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Content marketing is a many-headed beast.

In other words, it’s tricky! Ideally, it’s supposed to promote a brand and drive better business results in a subtle way using digital marketing assets. Y’know, like branded content. But there’s a lot to content marketing, and many different tactics to explore, which is where content marketing best practices come into play.

What’s a best practice? A quick dictionary definition say that it’s a set of “commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective.” One best practice, for example, is to use Google—be familiar with it, and learn how it can work for you. You can read more about that below.

Here are 11 content marketing best practices you need to know:

First, know (1) the purpose of your content. We all know about purpose. In case you don’t, know that the content you create is supposed to do a number of things at once: answer questions, provide information, create engagement, and define your brand. Keep those main goals in mind, and then you can introduce additional ones, like “be entertaining and thoughtful.”

And what audience doesn’t want to be entertained? Isn’t that why you are here?! Actually, maybe some folks just want to cut straight to the chase. In that case, you better (2) know your audience. Which is another way of saying know your buyer persona. Once you figure out whom you want to attract to your site, what kinds of services they’re looking for, and what kind of content they’re looking for (Insightful essays? GIFs? Memes? Recipes?), then you can focus on the next content marketing best practice.

Say hello to our good buddy, (3) SEO. We’ve talked a couple times about Search Engine Optimization before, but it never hurts to go over the basics. The cornerstone of content marketing that will never go away so long as the Internet exists, SEO helps searchers find the content they’re looking for so long as the proper keywords and search terms are included in that content.

And that’s where Google comes in. Besides the various Google tools that can help research keywords, there’s the regular old search engine. (4) Think about how people search, especially in this day of Google Assistants and Siris. They typically ask straightforward questions like “Where’s the best pizza around here?” and “How come Valve can’t count to 3?” Okay, that last one isn’t straightforward at all, but the takeaway should be to (5) use natural language as much as possible.

Alrighty, you know your audience, you’ve got your SEO terms all figured out, and you know how and why people search, and hopefully you know how to write (or create content in general) in a natural manner. Well, uh, (6) now is the time to create content! That could really mean anything. And it doesn’t just have to be blogging. Content can be ebooks, GIFs, memes, white papers, a podcast, a video, you name it. But if you know your audience and brand and everything else, you should know what to create.

As such, a good content marketing best practice is to have a (7) content strategy. You can’t just put pen to paper without a strategy and a strong tactical plan that involves building your brand and knowing what your customers want. Don’t know? Just ask. Polls, quizzes, and surveys could be part of your content plan, but sometimes directly asking works too. Paying attention to industry trends never hurts either.  

(8) Being consistent is a pretty important content marketing best practice. You can’t just produce a couple blog articles and call it quits. You’re trying to grow a business/brand/global corporation here! Brainstorm and come up with a list of content topics — at least three month’s worth of content — and put all those headlines, ideas, and keywords into (9) a handy editorial calendar, complete with important dates, when and where everything will be published, and details about holiday-specific content. Once everything is organized, an overwhelming sense of pride will wash over you as you see all the work you have before you. Or anxiety. Either way, your content marketing team will thank you.

To get the sales team to thank you, (10) end your content with a strong call-to-action. Readers, listeners, and viewers will listen. Heck, everyone expects a “like, share, and subscribe” CTA these days. And if the content is good enough, they will. Which is great! Building a relationship with an audience is exactly the point.  

Which means (11) you can’t get complacent. If audiences, or industry trends, or Google algorithms change, then you should too. Optimizing and re-planning is part of the content marketing game.

And these are just a few of the content marketing best practices you need to know. Think of this article as a primer, and think of us as a resource you can contact.

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