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Back to the Basics: What You Need to Know About Content Marketing Going Into 2021

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Still the King — Content Matters Now More Than Ever

Well, here we are — the final installment in our “Back to Basics for 2021” series of blogs, where we broke down the essentials for 2021, covering everything from SEO and PPC to Web Design, Reputation Management, and everything in between. 

 I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: digital marketing is an evolving, ever-changing landscape — and if you don’t change and adapt along with it, you’re doomed to fail. The industry has come a long way from the “Wild West” days of invisible text, keyword stuffing, and copy-pasted content. As digital marketing has transformed, it’s also become more sophisticated. Ranking factors have been refined, metrics have been multiplied, and algorithms have been amended — all in the name of progress. In such a dynamic and sometimes volatile industry as digital marketing, it’s best to stay ahead of the curve, keeping your eye out for emerging trends, unique developments, and new directions. 

But don’t worry — I’ve already done that for you. 

Below are my predictions for this year and beyond. From E-A-T, strategies, and data generation to content auditing, optimizing for voice search, and so much more, here’s everything you need to know about content marketing in 2021.

A Focus On Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

One of the most significant trends we’ll see this year (and beyond) is Google’s ever-increasing attention to the E-A-T factor. First introduced in 2014, the Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) concept has quickly become a chief deciding factor when it comes to page ranking. We all know about Google’s “bots” that crawl and rank the world’s websites based on various factors. But did you know that Google also employs a highly-specialized team of humans that manually review and evaluate websites for their E-A-T? In turn, this feedback helps Google to improve its algorithm and continually serve up expert content — with topical authority, from a trustworthy source — to its users. 

Whereas backlinking used to be the number one factor in building your site’s domain authority, E-A-T has quickly become a critical determining component as well. So how do you improve — or even demonstrate — E-A-T? Here’s a quick checklist:

Improve the Content Experience for the User

It’s not just the content itself that influences the reader — it’s also how they interact with the content. That’s what I mean by “the content experience.” Think about it — have you ever clicked on a really enticing blog that you were excited to read, only to find that the page is replete with atrocious ads and invasive pop-ups, slowing down the load time and utterly ruining the content experience? Nothing will make you hit the back button faster!

This concept of content experience will be even more crucial starting in May 2021, when Google rolls out its new Page Experience Algorithm update, which will undoubtedly have a dramatic effect on website performance and rankings across the globe. While high-quality content will always be a priority, ensuring details like loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and even the positioning of images should be considered as fundamental elements of the content experience, as well as the overall user experience.

Generate Original Research and Studies By Owning Data

When it comes to researching your content topics, you have two choices: you can either find a resource, or you can be the resource. But what does that mean exactly? In a constantly changing landscape like digital marketing, it means that you need to become a thought leader in your industry, exploring new and emerging topics, generating original hypotheses, and testing them using your own research and findings. 

A simple and easy way to generate your own research is to employ audience surveys or other studies. Once you publish that data and whatever findings or insight you gleaned from it, you have become the source. Not only does that help you establish your E-A-T, but it can also become a resource for other websites who want to cite your data, opening up the door to backlinks and other advantageous opportunities.

Make It Engaging, Interactive, and Fun

There is so little time, but so, so much content — so you need to make yours count. In an era of ever-dwindling attention spans and countless external distractions, your content absolutely, positively must be engaging. To put it bluntly — if you write dull, sh*tty content, no one will ever read it…so make it fun. Now, this doesn’t mean that the pages on your funeral home’s website need to be filled with jokes, sunshine, and rainbows, but it does mean that you need to create compelling content that will truly capture the reader’s attention. 

Moving forward, expect an even further push for engagement and interactivity when it comes to content marketing trends and making an enduring impression on your readers, so use a variety of visual pieces as well as written copy. For instance, infographic and video formats are colorful, can tell a story, and include movement to keep readers engaged. Interactive content — like quizzes, surveys, polls, tests, contests, etc. — creates a two-way, dynamic conversation the audience can participate in, as opposed to static content pieces that the audience merely passively consumes. So don’t be afraid to throw in a meme, gif, or quiz for your next piece; regardless of the variety of content you create, have some fun with it (when appropriate)!

Audit Your Current Content & Monitor Its Performance

Content creation is far from a static entity — it’s a living, breathing thing. So why adopt a “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality when it needs constant TLC? Regardless of how much content your site currently has, you should be doing regular audits to monitor it and look for opportunities to improve it. 

A few key metrics to keep your eye on are your highest-performing content pieces, as well as your lowest. From there, you can assess their performance, deconstruct them to figure out what specifically is working — and what isn’t — to help you maximize your success and formulate new content strategies moving forward. Additionally, take a look at your keyword performance, and even your publishing frequency. By understanding your current campaign, it’ll help you build more effective ones in the future.

Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

Speaking of marketing plans content strategies, that brings me to my next point — invest your time and effort into developing a winning content strategy. Gone are the days of producing content on the fly, pulling topics out of thin air, stuffing some keywords in there, and calling it a day. Now, content needs to be deliberate, measured, and methodical. 

There are countless factors that are involved in building an effective content strategy, but a good place to start is to clearly identify the campaign’s goal, whether it’s increasing conversions, bolstering the brand, etc. Additionally, you should consider utilizing a content calendar to keep it all streamlined and in one place. Keeping your content marketing strategy organized will help you keep your messaging consistent and cohesive across all channels, which provides a perfect segue into my next point: repurposing your content.

