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Category Archive: Content Marketing

  1. 7 Tips for Writing Effective Meta Descriptions

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    Meta descriptions are almost invisible. They’re only seen by search engine bots and by incoming users who see your content on SERPs, so many webmasters and marketers simply ignore them, or fill them with fluff for the sake of filling up space.

    The reality is meta descriptions are useful for more than just adding crawlable content to your site—they can actually make or break your ability to get users from SERPs to your website. With an effective meta description, you can convince a user to take the next step and click into your site. Without one, they might go somewhere else.

    Fortunately, writing an effective meta description is something of a science, and with these seven tips, you can optimize yours:

    1. Don’t go over 156 characters.

    articleimage1053 Don’t go over 156 characters

    This is a basic best practice you’ll have to follow if you want your meta descriptions to have the most impact. Technically, you can write a longer meta description without penalty, but Google is only going to look at the first 156 characters of your message. If your meta description appears cut off, it’s going to attract less people to your site. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to write your messages as close to 156 characters as possible without going over, maximizing the visual space you occupy without alienating your readers. On a related note, avoid using quotation marks in any way in the body of your meta description—Google will get rid of them.

    2. Don’t stuff it with keywords.

    articleimage1053 Don’t stuff it with keywords

    Since there is a correlation between meta descriptions and search engines, many people mistakenly assume that including keywords in a meta description is a good idea. In actuality, search engines don’t use the content in a meta description to calculate rank. Instead, meta descriptions influence user click-through rates, and if your click-through rates are higher, you’ll rank higher. With this understanding, forget everything you know about optimizing text in conventional ways to please a search engine. Instead, focus only on what a user is going to want to see, and what’s going to make them click through to your site.

    3. Be very descriptive.

    articleimage1053 Be very descriptive

    The more accurate and concise your description is, the better. Stuffing your description with fluff is going to register as white noise to anyone scrolling through, but if you let your users know you have exactly what they’re looking for, they’ll be far more likely to click through. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure your description is accurate—don’t make false promises or sensationalize your page. If a user feels like your description is over the top, they won’t click, and if you don’t offer what you say you’d offer in the meta description, they’re going to bounce immediately, which can hurt your ranks over time.

    4. Offer a tease to increase curiosity.

    articleimage1053 Offer a tease to increase curiosity

    While it’s important to be descriptive, you also don’t want to give everything away up front. If you reveal your entire proposal or your whole offer in the body of your description, your user might never even venture into your site to begin with. Instead, try to leave your description off with a tease that invokes users’ curiosity. Something along the lines of “you’ll never guess how we solve this problem” indicates exactly what the purpose of your article is, but doesn’t give away the secret. Just be careful not to sound overly sales-y or spammy.

    5. Speak to your target audience.

    articleimage1053 Speak to your target audience

    In order to write effective descriptions, you have to know your audience well, and your target demographics can’t be “everyone.” Focus on specific niches within your audience to go after, and segment them based on the types of pages you’re writing descriptions for. For example, if you have multiple product lines, the audience for one set of meta descriptions may not match the audience for another. Envision your target audience in terms of buyer profiles, and think about how you would talk to that type of person in real life. What’s important to them? What would get them to take action?

    6. Include action-based words.

    Action words are always a good idea, both for meta descriptions and for attracting general conversions. When people see action words like “learn,” “start,” or even “take action,” they are subconsciously prompted to take some sort of action. In this case, that means they’re more likely to click through. However, don’t include the word “click” in a command in your description—asking for clicks directly is a sure way to get penalized.

    7. Focus on solutions.

    Let the titles of your pages sell the problem you’re trying to solve. If someone searches for a specific question or problem, your title will make your article more likely to show up. On the other hand, your description should be focused more on the solution to a problem. It’s a way of showing the audience that you know what you’re talking about, and that your article has real weight.

    Start by ensuring that all your core page’s meta descriptions are optimized—that means your home page, about page, contact, and the main sections of your primary navigation. From there, start working on some of your other prominent pages, and ensure that all your blog posts from here on out have an accompanying meta description that’s optimized for both search engines and potential searchers. In time, you should see your organic traffic rise as a result.

  2. 7 Roles Your Content Marketing Team Needs to Perform

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    Content marketing is about more than just writing content. In order to be effective, your content needs to start with a strong foundation, be executed with a degree of expertise, be syndicated correctly and to the widest possible audience, then be analyzed and revised for effectiveness. It’s a strategy that is easy to pick up, but is difficult to master, as there are many different skills that must be honed for different stages of the process.

