Happy New Year, my dear readers!

In 2012, I’ll be covering for you (among other things) the subject of content marketing.

Content marketing is the use of articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc. (read: “content”) to engage your target audience and promote your products/services. It is the basis for most modern Internet marketing techniques and can be highly effective in creating brand recognition, generating leads, and increasing conversions. Content marketing, when done properly, also improves your search engine rankings.

As a wordsmith, my primary focus is text-based content (articles, blogs, e-books, white papers), so in honor of 2012, I’m sharing with you my 12 commandments of SEO content writing.

The first 6 commandments of SEO content writing

1. Thy SEO content shalt be original

Stealing content from other webmasters/authors is: (a) rude, (b) a violation of copyright laws, and (c) unlikely to improve your search rankings. Therefore, always write (or have written for you) original SEO content.

Even content curation (the gathering of content from around the web for the benefit of your readers) doesn’t garner you the credibility and search engine optimization that original content does.

2. Thou shalt know thine SEO keywords

Keywords are at the heart of all SEO. If you’re going to develop an effective SEO content strategy you must conduct keyword research. This research let’s you see what your audience is looking for and will guide your content strategy.

3. Thou shalt not abuse thine SEO keywords

SEO content writing does NOT mean randomly stuffing keywords into your text. When writing SEO content think of your reader first – be sure to use proper grammar and syntax, and make sure your content is interesting to read. Use keywords only where they make sense and flow naturally.

4. Thou shalt know thine subject well

Google’s algorithm update in 2011, dubbed “Panda,” means low value content is now penalized in search rankings. Low value content is generally the result of content writers cranking out massive amounts of content on subjects they don’t really know anything about.

Your content strategy should revolve around topics you know well – your niche, your specialty. If you choose to outsource your content writing make sure your writer conducts the necessary research to write intelligently about your industry.

5. Thou shalt publish relevant content

In order to attract quality prospects to your website, you must provide them with highly relevant content. It can be relevant to your business or your industry, to your customers or to current events. Just be sure it’s something that meets the twin goals of attracting readers and promoting your brand.

6. Thou shalt know thine audience

No content can serve all audiences. In order to create engaging content you’ll need to know who you are writing it for. Delve deeper than basic demographics (e.g. age and gender) to figure out what motivates your readers? What are their interests? What are their problems? What are they looking for in a service provider like you?

More to come…

These first six commandments offer a foundation from which you can learn how to produce highly effective SEO content for marketing your business in 2012 (and beyond). In my next post I’ll cover an additional 6 commandments to build your content marketing strategy even further. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss it.

Of course, if you’re too busy running your business to develop a content marketing strategy on your own, drop me a note, I’ll be happy to help out.

Read more: