9 Essential of Content Marketing

SEO Dilemma - Content Marketing versus Link Building
MOZ Blackboard Friday on Content Marketing versus Link Building for SEO

Content marketing is increasingly important in a world dominated by the Google algorithm and for good reason. Google’s constant tweaks of its search algorithm seeks to present searchers with the most relevant, timely, and valuable content and defeat the aims of techno-nerds who try to game the system to get their crappy content to rank well. Bing does a similar thing with their algorithm.

In fact, in a recent post, Rand of MOZ (formerly SeoMOZ) made some great arguments in favor of content marketing — not the least of which is that content marketing uses multiple search and social channels to build your online reputation and is thus less at risk from Google’s whims. Check out their Blackboard Friday on Link Building versus Content Marketing implications for SEO.

Why content marketing ?


This presentation contains some great data supporting the use of content marketing including:

  1. 70% of consumers prefer to hear about your products/ services through articles than advertising.
  2. 55% increase in web traffic when a company adds a blog to their website.
  3. 97% more inbound links (the most important element of traditional SEM campaigns) when a company adds a blog to their website.
  4. 60% of consumers feel better about your brand after reading your content.

Implementing content marketing

These are great arguments for a sound content marketing strategy. But, how do you implement a content marketing strategy?

  1. Identify your target marketing and their pain points.
  2. Discover who’s already talking in this space. I use SocialEars and SproutSocial to help me hear conversations out in Cyberspace. Share their content on your own social networks and gather ideas to support your content marketing strategy. Link to these sources liberally. SocialEars has a unique feature allowing you to upload your content and search for additional links to similar content. Remember, content marketing should be about both creating and curating valuable content for your target audience.
  3. Plan an effective content marketing strategy that keeps creating fresh content for your blog on a regular basis. This is really important for SEO. Curate content from trusted sources on a daily basis. Be sure to share this content in a format appropriate for each social platform — Twitter works best with links, Facebook with images, Pinterest with images, YouTube with video, etc.
  4. Vary content types. The Internet is increasingly visual so be sure to include a variety of visual format types. Create a YouTube channel and produce videos on a regular basis. Embed them on posts, but be sure to summarize the content as there’s little SEO value in just embedding a video. Create a Pinterest account. Currently, more traffic comes to websites from Pinterest than any other social network.
  5. Ensure quality content by researching each post and writing carefully. Edit your posts before pushing the publish button. Create a voice that resonates with your target audience and avoids jargon unless your target audience shares your vocabulary. Don’t write “teaser” copy that promises solutions that the content doesn’t provide — I find Hubspot particularly guilty of this.
  6. Write great headlines and snippets to entice readers to read your posts. On Facebook, don’t use the easy link sharing. Instead, upload your feature image and write a short description that makes fans curious to read the entire post.
  7. Craft each post around SEO keywords. Use Hashtags on Facebook and Twitter to make your posts more findable. Use effective on-page SEO (I use the Yoast plugin to help with this).
  8. Follow-up by answering comments and thanking folks who share your content. Your content marketing should be the basis for building your online community.
  9. Measure. Analyze. Decide. Don’t just post content and hope it resonates with your target audience. Analyze posts to determine the best times and days to post and which content resonates most.

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8 Tips for Optimizing YouTube for Social Media Success

YouTube is definitely the world leader in video sharing, with an unbelievable 72 HOURS of content uploaded every MINUTE. Vimeo is the next closest contender in the video sharing space, but it’s a smaller site more often used by filmmakers to share ideas than businesses using video as an anchor to their social media success. That’s because the world is more visual now that technology allows for streaming video and fast download speeds.

YouTube’s new format/ layout allows businesses improved opportunities for branding. So let’s take a tour around YouTube and learn how YouTube creates social media success.

 

 

 

 

Tip #1: Branding your URL

Grab your branded URL, even if you’re not ready to start uploading videos yet. Just like other social media platforms, once a brand name is gone, it’s gone. Mine is called MarketingLetter — just like my blog, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc. Stick with a brand name that’s easy to remember, pronounce, and fits your marketing goals.