Repurpose Your Content Across Multiple Channels

When you create a kickass piece of content — and they should all be kickass — you want to share that content with the world. Think about it — you’ve spent hours researching the topic, surgically crafting the copy, custom-designing the imagery to complement it, and more. So naturally, you want to be certain it’s reaching your audience, and that’s precisely where content repurposing comes into play. 

If the ongoing pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be resourceful, and that lesson certainly applies to content creation. The trend here is to focus on producing genuinely engaging content with fewer resources, and it is a concept I truly believe will become an even bigger factor in 2021 and beyond. So, how do you repurpose content? You share it across multiple channels. 

For instance, let’s say you have an interesting piece of content — like a blog or quiz — it shouldn’t just live on your website. You should also be sharing that content through your email marketing campaigns and on social media channels, enticing people to click the link to your content and bring them back to your website to drive traffic and boost conversions. As Kyrus Westcott, my partner in crime and Director of 1SEO’s Philadelpahia-based social media marketing team, says, “The Content team makes the movies, the Social Media team makes the movie previews.”

Quality Vs. Quantity

Clients, colleagues, and other digital marketers often ask me, “Chris, what’s the ideal word count for a blog?” The answer — no matter what you read or what anyone tells you — is that there’s simply no magic number. And while that actually sounds like a non-answer, it’s also the most correct response. Sure, you can read studies that report on the average lengths of top-ranking blog posts, but what it really comes down to is quality, not quantity. 

That’s not to say that long-form content isn’t important, effective, or successful. In fact, creating a long-form blog can be entirely and inextricably necessary when it comes to covering a topic with expertise, authority, and depth. However, simply adding more words doesn’t measure up to success. Or, as I like to say, “More doesn’t equal better — better equals better.”

The takeaway here is not to simply load up on the words; it’s to write to your specific target audience and give them the content they want. Studies by the Nielsen Norman Group show that as little as 20% of any online blog or article gets read, so you need to make your content count — regardless of word count. As long as you’re focusing on demonstrating and improving E-A-T, you should find success moving forward in 2021.

Adapt to Voice Search Optimization

Another content marketing trend that will continue to gain prevalence in 2021 is adapting to and optimizing for voice searches. From Siri and Alexa to Google and more, consumers are increasingly turning to their smartphones and other devices for AI answers to their questions. The only thing is — voice searches can differ considerably from traditional text queries. For example, searches via voice are typically much longer and more conversational. Not only that, but they’re also — go figure — posed as questions. So, instead of typing “pizza near me,” you’d likely ask, “Hey Siri, where can I get good pizza nearby?” It’s because of this change in sentence structure that you should be optimizing for voice searches specifically. 

There are a few strategies you can employ when it comes to adapting your content for voice searches:

Prepare for Google’s Page Experience Algorithm Update

In my opinion, no examination into the future of content marketing in 2021 would be complete without discussing Google’s upcoming Page Experience update. Although I mentioned it earlier in this blog, it’s worth repeating — new ranking factors are being introduced to Google’s algorithm, which will dramatically impact your website’s performance and ranking. Metrics like Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), Cumulative Layout Shift, and a dizzying array of other acronyms and alphabet soup will be some of the most important driving factors when it comes to the content experience, page ranking, performance, and more. 

For an in-depth, extensive look at what to expect from Google’s Page Experience update and how it will affect your website, check out this blog written by my colleague Casey Quinn. In it, he takes a deep dive into the new metrics and various ranking factors that can make or break your website this coming May 2021.

What About Email Marketing? Isn’t That a Part of Content?

Great question! Yes, our Philadelphia email marketing services are an absolutely integral part of a content marketing plan. In fact, email marketing plays such a significant role in content creation that we gave it its own blog — written by our very own Queen of Email Marketing, Kejsi Prifti. Check it out for more insight into the emerging email marketing trends for 2021.

The Best Content Marketing Practices for 2021 By Vertical

While the above information is a comprehensive list of best practices, trends, and emerging concepts as they relate to content marketing in 2021, I thought I’d get even more granular. Below, check out some of the more industry-specific content marketing “hit lists” for some of the most common industries we work with.

2021 Content Marketing Tips for Home Services

2021 Content Marketing Tips for Professional Services

2021 Content Marketing Tips for eCommerce

Make Your Content Reign Supreme in 2021

Whether you’re a noob or a seasoned, battle-scarred veteran, there’s always room to grow and improve your content marketing efforts — and with 1SEO’s content marketing services, we can help you amplify your voice and project your vision. 

There’s no denying the role that content plays in your SEO strategy, your Social Media ads, your Pay Per Click campaigns, and the rest of your overall digital marketing program — and high-quality, high-converting content doesn’t just write itself. That’s where 1SEO comes in. From establishing and executing a well-researched content strategy to bolstering your off-site efforts with a slick email marketing campaign, we can set you up for success with our winning content marketing services. 

If you’re ready to start creating content that reigns supreme in 2021, partner with us to get started right now!

About the Author: 

Chris Shirlow is 1SEO’s Director of Content Marketing, and a self-proclaimed “Content Assassin.” He’s written international award-winning content and has a penchant for shooting fellow employees with Nerf guns. His favorite dish is porcelain.

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