Showing posts with label content strategy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label content strategy. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Important Tips for developing high quality sites

We receive a lot of questions from publishers wanting to know best practices to grow your businesses with AdSense. While there's no one right answer, our advice continues to be to focus on creating high quality content and delivering the best possible user experience on your websites. Here are some key suggestions on how to design and organize your website content with an overall emphasis on the quality of the site.

Don't create multiple pages or sites with duplicate content.
We encourage you to create high quality sites rather than a large quantity of sites. Focusing on one site and making it richer in information and authentic in content not only benefits users, but also helps you win more of them. When users are browsing online, they want to find what they're looking for quickly and easily without combing through endless multiple pages, subdomains, or sites with substantially generic or duplicate content. If you have pages or sites that are similar in content or template design, consider consolidating the pages or sites into one.
Provide content that gives users a reason to visit, and return, to your site. 
When you create content on your site, it’s important to ask yourself if the page provides substantial value or service when compared to sites covering similar subjects. It's worth the effort to create original content that sets your site apart from the rest. This will provide useful search results and keep your visitors coming back.
Provide the information or service promised. 
Some publishers create sites that appear to offer a product or service, but instead trick users into navigating through several pages and viewing ads. This results in a negative user experience, and causes your site to be perceived as untrustworthy. Use keywords appropriately and in context with your content and make sure users are able to easily navigate through the site to find what products, goods, or services are promised.

There’s no shortcut to success. Building high quality site takes effort and time. However, we’ve seen that publishers who focus on their users instead of using quick and deceptive techniques are the real winners and experience long-term revenue growth and success in our network. For more information, check out Google Webmaster Guidelines and the policy section of the AdSense Help Center.
Written By: Lingjuan Zhang

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Local Search and Content Marketing - Tips Need to Know

Everyday, my company helps small business be found on the internet.  The majority of our clients are mom and pop shops that only need to target local residents within a five mile radius.  When I first meet with a potential client, they occasionally think that they need to target an entire metro area.  While that might be a goal one day, the way people are trending (especially with high gas prices) is sticking to their local areas.  The high gas prices are not the only issue to factor into the equation.  These days, our younger generations just don’t care about driving.  You can see this as fewer and fewer teenagers are getting their drivers licenses.
So, if my target market is within a five mile radius, it should be obvious that my if I am located outside of a city such as Atlanta, I should not be targeting Atlanta (usually.)  If my business is service based and travels to the client, I should want to target a five mile radius even more.  It makes zero sense to travel 30 miles to go paint a house, when there are 18,000 homes that need to be painted around my office.  Still, some business owners do not see the logic in this.  They will likely be the ones that do not survive the next few years, especially as we transition into a mobile age.
small business local SEOHere are some basic ways to build your local market through SEO and content marketing:

Home Page SEO

As it is with any large city with a metro area, locals almost never search an entire metro area when they know what they are looking for.  If I live in Norcross, Georgia, there is no way that I would ever search for a chiropractor in Atlanta.  My returned results would be 20 miles away.  So, the first thing I want to do is establish my true local market for my client.  This should be included throughout the meta code.
  • Title – Use your primary keywords towards the front of your title.  You have around 60 characters to use, so choose wisely.  If it were me, I would put the main service and local market closer towards the front.  If the market is saturated with that particular service, try winning somewhere else.  For example, if I was marketing for “apartments in Marietta, GA” (which is extremely saturated), I would win with another angle using “Pet Friendly Apartments in Marietta, GA”.  I can then position my client to win as the local pet friendly apartment community, and eventually the great content marketing and basic SEO techniques used will push my client up the rankings for “Apartments in Marietta, GA” as well.  It’s a double win.
  • Description – The description should be informative, compelling, and include your local market as well.  Include keywords, but don’t awkwardly stuff keywords.  We have all come across search engine results with descriptions that literally make no sense.  Not only will I skip over this, but search engines are working on filtering through these types of tactics.  I still come across them, but this might be due to the fact that the local market just isn’t saturated with decent digital marketers.  If this is the case, your creative description can outrank these poorly written meta descriptions.
  • Meta Keywords – This is an indicator that has been phased out by most major search engines, mostly due to keyword stuffing.  Matt Cutts recently addressed the issue, letting on that your time is better spent on creating a great meta description.  Move on.

Content Marketing for Small Business

I am still a firm believer that if your content sucks, your web presence will suffer.  Creating great content is not only an opportunity to increase your on page SEO, but it is also a great way to increase your natural links.  Putting thought into the content you produce is essential.  Targeting a local market offers you great opportunities with your content, especially when using a blog to build your web presence.
Here are a few things to consider when writing your content:

  • Keywords – Is your content keyword rich?  A better question might be, is your content over saturated with keywords?  Google is getting better and better at penalizing those who try to game this system with stuffing keywords everywhere.  Your keywords should come naturally.  When I include keywords in titles, links, bolding, etc, they must be used with the user in mind.  Will my keywords help the user find the content they need?  Will the keyword linked take my customer to a page that will help them?  Use keywords strategically, to not only make the search engines happy, but also to help your customer.
  • Blogging – Using a blog to help boost your site’s keyword density is a great way to boost your search engine rankings.  This isn’t breaking news.  However, last year especially, Google started pounding the companies who tried to game the system who were using content farms to try and boost their SEO.  This means that your content needs to be original.  It doesn’t need to be anything ground breaking, but it does need to be from you.  If you’re going to spend time writing content, you might as well make it useful to your clients.  Small businesses can use blogs to help solve problems that their customers come across.  They can even take the spotlight off of their business every now and then, and share exciting news about what is going on in the local area.  Creating great blog content will help you, your client, and even help potential clients find you when they search for something other than a “home remodeler in Norcross, GA”.  Great content also attract natural links.  These have been used as indicators of quality.  If you want to increase your search engine results, create great, keyword rich, useful content.
  • Video – A staggering amount of US citizens have cut the cord to their TVs.  Around 1/3 of the US population has a connected TV. The increasing adoption of streaming video into the home should light a fire under your butt.  Start making video content yesterday!  This seems to be one of the most difficult pill for small business owners to swallow when it comes to digital marketing.  Many business owners think that they need to create video series on a high quality production level.  As mentioned above, the bells and whistles don’t really matter anymore.  All that matters is that your content rocks.  Small business in a local market could kill it with YouTube if they wanted.  For example, a plumber could make a YouTube “How To” series with his iPhone.  By focusing on easy fixes, like “How to unclog your shower drain”, a plumber could earn trust and win over the client who used the video series for easy fixes, but needed a plumber for the more technical fixes.  I would imagine that for the majority of plumbers, driving out to a customer (high gas prices…), and unclogging a drain (taking him away from working a bigger job), would end up being a waste of his time.  Helping someone in your area with an easy fix, that doesn’t really pay well for the business owner anyways, with a simple YouTube video will leverage the business’s credibly in the long run for those big jobs that they really want.  For added SEO value, you can place that video in your blog with written content.  Now, if a user lands on the blog post, they are now under the small business owner’s banner and branded site.  Worst case scenario is that the person cannot perform the task, and needs to call the business owner to help come fix it.
  • Photography – Are you stumped over why Facebook would pay out $1 BILLION for Instagram?  Are you wondering why Pinterest is taking off like wild fire?  Photos, as content, are huge!  Users are no longer sending text based updates alone.  They are taking photos.  The web user is quickly jumping on with photography and video as a content source that attracts attention (natural links and social indicators).  Small businesses can make a few huge wins simply with implementing photography into their content marketing plan.  Photos pull your content marketing strategy into the mobile world like nothing else.  For your SEO needs, tagging, titling, and using content to describe your photos adds extra benefit as well.  If you’re small business client isn’t comfortable with pulling out their iPhone to create videos, take the time to train them to use mobile photo apps like Instagram.  This adds extra value to all parties involved.
If you use all of these basic local SEO tactics, you will still only be scratching the surface.  As you implement them, your client’s world dives deeper and deeper into how you can leverage SEO and content marketing into local dominance via search engines, mobile, and social media.
Written By:
Kevin Ekmark Source:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Being Realistic About Your Content Marketing Strategy - A SPN Exclusive Article

Here are 3 things I wish someone had told me when I launched my own blog seven years ago. Maybe, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have struggled so much in the beginning!

You Will Struggle for Topics

Most of my clients tell me that coming up with topics for their blog is the hardest part of investing in a content marketing strategy. They either think that A) their industry is boring (in which case I think it’s time to find a job you like!) or B) no one is interested in hearing what they have to say. That’s not the case! Your industry is only as boring as you make it out to be. What’s old news to you might be ground-breaking to your readers; you just have to package it the right way!

Case in point: the brilliant video by the Would you have ever ranked razors in the “cool” product category? Probably not. But this video has over 4 million views on YouTube. Clearly the audience doesn’t think it’s a boring topic! The video introduces the product (which is nothing new or special) in such a fun way that you can’t help but get engaged in the story. Dollar Shave Club found a way to make old, boring information cool and fun by putting their own spin on it.

Yes, there will be days when you think that you have nothing new to say, but just take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of your audience. If you knew nothing about your industry, what kind of information would you be searching for online? Ask your sales and customer service representatives to write down the questions they are getting from your customers – these are a great source of topics for a company blog. Slice and dice white papers, turn webinars into 2-3 minute video clips and turn static research into an engaging infographic – there are tons of topics to be had if you just get out of your own way!

Great Content Will Go Unnoticed

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but one that every marketer must learn – sometimes your brilliant content will go absolutely nowhere. Every company is always looking for that magic ingredient that makes a piece of content go “viral,” but think of the millions upon millions of pieces of content that go live every day, most of them get hardly any attention. You might pour your heart and soul into a great video marketing campaign, spend hours putting together a really useful webinar or white paper, and devote a lot of time and energy into designing a fun infographic, and it’ll barely make a blip on the scene before it gets lost amidst the clutter.

Even great content is going to need a lot of help getting found by your target audience. If you think that the idea of “if you build it, they will come” is going to work with your content marketing strategy, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. If you want your great content to be found, read, shared and linked to, you’ll have to start the ball rolling with your own content promotion. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+; submit your blog to industry sites for syndication, partner up with other companies and leverage their connections to help get your content shared.

Sometimes, even after you give it your all, your great content isn’t going to get nearly as much love as you were hoping. And that’s ok! The key to a successful content marketing campaign isn’t to “go viral” every time you publish something, it’s to provide useful information that can help educate your target audience. It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 or 1,000 views as long as the right people are finding your content.

You Need a Lot of Content to Make a Little Impact

I have been blogging for seven years (spread out over three separate blogs), produce 1 or 2 white papers each year, host several webinars with some of my business partners, upload a new SEO video lesson each week, routinely contribute to a variety of industry blogs and more – it’s a lot of content! But I learned a long time ago that you need a lot of content if you want to make any kind of impact. Think about it like this, when was the last time you made a buying decision after reading one piece of content. Even when doing something simple, like choosing where to go out to dinner, you probably read a couple of reviews on Yelp and checked out the restaurant’s website, right? Now think about the last time you made a big purchase, like buying a new computer. How much content did you consume in your quest to educate yourself before spending $800 on a new computer? You wanted to make sure you were making the right decision, so you turned to various forms of content to help you along the way.

The more times your content can come into contact with a potential customer as they move through the sales process the better. One touch point isn’t going to be enough to convince someone to buy, especially in the B2B world. You need to consistently position your brand in front of your audience in the best possible light, and seeing as how the competition is striving to do the same thing, you’ve got a lot of content to produce!

Above all else, content marketing requires consistency. This isn’t a one-and-done kind of marketing campaign. Be prepared for the long haul, because that’s the only way it works.
Written By: Nick Stamoulis Source:

Friday, April 13, 2012

7 New Key Points to Think About SEO & Converged Social Media Metrics

The costs related to a specific actions and final acquisition has always been, and always will be, the ultimate metric and goal for any marketer. However, how we get to that final acquisition metric and how we optimize our search engine optimization (SEO) and social media efforts has changed significantly.
As we adapt to the convergence of SEO, social, content, and digital media channels there has never been a better time to think about new ways to measure paths to acquisition and utilize the vast amounts of technology, analytical tools and platforms that help us measure the value of media that is "earned from consumers."

