This blog is part of a content series helping small businesses to get set up for digital marketing best practice.
You’ll find a guide for each of the major channels that are consistently used amongst each of my clients.
One key area of focus is Content Marketing, and rightly so. If you’re selling online and you aren’t producing content then you likely have a big gaping hole to fill! Not only will it provide value to your customers and extra opportunity for touch points, but it will tickle Google in just the right way to help boost your search performance.
So, let’s get started. This piece is written with a focus on blog content, with mentions of video and audio (e.g. podcast) content throughout.
Key Considerations for Content Marketing for Small Business
In its most simple form, content marketing is the art of creating content that is valuable for your audience and then making it available for them to read. It’s content for your audience, not for you - just like this blog post, and unlike a sales page.
You see, I’m not writing the post for me. I’m writing it for you, for free, so that you can digest the information and use it for your own business. And hey, if you like it enough then maybe you’ll stick around and sign up to my newsletter to get more content just like this.
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See what I did there? I’m giving you this piece of content for free in the hope that you’ll be part of my audience moving forward. At the end of the day, I want clients. And you, reader, may not be ready now, but you may be ready in the future. And when you’re ready - I want you to remember me!
Okay, so back to this piece of content.
I am writing this piece of content, and all the pieces of content in my digital marketing guides for small business for a specific purpose. That’s because I am writing content that is specific to my target audience - you and people just like you. But, who are you?
You’re a small business that is up and running and are looking into ways to market yourself. I want to work with small businesses that have tried to run their own marketing and are looking for an expert advisor to give them best practice advice to implement without ambiguity. So, I’m writing these content pieces to help people like you to get up and running. I’m helping you get to the point at which you’re ready to ask for help from someone like me.
So, that’s consideration #1 - know your audience and produce content specifically for them.
And, then consideration #2 - make sure your content is Google and SEO friendly.
Content is Google’s best friend. Or, more like, the friend that Google always desperately wants. Google’s E-A-T update has a focus on content and expertise. This means that Google is focusing on ranking websites that regularly produce content that shows expertise. So, to make Google happy, write content that shows your expertise on a topic. Okay, that’s Google - what about SEO? SEO (essentially optimising for Google) is the structure that you should write a content piece in so that you are appearing on Google when people search for it. In short, choose a long or short term string (read more about what this is in my SEO guide) that you want to focus your content piece on and make sure that string exists throughout the content piece.
Lastly, consideration #3 - sprinkle your content through your marketing channels.
Long form content (blog, podcast, video) is a great way to power all of your content. You can use it to distribute through your marketing channels such as social media and newsletter. You can use it in ads. Your content piece doesn’t need to exist in isolation, it can help you populate the rest of your marketing calendar while at the same time feeding your audience back to your content piece.
Oh, and consideration #4 - capture your audience!
Add the reader to your newsletter (like I did above), ask them to follow you or tag them with a remarketing pixel (here’s how to set that up). You’re giving them free content so that they’ll either engage your service / buy your product or come back to you when they’re ready. But, if you haven’t captured their information and remarketed to them, they’ll probably forget who you are.
Okay, so what do I need to make sure I get right?
So, that’s all well and good that you know what you need to consider. But, how can you produce your content in a way that will satisfy those considerations? Read on … Let’s take a look at your key considerations:
Know your audience and produce content specifically for them. If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to identify your customer persona(s). Identify who your customer is and what they’re looking for. And, it’s not just demographics - you really want to tease into what value your audience seeks. What questions are they asking? Find this out and you can then answer them via your content strategy. You know the example of me and my customers, but what about, let’s say, an online shop that sells infant formula? Your customers are probably parents, and maybe busy parents. They probably want tips and tricks to help make their day easier while raising their youngsters. So, go and produce that content. Okay, that’s a very short example. But the point I’m trying to get across is - identify who your customers / audience are and produce content that they are seeking information on.
Make sure your content is Google and SEO friendly. So, you know why you need to do this. But let’s talk about how. Let’s start with Googs. For Google, make sure that you’re regularly posting. How often? As much as you can! Honestly, the more the better. Most businesses I work with post between weekly and monthly depending on how much content production they can fit into their schedule. Make sure that your blog posts have a date posted and an author (with a bio and image associated to them) in the blog post - this will help Google with the ‘expertise’ factor. And now let’s optimise for Googs with SEO. Make sure that string you chose above exists throughout your content piece enough times for Google to pick up on it - in the title, headings and the body text. Take this blog for example. Do a ctrl or cmnd + f and search for ‘content marketing for small business’ and see how many times and where it has been mentioned. As well as variations like ‘content marketing’. This is really just scraping the surface of how to write SEO friendly content (but hey, I needed to cap this blog post somewhere).
