The first place consumers turn to when looking for information is the Web. Listen closely to conversations and you’ll often hear “I’ll just Google it.” So, how do you get your product or small business to rank among Google’s search results? It’s actually not as hard as it seems. All you have to do is create quality, compelling and shareable content, combined with some simple SEO best practices, and you can get your small business ranking in the top of Google’s search results for topics that your customers are searching for.
Here are 42 tips for developing a small business content strategy that is designed to drive highly qualified traffic to your website and to get potential customers to convert.
Small Business Content Writing Basics
Okay, let’s start with the basics. To generate the kind of content that will rank well and be interesting, you need to have a plan, so try the following:
- Be consistent and fresh. Try to make sure you’re publishing blog posts at two to three times per week. Not only is the quality of your content important, but so is the frequency with which you publish. To continually grow your site’s traffic and sales potential, you should blog on a regular basis.
- Establish an editorial calendar. Set aside a designated time a few days a week to devote to writing content for your business.
- Be a story teller. People love good stories. Don’t just give them fact after fact. Mix in some real world examples to help bring your blog posts to life and entertain your audience.
- Let your personality shine through. If you’re a funny, witty person, allow that to shine in your blog and throughout your website. Personality gives your writing a unique voice and helps you stick out in the blogging crowd.
- Be current and relevant: If it happened two days ago, great. Write about it. But if it happened two months ago, you may want to consider a different topic or at least a new spin.
- Give away secrets! People love to get inside information from experts on a topic. You’re the expert on your business and your niche, so you’ve got valuable industry knowledge that only you know. Be transparent and share some of your trade secrets with your audience. They’ll thank you for it.
- Steer clear of controversy. Sure, some bloggers make their living off of being controversial, but they’re not trying to sell a product or service. You are! So stay away from hot button topics like politics or religion. You don’t want to alienate any of your target consumers.
- Make your blog posts at least 500 to 600 words. Now, there’s no magic word count to ranking on page one in the search engines, but Google likes quality content (and so do readers). And it’s really hard to deliver quality content in just a paragraph.
- Don’t be too self-promotional. Sure, your goal is to get more leads and sales, but self-serving blog content can turn readers off, and that’s the opposite of what you want to happen.
Small Business SEO Content Strategies
Using SEO best practices is a great way to make sure you content is optimized for search engines, which means it has an even better chance to rank well and drive traffic to your site. Here are some highly effective small business strategies for SEO.
- Make sure you include SEO keywords in your blog post title, your subheads and your body copy. Having keywords present in your content is one important way Google figures out if your blog posts are relevant for a topic. Google has a free keyword tool that you can use to find keywords your target customers are searching for.
- But when you do use keywords…don’t overstuff them into your blog posts. This can sound stilted and unnatural. The best practice is to write naturally for users not search engines. You can use your keyword list as a loose guide of terms and phrases to keep in mind as you write and incorporate where appropriate.
- Keep up to date for search engine changes. Google is constantly changing their algorithms to improve relevancy and to weed out the spam, so it helps to stay up to date on the latest search engine updates, which can affect how your website ranks. Reading Google’s Inside Search Blog is a great way to stay informed.
- Don’t forget your older, archived content. Does it need updating? Is it still valid or has time made it outdated? Freshening up your content is key to staying relevant and Google also favors content that has been updated.
- Use analytics tools to measure your traffic. Google offers website owners free analytics tracking software they can use to see the traffic growth that happens when they publish content on their site regularly and implement SEO best practices.
Creating Share-Worthy Content for Your Small Business
A sign of good, quality content is content (be it a blog post, article, image, video, guide, etc) that gets shared by others across the Web and on social media. Here are some tips on how to make your content share-worthy.
- Write attention-grabbing headlines. You have less than 10 seconds to grab someone’s attention and your headline is the best chance at doing so. Make it a good one. Also, check out Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work for ideas.
