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Content Marketing 101

Growing, successful awards and personalization businesses are devoting more time to content marketing: the publishing of articles, videos, images, and more to reinforce brand image. Suppliers and retailers are getting and keeping their customers’ attention by providing their customers with more than simple self-promotion. To get new visitors to come see this content and become customers, it’s more important than ever to ensure that content is search engine optimized.

Content Marketing 101

Make It Pay With the Right SEO

By Joe Dysart

Growing, successful awards and personalization businesses are devoting more time to content marketing: the publishing of articles, videos, images, and more to reinforce brand image. Suppliers and retailers are getting and keeping their customers’ attention by providing their customers with more than simple self-promotion. To get new visitors to come see this content and become customers, it’s more important than ever to ensure that content is search engine optimized.

Essentially, if your business spends just a bit of time making sure you’re using the right keywords, the best Web design, the proper image tags, etc., your excellent content will appear even higher in search engine returns, resulting in more potential customers learning about your business.

“Recently, a client’s event website wasn’t ranking in the top 50 results, which is akin to not existing at all,” said June Pinyo, MA, a content strategist in integrated digital marketing at Association Management Center in Chicago, IL. “After making a few thoughtful adjustments, we’ve gone up to number three.”

A customer that wants to buy signs isn’t going to click through 15 pages of Google results, but they are likely to give the results on the first page some consideration. 

Jason McDonald, PhD, author of SEO Fitness Workbook 2016, said, “In most industries, you’ll find that your competitors are not that smart. Most industries are not as competitive in SEO as you would think.”

This makes the field ripe for someone who maximizes search engine optimization (SEO) for their site, whether they are seeking customers locally or internationally.

So much has been written about SEO, it can seem daunting for the beginner—and even for some who have tried it before.
But with the right tools, you’ll be able to give your awards and personalization business a complete handle on how to optimize your website for search engines and how to track new developments in SEO.

Just be sure that before you get underway, you’ve got the right goal in mind: “Remember, being found is one step in a long process,” said Andy Crestodina, strategic director at Orbit Media Studios (www.orbitmedia.com), a web design and development firm in Chicago, IL. “Think of the entire experience for the potential buyer, starting from the moment they decide to start looking, to the final step when they buy.”

TOOLS FOR YOUR SITE
Here are some great tools to get you started on optimizing your content:

SEO Fitness Workbook 2016: Written by Jason McDonald, PhD, this book gives you a complete grounding in SEO fundamentals. Written in everyday, engaging English and virtually devoid of jargon, it will help you put together a full game-plan for SEO-optimizing your site. Essentially, the SEO Fitness Workbook 2016 is the first stop for getting serious about SEO, since everything you need to do to SEO-optimize your site will make sense once you’ve read this book.

Google SEO Starter Guide: Given that Google is the biggest game in town in the world of search engines, it only makes sense to read this guide and follow its recommendations. Located at static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en/us/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf, it’s brief (32 PDF pages), well illustrated, and crystal clear. Similar overall guides include Search Engine Land’s Guide to SEO (searchengineland.com/guide/seo) and SEO for Wordpress (yoast.com/wordpress-seo).

“Google is officially a semantic search engine, which means it’s connecting visitors to pages with the meaning they’re looking for, not just the letters and words they typed into that little box,” said Orbit’s Crestodina. “To adapt to this, you need to target a broader topic, not just the specific phrase. Spread your meaning out, using related phrases, covering the things that are semantically linked.”

Google Search Console: Located at support.google.com/webmasters/answer/4559176?hl=en, this is another must-use tool for awards and personalization businesses serious about SEO-optimizing their website. It enables you to directly submit content on your website that you want Google to monitor—and eliminate other content you don’t want showing up on the search engine. It will track which keywords and phrases are working for you, show you which sites are linking to you, and monitor your site’s performance on mobile devices.

Plus, the console will also give you guidance on how to create a sitemap that will make it easier for Google to track your website.
“Google rewards websites that make its job easier,” McDonald explained. “Bing Webmaster Tools (www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster) helps you in the same way when it comes to your performance on Bing.”

Keyword Brainstormers: If you’d like a little inspiration and guidance coming up with the optimum keywords for your content, Google’s Keyword Planner (adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner) will serve as your trusty guide. Similar keyword helpers include Keyword Spy (www.keywordspy.com), which will help you uncover keywords and phrases that are working for your competitors, and Related Keywords (www.pagerank.net/related-keywords), a tool to help you identify keywords related to your primary keywords.

