When I first started Unbound Northwest just over a year ago, the purpose of the site was to be a place for people and companies to tell their stories. Above all else, that is what I am: a storyteller.
There are at least two aspects to the writing I do. One is fiction, and the purpose of that is to entertain. Of course, my form of entertainment is through thriller, suspense, and sometimes horror. The reason? These are the genres where there is always a moral lesson of some sort. I am trying to tell the story of my humanity, all of our humanity, by a collaboration with the reader through images they create in their own minds from the words I write.
In content strategy and content writing, my goal or my “why” is to make the internet a better place by helping both businesses and individuals better tell their stories through their websites, blogs, social media, and intentional link building, advertising, and marketing. This is because everything a business does is a part of telling their story.
This is based on the principle that Simon Sinek proposes: people buy from you because of your why, not because of what you do. This is true of the reason we follow leaders, not just why we purchase the things we do.
Content strategy is the planned combination of all these things: your web content, blog, social media, link building efforts, advertising and marketing. It is about message, motivation, and intention every step of the way. Here is a quick breakdown.
This is the first step, and the key to any content strategy. No matter how you get readers to click through to your site, when they arrive you have to have great content that matches with the message that motivated them to click in the first place and motivates them to stay on your site and buy from you.
This means your calls to action must be ever-present and clear, your message must be selfless and customer or client focused, and you need to give away a lot of information, even to those who never buy from you.
A great example of this is Moz, a search tool company based in Seattle. Every week they have a feature called White Board Fridays that showcase a particular part of SEO they give away a ton of information about. Their blog is robust and filled with tips and tricks. While they have a clear call to action, to subscribe to their services, it is never too pushy, and the content they give away is well produced and valuable.
Even if you do not hire a content strategist or someone to write your web content, you need to keep this in mind with your site. It should be client focused and strive for excellence in every area.
SEO and Keywords
At the same time if your site is not optimized for Google and other search engines to understand what you are really about, no one new will find you. There are two types of traffic you can get to your website: direct, and organic.
Direct traffic comes when someone clicks on a link you have posted somewhere, or they type your name or web address into a search bar. This means they already knew about you, and are looking specifically for you, not just your products or services.
Organic traffic comes from links someone else shared, so someone telling others about you and your site or from someone searching for a product or service using a search engine query, and clicking on your site when they found it.
To be truly successful, you need both kinds of traffic, but the best is organic traffic. No one person knows enough people to sell enough of their products or services to survive. You need others to share about you, and you need to gain traffic from sites like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
This means that SEO and keywords matter. This is a part of your metadata, page titles, and more. If you do not understand how this works, hire a professional, at least as a consultant to get you started in the right direction.
Messaging in Blogs and Social Media
Your blogs and social media are a large part of telling your story, but they also are the way you get people to visit your site in the case of social media and respond to your calls to action in the case of blogging. Whether that call to action is to subscribe to your email newsletter or to actually purchase your product, start a free trial, or whatever the goal is of your campaign your content is the key to making that happen, and for many industries a blog is a large part of that content.
Your message in social media must be consistent with the one on your website. Your goal is to help your customers first determine what problem or want they may have that your product or service will solve, and then to determine that your product or service is the right solution to that problem.
This can be done in a number of ways, but one is a pillar type approach to blogging, the creation of a central piece of content with a specific focus that other satellite content surrounds and focuses on. This creates internal linking for you site, and a certain amount of gravity that draws potential customers in.
This content also makes it easier to naturally and intentionally earn links to your site. Despite the annual cries that link building is dead, the opposite is proven true in study after study. The sites linking to yours tell Google something about its authority.
This is a principle that won’t go away anytime soon. This means users should want to link to your site because you have something worth linking to. This is why the content of your blog and its messaging matters so much. People will link to things that are positive, informative, and are not clearly just advertising.
Give away good information, have quality content and you will earn links.
Marketing and Advertising
Marketing and advertising are the way you get your message out there. While you often pay for both, they are different, and an understanding of that is vital to the success of any content strategy.
The key is that your message must resonate well with your website content and your “why” for doing business in the first place. If it does not, customers will see it for what it is: hype that is pretty meaningless in the long run.
The goal of a good content strategy is to pull all of this together with a content marketing plan that matches your overall marketing plan and moves you toward your company goals. One advantage to this kind of plan is that it can actually save you money in the long run. A smoothly running marketing plan requires less attention and daily work once you get things going.
Do you have a content strategy or overall marketing plan? How well is it actually working for you? Need help? Contact us here at [email protected] and let us know how we can help.
Also published on Medium.