The Internet is a crowded place. I recently read there are over 83,000 new blog posts published every hour. Every hour!
So is it even possible to stand out in a crowd anymore? Absolutely. It is if you have a strategy to publish and promote engaging content.
Want to know what really drives traffic? From brainstorming your subject matter to scheduling your social media shares? Follow these content marketing tips, and you’ll get noticed. Big time.
1. Start By Asking Your Audience What They Want
There’s people out there who will tell you, “Just write 500 words a day about anything, and you’ll get traffic”. BS! Worst of all the content marketing tips out there.
You may get some traffic, but at what cost? A disjointed audience who you’ll quickly lose if you don’t figure out what they really want to learn from you.
Let’s look at some ways you can help clearly identify what your readers want.
Use Popup surveys:
This is the simplest way is to literally ask your readers what they want to learn. I use a WordPress plugin called Popup Surveys & Polls to ask questions like, “What are you struggling with in your business?” and “What do you want to learn more about?”.
Every visitor to my website gets surveyed without me having to lift a finger.
Ask your email subscribers:
Use the email autoresponders that go out to your new subscribers to ask what they want more of. Hey, they agreed to give you something as sacred as their email address. That means they trust you.
Show them you trust their judgement, too, by asking your subscribers to reply with a couple of sentences explaining what would get them to keep opening your emails. Knowledge is power.
Research your competition
If you haven’t established an audience yet, research what’s working for other bloggers who are successfully reaching the audience you’d like to have. Google’s search results will give you a pretty good idea of this.
Just enter a keyword phrase like “content marketing tips” to discover what is already ranking on the first page for that subject matter. Dig into some of those posts and you’ll begin to see patterns.
2. Focus On Creating Evergreen Content
What is evergreen content? It’s content that continues to gain search engine traffic long after it’s been published. This is one of those content marketing tips I’m so glad I paid attention to early on. For a more detailed explanation of evergreen content, check out this post by Neil Patel.
To ensure the content you publish is evergreen:
Does it stand the test of time?
Ask yourself, “If someone reads this article 10 years from now, will it still be relevant? Or will they say, “Oh yeah, I remember when that was actually popular/true/in style/etc.”
Write content that’s relevant all year round.
For example, on my insurance website, I’ve got a post called 6 Secrets For Recruiting And Retaining Young Agents that gets traffic every single day of the year. Contrast that with another post on my site called Memorial Day Weekend Is The Most Dangerous Weekend On The Roads. Can you guess which one is more evergreen?
Consider removing publish dates from your posts.
There’s debate about whether this should even be filed under “Good Content Marketing Tips”. But I think it’s worth considering. Think about it. Ten years from now, when someone finds your post in their search engine results, will they still click through if your publish date is old and stale?
3. Tell Stories & Be Yourself
The art of storytelling seems to be popping up a lot these days in lots of posts about content marketing tips. And for good reason. People naturally want to connect with other people. So how can you do that with your own online content?
Give real life examples
For every main concept you present to your audience, give them an example. Tell a story. Bring up the time you were goofing around and running with the trash can from the street back to your house and tripped and fell inside. (My wife still laughs her butt off retelling that one!)
Embrace the psychology of storytelling
Scientific studies and plenty of other lists of content marketing tips have shown that we’re hardwired to remember stories over facts. Stories draw readers in. They help people make connections between what they already know and the new stuff you’re throwing at them.
If this one seems out of place in a list about content marketing tips, think again. People want to develop a relationship with you, even if they’re just reading your words. Let your personality show in what you write. For perfect example of someone who writes in their own voice, check out this blog post creation checklist from Sara Moss.
For example, my 4 years of college in Boston, and then marrying a Rhode Islander, tends to bring the slang phrase “wicked [insert subject here]”. I don’t hide that in most of my blog posts. And the reason is that’s how I would talk if I were enjoying a conversation with you in real life.
4. Do (Smart) Keyword Research
Going the “publish and pray” method is not the smartest of content marketing tips. You need to intentionally develop your content around keywords your ideal audience is searching. Fortunately, there are tools out there to make keyword research more effective than just guessing.
Google Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planner is a good place to start getting keyword ideas. Just pop a couple of keywords or keyword phrases into the planner and…BOOM! Keyword ideas a plenty are ready for you. Just keep in mind, these are the same keywords everyone else is seeing if they used the same search criteria.
To dig deeper for some keyword gems, copy and paste the website address of one of your competitors into the “Your Landing Page” field and then search. Here’s what you might see if you search the phrase “bakery shop”.
Once you’ve grabbed some keywords from the Google Keyword Planner, jump over to BuzzSumo and enter a couple of those keywords into their search field. What you’ll get is a list of posts that are performing best for that keyword phrase (ie: getting a ton of social media shares and website traffic).
This will change the way you get your content marketing ideas. Sift through the results to get a good feel for the types of posts you might want to create. Here’s what popped up when I entered the phrase “content marketing tips”.
