Tag Archives: CONTENT

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5 tips to create a data-driven content marketing strategy

Content marketing has become the secret weapon in a successful marketing strategy, with brands using different types of content to add value and grab their audience’s attention.

It has become more important than ever to market with intent, using content and SEO to raise awareness, engage and convert.

Conversion, in particular, is one of the biggest challenges for content marketing, but according to Curata, 74% of companies believe that their content marketing strategy helps them increase the quality and quantity of their leads.

The rise of IoT and our constant connectivity to the online world through smartphones, wearables and social media have brought a wealth of new data. This serves as a great opportunity for marketers to understand what a modern consumer wants and how to include these findings in a content marketing strategy.

Content marketing cannot be successful without data, as marketers risk guessing, rather than actually knowing, the habits of their target audience.

A data-driven content marketing strategy can be more efficient, helping marketers save time and money by focusing on the right content that will bring them closer to their goals.

Here are five ways that data can improve a content marketing strategy.

Understanding your target audience

One of the main reasons to invest in a data-driven content marketing strategy is to gain the best possible understanding of the target audience.

A solid content marketing strategy can bring the audience closer to the brand. This can only happen through a framework that takes into consideration the audience’s habits, preferences, and needs.

An analysis of the available data can help marketers draft more relevant personas, which helps in tailoring content to the target audience.

Data can provide useful answers to questions such as:

  • the customers’ reaction to the existing content
  • their favorite types of content
  • their preferred methods of communications
  • the channels they are using
  • their browsing habits

This should be the start of an effective content marketing strategy, setting up the groundwork for a data-driven approach that relies on insights, rather than assumptions about the target audience.

Content discovery

The process of coming up with content ideas can be challenging, especially in small teams. A closer look at the available data can help marketers create content that fits their goals.

Data can be part of the content discovery process in the following ways:

Keyword research

Keyword research is not only useful in SEO, but it can also offer useful content suggestions, tailored to the target audience and their search habits. For example, keyword analysis can help marketers come up with new content ideas, going beyond the most popular terms and targeting topics that can still be successful, without being predictable.

Content performance

An analysis of the existing content’s performance can offer useful insights, from the most popular posts to the audience’s browsing habits. This data can help marketers create more effective content, adjusting if needed the length of it, the formatting, the visual assets, or even the user experience if there seems to be a high bounce rate.

Competitor analysis

Another useful aspect that can help in the process of content discovery is to monitor what your competitors are writing about. It might be a good idea to monitor your competitors’ most popular topics, the types of content they are using, the ideas they are expanding into, or even the creative aspect of their content marketing strategy. This can give you a good indication of their most successful aspects, while you can also explore the areas that you could cover.

Monitoring latest trends

It’s extremely useful to monitor the latest trends that are relevant in your content’s context. A closer look at Google Trends, Facebook, and Twitter’s trending topics, or even the latest headlines can help you get inspired on new content topics. Moreover, an analysis of the latest trends, the audience’s response, and their metrics in terms of virality can offer a useful perspective on the content that people prefer to share.

Content delivery

It’s essential for marketers to deliver content to their audience via their preferred format and channels. This requires an analysis of several key areas:

  • length of content
  • type of content (blog, video, image, presentation, podcast, etc)
  • formatting
  • desktop vs mobile
  • relevance
  • value
  • quantity over quality

There are many questions that need to be answered when drafting a content marketing strategy, but luckily the use of data can provide the answers to all these questions.

A closer look at Google Analytics or other similar platforms can offer useful insights.

These increase the chances for the content to become part of the customer journey, by helping prospects move along the funnel, from awareness to an actual purchase.

Moreover, another interesting trend is the rise of real-time data that can help marketers become more responsive to their content. Social networks are usually the most useful platforms to serve real-time content during an event or an important announcement. In that case, data can offer the right direction for the content, from the sentiment to the actual performance of the campaign.

Analyzing distribution

An effective content marketing strategy needs to equally focus on the creation and the distribution of the content.

A focus on data can help marketers decide on the channels they should use for the promotion of their content. This depends on the target audience and campaign goals, and data can tell whether the focus should be on:

  • earned media (PR, mentions)
  • paid media (social and search advertising)
  • owned media (site, blog, social content)
  • shared media (referrals, word of mouth, influencers)

Content distribution becomes more challenging with the abundance of the available channels and the new opportunities for promotion. Not all of them are effective though for every type of content. That’s how data can become extremely useful to analyse the existing results, but also how the new content can explore new paths for promotion.

5 tips to create a data-driven content marketing strategy

Image: Smart Insights

Measuring success

According to CMI’s report, the most popular tool that marketers use for content marketing is their analytics platform (79%). This indicates the need to measure the content’s performance while justifying the KPI of their content marketing strategy.

The focus on analytics tools doesn’t necessarily mean that all marketers are still able to tell whether their content marketing strategy is successful. In fact, according to Curata, only 30% of leading marketers are confident enough that their content marketing has an impact at the bottom of the sales funnel.

As more data become available, marketers can take advantage of all the insights to understand their content’s performance and how it brings them closer to KPIs.

5 tips to create a data-driven content marketing strategy

Image: Beth Kanter

The most useful metrics to track your content performance include:

  • blog visits
  • time on page
  • bounce rate
  • number of comments
  • number of shares
  • number of mentions
  • inbound links
  • press coverage
  • number of generated leads
  • number of conversions

The need to pay attention to these when measuring a content marketing strategy brings out the importance for modern marketers to blend their creative with their analytical side. As we gain the capacity to collect and analyze increasing quantities of data, marketing is becoming increasingly analytical – but creativity is still crucial, and is what sets humans apart from bots in the marketing industry.

Overview

Many marketers are eager to dive into data in order to create a successful content marketing strategy. The more data we process, the better the insights we can glean about our target audience.

A data-driven content marketing strategy starts with an analysis of the existing data, but it’s also important to proceed with actionable steps.

The most effective marketing strategies translate data into their customers’ needs, creating successful content that speaks to their needs, but also your company’s goals.

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What is Google Stamp and what will it mean for marketers?

Google is set to launch a competitor to Snapchat Discover, known as Google Stamp. This new product will bring with it a host of opportunities for publishers and advertisers alike, but it brings with it some challenges too.

What do marketers need to know about this new service, and how successful will it be?

Early in August, news leaked via the Wall Street Journal that Google has been preparing a direct rival to one of Snapchat’s most popular and profitable features, Discover. This new product will be integrated with Google’s core services, and will be known as Google Stamp.

The name Stamp is a portmanteau created by uniting the abbreviation ‘St’ from the word ‘stories’ and the acronym AMP, from the Google-led Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative.  That quite succinctly sums up the purpose of Stamp: it will be a publishing platform that allow brands to tell stories in a new fashion, optimized for mobile.

It seems that after a reported bid of $30 billion dollars to buy Snapchat was rejected in 2016, Google has decided instead to mimic some of the functionality that has made Snapchat such a hit with younger audiences. This will be a further blow to Snap, after Facebook copied so many of their features to launch Instagram Stories last year – followed by additional imitators in Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Although a firm launch date is still unknown, there has been plenty of noise around this latest Google product.

So, what do we know about Google Stamp so far?

The core platform is expected to function in a very similar manner to Snapchat Discover. Users will be able to swipe between different pieces of content and there will be a healthy mix of video, images, and text to keep readers engaged.

What is Google Stamp and what will it mean for marketers?

Of course, the Google ecosystem is very different to the social networks it will be competing with in this space. Users come to Google to make a search, with a topic or product in mind. That is a different mindset altogether to that of a user browsing a social network, a fact that Google is painfully aware of and it is a gap they have tried to bridge many times.

Google has made a play to take some of the ‘discovery phase’ market recently, through its new homepage experience and the use of visual search technology in Google Lens.