Sprinkle your content through your marketing channels. I find the easiest way to think about this is to first consider your hero piece of content (like this blog) as the ‘big piece’. And this piece of content can likely be split up into a bunch of ‘little pieces’. What are those little pieces? Well, it can be sections of your big piece, or it can be headlines, or key call to actions. Let’s take this blog as an example. It’s the ‘big piece’ on content marketing for small business. But, it’s made up of a bunch of ‘small pieces’ like this list of actions key considerations you’re reading through. So, what do you do with all of those ‘small pieces’? Here’s where your creativity comes into it to determine where they are best sprinkled. For this blog post, (if I were to be spending time on my social media channels), I would be making a separate post for each of these key considerations and then a separate post for the key actions to take. I’d also be making post(s) for the tools I recommend below. And bam! Just like that I’ve got over 10 individual, unique content pieces for social media that I can populate my next month of content with. Hmm, maybe I should get back into social media posting … 🤔 You can then do the same with your newsletters, automated email chains and differing social media channels.
Okay, there’s a lot to consider. How should you get started?
If you’re brand new to content marketing then the best advice I can give you is to start writing. Write about anything that you feel confident that ticks the boxes above. Don’t worry too much about hitting the nail on the head on the first go.
The thing with content is that you’re most likely to not have a one hit wonder (and nor is that the recommendation either, especially for SEO). You’re going to need to keep producing content. And, it’s going to get better.
All the Bloggers, TikTok, YouTube, Insta, whatever stars out there didn’t just make one piece of content and then retire. They constantly produce and hone in on their craft. There is a reason they’re called ‘Creators’ …. They create content. Again and again, just like the Jimminy Jillickers scene from The Simpsons.
So, start writing. Start recording. Start producing. Whatever type of content you’re putting together the best thing to do is to just start - and start producing something that you’re knowledgeable on. It’s a hell of a lot easier than producing something you know nothing about.
Then, look at each piece of content. See how it’s performing and improve your craft with each piece. Mark each piece against your key considerations and ask yourself to do better next time.
Tools to use for Content Marketing for Small Business
Platform Tools For keeping your blogs up to date and reviewing historical performance.
These two platforms are essential for any business to set up and integrate with. You should start with Google Search Console for two reasons - (1) Google is a much more popular search engine than Bing and (2) Bing Webmaster can port your Google Search Console set up directly over to it.
Setting these up will do two main things for you - (1) You will be able to submit your website to Google and Bing so that they crawl it. This means that they will send their robots through your site to ensure that it is listed on their search engines. (2) You will be able to review past performance. That means that you’ll be able to see what queries your audience has searched to have either seen your content piece or to have clicked on it (VERY helpful data!).
You will also be notified directly of any issues on your website that are holding it back from ranking on the search engines.
Use this data to understand what terms your blogs posts are currently ranking for and what terms you are growing or declining in clicks for. Use this to then update your blogs when they’re dropping in the rankings (a quick way to scrape back rankings) or to identify new opportunities where you’re starting to rank but don’t yet have a strong enough piece of content.
On-Site Search To see what your audience is searching for, on your site
I very often see businesses forget to look at their own on-site search data, in favour of off-site options. But, your audience will tell you what they want. And if they want it, it’s most likely that others do too that you haven’t yet found.
By looking at the data in your CMS’s back-end or on tools like Google Analytics you’ll see what people are seaching for. And, then produce content for it - voila!
Content Tools For generating blog content topics for you to write.
The above tools are great tools for discovering what to write content about for your website. They can be a great kickstart for your blog and give you some fantastic content ideas. For example, if you entered our sample string of content marketing for small business then it would spit out a bunch of questions related to this. Think along the lines of ‘What is content marketing?’ or ‘Is content marketing hard to do?’ - this will give you a list of questions that people search for that are ready to be answered!
Or, use Google Trends to get an understanding of the general search interest of terms that you enter. This will tell you the relative interest in certain terms and help you to frame what content people are looking for.
Investigative Tools For researching search terms and their difficulty to rank for.
Okay, so you have an understanding of what questions you should be answering, but how much traffic are they getting on Google? By using one of the tools above you can search what other websites are ranking for or enter keyword strings that you would like to rank for. The tools will spit out a list of keywords and their relative difficulty to rank for. You will also get extra information like the cost and difficulty to engage in paid search advertising for those keywords. For a free and simple to use tool I recommend getting started with Ubersuggest.
Bonus - On-Site Analysis Tools For checking that you’re doing a good job.
Yoast creates great tools for your website. If you’re using WordPress as your website builder then it has a plugin that allows you to enter your keywords of interest. It will then list out exactly what you need to do on your live page to ensure that it ranks for that keyword. Brilliant tool!
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About the author, Josh Berg
I’ve worked with over 200 small businesses, spending thousands of hours analysing their performance to advise on digital marketing best practice.
Over the hours there have been several key recommendations that have been consistent for almost all of my clients. This guide is the product of this time and focuses on providing you with an actionable list of tactics to get your digital marketing basics set up.
Want help with this guide? Tap me on the shoulder.
I’m available for consultation to help you work through this guide, ensuring that you’re implementing with best practice advice and are set up for success.