We’re always on the hunt for experts in the world of social media as we continue to evolve our communication methods in a digital-first era. So, we wanted to gather even more insight for our blog – and that’s why we got into a conversation with Amy Wright, a fantastic advocate for achieving commercially savvy success in content marketing…
Summarise your role and what you specialise in:
I am an independent marketing consultant based in California who specialises in content marketing and SEO. I work with organisations to research, build, and implement highly-focused content marketing strategies that improve their visibility in organic search around topics critical to their business.
How do you best utilise social media and social selling techniques for the work you do?
I use these channels to connect and build relationships with customers and others in my space. It’s also proven to be successful as a promotional vehicle for content – especially for clients whose audience is active on certain social media platforms.
It’s a great way to expand their reach and ensure the content they worked so hard on is pushed in front of relevant audiences, keeping them front-of-mind.
What role does SEO play in the content you roll out?
It’s central to everything. All businesses create content and, in my view, if it’s going to live on your website, you may as well look for – and nurture – SEO opportunities. This doesn’t mean that every single page you publish must be optimised for search, there are some cases where that doesn’t make sense. But if you’re producing content people might search for – and you’re going to put in the work anyway – optimise it!
I see content as an investment in an organisation’s identity and future performance. It’s an opportunity to promote your business, demonstrate expertise, share the knowledge of your subject-matter-experts, and get people excited about working with you.
If you build your content with SEO in mind, the message will reach a broader audience. Done correctly, SEO makes your investment in content pay off – by improving your visibility online, increasing website traffic, and (ultimately) uplifting sales.
That said, write for your target audience first. When I start working with a new client, one of the first things I ask is if they’ve created buyer personas. If they haven’t, we’ll do so, to ensure the content we create speaks their buyer’s language.
How important is content for your lead generation?
Very important. Sometimes content is how people find me. But even when they’re introduced to me some other way, they visit my website and review my content to get a sense for my style, depth of knowledge, and the quality of my work before deciding to reach out.
This is different from how it works for my clients though. I’m an independent consultant and the amount of time I can dedicate to my own website is limited. With my clients I can really dig in.
I help my clients build content that will attract website visitors at various stages of their buyer’s journey. Some of it is informative and very much ‘top-of-funnel’. This content is meant to introduce people to the brand, build their reputation, and encourage visitors to engage further. Other content is more focused on attracting people who are looking for a specific product or service. In this case, one piece of content can generate leads immediately.
Are you a fan of employee advocacy? If so, how do you use it?
As long as it’s authentic, yes. And I think employee advocacy can take many forms. Most people think of it as employees who support the company by sharing its content and/or sharing about a workplace experience on social media. I’m always on the lookout for employees who are super knowledgeable about a business or products because those individuals can become your best content creators.
One of my favourite ways to create content is to partner with a company’s subject-matter-experts to create SEO-content. We work together to decide which topic to tackle. I provide a structure, then they create a first draft and are given credit as the author. I’m a tough editor, but those who can stomach it get to put their name on something they’re proud of.
Who are you a big fan of on social media? And why do you like what they post?
Oh, I can’t pick just one person, and for me it’s more about content crushes.
I really love Margaret Magnarelli’s work. As a journalist-turned-digital-marketer she truly understands how powerful the written word can be for an organisation. She has an incredible knack for crafting content that’s personal and emotional, even when she’s writing about something quite dry – a talent I admire and aspire to.
I’ve also been a fan of Aja Frost’s work (who is currently head of content SEO at HubSpot) since she was working as a freelance writer, while attending Cal Poly. Her articles are well-written, relatable, and topically relevant. I enjoy her direct, no-nonsense, yet relaxed style. She makes our work look easy although I know, very well, that it’s not.
How do you think SEO has evolved – and what do you expect for 2020?
Although many of the basic SEO tactics have been stable for quite some time, as search engines have grown more sophisticated the way we employ those tactics has too. Here are a just a few areas where I see this happening:
The line between content marketing and SEO has become increasingly blurry
The difference between content marketing and SEO has become much less clear – it’s no longer possible (if it ever really was) to take an existing piece of content and ‘SEO’ it. You’ll only make yourself (and your writers) crazy.
If you want to create content that can rank in search, you need to build it that way from the very start. This means you either need one person with a deep understanding of both disciplines, or a team that’s joined at the hip.
It’s not topics or keywords, it’s topics and keywords
I hear a lot of chatter online about targeting topics over keywords, but I don’t think it’s an either/or conversation. Yes, as an organisation, you need to target topics. But that usually means you’re writing several pieces of content, each tackling one specific keyword (and its natural variations) related to that topic.
Search engines are smarter now, but they can still use a little help. You need to make it clear what each piece is about by working your keyword(s) into important on-page elements, like the title, sub-headers, meta description, and (naturally) throughout the copy.
Quality content is king
In today’s competitive SEO environment, ‘content is king’ is only partly true. It’s quality content that prevails – content that satisfies the searcher’s query completely, using clear language, and authored by people who truly know their stuff. This will only become more evident in 2020 and beyond.
This kind of content is an investment. When you do it well, content can pay off for years to come. This is why SEO is so enticing. You’re essentially investing in assets that your organisation will own – assets that can deliver a substantial return on your investment, long after you do the work.
Search competition is increasing, maintain focus on your target audience
Like many disciplines, SEO’s must serve several masters – the search engines, their employers or clients, and (most importantly) their target audience. And there can be pressure to keep pushing those traffic numbers higher and to chase each new trend, but it’s important to stay focused on the strategies and tactics that work for your audience. This is (partly) how you can create content that will stand out in a competitive search environment.
For example, Google has switched over to a ‘mobile-first’ model when it comes to ranking content, but in some markets (especially B2B) most visitors still arrive on your website from a desktop. This knowledge can be really helpful because most of us have an endless, overwhelming list of SEO to-do’s (like improving your website’s speed on mobile). Focusing on what matters for your audience can help you prioritise tasks that will have the biggest impact for your business.
Likewise, although video may be hot right now, if your target market is hunkered down on their desktop in a crowded office, they may prefer the written word. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give video a try, quite the opposite – I’d encourage you to try it, but as part of a diversification strategy.
Consider producing the content in written form first, then stretch your investment in that content further by repurposing some of it into video format.
Check out Amy’s website for more.