At last month’s Content Marketing Summit, which was sponsored by Rise Interactive and my company, Skyword, marketing experts including Leslie Reiser of IBM, Travis Wright of Norton by Symantec and Jon Morris of Rise Interactive discussed key strategies for preparing content for search. Here are some of their takeaways.
Be timely: Integrate brand perspective into hot-button topics
As consumer search trends evolve by the minute, it’s crucial for marketers to develop content in accordance with real-time conversations. “If something happens that is potentially relevant to your brand, don’t be afraid to write about it,” says Wright. When we produce content that contributes to hot-button conversations, the content becomes easier to find via search engines. Timely content is a key focus for Reiser, program director for IBM’s midmarket content program, the Midsize Insider. In her session, “Capitalizing on Content,” Reiser urged attendees to follow the production model she dubs “the Rule of 8’s,” where content is produced with a balanced range of shelf lives — eight months, eight weeks, eight days, eight hours, eight minutes. All content types are important, but it’s the breaking news that will capture the attention of potential customers and increase reader engagement. With content that offers a fresh perspective on the topics customers care most about in the moment, IBM’s content marketing program has performed well on search and in social channels, and gained acceptance into the Google News program. The brand is now seen as a leading resource, ranking in search results next to top-tier publications such as TechCrunch, CNN and ReadWriteWeb.
Build your contributor network: Leverage influencers to strengthen search credibility
The best content marketing programs include expert voices outside of their own walls. Recruiting partners and industry experts to share their insights on branded channels has benefits on multiple fronts. Morris attested to the importance of building and leveraging influencer networks — a practice that can give your site valuable back links, strengthen brand credibility and allow your message to be spread across multiple channels. Wright echoed the importance of back links in building brand reputation and advised marketers to offer articles and visual content to relevant trade and news publications. To Google, links back to your website from influential properties is a strong indication that your content is worth paying attention to.
Focus on quality: Let go of SEO tricks and create content that matters
If you can build a content program that capitalizes on relevant trends and integrates the perspective of reputable influencers, you are well on your way to creating highly searchable content. Tactical SEO, however, can be a bit trickier. As Google and Bing continue to elevate their search algorithms, practices such as keyword stuffing and other tricks for gaming the system will become more challenging to pull off. Instead, search engines are continually improving their ability to identify and reward quality content. This is good news for content marketers — as long as they do their job well and serve the needs of their audience to the best of their ability — they will continue to improve search rankings.
Ultimately, searchability is just one piece of the puzzle. If your content is found by a potential customer and is poorly composed, they will move on and will be unlikely to return. For a full understanding of the components of searchable, snackable and sharable content, check out Skyword’s infographic: The Three S Model for Content Success.