What follows are some insights and straightforward tips from my recent visit to SES New York and some food for thought as to new ways to look at measuring, not just SEO, but converged, earned, and business related metrics.

1. Match Value to Traditional SEO Metrics

While ensuring that you measure traffic from the search engines – how many pages receive visits from these search engines, and how many keywords are sending traffic to site – also try to match value to these metrics.
For example, what is the size of the actual SEO opportunity and how much traffic and conversion comes from specific landing pages? How many keywords are under management and what is the specific value, cost and return, of specific keywords?


2. Distinguish Between Reactive vs. Proactive Metrics

Sometimes it's too easy to get caught in a battle or debate with client about metrics. We all know this happens far too much, right? The reality as to why this happens it due to that fact that people often report binary metrics based on reaction to:
  • A loss of rankings.
  • Reduction in traffic levels.
  • Reductions in actions.
  • Loss of business, lower conversions, and so forth.
Now these are all essential metrics to the success of any online campaign. However, simply reporting these metrics can put you in a constant cycle of debate.
Looking and reporting proactive metrics actual helps you in this case by providing the clients with something new and also putting any reactive metrics into perspective. Such metrics to focus on are:
  • Rankings in relation to competition.
  • Rankings in relation to content and news and external/industry statistics.
  • Influencer based metrics and future value.
  • Social value and engagement.
  • Attribution based metrics (more on this later).
  • Action based metrics that over time influence rankings.
You can do this by utilizing a combination of:
  • Advanced analytics (Google and Bing Webmaster Tools and analytics).
  • SEO tools (Majestic, Moz, Screaming Frog).
  • Enterprise SEO and social media technologies (later in this post).

3. Place a Value & Forecast SEO Metrics – Think Beyond Just Ranking Position

SEO is finally becoming more measurable, and by tracking the whole picture and integrating with site analytics measuring ROI has become a whole lot easier. Quantifying the value of an SEO (just like you would with PPC) project prior to its start allows clients to invest more based on these forecasts.
Always remember the following:
  • Rankings mean nothing unless you put a value to them.
  • To place a value on SEO use organic traffic data and PPC keyword data to project spend – just like you would PPC.
  • Make sure you use this data to benchmark where you or your client are is in relation to the competition.
current-seo-value-optimized-best-caseImage credit: BrightEdge

Being able to see where you're winning and losing becomes a whole new SEO metric in itself

4. Embrace Social Media Metrics & Objectives

Eighty-four percent of companies surveyed in a recent Facebook survey believe that social signals will be more important to SEO in 2012. The convergence of SEO and social media tactics has meant that social media metrics are becoming just as important as traditional SEO metrics.
It is now vital to measure "beyond the Like" and understand the true value of social media interactions.
As BrightEdge CEO, Jim Yu, mentioned in his panel presentation, the increased importance of social signals (e.g., Google Search Plus Your World) means it is now essential to look at how, when, and why social signals (tweets, Likes, +1’s, and Pins) influence rankings and position. Creating a Google+ page, adding social plugins (maximize engagement), interlinking deep pages with social media properties, and SEO’ing your social pages are all vital steps in optimizing for the social web and graph.
Lee Odden, Author & CEO of TopRank, makes a great point on matching KPI’s to business values.
"One important distinction to make with measuring the integrated SEO and social media efforts is the difference between KPIs and business outcomes," Odden said. "I talk about this in Optimize where KPIs are defined as the behaviors that often lead to revenue oriented outcomes. KPIS like links, rankings and search traffic as well as likes, fans, friends, followers, network size, rate of growth and such are all useful measures of progress that can lead to business outcomes."
Odden also makes an interesting point on the differences between sales and social impact.
“Obviously sales and new customers are the most often sought after outcomes but so are the social impact on increased orders, order volume and frequency,” Odden said.

Image credit: Econsultancy

"Whatever brands can do facilitate productive connections between prospects or consumers and useful brand content, the more meaningful the engagement," Odden said. "And in my experience, an engaged community is more likely to be a profitable community."

5. Utilize the Right Tools & Technologies That Get You The Right Metrics

From measuring site stats, links, value, and social media influence the development many tools and technology platforms are allowing us to segment different types of metrics and build insights and value from a numerous of different sources.

Utilizing these types of seo and social media technologies – see this article on 45 SEO and Social Media Tools for examples – helps you collaborate much more closely with clients and agencies and…

6. Report The Right Metrics to The Right Person

Metrics are pretty useless you are reporting the right metrics to the relevant people, in the relevant format and at the relevant time. There is no set formula as to how you report metrics to an agency or a client as every company has a different organization structure, political structure, and level of knowledge.
Beyond marketing and sales objectives, search and social media marketing programs can affect increases in media coverage, attracting new employees and serving as a facilitator for better online customer service. That means more than links and likes.
For Odden, this means "performance based measurements in alignment with objectives like monitoring social conversations for customer service opportunities and overlaying those trends on social / search referrals to company knowledgebase and FAQ content. Is social engagement and optimized customer service content attracting more visits to FAQ and knowledge-base pages for example? What impact does such optimized content have on brand sentiment within social channels over time?”
Depending upon your objective you can start to build and utilize dashboards and widgets to begin to segment how and to whom you report certain metrics through an organizational structure. Once you have done this you can gain ‘buy-in’ from individuals in specific roles whilst then collaborating and sharing metrics easily across various business functions.
The end result is a client that fully understands the metrics relevant to them and their role.
Ciaran Norris, director of Emerging Media, Mindshare Global, makes a great point to help keep us in check.
“What’s changed in the market is that clients and agencies were use to the simple, precise nature of search (CPC etc) but have now had to adapt to the sometimes less definitive world of social,” Norris said. “There should be different metrics used to measure the effects of different platforms. The ultimate metric should be sales”.