    Whether you have a team of content marketers working for your company, or you’re a one-man operation trying to cover everything yourself, there are seven distinct roles your content marketing team will need to perform in order to be successful:

    1. The Visionary.

    articleimage1052 the visionary

    The visionary is going to perform the first step of your content development process: creating the tone and overarching themes of the campaign. Working closely with the researcher, the visionary is going to take inventory of previous company knowledge and set goals and direction for the campaign. This includes identifying buyer personas, setting tone and voice for the content, establishing key content topics for the blog, and determining which types and formats of content to use throughout the campaign. The visionary will also be responsible for overseeing each additional step of the process, making sure each step aligns with this initial vision.

    2. The Researcher.

    articleimage1052 the researcher

    The researcher’s job is to find and harness information that can be used for the betterment of the campaign. In the earliest stages of development, the researcher will feed data to the visionary, working together to form conclusions about the future direction of the company’s content. In later stages, the researcher will be finding facts, gathering statistics, and ultimately providing fuel for the production of individual pieces. As the campaign develops, the researcher may also be responsible for uncovering other types of information along the way.

    3. The Producer.

    articleimage1052 the producer

    The producer is the role most closely associated with today’s typical content “writer.” For the most part, the producer will spend his time coming up with titles and materials in line with the visionary’s initial plan, then writing up pieces of content that can then be put on the web. However, today’s producer is typically responsible for much more than just writing content. With an audience that demands multiple mediums of content including pictures, videos, and presentations, the producer is also responsible for developing alternate forms of content. In many cases, this means including multiple different producers, each an expert in a different realm, or outsourcing some of the work.

    4. The Optimizer.

    articleimage1052 the optimizer

    The optimizer serves as a revisionist and a front-line editor, ensuring that each piece of produced content fits in well with the overall themes of the campaign. For example, the optimizer could tweak the titles of the produced work to fit previously targeted keyword phrases, or make design edits to an infographic to make sure the brand is more prominently displayed. The optimizer can also enhance different pieces of content by adding new features—for example, he could be responsible for sourcing and including relevant images for the body of written content.

    5. The Editor.

    articleimage1052 the editor

    The editor’s role has two main functions. First, the editor is responsible for ensuring that there are no mistakes in the written work—including spelling grammar, syntax, and even fact checking to ensure accuracy. Second, he is responsible for publishing the material. Once the work is completed and the editor has signed off, it is his responsibility to post the material online. In most cases, this only requires familiarity with a CMS, so that the content can be published quickly to the web.

    6. The Syndicator.

    The syndicator is responsible for ensuring the visibility of the published piece, which is one of the most important parts of the process. Once published, the syndicator will prepare the visionary’s selected channels, and schedule the post for distribution. This may include writing more concise headlines or teasing introductions, or it may include simply posting a link to the content. It could also include purchasing ad space or submitting published pieces to external sources for guest post consideration. Whatever the case, the syndicator’s core job is to maximize the visibility and accessibility of the piece.

    7. The Analyst.

    The analyst has virtually no impact on the current campaign; instead, the analyst’s job is to measure the impact of the current campaign and use that information to make recommendations for subsequent campaigns. The analyst will determine the success of the content strategy at every level, measuring impact in terms of inbound traffic, post popularity, social signals, and other dimensions. The analyst will then make firm conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of the campaign, as well as how each role performed in the team context. Once complete, the analyst will work with the visionary to convey this information and plan for the future, and the cycle will continue again.

    These seven roles are critically important, but the best person for one role may not necessarily be the best for another. Do not make the mistake of assuming that one person can handle all these responsibilities; while it is possible for one person to develop all these skills over time, if you want the best possible results, you might want to consider partnering with an outside expert. If you can fulfill these roles with individual, niche experts, you’ll set yourself up for a meaningful, long-term campaign.

  3. How to Earn Higher Authority Backlinks With Content

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    articleimage1033 How to Earn Higher Authority Backlinks With Content

    The traditional methods of building links are no longer effective. Old-fashioned strategies, like posting links randomly on external sites in batches, can now be easily identified as a trick designed to artificially increase your rank, and will be penalized accordingly by Google. Thanks to ongoing revisions and modifications of the Penguin Update, the search engine is becoming even more advanced and able to detect even smaller offenses.

