All posts in Content management

BullseyeContent marketing. There are few terms more buzzy this year than this. But according to the Content Marketing Institute, while 90 percent of B2C marketers are using content marketing, 52 percent do not have a strategy. It’s like throwing darts at a board blindfolded: success is a complete accident, and it is not repeatable. A good content strategy not only opens your eyes, it improves your aim. Where do you start?

At the beginning. The excitement of starting a new initiative, of creating fresh, fun content needs to be tempered. Not a lot – keep most of it, but slow down. You need to focus on creating fresh, fun content that helps you meet your goals and objectives. To do that, you have to go through a discovery phase.

  • Take some time to assess your brand’s position. What makes you unique? What do you have to offer your visitors? What are your strengths? Where do you fit in within your industry? Evaluating this will help you create a content strategy that bolsters strengths, lifts up weaknesses, and hits your audience where it counts.
  • Develop user personas.  These are fictional representations of different types of audience members. What types of people use your service, visit your site, buy your products? Flesh them out into “real” people, and then ask, “What objections might they have? What are their pain points? What do they care about?”
  • Do an inventory of your current content. What do you offer your visitors now? Do you have a deep bank? Is content categorised and relevant to your brand? Or is it a hodge-podge?
  • Review analytics for your site(s). Which elements grab people? Which deter people? Which content are they drawn to?
  • Using the information from your user personas and analytics, brainstorm keywords and topics. Set up Google Alerts for these topics to stay on top of the news affecting your business, industry, and audience.
  • Create a content calendar. This will help you plan content that is relevant, allow for flexibility so you can respond to news, and give you a backup in case the creativity well runs dry and you have no idea what new content you can develop.

It seems like a lot of work! But whether you want to do content marketing or you already are, you need a strategy that enables you to use it effectively. This will keep you from taking wrong turns and keep you on the right track for success.

BlogIn the search and content marketing worlds, you have to stay flexible – otherwise you’re apt to get whiplash from all the changes! Nothing is permanent, and as we’ve seen with the decreased emphasis on specific keywords and the shifting status of links, today’s tried and true techniques may be tomorrow’s black hat. Guest blogging is the latest tactic to come under question. So, what’s the answer? Yes, no? Maybe.

 

 

Why Not?

Because Matt Cutts said so! In a recent blog post:

Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

And our favorite line, “Stick a fork in it, guest blogging is done.” Cutts takes issue with unscrupulous use of guest blogging and shams set up to “automate” guest blogs or buy and sell links.

Done as in “Done”?

Guest blogging as a content strategy is not horrible practice – but with a big caveat. It has to be genuine, good, solid content. Say you are a management consultant and you help clients improve their leadership abilities. You work with a senior manager at a real, reputable company and she wants to write a post on how to improve communication skills. Or, perhaps she has done such a tremendous job improving her own skills in this area that you ask her to share her thoughts or tips with your readers.

Here’s why this guest post is different and why it’s not “done”:

  • No one’s getting paid, no one’s outsourcing guest posts, no one’s buying links. It is, as they say, on the up and up.
  • It’s content that your audience could learn from and use in their lives. The point of good content!
  • You know this person, and you can vouch for the authenticity of the post as well as its veracity.
  • It’s one post. You have (or should have!) lots of other great content on your site.
  •  You don’t spin this article or post it on more than one site.
  • You use other reputable SEO and content management techniques to bring traffic to your site. You don’t depend on guest blogging to generate all your link activity.

This type of guest post can help add value to your site. It’s genuine content, and that’s what Google – and more importantly, your audience – wants to see. If it’s not real, don’t do it. It’s a good SEO rule to live by.

Poor EyesightSEO is alive and well, but what about the traditional mainstay of search engine optimisation: the keyword? Is focusing on keyword strategy worth your time and resources, or is this still a vital part of your SEO approach?

First, why do many believe that keywords are endangered species that are on fast-track for extinction? A few reasons:

  • The 2013 Hummingbird update reflects Google’s progress towards semantic search. Instead of focusing on keywords, the search engine wants to focus on the meaning behind searchers’ queries.
  • Google moved all of its search results to https:, or secure sites. This blocks SEOs and webmasters from accessing rich keyword data from organic searches.

