A Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing and SEO for Small Businesses

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In this beginner’s guide to content marketing for small businesses, I’m breaking down strategies, buzzwords, and best practices you need to know in order to execute an effective SEO and content marketing strategy for your business.

Here’s a peek at what you’ll learn…

  • What is content marketing?
  • Types of content marketing
  • Why is content marketing important?
  • What makes great content?
  • The relationship between content marketing and SEO
  • The benefits of strategic content marketing for small businesses
  • How to develop a content marketing strategy
  • How to build your audience-focused and strategic content marketing strategy

A beginner’s guide to content marketing for small businesses

I’m a firm believer that understanding the basics is key to having an effective content marketing strategy in place for your small business. So first, what is content marketing and why is content marketing important? Let’s dive in!

What is content marketing?

Because I’m all about keeping things simple yet informative, content marketing is exactly as it sounds: marketing through the use of content.

Groundbreaking, right?!

In more professionally defined terms, Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:

“…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.’“

It’s a bit of a mouthful, sure. But in their definition of content marketing, they provide context around the key components of a successful content marketing strategy: top-notch content crafted for a specific audience to help achieve marketing and/or revenue goals for your business.

With content marketing you’re creating content — but not just any content. The content you create has to be valuable, relevant, and consistent.

If you’ve read my beginner’s guide to SEO or strategic SEO tips blog posts, you know I mention creating “10x content” quite a bit. The team at Content Marketing Institute refers to this as “the content tilt.”

This is so important when it comes to content marketing. There is more than enough content out there—what makes your blog post, podcast, or infographic better and more unique than what’s already been created?

Similar to SEO, content marketing isn’t an overnight success type of thing. Content marketing is a long-term strategy for your small business. Content marketing focuses on building relationships with your target audience through your expertise and trustworthy content, ensuring it’s delivered on a consistent basis to keep them coming back for more.

Why is content marketing important?

I could go on and on about the benefits of content marketing for your small business—the limit does not exist. With that, here are 4 reasons why content marketing is important…

  • Content marketing helps you stand out from the crowd and your competitors.
  • Content marketing keeps you top of mind with your audience.
  • Content marketing showcases you as a knowledgeable and trustworthy expert.
  • Content marketing helps you increase your reach organically (no paid ads here!).

Types of content marketing

There are endless types of content marketing you can use for your small business. Choosing the right types of content marketing is equal parts an art and a science. You can’t just create content out of thin air; you have to create content that is useful for your target audience and showcases you as an expert in your field to gain their trust.

Content Marketing Examples

Here are some of the main types of content marketing that you may have heard of and will want to use for your business…

  • Blog
  • Podcast
  • Social Media
  • Email Campaigns
  • E-Books
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Online Courses
  • Webinars
  • Digital Guides
  • SEO Topic Clusters
  • Testimonials and/or Success Stories
  • UGC (User-Generated Content)

You don’t need to create and/or use all of these types of content marketing, but having a healthy mix will help serve multiple purposes and help expand the reach of your top-notch content.

Diversifying your content marketing efforts and the types of content marketing you use will also help you meet your target audience where they are in the customer or buyer journey. You’re continually speaking to potential clients, customers, and prospects—all built from one great piece of content.

Content Marketing Tips: What Makes Great Content?

When it comes to crafting great content, here are 5 content marketing tips that I want you to keep in mind to ensure optimum success. You know that whole work smarter not harder thing—it applies to content marketing for your small business, too!

Great content is relevant

It wouldn’t make much sense for me to write a blog post about the best restaurants in Charleston, SC. Great topic and I personally love Charleston, but it has absolutely nothing to do with The SM Collective and what my business provides.

Could it drive traffic to my website? Sure, but once those people get to my website they’ll probably be on the hunt for more Charleston-based articles, “best of” restaurant lists, or travel guides.

That’s not what I provide.

Ensure the content you are creating is relevant to your business and your target audience & ideal client.

Great content is targeted and personal

Similar to the point above, great content isn’t designed for anyone and everyone. It is developed with a specific audience in mind to help guide them, provide solutions to their problems or pain points, educate them on a specific, etc.

Using this blog post as an example, I’m targeting small business owners who are new to the world of content marketing and SEO. This blog post isn’t designed for fellow SEO experts or established content marketers.

Another way to personalize your content is by using the word “you.” Pretty simple, right?! You’ll notice throughout this post I’ll say “you” or reference “your business” to make the content feel more specific to you as an individual and not the entire world of small business owners.

Great content is long-form

One of my pet peeves is when a blog post title captures my attention immediately yet when I get to the content I’m underwhelmed with vague steps, processes, definitions, etc. One of my top strategic SEO tips is to not gatekeep content.

Instead, leverage your knowledge and expertise with authoritative and trustworthy content, or 10x content as I like to say. Give the people deep insight and knowledge to showcase your expertise in the field or on a specific topic. Not only will they be wowed and learn a thing or two, but they’ll keep coming back for more.

