Content marketing is the practice of creating a piece of content (generally digital) that is both useful and valuable to certain members of your target market(s).
This piece of content is generally free, though it may be hidden behind a simple email/lead-capture form, and it usually is meant to be found through search or through free/low-budget distribution methods (think social media, low-cost PPC, a small press release).
Some might call this permission marketing, the idea being that your target customers have given you permission to market to them by choosing to access your content. If they found your content, for example, via a Google search, clicked intentionally on your link, and started reading, then they've given you "permission" to market to them.
Content Marketing > Interruptive Marketing
This only really makes sense when juxtaposed with some more traditional forms of marketing (advertising especially), which are "interruptive."
Interruptive marketing "interrupts" whatever content your customer is consuming. It blasts your message in their face, with the hope that they don't hate you for bothering them during the content they're intending to consume (a TV show, a radio program, a website, a YouTube video, a blog post article, etc.).
Most advertisements completely break your concentration, take you out of the moment, and ruin your experience of the content you're most interested in.
So marketers and consumers alike prefer content marketing (like this article!). Content marketing works because:
- You're not interrupting your audience or taking them away from the content they're interested in.
- The content you've created is itself what they're interested in.
- You're giving them something of value, which invokes the Law of Reciprocity and makes them open to learning more about your business (and possibly becoming a lead, or even making a purchase).
While content marketing can be done from any CMS (content management system), WordPress is specifically designed for all your content marketing needs.
The WordPress Ecosystem Is Well-Equipped To Support All Your Content Marketing And SEO Efforts
Content marketing and WordPress were made for each other, quite literally. WordPress was initially created to be nothing more than a blogging tool.
Over the last decade and a half, WordPress has become much more than that — it's become the weapon of choice for millions of web developers, marketers, and SEOs who want to turn content marketing to their advantage, and along the way, it's accumulated a veritable smorgasbord of content-marketing-friendly plugins.
Not only that but WordPress is also one of the best CMSs out there if SEO is part of your traffic generation strategy. Content marketing and SEO are heavily dependent on one another, so it's an added bonus that WordPress supports SEO efforts so well.
Let's take a look at some of the best plugins ou there that make content marketing (and, to some extent, SEO) a little bit easier.
Suggested Plugins For Content Marketing On A WordPress Website
In no particular order, here's my list of essential plugins for any content marketer:
- Yoast (for SEO)
- OptinMonster (for pop-ups)
- Gravity Forms (for lead capture)
- Google Analytics (to find out what content performs best)
Now I did say "essential," and though we can add to lists of plugins for forever, there are really only a few functions that you must be able to perform on a WordPress website in order to perform content marketing effectively:
- You must have a method of capturing leads and emails (thus OptinMonster and Gravity Forms).
- You must have a way of evaluating your content effectively and ensuring your analytics are set up properly (thus Google Analytics).
- You must have a method of optimizing your content for search.
Beyond that, there are plenty of plugins that are nice to have but that aren't crucial to your efforts. Here are a few that make content marketing easier:
- Beaver Builder (for landing pages and download pages).
- Editorial Calendar (for those who don't like planning their content in their head).
- AddToAny Share Buttons (for your readers who don't like the copy/paste function).
- Quoteability (for your Twitter-friendly readers who like to tweet out quotes).
- Perfect Pullquotes (adds visual interest to your blog posts).
- Disqus (for your more active commenters).
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (to encourage readers to stay on the page).
- Max Buttons (a simple method to add calls-to-action to your content if you don't have buttons built into your theme).
- Nelio AB Testing (for A/B testing).
- Sumo Free Tools (for some of the above functionality bundled; however, this one has a bit of a price tag).
Also, unfortunately, there really aren't any great backlink-tracking plugins out there — you're going to need something like ahrefs for that.
Keep in mind that this list is going to be slightly different for every website, and, depending on what theme (and/or framework) you're running, some of these might not be necessary (because of built-in options) and some of them might not work with your site — as is always the case with WordPress, you'll need to test each plugin before deciding if it's right for your website.
I've got a few tips for you on how to leverage almost all of these plugins for different types of content.
Let's dive in.
Yoast Is Your Base (Just Add A Dash Of Keyword)
I'm going to start with Yoast and dive in deep because Yoast is often the foundation upon which all your content will be built (well, the keyword phrase is, but Yoast is where you put that keyword phrase, so it's the first plugin I usually worry about, even before writing a post).
I see a lot of folks out there using Yoast completely wrong. Yoast is an SEO plugin that, in WordPress, helps you optimize both pages and posts for one or more keywords. Yoast only works well when you've chosen a quality keyword phrase. It trusts that you know what you're doing when it comes to choosing that phrase.
Once you've entered a keyword for it to track, Yoast will tell you if the keyword is being used properly and appearing in the right places throughout the post.
Yoast Helps Ensure You’re Doing SEO Right — SEO Is One of the Main Ways You Distribute Your Content
Content marketing is the creation of valuable content, but how do we get that content in front of people?
- Distribution on social media, through email marketing, possibly through PPC ads, and maybe even through press releases.
- Organic search (the most effective, and most cost-effective, method).
For a piece of content to show up on a search engine results page (SERP) organically in any sort of targeted fashion (that is, to rank for the search terms that you've decided would most likely be entered into a search engine by one of your potential customers, terms somehow related to the content you're writing and the products/services you offer), for that kind of content to show up in search at all, it needs to have a carefully chosen keyword.