Page Tag Optimizers: While page tags sound a bit technical, they’re simply the tools business owners can use to label various elements of a Web page. There’s a tag used to title your page, a tag to title each image you use, a tag to boldface words you consider to be most important on your page, etc.

You can use tools like SEO Centro Meta Tag Analyzer (www.seocentro.com/tools/search-engines/metatag-analyzer.html) to ensure you’re optimizing your use of tags. Similar tools include Side-by-Side SEO Comparison Tool (internetmarketingninjas.com/seo-tools/seo-compare) and Keyword Density Checker (webconfs.com/keyword-density-checker.php).

Link Builders: Good links to your website from other, authoritative websites have always been critical for high search engine returns. So investing time securing links from such websites will have a big-time, long-term payoff. OpenLinkprofiler (openlinkprofiler.org) helps you do this more effectively, as do Buzzsumo (buzzsumo.com/) and while you’re at it, be sure you’re making use of your website’s internal links as well. “Internal linking is important for three reasons,” said Orbit’s Crestodina. “They pass authority from one page to another; they guide visitors to high-value, high-converting pages; and they prompt visitors to act as calls to action.”

Local SEO Tools: If the location of your awards and personalization business plays a key role in your profits, SEO optimization is still for you. Many customers look for a local shop online, even if they plan to visit and buy in person. To increase the likelihood that they choose you, you’ll want to spend time ensuring your website is optimized for local search. Google’s Local Adwords Preview Tool (adwords.google.com/apt/anon/AdPreview) will help you do this, and can be used for free. Similar tools include Moz Local (moz.com/local) and Local Stampede’s Local Search Marketing (www.localstampede.com/citation-building-strategies-list).

“In terms of free tools, I would say to make sure to use the tools available through Google for free,” said Association Management Center’s Pinyo. “A Google AdWords account requires that you enter credit card information, but you won’t need to pay for anything to use the free tools. In it, you can see how your site is performing and get tips on how to optimize your site as well.”

Content Creation Helpers: There’s a reason so many journalists refer to filling the next day’s paper as “feeding the beast.” Once you’re in the content creation business, you’ll find that the hunger for ever more content at your website and other Web properties is insatiable. Fortunately, news aggregators like Feedly (feedly.com) will help pull together stories for you each day, based on a specific search word or phrase. And Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts) will achieve a similar end via e-mail. This sort of content can help you add information to engage your site’s visitors. If they’ve already spent time engaging with the content on your site, they are more likely to choose to do business with you.

News aggregators like Feedly automatically collect articles in a specific interest area for you.


Headline Analyzers: If headlines for your stories and posts are challenging, get some help from CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer (coschedule.com/headline-analyzer). Simply type in your headline, and CoSchedule will instantly grade it based on how common your headline words are, how emotional the wording is, and how powerful the headline is overall. Improve your grade by trying alternatives based on the suggestions CoSchedule makes based on your first choice.

Free Press Release Distribution: Regularly posting press releases to the Web that link back to your business’ website will ultimately help boost your search engine rankings. PRLog (www.prlog.org) will help you distribute those press releases for free. (Be sure to send any press releases to editor@AwardsPersonalization.org too to ensure they are printed in Insights magazine’s Association News section!)

“Press releases have natural SEO benefits, including natural links from multiple and high-quality outside sources and opportunities for keyword linking,” said Aidan Griffin, a senior account executive at Ketner Group (ketnergroup.com), a public relations firm. 
SEO Plugin for Wordpress: Located at wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo, this is a free, incredibly valuable tool for anyone managing a Wordpress website. The Yoast plugin embeds an SEO dashboard in every unpublished page you create, instantly analyzing each and every word, and making clear recommendations on how you can tune up your page to get the best shot at the search engines. For an extremely easy-to-follow guide on how to get started using Yoast, check out the Beginner’s Guide to Using Yoast Wordpress SEO Plugin at www.shivarweb.com/3902/beginners-guide-using-yoast-wordpress-seo.

Ongoing Study: An unendingly metamorphisizing animal, SEO must be continuously studied to yield the best results. Some of the best sources on new info in SEO include:

  • Search Engine Watch (searchenginewatch.com)
  • Search Engine Land (searchengineland.com)
  • Search Engine Roundtable (www.seroundtable.com)
  • Search Engine Journal (www.searchenginejournal.com)

Awards and Personalization Association

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