Tag Archive: Google

  1. Should I Start a Google AdWords Campaign? What You Need to Know Before You Start Your Campaign

    Appearing in the number one spot on Google by simply shelling out some cash may sound like a no-brainer, but there are a few items to consider before you start re-allocating your marketing dollars. Just like any campaign, Google AdWords requires (you guessed it) strategy–and lots of it.

    Should I Start a Google AdWords Campaign? The Good, Bad & Ugly of This SEO Tool

    AdWords allows for rapid visibility. Unlike organic search, you don’t have to rely on slow increases in search rankings after months of accumulating links to your site, crafting valuable content, utilizing proper title tags, etc. This type of campaign allows you to bid on keywords, target specific locations to reach your audience and show up as one of the top results in the search listings. Alternatively, display ads and retargeting can be used on specific websites to meet your audience where they are.

    These quick results come with a price tag, however. It can be costly to ensure you outbid the competitors and actually show up in position one to three on the search listings. In addition, it is time consuming to maintain ads the proper way. After the initial setup, someone with sufficient AdWords experience should be dedicated to reviewing and making tweaks to the campaigns nearly every day. Rather than a slow-cooker-esque, “set it and forget it” strategy, proper planning is recommended for an ad campaign to work effectively, including putting thought into the ad copy and imagery (if applicable), keywords and landing page that the user is sent to.

    So You Want to Start an AdWords Campaign

    Your End Goal

    Because there’s an entire painter’s palette of ads to choose from, it’s important to identify the goal of the specific campaign. Whether your goal is to increase leads, sign-ups, or brand awareness, the type of ad used, as well as the landing page, should reflect and service the given goal.

    Search vs. Display Ads

    • Search Ads: These are the ads that appear at the top or side of the search listings, which are typically the ads people are most familiar with when they hear the term “Google AdWords.” This type of ad is best for the “active searcher.” Namely, someone who is on a mission to find a particular thing (think: plumbers, locksmiths, etc).
    • Display Ads: These ads display on a particular website, typically on the sidebar, header or footer of the site. These work best to familiarize people with your brand or if your product requires a lengthy sales process or has major visual appeal that you want to showcase.
    • Retargeting: Have you ever abandoned your cart on a particular website, only to be “followed” by an ad for that same product when you visit Facebook? A little creepy, right? This form of modern-day, digital haunting is also known as retargeting, and it’s an effective sales tool for companies with longer sales cycles.

    Be Specific

    It’s important to include specific keywords, ad copy and landing pages that all come together like the pieces of some kind of sales-driving jigsaw puzzle to complete your campaign’s goals. Create a landing page with a call-to-action and content that is specific to the targeted keyword rather than sending a user from an AdWords listing to your homepage with no action step. Negative keywords can also be targeted to steer an unwanted audience away from your ads. For example, if you are creating a campaign around VIP ticket sales to an event, you may want to target “cheap” as a negative keyword so that your ads are not served to those whose search query includes that word.

    Set Expectations

    Understand that every new campaign includes a test period–we’ve all had to work through our awkward phases, after all. It’s best to target an array of keywords, use different sets of ad copy and/or imagery, as well as landing pages to see what resonates best with your audience and adjust your campaign in response.

    Depending on your goals, AdWords can be an effective tool when you utilize the right ad type and create a specific and well-monitored campaign. For the greatest chance at success, we recommend this simply as a tool in your toolbox of an overall strategy that includes other tactics to support it, such as organic SEO, content marketing, email marketing, public relations and social media. There’s no quick solution for long-lasting SEO success, but taking the time to adopt the best practices and learn tools of the trade can go a long way toward getting your site seen.  

  2. “Think With Google” Website Speed Test Grades Internet “F” In Mobile Site Speed

    So, Google has a shiny, new mobile-friendly site tool. What does this mean? Is your site going to be graded differently? Can it ever live up to sites like Apple, Moz, or even the mighty Google itself? Do you immediately need to run out and have your web developer take a hammer and nails to your website? The answer is most likely no to all of these questions (unless your website still isn’t mobile-friendly in the year 2016, then you should probably revisit question 3).

    Google took two of their tools that have already existed for some time: PageSpeed Insights and the Mobile Friendly Test, which just got a makeover last month. Google’s new “Think With Google” website speed test tool combines these two useful tools into one sleek, sexy, animated and engaging tool that can be helpful, IF you don’t get stuck on the fact that your website probably has poor mobile speed.

