Welcome back to our ongoing coverage of #SES San Francisco! A true content wizard, Lee Odden’s (@leeodden) Content Marketing Optimization session reminded the audience that content can make or break your website. When you’re looking to optimize your site, you have to take everything from rich media to web pages to digital assets to PDF documents to both created and shared content into account. Always remember: “If it’s searchable, it’s optimizable.”

With so many people looking to break into the already well-established online marketing realm, brand marketers have to go after the Holy Grail of content marketing optimization – that is to say, they must be efficient and improve the impact of their SEO and social media efforts. aimClear live-tweeted this session via @ericasendros Keep on reading for the real deal.

What does content marketing do for SEO? And where does it fit within an online marketing program? As content marketers, we create messages that are easily discoverable and share the content with people we connect with. Everything you create within your social network qualifies as content, and this applies to brands as well. As more companies adopt the brand as publisher, we see an increase in social content creation. The competitive landscape in search is leading to companies beginning to to expand their content circles to new types of media – everything from webinars to white papers to blogs to case studies. People want their data in a variety of ways, and it’s imperative to utilize every avenue of media that you can if you want to reach a wider audience. Create videos and write articles, guest blog, reach out to other thought-leaders to have them guest blog on your own site. Be proactive. Optimize all your content.

Sage Advice from a Master of the Online Marketing Craft
If you are a content creator searching for success, there are two things you must do:

  • Make your content findable
  • Make your content sharable

If nothing else, people need to be able to see what it is you’re trying to share. By spreading optimized content across various types of media, they will be able to find it in more place than one, thus increasing the chances they will share your content. Content marketing is basically just aligning customers’ needs with a brand’s objective.

How do you even get started writing your content? Lee suggests looking at segmentation of different customer groups as well as personas. What groups do your customers fall into? Find out and cater your content to them.

One Large Cup of Fresh Content, Please
The most effective SEO tactic is to have good content, but that’s also the most difficult to maintain. Creating new, fresh ideas on a regular basis (and optimizing them) is what makes a brand climb to the top of the search engine results.

If you want to write quality content, you need to have a process – a cyclical relationship with the community so you can have new and original ideas everyday. Reward your community for sharing, and they will continue to share. People like nothing better than to be recognized for their ideas, and by keeping your community happy, you’ll be opening the doors for more people to share content and original thoughts with you.

Companies should create content that can be optimized. Why go through the trouble of writing a thoughtful piece or shooting an informational video if you’re not going to optimize it? If you’e not going to optimize it, chances are it won’t be easily findable. Expending significant time on content should be rewarded with optimization. Generally, most of the head honchos in a company think they need to optimize their products or services first because that will ultimately result in more sales. This is certainly true, but what many managers fail to realize is how important it is for news, press releases and general information to be optimized. A customer is more likely to find your company or your product if your entire website is in keen optimization mode. There is a tremendous opportunity for SEOs to work with PR people, industry analysts and bloggers.

At Your Service, Dear Customer!
People are always searching Google for forums that will provide an answer to their question. Increase customer satisfaction by making their answer readily available, optimized, and easily navigable. Remember: Whatever can be searched can be optimized. Everything from images to video to tweets to Facebook updates to LinkedIn updates and Microsoft Office documents. These media types can be ranked on their own, but optimizing them makes them more findable. If it’s more findable, that’s less work for your customer.

Make sure that you master optimization for content across the customer’s buying cycle. What are you doing to optimize for customer experience?

Strategy, Strategy, Strategy!
After you have achieved the high quality content you want, you will need to work toward content marketing optimization and social media optimization. Here’s how:

  • Research customer segments.
  • Identify search keywords and social topics that are relevant to your customer needs.
  • Content and promotion plan:
    • Where will you promote it?
    • Where will you re-purpose it?
    • Companies often publish their content only to never use it again.
    • Plan how to re-use your content.
  • Optimize, socialize and promote your content. Grow your network everyday.
    • Who do you follow and associate with?
    • What are your customers content preferences?
    • How do they discover, consume and share content?
    • What are they looking for on search engines?
    • Align your business goals with the needs of your consumer.

A lot of SEOs optimize existing content for particular phrases they think will be most searched. That’s not enough to create relationships with customers. Find out why your customers want that product. Harvest the dialogue, organize it by keywords, and answer their questions. Collect data, identify commonalities, and cluster common characteristics.

Where do we get the data? Ask customers! If you were to search for a product, where would you search? What would you search for?

Courtesy of freefoto.com

Some Questions Worth Asking… Yourself

  • Which phrases do competitors optimize?
  • What high level keywords do you want to be known for?
  • How will you promote that blog post?
  • Where will you re-purpose it?
  • What media will you include?
  • How can you make it interactive?
  • What are the top level concepts you want to dominate?
  • Is this piece of content useful and interesting?

Bottom Line: If You Create Good Stuff, People Will Share It
Press releases that have embedded media far exceed press releases that are comprised of text alone in performance. To achieve more coordinated content, use a mix of different media types to appease all customers. Contributed articles and guest blog posts can be useful, but how do you find a willing, well-respected guest blogger? It’s as simple as checking search results for guest bloggers and reaching out to them. Most bloggers will love the exposure, especially if the blog is the center of your site. Are you being creative with getting your content out there? Creating networks at the end of each distribution channel is important. Its not enough to provide optimized content.

So, you’re ready to apply content SEO. Now what?
Oftentimes, the most difficult part of kicking off an optimization project is knowing where to start. If you’re in that boat, try these practical tips:

  • Audit existing content and focus on current content and digital asset optimization.
  • Optimize priority content and add new content according to marketing/PR purposes following SEO best practices.
  • Re-vamp! Develop new site content and a new editorial plan while adding content according to keywords.

8 Ideas For Fresh Content
Tired of the same old content? Running low on fresh ideas? Need a new burst of energy? Try one of these eight tips Lee suggests:

  • Google alert keywords – provide commentary and insight.
  • Create short lists of tips according to keyword themes.
  • Compile large collections of resources according to theme. As you find things online, collect them and categorize them. Over time, you will accrue a substantial list.
  • Interview other bloggers. Either ask many bloggers one question or ask several questions to one blogger.
  • Aggregate the best comments from other blogs and turn that into your own analysis.
  • Run surveys, polls and contests that result in content. What did you discover?
  • Get your staff to ask you questions, and answer as a blog post. It’s a gold mine for coming up with content ideas!
  • Collect services/sales/FAQ information and then write about them.

Eureka! So THAT’s what they mean by content marketing optimization
Online competition is fierce. As marketers, we need to embrace our creativity and make it as accessible as possible. Let’s take the initiative to always remain one step ahead of our competitors. If your competition is performing, borrow their popularity by interacting in their conversation. After you’ve furiously produced some fresh, stimulating content and optimized it to Timbuktu, your competition will be the one trying to interact with you.

Remember what’s important! You have to be customer-centric, and you need a good team. Train your copywriters on SEO best practices, and go holistic with social and SEO. Likewise, you will need to train your SEOs on how to create an efficient content strategy. Lastly, don’t forget to set reasonable, adaptable goals and create feedback mechanisms to stay in contact with your customers and community.

Big thanks to Lee for an awesome session! Keep checking aimClear Blog for more conference coverage 🙂