You Can’t Ignore Your Content Marketing Strategy in 2024
Chances are, you’ve probably heard once or twice before how crucial a content marketing strategy is to creating awareness for your brand. You may have even read other listicles, attended a marketing webinar, or listened to a podcast about the Top X Steps to Create a Content Marketing Plan or something similar.
And if you’re like most marketers, you probably got really jazzed about putting together some new content marketing goals. Maybe you created a content calendar, came up with target audiences, and set up templates for all those email marketing campaigns you just knew would kick your lead generation into overdrive. And then you realized how difficult it was going to be.
All of those self-styled marketing gurus make it look so easy. Just identify pain points, pick products and services that address them, and assign a team to start creating content. But let’s face it, content marketing is hard.
Anyone can write blog posts, but it takes an incredible amount of creative energy to write great content that makes an impact in your industry. And that’s precisely what good content marketing needs to do these days.
In fact, it takes so much time and so many resources to create a good piece of content that there’s a real temptation to push it to the side and “save it for a rainy day.” It's time to be honest: That “rainy day” is never going to come. When most businesses claim to have a content marketing strategy in place, what they really mean is they update their blog once in a blue moon when their staff has nothing to do on a Friday afternoon.
Unfortunately, doing the bare minimum for content creation won’t get you anywhere these days. Due to Google’s algorithm updates, choosing NOT to include frequent, high-quality, and well-researched long-form content articles in your marketing strategy is the digital equivalent of hanging a sign outside your business’ window that reads “Go Away!” If you want to attract new customers, blogging, white papers, and other forms of content are no longer optional.
In this article, we cover the major changes to the industry which have transformed content marketing from a strongly recommended suggestion to an absolute necessity if you want to stand out in today’s market.
Why Content Marketing Efforts Are a Priority Now
Content has always been important, but now it’s more important than ever before. So what changed? Well, search engines did.
Back in August 2022, Google began rolling out what has come to be known as the Helpful Content Update. Google tweaked the search algorithm to heavily favor long-form content. Now content in most cases is the primary way a website drives traffic organically.
But not just any content. Content needs to be written from a perspective of experience, offer expert advice, be an authority on a given topic, and act as a trusted source. You may have heard of Google’s acronym for this concept: EEAT.
If that sounds like a tall order, you’re absolutely right. It’s not enough to have blogs, they have to be THE source of truth on a given subject if you want them to rank near the top in search. At least, that’s the idea. Considering the absolute mass of online voices and the non-stop flow of information available on the internet, the way to stand out is to offer unique, expert, insider knowledge of a subject.
While aiming for this goal has always been the best practice when trying to get content to rank higher, Google’s extra emphasis on well-written, unique, helpful content means the bar is much higher for content marketing than it was even a year ago.
Re-evaluating Content Marketing Business Goals
If content was considered king before, now it’s the emperor.
Your business can’t afford to chip away at a content marketing calendar when you aren’t busy with anything else. It’s an all-or-nothing game that requires just as much attention as other parts of your marketing strategy. Now is the perfect time to start looking at your current content marketing efforts and assessing what it’s going to take to produce quality, insightful content on a regular basis.
The Helpful Content Update has changed the search landscape so that long-form content is now one of the primary drivers of discovery traffic to a website. Organic discovery is part of what fuels the growth of your share of voice in the industry, which in turn is necessary for brand recognition.
In essence, with the new algorithm change, content marketing has become just as important and necessary to drum up business as other marketing channels such as email blasts or even direct advertising.
We’ve seen this play out in real-time with clients who started creating more long-form content and saw significant increases in organic discovery traffic. The inverse is also true where we’ve seen organizations who just didn’t think they had the resources in their marketing budget for content marketing see less performance growth than in previous years.
In some cases, we’ve seen businesses that are hesitant to start creating content actually start losing their share of voice because competitors that were never a threat before are now producing content.