    Yes, Your Website Probably Has Poor Mobile Speed

    Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Kelly, you have not done enough research to support the claim that every website except Google.com has poor mobile speed according to Google.com.” You are right, reader, I have not. I am 100% sure that there are websites out there (besides Google’s) that have “fair” (I’m looking at you, Netflix. You go, Netflix.) or even “good” mobile site speed, but they seem to be few and far between. I tested a handful of generally reputable websites, and Google pretty much gave them all a big, fat, red F when it comes to mobile site speed:

    microsoft site test amazon site test disney site test moz site test facebook site test apple site testhulu site testhubspot site testmashable site test buzzfeed site test

    **Big props to Facebook and Moz on that Desktop speed.**

    Boy, Google is one tough grader. But like a parent who “only wants what’s best for you,” I truly believe that it is out of love that Google grades us so harshly.

    It’s All Going to Be A-Ok

    The good news is that with this shiny “new” tool, nothing has really changed. Go ahead — pop those URLs into PageSpeed Insights or the Mobile Friendly Test and you’ll see that the numbers more or less match up. Google is trying to make it simpler for you to gather insight about your website in one easy-to-use, modern place. Whether you take the numbers and run screaming or decide to make proper use of them instead, the choice is completely up to you.

    via GIPHY

    Google wants you to have a mobile-friendly website, so much so that they have added this as a factor in their search-ranking criteria steadily over time. If you haven’t jumped on the responsive bandwagon by now, it’s high-time that you do, my friend, or you could be facing the next Mobilegeddon. But being “mobile friendly” isn’t just about having a responsive website. Below is a list of some of Google’s tips for ensuring that your website meets its mobile-friendly standards:

    • Size tap targets appropriately
    • Avoid app install institials that hide content
    • Avoid plugins
    • Configure the viewport
    • Size content to viewport
    • Use legible font sizes
    • So many more things…

    If you don’t know what all of those things are, it’s OK. We can help. Shameless plug.

    fire emoji
    thumbs up emoji100 emoji

     

     

    You’ll see — with the examples above and with many of your own examples, I’m sure — that you can have a bright *thumbs up emoji* *100 emoji* *fire emoji* for mobile friendliness but not make the cut with mobile site speed, or perhaps even desktop site speed. These are things to work on and constantly improve, but they should not have you up in arms.

    Don’t Just Sweep It Under the Rug

    Site Speed ImprovementsTo make a long blog short, your website is probably not going to get a gold star for Google’s elusive definition of “good mobile site speed” tomorrow. If the folks at Facebook, Amazon, Moz, or Apple can’t pass, we should feel pretty comfortable where we stand. But don’t just brush your score off, either. Listen to what Google is telling you. Take note of the improvements you can make (for example, the list at the right), and start from there.

    Google’s new “Think With” speed test tool is pretty, it’s engaging, and if you use it right, it can be pretty darn useful. But don’t let it scare you, either. If you take something away from this post, it should be this: Your customers and clients are the ones that your website should be built for, and your customers and clients live in a world where they’re on the go more than ever. Your website shouldn’t make their lives more difficult, so listen to Google as much as you can without running away, sad-Michael-Jordan crying.

    via GIPHY

    This tool is clearly still relatively new and we hope expect there will be improvements in the future, but we aren’t getting our panties in a bunch just yet. Overall, Google is trying to be a good parent and raise well-rounded, thoughtful children. It may frustrate you with its criticism and harsh punishments, but in the end, it only wants what’s best for us.

  3. 5 Reasons Why Google’s Just Not That into You

    “Why am I not ranking for this word/phrase?” is a question we hear frequently when discussing search engine optimization (SEO). It’s a tough question to answer, because the truth is, Google has an algorithm it uses to rank websites that goes far beyond keywords. So before youy pull your hair out trying to climb the rankings, read our list to find out why your site may be invisible to Google.

    1. There’s too much competition

    Ranking for general keywords is not an easy feat because of the volume of online content and websites that exist. This is why keyword research is incredibly valuable, as it’s important to review not only the search volume, but also the competition level. In Google’s world, if you’re not first you’re last, since the first page of search results receives 94% of the clicks, and ranking on the first page of google for general terms is tough. It’s important to get creative with the terms you want to rank for and think outside of the box. Consider the questions you receive from your clients on a regular basis, and write content around those questions. More likely than not, they are typing those same questions into search engines as well.

