Tag Archives: content and SEO

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5 steps to making your content smarter

The convergence of SEO and content has been a driving force in marketing for the past few years.

A recent survey conducted by my company, BrightEdge, found that 97% of marketers view these two areas as converged disciplines.

Given that 51 percent of the traffic arriving on your website is likely from organic search, I believe that the growing understanding of the integration between these two formerly separate silos is an essential transition.

Despite this rise in understanding, however, a prominent problem remains: many marketers still struggle to get their content consumed by their target audience. BrightEdge found that a full 71 percent of marketers report that less than half of their content has been used by their target audience.

This problem not only causes tremendous frustration for brands, it also results in countless wasted work hours as well as unnecessary spending. It is time for marketers to take a more intelligent, smart approach to content marketing.

Smart content is:

  1. Discoverable: Easily found
  2. Optimized: From point of creation
  3. Profitable: Measurable

To improve content performance, brands need to stop producing content for content’s sake and instead produce smart content: content that is better suited to what users want to read, and is prepared for the SERP so those targeted users can find and engage with the material.

Smart content improves the effectiveness and ROI of the material produced by making itself more discoverable and consumable.

The data marketers gather from search can provide invaluable information about what target audiences search for and what they want to read. Through looking at this data, marketers can identify trends as well as consistently popular topics that their target audience will want to engage with in posts and articles. Data provides key insights on consumer intent and the topics marketers need to produce content that serves this audience.

When content is optimized for SEO before it goes live on the web, it will be prepared for searchers and rank higher on the SERP from the moment of publication.

This improves its overall performance and therefore the worth provided for the brand. During the content creation process, data provides insights into the customer discovery process and what different types of content are most likely to be consumed.

Smart content in context

Smart content is about taking the financial investment that companies make in their content development and channeling it towards a more effective and data-driven strategy. It is different to the content that brands already produce, because it builds off of brands’ improved awareness of customer intent signals and how site visitors interact with the content that organizations produce.

Over the past few years, the technology and capabilities involved in marketing have increased tremendously. Even on the SERP itself, we can see an impressive improvement in the ability to understand the types of content that users likely want to see, from videos to Quick Answers to images.

The better brands can similarly interpret these intent signals, the easier it becomes to produce the content that will rank highly and drive the ROI that marketers want to see.

Smart content allows marketers to publish material that is ready for the search engines right from the moment it hits the web, and propelling more traffic, engagement, and profitability. Marketers who learn how to integrate this strategy into their content creation process will have an improved understanding of what the customer wants to read, integrating their efforts across all facets of marketing.

The content will also be optimized from the moment of its creation, and therefore, the content will perform. Brands will be able to engage their readers across devices and channels, driving revenue and building the organizations.

5 steps to making your content smarter

5 steps to smarter content

1. Understand who

Make sure you know exactly who you will target with your content. Smart content revolves around creating precisely the right content for the right audience at the right time.

To tap into the immense wealth found in the consumer and market data that will allow you to accomplish this goal, you must first know exactly whom you want to target so that you can identify and develop the topics and ideas that will interest them.

2. Know what

Know what they want to read. Once you have identified your target audience, you next need to accurately gauge what they want to read. Look at what the search data tells you about topics of interest and rising trends.

3. Bake in optimization

Develop SEO-enabled content from creation that is ready to deliver across all devices.

With SEO and content converged into a single portion of the digital marketing process, all content produced should be optimized right from production so that no content needs to be re-optimized later, empowering it to rank as highly as possible from the first time it is crawled. This will increase the effectiveness and impact of the material created.

4. Measure

Measure everything about your content, aligning KPIs with your business goals and see how customers interact with your material. Data and measurement remains a key capability for successful smart content creation. Know the goal you want to accomplish with your content, such as visitor rates, rankings, or conversions, and define KPIs that will allow you to measure impact.

5. Adapt and repeat

Focus on the content that drives performance, adjusting strategies to better align with your predetermined goals as the metrics are measured. Smart content means improving effectiveness and efficiency.

Content and topics that consistently do not drive value should be reduced in the content plan while the content that does perform well is rewarded with expansion. Use the metrics to better understand how your individual customers react to the content and use those insights to drive content strategies.

Following these five steps will help you produce the right amount of content that delivers the right results.

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Share17 Chicago: The key themes and trends

Digital marketers gathered in Chicago last week for Share17, an event hosted by SEO and content marketing platform BrightEdge.

Share17 provided a welcome opportunity to take stock of where the industry stands, discuss common challenges marketers are facing, and consider the upcoming trends we should all aim to capitalize on.

The agenda for the day reflected this, through a combination of guest speakers, customer panels, and plenty of revelations about search marketing trends. The below is a recap of the key themes and SEO tips we took away from the event.

The convergence of SEO and content marketing

The key theme for the day was the convergence of SEO and content marketing, although there were also discussions on how SEO impacts all areas of modern businesses.

97% of BrightEdge customers state that SEO and content marketing are either merging or have already done so. As a result, the focus shifts to the more pragmatic matters of how this plays out at companies both large and small. At a conceptual level, there is widespread understanding of the interplay between the disciplines, but at a practical level there is still some work to do.

