Content is what makes up the written and visual aspects of any website. Whether it’s a company’s origin story, blog, or product descriptions, content is an active form of storytelling that can make or break a brand’s presence.
In short, content is at the core of everything. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to up your competitive edge, quality content is vital.
Social and paid strategies are great for getting started, running retargeting ads, and continuing to cultivate brand engagement. However, to be profitable, the majority of your traffic must come from organic search results.
But how can people find you organically if you don’t already have a strong brand presence? And what can you do to compete against some of the more prominent names in your particular niche?
This is where content comes in.
If you wish to grow your brand presence, you must first build content that:
- Demonstrates authority
- Fulfills search intent
- Maintains a competitive edge
Any established brand exists because someone took the time to develop quality content. In addition to the obvious product or service pages, these brands understood the importance of a blog and have built an entire content strategy for this effort.
Read on to learn how you can leverage content to grow your brand.
The best way to become known for something is to own it. If you’re a brand that wants to be the go-to product or service in your niche, you must create content that demonstrates your authority in that space.
The way you go about showing your authority is essential. You don’t want to come off as arrogant by saying something as pretentious as “we are the absolute best [insert product or service type here] in the industry.” This type of content will anger your prospective customers, and as a result, cause more brand harm than good.
Instead, consider expressing your authority through educational content (think tutorials and guides). Educational content is the type of content that builds trust with your target audience because they see you as wanting to provide genuine solutions for their needs. It is also the type of content that people interact with before, after, and while they purchase from you.
Educational content should not revolve around your service. At least not entirely. This type of content is also not meant to troubleshoot product issues. You (hopefully) already have a customer care hotline or an online help center for that.
If you do your job well, the run-in with your educational content will feel seamless and natural.
Example of Authoritative Content
The pet-sitting service, Rover, is one of the brands that has done an exceptional job of leading the pet industry by producing educational content.
Being that they operate in the pet care niche, Rover developed content to become the go-to place for all pet-related inquiries. On their blog, they’ve built guides that help pet owners take better care of their pets:
The information in these guides is not meant to be sales. The guides were created to demonstrate expertise in pet care, and in turn, generate trust.
Take a moment to think about the way that you can create educational content for your brand.
If you’re feeling stuck, start by filling in the blanks:
- How to [VERB] [YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE]
- The Ultimate Guide to [YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE]
- [X] unknown ways to [VERB] [YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE]
Fulfilling Search Intent
Search intent is the reason why a person conducts a search in the first place. If you build content around it, you will build brand recognition.
To do this well, you must put yourself in the person’s shoes and create content to match. That said, gathering content ideas requires strategy. You can’t just assume that the content you’re creating matches the search intent. To get to the bottom of how people search, you have to do your research.
Example of Search Intent
Let’s pretend that you need to grow brand awareness for a tire company. You might’ve opened up a new shop location, or you’re looking to generate more buzz for a property that hasn’t been performing all that well.
Start by thinking about the moment when your prospective customer may begin to look for you. If they don’t already have a shop that they work with, they may start their quest by typing in “tire shop” into Google. Which looks like this:
Pay close attention to the autocomplete recommendations that Google provides. In this case, there are quite a few search results for locations (e.g., “tire shop salt lake city,” “tire shop rock spring wy,” “tire shops in moab utah”).
This is Google’s way of telling you that people are frequently searching for tire shops for specific locations. If you’re looking to grow brand awareness in the locations that your shops reside, you should create new content pages for each location.
This way, when your prospective customer adjusts their search to “tire shop salt lake city,” they’ll be more likely to find your brand in the organic search results.
Additionally, see what types of questions Google collected under the ‘People also ask:
This is Google’s way of telling you other types of searches people might’ve performed while they were on the lookout for a tire shop.
In this particular example, if people are searching for “how much is 4 new tires?” you may consider creating a new piece of content that lists all of the different tire options that you offer, along with pricing for the four tires.
Maintaining a Competitive Edge
If your competitors are outranking you in the organic search results, they’re hindering your brand exposure. In most cases, this is happening because they have more and/or better quality content.
To maintain a competitive edge, you must pay close attention to the content that your competitors are producing. This means being attentive to their services pages, the way they talk about their products, and what they cover on their blog.
If your competitors are performing significantly better than you, this should be your cue to hone in on their strategy. They’ve clearly discovered a path that works well for your niche, so why not follow the already pre paved path?
New content ideas don’t emerge out of thin air. And if your competitors found something that works, take their idea, iterate on it, and make it 1,000% better.
How to Maintain a Competitive Edge
By entering your competitors into their Content Gap tool, you’ll get an output of the exact keywords that you may be missing:
Along with the keywords, Ahrefs can even show you the types of content your competitors produced to rank for these keywords. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s a great tool to help you crunch through thousands of competitor pages in a span of a few minutes… if you’re willing to pay for it that is.
Of course, there are many other ways that you can keep tabs on your competitors without spending a dime.
If you want to monitor their blog content, check to see if they have a newsletter or news alerts. This way, when a new piece of content is published on their site, you’ll be in the know. In the event that you choose to go this route, try to keep track of no more than three to five competitors. You don’t want to become overwhelmed by all of the emails that you receive and get discouraged.
Another excellent tool for monitoring competitors is Google Alerts. With Google Alerts, you can request Google to send you email notifications any time that your competitors are in the news. This tool will be especially helpful for monitoring new product or service releases. It can also help you see what types of PR stunts they’re pulling.
At the end of the day, if you can keep tabs on the type of content that’s helping your competitors get ahead, you can replicate their strategy and use it to your advantage.
In summary, content isn’t necessarily what helps you grow your brand. Content IS your brand. And if you use the right strategies and create an abundance of high-quality content, you will build a strong brand presence.
Once you notice your efforts are starting to pay off, do not take this as a sign to sit back and relax. Building brand awareness is a constant uphill battle. And even when you think you’ve summited the top, you must always be on the lookout for a landslide.
Your competitors are fierce and when you work hard on building your brand, they work even harder on crushing it. So learn to be alert and aware of the strategies your competition brings to the table. Then, develop content that not only builds brand awareness but truly delights your current and prospective customers.
About The Author: Kat Shereko is a Sr. Content Strategist at Portent and a WWU alum. With a background in psychology research, she takes a data-driven approach in every step of her content development efforts. She is passionate about offering an exceptional user experience while challenging brands to think outside of the old-school marketing box. When she’s not analyzing user search intent, Kat is avidly planning her next escape abroad or spending time in the mountains. Connect with her on Twitter and Linkedin.
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