    2. You don’t post valuable content

    It’s important to keep in mind that every search engine’s goal is to provide the most relevant content possible to the user. People turn to search engines to answer a specific problem and to research the best products/services by reading reviews. This is why when you search for something like “vacation rentals,” a few major companies show up and the rest of the results are review sites and blog articles written about the top rental companies. It’s become more evident over the last few years that search engines value blog content, and it’s important to have timely content posted to your site that would be of value to someone searching.

    3. You’re trying too hard

    More often than not, we hear people talking about SEO in a very tactical manner, when in reality, SEO should be strategic. Placing X amount of keywords on a page is not going to make you rank for that keyword instantly. In fact, if you are “keyword stuffing” your content, search engines may actually punish you for it by lowering your rankings. SEO is not all about keywords, either. Other marketing initiatives, such as social media and public relations, can play a large role in your rankings. For example, if public relations efforts leads to an article written on your company on Forbes and the article also links to your website, that will have a positive impact on your rankings.

    4. Your site isn’t mobile friendly

    In case you haven’t heard of Mobilegeddon yet, we’ll be the first to tell you: if your site is not mobile-friendly as defined by Google, the search engine will actually lower your rankings in mobile searches. That being said, Google clearly favors mobile-friendly websites. It’s obvious that mobile devices are taking over. Nearly half of consumers say they won’t return to a website if it doesn’t load properly on their mobile devices. Take Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to find out if your site is mobile friendly, and if it’s not, do something about it!

    5. You’re giving up too early

    Organic SEO takes strategy, testing and time. It’s not a quick-fix, and you will not see results over night. What you should see is slow, stable progression over time. Stick with it until the results are where you want, but know that it takes time. Bottom line: don’t mess with Google. Play by the rules and publish valuable content that people are searching for.

  4. When You See It – Why High Quality Images Should Be a High Priority

    Imagine you’re the customer. You search Google or even Facebook for a local bike repair shop and come across some options. Which are you more likely to click on: a blurry photo of a broken bicycle with grainy text designed across the top promoting a 10% off deal, or a bright, high quality image of a man riding a bike with a text headline in the page content saying something like “For all your bike repair needs?”

    Industry research says, that even though one company offers a discount, most of us will engage with the better quality marketing than the poor resolution effort. For businesses who do the majority of their marketing online it is crucial to understand why this happens, plus how improving the quality of your online marketing efforts will help you Win more business right away.

    A common reason your business might want to use lower resolution photography or creative is website speed and performance, especially in regards to viewing on mobile. Makes sense, right? Since it doesn’t take as long to load the pixels, and the end user can get to the digital content faster, why not skimp on file size in favor of boosting performance? According to Google, load time is still the primary way to maximize page views, citing specifically that a loading time increase from 0.4 seconds to 0.9 seconds decreased traffic by 20%. However, you have to ask yourself if boosting performance is worth a negative user experience. Though it may technically be a solution for getting pages to load faster, you should never substitute quality for performance without knowing what you’re doing. Poor quality usually means poor engagement. 

    So, what’s the solution? There are ways to decrease image file size without negatively affecting the image quality. One way is designing your visual web assets (logos especially) as vectors. Vectors use math to replicate the image by whatever new size specs being applied, so they always stay sharp and in focus. This is different than something in a predetermined pixel ratio which will blur or pixelate when sized incorrectly. You can also make edits to brightness, focus, compression and more, as well as setting specific pixel size ratios when saving your image assets. 

    What if you don’t have a staff of savvy designers and photoshop experts? Don’t worry, there are also tools online for easily editing and creating visual marketing pieces and editing photos for use on your site or social media campaigns. Check out tools like Canva and Piktochart, which are great for simple graphic design that anyone can do, even those always-trending infographics. PicMonkey is a handy tool to resize images to the most popular social media site specifications. Looking for an on-the-go solution? Look in to mobile apps like PicLab HD.

    In addition to the importance of high quality we also have to mention the importance of simply being found. Some simple tips to leverage organic SEO on a highly visual, image-heavy site are easier than you may think. When naming the image files use the you want to attract. This is an often overlooked solution but is a definite factor in increasing SEO. Also if you have a headline or marketing offer, don’t include it only as a designed element in the file. Be sure to include it as page text so Google can find it. You’d be surprised how often this is missed, but take a look around online or the social media pages of your competitors and see if you find any guilty parties of this marketing faux pas. 

    Speaking of social media. One of the easiest ways to ensure your photos and designs are going to look their best on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, is to design them to the correct specs in the first place. Take a look at this handy cheat sheet from Constant Contact for all the current image specs.

