There has been much ado about Search Engine Optimization. Knowing that most customers rarely get past the first page of search results, companies have been quick to invest in SEO, the process of making web pages more search engine-friendly and boosting rankings. Though organic search accounts for the lion’s share of web traffic for many ecommerce companies, the hype surrounding SEO has overblown its usefulness. Don’t let SEO’s “magic bullet” reputation obscure the preeminent need for the quality content in web-optimized content.
There are a couple of drawbacks to relying on SEO
Half a dozen years ago, savvy web developers could make a big impact with a few SEO tricks like stuffing sites with keywords. But the web no longer rewards heavily-optimized content. Google’s 2011 Panda Update was aimed in part at reducing traffic to duplicate content and “content farms,” which produce thousands of low-quality articles per day solely for rankings. The following year, Google introduced an “over-optimization penalty” for other heavily-optimized sites.
It’s easy to unwittingly cross into over-optimization territory. Even if you’re not keyword-stuffing, lesser evils like over-using keyword-rich internal links trigger a knock down engine rankings. Spreading the same article across multiple forums could generate the same result. Another drawback? While it may seem like a “one and done” effort, SEO requires continual upkeep to adapt to the changing webosphere. You could hire an SEO specialist to handle the complexities—or you could change the way you think about SEO.
Good SEO prioritizes the proliferation of relevant content over the promotion of duplicate content. As Kathryn Hawkins of Eucalypt Media writes, “Including relevant keywords in your articles is important, but if those keywords aren’t placed organically in high-quality articles, they won’t do you much good.” The most effective marketing techniques are targeted and specific; the most effective way to reach a specific audience is through niche content marketing.
Why niche content marketing?
Casting a wide consumer net is a common misstep of brands with widespread marketability. In an effort to reach customers from A to Z, brands water down their messages until they become generic, almost meaningless. In an age of targeted advertising and increasing web personalization, consumers are accustomed to a more direct line from a company. Niche content marketing targets a specific subset of a consumer base with engaging articles and blog posts.
Five Steps to Niche Content Marketing
- Brainstorm your niche
If you are going to convince customers that your business stands out from the competition, you have to understand what makes it unique. Even if your services are the same as the next company, what do you specialize in? Niche markets provide opportunity for expertise. Think not only about what your company is, but also about what you want it to be.
- Identify target audience
Build from an understanding of your own specialities to identify a target consumer group. This may be a group in which sales are falling, which you hope to break into, or which you want to reinforce. Don’t just guess—make use of tools such as Google Analytics, Insights and Keyword. The better you understand your niche audience, the more specific the message you can provide, and your perceived expertise grows.
- Meet a need
Once you’ve identified a group, consider why they do or should patronize your company. Your content should provide a clear answer as to why and how your company meets that need. How does your target audience, specifically, benefit? People are more likely to click on articles which speak directly to the issues which matter to them.
- Create insightful content
It goes without saying that insightful content should be unique, well-researched, and engaging. Think about keywords which the demographic might use to find your article, and start building content around those. The copy should engage specifically with your audience and show an understanding of their consumer experience, as the reasons why the company attracts customers could vary widely based on demographic.
- Spread the word
Here is where SEO considerations come into play. Yet after you’ve added links and keywords and posted the article, the work is still only partially done. Share your article where members of your target audience are likely to see it through outside blogs and social media. Repeat this process as often as time affords; high-quality, consistent articles will set your company apart in competitive niches with a depth of backlinks.
Small companies may hesitate to invest all of their efforts into one demographic. Content marketing provides a way for companies to gain recognition in niche markets without limiting themselves. The target audience of your blog can vary post to post without impacting main site copy, so your central message stays the same. In fact, it’s best to cater to both industry professionals and customer subsets. By gaining traction with one niche market and then another, you can achieve a sizable market share.
Niche content marketing builds SEO naturally
Most of the basic tenets of SEO are achieved with specific content marketing. High-quality, engaging content is the best way to embed relevant links, and will attract links from other industry professionals. Think of SEO as setting the stage for success, while content marketing is the main act that get takes you there. By following common sense SEO guidelines, quality content builds true organic search growth.