Leaves are turning and an autumn chill is settling in. It can only mean one thing: It’s time to start planning for next year’s content strategy.
Maybe you’re a seasoned pro looking to shake up your 2020 strategy, or maybe this will be your first foray into content marketing. Either way, the publications you choose to target with external content are critical. And if you’ve gone starry-eyed for big-name publications, we’re here to bring you back to planet Earth.i
Sure, seeing your name in the lights of Forbes or Fast Company is an awesome feeling. But if you want to see tangible results from your guest-contributed content, especially in the SEO space, you should consider widening your range of publications.
The list of publications you can target with digital guest-contributed content is vast, so let’s break it down into two categories: general publications and trade publications.
General publications are the ones we’ve all heard of. They’re the magazines you see in the doctor’s office or the links you see in daily roundups of interesting stories. They have large audiences, and you stand to gain a heap of credibility by publishing there.
Trade publications drill down into the specifics of your industry. They have narrower audiences, making it easier to target the people you want to hear your core message. They also tend to allow more robust link-building strategies, which helps you drive qualified traffic back to your website.
It can be tempting to shoot for the moon from day one of a new content strategy. But mixing in some trade publications makes for the best results.
Here at Influence & Co., we practice what we preach. In our agency’s infancy, our then-president and current CEO Kelsey Raymond was publishing in Entrepreneur once a month. Even though her content was appearing in a big-name publication, the posts weren’t bringing in a ton of qualified leads. Entrepreneur is a notable publication, but it doesn’t tap into our key target audience.
That’s true of most general publications. They usually boast large readerships, but those readers aren’t always the people who need what you provide. Enter the trade publication. In our business, trade publications like Content Marketing Institute let us target marketers who need help with content marketing.
When we switched up our content strategy and started targeting more marketing-specific pubs like CMI, we saw a boost in traffic and leads: This article, for example, gained us 229 clicks back to our website, resulting in 29 new leads who downloaded a piece of content when they arrived.
Targeting a mix of publication types can boost your content marketing efforts in several ways. Let’s drill down into the top three benefits of a diverse content strategy:
If one of your goals is to improve your site’s SEO, gaining a variety of links back to your site is key. When Google and other search engines crawl content to determine page ranks, they take links into account. If a high-quality publication includes a follow link back to your website, it carries some of that clout to your site.
If you want to kick your content strategy up a notch, try this: First, create a blog post about a topic closely related to your business. Include information on how your company solves the problem you’re discussing. The next time you create a guest-contributed piece for a trade publication, include that link using keywords as the anchor text.
After the trade piece publishes, try linking to it from an article in a general publication. This strategy helps your content come across as credible and educational while still driving people to your site.
If you focus all of your efforts on general publications, you might be missing out on great opportunities to speak directly to your audience.
Think of it this way: Posting in a general publication with 1 million monthly readers makes for a great website badge, but if only 5% of those readers are part of your target audience, you might not get very many clicks back to your site. And if the publication editor doesn’t allow you to speak on your expertise or include any links, those clicks drop further.
While a post in a trade publication might reach only 100,000 readers, if 75% of them fall in your target audience, you have a much higher chance of converting some of them into leads.
Finally, it’s important to consider the actual topics you’ll be allowed to write about when targeting publications. General publications usually require more “general” topics that would interest a wide variety of readers.
Trade publications, though, allow you to talk about topics that are truly relevant to your industry, company, and audience. They let you create content that’s more aligned with your key messaging.
General publications are like billboards: The content you post there has to be interesting for anyone who drives by it. But trade publications are like targeted digital ads that you can customize to catch your audience’s eyes.
As you prepare to kick off your next content strategy initiative, remember to balance credibility and brand name recognition and badges from general pubs with the great thought leadership opportunities and SEO boosts that trade publications offer.
This blog post was co-written by my wonderful team: Matthias McManus, Morgan Williams, and Katie Doherty.