Tip #2: YouTube channel art

Similar to changes Google made with other networks, such as Google+, YouTube now features a cover for your business channel. Remember — KISS. Keep it simple stupid. Don’t make it crowded and avoid over-promotion. Let your content speak for itself.

Take a look at my cover art. Simple. My logos for both Hausman and Associates and Hausman Marketing Letter, along with my tagline (which is EVERYWHERE), and my URL.

Be VERY careful and check your results carefully on several different devices. YouTube allows for an image that’s 2560 X 1440, but an image that size will only look right on a TV screen. On a computer or mobile device, it’ll look like crap. And the ability to crop the image in a way that makes it appealing is VERY limited. Play with it — keeping the actual image centered within the allowed space and only taking up about 1/5 of the available space. Mine uses 120 pt font to make it fit reasonably onto a mobile device. Record your colors and use them everywhere to enhance your branding efforts.

Tip #3: YouTube channel description

Your YouTube channel description should use your keywords within the first sentence and throughout the description. This will help future subscribers find your channel. Include basic information about the channel content, a posting schedule (something do-able), and why visitors should subscribe to your channel.

Tip #4: Brand videos

Each video you upload to your channel should include branding before and after the content — called a donut. Add some music (be careful to have permission). Animation makes your donut look more professional. At the end of the video, add contact information and a call to action to increase conversion. Don’t expect people will KNOW what you want them to do.

Tip#5: Consistency

Uploading videos on a consistent basis is really important to gaining subscribers. Tell visitors about your publication schedule in your description, then stick to your schedule. Posting too infrequently or off-schedule will reduce your social media success from YouTube.

Tip #6: Be yourself

Folks think their YouTube video has to look like something from a major studio. That may be true if you’re positioning your channel as a professional video channel and trying to break into the movie business. But, if you’re just trying to build your business with video, you don’t need to look like a feature film.

Giving visitors something of value is so much more important than having professional video quality. Find great topics for videos using Google Alerts and other tools to see what’s trending? — what are folks searching for? — where are their pain points?

Tip #7: Get your community involved

As with all social media platforms, getting community engagement is critical for your social media success on YouTube. Community engagement will bring more visitors and encourage them to subscribe to your channel. Encourage comments and sharing by asking questions in the video and putting sharing in your call to action. Be a little controversial and you’ll increase comments, just be careful when you create controversy that it doesn’t make you look uninformed.

Depending on your brand, you might encourage your community to upload their own content to your YouTube channel. That really increases engagement.

Tip #8: Analytics

Youtube provides analytics, just like most social media platforms. Be sure to regularly track your performance to ensure continued success with your YouTube strategy. What’s working and what isn’t? What drives visitors to your channel? What encourages them to become subscribers?

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SEO: Keywords Versus Customer Intent

social mediaSEO has evolved a lot over the last couple of years.  Sure, Google makes little tweaks to the algorithm driving SEO all the time, but recent Panda and Penguin updates really changed the whole nature of SEO; penalizing a number of high profile sites for keyword loading and other shady SEO tactics.

And, SEO is changing again.  Search Engine Watch (one of my 2 favorite SEO websites) recently published a post entitled, “Keywords are Dead? Long Live Customer Intent“.  It’s a great post and demonstrates the extent to which the new normal of Google search impacts the way you do business.

History of Google Search

It seems a little silly talking about the history of something that’s less than 20 years old, but a lot has happened in that time when you’re talking about SEO strategy.  The changed mean great things for searchers, who now find more targeted results matching their queries more closely, but a nightmare for folks running websites and PPC campaigns who need to maximize the number of eyeballs they attract in an increasingly crowded Internet.

In the early days of Google search, searchers entered simple keywords (literally, a word) or maybe a few keywords using Boolean operators such as “and”, “not”, “or” and sifted through the mountain of search results hoping to find what they were looking for.  Today, keywords is really a relic of that era because searchers now enter complex phrases that bring much more accurate results.  Of course, results are ranked (based on a complex weighted algorithm) so that the most likely results that satisfy your search are near the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Webmasters learned to manipulate their SERPs (to show up higher in search) by estimating factors in the Google algorithm, then optimizing their sites for these factors (termed SEO – search engine optimization).