    If implemented carefully, it is possible to build links effectively on external sites by targeting highly relevant and highly authoritative sources. However, it’s far more effective and safer to naturally attract external links by creating and syndicating viral content. Creating these pieces of content takes a lot of work and dedication, but every successful piece should merit the construction of hundreds to thousands of external links.

    In order to attract the highest authority links possible, you’ll have to take extra efforts when creating your content.

    Be Original

    articleimage1033 be original

    It should go without saying at this point, but your content absolutely needs to be original. If your work is merely an extension or a rehashing of material that’s already in circulation, it’s not going to earn any links from reputable sources. After all, if you’ve gotten information from a separate source, why wouldn’t the reputable resource in question simply bypass you and link to that original source directly? If you want the best chance at getting noticed and getting links, conduct some original research. It doesn’t have to be a big-budget effort, but it should cover a subject that no one’s done before, or at least make some new data available.

    Use Multiple Mediums

    For a while, written articles were the best way to circulate content quickly. Then, customized infographics were the undisputed kings of viral content. Today, both have fallen slightly out of practice but are still valuable opportunities given the right circumstances. Throughout the course of your backlink building efforts, try using multiple different mediums—the more varied you are, the more types of resources will be interested in your work. For example, you could run with a whitepaper the first time you syndicate your material, then switch to a large-scale infographic in round two, and follow up with an interactive video the next time you make a push.

    Use Multiple Channels to Get the Word Out

    articleimage1033 Use Multiple Channels to Get the Word Out

    Similar to the way you’ll diversify the mediums you use to produce your content, you’ll need to diversify the channels you use to syndicate that content. Your first line of syndication should be your brand’s social media channels, and you should use as many different channels as you can effectively manage. Every platform will have a unique audience with unique tastes, so publishing on multiple platforms will give you the widest reach. Also get involved on other content submission platforms outside the realm of social media; blogs and forums are perfect opportunities for this, as well as social bookmarking sites like Reddit or StumbleUpon.

    Emphasize Quality Over Quantity

    articleimage1033 Emphasize Quality Over Quantity

    With most content marketing and social media applications, the more content and information you push out, the better. With links, it’s true that the more you have, the better you’ll fare, but you’ll actually earn more links with fewer pieces of content if the quality of your content is higher. For example, if you spend as much time on one piece of high-quality content as you do on four pieces of decent content, your high-quality piece will likely attract more links than your other four pieces combined. Make an effort to emphasize quality over quantity here.

    Look Local

    articleimage1033 Look local

    Local media outlets are some of the best places to look for publishing opportunities. Local news sites, local universities, and local government pages will all carry high authority and will be much more likely to publish your work than an equivalent national organization. Anything with a .gov or .edu extension in the URL will host some of the highest authority you can get on the Internet; just be sure to position yourself as an influencer in your community, and use that in the context of your content whenever possible. For example, you could conduct your research using a survey of the local population, or submit a news story about a local event your company attended.

    Get in the Press

    Press releases are gateways to high-authority links, as long as you remember the quality-over-quantity rule. Press release submission services like PR Newswire are fantastic and relatively inexpensive, but you’re only going to get published by major outlets if your stories are truly newsworthy. Don’t just pop out a press release every time your company takes an action; instead, wait for a prime opportunity, write an extensively detailed news release, and push it to as many outlets as you possibly can. This is also a great alternative if you find yourself unable to execute original research.

    After releasing your first few pieces of content, you’ll start to get a feel for the rhythm of the creation process. Learn from your mistakes and look critically at the factors that were responsible for your early successes. As you grow to become more of an authority in your industry, you’ll find it even easier to get your content to catch on and start circulating. On the other hand, if you find yourself struggling early on, it might be worth exploring new options in your content creation process—that is to say, rethink your content strategy entirely from the ground up.

  4. How to Tell Whether Your Content Is Working

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    You’ve already got a content marketing program in place. You may have been at it for a week, a year, or even longer, but you’re not sure whether or not your content is performing effectively. You may not even be sure how to tell whether your content is performing effectively.

    That’s where this article will come in handy. There are actually several ways to define the “effectiveness” of content, depending on your goals—including whether the content is effective at getting people’s attention, at building your authority, or at increasing your page ranks—and all these types of effectiveness can be objectively measured using a handful of data-based insights.

