What is content marketing? What is content? How do they work together to create profits for a business, build community, and establish authority?

We created one of the most comprehensive glossaries on content marketing that exists, live right now on this page that you’re reading. Over 15 burning content questions and 85 terms defined, all in one place. Our goal? Provide real answers and genuine clarity to the biggest questions that surround content marketing. 

Let’s dive right in. 

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What is content marketing?

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The short definition:
Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

The long definition:
Content marketing is the process of giving your business’ target audience content pieces — ranging from blogs, ebooks and articles to guides, whitepapers, and even courses — that are valuable to them.

When you share this information, that is, market the content, you build awareness and get new customers for your brand.

Content marketing is a booming industry. According to Ujjwal Doshi, lead analyst in a Technavio report on the worth of content marketing (set to be $412 billion by 2021): “The effectiveness of traditional marketing is decreasing by the day. Companies must adopt the latest marketing trends to enhance their business and increase their consumer base. Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that is focused on creating and sharing valuable, consistent, and relevant content to attract and retain the audience.”

Does content marketing work?

In a word, yes.

When you provide beneficial and valuable content, you build trust and confidence. Your customers interact and engage with you and your business, allowing you to advertise at a fraction of traditional cost.

What is content?

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Content is information created on the web, in the form of blog, article (written) or audio and video format, directed towards an audience. It can be delivered via many different media, but primarily when referring to ‘online content,’ this means written content, such as the page you’re reading now, an article, blog, e-book, or other written form of online content.

According to Wikipedia, content itself is what the user derives value from. Value is a key trait here. Online content that gains traction, traffic, and obtains goals for the creator must be valuable to the end user, and specifically created for a target audience.

How does marketing without promoting a product or service create sales?

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When you do content marketing, you’re bringing your audience to you, rather than grabbing them from another platform.

As they realize value from your content, they develop trust in your brand and look to you for guidance when making a purchase in your industry.

How does content marketing touch audiences through the purchase journey?

Content should educate at the initial point of contact with your customer, illuminate during the sales journey, and validate after a sale is made.

Addressing the needs and motivations of your clients at different points in the Marketing Lifecycle increases positive feelings and makes prospects more likely to convert —and remain — paying clients. Read more about the Marketing Lifecycle.

Why would I want to educate my clients? Wouldn’t that help my competition?

If your product and service is outstanding, having an educated client will benefit, not harm your business.

Being willing to give clients clear, unbiased information develops trust and bolsters your brand’s expertise in the industry.

How is content marketing used to increase customer awareness efficiently?

Content marketing drives traffic to your site, converts that traffic into high-quality sales prospects, then takes the customer from prospect to sale.

How can content marketing drive revenue?

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The content marketing return on investment (ROI) model is founded on conversions from leads to sales. Number of conversions give you a way to determine if your content marketing strategy is working.

In a successful strategy, the more high-quality content on your site, the more conversion, and the higher your revenue numbers.

How can I measure the effectiveness of my content on sales?

Before launching any content strategy, you should set key performance indicators (KPI) to ensure your content is taking you in the right direction.

Examples of KPI include:

  • Market share
  • Cost per acquisition
  • Brand equity
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per lead
  • Page views
  • Click-through rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Share of voice (SOV)

How much does content marketing cost?

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This varies based on many factors, including the amount and quality of content used. (Our Content Strategy & Marketing Course teaches how to set up a typical budget for a content marketing campaign, step-by-step, mapped to typical hourly and project wages of Content Strategists and writers/creators in today’s industry.)

A typical content marketing campaign could start anywhere from $400 to $10,000, depending on what the end goals are and what the initial budget or scope looks like (launch a blog vs. launch a multi-media campaign across five different platforms).

A more pertinent question is, what does it cost to not use content marketing?

What is a content strategist and what role do they have in content marketing?

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What is a Content Strategist?

Popular resource roberthalf.com says that the core function of a Content Strategist’s job is developing a content strategy based on a company’s or client’s business objectives, and a customer’s or end user’s needs. Creative professionals employed as Content Strategists oversee content requirements and create content strategy deliverables across a project life cycle.