7. Attribute Credit and Admit That You’re a Marketer

Someone once said “It’s not SEO, it’s Marketing”. The scope of SEO has changed dramatically over recent months due to its convergence with social and content-based media.
It's only natural (pardon the pun) that now we have more effective ways of measuring success that we should think like a holistic marketer. SEO has long had an issue with its PPC peer about attribution and credit. Advancements in analytics, tools, and technology highlighted above now pave way for SEO to monetize its value while also showing how its assists in the conversion process.
Kevin Gibbons wrote a great post showing how you can treat SEO forecasting like PPC and help to attribute accordingly.
Yes, there are always going to be challenges to this such as local search (Panda) and softer metrics that muddy the waters and are hard to measure (brand metrics) but the development and rise of API’s can help you work your way to building metrics to get you nearer your goals and show how you add value in the conversion chain.


As we move to a converged media world we are now presented with a number of ways to attract new connections between brand and consumer. This is turn creates a number of different ways to measure interactions and value by looking at metrics in a new light.
Utilizing the right technology and reporting the relevant metric from the relevant channel to the relevant person at the relevant time is the best way to show value and get the increase in spend that you deserve.
Converged SEO Metrics

"The only metrics that really matter are sales (or the equivalent) and the cost of driving those," Norris said. "Anything else is just dressing."

Well, what we have today is a whole new way of dressing, measuring and tracking how SEO and it’s converged media partners can become more accountable in that sales process.
Written By: Andy Betts Source:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What is Content Strategy & How It Works For You?

Content strategy is more important than a lot of people think, but that’s mainly because of the hype that surrounds SEO. Don’t get me wrong, SEO is super important for your entire site, but content is the oxygen that keeps your site alive.

Think about a piece of paper that is shredded into a thousand little pieces, these pieces represent each page on your site. To help those pieces be more understandable, we’ll have to pour on some glue to mend them back together – that’s our SEO. But sometimes things get messy and we realize that we don’t actually need or want all of those thousands of pieces, because people don’t really like the dull, ugly pieces. So, we cut out the ugly pieces and we’re left with a beautiful, bright and shiny collage that even a child would appreciate (this analogy has gone too far). The point is that, that beautiful, bright and shiny collage is your content strategy. Of course there’s a lot more to it, but the results typically pay off for you and your readers/customers.

How do we make a beautiful, bright and shiny collage, a.k.a. Content Strategy?

Content InventoryOur Digital Strategy Group starts every content strategy with a full list of the existing content on a site. When this list is created it is then sorted, dissected and sectioned off into manageable tabs. I’ve done content inventory for sites with thousands, upon thousands of pages. Believe me, it’s easiest to sort content by error free content, content type and content with errors; e.g. 404 error pages and 301 redirects. Content inventory is really just the beginning of the content strategy process and shows what content currently exists on a site. Without content inventory, we couldn’t move on to the other necessary stages of content strategy.
Stakeholder InterviewsThese interviews involve key people at a company, potential/existing clients, people that may refer business to the company or people that are invested in the company in some way or another. Basically, as a content strategist, we need to know how the company operates, how they would like to operate, what their clients think about the company, why people refer business to the company (or why they don’t) and how people view the company. What the company thinks about itself is typically very, very different from what the clients and investors think about it.
In a nut shell, we need to understand the company’s brand message and brand promise from their point of view and an outsider’s point of view.
Keyword Research & Analytics ReviewKeyword research shows us common themes in things that people are searching for that surrounds a company and competing companies, and an analytics review can show us exactly how people interact with the current content on the site. Putting all of this information together begins to show us a pretty good roadmap of how the site should be laid out.
Scrumming it UpThat’s a big fancy word for an internal meet-and-greet. I’m sure there are content strategist out there that feel confident enough to take a stab at a content strategy without involving everyone on the web design team, but here at Bridgeline we like to scrum – that is, meet with the entire team that’s involved with the project so we can all look at the overall direction we think the site should go. This group meeting typically includes project managers, digital strategists, designers, developers, analysts… I know I’m forgetting someone here.
Content Analysis & TaxonomyContent analysis is the process of organizing all of those little pieces of paper. It’s finding the focus of the site, discovering how content could be grouped, what content can be deleted or compiled and making suggestions on new content. I’ve seen websites with over 20,000 pages get consolidated down to 800 pages. That may sound crazy – I mean, who gets rid of content like that – but what ends up happening is a better user experience is created and conversion rates increase.
Taxonomy takes the content analysis one step further and makes suggestions on the navigation of the site. It helps show areas of the site that should remain and opportunities for new sections – this is where keyword research is used rather heavily.
Voice DefinitionNow it’s time to understand what the company’s voice is – the brand voice. It should be consistent across the entire site and help the company discover how the content should come across to visitors of the site. We try to help the company think through all of the different personality styles that could represent their brand, but also speaks in a human voice that’s understandable to clients.
Editorial CalendarIt’s great to analyze existing content, and even better to define what it means in the future, but without a publishing process (or editorial calendar) content typically begins to go stale rather quickly. An editorial calendar can be as simple as who’s writing what and when, to as advanced as setting up monthly themes and promoting annual events.
Inbound Marketing & Social MediaOnce the content is published it needs to do more than just sit on a site unnoticed. SEO really helps with promoting content in the search engines, but companies can get faster results by leveraging inbound marketing techniques (such as email marketing and guest posting) or social media. Our team typically ends the content strategy with teaching our clients techniques on inbound marketing and social media that can help promote the content that is being created. It’s time for syndication and aggregation.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Before hitting publish, give your content some time to breathe. When we write our own personal blog posts out there, we typically don’t have a team of people to bounce our ideas off of and to help us edit our content, but here at Bridgeline we have a slew of people to help edit content before it goes live on our site. I’m not just saying for grammar mistakes, but for consistency, voice, additions, deletions, etc. There are blog posts and whitepapers written that never make it to the blog, but that’s because they needed more work. Getting constructive criticism is never a bad thing. Pass the content around to a team of editors or experts in the company and get different opinions. Or sleep on it and read it the next day to make sure it still makes sense. There’s a big difference between content written for SEO sake, and quality content that brings in qualified leads.
Lastly, monitoring results is important. Between managing analytics internally, or from a group of experts like our Digital Strategy Group, content management should include website analytics, social media analytics and keyword analytics.
For more information on content strategy, which includes 10 Steps to a Successful Content Marketing Strategy, visit our Digital Strategy pages.
Written By: Kasy Allen

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Advanced Content Marketing Strategies - Bring Brand on TOP

You can’t be a marketing professional and NOT create content. In fact, the Content Marketing Institutionsaid so when it published this interesting statistic: “93 percent of marketing professionals create, or plan to create content marketing as part of their overall programs in the next year.”
The question is…are you creating that content in such a way that it takes your business to the next level like American Express, and HubSpot did? And is your strategy advanced enough to handle all the changes to the content landscape?
Well, if you don’t have a strategy…or if it’s not where it needs to be…this guide will help you get up to speed.

