Writing About Your Business

Posted by Keith Jolie on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 Under: Content Marketing
Writing about your business is something that many business owners shy away from and even fear.  Why?  Well, I think many business owners feel that it's kind of like being in a job interview and being asked "why should I give this job to you?" or on the flipside "what is your one biggest weakness?" 

We find these questions difficult, not because we don't know the answers (hopefully).  They are difficult because they force us to expose ourselves and risk either looking arrogant or flawed in some way.
  
The challenge however is that so much of promoting a business now has to do with being found online via a search engine like Google or Bing and through social media.
The prevalence of on-line research means that consumers / customers are becoming better prepared as they enter the buying process.  They have researched the products or services that fit their needs and by the time you actually speak to them much of the decision making process may have already happened.  Ensuring that your product or service is part of that research underlines the importance of Search Engine Optimization or SEO. 


The impact of Content Marketing on SEO (or is it the other way around?)

When Google launched from a friend's garage in the 1990s the way that Google found sites was completely unique.  A combination of measuring relevant keywords, links back to the site from other sites and other factors made Google's results more accurate and relevant than other services like AltaVista who took more of a directory approach.

Over time however, smart people with an understanding of this approach began to game the system in order to rank higher in the increasingly important Google first page (the first page of results you see when you search a term).  Entire businesses were built that provided an easy way for business owners to get sites to link back to their site.  Keyword spamming became part of the SEO vernacular and more and more Google took notice.  Over time Google started adjusting their algorithm in attempt to thwart this gaming. 

With the latest release of their search algorithm, many sites that have employed these techniques are seeing greatly decreased traffic.  Google is attempting to provide what they refer to as semantic search which is a fancy way of saying that they are attempting to build in an understanding of what your website (and other connected sites across the web) say about your business.  The goal as Google seems to be communicating it is to provide more relevant results based on the context of the overall content of the site.  More and more SEO experts are pointing to one factor that will help your site rank better within Google...Relevant, Quality Content.  

What is content?  Well, simply put...it means providing information and writing about the things that your customers care about, and your business.   The great news for business owners is that SEO is becoming less of a "black box" that only highly technical people can understand.  There are still many aspects of SEO that are technical in nature, having more to do with the way your website is built.  

The increased importance on content means that business owners can have a real impact on their SEO by ensuring that their business website provides users with up to date relevant information about their products and services.  Helping customers research and prepare for a purchase will actually help them to find and choose you!

Content Marketing in the context of Social Media

Social Media is nothing new, but for business, the social media landscape continues to change.  Particularly for local businesses (independent retailers, restaurants and businesses that provide services to other local businesses) there are some social media platforms (like Google+) and consumer review sites (like Yelp, Foursquare and others) that  continue to grow in importance not only from a referral standpoint but also from an SEO perspective.

The primary advantage that engaging in Social media continues to provide businesses is an opportunity to participate in conversations with their customers and for the right kind of business to build a community of like minded people who are likely to buy from them. In order to succeed however, business owners need to continuously provide value through these channels; not only providing information about their business but engaging in discussion, responding to feedback and providing content that will help potential clients research and prepare before they buy.  This means creating content that will satisfy those requirements.

Quality content then is a fundamental part of being found through search engines and engaging effectively in social media.  Providing quality content requires businesses to write about their businesses effectively.

How does a business succeed with Content Marketing?

There isn't a hard and fast blueprint that businesses can follow to ensure success but there are a few things that every business should consider when building a Content Marketing strategy.

1. Consistency  

Ensure that you are consistent with your core business information across all of the sites that you use.  Make sure the phone number, address and email addresses on your website match those that you list on other sites.  Keep graphics and logos consistent and if you change one site, change them all.  This will keep things familiar for your clientèle and help search engines to build the relationship between each reference to you on the web and help your website to rank better by showing that you are an active business.

Tip:  Keep a record of each site that you use so that when you have changes, you can ensure that you've made them everywhere.

2. Anchor your efforts with your brand

Ensure that the content you provide supports what you want to say about your business.  Even large brands have made the mistake of forgetting what their activity on social media  says about their business and business ethics.   Think about the questions that your customers have about the product or service you provide and only create or share content that addresses those questions.  Avoid pictures of kittens unless you are a veterinarian and pictures of sunsets with inspirational quotes unless you are some kind of guru.

Tip:  Before you post something ask yourself if a customer would find it awkward if you were to share the same information in person ("hi...look at this cute kitty cat...")

3.  Choose the right channel for your message

On a really basic level this means that If you have multinational corporate clients Linkedin might be better for your business than facebook for instance.  If you are a restaurant, you should monitor Yelp and so on.

Tip:
 Ask yourself "where do my clients look for advice on their purchases?"  and go there.

4.  Respond and Listen

Using social media to promote your business is pointless unless it is a two way conversation.  Use it to consider what is being said about your business, to positively respond to customer complaints and to improve your products and services.

Tip:  A defensive and angry response to criticism on social media will almost always backfire.  Stay positive and look for solutions or ways to improve your business.

5. Quality Content

Search engines continue to place greater importance on the quality, relevance, freshness and depth of information being provided on a website.  Consider how you will provide your potential customers with content that satisfies these criteria.  Hiring a professional content writer who will help you to identify topics and write content that will be valuable for your clientèle can help you to be more consistent without taking you away from your core responsibilities.

Tip:  Develop a list of topic categories that you want to address on your website, then brainstorm individual topics within each category and schedule your content creation using those topics.  For instance a restaurant may which to talk about 1. fresh ingredients, 2. information about their regional cuisine and 3. preparation techniques.  A few articles in each category could be scheduled out over several months to provide relevant information to their clientèle.

Questions?

What aspects of content marketing do you struggle with? - I'd love to hear from you in the comments.
If your business could use a content boost, Getting Brighter can help, just email us at lets-talk@gettingbrighter.com to start the conversation.

You can also find more ideas about promoting your business at the Getting Brighter Ideas Blog and don't forget to subscribe!

By Keith Jolie

In : Content Marketing 


Tags: content seo "social media" "content marketing" google 
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