Below you’ll find an outline of the specific skills needed for a Content Strategist to know how to set up a successful content marketing campaign. For more on this topic, see our guide What is a Content Strategist?

brand content strategy cores

Skills Needed for Core #1 – Knowing Your Foundations

  • Ability to properly define a Content Differentiation Factor (CDF)
  • An understanding of how to define, track, and generate ROI within a content strategy
  • Ability to define a niche and topic where your content can make you and/or your brand an authority

Skills Needed for Core #2 – Audience Discovery & Brand Position

  • Ability to identify and create audience personas for your target audience
  • Ability to map audience personas to stages of awareness in sales funnel
  • An understanding of how to create and maintain a brand style for consistency

Skills Needed for Core #3 – Understanding Keywords

  • An understanding of how to perform keyword research
  • Ability to define content strategy goals and choose the correct keywords to target based on those goals
  • An understanding of local SEO (if applicable)
  • An understanding of SEO ranking factors
  • An understanding of how different types of keywords (long-tail, medium-tail, etc.) correlate with different stages of the sales funnel

Skills Needed for Core #4 – Building Authority

  • Ability to create 10x evergreen content that generates compounding organic traffic
  • An understanding of how to structure authority content
  • An understanding of how to properly link (both internally and externally)
  • Ability to utilize social media to properly promote content (and build backlinks)
  • An understanding of how to guest blog in a way that yields ROI

Skills Needed for Core #5 – Practical Content Creation

  • Ability to consistently generate popular content ideas
  • An understanding of how to use tools that can improve content creation efficiency
  • Ability to create content for each stage of the sales funnel
  • Ability to create content that has SEO value AND builds brand awareness

Skills Needed for Core #6 – Editorial Calendar & Post-Publishing

  • Ability to successfully promote content
  • An understanding of how social media and email marketing work together with content marketing
  • Ability to set proper content budgets
  • Ability to create an editorial calendar
  • Ability to properly track and update content over time
  • Ability to perform a content audit
  • Ability to manage a content team (if applicable)

Each of these skills are specifically taught in the Content Strategy & Marketing Course.


What’s the goal of content marketing?

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Each business will have individual goals for their content marketing strategy.

Examples of content marketing goals include building brand awareness, converting leads to sales, positioning a brand as a thought-leader, and increasing return customer sales.

What should I NOT do when content marketing?

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Content marketing is all about the . . . wait for it . . . content. The worst thing you can do when launching a content marketing strategy is to not invest in high-quality, targeted content.

How can I find inspiration for great content?

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Inspiration for great content is everywhere — Industry data and news, online forums, real-time events, and more.

Your target audience’s pain points make a great start — find them!

See our guide on content marketing ideas for a few more creative launchpads.

How can I create a unique point of view (POV) for my content?

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First, find your product or service’s niche in your industry. Then, develop a unique selling point (USP). Once you’ve done those things, think and write outside the box!

What’s great about interactive content?

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First, find your product or service’s niche in your industry. Then, develop a unique selling point (USP). Once you’ve done those things, think and write outside the box!

How can I get my employees creating and sharing content for my business?

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Show employees how content marketing adds value throughout the company.

Human resources can target talent with the right content, a training department can use it for educational purposes, and investor relations staff can communicate salient issues to investors.

How can I create viral content?

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There is never any guarantee that the content you create will go viral. In fact, the best content marketing campaigns are usually those built around long-term, not immediate success. Most viral content has the following components:

  • It’s unique
  • It addresses a pain point
  • It elicits emotion
  • It’s engaging

Why aren’t people seeing my content?

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If your content is not being produced by people who understand search engine optimization (SEO), then you might not be seeing good traffic to your site.

You must also have high-quality content traffic, proper link-building and outreach, and a well-developed content strategy.

What’s a persona? How many do I need?

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What’s a persona?

A persona is an amalgam of characteristics that represent your “perfect” buyer, created as one single, fictitious person.

Your persona will include both demographic and psychographic details and give insight to what triggers your clients to purchase a product or service.

If you have varying products and services, you may need a persona for each. Sometimes, several persona “types” will fit one product — only marketing research will determine the correct number.

How do I manage content for each persona?

Content marketing to various personas can be easily managed through specialized landing pages, finely categorized search abilities on your site, or even several sites.

Persona-building is taught step-by-step in the Content Strategy & Marketing Course.


A/B testing

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A term used in web analytics, A/B testing is an example of two-sample hypothesis testing used in statistics.

In content marketing, this type of testing is used to determine which of two pieces, or styles, of content your audience responds best to.