Creating content marketing personas

The demand of delivering constant content are very real for any business, and that demand can sometimes force you to generate and push out content that is not geared to your audience.

Neil Patel
In fact, push the wrong content out and you might attract the wrong prospect and even lose high-quality prospects.
The best way to make sure that never happens is to have a plan that identifies your ideal prospect and then run all content ideas through that filter.
This is done by identifying their needs, creating behavior-based profiles and using demographics to create user personas.
Segment – To build the proper content marketing personas you need to ask yourself these questions:

    * Who is your customer?
    * What are their problems and desires?
    * What kind of content do they consume?
    * Where do they consume content?
    * How can you engage them?
From this data you can start to think about your ideal content marketing prospect…and build a representation of this individual.
To get started, simply study your current readership. Use online surveying tools to identify what they like and want.
As you uncover information you will probably start to see patterns.
For instance, if you provide content on house cleaning you might discover that you have people who read your content because they want to do the work themselves; have a crew they want to teach; or want someone else to do the cleaning for them.
Identify needs – Next, start to build an outline of the needs of each segment by asking questions like:

    * What is their number one challenge?
    * What trends are driving their industry?
    * What one need can you fulfill?
    * What’s the best way to solve those needs with content—through video, white papers, blog posts, etc.?
When it comes to identifying needs, look at the path those prospects take to get to you with your web analytics. As you study that path uncover insights about that segment.
Once you’ve rounded out your segment personas you’ll be able to create content geared to them on a fly…never having to worry about neglecting their needs or attracting low-quality prospects.

Creating a content marketing strategy for tablets

For the longest time content marketing strategies geared to desktop views dominated. That is until the iPad…which changed everything.
Just under 2 years Apple sold over 55 million iPads. Last quarter alone they sold over 15 million units.
And in the months of December 2011 to January 2012 the number of people who own an iPad doubled.
According to the Economist, because of tablets like the iPad we are moving toward a new lean back age of content consumption we haven’t seen since the book.
Jason Calacanis’ called this new age “curl-up” technology. On public transit you’ll notice less people reading books and more people using tablets. And if you are on a plane you’ll notice the same thing.
Of course, they’re not all doing the same thing. Some are playing games while others are reading and still others are listening to music.
The days of how we consume content online have changed…you have to wonder about your content marketing strategy and how it fits into this new tablet world. In fact, crack open your Google Analytics and you’ll see the number of people hitting your site with tablets is growing quickly.
So, what you create won’t change as much as how it’s distributed. For example:
  1. Combine multiple channels of content into one tablet-friendly stream – If you are a content publisher that produces multiple content channels (think about all the channels like Gawker, Gizmodo, Jezebel, etc. under one masthead), you can create a unique experience by combining all of those sources.
  2. Think newsreaders as modern form of SEO – People are starting to discover and consume content through news readers like Taptu, Pulse and Flipboard as if they were search engines. The bonus is content tagged gets hire rankings.
  3. Team up with tech developers – If you are a content publisher, you don’t need to create a new way to consume content via the tablet. Find a startup creating the content and hook up with them. These partnerships can build both of your audiences without you having to re-invent the wheel.
  4. Develop for multiple users – Until the price of tablets drops, more than one person will more than likely share a tablet. So design for a multi-person device. For example, users may not want to stay logged in [which affects passwords] and your app icons should be easily identifiable.
Another noticeable change will be the duration of content. You can now create longer videos knowing that they are more likely to get consumed than when our only option was viewing them on desktop.
This is true about longer blog posts, too. The adoption of tablets with content usability apps likeReadability makes reading a screen a better experience.

Creating a mobile content marketing strategy

Your biggest challenge to your content marketing strategy will come from people who use mobile phones to consume content. While smartphones have improved, mobile is still a pretty difficult user experience for several reasons:

    * Downloads are slow
    * No mouse for selection
    * No physical keyboard
    * Small screen and small text
Even reading comprehension suffers when it comes to mobile content consumption. So what should you do? Follow these eight steps:

    * Step 1 – Create a goal that states what you are creating (app or mobile site) why you are producing it (generate leads or produces sales) and how you plan to measure success.
    * Step 2 – Develop content for people of all ages even though the data might suggest that young people are the only users.
    * Step 3 – Remember that you will be competing in a very distracted arena. Your user will only being thinking of you for only the smallest of a fraction…so you got to make that sliver of attention count for them.
    * Step 4 – If you decide to build an app, make sure it’s not just because “everyone else is doing it.” You must have a solid business reason for creating an app…
    * Step 5 – Using the information you collected above for personas to understand your target audience…and then deliver the substance and distribution channel they want. Make them feel special and they’ll stick around.
    * Step 6 – Consider location as a key to your mobile strategy…and how your content and their location can be used to deliver even better products.
    * Step 7 – Don’t repurpose count…but recreate. Give your mobile users, especially if you’ve created an app, access to exclusive information.
    * Step 8 – Build social sharing features into your mobile content and constantly work on keeping them engaged.

Creating a content marketing social promotion strategy

Speaking of social sharing, what do your plans to spread this content look like? You are planning to promote the spread of your content, right?
Even if you are on top of your game…it’s best you understand the best strategy for social promotion.
For example, were you aware that Twitter and Google+ are both beat out by Facebook as traffic generators? And were you aware that this was the case because of Facebook’s new subscribe button?
This was based on an informal study done by Kevin Rose:
What’s important to notice about this finding is that Kevin Rose has over 1,200,000 Twitter followers at the time, but received 10 percent more clicks from Facebook.
To boot, he only got 1/7th as many clicks over at Google+.
The lesson is this: the Facebook audience is way more engaged than the other two social media sites.
Do you think this would change your social media content marketing strategy? You bet it should!
This is not lost on major brands like Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and National Geographic who’ve noticed that Facebook is slowly passing Google Search as the top referrer of traffic to their sites.