This is seen as a significant growth opportunity in the industry. If tech companies can start suggesting relevant products to consumers before the consumer even knows what they want, they can open up a range of new revenue streams.

What is Google Stamp and what will it mean for marketers?

Source: Pinterest

Advances in machine learning technologies and predictive analytics mean that this is now possible, and there is an ongoing battle between Google, Pinterest, Amazon, and many others to claim this fertile ground.

All of these technological developments open up novel ways of communicating with audiences, particularly when it comes to storytelling. This has never truly been Google’s home turf, however, and it will need to give significant backing to Stamp if it is to convince users to change their long-held behaviors.

It is therefore anticipated that Stamp articles will feature just below the search bar within the Google interface. Giving Stamp this level of prominence will bring publishers’ stories to the attention of billions of daily users.

If we factor in the full suite of software and hardware that Google owns, it is easy to see the scale that Stamp could have. All of this is integrated through Google’s sophisticated DoubleClick technology solutions, so there is reason to believe that Google could finally start to crack the content syndication market.

Who will be able to publish Stamp stories?

Some large publishers, including Time Inc. and CNN, have been approached as potential launch partners for Stamp. However, it will be interesting to see how quickly this is opened up to the next tier of content creators.

The exclusivity of Snapchat Discover in its early days was cited as a reason for a damaging exodus to Instagram from a range of content creators. Publishers wanted to get involved and had a message to communicate, but Snapchat was slow to open up access to the platform.

The relationship between large publishers and the AMP project has at times been fractious, with the main bone of contention being that these pages are hard to monetize. Advertising revenues are as important to publishers as they are to Google, of course, so this is a course that all involved would like to see corrected.

Stamp gives us clear insight into how Google would like to do this. In essence, Stamp allows for a much more customer-centric form of adverting than we have traditionally seen from the search giant. By inserting native ads within content, Google would be making a significant shift from its AdWords marketing model.

From a business perspective, all of this ties in with the recent updates to Google’s AdSense products. The investment in improving AdSense will see display ads appear in much more relevant contexts and they will be less disruptive to the user experience. Once more, we see customer-centricity come to the fore.

What is Google Stamp and what will it mean for marketers?

What will Google Stamp mean for advertisers?

Advertising via Google Stamp will mean engaging with and understanding a new form of storytelling. Advertisers should therefore no longer see this just as a traditional media buy, as there will need to be close collaboration between content creators and content promoters to ensure that ads are contextual.

Of course, this will be similar to launching a campaign on Instagram or Snapchat, but it will be interesting to see where responsibility for Google Stamp media buys sits, purely by dint of this being Google rather than a social network. The same teams who handle AdWords campaigns would need to integrate new skillsets to make the most of this opportunity.

The ability to think creatively and forge connections with consumers continues to grow in importance, rather than interrupting their experiences. Combined with the targeting technologies and data at Google’s disposal, this will be a potent mix for those that are equipped to take advantage. Advertisers expect good returns from Google campaigns and will still get them, but they will need to approach campaigns differently.

Some unanswered questions

Of course, much is still unknown about Google Stamp. We know it will be very similar to Snapchat Discover and we suspect it will be given a prime position just below the Google search bar. However, the following questions remain unanswered for the moment:

  • How frequently will Google Stamp be featured in search results?
  • Will Stamp be a fixed feature of Google’s new homepage experience?
  • Which types of queries will trigger Stamp results?
  • What options will be open to advertisers? Will Google introduce innovative new formats to maximize Stamp’s potential?
  • How will Google rank Stamp posts?
  • Will publishers create different content for Stamp, or just re-use Instagram or Snapchat assets?
  • Will users migrate over to Google to use what seems likely to be a very similar product to Snapchat Discover?

We expect all of these questions to be answered in due course, although Google is still reticent on a firm release date for this ambitious venture.

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How to optimize VR content for search

Virtual reality (VR) has been the talk of the town for a little while now and its marketing potential is getting difficult to ignore.

Whether using it to look around a potential new home without leaving your sofa, or to explore a popular scuba diving spot without touching a drop of water, the possibilities are endless and exciting.

There is a proliferation of content on the web, and virtual reality offers a new and exciting way of presenting this content. Now more than ever, there is a need to distinguish yourself from the competition, to provide content that excites, inspires and influences. This is a chance to get creative and be different.

With VR content, storytelling is immersive and messages more impactful. An experiment carried out last year demonstrated that VR drives engagement and empathy significantly more than traditional video. These factors make virtual reality a powerful weapon in a marketer’s arsenal.

However, despite the clear benefits of VR, businesses are still hesitant about diving in. In addition to questions of cost and accessibility, there is a more fundamental question of discoverability: can VR content be found using search engines? Is it even possible to optimize virtual reality content for search?

The good news is, the idea of search-optimizing VR is not as alien or impossible as you might think.

Increasing accessibility of VR

Although many consider the technology to still be in its infancy, virtual reality has already evolved a great deal over the past couple of years. This has been spurred along by a few handy innovations by Google to increase accessibility and ease of use. Notably in 2016, Google introduced VR view to allow users the ability to embed 360 degree VR content into websites on desktop and mobile, as well as native apps.

One of the primary reasons that companies fail to embrace the technology is a misconception over its accessibility. No, you don’t need to own an Oculus Rift to be able to experience VR content. In fact, you don’t need anything. With the ability to embed VR content into websites with the simple addition of an iframe, anyone can access the benefits that it has to offer.

Now on mobile, you need only discover a 360 VR video in your Facebook news feed, wave your phone around in the air and hey presto, you’ve engaged with the world of virtual reality. For a more immersive experience, a simple Google Cardboard headset will suffice, or go a step further with Daydream, a more robust version but without the hefty price tag of an Oculus Rift.

A Google Cardboard headset, one of the most affordable VR headsets available

Optimizing VR for search

All this fancy new technology is all very well, but if it can’t be found in the search engines, then the potential reach of your content is diminished. If you’re having doubts about the visibility of VR content in search, then just remember one important fact. Google itself is heavily invested in VR technology. It therefore follows that the Big G would not only make it as accessible as possible, but also reward those who embrace it.

VR content often takes the same file format as standard video content. Therefore, optimizing VR for search is much like optimizing traditional video. Below we share our tips:

Embed using Google VR View

Google created this tool for a reason and it would be remiss not to take advantage of it. VR View takes care of all the tricky technicalities to ensure maximum compatibility and it also means that there is no need to embed a video via YouTube or other video platform. This is important in terms of SEO and content marketing, as you want to avoid the potential for users to leave your website.

Write relevant metadata

Make it as easy as possible for the search engines to find and index your content by adding the appropriate metadata. Write a short, snappy title and use the description to add more detail. Include any necessary keywords to help indicate what the content is about.

Don’t forget to adjust the file name as a bonus way of providing extra detail to the search engines – avoid a generic media file name like “vrmedia123.mp4”.

Add schema markup

Go a step further than the metadata and add schema markup, as it will help the search engines to better understand the content and therefore improve its appearance in the SERPs. It is also worth submitting a video sitemap, which will make your content more discoverable by Google.

Optimize the page itself

Optimizing the VR content itself is crucial but don’t forget to apply standard SEO best practices to the webpage itself. Even if your video does not display in the SERPs, you may be able to get the page ranking.

SEO 101: valuable, shareable content

It’s obvious but we had to include it. As with any other form of content, the overarching aim should always be to provide value. Create content that is engaging, informative and entertaining. Make it highly shareable and repackage for use across all marketing channels for effective cross-promotion. Provide value for your users and the rest will come naturally.

Final words

Ultimately, optimizing VR for search is not wholly different from optimizing any other type of content for search. Aside from a couple of minor technicalities when it comes to the method of embedding, applying your usual high quality SEO techniques will suffice.

