With all the white noise online, it may seem tough to stand out in the crowd. But by understanding the differences in paid and earned traffic, as well as how to ensure your content stays relevant, you’ll be able to keep your head above everyone else. Here is a simple, three-pronged attack to increasing traffic on your site through paid promotion, earned media, and organic SEO, and some tips on how to keep that traffic entertained.
Buying Traffic: Promoting Content via Social and Search Advertising
A quick Google search of “paid content promotion” elicits a long list of companies who all offer the same service: they’ll get your marketing materials and content in front of as many eyes as possible, for a nominal fee, of course. But how do you know which social media platforms are best? And how can you be sure you’re utilizing them in the best way possible? Here’s a breakdown of three of the web’s most popular platforms for content distribution, as well as some best practices for each one.
Without question, Facebook has become the most popular format for paid content distribution, with 84% of business to business marketers utilizing the social networking site’s ubiquitous position in modern society for promoting their work. However, when considering your content’s distribution on social media sites, it’s important to note that most users on the site aren’t there to read your white paper or respond to your targeted ad, they’re there to click around and engage with the site the way they always have. Thankfully, one of Facebook’s most appealing aspects is the highly customizable options for targeted audiences. Because it’s a social media website, many users have willingly provided personal information that you indirectly use to help ensure your content is meeting your target demographic. You have the options to target people based on interests, age, location, gender, relationship status, education level, and recent purchases. Additionally, Facebook’s advertising algorithm allows you to dig deeper into your followers, and target those who have engaged with your Facebook page or visited your website. By using Facebook Pixel, you can create a custom audience that targets those who have visited your site, visited other specific websites (such as your competitors), actually stayed away from specific sites, or people who haven’t engaged with your site or content in some time.
If you’ve ever Googled something, you’ve almost undoubtedly seen AdWords at work. Essentially, a company pays for Google to prioritize their ad when a specific keyword is searched. While it’s often used and extremely valuable due to the high traffic on the search engine, Google AdWords is also an auction-styled payment process with multiple companies in every category bidding on search rank. Because of this process, it forces you to consider every possible way (i.e. search term) a potential customer may find you. Furthermore, you’ll need to rank those potential search topics to determine where you want to spend your money. For example, if I’m working for a company that sells aquariums, I can bid to have my ad displayed whenever someone searches “aquariums” “fish tank” or “fish bowl.” Which of these do you think will be most common? Which search terms will be the most applicable to your business? The company is only charged when a visitor clicks on the ad, so it’s best practice to spend the most money where you see it creating the best chance for generating leads.
It might seem like a place for growing your professional connections to those outside the digital marketing game, but LinkedIn also offers B2B companies a valuable space for promoting and distributing content to highly-specified audiences. Additionally, many of the best practices for LinkedIn are unpaid, so it represents a really cost-efficient option for B2B marketing. For starters, you can own and operate both a personal and a company LinkedIn page, and share updates and content from both locations. In combination with your organization’s free page, LinkedIn will allow you to create up to 10 “showcase pages” connected to your business account, all of which you can use to highlight products or business units. There’s also a vibrant world of specific LinkedIn groups which have relevancy to your product. Reading through these groups, see if there’s any questions you can answer by responding with a relevant post from your business. Or, perhaps even better, see if you can generate any new content that will respond directly to someone’s topic or post on the site. Your traffic jump from engaging this way might be limited, but you can also be sure that every click will be from a qualified lead with a real interest in your offerings.
Earning Traffic: Publishing Earned Media Content and Backlinks on Reputable Websites
There may no such thing as a free lunch, but if you’ve got great and relevant content, you could wind up with some free publicity via earned traffic. Earned media is traditionally defined as being when your company or brand receives publicity written or posted by someone outside your company. Now, this could be a third-party act, such as favorable review or an award within your industry. However, it can also be self-generated, by having your brand’s thought leaders publish in relevant blogs and websites.
When you or someone within your company pens a piece about industry issues, you become seen as industry experts. No longer are you schilling for your own publicity; you’re simply speaking about the larger issues at hand. It will add an air of authenticity and position you as someone for your peers and competitors to look up to. For example, let’s return to the example of a fish tank company. My CEO offers to write a monthly column for the leading aquarium blog, called Big Fish Think Tank. Keep in mind, none of these articles will advertise for your company, they’re simply about tank cleanings, or the secret truth of fish food residue. The only mention of your company comes in the byline: “Ted Herring is the CEO of Aqueduct Aquariums.” Every time BFTT publishes the article, you’re creating buzz for your company in a subtle manner. You’re borrowing the blog’s buzz without coming off as a glorified salesman.
Most of these opportunities will also grant your experts the ability to put a hyperlink in their byline, so you can also link that “Aqueduct Aquariums” reference back to your homepage, or to a landing page you’ve designed to be of specific interest to the leading aquarium blog’s audience. This will count as a valid backlink to your site, boosting your domain’s SEO authority, and will also drive some new, qualified traffic to your site in the most organic way possible.
Catching Traffic as it Goes By: Earning Organic Search Traffic with Effective Content
Knowing your audience is certainly key to developing your product. You want to make sure it serves the needs and wants of the buying public, and you’ve probably used market research to achieve that goal. The same should be said for your online content. You need to be well-versed in exactly what your customers are talking or asking about. If you can keep your finger on the pulse of what your best customers are searching for on Google, you can meet them in their moment of need and capture organic search traffic. Of course, the model of keyword stuffing for SEO purposes has become fairly passé. While it may be helpful to stay up to date on keyword research, what’s most important in 2017 going into 2018 is that you use your keyword research, combined with what you know about your audiences, and give them blog content that will answer questions, give practical advice, and build trust as site visitors make their way from Google search results to your blog, then on to the rest of your site. In this way, blogs serve as the top of the content marketing funnel, and offer you the ability to cast a wide net and capture as much organic traffic as you can.
In terms of tracking down content ideas, the best place to start may be with your fans and users. Check out your social media feed and see what people have to say. Find questions online and answer them with helpful blog posts. Make it specific to your product, but make sure it can apply to the industry at large. Instead of writing a blog about all your wonderful fish tanks, maybe you can craft a piece that centers on preventing cracks in your specific tank materials. The goal is to engage with your customers, and you’ll be able to do so by staying relevant to their needs. That way, when someone is desperately searching for help fixing a crack in their tank, they’ll find their way to your site at a particularly advantageous time for your company.
Not only will you want to make sure these blogs feature a diverse array of topics, but you’ll want to keep it consistent. Stale material may still rank in online searches, but you’ll end up driving away traffic if your last blog post is a few months or even years old. When you brainstorm these topics, make sure you that you’re taking the time to think of dozens (if not more), and then assign them out with strict deadlines to ensure fresh posts and content.
You could have millions of visitors per week, but if you have stale and unoriginal content that doesn’t appeal to the viewers, those clicks won’t mean squat. By utilizing all three forms of garnering traffic – buying, earning, and catching – you’ll be on your way to producing relevant media and content that will be sure to keep them coming back on a routine basis.