Another benefit of long-form content is that it helps keep website visitors on the page longer. More content to read means more time on the website which in turn, helps to lower your bounce rate.

Great content is evergreen

Evergreen content is content (optimized for search, of course) that remains relevant no matter the season or time frame. It isn’t time-specific and remains relevant and fresh for readers.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for seasonal content. But with evergreen content, the window of opportunity to reach your target audience is infinite.

“How to” guide’s, or guides like this blog post you’re reading, are great examples of evergreen content. Because things change over time, it’s important you keep your evergreen content up-to-date with new findings, case studies, processes, etc.

Great content can be repurposed

Back to the work smarter not harder mentality, great content is content that can be repurposed across various marketing channels. And since you’re focusing on creating evergreen content, the limit does not exist on the repurposing opportunities of your great content.

Let’s take this blog post you’re reading right now, for example. I could repurpose this into multiple social media posts, pull excerpts or sections for email marketing, create a podcast episode, create multiple idea pins for Pinterest—the list goes on. And because this blog post is evergreen content, I’m not limited to a specific season or timeframe to disperse the repurposed content.

Content Marketing and SEO: The Relationship Between Content Marketing and SEO

When it comes to the relationship between content marketing and SEO, the key is to remember that you aren’t choosing between content marketing or SEO. SEO is an integral part of any successful content marketing plan; the two work in tandem as part of the overall marketing strategy for your small business.

It’s a slight marketing mindset shift. Don’t ask yourself if you should do content marketing or SEO. You need to ask yourself how you can improve the visibility of your expert, authoritative, and trustworthy content with a solid SEO strategy.

Two peas in a pod, peanut butter and jelly, Jack and Jill, Woody and Buzz, or whatever dynamic duo you prefer. That’s the relationship between content marketing and SEO—they go hand-in-hand!

The Benefits of Content Marketing for Small Businesses

While the benefits of content marketing and a solid content marketing strategy are endless, here are 6 key benefits of content marketing for small businesses, just like you!

  1. Content marketing helps improve your visibility in search results.
  2. Content marketing helps drive website traffic.
  3. Content marketing helps build strong brand awareness.
  4. Content marketing builds trust and authority with your target audience and customers.
  5. Content marketing introduces your brand to a wider audience.
  6. Content marketing builds a competitive advantage.

Many of the benefits of content marketing go hand-in-hand. For example, improved visibility in search results leads to increased website traffic and introduces your brand to a wider audience, thus building a competitive advantage.

This is why the benefits of content marketing are truly endless!

How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

Though keywords are an important part of creating content in the world of SEO, creating content that answer’s your audience’s questions or solves their problems is the most important. This is known as an audience-focused content marketing strategy vs a keyword-focused content marketing strategy.

Long story short, be sure you’re creating content for humans, not algorithms.

To drive the importance of this, Google released the Helpful Content Update in August 2022, followed by the December 2022 Helpful Content Update. Though this sitewide update and signal was a bit more of a PR stunt than a true Google update, it essentially says that your content needs to be created for humans and not for Google.

So with that top of mind, here are 6 initial things to define when developing an SEO-focused content marketing strategy for your business…

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What are their pain points or the questions they continually ask?
  3. What type(s) of content do they consume most?
  4. What unique expertise or viewpoint do you bring to the table?
  5. How you can blend your expertise with your audience’s needs to meet them where they’re at?
  6. What is the ultimate goal of this unique piece of content?

If you want to dig even deeper, here are 20 Questions to Ask Yourself to Gain Clarity on Your Content Marketing Strategy from Sara, the conversion copywriter behind Between the Lines Copywriting.

How to Build Your Audience-Focused Content Marketing Strategy

Now it’s time to put everything together. To wrap up this beginner’s guide to content marketing and SEO, here is a step-by-step content marketing strategy process you can follow—it’s the content marketing recipe for success!

  1. Identify and set your goals to help you figure out what type of content you’re going to create.
  2. Identify your primary audience and outline their pain points.
  3. Determine what makes your small business unique; what’s your USP? What makes you stand out from your competitors?
  4. Determine what your unique viewpoint or content angle is.
  5. Brainstorm topics based on your unique content angle that will serve your audience.
  6. Conduct your keyword research. (You don’t have to spend money on keyword tools, there are plenty of free SEO tools you can use).
  7. Create a content calendar (I use Google Sheets but am in the process of transitioning everything over to Notion).
  8. Create your unique and “10x content.”
  9. Publish your content and repurpose it across other channels.
  10. Celebrate your content marketing and SEO success!

There you have it, a comprehensive beginner’s guide to content marketing for small businesses. As you can see, the benefits of content marketing are endless and it is crucial to ensure you have a solid content marketing strategy and plan in place.

If you’re looking to take your small business content marketing and SEO efforts to the next level, I have just the things for you!

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Hey there, I'm Stepf—Google Superfan & Passionate Educator

And the showit website designer and seo strategist you’ve been looking for

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