- Use numbers in your headline. People like to know they’re getting something specific (like “The Top 10 Foods to Improve Your Memory”) and our brains are attracted to numbers. So be sure to incorporate numbers in your blog titles, like 10 Great Tips, 43 Ways to Save, etc. Numbers are effective at capturing a reader’s attention quickly and drawing them in.
- Use “trigger words” throughout your blog post. Words like FREE, DISCOUNT, IMPROVED are all proven marketing power horses, and here are more great examples.
- Be grammatically correct. Making grammar mistakes can turn people off and undermine your own credibility and intelligence, so take the simple step of hitting spell check before you publish.
- Don’t sell your product in every post. In fact, don’t sell your product in the majority of your posts. Being overly-promotional turns people off, sounds “salesy” and can kill sharing. Try to make 80 percent of your content and your blog posts purely “informational” and meant to help your audience.
- Connect on an emotional level. People are drawn to subject matter that they can connect to on an emotional level, be it funny or shocking or something that tugs on the heartstrings. Appealing to emotions is one way to get your content to go viral!
- Use images. Adding pictures to your content helps readers make a connection to your content.
Tips for Discovering Creative Content Ideas
Coming up with unique and interesting content topics is tough work. Here are some tactics and ideas to help you get creative.
- Read the news. Find relevant and timely news stories that pertain to your respective industry. Write a post examining the issues, defending your product or giving the “other side” of the story.
- Write about trends. Use a tool like Google Trends to find fresh and trending topics.
- Use questions to fuel content ideas. Sites like Yahoo Answers and Quora are great resources for coming with ideas based on questions people need answers to.
- Tap into customer emails. Next time you write a lengthy response to an email inquiry from a customer asking for help with something, turn that email into a “how to” blog post.
- Conduct surveys on the cheap with Survey Monkey and publish the results on your blog.
- Brainstorm. Don’t be afraid to let the juices flow. Sometimes the most creative ideas start off as the craziest of notions. Set some time aside each day to just brainstorm ideas. Enlist a few of the more creative members from your company to join in too. Group brainstorming can be highly productive and fun!
- Use popular “SEO keywords” for topic ideas. Use the free keyword tool from Google to find the most popular keywords and write blog posts about those topics.
- Use site analytics tools to discover content ideas. Every so often, you can check the keywords people are using to find your website. Here you’ll find all sorts of topic ideas for content. Plus, these are content ideas that are proven to drive traffic to your website.
- Keep a notebook, either digital or traditional, handy to jot down any ideas that may come to you while you’re away from your computer.
- Read popular marketing blogs. Subscribe to the RSS feeds of some top blogs from the AdAge top marketing blogs list, so you can get a constant stream of new ideas.
- If you can’t write or don’t have the time, hire someone who can. There are some great low-cost writing services on the Web like ELance or Text Broker that you can use to hire writers on the cheap.
Tips for Creating Consumer Engagement
- Add social share buttons to your blog. Make sure that your readers can easily share your posts with their networks.
- Share. Share. Share. Create and leverage social media accounts with Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus to share and promote your content.
- Share the content of others too. Build relationships in your niche by promoting other bloggers content to your followers and watch how they return the favor.
- Respond to all comments on your blog. Don’t ignore your audience. Engaging with people who take the time to comment on your posts is an effective way to keep them coming back for more.
- Use a social media management/blogging platform to help you schedule and monitor your social media engagement. Sites such as Postling, Gremlin or Hootsuite can help you manage your posts as well as your time so you can scale your efforts.
- Share exclusive sales and discounts with only your followers. That way, more people will want to be in your “inner circle.”
- Run contests and giveaways on your site.
- Publish guest posts on popular websites and blogs in your industry, which helps build brand awareness and gets your content in front of a totally new audience so you can GROW your followers
- Are you giving back? Volunteer your time or services or sponsor or host a local meetup. Community relations is a fantastic way to foster engagement and gain awareness.
- Keep a watchful eye on your competitors. Check out what they’re doing to engage with their customers and social followers. Then take a page from their notebook, but do it only bigger and better.
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