With VR content becoming increasingly common and accessible, Google has made it easier than ever before to get such content seen in search. Google VR View cemented this accessibility and we only expect the technology to continue evolving. Best start jumping on the VR bandwagon now!

If you enjoyed this article, check out our guide to getting started with creating VR content: How to get started with 360-degree content for virtual reality.

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How to optimize your content for Q&As

Google is perpetually improving its understanding of natural language. Google Featured Snippets and the rise of voice search optimization has made optimizing your content for question based queries more important than ever.

You may have seen these Featured Snippets pop up in position zero after asking or typing a question in Google’s search bar. The benefit of earning a snippet is now clear to businesses and brands. In fact, Google Featured Snippets have an estimated worth of $3 million dollars, according to snippet research presented by Rob Bucci.

We all know what a snippet is…

How to optimize your content for Q&As

How do you get a snippet for your site, product, service, or blog content?

The quick answer: Optimize your content for Q&A’s. However, there are no guarantees – even Google noted that there is no simple way to mark a page for a Featured Snippet:

How to optimize your content for Q&As

Google’s Featured Snippet support page explains that, “What’s different with a featured snippet is that it is enhanced to draw user attention on the results page. When we recognize that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question, and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.”

People are searching with more LSI question-based queries to find exactly what they want answers for. Knowing where to find the questions your target audience is asking, and how to answer those questions to help Google choose your content for position zero, is essential.

Let’s take a deeper look into the “HOW” behind Q&A content optimization for your next Featured Snippet.

 

1. Use Google to Your Advantage

Finding the questions searchers want answers for is simpler than you may think. In fact, Google will often provide a nice selection of alternatives when you search a query you think your target audience might use.

Remember this snippet from above? Sometimes, but not always, Google will display a list of “People will also ask” questions for you to draw from.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

This is an excellent starting point for your question-based query research. As you click on each of these results, new questions may appear, until Google runs out of that cluster of related question data.

Another way you can use Google to help find appropriate questions around is to look at the LSI keywords at the bottom of SERPs.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

You can usually find one or more question queries to investigate there. For instance, clicking on “what is seo and how it works.”

How to optimize your content for Q&As

This will return another SERP Google Featured Snippet with even more question based queries.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

This takes you even further down the Featured Snippet rabbit hole, allowing you to build a healthy list to use as a foundation for creating ‘snippable’ content.

But Google isn’t your only resource . . .

 

2. Use Other Tools and Platforms

Google is not the only place to find Q&As to optimize content around. There are a few other useful sites and platforms that will assist you in building your question based query list.

Quora

Quora is all about asking and answering questions. You can use this online platform to see what people really want answer for in your niche. It is also extremely easy to use.

First, type in your niche in the search bar . . .

How to optimize your content for Q&As

This will take you to your niche’s board.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

You will see the number of people following the topic and have more options listed for you to browse questions your target audience may be asking. You can also simply scroll down and get an idea of the latest questions being asked.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

Create a database of potential questions on Quora that you can answer on your own website.

BloomBerry

Another useful online platform for finding questions for Q&A content optimization is BloomBerry.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

You can use this tool to find questions in your niche, questions people are asking about products that may be similar to yours, as well as questions people are asking about your competitors.

Now that you have a few online spaces to find the questions your audience wants answers for, it is time to begin optimizing your Q&A content marketing initiative.

 

3. Optimize Content Around Popular Question Words

For obvious reasons, you want to begin your content using the question you aim to answer. This tells Google that you are indeed offering up an exceptional answer that is worth a Featured Snippet.

The How, What, Where, When, Who, and Why words need to be in your heading tags. Why? Google likes snippable content easy and concise.

If you are wondering which question keywords you should focus on, those question based queries beginning with “How” and “What” have the highest search volumes.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

4. Optimize Content with a FAQ Page

You may have content optimized for Google Featured Snippets, but you simply aren’t getting the position zero results you hoped for. One way you can improve your chances is to improve search with a FAQ page.

Chances are, you are answering key questions your audience wants answers for. By creating a FAQ page with these timely questions can add value to your overall user experience, as well as maximize position zero chances.

Round up the articles that answer question based queries and create a FAQ landing page with outbound links to each of those articles.

Google can also draw snippable content from your FAQ page like this example from Stanford University . . .

How to optimize your content for Q&As

And its corresponding Google Featured Snippet . . .

How to optimize your content for Q&As

 

5. Snippable On-Page Optimization

If you still haven’t started your snippet campaign quite yet, there are a few important on-page optimization techniques you can easily employ to boost your position zero success.

Heading Tags

When developing your content for a Featured Snippet, begin with headings. Your Question based query should be in an h1 or h2 tag.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

Paragraph Tags

Next is your body text under the question based query heading. This text should be in a paragraph (<p>) tag.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

Word Count

Research on Google Featured Snippets has found a correlation between word count and position zero. An analysis by SEMrush found that 40 to 50 words is the sweet spot for snippets.

How to optimize your content for Q&As

How to optimize your content for Q&As

Try Different Formats

Google Featured Snippets come in a variety of formats. There is the traditional paragraph snippet, as well as bulleted snippets, table snippets, numbered snippets, “steps” and “rules” snippets, and even charts and graphs.

Charts and graphs

How to optimize your content for Q&As

In the chart above, Brilliance created a simple diamond size chart to show the difference between MM size and Carat weight, which Google picked up the first few rows.

Numbered format

How to optimize your content for Q&As

In the example above, Yoas has a number list with simple, short items, and people can click on “More items” to view the rest.

You get the idea. Paragraph snippets are often the easiest, but if you have a great step-by-step article you would like to optimize for Q&A content, give it a try.

 

Are You Ready to Optimize for Position Zero?

Intelligent marketers will start creating a Q&A optimization strategy, given the trend towards natural language processing, voice search, and Google’s quest to bring the world’s knowledge to people’s fingers right from the search results page.

By earning the snippet, you are giving people the information they want right away, which results in them clicking through to learn more and gaining trust over your information. It’s a powerful strategy that all marketers should be bringing into their mix.

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7 more tips to improve your content creation

The rise of content marketing has made content creation a key focus for businesses, and the issue of how to improve their content and its performance is at the forefront of many marketers’ minds.

At the Summit on Content Marketing earlier this summer, I gave a presentation on “15 ways to improve your content writing”. In Part 1 of this article, we covered eight of those tips, including creative brainstorming, grabbing the reader’s attention, content length, layout and formatting.

Here are seven more ways that you can improve your content creation and see better performance from your content marketing.

Pick the best headline

A headline is probably the first thing that someone notices about your content. Whether people discover your content in search results, social media, or a homepage,  a title contributes to their decision to click on the link.

What are the elements of a great title?

  • Clarity: Your headline should be clear and descriptive. Any confusion can only keep the readers away from it.
  • Brevity: A headline doesn’t have to be long to offer the right context. From an SEO perspective, a title doesn’t have to be more than 60 characters. Thus, you only have up to 60 characters to offer the right preview to your topic. That’s even half the limit to what Twitter allows you!
  • Relevance: Not everyone is aiming for relevance when crafting a title and this may be part of an attempt to entice people to click on a post. “Clickbait” techniques are usually not helpful in a long term basis, especially if your actual content has nothing to do with the headline. Be as relevant as possible.
  • Emotional appeal: How does emotional appeal affect the click rate on a headline? We are all human beings and this makes us susceptible to powerful language that offers an emotional appeal.

You don’t have to create an exaggerated headline to convey the right emotional element, but you can still think of how words can facilitate a reader’s decision towards your content.

My favorite tool to analyze the possible performance of different headlines is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. This is a free tool that grades your headlines, while it also offers useful tips on how to improve them.

Its analysis of word balance and the use of words gives the user insights into the science of an effective headline, and it has been a useful ally for me when thinking of my next topic.