What’s New in SEO?

So, how have things changed with respect to SEO? Let’s hear from Grant Simmons’ post on Search Engine Watch”

The old interpretation of keywords is no longer true; users are not typing simple keywords that yield simple Google results. Users are entering “queries” – phrases that match specific search intent – and Google attempts to match that intent based on search data, click data, and heuristics, and then serves richer (and hopefully more relevant) intent-based results.

A number of other changes also affect SEO such as:

  • Autocomplete – when a user begins typing something in to the search bar or entering a URL, Google attempts to “guess” at what they want and begins filling in possible results related to this guess
  • Local search – when optimized properly, Google will return results nearby first in the SERPs
  • Spelling correction
  • Dictionary returns results based on definitions, rather than strictly adhering to the same word entered in the query

Customer Intent on SEO

Thus, firms need to anticipate customer intent in their SEO strategy.  What might consumers look for that you can satisfy?  This involves a VERY different strategy than the old keyword strategy that relied on using the keyword as many times as possible on your website.

Instead, firms must anticipate customer intent and use words throughout their website conforming to customer intent.  And, the firm must use terms (language) used by consumers, not the industry.  And, add descriptions for visual elements, such as images and video.

Optimizing Your SEO Strategy for Customer Intent

Consumer research

The first step in building your new SEO strategy involves understanding what consumers want to find and how they use language to frame that query.  And, firms aren’t great at this.  All you have to do is look at the way they construct their own search capabilities to see how poorly they understand what consumers search for.

For instance, look for a special occasion dress.  As a consumer, you’re likely interested in a particular color, length, maybe even style (Aline, versus ball gown).  Yet, the website might list irrelevant search criteria such as designer or SKU.  Maybe some consumers care about who designed their dress, but more will care about other criteria.  So, you need to start THINKING llke your consumers.

Use your website’s search as a way to see what consumers search for on your site and do focus groups with your target audience to understand what they are looking for.

Better descriptions

Not only do you have to use terms matching consumer intent, you need to describe what you offer in similar terms.  Search engines don’t “see” well.  If the consumer is searching for a shoe with a little bow on the side, the search engine won’t see it in your picture.  So, describe your stock.

Don’t forget traditional keyword research

You’ll still need traditional keyword research, but supplement this with exploratory keyword research. Un-tick the “exact match” option in your keyword research and scroll down to see what terms are similar to your keyword.

Mine your social media for insights

How are consumers talking about your brand, your product category, and your industry online.

 

 

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Keywords Unlock Success For Your Website

select keywords carefullyThis is a guest post from Debra Johnson.

Having content on your website gives something for the search engines to index, but having the right keywords within your content is how people find you in search results. Although you don’t want to stuff keywords in your pages to the point where it reads badly, you do need to have a plan of how to use them on your website.

1. Know Your Content

Writing content for your website serves the purpose to inform the reader. Placing proper keywords within that content is how visitors will find you. While the words you inject into your page rely heavily on the content, you may need to do some research as to what words work the best.

  • Google Adwords Keyword Tool – By putting the subject of your intended content into this tool, Google will supply you a report of the best keywords and phrases to use in regards to the subject.
  • SEMrush.com – Although the information is a bit limited for non-paying users, SEMrush.com can shed some light on the best keywords used around the world for content.
  • WebCEO.com – One of the more interesting points of WebCEO.com is the desktop program that is available for your SEO keyword needs.

2. It’s Not a Thanksgiving Turkey

As Google’s algorithm has changed the way it crawls websites, stuffing keywords into content doesn’t necessarily mean it will be ranked better. Google examines content before and after the word in order to gauge the relevancy of the text. You don’t want to have your keyword appear every 20 words, which is 5% of the time, because it reads horribly to the visitor. It should be a natural flow of words with the keyword appearing in just the right places so that it is easy to read and the search engines index the content where it’s supposed to be.