Adaptive content

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This type of content is used in content strategy to develop material that can be manipulated according to customer’s goals, moods, and the context of their visit to your site.


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Analytics are metrics you can use to measure the success of your content marketing. They include statistics like lead sales, conversions, click-throughs, and bounce rates.


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In content marketing, your audience is the targeted group of people with whom you wish to share information, and, ultimately, convert into sales.


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This is an acronym for business-to-business, which is the term for the transaction that occurs when one business sells products or services to another.


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This is an acronym for business-to-customer, which is the term for the transaction that occurs when a business sells products or services to an individual.


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The term “blogging” arose from the combination of the words “personal web log,” which originally was a journal or diary-like web entry.

Now, blogging is central to content marketing, and is often used to increase traffic, leads, and establish expertise.

Call-to-Action (CTA)

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A call-to-action happens when you ask a reader or potential customer to do something while — or after — reading your content.

This action can be, among others, to share on social media, click through to another page on your site, subscribe to an RSS feed, share an email address, or purchase a product or service.

Broad match keywords

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Broad match keywords refer to keywords that are triggered by a phrase, words in their plural or singular forms, misspelled words, synonyms, related searches, stemmings, and other variations of the targeted phrases.

Broad stem keywords

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Similar to broad match keywords, broad stem keywords focus on the stemming of a particular word in your search phrase. For example, if you’re keyword phrase is “how to buy tile floor” you might include the stemming of “floor,” making another phrase “how to buy tile flooring.”

Click-through rate (CTR)

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The click-through rate (CTR) is one way to tell if your content is engaging your readers.

A CTR will show if your post is opened, if the reader clicked on a CTA within, and even if they turned into a lead or sale.


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Conversion rates show how often visitors to your site turn into leads, and from there — to customers. A high conversion rate is a good indication of content that’s working.


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In content marketing, content is value-added information directed toward a targeted audience.

Content Creation

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Content creation is the act of creating any kind of content — written, interactive, video — to share information with a specific end-user audience.

Content hacker

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Content hacker, noun. A growth-focused content marketer. First defined by Garrett Moon of CoSchedule.

Content Marketing

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Content marketing is a marketing technique that focuses on distributing online content to a targeted audience to build brand awareness, increase sales, or fulfill any number of marketing goals.

Content Strategy

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Content strategy is the planning and development of content (usually digital) through a managed marketing plan.

Conversion Rate Optimization

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A system for increasing the quantity of visitors to your website that ultimately take a desired action or convert to customers.


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This is an acronym for Create Once, Publish Everywhere. Also known as “atomization,” this technique allows for the most cost-effective content marketing.


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Copywriting is written content, or copy, that aims to advertise a product or service, increase brand awareness, or fulfill other marketing functions.

Cornerstone content

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Cornerstone content consists of the most pivotal articles on your website. These pages or posts most effectively communicate your business’ mission and you want them to rank highest in search engines.


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Offering online courses — paid or free — is another element you can add to your content marketing strategy.

Crowdsourced content

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A great way to publish more quality content in less time and boost engagement, crowdsourced content allows customers, subject matter experts, or even freelances to create content for your site.

Don’t forget to credit all contributors!

Curated content

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Curated content is material that’s been carefully researched and hand-picked for relevance to your target audience’s interests.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV)

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Customer lifetime value (CLTV) is a marketing term that refers to the predictive profit of your entire future relationship with a potential client.

It can be an on-the-fly simplistic prediction or can use complex analytics for more accurate statistics.

Data mining

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Data mining comprises taking large data sets and breaking them down into patterns to find statistics you can use to further your marketing strategy.

Digital sharecropping

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When you set up an online presence on a platform, like Google+, Medium, Facebook, or Tumbler, the platform owns that content, not you.

Only use social media sites and other sharing sites to lead visitors back to your website, which you do own.

Editorial calendar

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An editorial calendar will help you plan topical content according to the changing needs and wishes of your personas.

It will also help you fill gaps in your content and organize freelance assignments for cost management.


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You can use ebooks, or books written in digital format, to further your content marketing strategy, position you as an expert in your industry, or even as a sales product.

Educational content

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Educational content is at the crux of most basic content marketing strategies. Creating education content involves giving your target audience reliable, factual, information that they need and want.

Evergreen content

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This type of content provides value to your visitors no matter when — or how many times — they see it on your site. That’s why it’s “evergreen.”