Sounds like an unlikely place to do keyword research for your content, doesn’t it? But just think for a second. When you Google something and see ads at the top and sides of the page, that means you’ve searched for a keyword that marketers are paying good money for to target people just like you.
Here’s a couple of things to pay attention to:
- Number of ads on the page – The more you see, the more popular the topic you just searched for. That’s good.
- Ad copy – Refine your keyword research by paying close attention to the language marketers are using to get people to click on their ad.
Your own Google Analytics results
Google used to show you just about every keyword visitors searched for to find your site. Gone are those days, my friend. But they do still show you some keywords. Use your Google Analytics account to find the keyword phrases that slip through.
What you’re likely to find are keywords you’re not intentionally trying to rank for. Use those to create new posts that are unique variations of what you originally wrote on that topic. Look for a twist or a new angle.
If you’re seeing the keyword phrase “content marketing tips” show up, try writing about “content marketing tips for small businesses”. The possibilities are endless.
5. Create Enticing Titles
You can write the shiniest, sexiest post about building an effective customer referral program. But if you’re title is “meh”, you can forget people actually reading it.
Writing enticing titles is critical for content marketing success. It’s what gets readers to click on your content and then share it. Pay close attention to these next few content marketing tips.
Lure them in.
Does your title pull the reader in? Does it beg for an answer or explanation? A great example of an enticing blog title (and a great post on the subject itself) is: How to Write Killer Titles That Can Sell a Fur Coat to a Wookie. I still reference back to this post today when writing my titles.
Keep it short.
The cutoff point for what search engine results display is around 60 characters. So keep your titles short and to the point.
Keep it relevant.
Nothing hurts your bounce rate more than using a misleading title. If you trick visitors into thinking they’re about to get something they’re not, your post won’t show up near the top of search results for long.
Include your keyword phrase.
Absolutely include your keyword or keyword phrase in your title. For more punch, put it at the beginning of your title
Make it a list.
By far the most popular blog posts on the web are list posts, or “listicles”. These seem to stand the test of time more than any other type of blog post. If you take nothing else away from these content marketing tips, write a list post.
And when appropriate, use odd numbers in your list. There’s plenty of studies that show readers tend to view odd numbers as more realistic.
6. Make Your Content Easier To Read
This next set of content marketing tips is crucial for keeping visitors on your page longer. Longer “dwell time” is good for your Google rankings.
According to CoSchedule, less than half of your blog readers actually read past 100 words. For the most part, this has to do with readability. So how do you fix this?
Write like Hemingway.
Ernest Hemingway was the master of writing short sentences. You should be, too. ‘Nuff said.
Keep your paragraphs short.
I’m a former high school English teacher. It still makes me twitch when I see articles that drone on and on with no breaks. Keep your paragraphs to no more than 3 or 4 sentences. It’s just easier on the eyes.
Guide your readers with headings.
Not only do headings help with SEO (when you use h1 and h2 tags). They also help readers who are in a hurry scan your post for the main points. Headings help them quickly decide whether it’s what they were looking for or not. If you guide them along, they’ll stick around longer to dig deeper.
Use images, video and bullet points.
Using rich media and bullet points also help break up your content into more usable chunks. Not to mention, content with images and video get shared more frequently than content without.
7. Optimize Your SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the stuff baked into your content that gets it found when people put keywords into sites like Google. A lot of bloggers promoting content marketing tips say optimizing your SEO is the number one way to get long term traffic to your website.
The most effective way to make sure you’re optimizing every post is to use a WordPress plugin like Yoast SEO. Here’s how it works.
Start by entering your keyword or keyword phrase it into the Focus Keyword section. Yoast will then guide you through optimizing your post around this keyword.
Your SEO title is what shows up in Google’s search results. It needs to look good if you want readers to click. Yoast warns you when your title gets too long or doesn’t contain your keyword phrase.
Your Meta Description shows up in Google’s search results right below your SEO Title. If you don’t fill out this section, Google will pull in roughly the first 160 characters of your blog post.
So, if you’re following these content marketing tips to the “T”, it’s to your advantage to use the Meta Description to ensure your keyword phrase shows up in search results. It’s your advertisement to lure searchers to read your content.
This section contains more advanced indicators of whether your post is on track or not for being well optimized. Yoast makes it simple by color coding each item red, yellow or green. Basically, all you have to do is fix each item until all (or most) are green.
The ones I focus on the most are: internal links, images, keyword usage and readability score.
8. Make It Easy To Share
If you’ve followed these content marketing tips and done your job right, your posts will start seeing some traffic. It may only trickle in at first. So make sure your content is easy to share.
Use social sharing buttons
Every website worth their salt has eye-catching social sharing buttons to allow visitors to share your content with one or two clicks. I use SumoMe on my websites. It’s incredibly flexible and there are free versions of all their plugins.