    The 3M Corporation revealed in a recent study that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. Utilizing the best photos and designs available will only enhance your online brand experience and customer experience. Low quality images will alienate savvy internet users (probably your best likely potential customers) and can even damage your brand. Remember stay focused. Literally!

  5. Social Media Marketing Drives Search Engine Marketing

    Every two years, Moz (formerly SEOMoz.org) surveys a group of SEO experts and asks them to give their opinions on what factors they believe will be most important in driving search engine rankings.  Since Google and other search engines do not make the mechanics of their algorithms publicly available, surveys like this are important to try and identify patterns and trends.  The results of the 2013 survey are now available online and there are some interesting conclusions to be drawn.

    In the world of SEO, things change quickly and dramatically.  In order to gain a little context, it may be helpful to review the results of an older survey (i.e. the 2009 survey) to see how the times have changed.  Just four short years ago, having the proper text inside a link was crucial; now, that practice is almost frowned upon.  As such, keeping tabs on these factors is important to any marketer who wants to rank well in keyword searches.

    While some of the survey results are pretty technical in nature, there are some really important generalizations that can be made.  Most notably, social media marketing continues to increase in importance with regard to how search engines rank a particular page or site.  From the survey results, here are some key take-aways on this point:

    • Google+ – How many +1’s (the equivalent of a Like on Facebook) that your page/site has is very high on the chart.  If a company has no Google+ presence, the time has come to move forward in creating and developing one.  Better late than never!
    • Facebook Likes, Shares, and Comments – Your pages must be tied to Facebook and boldly solicit Likes and Shares.  Google looks at the number of times your pages are liked and shared and considers these as votes for your content.
    • Twitter Influence – Your site and content will be measured for its appeal on Twitter.  The more tweets and influence on Twitter, the more favorably characterized your page will be.
    • Content, Content, Content  – This is not a new revelation by any means, but it is a known quantity that high quality content drives search engine visibility AND the three categories mentioned above.  Sites without fresh, interesting, and engaging content don’t receive social media attention from Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

    There are many other conclusions to be drawn from this important survey, but it’s abundantly clear that truly working on your social media strategy will go a long way toward increasing your site’s search engine visibility.  A brief snippet of some of the results are below, but you might consider reviewing the full survey results for yourself.

    A glimpse of the 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors survey results.

    A glimpse of the 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors survey results courtesy of moz.com.

  6. What Should I Write About on My Company Blog?

    When it comes to your company blog, a little thought goes a long way.  Most marketers agree that effective content marketing is an increasingly important part of reaching new customers.  Consumers are continuing to shun ads in favor of objective, educational content.  Companies that are trying to grow are seeking to tap into this trend and a great vehicle to do so is a corporate blog.  And while more and more marketers seem open to creating a blog, knowing what to write and finding the time to do so are difficult hurdles for most.  That said, the spending some time thinking about your approach can go a long way toward acquiring new customers.

    Begin with the End in Mind.  If you are interested in launching a new company blog or are resolving to start blogging again on a dormant blog, start with the end in mind.  One way to do so is by stopping to think about the buyer of your product or service when she’s ready to buy and thinking about what she’s typing into Google.  She doesn’t know she’s looking for your company yet, but you can help her find you.  We wrote previously about a really practical content marketing example but the idea is simple:  what might they type in when they need you?  As a simple example, if you are looking for tourists to pour into your restaurant in Orlando, anticipate searches like “walking tour of Lake Eola” and write a thoughtful post that meets their selfish need at that time.  While you aren’t force-feeding her an an ad or a coupon, the tourist who finds and saves your post will learn about you by “accident.”

    Think Selfishly.  Users are selfish.  As such, start by brainstorming questions or phrases that your audience might be typing into Google when they’re ready to buy.  In doing so, put yourself in their shoes and think about you (selfishly) would want.  Odds are that you won’t want advertisements, you’ll want content that helps you.  Consumers looking for an attorney to draft a will or trust, for example, will gravitate toward posts that appeal to their needs at that time–not your need for more business.  Hence, ‘call me for an appointment’ is less intriguing than ‘ten ways to minimize taxation when crafting a will.’

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Think News.  When it comes to your blog, new developments in your company is a great source of material.  If you have new hires, new services, new designations, or important accolades, be sure to consider these items as fodder for your blog.  The same also goes for developments and updates in your industry.  At the same time, not *all* news is relevant or important to your customers.  So be sure to focus on those news items that make a difference to your reader.  The more your clients will truly care about your posts, the more they will read and share with others.