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This refers to how visitors interact with your site. High engagement is typically characterized by visitors that click-through, share, and return often.

Email segmentation

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A great way to fine-tune your email marketing strategy, email segmentation refers to the grouping of email subscribers into groups based on a particular set of criteria, such as interests, gender, age, geographic location, etc. so you can send them targeted messages.


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Forums, online discussion sites where visitors can exchange information through posts and conversations, are great places to discover your persona’s pain points.


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In a consumer-focused marketing strategy, the purchase funnel shows the steps a customer typically takes as they journey from visitor, to lead, to sale.


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Hashtags, signified by the number sign (#), are a way to categorize content and share it on social media to generate conversation.


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Also called views, impressions refer to the point at which a visitor to your site sees a piece of content or advertising.


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Influencers are experts in an industry that others in that industry look up to and emulate. They are also called “thought leaders.”


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This detailed, eye-catching graphic is a great way to take complex information and relay it in simple, easy-to-digest visual manner.


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A keyword is what search engines look for when searching for information on your site.

Keywords are determined by the words individuals use to search for specific content in the search engine search bar — or through voice search.

Keyword performance indicator (KPI)

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A key performance indicator is a metric you can use to evaluate how well your SEO is performing.

It can measure a company standard, like customer satisfaction or a strategic goal, like a new marketing strategy.

Keyword phrase

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Keyword phrases are two or more words strung together to form a search query. They’re more targeted than singular keywords and help search engines bring more relevant visitors to your site.

Keyword research

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Search engine optimization (SEO) begins with good keyword research.

Professionals that practice SEO research alternate terms for specific content to ensure search engines tag your content as relevant to your audience.

Landing page

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Landing pages are web pages constructed to host your content assets that convert visitors into leads. They are where your visitors “land” after clicking on a link on a sharing site or in search.

Lead generation

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Leads can be sales leads, list opt-ins, or any other form of online engagement.
Lead generation refers to the stimulation of visitor interest in engaging in the task your marketing is focused on, be that clicking-through, subscribing, purchasing, or any other call-to-action.

Lead scoring

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Lead scoring ranks potential leads against the perceived chance that they will complete the interaction initiated by your content marketing.

That score is used to determine which leads are more likely to participate so that more time and effort is spent on them versus low-priority leads.

Local SEO

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Local SEO is a way of marketing to your local area by including the city, state, region, or even neighborhood in your SEO language.

Long-tail keywords

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This is a keyword phrase of three or more words that helps content marketers target focused audiences rather than appealing to general consumption.


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Latent semantic indexing (LSI) was developed in the 1980s to improve search engines’ accuracy at retrieving information. LSI is able to capture natural language and unstructured data to identify relationships among concepts presented in content.

Market Research

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An important part of content marketing, market research is a specific effort aimed at gathering information about target audiences to more effectively reach them.

Mobile marketing

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This marketing technique focuses on mobile device users by making smartphone- and tablet-friendly websites, apps, and other channels.

It also uses technology specific to mobile users, such as SMS and MMS to effectively engage mobile-centric demographics.

Multimedia content

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mbination of forms such as video, interactive, text, images, and audio that provide visitors with a more immersive online content experience.


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Newsjacking occurs when content creators use a popular news story to increase the relevance or impact of a specific piece of content.


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Optimization refers to creating content with outstanding SEO to gain easy access to high rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).


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An algorithm used by Google Search, PageRank helps the search engine rank pages according to authority. It’s named after one of the founders of Google, Larry Page.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

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Pay-per-click is an internet ad model also known as cost-per-click.

The goal of PPC ads is to drive traffic to a landing page on your website. You only pay when a visitor clicks on the ad and is sent to your site.

Pay-per-view (PPV)

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Pay-per-view refers to a television service where a subscriber can purchase specific televised events to view via private broadcast.


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This is a snapshot of your niche audience that includes both demographic and psychographic information.

Developing a persona for your business can help you produce content that touches on pain points and needs for greater engagement.

Product differentiation

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This is the processes of zeroing in on features of your product or service that distinguish it from competitors’.

Developing clear product differentiation can help you market your product or service better to your target audience.

Return on investment (ROI)

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ROI refers to the ratio between the cost of your marketing investment and the net profit resulting from that investment.