Aim for simplicity

It’s good to aim for simplicity in your content writing, as this will make your content accessible to a wider audience and improve its ease of readability and parsing. There’s no need to use overly complicated words to make a point.

Here are some examples on how to simplify your writing:

in order to –> to

ways by which –> which

despite the fact –> although

leverage –> use

Proper spelling and grammar, of course, are still important in any type of content.

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

Avoid passive voice

Your copy gets stronger when focusing on the subject. Passive voice can create a distance between your message and the readers, while an active voice is direct and clear. It can engage and motivate your readers, making your copy interesting and stronger.

Avoid using unnecessary adverbs

Adverbs don’t always contribute to the clarity of your content. It’s better to use them only when they make sense. Think of removing the ones you’ve already used, and test whether your copy can still stand out without them.

Write what comes naturally

There’s no need to shoehorn in buzzwords to impress your audience. It’s common in marketing content to think that jargon enhances your message, but in fact, it only makes your content seem trite and predictable. Think like your readers, and create content that they’ll enjoy reading.

Be consistent with verb tenses 

Longer sentences can end up confusing your readers. There are also more chances to mess up the tenses that you’re using. Pay attention to each sentence, and you’ll find the consistency of the tenses that will improve your copy.

Don’t ignore SEO

Search traffic can be a powerful ally in your bid to increase your audience through content writing. While it might seem like a lot of extra work to think about SEO as you’re creating content, it actually fits fairly naturally into the content creation process.

Here are some things to bear in mind:

Title

The title helps search engines understand what your content is about. There needs to be a combination of relevance and brevity. It has to be useful, both for readers, but also for search crawlers.

Keywords

Keywords can be very useful as part of your text, provided that they are added naturally in the right context. There’s no need to overuse a keyword simply to make sure that a crawler discovers your topic (an old tactic known as ‘keyword stuffing’). In fact, this may lead to negative results.

Headings

As we covered in the previous part of this article, headings are a key part of clear content structure and formatting. They’re also important to SEO, as they give search engine crawlers an idea of what you’re covering.

A good rule of thumb can be to add your focus keyword at least once in a heading, as this makes it easier for search engines to understand the main topic.

Meta description

A meta description is a short summary of a topic. It’s the text that shows up right after the title in search results. This makes it the second most important part after your headline, and it may affect whether users click on your page.

For an SEO-focused guide on how to write good meta descriptions, check out ‘How to write meta descriptions for SEO (with good and bad examples)‘.

7 more tips to improve your content creation

Improve readability

Readability refers to the level of comprehension for your text. This encompasses things like language, the writing style, the use of sentences, or even the words that you choose.

In a more scientific explanation, the measurement of readability takes into account: the speed of perception, the visibility, the effort required for reading speed, the eye movements and the fatigue in reading.

How can you increase the readability of your content?

  • Pay attention to the font. Pick a clean and simple font and make sure that the size makes your text legible without further effort. 
  • Allow enough space for your content. Whether it’s the number of paragraphs you’re using or the line height, they all contribute to the concept of readability
  • Use simple writing, avoid jargon or complicated words. It’s tempting to use an improved vocabulary, but it’s also important to ensure that the content is still understood by your audience.
  • Avoid long sentences. Aim for clear and simple structure. As with the use of words, simplicity is appreciated. Moreover, it also reduces the chances of getting your readers tired while reading.

Think of social optimization

7 more tips to improve your content creation

A good indication of content success is its performance on social media, the number of likes, shares, or comments it receives.

The chances of social success can be improved by working on social optimization. Social optimization is the process that reminds you the importance of social media in a content’s journey. If you want to reach a wider audience, then you need to make sure that your content is as optimized as possible for social media.

Here are 5 quick tips on how to focus on social optimization:

Think of the headline

As with SEO optimization, your headline will determine whether social users find your content interesting enough to click on. However, beware of employing clickbait techniques such as withholding key information from the headline in order to attract clicks – it may see your content penalized by social platforms, and your readers won’t thank you either.

Pay attention to the images you’re adding 

Use a featured image that’s large enough to be shared on all social networks. Every social platform has its own dimensions, so a large image will still be clear and eye-catching regardless of the platform. Moreover, an image may be the first thing that someone notices about your social post.

Adjust the description

As with SEO, the description helps readers get an overview of your post. Optimizing both for search engines and social media requires the right balance between keyword optimization and personal appeal. Be creative and spend some time devising the best way to describe your content in just a couple of sentences.

Add sharing buttons

It may sound obvious nowadays that we need to include sharing buttons in our content. However, it’s still a good reminder when we’re thinking of social optimization to consider that readers will be more likely to to share our content if we make it easier for them to do so. Make sure you’re including the sharing buttons in the right place on your page.

Encourage likes and shares

Except for the default sharing buttons, there are many plugins and tools that encourage readers to show their social approval for a post. For example, a Facebook like button can be more appealing than a “share to Facebook” button, as it involves a faster process to show your social approval.

Think like a user

This is a combination of blending user experience with psychology, in an attempt to produce the right content for the right audience.

Google Analytics can help you monitor your readers’ habits. From the length of their visits to the most popular posts, or even the pages with the highest bounce rate, you can start understanding which pieces of content are most effective.

What made these pages more effective? Was it the value, the language, or even the images that you used? How about the content that wasn’t effective?

This is where user experience can offer very interesting insights.

You don’t need technical knowledge to understand how user experience affects your content.

For example, here are three quick ways to test whether your content has a user-centric design:

Mobile optimization

As smartphones dominate our lives, content tends to get more consumed in mobile devices. Not everyone creates content with mobile users in mind, and this may be a good opportunity to start thinking of it.

Responsiveness

Your content and your pages have to be responsive enough to allow readers to use them as much as possible. An error or a non-functional plugin may lead to a missed opportunity of converting a new reader. Usability, accessibility and page performance are three key areas for your readers and the way they see your content.

Conversion rates

The user experience has to be smooth enough to help readers move through your pages. This increases the chance of turning them into loyal readers and even customers. A combination of design and content strategy can improve your content appeal to your new readers.

The user experience honeycomb by Peter Morville shows us seven facets of a good user experience. A good user experience then has to be useful, desirable, accessible, credible, findable, usable, and valuable.

7 more tips to improve your content creation

Using free tools

There are so many tools out there to help improve our writing, and luckily many of them are free, so here are a few to try out.

  • Hemingway: Hemingway App helps you improve the clarity in your text by identifying long, complex sentences and common errors. It makes your writing bold and clear by suggesting the parts of text you need to improve.
  • Grammarly: Grammarly is another useful tool to instantly check for more than two hundred types of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. I find very handy the Chrome plugin when creating online content, as it may even turn out useful when adding additional spaces or unknown words.
  • Buzzsumo: Buzzsumo helps you analyse what content performs best for any topic or competitor. It’s one of my favourite tools to test the “virality” (if that’s the proper term in that case) of my content, as it offers an insight on the most shared posts. For example, I can search for my name as an author, or the most popular posts in the sites that I’m writing on, and I can get a great overview of the content that got the highest number of shares on social media.
  • Readable: Readable is one of the apps that help you monitor your content’s readability score, along with keyword density, sentiment analysis. Time to cut out the noise.
  • CoSchedule’s Headline Analyser: This is my favourite tool to explore the art of an effective headline. You even get a score for the suggested headlines you’re adding. It’s useful when you’re trying to understand the overall headline quality and its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic, and SEO value.
  • Writefull: Writefull is an app that gives feedback on your writing by checking your text against databases of correct language. Did you use the right phrase? Should you change it? You may be surprised with the results.
  • StayFocusd: StayFocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Yes, this mainly refers to social media and it’s a very useful plugin for every writer.

Overview

7 more tips to improve your content creation

You don’t have to be a professional writer to create online content. What’s important is to set clear goals for the reasons you’re creating content, while considering your target audience.