3. Keywords in Your Headings and Subheadings

Placing keywords for the content inside your heading and subheading tags is a method that many use for successful placement. These are gathered as priority words and having the particular keyword in the heading helps the indexing of your website. It also reads well when a visitor can easily find the content he or she is looking for. There are many SEO professionals who state that using extensive headings is beneficial for your SEO needs. However, you don’t want to clutter up your site with one heading after another. While keywords are important, your content is what the visitor is after. Keep them organized and all will look and read perfectly.

4. Page Titles Need Keywords

Many search engines such as Yahoo will rank pages higher if the indexed keyword is present in the page title tag. For instance, if you have an article with ‘dog biscuits’ being the keyword, then your page title should have ‘dog biscuits’ within it. These pages will be ranked well in the search engines and work towards the content relevancy as mentioned above.

Putting it All Together

One of the most important aspects of search engine optimization is the creation and use of keywords. Other practices of SEO revolve around these words and can amplify your efforts to be ranked high in search results. However, your efforts to improve the ranking of a website are futile without the right combination of keywords and phrases. Various tools on the Internet can help you build a very successful list of keywords to use for your content and may prove to be more fruitful than simply writing a few sentences and hoping it all works out for the best.

About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Debra Johnson, blogger and editor of Liveinnanny.com. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: – jdebra84 @ gmail.com.

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Listening in Social Media

I’ve been working all day on a presentation for the DC chapter of AMA.  The topic is listening in social media and I’m doing a how to session lasting about 2 hours.  I’ll post the presentation after its been delivered.  However, I’d like to ask you for help preparing this presentation.

  • Do you have case studies demonstrating effective listening you’d be willing to share?
  • Can you provide sample metrics for a project where you tracked the results of your social media campaign using listening?
  • Do you have evidence supporting the use of listening in social media?
  • Can you share tools your find useful for listening online?
  • How do you manage the vast amount of information coming in every day from your listening post?
  • What do you listen for and how effective are these keywords?

Of course, I encourage you to anonymize the information you share — I don’t need to know company or employee names.  I’m just trying to get some specifics I can share with my audience.

My own experience listening in social media is mainly in an area commonly overlooked by firms who mostly use listening as a means of reputation management or pro-active complaint handling.  My expertise in online listening is using online conversations as a means for understanding consumer behavior.

What can I learn about my market through a listening post?

  • level of customer satisfaction
  • areas of dissatisfaction
  • consumer “hot” buttons — things that drive purchase
  • how my brand stacks up against competitors
  • unmet needs
  • who are influencers in social space
  • what your brand “means” to me – how does it fit into my life

What do I do with information from my listening post?

  • incorporate it into advertising to stress “hot” buttons, show the brand fits the consumer, re-enforce the meaning of the brand to consumers, etc
  • create new products to meet developing needs
  • track the effectiveness of other marketing strategies by mapping their impact on conversations in social space
  • map satisfaction over time
  • learn how to engage consumers in conversations in social space by relating to them and their ongoing conversations better
  • capitalize on influencers
  • determine which marketing strategies are working, so I can improve my marketing effectiveness over time

What steps are involved in gathering and analyzing listening post information

  • determine your goals, hypotheses, and objectives
  • decide where to listen — some social spaces are unavailable due to privacy policies, such as Facebook profile pages (unless the user has made them open to everyone) or the ability to access the information, such as some types of content (including videos or images, except for titles and metatags).  You can listen to everything, but then the tendency is to have so much data that analysis is nearly impossible.
  • gather important keywords, including your brand names, key employee names, industry, major competitors, key customers, etc.
  • collect data
  • use a software program like SPSS Text Analysis sofware, HyperRESEARCH, or nVIVO to help determine categories.  These categories help map out meaning so you can USE the data you’ve collected in developing marketing strategy.  This is commonly done iteratively, by reading through the text and developing categories and meta-categories to explain the utterances.
  • develop strategies that maximize these results.

Next week I’ll post an example where I’ve used this technique to develop strategic insights.  Please join me then.  In the meantime, please consider sharing your experiences with social listening.  Thanks.  And have a happy new year.

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