Five years ago your content marketing strategy was pretty simple: create content for the web. This meant writing posts, creating videos or building an archive of podcasts.
While those elements still apply, the landscape in which that content is consumed has changed drastically. You need to be prepared.
What other advanced strategies do content marketers need to pay attention to?
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions.
Written By: Neil Patel Source:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Top 3 Strategies for SEO After Google Panda Update

Google has changed more in the past year than it did in the 12 years prior to that. Most of the changes are good for honest marketers who just want the ranking their content deserves. But taken together, they radically change search engine marketing (SEM) best practices. James Mathewson (author of Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content), won’t go into every change, because they number in the dozens, but this article discusses three changes every SEM should care about.

As some of you may know, I am IBM’s representative to the Google Tech Council. For those who don’t know, the council is a place where representatives from the leading B2B tech companies sit around a table each quarter and discuss our search challenges with Google representatives. B2B Tech companies might have different ways of doing search marketing, but our challenges are common. We all need to rank well in Google for the words and user intents most relevant to our clients and prospects.

Google does its best to programmatically help us solve our challenges. They can’t always help for legal reasons I won’t get into. But where they can, they do. For example, a couple of years ago, several of us complained about the alarming increase in content farms on the search engine results pages. Whether we had organic or paid listings on those pages, content farms caused serious friction for our target audience, and diluted the results we had legitimately earned or paid for.

After that pivotal meeting (though perhaps not because of the meeting), Google began working on ground-breaking changes to its algorithm that would tend to improve the quality of search engine results incrementally over time. The first set of changes was launched in March 2011. Of course, I’m referring to Panda.

Nine months and several Panda updates later, I can confidently say that Google does a much better job with the quality of its search results. I rarely if ever see content farms anymore, and those I do see don’t last long on page 1. Those who think of SEO the way it was primarily conducted prior to these changes—keyword stuffing, buying links on content farms, and participating in commodity link exchange trading—have been left behind.

Panda is perhaps the most profound change to Google’s search engine since PageRank, which was the technology that gave Google its edge. Ironically, it was overdependence on PageRank that led to the series of algorithm changes known collectively as Panda. The practice of spoofing PageRank by swapping or buying links from low-quality sites had grown to such an extent that the results were polluted by them.

Towards an Algorithm that Rewards Quality Content
The Tech Council was not the only place where Google was hearing that it needed to change. Google’s chief competitor—Bing—had taken some of its share, to the point where Google only owned something like 70 percent of the market, down from 80 percent at its peak. The quality of the results had something to do with this.

The problem Google faced is that it had made regular changes to its algorithm over the years to stay one step ahead of the scammers, spammers, and scrapers. It had even introduced continuous A/B testing that gave pages better results if users actually engaged with them. That approach had reached its limits. The A/B tests were simply not getting rid of the pages fast enough. Scammers, spammers, and especially scrapers could publish pages faster than Google could drop them in the rankings. Google needed to undercut these activities once and for all.

How do you change the algorithm again to reward authentic, high quality content and punish low-quality spam-riddled content from scrapers? The answer was a revolutionary way of building an algorithm: with UX/editorial crowd sourcing combined with machine learning. According to Rand Fishkin, founder of SEOMoz, Google hired hundreds of quality raters—primarily editors and UX specialists—to rate a massive number of pages on the web. It then put the ratings into a machine-learning program, which recognized patterns and built the algorithm organically.

Machine learning is a technique borrowed from artificial intelligence used to enhance the analysis of complex systems such as natural language. When a computer system is said to learn in this way, it is taught to recognize complex patterns and make intelligent decisions based on the data. Watson, for example, used machine learning to train for the television game show Jeopardy!. By studying the questions and answers of past games, and practicing in live sessions with past champions, Watson was able to learn the nuances of the game well enough to play above past championship levels.

There are hundreds of patterns or signals that the Panda machine learning program recognizes in how the quality testers rate pages. Notice I used the present tense because this is an ongoing process. Google releases a new version of Panda every two months or so that reranks the entire web based on a new weighting of patterns and signals the machine learning program learns, all stemming from feedback from the quality testers.

Though the algorithm is changing in subtle ways all the time, the general trend it to favor the following three areas of digital excellence, described in the next few sections.

1. Design and UX
It is no longer advisable to build text-heavy experiences, which force users to do a lot of work just to ingest and understand the content. Clear, elegant designs that help users achieve their top tasks will tend to be rewarded by Panda. There are dozens of books and sites on user experience (UX) best practices, so I won’t rehash them here. But these principles of good UX won’t lead you astray:


Gerry McGovern, Jerrod Spool, and Jakob Nielsen are three of the leading thinkers in web UX.

  • Keep it simple. The whole experience needs to be easy to use. One thing Panda does is put new emphasis on the UX of entire sites, not just one page within the site. Do you help users navigate once they come to the page? Or does your experience drive your users in circles? Can they get back home if they click your links?
  • Don’t make users work. A page needs to have most of the content “above the fold” or on the first screen view. Don’t make users scroll too much. Don’t make them click just to see more of the content you want them to see.
  • Clarify. A page needs to clearly communicate what it’s about at a glance. You have six to eight seconds to give quality testers a clear idea of what the page is about, who it’s for, and what users can do on it.
  • Don’t shout. You already have their attention. The temptation is to make it so blatantly clear that you use huge text and flashy graphics. Don’t insult users’ intelligence. Just elegantly clarify what the page is about.
  • Don’t hide stuff. The temptation for some designers is to be too elegant, forcing users to mouse over items to make them appear. If users don’t know it’s there, chances are they won’t mouse over it.
  • Emphasize interaction. Sites and pages are not passively consumed. Give users ways to interact and participate in the conversations at the core of the content.
  • Answer user questions. Ask yourself what questions users might have when they come to your page. Learn these questions by analyzing the grammar of search queries they used to find your content. More and more all the time, users are phrasing their queries in the form of questions. Answer these questions clearly and concisely.
These and many other design and UX best practices are some of the strongest signals the Panda machine learning algorithm looks for.