Improve your content by focusing on:

  • the writing process
  • different content types you can create
  • the length of your content
  • its structure and
  • formatting
  • headline
  • the language you’re using
  • along with SEO
  • readability
  • social optimization
  • user experience

It’s all about understanding how content works and what opportunities it can unlock for your business.

After all, if the goal is to create content that your readers will love, you’re the only person who knows the best way to achieve it.

This is Part 2 of a two-part series on how to improve your content creation. For a recap of Part 1, read ‘8 tips for improving your content creation‘.

For the full presentation on ’15 ways to improve your content writing’ from the Summit on Content Marketing, check out the slides on SlideShare.

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8 tips for improving your content creation

The rise of content marketing has brought content creation to the forefront for all businesses. This makes it more important than ever to explore the best ways to create effective content.

The definition of effective content for every business may be different, but in general, it still has to bring you closer to your goals.

That’s why effective content has to resonate with your target readers.

Earlier this summer, I gave a presentation entitled “15 ways to improve your content writing” at the Summit on Content Marketing. Here are the first eight of those tips.

Set a writing process

A structured writing process can help you save time and become more productive. As there’s an increasing need for content nowadays, it’s important to find the best process that can help you focus on content creation.

For example, it might be helpful to dedicate a set block of time on your calendar for content writing, putting aside all distractions.

If you start to get stuck, it may be a good idea to stay away from the copy for a while and either take a break or have someone else read it for a fresh perspective.

Creative brainstorming

It’s not always easy to come up with a new content idea, and this can sometimes require some creative brainstorming moments with other team members.

Keeping a content calendar or notebook can help you organize all your ideas, ranked from best to worst – any of these can offer a new perspective on your content goals.

If you’re still struggling for content ideas, take a look at our 21 quick ways to find inspiration for creating content to help you with your next great post.

Grab the reader’s attention

Although the widely-reported ‘fact’ that we now have an attention span of 8 seconds has been called into question, internet users are more discerning with their time than ever before. There is a huge abundance of content available online, and your content needs to be able to grab the user’s attention, and hold it, in order to succeed.

In the digital world, there is any number of competing demands on the user’s attention. Our attention shifts from one task to another as we open new tabs or check multiple screens. Why should the user keep reading – or watching, or listening to – your content? You need to hook their attention and keep it there. 

Explore different types of content

One way to convince users to pay more attention to your content marketing is to mix up your formats. The last few years have seen an explosion in the types of content available to create and host online, with each one serving a different purpose.

Images 

Images are the most popular type of visual content. They offer a powerful impact on a message and they certainly create a memorable experience. It is easier for the human brain to actually process an image and this increases the chances for your copy to be remembered.

As 65% of people are visual learners, there is more chance your readers will notice your content if you pair it with the relevant images.

Infographics

Information graphics, or infographics, are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly.  The use of graphics enhances our ability to see patterns and trends, which makes complex information more appealing and shareable.

Readers tend to spend more time processing an infographic, compared with a written text, and that’s what makes them engaging, especially when they are added as part of a blog post. They’re also more shareable than other types of content. In fact, infographics are shared and liked three times more than any other visual content.

This makes them a very useful addition to the promotion of your content, and it’s no surprise that marketers are using them more and more in their content marketing strategy.

Video

Video content has taken the lead as the most popular visual type of content over the last two years, a trend which has been boosted by social media. According to Cisco, videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. This highlights how video content is going to become even more important. Even if we don’t use it as our primary form of content, it is still a powerful medium to support our message. 

For example, we can use a short video to:

– share tips and “how-to” ideas

– build trust

– increase engagement

– add value

Live video is another emerging trend, and it offers an immediacy that online users seem to enjoy quite a lot. Marketers and business owners have placed video among their top priorities for 2017 in an attempt to create more appealing and effective content.

Remember, it’s not always necessary to hire a video producer to create short and entertaining videos that offer value to your audience.

GIFs

A GIF, which stands for Graphics Interchange Format, is a type of an animated image that was developed more than 30 years ago. It may not be new, but it’s a popular form of media with online users, as a quick way to share visual content that straddles the line between an image and a video.

According to Giphy, there are currently around 150 million original GIFs out there online. They can be more powerful than an image, but they are also smaller in size than a video. Although GIFs are usually funny and informal, they can still fit with your content strategy, provided that you know how to use them in the right context of course.

For example, how about using a GIF to explain a process in a “how-to” post? Or how about using a funny movie quote in an attempt to show your casual side while trying to show a more personal approach?

GIFs can help you to:

– show your brand’s personality

– divide large chunks of text

– explain a process

– tell a story

What all of these types have in common is the creative way to present content, reaching people who like consuming content in different ways.

For example, if you want to explain a complicated concept, you can use an infographic to make the process easier for your audience. You can still create a blog post, and integrate the infographic with the rest of the written content.

This increases the chances for your audience to stay engaged and enjoy what you have to offer.

Decide on the ideal length for your content

Content marketers often wonder whether long-form content is dead in the era of ‘bite-sized’ content. It may seem logical to assume that readers prefer shorter content, but this isn’t always the case.

According to Orbit Media Studios, blog content is actually getting longer year by year. In 2016 the average blog post length was 1054 words – up from 887 words in 2015.

8 tips for improving your content creation

This means that readers still value long-form content – provided that it’s interesting of course.

Of course, length alone won’t guarantee the success of your content.

However, the length of your content can indicate the depth of the topic you’re covering. If the goal of your copy is to increase awareness, build trust and offer value, then the length may be a key part of your success.

You just need to find a balance between quantity and quality.

Aim for clear structure

Your readers will appreciate a piece of content that is clear and organized. There’s no need to suffocate your writing with big chunks of sentences.

Another point to consider is how people consume content through different devices. Not everyone accesses your content through the same screen, which means that your content has to be optimized for all devices.

This includes its layout. What seems like a small paragraph on a desktop may turn out to be a really big paragraph on a mobile device. And that’s a good reason to test your content on all devices before you publish it.

8 tips for improving your content creation

Moreover, you can organize your thoughts using bullet points, which has the dual benefit of being direct and practical, while also being more clearly readable, helping readers to focus on the most important aspects of your message.

Bullet points can be useful at the end of a piece of text as an overview of what you’ve covered. This is a quick way to allow readers to get back to the things they need to remember from what they’ve just read.

Beware, though – too many bullet points can produce the exact opposite result.

Spend time on formatting your content

How does formatting differ from structure? This has to do more with the way you present your actual content, rather than the way you organize the sentences. However, they are both important in their own way, with the ultimate goal being to convince readers to spend more time on your content.

For example, if you want to make your content more appealing, then you need to add images throughout the text. It’s usually suggested we add the images in a way that they separate the longer paragraphs. If you want to make a point through a series of paragraphs, then break those up with an image that supplements your content, giving the readers’ eyes a break.

When it comes to formatting, one of the most important tips is to pay attention to headings.

8 tips for improving your content creation

Headings allow you to divide your content into logical sections, each one headed up by a catchy title. Spend a decent amount of time thinking up each heading – and don’t be afraid to use plenty of them.

Ranging in terms of importance (and font size), headings span from H1 to H6. You can use a range of different header sizes if you want to label certain sections of your content with subheadings, or you can stick with just a couple throughout.

It’s also useful to keep in mind that headings contribute to SEO and the way search engines discover your content. As crawlers, the magic bots that search for content, access your writing, headings make your content structure easier to parse, and help to highlight the important bits.

Thus, if your headings are relevant and interesting, you’re also going to help your content rank well in search.

Set a goal for your content

8 tips for improving your content creation

Before you dive into content writing, it’s useful to set a goal of what you want to achieve with your content.

There are many ways to use your content. Not every post should serve the same goal and in fact, it’s useful to have a variety of content with different purposes.

For example, your latest post can promote your new product, but it’s probably not a good idea to do that with a series of ten posts in a row.