    Passing the ‘Share’ Test.  The overall metric that Google looks like when it comes to your content is how meaningful it is to users.  Google measures the number of times a piece of content is linked to by others, shared on social networks, and referenced by other high quality sites.  So, with each piece of content you ponder, think about whether it is useful enough to others.  If you feel like it is helpful enough to be shared (i.e. passing the ‘share’ test), than there is a good chance it will help users and boost rankings.

    Putting a little thought to your blog can go a long way toward helping you to keep it updated and to keep the traffic flowing.  Be sure to think about the end needs of your users, casting a selfish light on them, and shooting to make the content useful enough that they might share it with others.  These aspirations are certainly not easy ones to achieve, but a little thought and hard work can go a long way toward reaching them.  The ultimate benefits are valuable content, high search rankings, and valuable traffic.

  7. Want to Rank Highly on Google? Think Responsive Web Design.

    As more and more websites and web pages are launched and refreshed, Google continues to index and rank them according to the rules of the company’s ever-evolving algorithm.  When new technologies or user challenges emerge, Google sometimes gives marketers some guidance on how to increase search visibility.

    The explosion in mobile web browsing has presented just such an instance for Google to help marketers reach their customers.  Consumers are increasingly dependent upon their mobile phones to help them research and interact with companies with whom they might want to do business.  A family on a road trip, for example, might lean heavily on their mobile devices to navigate roadways, find a Starbucks, choose a restaurant, or post a hotel review.

    Google is quite mindful of this and has altered its search ranking methodology to encourage and reward those marketers who make this mobile experience as helpful to users as possible.  In multiple instances, Google has encouraged web designers to embrace responsive web design in their efforts to do this.

    We touched on the merits of responsive web design several months ago because of the efficiency factor.  One of the key benefits of developing a responsive website for a company is that it allows them to streamline their content management efforts:  a company need only add/edit/delete content one time in order for the change to materialize across the mobile, desktop, and tablet versions of the site.  This was a huge efficiency gain for some marketers who were having to maintain three separate versions of the same site.

    Google’s recent guidance is now implying quite clearly that those sites who embrace responsive web design are likely to be rewarded in the search rankings.  And while there are countless numbers of search ranking factors, ensuring that your website is responsive appears to be a very important one.  If search results are particularly important to your business, be sure to check for its ability to adapt to multiple screens.  Your users will thank you and so will your bottom line!

  8. A Practical Content Marketing Example

    Many marketers are still coming around to the idea of content marketing and how it positively impacts both consumer preference, conversion and search engine optimization. To provide some illumination on the concept of content marketing as well as some simple context, let’s look at a practical example of how content marketing works.

    I was recently asked by the University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL) to deliver a webinar to some start-up ventures associated with its incubator.  The subject matter of the webinar includes marketing, web design, and Internet strategy.  The audience of the webinar is to be comprised of small business owners, marketers and technology executives.

    I don’t conduct webinars very frequently, so I had a couple of questions about the best practices of duration, platform, and otherwise.  But one of the most pressing questions on my mind was *when* to conduct the webinar.  I was curious about the best days of the week and time of day to conduct a webinar to maximize attendance.  Like most people, I went to Google for an answer.

    I typed  ‘what is the best time to schedule a webinar?’ into Google.  There, on the first page of search results, was a blog post from AccuConference, a company that helps people like me conduct Webinars:

    The first page of results for the query ‘ what is the best time to schedule a webinar?’

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    When I clicked on the link, I was taken to a well-constructed page (see below) from the company which contained its expert opinion on what days and times tend to work best for business people to attend webinars.  The page is clean, simple, and contains the right keywords in some of the right places.  And, most importantly to the company, I was introduced to the company’s products–software and services to help people conduct online meetings and webinars.

    A well-constructed blog post that ranks on the first page of Google search results for a highly relevant search query.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We can learn a great deal from this example, but here are a few of the more important take-aways about content marketing:

    • Blogging is not a waste of time!  This company has likely invested a great deal of time in creating relevant content to reach their customers.
    • Content marketing meets people where they’re at and when they’re there.  If this company would have sent me a spam e-mail message months ago (when I wasn’t particularly interested in webinars), the marketing message would have never reached me.  Instead, this approach caters to a captive audience.  People who look for things on Google want them now, not later.
    • A great place to start with content marketing is anticipating the questions your audience might be asking when they need your product.  This is not an exact science, but you can certainly brainstorm, talk to customers, and look to your analytics results for clarity.