    Social Signals

    articleimage1009 social signals

    The easiest line of insight you can get into the effectiveness of your content is how your followers react to it on social media. If you aren’t currently syndicating your content through social media, your first step is to get started with it.

    There are several signals to look for, and each is important. Look for user comments on your pieces, user “likes” or “favorites,” and perhaps most importantly—the number of times users have shared your content. Shared content is the highest compliment you can receive, so if you aren’t receiving any shares, you may have to reevaluate your content strategy. Also take some time to look at your “social” visits in Google Analytics—how many people are visiting your site after clicking the link to your content? If the number is high, you’re doing great. If not, you’ll have to take a look at your efforts.

    Comments

    articleimage1009 comments

    Onsite comments can give you fantastic clues into the effectiveness of your content. At a glance, the quantity of comments you receive on your blog posts can illustrate how impactful your content is. Is it stirring up conversation or sitting stagnant on your page?

    The type of comments you get is also important. Do you notice other industry influencers getting involved, asking critical questions about your work? If so, you’ve managed to make yourself an authority. Are several different people engaging in conversation over your work? If so, you’ve managed to get significant attention through your choice of topic. If you have few comments or if your comments don’t show that your visitors are engaged in your material, it could be a symptom of weak or uninteresting content.

    Repeat Visits

    Repeat visits are a great indication of the strength of your content. If your content can attract lots of new visitors to your brand, that’s a good sign that your work is immediately appealing, but if those visitors come back for more, it means you’ve truly delivered some great work. If that recurring traffic is retained, that means you’re continuously doing a great job of satisfying your users’ needs and expectations.

    To see your recurring traffic, check out Google Analytics. Generally, your direct visitors (the ones who click directly into your site rather than searching for it) are already familiar with your brand, needing no external prompts to stumble upon your content. You can also measure your recurring traffic more accurately by counting the number of people who have subscribed to your blog or signed up for your newsletter.

    User Behavior

    To determine your content’s effectiveness in its onsite context, take a look at the Behavior section of Google Analytics. Here, you’ll be able to analyze the actions of your inbound traffic and track to see how they act after reading your material.

    For example, you may find that once a visitor finds his/her way to your blog, the bounce rate goes up. If that’s the case, it means your content is ineffective at keeping users venturing deeper in your site. However, if you find that your content leads people to other blog posts and other pages of your site, you can consider your content effective at getting people to stay.

    Organic Traffic Growth

    From an SEO standpoint, you can track your progress relatively easily. In Google Analytics, take a look at the Acquisition tab and look at your Organic traffic. This number reflects the total number of people who found your site through search engines, and if you’re publishing content regularly, you should see this number steadily increasing, month over month.

    If you notice little to no growth in your Organic visits, it could be an indication that your content is underperforming as an element of your SEO campaign. This could be due to low or inconsistent posting frequency, poor relevance to your niche, or low quality writing.

    Conversions

    articleimage1009 conversions

    Finally, you can take a look at how well your content is at getting people to convert. If you have a conversion field on your blog pages, you can easily extract this information and determine your conversion ratio for blog traffic. Otherwise, you can map out your users’ behavior flows and determine whether your blog readers eventually find your conversion page and convert. If you find your conversion ratios are low or nonexistent, you’ll have to tailor your content to enable more conversions.

    What to Do About Poorly Performing Content

    Just because your content is underperforming doesn’t mean it’s useless. In fact, the data you gathered to determine your content’s performance is the perfect ammunition to use in remolding it. Take this information, along with your user feedback, and use it to make up for your content’s core weaknesses. Reiterate this process several times, making improvements each time, and eventually you’ll perfect your content marketing approach.

  5. How to Get Your Whole Team Involved in Content Marketing

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    In order to be effective, content marketing requires a significant amount of time and a bulletproof strategy to make sure it’s executed properly. In most companies currently practicing content marketing, the entire process is entrusted to one individual, or perhaps one small team within the organization. This dedicated contact is responsible for everything related to content, from coming up with new ideas to doing the research, writing, and eventually publishing and syndicating the pieces.

    In most respects, this practice is advantageous. One person (or team) becomes hyper-specialized in writing and developing content, and can use public responses as a feedback loop to make improvements for the future.

    However, there’s a new approach to content marketing that’s quickly gaining steam, and it’s all about getting your whole team involved.