Readers don’t like overt promotion via content, but you can still create valuable content that happens to also be promotional. Just ensure that your content serves a genuine purpose beyond promoting whatever you want to draw attention to. Ask yourself: What would I, as the reader, be able to learn from this?

While setting a goal for your content, make sure you’re not turning your content into an automatic machine of business jargon. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking of the outcome more than the actual process before it. If you’re only thinking of the goal and not the copy, then you risk losing your unique brand voice and your readers along with it.

Set a goal, then start writing, leave the goal aside and focus on your content. Once your post is published and you’re tracking metrics, you can return to the initial goal and see whether you’ve come close to achieving it.

This is Part 1 of a two-part series on improving your content creation process. Read Part 2: 7 more tips to improve your content creation

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The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

Guest blogs are a popular link-building strategy used by businesses all over the world.

And until recently, many were relying on guest blogging as their primary source of earned links. But a diverse link profile is essential to maintain ranking. So how can businesses achieve this?

“The landscape of SEO and link building is always changing, and today, the importance of building high-quality links has never been higher” – Paddy Moogan of Moz

Guest posts are an easy and effective way to build earned links. But on May 25 2017, Google issued a warning to sites against excessive guest posting.

“Lately we’ve seen an increase in spammy links contained in articles referred to as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts,” Google stated.

Google even followed up with a nice list of what violates favorable link earning . . .

What are brands and businesses to do? Rely solely on natural link building through highly authoritative content? Well, this would be ideal for all. But let’s face it, this strategy may not be the most realistic given the vast amounts of content being produced daily and the difficulty of standing out from the crowd.

Guest blogging can still be a part of your link earning strategy. However, it should not be your only strategy.  It’s important to diversify your link profile so that it doesn’t constitute a large percentage of your backlink profile.

Here are a few fantastic link opportunities you can put into motion today.

 

1. Blogger reviews

If you have a product or service to leverage, you could leverage the blogger community to review your product, which can result in links. Even when bloggers disclose that you sent them free product to review, these reviews can earn in natural links when other bloggers learn about your products and decide to try, and review them!

How do you find bloggers willing to whip up a review? Use the power of Google. Let’s say your product is rugged cell phone cases. Open your Google browser and type in “cell phone case product reviews.”

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

You will see a wide-ranging list of sites that have done product reviews in your market niche. You can skip the Amazon reviews and the listicles. Look for the sites that focused on one product.

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

Next, begin compiling a healthy list of bloggers that you could reach out to. Your outreach email should be very short, concise, and to the point. Here is an example that has worked well in the past . . .

Hello (Blogger)

I noticed your review of (similar product) and wanted to connect. I just launched a new cell phone case that is rugged, waterproof, and great for travel and sports enthusiasts.

Presently it costs (dollar amount), but would love to send you a free phone case if you would happily review it and share it with your fans.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

(Your name, website, and contact information)

You may be wondering why there is no mention of a back link. Well, bloggers that do product and service reviews know the deal – typically there is no real surprise why you are giving them your product free, so there is no need to mention it.

 

2. HARO

HARO is a platform that provides journalists with a database of sources for stories (and an opportunity for sources to obtain media coverage).

There are some that think HARO isn’t worth the time. However, there have been instances when this little link building gem has produced serious results. The key is to keep your query answers focused on your niche, product, or expertise.

 

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

Once you have found a few HARO queries that fit your particular niche or expertise, you can send your detailed and expert insight. You will typically hear back from the journalists that are interested in your insight. The ones you will not get featured in, however, you will simply get no reply.

 

3. Capitalize on broken links

There are a lot of link opportunities if you know how to find broken links of businesses and companies in your industry. Here you will be looking for broken links on resource pages that will return a 404 message.

First you will need to pull up the different resource pages in your niche, industry, or expertise. If your site were devoted to alternative health, you would use a variety of Google search strings to find these resources, such as:

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

  • “alternative health”  + “resources”
  • “alternative health” + “recommended sites”
  • “alternative health” + “resource pages”

Using these Google search strings will bring up results like:

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

Next, you’ll want to identify the broken links.  Here are 3 ways to find broken links:

Once you find one, it’s time to email the site owner kindly asking to replace the broken link with your site’s URL.  If the broken link is on a page referring to a particular article or resource, consider recreating a similar resource on your site so the link is natural and makes sense.

You will be surprised how well this method works. No site owner wants a poor user experience, and getting rid of those broken links will make them happy you reached out.

 

4. Discover unlinked mentions

Another great way to easily earn links without toiling over guest blogging content for hours on end is to find unlinked mentions. When someone mentions your brand or business, you should get a link back right? Well, this is not always the case.

You can, however, put on your link detective hat on and find those mentions and ask the site owners for a link. Online tools like BuzzSumo, MOZ, and Mention allow you to set up alerts for this tactic.

The Guestblogalypse: How to get links without guest blogs

The only downside is that you may need to sign up for a membership, or free trial to access this feature on most platforms. Nonetheless, it is a quick and easy way to earn links, especially if you had a piece of content go viral recently.

 

5. Use infographics

Infographics are a highly shareable asset to any link building strategy, but many businesses and brands still fail to see the power they possess.

You can pretty much create an infographic about anything. Infographics also have a very long shelf life for link building and are a fantastic way to differentiate yourself from the army of people offering free content.

The first thing to do after you have infographic in hand is list it on infographic sharing platforms like:

There are also a number of high authority news and blog sites you can list your infographic on as well, such as:

After you have submitted your infographics to the above sites, it is time to offer it to bloggers in your niche.

Similar to blogger reviews, you will be reaching out offering a high value item they can share with their audience. If you have a robust social media following, be sure to mention that you will gladly share their post across all your social media networks as well.

It is important to remember that building links the right way, to appease Google, is of great importance. You want to maintain a nice balance of do follow vs. no follow links, as well as a slow and steady link building strategy.

Make sure you are using a mixture of strategies so that your link profile remains diversified.  If guest posts are only one of several strategies you are employing, then you can continue to earn links without fear of seeing a negative impact on your organic traffic.

The ultimate law of mobile site design: Entertain users and drive conversion

Most consumers rely on their smartphones to make purchases and gain knowledge. In 2017, any business that lacks a mobile presence runs a serious risk of falling behind.

But it’s not just about having a site – it needs to provide a good experience. According to Google, 29% of smartphone users will immediately switch to another site if it doesn’t satisfy their needs.

Mobile users are goal-oriented, and they expect to find what they need from a responsive mobile instantly and easily. So punch up your conversion rates by designing your mobile site with the user’s intent and needs in focus.

1. Homepage and navigation

A homepage can serve as a promotional space and welcome page, but should provide users with the content they are searching for. A conversion focused homepage should tick off the following elements: concise CTAs, homepage shortcuts, minimal selling or promotions.

Navigating on a smaller screen, it is easy for users to miss key elements on your homepage. Therefore it is advisable to put your calls-to-action where users will see them easily, such as occupying the bottom half or above the fold.

Your call-to-action signifies the tipping point between conversion and bounce. To design calls-to-action that convert, optimize the copy and design, i.e. choice of words, color, size, fonts, etc.

We understand the travails of losing our way in the mall or a mart? The same happens on mobile sites, the lack of navigation menus or location bars can hurt conversion. Mobile users expect to get back to the homepage with a single tap either through tapping your logo or clicking the home navigation menu. For best practices, use your logo as the homepage shortcut.

Too often, ads and promotion beat the purpose of visiting a page and users get turned off. To entertain visitors and drive conversion, ads or promotional banners should be kept to the minimum and placed in a position which won’t affect the user experience.

To place ads on your homepage, think like a user. What is the user trying to accomplish? Where will their attention be focused? How do I keep the page clean and uncluttered?

By answering these questions, ad placement on your homepage will be a breeze and won’t need to negatively impact user experience.

