Ask An Expert: What is one key thing that I need to know to kick-start a successful content marketing program?

Optimize For Your Audience

One word: Optimization. Right, I know, everyone is talking about optimization, but we’re talking about not just optimizing for search engines, but optimizing for customers.

What is optimization?

optimize (verb):  to make as perfect, effective, or functional as possible (Merriam-Webster)

Optimizing your online content, whether it’s your webpage, a blog post, social message, online profile, article, press release, photo or other content, involves weaving in keywords and phrases that provide solutions for the business problems your customers are looking for help solving.  Synchronizing your keywords and content with both your customers’ needs and search engine algorithms can grow your audience and increase exposure to potential new clients.

Why didn’t I say strategy? Because an online content marketing strategy wouldn’t be much without optimization. You could have the greatest content online about your topic, but if it isn’t optimized to include the best keywords for your audience, it will likely languish nearly unread. If your social profiles and statuses don’t include keywords, you’re missing out on a big audience and potential leads. Your website is just not as likely to climb up the search results without effective optimization across internal links, incoming links and social platforms.

The good news is that everything online can be optimized in one way or another, even if you’ve already published your content. Beyond on-page text, tags of webpages, titles of blog posts, file names of photos and more – if there is a way to include text, it can be optimized. Even when there is no text, there are ways to optimize. If the content has already been published, you can simply go back and add keywords in the title, meta description, body and linking.

That being said, it’s important not to over-optimize for search engines. Don’t cram in so many keywords that the sentences become awkward. The content should be easy and fun for humans to read – and share.

Finally, optimization helps via analytics in determining how to move forward with new content and strategies. The data webpage analytics provides lets you know what searches and keywords attracted the most people, which of those people stayed on your site the longest, and how many converted. Keyword analytics can also tell which content isn’t working, what pages might need additional optimization and how to reduce bounces. All of this valuable information can help you decided content to create in the future and which sources of traffic are going to be the most likely to find it.

When preparing to embark on a content marketing program, set yourself up for success by learning and utilizing effective search engine optimization tactics. Once you learn how the building blocks of optimization fit together, it will be much easier to design a more effective strategy for marketing your brand online. It can also help inform your future content tactic