A Handy WordPress Toolkit for Content Marketers – 5 Tips and Plugins
Content. It’s what can get you noticed, followed and profitable. It’s also what gets everyone else noticed, followed and profitable. If you have a WordPress site, you are off to a good start. There are lots of things you can do to create, publish and spread great content so that you can get above the noise. It takes work, commitment, and the right use of WordPress. Here are tips and plugins that should help.
1. First – Your Designs
Images and Type
All of the best content ever will never be read if your design is a “turn-off.” Bloggers have come to realize that, while their content is critical, so is the site design that will first attract those visitors and make them want to stay. Take a look at your current design, and ask these questions as a sort of checklist for yourself:
- Does the theme really reflect my business/product/service?
- Do I have great full-width images?
- Do I have as few distractions and as little clutter as possible? Is the look lean and sleek?
- Is the typography pleasing, easy to read, and do I use large fonts when necessary?
- Are the colors appealing?
Think of some ways in which you can make your design and the posts within different – perhaps some illustrations as opposed to photos? Groove, a small business support software company owned by Alex Turnbull, has built its blog “image” around great design and illustrations, pastel colors, and clean sleek design. Here are a few of its designs. Note the seashell wrapped in ribbon which is a part of the company logo.
And here is the blog’s homepage:
Obviously, there are designers and illustrators on board, but, even without those, you can take some inspiration from the designs you find on other popular blogs.
Do some simple things to make your design work better on mobile devices:
- If your analytics show that you are getting up towards 20% of your traffic via mobile devices, then it’s time for a responsive design.
- Test your blog on mobile devices
- Increase font size a bit, as well as spacing
- Some plugins don’t work as well on mobile – check them. Floating Social Bar is better than Digg Digg, for example.
Speed impacts everything from SEO to conversions and certainly whether your content gets read. Here are some tips for WordPress speed:
- Make sure you have a well-managed host – that will speed up your entire site
- Your blog homepage will load quickly if you remove external scripts and have no sidebar or large un-optimized images. You don’t need social sharing or opt-in buttons on the home page – save those for your posts. Getting to an appealing, sleek homepage quickly will make visitors want to come in and look around
- Go on a plugin diet. It’s tempting to see cool plugins and to want them all. But it may be time to thin them out. If you are really not using one, eliminate it. Get down to the basics (more on that later).
- Thin out your sidebars too. Lots of content marketers want to put so much on those rails, and it is really distracting. Plus, it bogs downloading.
- You should be using lots of images in your posts if only to break up the text. They need to be optimized – if you don’t know how to do that, find a good tutorial and learn. (Additional Note here: Use alt text for your images too – search engines will see it)
3. The Content Itself
While this is not a tip for using WordPress for content marketing, it nevertheless bears mentioning. The best design, widgets, and plugins cannot substitute for actually content. You may entice visitors but they will not return without getting something of value from your content. There is literally tons of resources and advice on generating content that converts; and you must spend the time studying and practicing.
If, as you do work to enhance your skills, you find that your content is not generating the response you want, consider using a copywriting service that has experienced pros who can create content for you in the meantime. Get Good Grade is one example of a reputable service that many content marketers use.
Menus: If you have menu options, make them as few as possible, and try to design them around points of conversion, such as email/subscription opt-ins.
Your Best Content: Point readers in the direction of your best content related to the specific post they are currently consuming. Put links to the other content in the middle of your posts on lines all by themselves. If your business is an interior design one, for example, and you are focusing a post on wall décor, for example, you can point them to a previous, popular how-to video of painting patterns on walls. When you pick your links to drive readers to, choose those that have been shared the most or that have resulted in the highest numbers of conversions. You can use any number of free plugins that will show your most popular and converting posts.
Related Content: You can also encourage email opt-in conversions based upon the interests of your readers. Then segment your email audiences by their specific areas of interest and send them only those posts that they would want to read.
You can also run related content topics on a sidebar of each post so that readers can navigate to titles they find interesting.
The goal of content marketing is conversions. They may come in the form of email opt-ins, and, with work and amazing content, in the form of actual sales. Here are ways in which you can get those conversions:
- Put a different type of opt-in incentive at the bottom of every post. You want to offer something of value that relates to the topic of our post. A generic opt-in will not work as well.
- Drive traffic to your most popular content via your social media pages. And you can promote that content more than once – everyone who might be interested will not read your social media posts the first time or two you promote it.
- Provide real value with your content, but save some back that a reader can access/download in exchange for an email address or subscription. Neil Patel, the owner of Quick Sprout, is a master at this. His posts are comprehensive and long. But you can opt-in for a shortened version or a checklist by providing your email for it to be sent.
- Be certain that your opt-in forms do not ask for more than the bare essentials – name and email address are fine for now. The time to get more information is once a relationship and connection have been developed.
- Publish social proof when you can. If you have popular content that has many shares on Facebook or Twitter, keep count through a plugin and publish that right under the headline.
6. Critical Plugins
Thinning out your plugin library is a good idea, but there are a few that content marketer must have:
- Yoast WordPress SEO
Chances are you already have this and are using it with every post your write. If not, you cannot afford to be without it. When you write a post, Yoast will tell you exactly how you are measuring up to new SEO algorithms. Your focus keyword must appear in your article heading, your page title, your URL, your content, and your meta description. Yoast keeps track of this by giving you little green buttons. It will do other things a well, such as giving you a reading level.
You must have a commenting plugin, and Disqus is probably the best. It allows comments and responses from you, which are pretty important. It also allows discussions among commenters which is good for repeat traffic to future posts. Other benefits include:
- Spam filter
- Commenters have to register, and this discourages those who plan to post negative comments.
- Email Opt-in
There are several that are quite good and will give you options for boxes and format. A few are:
- Optimize Press
- Optin Monster
- Sumo Me
- MailChimp for WordPress
This was mentioned earlier, but for social sharing, it has some great features. You want to make it easy for readers to share your content, and this plugin does just that:
- It’s easy to install and it’s easy for readers to use
- It scrolls down the post as the reader does – no more forgetting to go back to the top or all the way to the bottom to share.
- It’s good on mobile devices
Your analytics is important. It takes Google Analytics and lets you do all sorts of things with them – sort content based upon shares, conversions, etc. When you have these figures, you can promote your most popular content more; you can also let your readers know how many shares a post has already received.
Creating your own images and illustrations is the preferred way to go. When you are pressed for time and simply cannot think of an engaging image, this plugin lets you search a huge database of free images. It will also add any required attributions automatically, as well as an alt tag.
Content marketing is an ever-evolving science and art. It requires research, staying alert about what your competition is doing, and embracing new technologies. And it requires lots of creativity to develop headlines and engaging content that will educate, inspire, and amuse.
WordPress provides the backbone for your content marketing efforts, and it is a strong sturdy backbone at that. Using the tips and plugins here mentioned should bring you much greater success.