    In a world where we’re increasingly bombarded by more marketing messages than we can handle, seek not to become a part of that fray but to use content marketing to reach your customers at the exact moment they need you.

  9. Content Marketing: What It Is and Why It Is Important to Web Design

    Content marketing is not a new idea.  Providing straight-forward, educational information on a product or service is as old of a tactic as the seminar or white paper.  Simply defined, content marketing is the creation and distribution of content (a blog post, an article, illustration, photograph, etc.) that informs and influences but does not advertise or sell.  There are many other definitions of content marketing available from different sources, but the common threads are information, education, and product alignment.

    Content marketing has become particularly important in recent months because of Google’s ever-evolving methodology for generating search results.  Google has publicly indicated that it will reward fresh, original content with high search rankings.  And since we are all turning to Google to find pretty much anything (and certainly the things we intend to buy), a marketer must create relevant content in order to gain exposure to these searches.  It’s simple logic:  if you want to market successfully, you must write.  Publish or perish.

    For the marketer that accepts the website as the centerpiece of a digital marketing strategy, content–not design–must lead.  One can’t exist without the other, certainly, but content should no longer take a back seat to design.

    In so many web projects, unfortunately, content is an after-thought.  Marketers get particularly excited about design and features and leave content for another day.  All too often, content is the last “task” that people want to tackle because it as seen as time-consuming, laborious, and menial.  The marketer that wants to gain search exposure (and, ahem, customers) should put content first and leave design for another day.  Ideally, the two should work hand-in-hand, but erring on the side of content is a safer bet.

    Practically speaking, content planning within the course of web design should involve more than just “copy.”  Content is not just the text on your About Us page.  In the context of a content marketing strategy, “content” is much bigger than marketing copy.   It incorporates things like:

    • titles of your navigation items
    • your sub-navigation strategy
    • blog categories and tags
    • social media strategy
    • diagrams and illustrations
    • ALT tags
    • corporate videos and descriptions
    • testimonials
    • links
    • your content calendar for future updates
    • meta-data

    Embracing content marketing as a form of promotion is critical in today’s world of customer acquisition.  Making content creation and distribution a priority in your organization puts you in a better position to gain more traction from Google and more customers from the traffic this brings.

     

  10. What is Content Marketing?

    Content marketing is a quickly-emerging area of practice for marketers.  It is emerging rapidly and will continue to be more and more important as time goes on.  But before defining exactly what content marketing is, it is important to acknowledge the shifts in the landscape of consumer behavior:

    • Consumers are no longer using the Yellow Pages to shop for things
    • People are turning to Google, Bing and other search engines to shop for products and services
    • Buyers are reaching out to friends and acquaintances on social networks to look for recommendations and reviews

    If you ponder this shift in consumer behavior–especially the search for products on Google–the challenge of marketing becomes much different the old days of designing a yellow pages ad.

    Content marketing is a term which refers to the development, production and sharing of content in order to attract and engage a specific audience in profitable activity.  In short, content marketing is the practice of using information to gain customers.

    Consider the first time homeowner who has a small hole in her drywall.  Puzzled by how to fix it, she doesn’t even think of looking for a solution in the phone book.  Instead she reflexively enters ‘fix a hole in my drywall’ in Google.  If you are a marketer selling spackling paste, drywall saws, or home repair services, this represents a critical moment–an inflection point.  The goal of your content marketing strategy should be to gain exposure to this consumer at this moment.

    Content can take many forms.  It can be anything from an article or blog post to a podcast or e-book.  Content marketing can be facilitated on company websites, blogs, social networks, and user-generated sites like YouTube.  Naturally, the specific vehicles chosen for a content strategy should be selected according to the audience itself.  And similar to the tenets of search engine marketing, solid keyword research should drive the strategy.

    Getting back to our example about the role of a hole in the drywall, marketers have many many ways in which to capitalize on content marketing opportunities.  Brands like Home Depot or Lowe’s might create home improvement videos containing these search terms.  Makers of spackling paste like DAP might create instructional guides or blog posts about how to fix these holes.  Sears/Craftsman tools might create a home improvement podcast and feature this as a topic.  And all of this content can be shared and referred by customers on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

    Scenarios like these are real examples of actual opportunities that marketers have to use content to sell products.  If marketers take a concerted approach to content marketing, they have the potential to not only acknowledge the big shifts in consumer behavior, but be well-positioned in the eyes of the consumer at the exact moment when they are needed.