Although content marketing has grown to become a $75 billion industry, each piece of content needs a lot of help if it is to cut through in such a crowded market. In fact, research from BrightEdge revealed:

  • 50% of B2B content draws some engagement from its intended audience. The other 50% receives no visits or shares.
  • The picture is bleaker still for B2C content, with only 20% engaging consumers. The vast majority of B2C content is simply never seen.

SEO can help here, of course, but it is clear that something is amiss at a broader scale. The content marketing industry has not aligned demand with supply if so much of its output fails to resonate with even a small audience.

Scott Mowery from Cleveland Clinic had some tips to help ensure that content is created with conviction. Without that dedication of attention and resources, it is highly likely that the audience will not engage when so many other options are available.

Scott used the acronym C.O.P.E. (Create Once, Promote Everywhere) to distil his team’s philosophy, and it is one that is reaping dividends so far.

The core idea here is to make sure that there is a clear purpose behind every piece of content created and that it is of the highest possible quality. Then it can be repurposed for different media formats and delivered to an audience through a focused amplification plan. With a projected 110 million visits in 2017, this plan seems to be working for Cleveland Clinic.

SEO is very closely aligned to business strategy

Throughout the day, there were nods to the prominent position SEO has assumed within businesses due to its ties with content marketing. This is due to the fact that content sits at the center of marketing plans, while marketing channels are ways of promoting this message and directing traffic towards content.

SEO is a fusion of medium and message, as it is simply impossible to rank in competitive industries without creating something of value that appeals to an audience.

Working in SEO in 2017 therefore requires a broad range of skill sets, from the technical through to the strategic and the interpersonal. Frankly, SEO fails if it exists in a vacuum and it requires input from across departments to reach its full potential.

Guest speaker John Hall had an interesting take on what this means for the career prospects of SEOs. He said that he sees more SEO professionals take up senior leadership positions than ever before, based on their ability to view business problems from a range of angles.

The changing nature of SEO has made it hard to pin down with concrete definitions, but that fluidity also creates marketers that are adept at managing the complexities of the modern business landscape.

SEO professionals need to have influence, both internally and externally, to get this message across.

John Hall shared some fascinating insights into the psychology of influencing people, whether within a company or when communicating with customers. His presentation revealed the importance of making a genuine emotional connection with people to stay top of mind in the long term. That brings with it a certain vulnerability, but it is imperative if we are to gain the trust of our audience.

Share17 Chicago: The key themes and trends

Some of this may feel very intuitive, so it is therefore worth asking why we fail to make these connections more frequently. A narrow focus on gaining short-term ROI restricts the potential for brands to make emotional connections over time, but the most profitable brands achieve exactly this aim.

Such campaigns have typically been the domain of brand marketers but as media spend continues to move online, there should be a seat at the table for SEO too.

Consumers are in control

In the age of cord-cutters and ad blockers, the message for brands is clear: consumers are in control. 28% of US Internet users used ad blockers this year, as the digital advertising industry struggles to balance monetization with user experience.

This dynamic is playing out with particular significance on mobile devices, where consumer expectations continue to heighten. BrightEdge research found that 79% of results for the same query differ across mobile and desktop devices.

Concurrently, the growth in queries containing the phrase ‘near me’ is slowing. This is driven by implicit intent; users are coming to expect that Google knows where they are and will tailor the results accordingly without direction.

From Google’s perspective, the core focus now is on speed. To keep consumers in the Google search ecosystem on mobile, it is essential to provide an app-like experience via search results pages.

We have seen this recently with developments like AMP and app indexation, but there is still a sense that marketers need to place more emphasis on providing a faster digital experience. 82% of smartphone users consult their phones while in a store deciding what to buy, so every second of extra load time can be costly.

In fact, as Eugene Feygin from Quill.com discussed, Amazon has calculated that an extra second of load time across their site would result in $1.6 billion in lost revenue per annum.

Share17 Chicago: The key themes and trends

This creates a multitude of moments of need or want throughout each day, with the average user now spending 2 hours per day on a mobile device. The approach of applying broad demographic groups or personas is no longer fit for purpose if we want to put consumers first.

A more accurate and profitable approach understands the importance of being in the right place when people need information. That consumer journey will differ by brand and by industry; the companies that prosper over the next few years will comprehend this and plan their content marketing accordingly.

Share17 Chicago: The key themes and trendsThis provides a robust structure to an SEO campaign, driven by genuine consumer demand. That structure needs to be populated with content that connects, however, and this is where we should recall the lessons learned from John Hall’s presentation. It is only by investing ourselves in our content that we will provide something of value that stands out in such a competitive landscape.

Throughout the day, there was a sense of this being an exciting moment for the SEO industry, but also one that requires a strategic mindset to comprehend and capitalize on so many diverse areas of activity.

Scott Mowery from Cleveland Clinic shared a helpful mantra that his team goes by to keep efforts focused in what is an increasingly complex market. If an initiative is not digital, mobile and measurable, don’t do it.

This seems an apt summary of the core themes from Share17 in Chicago, and sage advice for all search marketers.