(Now SEO goes much deeper than simply choosing the right keyword, but you can go far with just these simple suggestions.)
For the sake of simplicity, let's say the piece of content that you've created for your website is a blog post.
Here's what most people do with Yoast:
- Install Yoast
- Write post
- Come up with a short keyword phrase off the top of their head, like "weight loss" or "new cars," and plug it into Yoast
- Plug the keyword into the post in the places Yoast suggests until Yoast gives them all green lights
- Publish the post
- Wonder why their post isn't drawing in any traffic or ranking
- Write another post.
Except it's worse than that because they're probably not using anything to track what they're doing in the first place or to compare this piece of content to other pieces of content (that's where you need Google Analytics). They're not distributing, and they're not even building backlinks. Nothing!
Here's what they should do instead:
- Install Yoast.
- Use a keyword tool (like kwfinder.com) to do some keyword research.
- Choose a relevant (to their potential customers), long-tail keyword phrase.
- Work that phrase into the post in all the appropriate areas (I won't go into it, but you can learn more about proper SEO content writing techniques in this post I wrote here).
- Publish the blog post according to the content schedule (mapped out with the Editorial Calendar plugin) with a clear call-to-action (using Max Buttons) that sends users to another page, a page which then attempts to convert traffic into leads (using Gravity Forms), or simply hope that OptinMonster will grab leads with the pop-up that's been set up beforehand.
- Distribute on social and encourage interaction (which is where the social plugins above come into play).
- Check performance of post and compare to other pieces of content.
- Build backlinks to content (again, I won't go into this, but you can learn more here about a few techniques, like broken link building and the Skyscraper Method).
- Create a new piece of content that links to the previous piece of content and to other pieces of content on the site in a deliberate, well-thought-out pattern.
If you do all that, your piece of content is going to take a lot more work, but it's also going to have a much higher chance of doing the following:
- Increasing traffic to your website.
- Increasing leads/conversions.
- Increasing the authority of your website, making all your content worth just a little bit more.
- Introducing your brand to a wider audience and establishing you and your brand as an authority figure.
Notice how the plugins work together to make all that possible? We take away OptinMonster, and we lose a chance at converting some of the traffic that was just too lazy to follow the link to the lead capture form.
We take away Gravity Forms, and our ability to capture leads or create any sort of return on the content is reduced or eliminated.
Without Yoast, even if we have a great keyword phrase, we have no clue if we're adding it to our content correctly.
Without Google Analytics, we have no way to measure how the post performed.
But what if we want to go beyond a simple blog post and use WordPress to create more complex, more valuable pieces of content marketing?
Custom Content Types Expand Your Content Marketing Options
Though there are many different ways to go about it, one of the things that makes WordPress so well-suited for content marketing is your ability to create custom post types (if you want to get your hands dirty, you can read a complete guide to the process here, but keep in mind that there are a variety of plugins and themes and frameworks that add or include this functionality these days).
What's great about custom post types is they allow you to easily segment different types of content and to ensure that unique content types are both structured and cataloged in the way you've specified.
One very common example of this is the creation of a custom post type for portfolio entries, but you can apply the principle to just about any type of content you can imagine.
The savvy content marketer will set up a variety of custom post types for some of their more valuable pieces of content, such as:
- Downloadable tools (like a specially preformatted Excel spreadsheet, for example)
- Product checklists, comparison sheets, or spec sheets.
When set up as custom post types, these pieces of content can be sorted and displayed on your website separately from your other types of content (like pages or posts), which can be important when you're, for instance, creating a resource center or hiding certain resources behind a lead capture form.
This is where some of those other distribution methods and plugins I mentioned earlier come into play. Let's take the example of a whitepaper. These are valuable pieces of content and not something you want to give away completely free, which means you hide it behind a lead capture form (thanks, Gravity Forms!).
All your whitepapers are set up as custom post types, and they're placed in a resource center, but how do you get them out into the wide world?
The page that lead capture form appears on is your landing page (which you've built using Beaver Builder), and that landing page is optimized for a keyword. Eventually, it starts ranking, and traffic begins to flow to the landing page. You also employ some distribution methods (social media, PPC) to send potential customers to that landing page, hoping, of course, that they will fill out your form, download your whitepaper, and possibly come back for more content.
In the meantime, you now have their email address, so you can start sending them regular newsletters and deals and potentially convert them into a customer. Depending on the information you pulled in the form, you might even be able to give them a call.
Because you've optimized the landing page (with the help of Yoast), people are finding this content via search. Because you're sharing liberally on social media, the content is getting into the hands of your friends online, who may then feel inclined to link to your whitepaper.
Pieces of content like this are also great lead magnets — all your guest-blogging efforts can use this new, wonderful piece of content as a focus for your calls-to-action, giving you (hopefully) a nice backlink and a new source of traffic.
Great Content Marketing On WordPress Requires The Right Plugins
Now imagine that you didn't have access to all these plugins. Imagine how much more difficult your content marketing efforts would be.
When you have the right plugins in place, you can do some truly wonderful things — content marketing and WordPress just go together like that. Of course, all this assumes you know what you're doing when it comes to the actual creation of your content.
If you're not a content marketing whiz with years of experience, you might just want to get some tips from the experts. Perhaps you'd like to start off with Smashing Magazine's Content Strategy eBook Bundle? It's got all the tools, tips, and tricks you'll need to master content and copywriting in no time.