The SumoMe Share plugin allows you to:
- choose your preferred social buttons (even which buttons show up on desktop vs. mobile).
- select the position(s) on your page to display the buttons.
- decide whether or not to display the number of shares (per social network and total for all networks).
- manage which pages/posts on your website to display the share buttons.
Click To Tweet
If you want to entice your readers to share your content on Twitter, there’s no better WordPress plugin than Click To Tweet by TodayMade. Give it a shot by clicking the text below.
Make your images easy to share
The same people that developed the Share plugin I mentioned above have also created a wicked simple way to make any image on your website shareable. And it’s cleverly named Image Sharer.
Once installed, just choose which social sites you want to display when visitors hover over images. That’s it!
Give it a shot by hovering on the image below and sharing it on your favorite social site. Notice how the whole title “10 Content Marketing Tips To Drive More Traffic” is set as the default share text. Pretty cool, huh?
Embed alt text in your images
One of the most overlooked content marketing tips is using alt text in your images. Because search engines can’t read what’s on your images, you need to tell them what your image represents. That’s where alt text comes in.
Whether you’re using WordPress or another editor, you’ll be able to enter alt text to describe your image. Make sure to use your keyword phrase where applicable to give your post a little boost. For example, I’ve included the phrase “content marketing tips” into several of my alt text tag for this post.
Include your Twitter handle in sharing plugins
Encouraging readers to share your content on Twitter is a great start. Just don’t forget to attribute your hard work to yourself.
Most of the sharing plugins mentioned here allow you to embed your twitter handle in the tweet that’s generated when they share it. Just check the settings for each of these plugins and you’ll find something like this:
9. Enlist An Army Of Promoters To Spread The Word
As with anything in life, if you want to spread the word, you need people’s help. When it comes to marketing your content, nothing is more important than developing a core group of influential friends to carry your message far and wide.
Use the “buddy system”
As you share content, you’ll naturally develop a smaller core group of “buddies” who like what you’re throwing down. Most of my peeps are in the insurance industry, and most I’ve never met in person. But we’ve become so intertwined, it’s like we’re all in school together.
If I’m writing a post like this on content marketing tips, I simply send my buddies a quick email to let them know I think it’s right up their ally. 9 times out of 10, they share it, without me asking them directly. If you make someone feel special by giving them something unconditionally, you’ll never have to ask for a favor.
Give first to get what you want
Be a giver. Not a taker. This works particularly well on Twitter and LinkedIn. Retweet. Retweet. Retweet.
On LinkedIn, develop relationships with other contributors by commenting on their posts and sharing them with your network. Don’t forget to tag them! And if you keep the conversation going on their post, they’ll notice you and likely return the favor the next time you post something.
Harness the power of Twitter lists
Make a list in Twitter of people who consistently favorite or retweet your tweets. If they’re showing you love, then putting them in a list will make it easier for you to:
- regularly retweet their content, to keep the love train moving.
- know who to tag in your future tweets that are relevant to them.
10. Use Social Media Scheduling Tools
The last and most powerful of these content marketing tips is to keep your content editorial calendar full. These tools make it easy to continuously share your content to drive more traffic to your website:
In a recent post, I went into detail about why CoSchedule is my go-to content marketing calendar. In a nutshell, it’s a drag-and-drop marketing calendar with easy social media scheduling.
The most powerful feature about CoSchedule is the ability to easily re-schedule old blog content. Plus, it integrates tightly with WordPress, allowing you to schedule social media shares before you even publish your blog.
I grew my Twitter following by 17% in the first week of using CoSchedule simply by rescheduling old content.
On a side note, CoSchedule also puts out a lot of great content marketing tips on their blog. You might want to check them out.
Before discovering CoSchedule, Hootsuite was my main content marketing calendar. What I use it for now is scheduling posts to LinkedIn Groups.
I can make the same post to 30+ Groups in one go using HootSuite. Their API still allows this, whereas CoSchedule’s doesn’t. It saves me hours of time each week. And my posts to LinkedIn Groups get clicks and shares for weeks after being published through HootSuite.
The first two social media scheduling tools I mentioned are great for sharing your own content. But I use Buffer solely to schedule shares of other people’s posts (You down with OPP? Yeah, you know me!)
I spend about 10 – 15 minutes every morning reading through my Twitter and LinkedIn feed. Anything that’s worth sharing gets “buffered” using their Chrome plugin or my iPhone’s “Share Via” button.
What are your favorite content marketing tips?
I hope these content marketing tips have inspired you to make some positive changes in your overall content marketing strategy. By implementing just a few of these, you should see a significant increase in traffic to your website.
Above all, write about something that interests you. You’re ability to convince people you care about your subject is critical to them clicking and reading your posts. If you’re not passionate about what your writing, none of these content marketing tips matter.
I do love to hear from you. So let me know which content marketing tips are driving the most traffic to your website in the comments below.