Search engine

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A web or internet search engine refers to software that is designed to search for information from all available data on the World Wide Web.

The results are shown in snippets of information under headers in a column of search engine results pages (SERPs).

Search engine marketing

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This form of marketing requires the promotion of sites using paid advertising to increase visibility in search engines.

Semantics and Semantics SEO

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Semantics means “words.” In semantic SEO, you rephrase critical keyword phrases in a natural-language manner throughout your content for higher search rankings.


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Search engine optimization (SEO) involves using organic search engine results to increase the quality and quantity of website traffic.

SERP feature

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A SERP feature is any Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that does not arise from organic results, such as:

  • Rich Snippets
  • Paid Results
  • Universal Results
  • Knowledge Graph

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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This is a contractual agreement between a service provider and a client. This can be an external agreement, as between an SEO marketing firm and clients, or an internal one, as between a Project Manager and Content Writer.

Social media sharing

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This is when visitors click on your site’s content and “share,” or post it to social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others.

It can also refer to an applied technique applied in your own content marketing strategy, if you include regular posting of content in these sharing forums.

Social Selling

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Social selling means achieving sales revenue through the development of relationships. This can be done online through social media outlets like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook — or offline in a face-to-face manner.

Split testing

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Another way of saying A/B testing, split testing records the reaction of your target audience to a set of ads or content intended to increase engagement in some way.

By testing the content, you will determine which version is more likely to increase engagement.

Subject matter expert (SME)

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A subject-matter expert (SME) is an authority or expert in a targeted area. In content marketing, using SMEs to develop authoritative content can increase audience trust.

Target market

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This is an audience group to whom you’ll focus your content marketing efforts.


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There are many content creation and marketing templates, basically, done-for-you outlines, that you can use to help make developing new content quicker and easier.

Three-bucket topic strategy

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Refers to dividing your content development into three goals. The first bucket holds content that triggers SEO rankings — like blogs and web pages.

The second bucket holds content to trigger sales and connections — like infographics, courses, ebooks, and other educational materials.

The third bucket holds content that increases brand awareness — like viral, entertaining, or seasonal materials.

If your content doesn’t fill one of these buckets, throw it out.


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This is the amount of data exchanged when visitors land on your website, with the exclusion of internet bots.

Unique page views

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A unique pageview is the definition of how many times a specific page on your website was viewed once, or more, during a single visit.

Unique selling proposition (USP)

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A unique selling proposition (USP), also called unique selling points, is what separates your product or service from the competition.

User-generated content

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Similar to crowd-sourced content, user-generated content is created when users of a system or service contribute material that is made available publicly.

Verified content (data backed)

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Critical for creating high-quality content, verified — or data-backed — content refers to having all key points of your published content backed up with strong, verifiable evidence.

This means linking to studies, statistics, and other material that can reinforce any claims you make in your content.

Video content

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Video content is a great way to reinforce written or interactive content with an easy-to-understand visual message.

When done correctly, video is an effective — and efficient — way of creating authoritative content and appealing to your audience’s emotions.

Video Mail (V-mail)

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Video mail is an email marketing technique where a short video clip is sent to customers attached to an email message.


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People clicking on your website.

Visual Marketing

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Visual marketing is an effective way to get customers to relate to your brand based on visual cues. Visual marketers use color, object placement, and other methods to create a psychological link between a visual stimulus and a response.

Web page optimization

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Another way of saying search engine optimization (SEO), web page optimization refers to putting good SEO content strategy to work on a particular web page to gain higher rankings with search engines.

Learn profitable content strategy today in the Content Strategy & Marketing Course

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Here’s the deal. You can spend 3+ years diving through hundreds of thousands of free online resources related to content strategy and come out with a pretty darn good understanding of the industry.

And while there’s nothing wrong with that approach, 3+ years is a LONG time.

Alternatively, you can spend 6+ weeks diving into our Content Strategy & Marketing Course and learn in 6 weeks what it would take you 3 years to learn on your own.

Plus, you’ll receive certification showing that you have the skills needed to be a content strategist along with direct guidance from Julia as you create a REAL brand content strategy while moving through the course.

If the time saved and enhanced career opportunities are worth it to you, it’s time to jump in.

If you’re not ready, I encourage you to jump on the email list to continue receiving updates on content related to content strategy and marketing, which you can do by downloading this guide as a PDF, right by the table of contents.

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