When it comes to publishing on the Web, small business owners sometimes have an advantage over their larger competitors—they can be quick and nimble in their creation and dissemination of content. At the 2011 Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland, Marcus Sheridan, CEO of River Pool & Spas, discussed how he increased traffic for RiverPoolsandSpas.com and, ultimately, brand awareness for his pool construction company.
Sheridan said that the notion of creating a sea of content can seem daunting and frustrating, but it's actually easy to get started. “Every company should think of the typical questions it hears from its consumers, and there's probably a top 10 or 20 that easily come to mind. Those are your first 20 blog articles,” Sheridan said. If you take the question itself and make it the title of your blog post, that’s a great long-tail post.
Sheridan mapped out his proven techniques for boosting a small business’ content strategy:
1. Be up front about pricing: Oftentimes, companies don’t talk about price because they don't want to lose anyone in the sales funnel. Be transparent about costs—that way you end up talking to qualified leads.
2. Address both "price" and "cost" questions: “Our job is to answer every question a consumer has,” said Sheridan. So, when a customer goes to Google and asks, “How much does a pool cost?” compared to, “What’s the price of a pool?” it’s important to position your content as an answer to each question. “Google sees a 'price' vs. 'cost' difference—and that’s why you should have two separate articles on your site that address that difference,” Sheridan said. On his site, the number one page in terms of views is "Fiber swimming pool pricing and cost guide by River Pools," which is not his home page. The page has earned 120,000 page views in 18 months mostly because it openly discusses price.
3. Use critical comments on the Web as a basis for new content: If someone post comments or content on the Web that critiques your service or product, use keywords from that comment to create your own content and respond to the criticism. This content will then show up in Google searches. Sheridan says he has gotten 32 leads over the last 18 months using this tactic.
4. Use brand comparisons in your content: Take advantage of the fact that your customers are entering Google searches that include you and your competitors. “You don't have to say your competitor stinks, but you can at least talk about yourself to address the question,” said Sheridan, noting that "Fiberglass Pools vs. Concrete Pools: An Honest Comparison" is another successful page for earning visitors. This page reflects what consumers actually search for.
5. Trumpet your awards: Look for opportunities to showcase the awards you've won, since consumers will often search for which brand has been crowned best-in-industry.
6. Quickly post content about industry-related breaking news: When another pool company filed for bankruptcy, Sheridan jumped out in front of the story with his blog post. “You've got to be the source in your industry—if you start writing great stuff, you'll get phone calls regarding other news stories, which will help your brand gain traction and trust among consumers,” Sheridan said.