Want your business to take the web by storm in 2013?  Then you’ve got to be a smart content marketer!

But how exactly do you go about doing that?

Forget about the ebooks, whitepapers, and all of the other long and confusing advice out there.  Instead, just stick to these 4 dos and don’ts:

1.  DON’T be a “snapper”

If you look great on the surface — but don’t have content that’s good enough to “walk the walk” (so to speak), you’re never going to be able to fool your readers.  Maybe you think you can get away with doing less-than-stellar research.  Or, maybe you think having a website that’s chock full of graphics and pretty colors will cover up the fact that your writing isn’t all that compelling.  Either way, readers will see right through it!

But why on earth do I call these content marketers “snappers”?

It all goes back to a blog post I wrote about a woman I was stuck sitting next to in a doctor’s waiting room one day.  On the surface, she looked perfectly put-together — nice dress, trendy shoes, perfect makeup, great manicure.  But then, she proceeded to spend the next hour snapping on a piece of gum about four inches away from my ear like she was a giddy teenager.  It changed my entire impression of her — just like the wrong content will change your readers’ impression of you!

2.  DO inject your personality into every piece of content that you publish

Guess what?  People like to do business with other people.  No matter how big your business is, you need to personalize your content marketing efforts.  Otherwise, your readers are going to see you as yet another nameless, faceless corporate entity — and if that happens, they won’t be able to relate to you.  And if they don’t relate to you, the odds of them buying anything from you are slim.

After all, there are millions of people out on the web who sell what you sell and do what you do.  If your readers don’t get a good vibe from you, they’ll simply look elsewhere for a company that gives them a vibe they’re comfortable with.

That doesn’t mean you need to treat every article like it’s a conversation at a frat party, or approach every blog post like it’s a meet-and-greet at a speed dating event.  Instead, just be sure to give your content a human touch — be it a little bit of humor, sarcasm, or any other emotion you see fit.  That way, people will know it came from an actual person, instead of some corporate robot.

3.  DON’T obsess over SEO

I know, I know.  On the surface, this seems like crazy-talk.  After all, millions of Google searches are done every single minute!

However, there’s a huge difference between understanding SEO and obsessing over SEO.  The former will help you get more exposure, while the latter will have you pulling out your hair and losing sleep.

As long as you understand what Google is looking for — like quality content, keywords that are sprinkled instead of stuffed, links to authoritative websites, and an overall SEO strategy that looks natural — you can give it what it wants.  On-site, make sure you’re seen as an authority, and that you’re writing for your readers first and the search engines second.  Off-site, look for great websites to publish guest posts on, and focus on writing dynamite stuff.  The quality links will come over time, and you’ll wind up getting the exposure that you want.

But if you start obsessing over SEO, you’re never going to have enough energy to devote to everything else on your plate.  Face it — Google changes its algorithm, on average, once a day.  If you try to obsess over every tiny change, you’re going to lose your mind, and no one wants to read content that’s been written by a crazy person!

4.  DO realize that you’re not going anywhere without great content

If you want to have a solid web presence, you need an awesome content marketing strategy.  That’s just the way it is; there’s no way around it.  Your content is the only chance you have to “talk” to your target audience, and web readers are a particularly-judgmental crowd.

There are no do-overs.  Everything you publish is going to be floating around on the world wide web forever.  So, before you hit “publish”, ask yourself if this piece is something that truly matches the reputation you’re trying to build for yourself and the brand you’re trying to build for your business.