Despite this, one fundamental truth remains: keywords organize the Internet. According to some experts, the internet contains over 1.2 zettabytes of information – or 1.3 trillion gigabytes. With the sheer volume of information, there has to be a way to categorize it and return relevant search results.

Keywords serve this important purpose, and despite how “intuitive” search becomes as Google seeks to infer meaning we still have to use them. For instance, if we entered “Why are aardvarks purple?” Google knows we need information on purple aardvarks. We’re not going to get results on orange cats, yellow panda bears, or 1949 Fords.

So, no, keywords are not dead; in fact, they’re an integral part of ensuring your websites are visible and that Google can serve them to searchers. The key to keywords is natural and relevant. Keyword stuffing has long worn a grey or black hat, so that’s not a change. Instead of worrying about ranking for a particular keyword, the focus should be on providing clear, informational, trustworthy answers to the most common questions about your business, your industry, your particular niche.

Google does want to figure out the intent of a search – but they still need to find results with relevant content, and they still use keywords in this effort.

Some tips for optimal use of keywords:

  • Use keywords naturally and don’t be afraid to use synonyms. Google will recognize them, and readers will not get a spam vibe from your site because you’ve used the phrase “best gloves in the UK” 14 times on a single page.
  • Cover a single topic per page. Target the users’ intent: for instance, do they want to learn how to properly knot a tie? Dedicate a page to this helpful topic.
  • Don’t overdo it. One page is enough to help people learn to put on a tie. You don’t need another page with a video, another with tie-knotting FAQs, and yet another with famous celebrity tie-wearers. One thought, one page.
  • After you publish content, do a search of Google, Bing, and Yahoo to see what types of variations come up. You can use this information to create more specific keywords that ensure people looking for the information you have can find you.

Natural, relevant keywords that target your audiences’ intents can help you rank more highly – and more importantly, reach the people you need.

Woman Using ComputerContent is king. In 2014, it’s time to amend this famous and oft-repeated mandate. How about “shareable content is king”? What good is content if it is static, if it stays in its kingdom on a lonely website? We have the potential to put our content in front of the eyes of a much broader audience. Infographics are an ideal tool: they are visually appealing, immediately engaging, short and concise, and easy to share not only on social platforms but on other websites. Make sharing easy by embedding a codes into your infographics. Here’s the why and how.

The Why:

Embed codes:

  • Make it easy to share your infographic.
  • Provide links back to your website.
  • Are, thanks to magic and modern technology, simple to generate.

The How:

When you have an infographic, it will typically be too large to fit within your webpage, so you have to resize it. The smaller version is a preview, if you will, for viewers. Create a full res version and provide a link for viewers to click on so they can view the image in all its glory. That way, they don’t have to pull out the magnifying glass to read it. A helpful tip: make sure the link opens in a new window so their experience on your site is not interrupted.

There are two ways to generate the embed codes. One is to simply use a code generator. If you run a WordPress site, for instance, you can install an embed code generator and, within a few clicks, you have your code. One such plugin is the aptly named “Embed Code Generator.”  There are other tools, as well, for non-WordPress sites that you can find online. Another option is to take a little time and write the code yourself.

Include:

  • Source URL (http://seoisawesome.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/content-infographic)
  • Image URL: (http://seoisawesome.uk/how-to-create-shareable-content-with-infographics-infographics/)
  • Title: (5 Tips for Sharing Infographics)
  • Image Alt: (embed codes infographics)
  • Courtesy of Site Name: (SEOisAwesome)
  • Courtesy of Site URL: (http://seoisawesome.com)

Here’s a sample code:

<div sytle=”clear: both”><a href=http://seoisawesome.uk/how-to-create-shareable-content-with-infographics-infographics/><img align=”center” src=http://seoisawesome.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/content-infographic-small.jpg title=5 Tips for Sharing Infographics” alt=”embed codes infographics” border “0” /></a></div><br/><div>Courtesy of <a href=www.seoisawesome.uk>SEOisAwesome.uk</a></div>

There are other elements you can include (such as image width and height), but this is the basic idea.

