Each week I take one question from my community and answer it here. This week’s question is a great one about content marketing. This is from a client who we have asked to create or let us create content for his website.
To listen to this as a podcast, click here.
Here’s the question I was asked
“I see some of my competitors doing very well in the organic search and I don’t see them posting novels on their site, in fact they don’t seem to post much of anything.”
Before I answer it, let me give you the back story on the client so you understand where he’s coming from. Due to proprietary information this company needs to remain anonymous. We will call the owner Bob and say he runs a Widget shop in Anytown, CT.
His website was the victim of a Malware attack about 2 years ago. Due to the attack there was a hidden icon on his homepage that had thousands of lines of infected code. Without having a company like us managing his website and SEO, this went unchecked for quite some time.
The result was that the website was de-indexed by Google completely. This means he was not showing up for anything anyone would search on. He was invisible.
He eventually hired us to fix the website issues. We then worked with Google to lift all of the penalties and get him put back. But this process just brings you back to level ground.
Then came the building process to improve his rankings from invisible. It’s not a flip of a switch and you’re number one. This is a lot of time spent eking him back up. It’s painful and just takes time. In the meantime it’s frustrating because the other Widget shops are taking his potential business.
At this point we’ve righted the ship and are ready to aggressively build traffic. To do it we need to get content flowing on his site. We specifically advised him to post content to a blog.
This is when we received the question: Why should I do it when my competition isn’t? Before I answer this, I want to point something important out. This question is an objection.
An objection is a question a prospect raises which stands in the way of the sale. For example, I was looking at the new iPhones recently. The sales rep was trying to sell me the gigantic iPhone 6 Plus. I told him I carry my phone on a belt holster and that phone is way too big to walk around with on my hip. I’d probably look less silly carrying my wife’s purse.
That is an objection. If he can overcome that objection he might make the sale. If he came up with the answer and addressed the objection before I even mentioned it, even better. In either case it is a buying question. Offer me a solution to that problem and you’ve got yourself a sale.
Every business has objections. They are fantastic questions to answer like on, say, a blog… More on that in a moment.
Stop Googling yourself!
I am going to answer the question in two parts. Because there are really two questions here even though it might not look that way.
The first and not so obvious question is: Should I be Googling myself to see my ranking? He says: “I see some of my competitors doing very well in the organic search…” As most clients do, he’s trying to see where he stands by Googling his key search term: ‘Widget shop in Anytown CT’.
The urge to Google oneself and see where you show up is strong. Like a 10 year old boy trying not to pick a scab. It’s plain dirty business and not good for you. It just bleeds a lot and leaves an ugly scar.
This is not a metric for success
Google doesn’t work that way anymore. Four years ago what you saw for a Google search term was the same thing I and everyone else saw. Today not so much.
If I am a Widget shop like Bob and spend a lot of time surfing around my big competitor’s site, Google may show me that competitor’s site. A lot. Because they think I like that site since I go there a lot. Yes, Google is paying attention to what you do, like, engage with, etc.
They may also decide to not show me my own site in the results. They might figure, why would I need to see my own site in the search results? I already know where my site is.
Doubt me? Go find five or more unrelated people. Ask them to Google the exact same search term like: ‘Widget shop in Anytown CT’ . Have them take a screen shot and send you the result. What you will see will be different from person to person.
Why you DO need content (and a lot of it)
The other part of the question was why does he need to create content when none of his competitors are? Well, you have to create content because Google says so. What better reason could there be?
It’s like if your mom says you have to clean your room. You just have to. If you don’t, you get punished. It’s not a choice. It doesn’t matter that none of your friends don’t have to clean their rooms.
So just clean your stinking room!
Reason #1 – The way it was… The way it is…
Sites that create content have always been rewarded for doing it. Then everyone and their uncle started creating content simply to help search rankings without giving a thought to quality.
Google got smart. Really smart. Today, sites without content can potentially be penalized. Sites with low value content (Google ultimately decides what is low quality but a good rule of thumb is to write something valuable to a human reader such as a customer), may also be penalized.
