Are you participating in content marketing? You might be, without even knowing it. Social media influencer Chris Brogan defines content marketing as 'the ability to produce useful and entertaining information that is worthwhile on its own, but that might also be useful towards a sale or subsequent action.' Does your website remain static from month to month? Or are you regularly adding new and interesting content such as reviews, blogs, how-tos, videos, etc.? Here are six clear benefits that you will see from content marketing.

You'll rank for more long-tail key phrases.

Ranking well in search engine results for a keyword such as 'books' or 't-shirts' is extremely challenging and competitive. For this reason, many search marketers go after lower traffic, less competitive key phrases '- the long tail of search. Searches such as 'funny t-shirts for the office' or 'best books of 2010', though less frequent, are easier to rank for, and still deliver visitors who will be interested in your product '- in these cases, people looking for funny t-shirts, or bookworms. Blog posts are a great way to go after these longer key phrases, as they often lend themselves to good blog titles. Here's a great illustration of the long-tail, courtesy of the LeftClick Blog.Using longtail keywords, or more specific keywords, will get you more targeted results.

You'll establish your expertise.

In many cases, customers evaluating your product or service will ask themselves if you are truly knowledgeable in your field. Simply saying that you are a reliable car mechanic won't necessarily ease anyone's concerns. Articles in which you speak knowledgeably about relevant topics to your industry are a great way to demonstrate that you know what you're talking about.

You'll keep your site looking fresh '- to visitors and search engines.

Regularly updating your website with fresh content is a great way to show visitors that your site is up-to-date and relevant. This benefit extends to SEO as well. Google and other search engines don't want to return matches that are out of date or no longer applicable to the user's search. For this reason, they attach value to sites that are being updated with regularity.

You'll provide value (i.e. linkbait).

Any online marketer worth his or her salt knows that incoming links are of great value, especially from highly credible sites. How do you generate incoming links? Well, the easiest way is to give people something worth linking to. You can beg and plead with website owners to put up a link to your site, or you can offer content that they'll want to link to without you even asking. Which approach sounds more effective?

You'll bring something to the social media table.

If you want to participate in social media, you need to bring something to the table. Promoting a static website on Facebook and Twitter will only get you so far. But if you have interesting, engaging content to offer, you'll gain real traction in social media channels. People will begin to follow your posts, re-tweet your links, and share your content with their circles of influence.

You won't spend a lot of money.

Compared to other forms of marketing (email marketing, search advertising, etc.), content marketing is very affordable. Because content marketing is in essence inbound marketing, you won't be paying the cost of going out to find your customers. The only cost you'll need to pay is the time, effort, or money it requires to create quality content.The benefits are clear, and the savings are real. Are you benefitting from content marketing?

If you would like to learn more about how to get started, contact the CommonPlaces Marketing team today.

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