Most infographics on the web do not employ an embed code, and this is a missed opportunity. By embedding this code, you are helping others share your content and create rich backlinks to your website. There’s no excuse not to take this easy step- especially with the help of code generators! You’ve put in the work to create a great infographic – why not ensure as many people as possible experience it?

The Best CMS for SEO

Many businesses these days look toward a content management system, or CMS, for a variety of reasons. If you need to update your site content more than about once a month, you plan to run a blog, or you need the ability to manage your content from a more remote location, a CMS is a great idea. Worried about SEO once it’s installed? You probably should be, but finding an SEO friendly CMS is easier than you think.

Looking for the Right Choice

There are several factors to look for as you search for a CMS that’s ideal for your optimsation strategy. First, look for a platform that allows customised title tags for both the pages and the various sections of your website. This is particularly true if you have a number of different kinds of sections on site like static pages, a blog, and a forum.

You’ll also want one that offers you the chance to create customised URLs. The ability to include the right URL in your content is a must. Including your keywords in your content is a must for better ratings, and many systems let you manually build the URL to meet the needs of a search engine.

Additionally, make certain the alt tags are clear from an SEO perspective. Images shouldn’t use just the alt tag, though. They should use CSS-Image-Replacement instead.

Which One is Perfect?

There are many great systems out there, but before you choose one for your site, you may want to consult with an SEO professional, particularly if you won’t be installing it yourself. The help of an SEO professional is an absolute must when you’re concerned about the health of your site.

You know your site could be doing more every single day. From a higher traffic volume to better CTRs, it could be working harder for you, right? Wondering how to make sure it gets there? Many look to an SEO audit, but if the concept alone seems confusing, you’re certainly not alone.

What is an SEO Audit?

Every process of your business is examined and evaluated periodically, right? It’s the only way to make certain that your business is moving forward. When was the last time  you offered the same careful evaluation to your website? Some businesses build it then just sit back and wait for the visitors to come. Sites just don’t work that way anymore, and if yours isn’t well optimised, easy to navigate, and offering the level of content visitors want to see, you’re missing out. An SEO audit looks at all of those factors and more.

SEO Audits 101

So, what exactly does an SEO audit look at? It takes a closer look at your tag optimisation, both on and off page. It also looks at broken links and dead pages. Additionally, it ensures your site can be indexed by the search engines, factors in the link profile compared to your competitors, and tests your site’s speed.

Can I Handle It?

An SEO audit isn’t necessarily hard, unless you’re (a) pressed for time, or (b) SEO challenged. If you’re not sure what any of the terms mean or even how to begin checking for dead links on site, it’s probably time to enlist a bit of professional help. This is particularly true if you think you have much bigger problems, because you may need someone to handle a custom audit that’s a bit tough to tackle on your own.

Film Reel Series

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, according to Forrester Research, a single minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. That’s a lot of power packed into a minute of content. Seventy-eight percent of web users will watch a video this week, and 55 percent will watch every day. What is striking about this is that 46 percent will take some sort of action after viewing. We respond to video; our brains assimilate information more quickly and emotionally. Creating and hosting great videos isn’t the incredibly expensive production it once was, but that doesn’t mean you should shoot jerky, home videos on your iPhone and post them! Here are the best of the best tools to help you produce high-quality videos – and much more.

Camtasia.

How-tos and tutorials are tremendously popular, especially if you’re in a technically-oriented field. Camtasia is a tool that allows you to capture what you’re doing on your screen and then edit video to customize it for your audience. You can add audio tracks, HD video, photos, graphics, and much more to enhance your end-product. They’ve also added a new option, allowing you to superimpose yourself into the video for a more personal one-on-one feel. Check out their tutorial or take advantage of a free trial. This is a wonderful tool for teaching and training.

Pixorial.

Even if you’ve never created a video, Pixorial makes it easy with its intuitive layout and navigation. You simply upload footage and you can add transitions, soundtracks, text, and other elements. The Pixorial platform allows you to view, share, and edit videos without modifying the original. No “Whoops!” moments! Edit, upload, share on social networks, and store videos on the cloud. There is tremendous versatility within Pixorial’s family of products.

Wistia.

Wistia is a hosting tool with packages to meet a variety of business needs and budgets. The platform allows you to add social sharing buttons and CTAs, collect viewers’ emails for marketing, control access, manage who sees what, and monitor their interactions. Analytics help you see how people watch your videos: do they start and bounce out? Do they skip certain parts, or go back through them? What have they watched previously? HTML and Flash are both automatically encoded, buffering is minimized, and it works across devices. Wistia’s functionality is inclusive: this is a powerful way to ensure your videos reach your audience and that you have data to make them even more effective.

Others to check out:

  • Weavly (drag-and-drop operation, search/trim/combine tracks, add video and audio).
  • GoAnimate (fun animations, easy user interface, basic hosting, and basic analytics).
  • PowToon (drag-and-drop for cartoons, ideal for instructional videos).

 

Count On Us

Who are the key visitors to your website? Who are you trying to attract, the crucial – and buying – audience that you want to engage with winning content? Most businesses have a general idea: i.e. we sell football shoes, so we ‘re targeting young athletes or older enthusiasts who star in weekend leagues. But they don’t go much beyond that. Creating user personas gives us an in-depth look at potential audiences, their needs, and potential strategies for converting them into customers.

A Quick Look at User Personas

A persona is a fictional representation of your very nonfictional audience. For instance, we might have Sue, the weekend football star. Your research tells you that this is a demographic you want to hit. Sue is a professional with limited free time. She has children, who also participate in sports, and she wants to be more active and healthy. She is value-conscious, but she also wants great quality. This persona:

  • Describes this type of visitor to your shoe site: mother, busy, professional.
  • Targets her motivation: health, wellness, activity.
  • Hits on her need: budget, value, quality.
  • Implies potential objections: cost of top shoes, time. For instance, time is an issue – so are returns easy and convenient? Is shipping fast?

With this information (and much more – you can flesh these personas out so they actually have an accompanying photo and dossier!), you can develop content and design your website in such a way that her needs are met. What’s more, because you have different demographics within your customer base, you can create a variety of realistic personas.

Creating User Persona

It all starts with research. Who are your users? Why are they visiting your site? What expectations and needs do they bring with them? Can you categorize users? With social media and the ease of UGC, you can collect this data from your customers directly with online surveys, through comments and reviews, emails, and feedback forms. Questions you want to answer:

  • Where do they live? What types of jobs do they have, and at what level? Primary gender? Level of education? Average income? Marital and family status?
  • What types of beliefs and values do they hold?
  • What are their interests, passions, and hobbies?  What are their motivations?
  • What are their most pressing worries or concerns? What are their goals?
  • What’s important to them in life? What is meaningful to them?
  • What behaviors do they want to encourage or change in themselves?
  • How do they view themselves?
  • What value can you give them?

Using this information, develop 4-5 personas, and put as much detail into them as possible. Make them real people. You are trying to sell your product or service to a live audience, not a figment of your imagination! Address their needs and concerns, while offering solutions.

By understanding your customer base, you can build content that meets their needs (not every piece will be directed at Sue, for instance, but you’ll cater to each persona in different ways), and you can begin to optimise content to make it easy and convenient for them to take the next steps.

Do you use user personas to help you make content and design decisions?

 

+Newspaper Series+ 1If 100 people find their way to your blog or website, most will read your headlines. Only a small percentage – 20 percent or less – will actually read your article. It’s the power of headlines that pull people in, that tell them that there is information, or entertainment, in here that is relevant and interesting.  All that power – in just a few words. Far from an afterthought, your headline should be as carefully crafted as the rest of your content.