But this is honestly nothing new. Sites that created high quality content have always won. The better the content, the bigger the wins.
In all the excitement of creating quick and dirty content for SEO purposes, website owners forgot they need to talk to people. I have personally created content for over 12 years. Not to game Google… To sell more products/services. To do what I am doing here: answering questions my audience has.
Content is a non starter. Refuse to create it at your peril. It is one of the most important factors to Google and to your customer.
Reason #2 – You need a jump start
Bob is behind the eight ball here. He is struggling in the search rankings due to being deindexed.
An SEO company cannot build offsite SEO unless there is content on a website. Think about it. If I put up an empty website, nothing but white space, and then tell Google this site should show up for the search term: ‘No Content websites are awesome’ nothing will stick.
Google will crawl over to my website looking for a match on the words ‘No Content websites are awesome’. But it finds no content at all. No match.
So what does Google do? First, they won’t show me for that search term. I mean why would they?
But worse, if I keep trying to make them index that term, they will slap my wrist because I am not following the rules. They will send me to my room and that makes it even worse.
Creating content makes those search terms sticky. The more content, the more search terms we can push for.
Reason #3 – Your customers want content
Everyone knows when they want to find something they Google it. They know that the answer to every question is out there.
We know that consumers are researching companies online now more than ever before. We know that consumers want to read non-marketing related content (like where you answer questions, deal with objections and solve their problems).
We know that websites with a lot of content not only are found more but improve their chances of landing a customer. The more frequent a business posts content, the higher their chance of getting business.
But my competition doesn’t do it
That’s really great news for you and looming disaster for them. Yes, it means either hiring a company to do it, assigning an employee to do it, doing it yourself or a combination of all of those.
As you publish this content, your rankings and traffic are going to continue to grow. By the time your competition realizes what has happened, you’ll have left them in the dust.
If I were Bob
If I opened a Widget shop tomorrow, here is exactly what I would do:
I would create an offer. It would be something that hit the top problem, question or objection (remember objections from above?) of my audience. I don’t know what that is because I don’t run a Widget shop. But it’s likely the question people who shop for widgets ask most.
So my offer might be something like: Get The Widget Guide: 10 Things You Need To Know Before You Buy (Will Save You Thousands). Or something like that. As long as it answers my ideal client’s number one question, problem or objection, I know I have an offer that will be attractive to them.
I would put a landing page together promoting my offer. It would collect email addresses in exchange for my guide. I would install it on my website.
I’d test it out by watching my conversion numbers to make sure I have the right offer. If it doesn’t convert well, I’d tweak the marketing message until it does. And if it can’t be made to work, I’d create a new offer and repeat the process until I got it right.
I would put a graphic on my website with my offer so people who visit can opt into my email list to get it. So instead of having just a plain site where people call me or leave, I give them another option: get this free thing.
See my site for an example. It’s right on top of the home page. And then click the menu option for either my blog or podcast and see the same offer on the right side of the page. If you open a blog post, you will see references and links to that and other offers in many of them. You will see email opt in forms at the end of many blog posts.
I promote my offer online and offline in many ways. And average about 2 leads per day with zero money spent to advertise it. That’s not a ton… but remember that quantity isn’t out goal. We’re looking for qualified leads… something like that.
I would create a ton of content. I’d spend the next few weeks writing articles that answered all the possible questions, problems and objections my prospective clients could possibly have. Kind of like this blog post just did. Remember I mentioned how part of this question was an objection?
Bob asked me a question and I just answered it. But he was asking a question a lot of other people ask. It’s a great question. And look where it is.
This step is optional but I would start putting some money aside so I can buy the other Widget shop’s equipment when they go out of business because I just destroyed them online. Every time someone typed anything about Widgets in my area, I’d rank well on that page for whatever blog post was closest to their search phrase. They would have no idea why their phones stopped ringing all of a sudden because none of them create any content and don’t promote offers.
Still don’t believe me? Leave a comment or let me know on social media.