2. Content Quality
One of the main complaints I hear about SEO is from my editorial colleagues who say it’s just a way of helping poor-quality content climb the ranking at the expense of good-quality content. Their complaint has some validity. Content quality can’t be boiled down to a simple checklist of where to put keywords. So why are these factors so important in search engine results?

The answer is, they’re not as important anymore. Panda does not primarily reward traditional SEO best practices. Panda primarily rewards clear, concise, compelling, and original content. Only if two sites are of equal quality in Panda’s eyes will it tend to reward the one that displays traditional SEO best practices. But it is easy to overdo SEO practices.

For example, keywords are strong indicators of relevance to user queries. As paragon users, quality testers look for the words they typed in their queries when they land on a test page. If they’re not clearly emphasized on a page, the page will not tend to get a good score. So having well emphasized keywords above the fold is an important positive pattern for Panda.

But having a conspicuous number of the same keyword over and over is the sign of bad quality content. So that’s a negative pattern for Panda. Matt Cutts, Google’s organic quality czar, advises page owners to read the copy aloud. If it sounds natural, it should be fine.

The point is, the rules of good quality content are much more important than any simplistic set of SEO rules for pages. Do traditional SEO practices matter? Yes, because they are patterns Panda cares about. But really good content that does not have keywords in every alt attribute or great backlinks will still tend to rank better than marginal content that has all of the attributes of traditional SEO.

Panda also tends to reward fresh content and punish duplicate content. All things being equal, a piece of content will rank higher if it is more recently published. (So pay attention to the date metatag.) One of the signals it looks for is not at the page level but at the site level. A high quality page that sits in a site full of old duplicate junk will not rank well until you clean the junk out.

In short, Panda rewards good content strategy. Content strategists such as Colleen Jones don’t trust SEO “snake oil.” And rightly so. Good SEO is good content strategy and vice versa.

Finally, one of the dilemmas that I hope gets permanently retired with this article is the false dichotomy between writing for search engines and writing for users. I argued in the book I co-authored for IBM Press that they were essentially the same. The attributes users care about are much the same as the ones search engines care about. And we can use the intelligence we glean from search engines as a proxy for intelligence about our users. Prior to Panda, this was controversial. Post Panda, it is not controversial.

The algorithm is derived from user preferences. The only reason why you need a machine to learn those preferences and do the work is because of the sheer volume of pages and sites on the web. The machine is not quite human, but it is getting closer all the time to human intelligence. And it has something that no individual human has: It has the collective intelligence of the whole crowd of quality testers. Like Watson, it is smarter than any individual human because it combines the intelligence of the collective of people feeding it data.

3. Site Metrics
As I mentioned, Google has long rewarded search engine results with high click-through rates, low bounce rates, and high engagement rates by helping them climb the rankings. But Panda rewards these even further by making search excellence metrics strong signals in each update. It also continues to raise the level of sophistication of these metrics signals, where they tend to align with pages rated highly by the quality testers.

For example, Google’s A/B testing didn’t have different standards for different types of experiences. It used a relative standard based on the bounce rates for the words in question. As a result, certain types of experiences for a given keyword tended to rank better over time (ahem, Wikipedia). Yet it makes perfect sense that portals have different bounce rates than single-offer commerce experiences. The more options users can click, the lower the bounce rate, generally speaking. Because humans understand the nuances of different experiences, Panda tends to contextualize these variable metrics values. And it will tune how it weights them over time as the quality testers provide more data.

Another example in metrics sophistication is in the levels of engagements. If a user clicks through to a page from the search engine results page, and clicks three more times, it will count for more than if she just clicked once. More generally, if a site has a high number of engagements per user, it will tend to rank better over time than one with one page that converts well and a bunch of dead pages.

Perhaps the best news of all in this is that you can improve your search rankings just by making incremental improvements to the pages on your site based on the metrics you gather.

Unfortunately, all the changes Panda makes only happen every two months or so. So once you are pushed down in the rankings by Panda, it will take a while to get back up in the rankings. Hopefully, Google will be able to make more frequent updates to Panda in the future so that those penalized by an overaggressive ad executive or an inadvertent UX faux pas can get back into Panda’s good graces more quickly.

Unlike past Google algorithm changes, Panda itself is not changing in any drastic way. It is just getting smarter at recognizing high-quality digital experiences. It’s also getting smarter at recognizing poor quality experiences that look good from a simplistic point of view. If you want to rank well for Google, you will need to invest in building high quality, authentic digital experiences. Given the growing confidence in the Google algorithm, it is a business imperative.
Written By: James Mathewson Source:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

7 Types of Content to Get Traffic, Links and Social Exposure

I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently working with clients on their content strategies for 2012.  Its something I’ve been keen to evangelise and get them to invest resource into, some clients have been harder than others to convince!  I can see why its sometimes a hard thing to buy into, but I firmly believe that having a solid content strategy in place is essential for the majority of sites we work with.  Tom wrote this post on content marketing yesterday which I’d urge you to go and read.

Why companies struggle with content marketing

Two of the common problems that many companies have with content production are -
  • Resource to create content – many do not have time or specialist writers in-house
  • They lack ideas of what content they can create or their industry is “boring”
There are more, but these are probably the consistent ones that I hear.
I am hoping that the rest of this post helps solve these problems.  I’ve given the following examples for a few reasons -
  • Most of them can be used across most industries – boring or not
  • They don’t all require hours and hours of resource to get done
  • They will help you get traffic or links or both

Getting Inspiration

Before diving into examples, I wanted to give some pointers and tools for how to get inspiration for your clients content. It can be difficult at times, particularly if you have a client in an industry that doesn’t seem particularly interesting at first glance.
Brainstorming internally and with the client
First step should be a bit of a no brainer. But remember some key points to running a good brainstorm session and don’t overlook the opportunity to brainstorm with your client if that is an option. This can have lots of advantages, one of which being that the client can veto or approve edgy ideas straight away. So the outcome will be a list of ideas which you know you can get sign off for which makes the time you send researching more focused.
Non-competitor analysis
You all know to look at what competitors are doing, again thats a no brainer. But make sure you look outside your vertical too and see what cool stuff other people are doing, sometimes you’ll come across an idea that can be easily applied to your own niche or a concept that can be applied to your own content.  For example, with the right data, could you become the Ok Cupid of your industry?
I’ve mentioned this before but its worth mentioning again. I love Spezify. If you are ever in a jam and have a bit of brain freeze, plug a keyword or two into it and leave it for a few minutes. It will go off and aggregate loads of tweets, images and all sorts of other results to give you an idea of what is being talked about right now.
For some extra fun, plug a friend or colleagues name into it and see what it finds :)
So what here we go with seven types of content you can produce for traffic and link building.

