So if you publish great content, you’ll immediately generate lots of traffic, right? And if you don’t get that traffic, your writer sucks, right? Wrong. You’re not Kevin Costner, and you’re not building the Field of Dreams. Let’s deal with reality, shall we? More than 2..5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. No matter how awesome your content is, you’re probably going to get crickets for a while. Maybe a long while. There’s just so much content being published every second that it’s hard to get anybody’s attention. Sure, publishing content to crickets can feel a lot like shaving your legs in the winter — why bother? But if you don’t publish content, you don’t exist. And you have to start somewhere. Fortunately, you don’t have to get everybody’s attention — just the people who might actually be interested in what you sell. Or who will share your content with the people who’ll be interested in what you sell.
Here are a few tips for getting traffic that matters:
Make nice with Google.
The rule is that Google makes the rules. Think one company shouldn’t have that much power? I don’t disagree. But that doesn’t mean we get to ignore reality. If you want to do any better than the 50th page of search results (and, let’s face it, NOBODY makes it that far), your content has to make Google happy. And, to make it even more complicated, Google’s algorithms are constantly evolving. What makes Google happy today could be taboo a year from now. Here’s the 2016 Guide to Google Ranking Factors, but I would encourage you to do your own research to make sure you have the latest and greatest. But don’t ignore the 2016 version — SERP (search engine results page) rankings are a lot more complicated than you might think. Like Nobel Prize in Mathematics complicated.
Don’t talk to strangers.
Not everybody is going to love you. There are people who, no matter how much you kiss their feet, will never buy from you. [tweet]And when you talk to everybody, you end up talking to nobody. [/tweet]Don’t be afraid to have a voice and a personality — the people who are offended by that probably wouldn’t have done business with you anyway. If you know who your customers are, have a whispered conversation with them, and leave the bullhorn at home.
Don’t measure the wrong stuff.
Here’s the thing: Likes and shares are awesome. For one thing, they tell Google that you’re cool enough to be included in the top search engine results. But likes and shares don’t always lead to conversions. Would you rather have 100 likes/shares and no conversions, or no likes/shares and one conversion? Only you can answer that, but don’t just assume that likes and shares are the ultimate goal. The key is to get the right likes and shares. You can get tons of traffic, but it doesn’t matter if nobody buys.
Make nice with self-promotion.
Making nice with self-promotion is almost as important as making nice with Google. You can’t just wait for people to stumble across your awesome content. While that may happen, it’s not going to happen at a high enough rate to sustain your business. You’ve got to get your content out there and in front of eyeballs. Just remember that content marketing is subtle. Don’t toot your own horn; be helpful. I’m not going to redo what other people have already done very well, so check out these resources:
Get it right.
More straight-up honesty here: If your content is full of errors — whether grammatical or factual — readers will assume your product/service will have the same lack of quality. Sloppy content = sloppy product, at least in the minds of most consumers. Don’t believe me? Read more here and here.
Use your manners.
Content promotion isn’t a one-way street. You can’t just expect people to share your content when you don’t even acknowledge their existence. Share their content. Comment on it. Tweet it. Start a conversation. It’s what nice guys do and, contrary to popular belief, nice guys don’t finish last.
Content marketing is chess, not checkers. Think carefully about each move you make, but don’t forget to think a few moves ahead. And be patient.