.

3. Use paid social ads

While many B2B companies focus on SEO, paid ads promoting your content can be that boost you need to meet conversion goals. Along with LinkedIn Ads, it’s wise to pay attention to Facebook Ads as well.

When considering paid advertising, you can also explore content discovery (suggested content based on user behavior). While only 13% of B2B marketers use it, this tactic is highly effective on Facebook.

4. Measure content performance

B2B content performance changes over time. You need to keep auditing your website and monitoring conversions to understand whether your strategy is working. 

How frequently you conduct audits may depend on your industry, budget, niche, bandwidth, and content volume, but it’s a good idea to start by running content audits at least twice a year.

You can identify KPIs by content type and measure them accordingly. Common metrics to follow include:

  • Website traffic
  • User engagement
  • Bounce rates
  • SEO performance

The takeaway

Content is a key pillar for SEO, and it’s an essential part of a successful B2B marketing strategy. 

By coming up with a strategic plan to create high-quality content and distribute it through the right channels, you can achieve a variety of business and marketing goals for your B2B brand.

Not only that, but a successful B2B content marketing strategy can increase brand awareness, drive conversions, build authority, and cut marketing costs.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Oct 22, 2021

It’s an ongoing debate in the SEO world. Between subdomains and subdirectories, which is better?

Here, you’ll find:

  • The difference between subdomains and subdirectories
  • How each factors into your overall SEO
  • The difference in their URLs
  • Expert advice for deciding where to host your blog

When you’re creating a marketing plan, some aspects are clear.

You should leverage organic and paid avenues, you should probably be on social media, and you should keep tabs on how your business presents online, from meta descriptions to customer reviews.

But then there are more hotly debated topics. How long should proper SEO take? Is it worth it to try to go viral on social media? Should you host your blog on a subdomain or a subdirectory?

Your time is valuable, so let’s tackle that last question — with help from one of HawkSEM’s lead strategists, Yara Askar.

What’s the difference between a subdomain and a subdirectory?

As Yara explains, a subdomain is a “child domain” (or an extension) of the root or “parent” directory domain. A subdirectory works like a root directory subfolder.

(A subdirectory is the same as a subfolder. The names can be used interchangeably, according to HubSpot.)

While a subdomain is a child domain, it’s treated as a separate entity from the main parent domain. The subdomain is still associated with the root directory. However, it’ll have a separate content strategy, analytics and tracking tools, and a different backend site. 

Basically, any domain authority a root domain holds — such as backlinks — won’t carry over to the subdomain. A subdirectory, on the other hand, lives within the root domain. It benefits from the root domain SEO equity and can add to the overall website SEO value.

person wearing one blue shoe and one yellow shoe on grass

Google doesn’t technically favor one over the other when it comes to subdomains vs. subdirectories. (Image via Pexels)

Subdomain vs. subdirectory URLs

A subdomain’s URL will be styled as blog.mysite.com. Here, the blog is treated as a separate entity from the root domain, mysite.com. 

A subdirectory’s URL is styled mysite.com/blog. Here, the blog is treated as part of the root domain, mysite.com.

It’s worth noting that Google doesn’t technically favor one over the other when it comes to subdomains vs. subdirectories. As SEMrush points out, John Mueller stated back in 2017 that Google is fine with companies using either. At this point, this advice hasn’t changed.

How do subdomains and subdirectories affect blogs?

Subdomains make perfect sense in some instances. For example, when a company has a niche industry, audience, or keyword they want to target that’s different from their “root” or main targets. 

This also applies if the subdomain is intended to represent a completely different business or division from the root domain, such as a SaaS company that also runs an online vendor marketplace.  

In most cases, however, sites target the same audience with their blogs as they would with the root domain. Their content strategy is also likely intended to serve the same business. In that case, it’s best to host a blog as a subdirectory. 