2. Commerce and reviews

With an increased rate of digitization, users expect smooth mobile experiences when searching, reviewing and purchasing products. How can marketers and businesses increase their conversion rates while ensuring excellent mobile experiences for visitors?

The answer lies in allowing visitors/users to convert on their own terms.

For an ecommerce store, requesting that visitors sign up very early in the customer’s journey is a major turn off. Visitors will abandon a website demanding registration before they can continue, resulting in low conversion unless the site is an authoritative brand.

For better results, allow visitors explore your site before requesting for registration and enable visitors purchase products as a guest. For mobile commerce sites, easy and quick should be the watchword when designing the checkout process.

Best practices for mobile commerce include the availability of multiple payment options for commerce sites. Adding payments options such as Apple Pay, PayPal and Android Pay can boost conversion rates saving users the stress of inputting credit card information. For previous users, load and pre-fill their data fields for convenience in filling shipping information.

Statistics show that 92% of consumers read online reviews before purchasing a product or doing business with a company. Meaning reviews are an important part of the decision-making process for consumers, include reviews on your web pages then allow filters be applied to these reviews. Filters such as “most recent reviews”, “most positive reviews” and “lowest ratings”.

3. Site usability

When it comes to mobile site design, every little detail matters. Details such as zooming, expandable images, transparency about the use of visitors data will aid conversion.

According to studies, users found it easier to navigate a mobile-optimized website than desktop sites on smartphones. To ensure consistency, optimize every single page on your website for mobile devices, including forms, images, etc.

Your search bar should be placed near the top of your homepage for users to search for specific products and ensure the first search results are the best. Remember to include filters on search results to narrow down users intent or preferences on your mobile site.

Be careful not to label the link to your desktop site as full site. This might confuse visitors into thinking the mobile site is not fully featured causing them to opt for the full site, simply label the link to the desktop site as “Desktop Site” and link to the mobile site as “Mobile Site”.

When optimizing a mobile site, remember to disable pinch to zoom on your images as this might affect the general site experience, calls-to-action will be missed and messages will be covered. Basically, upload images that are sized properly and will render perfectly on any device.

Due to the nature of mobile devices, lengthy forms will hurt conversion when trying to gain leads. On surveys or multiple page forms, include a progress bar with upcoming sections at the top or bottom to guide users through the process.

To aid or satisfy customers, implement auto-fill on forms for name, phone and zip code fields. For date and time fields, include a visual calendar as users might not remember dates for the next weekend but the visual calendar will stop users from leaving your page to use the calendar app.

There are numerous resources on forms that include the use of calendars and other custom input fields, including Google forms, Xamarin Forms and FormHub.

4. Technicalities

While great design drives conversions, do not ignore the very foundation of your website. The following technicalities should be implemented and audited monthly.

  • Implement analytics and track conversion on mobile and desktop
  • Test your site as a visitor and load content in their intent
  • Optimize and test your mobile site on various devices and browsers to ensure optimum performance
  • Mobile ads should redirect to mobile sites, not desktop sites
  • Check your site speed using Google speed tool
  • Check for elements of Flash and remove them as they won’t render on iOS and slow on Android
  • Submit your mobile site pages XML sitemap submitted to Google.

Finally, run your website through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

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Marketing with intent: The combined power of SEO and content

If we can agree that the ultimate purpose of marketing is to attract attention and generate interest, then combining SEO and content marketing is a no-brainer for smart brands and marketers.

SEO is all about creating brand visibility – it ensures that customers can find your website. Engaging content is what will make them click and stay on your website.

SEO and content marketing, when combined effectively and intelligently, become an unbeatable one-two punch that defines the experience – and success – of your brand.

Today’s digital world is insanely competitive; it’s always shifting and evolving. More than a billion websites are competing for the attention of today’s consumers. Millions of new pieces of content are generated every minute of every day – blog posts, whitepapers, infographics, videos, GIFs, social media updates, and much, much more.

All of this is done in the hopes of influencing people when they are in the market to buy a product or a service. Customers are seeking out solutions on their own terms. They find brands using any number different devices, channels, and platforms. In fact, 66 percent of customers use more than one channel during the entire purchase decision journey.

To meet and convert customer demand, it’s up to brands to be visible, be persuasive, and wow consumers at every possible micro-moment with amazing experiences. Content is the key to building these relationships. It should encourage readers to think deeply and it should invoke emotions.

As much as people like to think their choices are based on logic or concrete facts, emotions and psychology are important parts of making decisions. People remember experiences, not text. That’s why stories resonate. Creating content and stories that resonate with an audience is key to content engagement.

Content and SEO: One in the same?

Because so much of the buyer’s journey happens via digital, brands must have content that is optimized, engaging, and reaching customers wherever they are. And to do this, marketers must optimize for intent.

The types of searches users conduct can help marketers learn a lot about their intent. Searches typically fall into one of three types:

  • Navigational: The user knows a brand and uses Google or another search engines to find that specific website (e.g., “Microsoft”).
  • Informational: The user wants to learn something about a company, product, or service (e.g., “how much does Microsoft Word cost”).
  • Transactional: The user enters a highly commercial query, signalling that he or she is ready (or nearly ready) to buy a product or service and (e.g., “buy Microsoft Office 2016”).

By combining SEO and content marketing efforts into one function, marketers can influence consumers whether they are in the discovery phase or purchase stage.

According to new research from BrightEdge (my company) over 97% of digital marketers now believe that SEO and Content Marketing have become one and the same.

SEO is vital to content discovery. Discovery tends to start via the organic search channel. Did you know that organic search:

  • Drives 51 percent of all visits to B2B and B2C websites
  • Has no direct media cost and extremely high returns
  • Impacts all digital marketing channels and offline sales
  • Builds brand awareness
  • Helps increase revenue?

So it’s critical to identify keywords that demonstrate commercial intent. With this data, marketers can better understand the intent of customers and create and optimize intelligent content that is more likely to convert.

Combining SEO and content isn’t just good in theory. Cross-channel marketing is helping marketers achieve a higher ROI. Integration results in higher conversion rates, engagement, customer retention, and brand advocacy.

It’s critical to understand what will resonate with customers and help influence them during the decision-making journey. But to create the intelligent content that engages and converts, marketers need intelligent data. You need to know who your target audience is – their ages, demographics, locations, interests, habits, and preferences.

How do you market with intent by combining SEO and content marketing into one function?

Developing a powerful content optimization program takes time and careful planning, but there are five things marketers can do to establish a strong foundation.

1. Know your audience

Everything a brand does must revolve around the customer – the products, experience, and marketing strategy. Defining an audience allows marketers to create content on interesting and relevant topics that will grow loyal audiences and achieve business objectives.

Yet, a surprising number of brands – 80 percent – say they don’t know their customers,

Brands that intimately understand the motivations, pain points, and processes of their audience are best set up to deliver better and more impactful content that helps drive revenue, growth, and long-term sustainability.

Here are three keys to marketing with intent to your audience:

  • See how people engage. Examine how customers consume and engage with your content. Identify what generates interest and results in people taking action. Adjust and optimize content as needed.
  • Think about the customer journey. Consider how customers engage with different types of content across channels and devices, at different stages, and in different states of mind. Understand conversion and buying behavior as customers move between devices (smartphones, tablets, and desktops).
  • Do ongoing customer analysis. What customers are interested in or desire today can quickly change. Performing regular analysis of customer-brand interactions. Listen and gather insights to keep up with the trends and continue delivering the right experiences.

2. Have a purpose

Just as a brand needs a mission statement – a stated aspirational or inspirational purpose for existing – content also must have a purpose. Every piece of content you create should have a reason for existing. Generally, the purpose of content is to inform, educate, persuade, entertain, or inspire.

