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How to prep for excellent content marketing

Local SEO experts are buzzing about the importance of having a content marketing strategy in 2013. But content must be useful - poor quality content, obsolete and rife with keywords, won't help anyone, and Google knows this. In order to boost local search rankings and develop brand trust, small businesses need to develop helpful, relevant content to meet users' needs. Here are some important things to consider before content writing even begins:

Have a mission statement
Before developing content, small-business owners should ask why they're choosing this strategy. The obvious reason is to boost local SEO rankings, but these days, that isn't enough. Joe Pulizzi, a content marketing expert, told SocialMedia Examiner that marketers and small businesses should consider this question to develop good content:

"What if your goal was not to first sell products and services, but to impact your readers with amazing information that would change their lives and behaviors?"

Develop a voice
Marketing expert Neal Schaffer recommends businesses find their voice. By this, he means not only choosing a writing style and tone, but choosing a few areas to focus on and narrowing content into these "buckets." Content that is more focused allows businesses to have a niche and develop expertise, which both users and Google will notice.

Search social media
Twitter hashtags can be really helpful because they show what's relevant up to the minute. Use hashtags to get ideas and develop targeted content for customers in your realm. If a business tries to connect closely with its Facebook users, this can help them understand what users want, because users are often very forthright about what they're looking for. See what people are asking for on competitors' Facebook pages as well.

Scan forums
Forums are immensely important because their specified purpose is to support customers. Look at general product discussion threads and also competitors' websites and customer comments to see what is most talked about and what common topics people aren't getting good information about. Plenty of information can be gleaned from sites like Reddit and eBay.

Do keyword research
Most small-business owners know this by now, but keyword research should always be done before beginning a content marketing strategy. Keywords, especially long-tail keywords, can inform and help define content areas. Search Engine Journal recommends using Google's Adwords, Trends and Related Keywords services in your initial keyword research.

Content Writer: Matt Rowe Matt Rowe Chief Technical Officer

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