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Begin Your Optimization Campaign With The Right Questions

One of the biggest problems I help marketing teams resolve is For those who want the TL;DR version: content optimization campaigns matter!  Not because of keywords and meta data - but because of how customers find you, where they find you, and what they do as a result of your content. This is why you need to ask these three questions BEFORE you start a campaign. Seriously.optimizing content for targeted results. After all, many studies suggest that brands that aren’t on the front page of the three major search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo) and active in social media aren’t nearly as likely to get the same attention as their counterparts. So what is the magic formula to get position in front of the target audience?

As I’ve been known to say: it’s bigger than finding a magic formula.

What do you mean: it’s bigger than that? We were told that keywords, meta information, and regularly optimized information are critical to improving search engine optimization!

This mindset isn’t wrong: for a long time, search engine optimization had everything to do aligning the right keywords in the right density, backlinking, and meta tags. However, as technology grows, so do the algorithms used in search.

Not terribly long ago, the engineers who build the search engines realized there was a problem with the search experience. Instead of finding the best content, users were finding the most optimized content – which isn’t a good thing for brands or consumers. This lead them to refine the algorithms to focus less on keywords, and focus more on the overall search experience.

Today, search engine optimization spans multiple disciplines – moving into the realm of search experience optimization. Search engines now considers a number of factors in how content gets ranked, including domain age, authority, how frequently content is published, backlinking websites, and social sharing. Why is all of this important? Because it leads us back to the original question: how can we optimize our content for our customers?

Before I start an content campaign, I always ask three critical questions about the brand. By getting an understanding of these critical points, I help marketing groups better understand their target audience, set achievable smart goals, and set key performance indicators that can better measure the true effectiveness of a campaign.

What is the brand known for? What should the brand be known for?

Every brand is known for something. But what a brand believes they are known for and what they actually are known for are sometimes two completely different things. Before beginning an optimization campaign, it is important to take inventory of the brand perception in the industry today.

By understanding the current brand position, companies can better understand how the brand is perceived in the marketplace today – very similar to how a SWOT analysis identifies strategies that lead to opportunities. If the brand is perceived negatively, then the first goal of a campaign should be focused around improving the public image. Conversely, a positively-viewed brand can springboard to stronger opportunities moving forward.

Once the current brand position is identified, the next question can be answered: what should the brand be known for? This goes beyond identifying keywords: through understanding the overall ideal brand position, an optimization campaign can focus on larger outreach to a target community. As a result, the brand will not only be looked at more favorably, but will create content that an audience wants to share, resulting in more pathways into a conversion funnel and better optimization for search experience.

What is the target audience searching for?

Content optimization is no longer about using the most keywords in your content. Instead, brands need to understand the core concepts that a traveler is searching for to begin with. Let’s say you’re an insurance company. Getting attention for your core type of insurance in an already saturated market is going to be difficult – no doubt about it.

In order to optimize for visibility, content should focus around the questions your customer has about your products or services. Through writing content that solves a problem or answers a frequently asked question, your customer is more apt to find the content that is targeted to solving their need. And if the content solves a problem for the end customer, they are much more likely to enter the conversion funnel.

Why should the audience trust your brand?

One of my favorite commercials ever is the State Farm ad featuring the “French Model.” I love it because the ad speaks to the natural skepticism that consumers have for information blindly found online. With so many resources available to consumers, why should they trust your brand over others online?

At the core of any optimization campaign is trust. By establishing why a consumer should trust your brand, you’re creating an argument on two fronts. First, developing trust is the first step on the buyer’s journey, and is the only way a customer will enter the conversion funnel. Second, the more a consumer trusts you, the more likely they are to spread your brand message to their contacts – leading to stronger sales opportunities driven by your company’s biggest fans.

While the execution has changed, the outcome remains the same: create strong content that encourages a target audience to find you. By asking these three questions about an optimization campaign, your content will be  better suited to create delight, and take flight among your target audience.

How do you develop your optimization campaigns? What is the strongest result you’ve found from creating good content? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Want to take the discussion further? Contact me today and let’s discuss content marketing!

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