Marketing with intent: The combined power of SEO and content

Keep purpose top of mind when developing a content strategy by incorporating the following:

  • The goal of creating and publishing content is to become a valuable resource and tell memorable stories. Incorporate customer pain points and interests into the content strategy and creation process. Also, remember these three Es:
    • Experiment: Try different content types.
    • Experience: Make your audience feel.
    • Engage: Keep them coming back for more.
  • Consistency: A brand’s voice should mimic the way its customers speak, whether it’s conversational, edgy, or professional. This voice should be consistent across all content, regardless of who creates it or where it’s published.
  • Goals: Set realistic and concrete goals for your content, whether it’s to drive awareness, organic search traffic and rankings, social engagement, conversions, or revenue.

3. Create & optimize content

After nailing down a target audience and a purpose, the next step is creating and optimizing content for maximum visibility. Failing to optimize content is a suicide mission. People who can’t find content, no matter how great it may be, can’t engage with that content – or the brand that created it.

Every piece of content can always be improved through optimization, whether that content is for your website, social media, or email campaigns. Some tips:

  • Choose relevant topics: Content should be customer-centric, not brand- or business-centric. Topics should appeal based on demographics, behaviors, and interests.
  • Use the right keywords: Ditch the corporate jargon. Use words people actually use when searching for your products or services.
  • Map content to specific personas and purchase funnels: Customer journey mapping helps set up content for success from the start.
  • Mobile optimization: This is especially critical for mobile. Brands that fail to optimize for mobile get 68 percent less traffic.

4. Combine quality & quantity

Many marketers believe consumers are simply overwhelmed by all the content we’re creating. After all, U.S. adults consume an astounding 10 hours and 39 minutes of media every single day. According to Smart Insights, every minute 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube; nearly 150,000 emails are sent; nearly 1,500 new WordPress posts are published; 3.3 million new Facebook posts are published; and 448,000 new tweets appear on Twitter.

This had led many marketers to one conclusion: focus on quality, not quantity. It makes sense in theory. After all, more content doesn’t usually mean better content.

Yes, there is an enormous amount of content on the web in aggregate. Global Internet traffic is forecast to hit an unfathomable 2.3 zettabytes by 2020, according to Cisco.

However, the average person has no desire to consume every piece of content that exists on the web. They want to consume intelligent content that is personalized, relevant, and helpful to them.

  • Does quality matter? Absolutely! Poorly crafted content is ineffective, won’t help you attain your goals, and can turn off potential customers.
  • Does quantity matter? Yes! Consistently telling stories and starting conversations with customers through memorable and compelling content helps keep brands top of mind.

5. Measure results & iterate

That which isn’t measured can’t be improved. Luckily, marketers have access to a wealth of real-time data to gain content performance insights and track metrics to determine ROI.

Brands can learn from every content campaign, whether it failed or achieved its goals.

  • Content failures: Compare underperforming content to previously successful content (both your own and that of third parties). See where it falls short. Pay close attention to traffic, conversions, and revenue attributed to or influenced by content.
  • Content wins: Figure out what made your best content stand out. Try to replicate the success and turn anomalies into more regular occurrences.

Below is a great framework on how best to approach SEO and content in your organization:

Marketing with intent: The combined power of SEO and content

Conclusion

Optimization is critical to maximize the value of content. The right audience must be able to find the content. And the content must drive business results. Ensuring your content is search engine-friendly and optimized across the buyer’s journey is critical to the success of a combined content and SEO team.

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6 ways to turn your website into a niche knowledge hub

Giving away knowledge is the most effective way to build a solid brand presence. But is it just about writing and publishing blog posts?

It might have been sufficient to start a niche blog to build authority ten years ago. These days, you’ll need to go the extra mile.

Here are 6 ways to turn your website into a niche knowledge hub to build a stronger, more recognizable brand and a more reliable web presence.

1. Educate yourself: Monitor industry trends

A company that monitors and utilizes latest industry trends is an innovative company. Besides, knowing what’s hot in the industry gives you a lot of new marketing ideas and keeps your business always moving forward.

Twitter and Facebook are most efficient ways to monitor micro-trends (i.e. those that are happening at any given moment). They are also incredibly time-saving because you don’t need spend hours reading articles on what’s going on. You can just hover over the trending word to see the immediate context:

When it comes to yearly industry trends, those that happen gradually, month by month, the ways to monitor them can vary.

  • Monitor your keyword in Buzzsumo or at least Google Alerts
  • Put together a thorough reading or RSS list to subscribe to trusted niche news outlets.

2. Monitor competitors

What are your competitors doing to innovate? Which latest technology trends have they been embracing? Which new marketing tactics have they been playing with?

Monitoring your competitors is a must for an innovative company that strives to educate its employees and community. There’s always ways to learn from others, especially when it comes to mistakes to avoid and new tactics to adopt.

SE Ranking offers one of the most robust competitor monitoring solutions allowing you to monitor their page changes, search engine rankings, backlinks and even social media mentions. It’s a convenient platform holding a lot of tools under one roof and hence making competitor monitoring much more productive:

6 ways to turn your website into a niche knowledge hub

3. Hold webinars with influencers

Webinars have a ton of benefits, from the ability to create new video content (that can be further repackaged into podcasts) to community building and lead generation.

Webinars are also helpful for influencer marketing and positioning your company as a niche knowledge hub. When seeing familiar names on your site, visitors will automatically assume your brand is trusted and will be more inclined to buy from you or opt in to your email list.

ClickMeeting is a feature-rich affordable solution to easily host webinars that include lead generation forms, timelines, convenient backend, reliable video recording technology, customizable thank-you pages and more.

6 ways to turn your website into a niche knowledge hub

It’s a smart idea to combine this tactic with trend monitoring process to hold webinars on some recent events and tendencies.

4. Put together a whitepaper

A whitepaper is an official company’s report on their area of expertise. Apart from sounding really fancy, a whitepaper is a great downloadable material that tells your users that your company is willing to give back and contribute to the community knowledge base.

It takes some considerable time and effort to put together a solid whitepaper, so look into some repackaging opportunities to include some in-depth articles you have previously published on your site. For some examples, head over to Internet Marketing Ninjas Resources page to see a few whitepapers we did (they are free to download).

6 ways to turn your website into a niche knowledge hub

5. Hold a yearly industry survey

Investing in an industry survey has a huge PR benefit: Surveys are great outreach material as many journalists and bloggers are happy to cover your findings on their sites.

On top of that, you can use surveys to build relationships with niche influencers inviting them to take the survey and contribute their thoughts. This is what Moz has been doing for years, quite successfully.

6 ways to turn your website into a niche knowledge hub

The easiest way to put together a high-quality industry survey is:

  1. Reach out to influencers (using Boomerang app or a similar one to scale follow-ups)
  2. Invest into Google Surveys. Choose your target audience, type your questions, and watch the results come within hours. Your questions are published across a network of news and reference sites, as well as within Google mobile app. People answer your questions in exchange for access to premium content, and credits to Google Play.

Google Surveys are the fastest, highest-quality way to collect answers and put together all kinds of reports to pitch bloggers and publish on your site.

6 ways to turn your website into a niche knowledge hub

6. Create a course

If you’ve been taking the above steps, you are likely to have a lot of expert content piling up and scattered around the web. Putting together a course to consolidate all those multi-format materials is the smartest thing you can do.

Upload your webinars as video lessons, attach whitepapers and reports as bonus downloads, include your observations about the niche trends, and you have a solid online course to further engage your audience and add value to the industry.

Kajabi is the most advanced way to build an online course I’ve seen so far. It has plenty of building and marketing tools inside and you can use your own domain to host the course too.

6 ways to turn your website into a niche knowledge hub

Becoming a well-known brand is a long-term project. But the outcome is well worth it.

The above ideas will help you build a stronger, more recognizable brand while also letting you create linkable assets and solid trusted content for your site too.