Hosting your blog as a subdirectory can allow you to:

  • Increase organic traffic to the root domain
  • Organize content in a way that makes it easy for bots to manage and crawl
  • Optimize the content on the site without having pages compete with each other
  • Streamline analytics by housing all metrics on a single domain 
person hiking down an outdoor path with a hat and backpack

Subdomains can be useful for blogs if there’s a large content campaign that is slated to receive a lot of traffic and thus requires its own hierarchy path. (Image via Unsplash)

How can you determine whether a subdomain or a subdirectory is right for your brand’s blog?

According to Yara, if your business serves multiple locations or regions, or houses a lot of content that can be too difficult to manage under a single site, leveraging a subdomain is ideal.

Subdomains are a great option if you want to separate your content from your main website for whatever reason. For instance, if you’re targeting different geographic regions or big retail stores with an e-commerce store. 

Also, if you’re listing a site in another language like German and in French, it would make sense to list them as two separate subdomains.

Subdirectories are great for smaller websites that are targeting the same audience and have the same content campaign as the rest of the root domain.

Unless you have a large content campaign in mind that requires its own hierarchy path, hosting a blog on a subdirectory is often your best option. Subdirectories help keep content organized. They also improve SEO value to the overall site and simplify website management. 

Pro tip: Subdomains can also be useful for blogs if there’s a large content campaign that is slated to receive a lot of traffic and thus requires its own hierarchy path. 

The takeaway

Choosing between a subdomain and a subdirectory for a blog is a highly debated topic in the SEO world, explains Yara.

Ultimately, you want to pick what’s best and most efficient for your site and business goals.

Subdomains provide the ability to target a highly engaged niche audience. Subdirectories allow sites to improve their overall SEO traffic to the main domain. 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Oct 4, 2021

Having quality content on your website is one of the most effective ways to improve your e-commerce SEO rankings.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How content benefits e-commerce brands
  • How to determine your content topics
  • Why visuals are key to quality content
  • How to define your brand’s content voice

Quality content and SEO go hand in hand — and that includes e-commerce sites. If you don’t think your website needs content, you may be opening your brand up to being lapped by the competition. 

Whether you write it yourself, leverage a team member, or outsource to an agency, these are the elements you need for e-commerce content that’ll make your brand an industry thought leader.

e-commerce businesswoman writing content

The most effective content speaks to your audience in their language and with terms they know well. (Image via Pexels)

Define your brand voice

Hopefully, you already know exactly who your target audience is — from where they shop and what they like to do to how they search. 

Your brand voice should reflect your audience while being true to your company’s mission and values.

The most effective content speaks to the audience in their language and with terms they know well. If your target audience is millennials or Gen Z, for example, you’ll likely have different messaging than you would if your target audience was affluent couples over 50.

Once you define your voice, consider codifying it via a brand-specific content and style guide so that everyone on your team is on the same page. This can also be referenced by the person writing social media posts, since brand voice should be consistent across those platforms as well.

Pinpoint where your content lives

Content can be many things: from videos, blog posts, and your “About Us” section to landing pages, social media, product descriptions, and more.

Not all these content types will make sense for all e-commerce companies. But if you think a content strategy has no place in your business plan, think again!

Look at all the content your brand produces and ask yourself things like:

  • Is your tone consistent?
  • Is the audience you’re speaking to consistent across your various content spaces? (This excludes landing pages that may target different audience subsets)
  • Does the verbiage across these content spaces accurately reflect your brand?

Leveraging these content areas can be super beneficial. Not only can they help your brand stand out, but they can also show your target audience you’ve taken the time to craft clever, eye-catching copy that speaks to them on their level.

E-commerce brands in particular can leverage content in a number of ways. If a photo you post on one of your social media accounts does well, you can consider adding that photo to a blog or other page of your site.

The same goes for professional product photoshoots you do for products — consider using those images on social media in collages, carousels, or even Shopping ads if they resonate well.

Pro tip: To determine what social media platform to use, see which platform’s demographics and presentation style most match up to your own.  

Highlight what makes your e-commerce brand unique

It’s a simple fact that no two brands are exactly alike. Because of this, content is a great way to showcase what makes yours unique. Write about your company’s mission, journey, and origin story.

Do you source your materials sustainably? Did your grandmother ignite your love of fashion design? Are your products cruelty-free?