Here are some tips for excellent, attention-grabbing headlines:

  1. Include a number. 7 Ways to Beat Stress; Top 5 Tips for Synchronized Swimming Success; 3 Easy Steps to Mastering Chess. Whatever your industry and niche, there are always tips, tricks, and lists to share. Numbers indicate to readers that they will be getting some helpful advice.
  2. Ask a question. Increasingly, searchers enter questions instead of keywords. For example, instead of “mount plasma screen,” they might query: “How do I mount plasma screen on wall?” In addition, asking a question in your headline implies that you have the answer. It invites readers to click through or keep reading so they can find it.
  3. Use tried and true structures. Top 5 Mistakes SEOs Make, for instance, combines a number, as well as a point of pain for your audience. Both will help draw people in – if only so they can check whether they’re making the mistake!
  4. Use a thumbnail image to accompany your headline. Research from the Guardian indicates that headlines with an image saw an increased CTR of 27 percent. It’s worth a shot!
  5. Don’t use your brand. Testing shows that when you use your brand in your headline, you see a drastic decrease in engagement and CTRs. Here’s an example: Brand X Announces Their Secret to SEO Success. Well, good for them! Far more effective is: 5 Secrets of SEO Success, or Five Steps to SEO Success. This puts the focus on the value your readers will derive from your content.
  6. Use strong adjectives. While you don’t want to overdo it, adding a descriptive, powerful adjective can help create interest and prompt the reader to continue on.
  7. Get inspired. Take a look at content that has gone viral. It has done so because, in large part, because of the great headlines. Go on Reddit, StumbleUpon, and other sites and see what’s trending.

A great headline grabs the attention and the imagination. It’s just as – or more – important than you content itself!

Colorful Tacks

Pinterest has achieved phenomenal growth in the last few years, but many businesses persist in believing it to be just a place for foodies to get new gluten-free recipes, thrifty parents to get ideas for budget-friendly birthday parties, or for crafty folks to get their newest idea. It’s great, they think, for individuals but not for our businesses. But consider this, Pinterest refers more people to websites than Yahoo. Admittedly, Yahoo is no Google, but this is a powerful reminder that there is an opportunity to be had. If you’re not pinning, maybe you should be.

Pinterest is the fourth largest traffic source in the world. It often referrs more people than Google+, Bing, and LinkedIn. Most of its users are women (some put the number as high as 80 percent) and most are between ages 24 and 34. Half have children. If these hit your target demographics, it might be smart to build a Pinterest presence for yours business. Here are some other statistics:

  • Pins with price tags get 36 percent more likes than those without.
  • 69 percent of users have found at least one item they have purchased or wanted to purchase.
  • Average users spend 1 hour and 17 minutes on the site.

That last stat is particularly remarkable. Over one hour – most sites are lucky if users stay for a few minutes. What the duration of the stay tells us is that users are engaged. They are being pulled in by great content, and they don’t have to “bounce” because they are finding information, comparisons, prices, and products that meet their needs.

If you think that Pinterest is of importance and value to your target audience, create an account. Here are some tips to help create a presence:

  • Set up a business account for a more professional, credible appearance. This will help boost consumer confidence in your brand.
  • Use Pinterest Analytics. In keeping with its status as a major traffic source, Pinterest offers Analytics. Track how many people are viewing and pinning from your website. You can also see the most popular “repinned” items to help you optimise your efforts and create better pins.
  • Think about hosting a contest. These are popular and can help highlight your content and your website. Make sure to read Pinterest’s Terms of Service before you start.
  • Be visual. Use images (that you create or that you have secured rights to) and infographics to appeal to Pinterest’s visual nature.
  • Know your audience. Pin only what you think they’ll be interested in. Doing some research is a great way to start. Not only should you get a sense of your “user personas,” you should look at what your competition is doing as well.
  • Take advantage of tools. There are now a variety of helpful tools to build and maintain a positive Pinterest presence. These include: Shopinterest (to set up shop in minutes); Repinly (info on top pins and boards); Pinstamatic (appealing boards); Pinpuff (measure influence); and Piqora (analytics and pin scheduling).
  • Spend an hour or so yourself pinning, repinning, and gathering information on what works, what doesn’t , what your business can do, and how you can reach your audience.

Does Pinterest make sense for your business? Are you already there?

 

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