Like it or not, content marketing is a crucial part of business acquisition now. Writing long-form content should be considered a priority project for your marketing team for the rest of 2023 and into 2024.
How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of creating and executing a robust content marketing strategy, we’ve got you covered. SteadyRain’s digital marketing experts have been serving up top-tier content since 1999.
During that time, we’ve come up with a solid set of tips to ensure your content stands out to users and search engines alike.
1. Identify Your Target Audience
Just like your other marketing initiatives, you need to spend some time planning whom you want to create content for. Different audiences will expect different things from your content. For example, if you provide industrial equipment to manufacturers, people with some sort of engineering know-how are probably who you’ll be speaking to, so you’ll need to get more technical with your terminology. However, if you’re selling artfully decorated baked goods, a fun, playful, and inviting tone is probably what you’re after.
Setting up buyer personas is an excellent way to start the content planning process. These succinct, insightful summaries of what the average individual within a target demographic expects will help guide you as you write blog articles or craft social media posts.
The best part is, it’s likely that your company already has some ready-made personas from your other marketing initiatives, so most of the work is already done!
2. Identify Topics of Interest
One of the worst feelings in the world is crafting an absolute masterpiece of an article, only to find out no one cares about the subject matter.
You can save yourself, and your company’s budget, some major headaches by doing some research upfront to figure out what your customers want to know about. Kickstart the process with some thorough keyword research. You can use tools like SEMRush, Moz, or Similarweb to find out what sort of answers people are looking for on search engines.
But before you rush off with your keyword in hand to write a piece of content, make sure to double-check the intent by Googling it. Over time, SteadyRain has learned that a keyword that looks great on paper may not perform as intended.
Checking the results on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) will tell you what sorts of results your chosen keyword will return. If your planned piece of content won’t look anything like them—or it's turning up webpages that are about an entirely different topic altogether—you might need to find a different keyword.
3. Focus on EEAT
As mentioned previously, EEAT stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. According to Google, these are the core components of a successful article. When writing content, always remember the purpose is to answer a question a potential client might ask and be the ultimate source for this information.
Make sure your content is well-researched. You should provide and cite authoritative sources throughout your content to prove to users you know what you’re talking about. Write for your audience (whether it’s rocket scientists or yoga instructors) using language they would expect and easily be able to understand. As an added tip, break up your content using headings to make it easier to read.
For reference, this article is a great example of how to use headings!
Finally, you need to provide something in your content users can’t get anywhere else, so you become the authority on the subject. A great way to do this is to include data from internal research. The most common way businesses do this is through white papers or case studies.
Following these guidelines is also a great way to get backlinks from other authoritative sites, another important ranking factor for Google search.
4. Embrace AI Software Like ChatGPT
By now, almost everyone in the marketing world has heard of ChatGPT. It’s an amazing program capable of imitating human speech with such scary proficiency, you wouldn’t even know you were reading something an AI wrote.
For reference, while this article wasn’t written using ChatGPT, it was partially edited using it. Would you have known the difference if we had not disclosed that?
Love it or hate it, ChatGPT and other forms of creative AI programs are rapidly improving. Large swathes of the marketing industry are already starting to adopt these tools into their everyday operations. Utilizing ChatGPT can help you save a lot of time while producing quality content.
For example, you can feed it a prompt, have it write an article on a given subject using subjects you choose, and then edit it to smooth out any factual inaccuracies. Or you can use it to edit and consolidate content you’ve written similar to what we’ve done here.
The bottom line is, with the current number of tools at your disposal to help you create content, there’s really no excuse to not be doing it.
Get Content Marketing Help from SteadyRain
If you’re still finding you just don’t have the staff resources to create quality content, there’s still hope. SteadyRain has been helping businesses around the country write high-quality, helpful content for decades now. Our full team of digital marketing experts have a proven track record of helping businesses stand out and excel.
Reach out to SteadyRain today, and together we’ll get your brand the recognition it deserves.
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