These days, an increasing number of consumers want to buy from brands that are trustworthy and sustainability-minded — content can remind them that there are people behind your business.

man taping up a cardboard e-commerce package box

No matter the type, the most effective content has great storytelling at its core. (Image via Unsplash)

Use e-commerce content to educate and problem-solve

Content marketing shouldn’t be about trying to game the search engine system. Rather, the primary role of your e-commerce content should be to educate your consumers and help them solve problems.

This can have many different interpretations, depending on your industry. If you sell camping equipment, you could highlight how certain products could be best used in warm and cold climates.

If you offer career coaching, you could post a blog article highlighting all the different professional stages where talking to a career coach could be beneficial (and how).

Other kinds of e-commerce content that tend to work well include comparison guides to help customers choose between options, how to determine if you need the product (i.e., “how to know if you need a new water heater”), and articles explaining all the ways a product is useful.

Curious how we help e-commerce brands improve their SEO, SEM, and more? Let’s chat.

Focus on storytelling

How-tos” are widely understood as one of the most effective types of content you can publish. But while this may be true in the B2B space, B2C can be a bit more tricky. 

No matter the type, the most effective content has great storytelling at its core.

Storytelling allows you to effectively connect with potential buyers. Not only that, but it can also aid in generating site traffic and social engagement.

Think about the marketing campaigns or pieces that stick with you. Most likely, there’s an emotional element to the story the brand is telling, which helps make it more memorable to the reader.

Great storytelling comes from great writers. If your team doesn’t have the expertise (or the time), you can consider partnering with an agency or hiring freelance writers via sites like Upwork.

As far as topics go, think about the stories you want your brand to tell. It could be anything from an inspiring customer journey to the way your business gives back.

using a phone to make a store purchase

User-generated content (UGC) can be an effective way to add a visual element to your content while highlighting your customers. (Image via Unsplash)

Add visuals to keep content interesting

Visuals can take your content from good to great in a flash. Not only do images help us retain information better, but content with images often results in more engagement and shares as well.

It’s also a good idea to make sure the graphics on your site are accessible to visually impaired people through descriptive text or captions.

Like your brand voice, the images on your website should be in line with your mission and audience. Add visual elements to your e-commerce content through things like:

  • Licensed or free stock photos
  • Well-designed graphics
  • Videos
  • User-generated content (UGC)

Speaking of user-generated images, this can be an effective way to add a visual element to your content while highlighting your customers. See if someone’s tagged your business on social media. If the image is high-quality (and in line with your brand’s aesthetic), use it!

Just be sure to ask their permission before sharing. If you let the person know when the content is published, they can re-share with their networks for an extra boost of exposure.

Pro tip: When uploading any images to your site, it’s important to title the images beforehand to serve as alt text, which helps improve your SEO.

The takeaway

For e-comm brands looking to boost visibility and sales (and what brand isn’t?), implementing a solid content marketing strategy is the way to go.

By publishing e-commerce content that’s authentic, in line with your company ethos, and speaking directly to your target audience, you can continue to see your SEO rankings improve.

This article has been updated and was originally published in December 2019.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Sep 28, 2021

From keyword research to content promotion, here’s the 411 on creating a content strategy designed with SEO in mind.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The 3 pillars of a successful SEO content strategy
  • A breakdown of steps to follow
  • Pro tips to help you optimize your website content
  • How to create a plan for regular content revitalization
SEO Content Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guide

(Image via Unsplash)

Creating a content strategy is a much more in-depth process than sitting down, typing out a bunch of words, and posting it on your website. This is especially true when you’re designing it for maximum SEO impact.

But why does having an effective content strategy even matter? 

For starters, a good content strategy can increase your organic traffic from search engines, grow your email subscribers, and help expand your social reach. 

HubSpot data shows 70% of marketers actively invest in content marketing. Publishing content that engages users and addresses their pain points can boost your overall brand authority and help lift you over your competitors.

Below, we’ve broken it down into 3 pillars highlighting what to do before, during, and after creating your content for SEO success.

