I had cause to take another peep at SEO, this time specifically the role of Content Marketer. A role completely unknown to me before now. Last week I could only have guessed, if you had asked “what does a Content Marketer do?”. Yet it’s basically what I’ve been doing for decades (albeit mostly without pay).

Some maxims and tips on this topic, from my jotted notes…

Your written content should not be self-serving, even if that will please your boss. You should try to serve your intended audience first, and educate your boss about the need to place the audience first. Quality is important, and needs to be consistent. Don’t outsource your vital customer-facing writing to someone in Whereizitagain who says they’ll do it for $10 an article.

Rather surprising was the advice to never overlook or dismiss old-school methods. Handwritten letters and targeted informative direct-mail “can still work wonders”. If done from a trusted source, done correctly and especially to a receptive older audience.

A writing Content Marketeer doesn’t just churn out SEO-focused robo-articles. Which was news to me. Such a writer could be undertaking: how-to tutorials / quarterly industry reports / buyer guides and reviews / news about new releases, with a touch of analysis to add value / long-form interviews / white papers / contributions to annual reports / and making online microsites and infographics.

One might also be polishing, SEO-buffing and revising/re-formatting older media content. If that hadn’t already been done by the previous post-holder. But link-rot is ever present, and old Web links will always need to be regularly checked.

One would ensure that all of the above are sprinkled with calls-to-action and (if needed) explicit “buy now” calls, as well as SEO-derived keywords. Web links would be added at the most relevant points, and these must be coloured so as to be clearly visible as links.

Monitor the competition. Note their topics, phrases and infer any new audience profiles they might be trying to address.

Monitor the commentators and contrarians. Comment on their posts, though be careful and don’t spam or aggravate.

Occasionally coin meaningful new phrases and even words and tags (e.g. ai-gen as an easily tag to identify AI generated content). Also consider local keywords, or timely ones relating to the trade-journal or hobby-magazine lead articles / news that your audience will be reading that month. You are of course also reading these journals regularly, and ideally doing so before everyone else.

Avoid writing “Top 10”, “7 best” etc article headlines. The savvy have long since learned that such headlines lead to untrustworthy articles, most of which appear to have been written by robots.

Monitor both customers and potential customers. Get a feel for things like their literacy level and the length they like to read. Do they have the ability to ‘skim and skip’, or do they just back off when faced with a long text? Can you break up a slab of text with nicer typography and spacing, break-out boxes and pull-quotes? Pictures should be unique and tailored to both the content and the audience, ideally, not just hastily-grabbed stock. The best writer is also ideally a crack picture-researcher and accomplished picture-processor.

Build a mental map of ‘where the audience is’ in the seasonal buying cycle (e.g. they may be saving up their PayPal for Black Friday, or flat broke after a big family spend at Christmas). Also develop a map of the favoured places visited by the decision makers in the audience, and when they find time to engage/post in such places.

Explore the potential for infusing what may be a rather staid corporate “brand tone” with touches of good-natured humour and subtle “insider joke” nods to the audience. Also explore the potential for weaving developing personal stories across your output. These stories should be genuine and as close to the grassroots as possible.

Pitch ideas to the legacy media via press releases, and perhaps also pitch directly if you have a relationship with a journalist or editor.

Actively pitch ideas to bloggers, audio podcasters and especially YouTube influencers. Make sure the pitch is individual and tailored to them and their audience. An inbound Web link from a blog is (apparently) worthless for Google Search SEO ranking, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

Make sure your content is easily shareable. But remember that not everyone does Facebook and Twitter, and in that case they can’t even see your posts on those closed services.

Don’t overlook the need for good writing in “thank you” messages, and even in receipts. Avoid flowery language and gushing cliches. Keep it simple, and add a nice straightforward coupon-code for a discount on their next purchase.

In spare moments, inventory the firm’s back catalogue of media, if that has not already been done. Is anything still useful, but gathering dust?

That’s the gist of what I noted during my reading and listening on the topic. Please comment and let me know if there’s anything I’ve missed.