Keep calm and cross-link on

Using content to promote your eCommerce or affiliate marketing efforts is a way to seriously amp up your marketing mojo. Content marketing is extremely powerful because it gives you the ability to explain how a product or service is used, and why it provides value to your customer. Content marketing also allows you to tell a story, and most people love an interesting and engaging story. But, the success or failure ofkeep calm and cross-link on content marketing depends on how you integrate your products and services into the content. There’s a fine line between being overly self-promotional, and providing awesome content that your readers will enjoy reading and come back in the future to consume.

Here are my three top tips for creating genuine content for highly effective content marketing.

Be natural
The blog you’re reading this article on right now is where I post articles about work travels, coffee, and hiking. While I’d love to tell everybody I know to visit my blog, that’s simply not an approach that makes sense. For instance, what if my friend doesn’t like coffee, traveling, or hiking? What if they’re not tech savvy? What if they’re just simply not interested in reading about the experiences of others? If I was always self-promoting my blog to friends and acquaintances, I’m guessing my social life would quickly take a turn for the worse. Instead, if a friend mentions they’re looking for an awesome coffee joint in a place I’ve been, I might mention that I’ve got a review they might want to check out on my blog. Similarly, when you’re thinking about written content, be natural in the way you refer to products, services, and content within your posts. Look back for logical places to link content to products after you write your post. Think of cross-linking as a footnote bibliography. Only cross-link because it helps the reader get more context or helps them get to a product easier. Putting your reader first is always the right decision.

Provide value, then provide links
There are plenty of websites that use content marketing as a vehicle for keyword stuffing. Effective content marketing isn’t manufacturing an article from ad copy. Think about two or three pieces of valuable information you’d like to relay to your reader. Weave those pieces of information naturally into a post, and then double back and figure out where it’s most natural to link words or phrases to websites, articles, or product pages. Believe it or not, the best experience for your reader doesn’t come from reading only your posts, they’re probably interested in what other people have to say on the subject too. Don’t worry about linking to other sites (in-fact, you should link to sites besides your own). If you’re the authoritative website linking to other websites, your readers will come back to you time and time again.

Don’t cross-link products in every post
Every article you write shouldn’t be about products, and every product you create doesn’t need to be referenced in an article. If every post you write on your blog is about a product, it’s likely to turn readers off to the other value you’re attempting to provide, or authority you’re trying to build. There’s no real value to a blog that rehashes product specifics without adding additional value to the content. Focus on establishing yourself as an authoritative source for industry updates, breaking information, deep insights into why things are the way they are in your industry, and how your customers can be better in their life or business as it relates to the industry that you are a part of.

So that’s it. Be natural, provide value, and don’t cross-link all the time! If you’ve got questions or additional advice, leave it in the comments section!

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