Pillar 1: Preparing to write your content

There’s a bit of legwork to be done before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). This stage is extremely important, so we advise not skipping it to rush right into the writing portion.

Understand your target audience

The first question to ask before you write any piece of content or start developing your overall content strategy is, who is my target audience? Who do I want to be reading and digesting this content?  

If you already have ideal client personas built out, that’s great! You’re one step ahead. If not, you can begin building them by considering your target audience’s demographic, such as:

  • Age range
  • Locations
  • Interests
  • Job titles 

If you use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, you likely have access to a lot of this data already. You can also find demographic and interest data in Google Analytics and within the analytics section of your social media profiles. 

If somewhere the data doesn’t match what you’d expect — if it looks radically different in your Google Analytics profile compared to your existing CRM, for example — you could be missing out on opportunities or speaking to the wrong audience. 

Pro tip: In Google Analytics, “Affinity Audiences” allows you to see information on people who are actively researching a product or service. You might be surprised at what you find in these audience interest categories, so they’re worth looking into.

SEO content strategy - HawkSEM

A look at topic and questions research in SEMrush.

Conduct keyword & topic research

While keywords are important, they don’t mean as much in SEO as they used to. After all, Google updates its algorithm hundreds of times a year. 

Some are bigger than others, but the most recent ones — such as the MUM update — have focused on better understanding human language and how specific terms relate to topics. (Perhaps unsurprising, due to voice search and smart speakers.)

Thinking beyond keywords will be increasingly important as Google’s algorithm continues down the path of machine learning and artificial intelligence to power search results. Luckily, tools like SEMrush can help you delve more into the topics and questions people are typing into the search bar.

When conducting keyword research, check what keywords you’re currently ranking for first. This way, you don’t spend time focusing on a keyword you’re already ranking for. 

You can also identify any keyword gaps where you might be missing opportunities. You can use tools like Moz and Ahrefs to find related keywords, volume, and difficulty of terms that you discovered but that you’re not ranking for. 

In most cases, the higher volume a term is, the more difficult it’s going to be to rank for because it’s probably a lot more competitive, with a higher amount of other sites targeting that same keyword.

HawkSEM SEO content strategy - content calendar infographic

Build a content calendar

Many marketers think of blogs when they hear the word “content.” But there are many different content types that can increase user engagement and earn more backlinks. 

These include:

  • E-books
  • Case studies
  • Videos 
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts

Of course, some pieces of content are going to take longer to build out than others. Planning it out ahead of time and having a schedule or deadlines in place will keep you organized and on the right track. This can be as simple or as detailed as you want — even a shared Google spreadsheet can get the job done.

Details you may want to include in your content calendar are:

  • The type of content
  • The due date for the author to submit the content
  • The date the content is slated to go live
  • The associated keyword or terms
  • The author’s name 

Pillar 2: Writing and editing your content

Once you’ve done all the research and prepped your content calendar, it’s time for the actual writing! 

Write for people, not search engines

When it comes to your SEO content strategy, it’s  important to remember that you should be writing for people, not search engines. 

Consider Google’s main goal: to provide users with the best, most engaging content that answers the query they typed into the search box. If you can satisfy those requirements, that’s going to help you rank.

If you find yourself obsessing over things like content length or the number of times that you use the keyword within a piece, take a step back and put yourself in the user’s shoes instead. If they stumble across your content, would they find the information valuable? 

Would they want to:

  • Read more because your content really wowed them?
  • Be inclined to trust you since your content helped them or answered their question?
  • Take an action like signing up for a newsletter or downloading another piece of content?
  • Request a demo or consultation?

Consider E-A-T

E-A-T is a relatively new concept in the SEO world — it stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. This acronym is meant to help content developers and SEO pros understand how Google rates high-quality content. 

E-A-T really comes into play for sites that Google considers “your money, your life,” or YMYL (though it applies to other topics as well). These include topics like legal and financial advice, medical issues, and other things that impact your quality of life.

Google understands that, for these queries, finding the best and most accurate answers is particularly paramount, so they want to make sure the info they provide is sourced from qualified professionals.

Ask these questions to determine E-A-T standards

There are questions you can ask yourself to see if you’re meeting E-A-T standards. For expertise, you can ask: 

  • Is this content written by an expert or an enthusiast who is reliable and knows the topic well? 
  • Is Google able to recognize this person as an expert?
  • Is it referencing credible sources and actual statistics?
  • Should people feel comfortable trusting this content with YMYL decisions?

For authority, you can ask:

  • If someone researched the site producing this content, would they come away with the impression that it was trustworthy and recognized as an authority?
  • Does the site have verified client testimonials?
  • Is there an “About” page on the website?
  • Is there any additional content on the site showing this brand has authority on this topic?

For trustworthiness, you can ask:

  • Does the content present itself in a way that makes you want to trust it?
  • Is there trustworthiness in the expertise of the person writing the piece? 
  • Are there trustworthy backlinks pointing to this site? 
  • Does the overall site look trustworthy? 

E-A-T is a complex topic, but it ties back to that concept of writing for people and not search engines. 

Pro tip: When it comes to writing, there’s no one-size-fits-all number for how many times you should use a specific keyword in your copy. If you think maybe you may be on the verge of keyword stuffing, read it out loud and see if it sounds natural to the human ear.

hawksem featured snippet

Optimizing your content for the featured snippet allows you to potentially take up significant real estate on the first SERP.

Repurpose your content

According to SEMrush, businesses are continually increasing their content marketing budgets. Repurposing content allows you to stay within the marketing budget while achieving your SEO goals.

Besides updating your old pieces of content to keep them fresh, here are a few other ways to repurpose them.

  • Change the format: Turn blogs into podcasts, videos into blogs, client content into videos, and the like. With a strategic plan, you can create a brand-new piece of content that doesn’t just improve your rankings but also becomes more digestible for other segments of your target audience. 
  • Write e-books and guides: E-books and guides don’t just make excellent lead magnets. With a little work, they become fully crawlable by the search engines. You may have enough content on your website to create an e-book today. 
  • Design social media posts: Instead of simply reposting your content on social media, you can use a free service like Canva and turn quotes or other digestible pieces of information into eye-catching social media posts.

Look at each piece of high-ranking content as an opportunity to create at least one more viable, complementary piece.

Aim for the featured snippet

Optimizing your content for the featured snippet allows you to potentially take up significant real estate on the first SERP.

According to HubSpot, the top result on the SERPs without a featured snippet gets 33% of total clicks. The second result achieves 18% of the clicks, and the rest gets 11% or less. Once a featured snippet appears, it grabs 50% of all clicks.

When writing new content, it’s wise to keep the featured snippet in mind. You can also refresh your old content with featured snippet optimization tricks. These include providing a direct, concise answer to the question your audience may be asking, and optimizing for long-tail keywords.

A Search Engine Watch study showed that more than 55% of featured snippets are triggered by 10-word keywords, while single-word keywords appear less than 5% of the time.

Pillar 3: Publishing and promoting your content

Once the copy is written and optimized, it’s time to publish and promote. After all, what good is high-quality content if no one sees it?

Remember on-site SEO best practices

On-site SEO refers to general best practices to keep in mind with any piece you write. This includes things like having a page title and meta description. Ideally, both of these elements will have keywords in them, since Google uses them to help understand the content of your page. 

Headings also help Google understand the different sections of your content. If you have a long-form article with more than 1,000 words, those headings help search engines understand what each section is about. They also make it easier for users to scan and quickly find the content they’re looking for.

For SEO purposes, it’s a good idea to leverage internal links with keyword-rich anchor text. 

You’ve probably seen plenty of links with “click here” or “learn more” as their anchor text. But Google uses anchor text to understand what the page’s content is about, so if you’re using generic phrases, Google may have a harder time understanding your link.

You can also use high-authority external links as needed. If you’re referencing a study from the CDC or the FDA, for example, those are good high-authority external links. 

Have a content revitalization strategy

Writing new, exciting content is key to a successful SEO strategy. But if you publish a piece of content and never touch it again, you’re doing your business a major disservice. 

If you have blogs that are a few (or even several) years old, it’s likely that some of the information isn’t accurate or relevant anymore. Regularly updating those pieces with the latest links and stats when they become available can have a huge impact on your site traffic and rankings. 

That’s where conducting a content audit comes in. The 7 steps to conducting a content audit are:

  1. Create a spreadsheet list of all content URLs
  2. Determine how many sessions each page had over the past 6 months (or longer depending on how much traffic comes to your site) and how many backlinks point to each page
  3. Identify pages with “thin content” that may not satisfy a user’s search intent
  4. Look for posts with duplicate or similar topics and consider removing or combining them into one long-form piece
  5. Identify posts with outdated content or older statistics and update with more recent information
  6. Don’t forget to redirect posts removed from the site to avoid 404 errors
  7. Repeat this process regularly (once or twice a year) to keep your content fresh and relevant

This can be a time-intensive exercise, depending on how much content you post, but the results are worth it. 

linkedin hawksem post

Amplifying your content on social channels and through email also keeps your brand top-of-mind for your audience.

Amplify your content 

A piece of content you don’t share via social media or email channels is unlikely to get much traction. Although social shares and likes aren’t direct organic ranking factors, if Google sees a lot of engagement on a page or post, it’s a signal of high-quality content.

Amplifying your content on social channels and through email also keeps your brand top-of-mind for your audience. 

The takeaway

High-quality content can be a game-changer when it comes to your site’s SEO. Not only that, but it helps illustrate to users that you’re a trustworthy thought leader. 

By following the above steps and having a solid, doable plan in place, you’ll have a robust, thorough content library worth bragging about. 

For more on this topic, check out our webinar, 10 Steps to Creating a Content Strategy for SEO.

This article has been updated and was originally published in April 2020.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jul 28, 2021

Digital marketing can get you in front of potential customers — the right strategy can get them to convert.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How search results affect customer acquisition
  • Organic ways to acquire new leads
  • Effective paid marketing strategies
  • How to set your website up for optimal acquisition

Marketing pros who aren’t new to the game likely know all about the customer journey. It comprises the stages we base our content, campaigns, and plans on: awareness, consideration, and decision. (With delight as the bonus step.) And the customer journey is a crucial element when it comes to acquisition.

Customer acquisition is the process of converting a generated lead into a customer. It’s basically the whole funnel (or journey) combined. At the end of the day, marketing is about attracting new customers, and keeping customer acquisition top of mind is how marketers can make that happen.

While there’s no one way to pinpoint and acquire qualified leads that are sure to become customers, there are a handful of digital marketing strategies you can implement with customer acquisition in mind. Here, we’ve mapped out six of our favorites.

line of people outside from aerial view

Companies that use paid search for successful customer acquisition know it’s not only about the ad. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Paid search

Also known as pay per click (PPC), paid search is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies when it comes to customer acquisition. That’s because it allows companies to target their specific audience with the right keywords at the right time.

Paid search ads appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) on sites like Google and Bing. If someone’s searching for “women’s black cycling shoes,” for example, and you’re an e-commerce brand selling cycling products (including women’s black cycling shoes), you want your targeted ad to be the one they see. The same goes for brands selling other products and services.

The companies that use paid search for successful customer acquisition know it’s not only about the ad, though. Rather, it’s crucial to pair eye-catching, appealing ad copy with an optimized landing page that boasts consistent verbiage, clean design, and a clear call to action (CTA).

2. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Along with a paid search strategy, having a solid SEO strategy helps search engines more easily recognize your website. This helps improve your rankings and, ideally, grow your reach for better customer acquisition.

Proper SEO on your site means having elements including:

  • Unique title tags on your pages
  • High-quality content 
  • Internal links and external links (to authoritative sites)
  • A sitemap
  • Meta descriptions
  • Images with alt tags

Ensuring your site is optimized for search engines won’t guarantee that you’ll get in the first position (or even on the first page) of the SERPs. The search algorithm that determines the best content for each search query is constantly changing, and the details about how search engines determine the best content to show searchers isn’t always clear.

However, by keeping your site up to date, easy to navigate, and educational for prospects and clients, you can position your brand as a thought leader and your site as a valuable source of information.

3. Social media

When it comes to social media, you’ve got the option to leverage both organic and paid avenues. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that each path can be leveraged in the same way or achieve the same results.

Let’s start with organic social media. The practice of regularly creating social media posts can help spread the word about new business offerings or updates, increase your exposure, and even help you go viral (in a good way, ideally).

While organic social posts likely won’t directly result in customer acquisition, they can aid in brand awareness, content sharing, and allow you to highlight the fun side of your brand.

Paid social, on the other hand, can be a powerful tool if wielded properly. When choosing which platforms to advertise on, you should first consider your target audience and the platforms they use most.

From there, you can take advantage of the audience targeting tools most of these platforms have in place to get your content delivered straight to those who need to see it most. 

group of millennials on their laptops laughing

When done right, remarketing one of the best and most cost-effective ways to get past visitors back to your site. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Remarketing

As we’ve touched on before, remarketing can benefit your business in numerous ways. Not only does it keep you top of mind when someone takes an action like visiting your site, or requesting a consultation or demo, but it allows you to hyper-focus your ads and ups your chances of turning a lead into a conversion.

Remarketing (also called retargeting) works by leveraging display ads to connect your business with people who have already visited your site or mobile app. When done right, it’s one of the best and most cost-effective ways to get past visitors back to your site. 

Of course, the most successful retargeting campaigns aren’t one size fits all. A brand-new site visitor shouldn’t be remarketed the same way as a returning visitor. 

Data transparency changes and the eventual demise of third-party cookies are going to force some changes in digital marketing, particularly for remarketing ads. But there’s no need to panic: Marketers have adapted to massive changes for decades. And while more solutions will become apparent as the process unfolds, focusing on attracting new prospects is one way to keep your lead pipeline flowing.

Looking for more ways to increase your customer acquisition? Let’s talk.

5. Content marketing

When people hear the phrase “content marketing,” they may automatically think of blogs. And while blogging is a great medium for businesses when it comes to customer acquisition, content can encompass much more.

Examples of valuable content include:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos and webinars
  • Guides and e-books
  • Infographics
  • Checklists
  • Downloadable templates
  • Product descriptions
  • Case studies

No matter the content you create, you want to make sure it’s accurate, helpful, and targeted. The more deliverables you create, the more industry topics you can cover, and the more likely you are to be found in organic search results by those seeking what you have to offer.

Pro tip: You can take things a step further by partnering with another brand (with a similar audience but not a competitor) on something like an infographic, webinar, or guest blog. This expands your reach, helps build your professional network, and boosts your brand’s credibility.

two people meeting at a coffeeshop

Include social share links as well as forwarding options in your email newsletter to make sharing a breeze. (Image via Unsplash)

6. Email newsletters

Email newsletters can be a powerful acquisition channel if you follow a few key strategies. As Campaign Monitor reports, you’re six times more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than from a tweet. 

The most successful newsletters:

  • Include one main CTA
  • Offer a tactical takeaway (like a pro tip, discount, or statistic)
  • Feature an attention-grabbing subject line
  • Have an easy-to-read template
  • Are optimized for mobile

When you’re looking to build your non-client subscriber list, get creative! You can add exit-intent pop-ups to your site, or include a subscription box in your site’s footer. Offline, you can give people the option to sign up if your brand is posted up in a booth at an industry conference or networking event — a particularly effective strategy if it’s part of a giveaway or contest.

Pro tip: Let your readers help you spread the word! Include social share links as well as forwarding options in your email newsletter to make sharing a breeze. Due to the psychology of social proof, peer-recommended content is more likely to be trusted.

The takeaway

Customers are the bread and butter of any business, and digital marketing is one of the most direct ways to connect with your desired prospects.

By knowing your audience, meeting them where they are, and analyzing the data behind your campaigns, you’ll have the tools you need to not only attract more customers, but keep them loyal and happy as well.

This post has been updated and was originally published in December 2019.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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