You’ve seen the influencer videos, read the articles, and listened to the podcasts. You know “Content Is King” (which, quite frankly, you’re sick of hearing), and you’ve decided to start a content marketing campaign. You wrote your first blog post, created a catchy headline, and started posting to the best social media channels for your business. Hooray! Now it’s time to watch the leads start rolling in.
Don’t shoot the messenger, but you’re probably going to be waiting a while. (Insert grimacing emoji here.) The good news is, that’s completely normal. When done right, content marketing does work. It will just likely take you at least six months, and often up to a year, to start seeing the fruits of your labor.That’s right, people—a year.
Don’t have a year to get eyeballs on your brand? We’ve got a free cheat sheet for how to use the powers of content, SEO, and PPC combined to generate opportunities right away and maintaining them into the future.
Of course, like all thinks marketing, every business is different. Your timeline could be longer or shorter depending on a few things:
How saturated your market already is with helpful, relevant content
How much effort you put into your content marketing strategy, production, and promotion
Whether your content (and your website) is optimized for search
The engagement level of your audience
How you define success
Want to speed up the process? There are a few best practices for optimizing your content marketing strategy to start seeing results faster.
Obviously, for your content to start moving the needle for your business, it needs to be relevant, helpful, and engaging. In other words, you need to be sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time. There are thousands (probably millions) of volumes written on how to do this across the internet, so we’re not going to dive into that here. (Psst…we do have some helpful tips for narrowing your target audience and using buyer personas to build trust, among many others on the Free Marketing Advice Blog.)
But the consistency and frequency with which you publish that high-quality content are almost as important. Google gives prominence to newly published pages in search results. This means, even if you’re posting about something that others have written about in the past, the “newness” of your post will help you beat out even the most popular blogs – for a short time.
Now, don’t freak out. This doesn’t mean you have to write a new blog post every single day. Quality and consistency are more important than frequency. Establish a realistic content calendar for yourself and stick to it. Publishing once a month is better than publishing once a week…ish. You can always change your publishing schedule as you start to gain traction or shift more of your focus to marketing. But remember, the amount of effort you put into your content strategy will impact how long it takes to start generating leads. So if you can post more than once a month consistently, do it.
Keep Your Pages Up To Date
If your new pages will only get fifteen minutes of fame, how can you keep your blog at the top of SERPs without burning yourself out? By updating and improving your existing content. The significance of edits to an existing page, the frequency of your edits, and how often your site is updated are all factors in Google’s insane list of ranking factors. (Mad props to Brian Dean at Banklinko for actually writing them all down for us. You’re a true hero.) Dean says that “although Google prefers fresh content, an older page that’s regularly updated may outperform a newer page.”
Why? Because Google cares about relevancy and trust. You taking the time to keep your content current is a signal to Google that it is quality content, and the algorithm will serve it up far more frequently than a page that hasn’t been updated since it was published.
Expand Your Content Library
You’re working your ass off to generate leads from your content, so don’t make the mistake of not converting them. Don’t get us wrong, blogging is great. Really great. It’s a sustainable way to continuously share your knowledge in snackable pieces. It creates awareness for your brand, tickles Google’s fancy, and supports an on-page SEO strategy (more on that next).
But your blog isn’t going to convert your leads into customers. Sure, if your content is relevant, engaging, and helpful, people will keep coming back for more. To this end, you should always have an opt-in form embedded in your blog to encourage people to give you their emails in return for regular updates. But if you want to generate leads and nurture them through your sales funnel (rather than just provide them with information and let them go on their merry way), you’re going to want to build an email list of leads that you can nurture into customers.
“How?” You ask? Expand your content horizons into lead magnets. Lead magnets are super valuable pieces of content – things like eBooks, checklists, pre-recorded webinar mastermind sessions, whitepapers, etc. – that your audience will gladly trade their email address to receive. OptInMonster has 69 examples that can get you started. The best part? You can link these to your existing blog articles, so the content you’ve already published can do the heavy lifting for you.
Layer on an SEO Strategy
Even the greatest content won’t help you generate leads if your audience can’t find it. Besides publishing as often as you can manage consistently, updating your existing content to keep it relevant, and building out a resource library of sexy lead magnets, you need to make sure you also have great on-page SEO. SEO – search engine optimization – no longer means keyword stuffing your articles and metadata. Those “hacks” have gone the way of the dinosaurs, and if you try to rely on them today Google is more likely to punish you than reward you for your efforts.
First and foremost, when developing an SEO strategy to supplement your content marketing, you want to take a good hard look at your website. A fast, optimized website is basically the base of your content marketing pyramid. Site speed – on both desktop and mobile – has been a key ranking indicator to Google for a long time.
You also want to audit the keywords your site is ranking for in Google. Creating content will help increase and improve these keywords over time, but an understanding of what you are already ranking for – or almost ranking for – should drive your content strategy.
Finally, (well, not finally – there’s a whole host of other things to consider when working toward on-site optimization) you need to develop an inbound backlink strategy. Please note that this is NOT buying backlinks to boost your site. That’s icky and spammy and doesn’t work. Inbound backlinks – links from other sites that direct readers to your content – are a major Google ranking signal. In fact, they account for about 70% of your organic search marketing traffic. But, like all things Google monitors, all backlinks are not created equal.
You want to curate links from sites that are reputable and relevant to your industry. The higher quality the link, the more traffic it will generate. For example, a link from a Quora feed about a topic adjacent to your products and services will do little to improve your SEO, whereas a link from a highly trusted information source within your industry could send your post to the top of the charts.
Content marketing isn’t a campaign. It’s a commitment. It can take six months to a year to start seeing the leads come in – and that’s only if you do it right. But if you commit to your content strategy and nurture it over time, it will pay big dividends. Once you build the fire – i.e., Google and your audience start trusting you as a source of relevant and helpful content – the same amount of effort on your part will start to see exponential returns. All you have to do is is have patience and keep the fire lit until others notice it and start fanning the flames.