Video Content

This is something which is getting bigger and bigger within Google SERPs at the moment and I think that websites that get on board with this now can dominate in the future. For me, there are two ways you can leverage video content to help your website.
As a link building tool – I’ve written before about getting links using your YouTube videos which is something I’d highly recommend. The other way you can leverage videos is to create your own and use them as link bait – but this is hard. If you have the resources, then go for it and create your own videos.  Just take a look at Zappos who have over 50,000 product videos!
This leads me onto the second way you can leverage video content.
To increase click-throughs from SERPs - Take a look at this result from Zappos:
This puts them a step ahead (see what I did there) of their competitors.  If they can get to a point where their product pages are ranking well and have these snippets showing, then they will most likely see an increase in click through rate from search results because they stand out so much.
We’ve been doing some testing lately on a client site where we are trying to get a video showing in SERPs which when clicked, go straight to the client site rather than somewhere like Vimeo or YouTube.  So far its been working well and I’d recommend using something like Wistia to help you with this.


I’ll say it, I don’t really like them that much.  The reason being that I see so many terrible ones that can’t even be classed as infographics.  I also think there are sometimes easier and more efficient ways to get links.  That being said, they can (and do) get links.  If you have the time and resource to do them well, then infographics can be a good way of getting links.
I’ve stolen a few principles from Mark which I’m going to put here.  Really, infographics should do the following if they are to be successful -
  • Answer a question or solve someones problem
  • Be based on real data that can be backed up
  • Make data or facts easier to digest than written content
  • Show the user something they didn’t already know
If you do have a good infographic to promote, there are loads of sites out there which are dedicated to just infographics, I published a list here of the ones which I know of.
I know what some of you are thinking, infographics are mega expensive to produce.  Yes they can be, but they do not have to be.  Take a look at this one which Mark did on his personal site which attracted 115 linking root domains.  All he used was a camera and some nice cake mix!

Interactive Content

This excites me a lot more than static infographics.  For me, the companies who find a way of bridging the gap between their product and interactive content will win in the long term.  Lets take a look at an example.
I love this World Cup planner by Marca.  Imagine if you were a retailer of tickets for the World Cup and you produced this.  Imagine you could click through and purchase tickets for the game of your choice, but rather than the standard way of finding them, you use this interactive selector?
This is a perfect use of interactive content because it attracts people to your website for being genuinely useful, but it doesn’t end there, you can convert these people into buyers with the right integration and calls to action.
The next step of link building and content marketing is the integration of this interactive content onto product and category pages – solving the age old problem of getting links to ecommerce pages.  Do this and you’ll win the internet – its hard though!

Q&A Content

If you are tight on budget, this can be a great one to use.  Chances are that whatever product or service you sell, you get common questions about it.  If you have email support staff, they probably have standard copy and paste answers that go into emails – is that content on your website and indexable?  If not, get it on there.
The beauty of this type of content is that it has the ability to attract traffic as well as links, in particular in technical fields.  Also, it is obvious that Google are moving towards becoming a better place to get direct answers to questions, searches such as this prove it -
The trend for users searching using a question rather than a keyword is growing too, look at the insight data for “how can” and “does the” -
If you can position yourself as a site where you provide direct answers, you will not only get good long tail traffic, but you will also move towards becoming an authority in your field.
Make sure you take a look at the Wordtracker Question Tool which can give you some ideas of what people ask related to your keywords.  Also look at your keyword data in Google Analytics and filter for keywords which include things like “how” “what” and “can” etc.
Bonus for ecommerce sites – if you can tie Q&A content into your product pages, you have a massively scalable way of getting good quality, relevant content onto your product pages.  Here is an example of how Jessops are doing this -
I don’t believe this content is currently crawlable, but if it were, long tail traffic would most likely increase.

User Generated Content

You’ve all read about customer reviews as user generated content, but what about other forms of content such as images or videos?  Amazon have been doing this for a long time now but smaller retailers are doing this too, even this retailer that sells garden sheds -
You may need to add an incentive to get customers to go to the effort of this, but even if its just a 10% off voucher, some will do it and you have another sale.
Pro tip – make sure you are asking these customers if they have a blog, Facebook or Twitter accounts.  If they do, send them appropriate calls to action to get them to share the images once they are live on your site.

Guest Blogging

I bet most of us have spent time guest blogging to get links for clients, but how many of you have invited guest bloggers onto your blog to write for you?  It has two main advantages -
  • Allows you to get good content if your own resource or time is short
  • The writers will naturally share it and link to their article
You will need to dedicate some time to quality control, but this will not be anywhere near as much as you writing the content yourself.
Taking things a step further, you can also use a few principles of gamification to motivate your guest bloggers.  For example you can reward bloggers who get the most traffic, most links or social shares with a random prize.  The key is to make this reward publicly visible and be super transparent about how bloggers can win these prizes.


Don’t dismiss this one.  If you can get creative enough, this can not only be a content win but also a link building one.
If you can find a way of coming up with a competition which involves people producing content in order to win, you are onto a winner.  Here is an example of this on PostGrad which involved getting entrants to visualise a piece of data.  The best visualisation won the competition and was featured on the blog.  This not only got links but provided great content for their site -
You can be pretty flexible on the type of content you ask for -
  • Written content such as a blog post
  • Images – e.g. baiting photographers for their best photos
  • Videos – e.g. record a video of yourself singing a song
Some thought it needed to make sure the barrier to entry is low but the quality of the output is high, but this is definitely possible across most industries.
To wrap up, I know that producing great content is not easy.  But you need to at least make a start on the path to getting it right, online brands who are not investing in content are going to get left behind.
Written By: Paddy Moogan Source: