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October 29, 2012

How Content Marketers Fit Into Your Search Marketing Team

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Content has always been the star of the show, it just hasn’t been as highly acclaimed as it is now. This is creating an emerging role in the form of a content marketer. If you’re looking at your own marketing strategy online or your own team, you might be trying to understand how content and the content marketer fits in.

Street Sign with Multiple Directions

The short answer is: everywhere.

Think about it: content is a part of every search marketing tactic you perform right now. Got PPC ads? That’s content right there. You’ve got landing pages setup for conversion? Content. Got a Facebook page? What’s on it? Yep, you guessed it — content.

Content is just as much a part of search marketing as it has ever been, but the role of who is watching over it is changing. It’s a special role that marries an understanding of search marketing with traditional marketing savvy and content development skills across the board.

Let’s take a look at how the new content marketing role fits within the search marketing world and enhances what we do every day in our search marketing.

How the Content Marketer Fits into Search Marketing

Who is overseeing the content strategy and development within your campaigns and channels? Who is upholding standards for the type of content you create? You might say your head SEO is doing this. And it might be working for you. But even though many SEOs have multiple skills, most specialize in one or more categories within SEO.

For example, you might have a super technical SEO who is very good at what she does — she knows a lot about the back-end of the site and how it impacts SEO, and inbound, outbound and internal link development strategy plus a good understanding about content optimization and content development for clients based on the keyword sets she’s uncovered.

Then there’s the content marketer, who may know a lot about marketing in general, a lot about content development in various channels and disciplines within search marketing, and how to connect with the audience of a company through the content mediums and channels available. This person has a good understanding of search marketing tactics to help achieve this.

Are you beginning to see how these roles can complement and enrich each other in the entirety of the search marketing campaign?

Graph on How Content Marketers Fit

The emerging role of content marketing.

As search marketing develops as an industry, you can have a very healthy program when skill sets overlap and teams work together to create that great end product – a healthy, thriving, growing Web presence with a strategic content development plan that helps you get there.

The key is looking at your team and your business’ search marketing strategy to find those holes to fill. Where do the weaknesses on your search marketing team lie? Where do weaknesses in your SEO strategy lie? Truth is, great content strategy and development can improve any search marketing project and any individual discipline.

What Skills Are Important for Content Marketers?

Content marketers should have a good balance of the more traditional marketing skills with search marketing skills and expert content development skills so that content can be developed and optimized for the audience in a way that reflects the company’s brand and connects with the people it’s intended to.

Consider the following skills sets when thinking about hiring content marketers:

  • Traditional marketing principles. It helps when your content marketers either have traditional marketing backgrounds or deeply understand marketing to bring a richness and depth to the content creation process.
  • Search marketing knowledge.  It’s essential the content marketer understands how all the disciplines within Web marketing work together, and then individually, how content exists and excels in each discipline.
  • Strategic thinker. Your content marketer must be able to connect the dots within complex search marketing campaigns where there are a lot of moving parts to give the best advice on how content plays a part in each area.
  • Journalistic principles. Upholding journalistic integrity in the content that’s created is a must-have in today’s Web content development. While writing like a journalist may not always apply to every channel or type of content you create, the one principle that should always apply is truth in our content.
  • Copywriting know-how. Knowing how to write savvy content specifically for the channel it exists in is key (white paper versus a conversion landing page versus a paid search ad versus an ebook, for example).
  • Breadth of writing skills. Being adaptive and having the talent to create different types of content or writing in different styles appropriate to the audience and brand is a special skill set not to be underestimated.
  • Creative direction on all content mediums. A content marketer may or may not have the ability to actually do graphic design, but he or she should know how to gather and organize critical information for an infographic, for example, give creative direction on how it should look and be optimized, and see it through to its final completion. Content marketers should know how to convey branded messages across mediums, and that includes in graphics and videos.
  • Publishing experience. Experience in publishing can help content marketers create complicated, well-oiled machines for publishing content on a regular basis.
  • Understands user experience. The way content looks, is laid out and exists together with other elements on a Web page affects user experience. Content marketers should know how to give strategic recommendations on this.
  • Knows analytics. If you can’t track and make predictions about your content from the data that’s available to you, you aren’t able to make strategic decisions about your content creation.
  • Understands basic HTML. Knowing the basics of HTML at the very least allows content marketers to make decisions on how to fix or create important elements of content on the Web as needed.
  • Stay on top of search engine quality guidelines. Good content marketers should know what quality content is without Google having to tell them, but they should also stay on the pulse of search engines quality guidelines to avoid any potential missteps with regards to content creation or when auditing old content.

How Content Marketers Can Exist Within a Team

In the past and still today (we’re in the middle of a transformation), content is compartmentalized. It’s compartmentalized to the channel it exists in. And that’s OK with respects to how that content exists within that channel and how that practitioner understands how it exists in that channel. But take a step back.

Jigsaw graffiti

For example, does your practitioner in your social media role work to understand how the goals of the entire search marketing campaign (which is hopefully driven by business goals) impacts the content? Do they take into consideration the keyword set the company is targeting in organic SEO, why it exists, and how that might affect the ideas they have for content?

Many companies have disjointed roles when it comes to the search marketing efforts. There’s a PPC guy managing ads (who may or may not be responsible for the content), there’s a technical SEO team giving in-depth analysis on the health of the site, and maybe there’s some people performing A/B or multivariate tests on key landing pages.

What a content marketing role can do is help tie in the high-level goals of the search marketing project and the business goals with the content that’s created in every channel. This role can also make sure the key messages about the brand and the products/services it provides are present (enter the traditional marketing background).

The content marketer is the COO of content, if you will. But it doesn’t stop at strategic recommendations (because many SEOs can do this); where it picks up where the more traditional SEO leaves off is the ability to develop that professional-level quality content.

This person understands what types of content are most appropriate for what situation — what stage in the conversion funnel, what channel. This person understands how content and user experience work together and has developed quality guidelines for content based on years of experience and search engine guidelines.

A content marketer can give recommendations on the type of content that should be used for any type of channel, suggestions on ways of producing content for a channel, and help make sense of how the content is contributing to the success of each individual search marketing discipline and to the success of the overarching goals of the entire marketing campaign.

So content marketers today must be expert content developers and strategic professionals with a keen understanding of search marketing. This emerging role can work within your existing teams and enhance nearly every part of your Web marketing efforts.

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