    Why Content Marketing Is a Team Effort

    Initially, you may be skeptical of the idea. Multiple people working together on content seems like the end result would be a disjointed mess. Most people within an organization don’t have the education or experience needed to write great content, let alone the interest to get involved with it. But if you look past that initial incredulity, you’ll find the many benefits of team-based content marketing:

    • Individuals have limited perspectives. No matter how refreshing an individual’s ideas might begin, eventually those ideas can grow to become stagnant. It’s easy for content marketers to constantly read news from the same group of sources, monitor trends among the same groups of people, and writing on subjects they’re already familiar with. While this can lead to an effective niche content focus, it also limits the potential of your blog.
    • You get out what you put in. The more effort you put toward your content marketing program, the better results you’re going to see. Getting several other members of your team involved can give you that extra boost of effort, or at least prevent the need to hire someone else, saving you money in the long term.
    • The social element cannot be underestimated. Part of your content’s success depends on the total social reach of its initial publication. Getting more people involved means widening that initial reach, and therefore widening your impact.

    There are several ways your team can get involved in content marketing, and you aren’t limited to any one of them.

    Brainstorming

    articleimage1008 brainstorming

    This strategy is particularly practical because it doesn’t take much time. Gather up your team and sit down for a once-a-month or once-a-week huddle on new ideas for content. Your account managers might be able to point to a new major client you can write a press release about. Your engineers might be proud of their latest accomplishment and want to include a blog post about the occasion. The meeting should bring up matters that your content marketing manager might not otherwise know or be aware of, which can help diversify your upcoming topics.

    Proofreading and Fact Checking

    articleimage1008 proof and fact checking

    Your content team should already have error-free posts by the time it’s ready to be published. However, an extra set of eyes never hurts—and it could help your content team write content faster, knowing there’s a safety net ready and willing to catch any mistakes before the content is released. For example, you could have one of your technical writers or people from an underworked department do a final scan for document errors as a last line of proofreading. You can also use your engineering or production departments to fact check and make sure all industry-related terms are being used accurately.

    Niche Guest Posts

    Your company has multiple departments, and all of them have something special to offer. For example, your production manager might know a lot about your production processes while your sales representatives know a lot about typical problems your customers face. Recruit your top writers from each department, and ask them to come up with an idea for a guest post from their respective department. Of course, you can have your content team step in to help during the drafting process as well to ensure a consistent brand voice, but make sure the ideas come from the niche departments.

    Personal Profiles

    articleimage1008 Personal Profiles

    Your content marketing strategy should only sparingly use internal company facts, personnel, or events as publishing material—instead, your priority should be on things that are valuable for your customer. However, occasional posts about your company can add to the perceived humanity of your brand. Start by giving individual members of your company guest spotlights in the form of new blog posts; for example, you could highlight his/her work history, and a few tidbits about what they’ve done to make your company even better.

    Personal Branding and Social Sharing

    Finally, and most importantly, take advantage of your employee’s personal networks. The initial impact of your content is going to depend on the number of people it initially reaches, and all your employees have access to diverse networks of other people. Ask your employees to share at least one piece of content they find interesting from your company every month—that simple, innocuous act could lead to dozens of more likes, hundreds of new content shares, and a profound increase in the total impact of your content marketing campaign. The effect is compounded if any of your employees are building or nurturing their own personal brands, and it works out pretty well for them too.

    Instead of relying on only one person or a small team of content marketers, work to get your entire team in on the process. The more diverse topics you uncover, the more new perspectives you include, and the more people you have actively supporting your initiative, the more successful the entire campaign will be.

  6. 7 Tricks to Make Your Content More Interesting

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    Content rests at the heart of most of your branding and marketing strategies. It’s a perfect platform to build and exercise your brand voice, it serves as fuel for your social media marketing, and if written with keywords and proper subjects in mind, it can increase your ranks in major search engines.

    While there are a number of best practices you’ll have to follow in order to maximize the reach and effectiveness of your content, there’s one quality that surpasses all of them in importance: your content needs to be interesting. If it isn’t interesting, people won’t read it and you won’t get the traction you need to be successful in your marketing campaign.

    Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to make your content more interesting:

    1. Make a Story of It.

    articleimage1000 Make a Story of It

    People love reading stories. Any method you can use to transform all or part of your content into a story is going to be valuable for your overall reach. For example, instead of explaining a specific problem and how to go about solving that problem, you could invent a character and use a narrative to illustrate that problem (as well as its solution). You could also use real-life examples as miniature stories to showcase your points, or simply turn your content into an interactive step-by-step guide with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Stories captivate people; don’t forget it.

    2. Make Your Content Actionable.

    articleimage1000 Make Your Content Actionable

    Theoretical posts and news updates can all be very interesting features, but making your content actionable is a surefire strategy to make your piece more interesting. By actionable, I mean including steps or advice in the body of the article that makes its subject matter both practical and executable for the reader. Anyone reading the article should not only understand what the article is saying, but also how the information in the article can be applied to his/her own life. The easiest way to do this is to transform your content into an interactive tutorial, though this isn’t possible for all content types.

    3. Throw In Different Mediums.

    People have short attention spans. There’s nothing wrong with having strictly written content for some articles, as long as you segment it into subsections, but if you want to amp up the “interesting” factor, include different mediums. Use an infographic to illustrate your point, or include stock photography that highlights different sections of your work. You could even embed a YouTube video that demonstrates a walkthrough of the steps you outlined in writing. Get more attention through visuals and your audience will become more engaged.

    4. Apply Your Content to Recent Trends.

    As a general rule for content strategies, you want your material to be evergreen—meaning it will be just as valuable on a random date five years from now as it is today. However, if you’re looking for short-term bursts to make your content more interesting to your current audience, you can leverage the power of recent trends. Look for industry news that has shaken up the market, or wider public incidents that have garnered a ton of attention. Find a way to work these topics into your material, and promote them as much as possible for as long as the trend remains.

    5. Use Unique Facts and Statistics.

    People are tired of reading regurgitated material. Incorporate more original facts and statistics into your work wherever possible to make it more interesting. Using facts, as long as you cite them, makes you appear more authoritative, and makes users feel more connected to the story they’re reading. Your best bet is to perform the research yourself and publish the results, which can serve as content by itself. If you don’t have the time or resources for this, feel free to use statistics posted by third party authorities.

    6. Show You Know Your Audience.

    articleimage1000 Show You Know Your Audience
    You can’t write content for “everyone” and have it be interesting. You’re much better off writing content for a very specific target audience and highlighting subjects and ideas that are important to members of that audience. For example, if your company caters to young men, go out of your way to select topics and write in a style that would uniquely appeal to young men. It’s up to you to discover who your core audience is and which content factors are most interesting to them. Once you find those out, you can start weaving them seamlessly into your campaign.

    7. Lighten Up.

    Finally, write in a more playful, conversational tone and don’t be afraid to include some humor. Nobody wants to read some humorless textbook-like article when they’re looking for quick facts or a news update. Even the strictest professionals look for a little levity in their online reading material. When writing your content, don’t be afraid to inject your own personal voice into the material as well. Giving it a personal, down-to-earth feel will make it more approachable for new audiences and, of course, more interesting.

    The best way to improve over the long term is to make changes in an iterative process. Measure how effective your content currently is, make one change at a time, and take more measurements to see how each change affects your overall impact. This way, you’ll know exactly which changes to exaggerate and how to improve your content further in the future. Remember content marketing is a long-term strategy, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to find your perfect groove.

  7. 8 Characteristics That Get Content Shared

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    Shareability is an important quality for modern content, and it’s only going to become more important. Shareable content tends to circulate easily; once syndicated on a social platform, it gets shared from person to person and seen by thousands of new eyes without any additional effort on the part of the writer. The catch is that creating shareable content requires striking a difficult balance between a number of different qualities, all while adhering to your unique brand voice.

    To get you started, here are eight qualities of content that gets the greatest number of shares. Include as many of them as you can in each of your syndicated works:

    1. Timeliness.

    Time-appropriate content is well poised to circulate quickly. Most content marketing strategies wisely focus on evergreen content—content that stands the test of time and remains relevant for years. This is good for your onsite blog, but when you really want to make an impact and earn shares, time-sensitive content is actually better. Jump on topics that people are hyped up about, or recent news events that have been released. Your topical content will cultivate a sense of urgency and will take advantage of social trends that start to form online.

    2. Informational Value.

    Your content also must have some sort of informational value. Think about it this way; if you read an article that regurgitates a bunch of information you already knew, would you want to share that article with your friends? Include at least one piece of information that your readers more than likely haven’t seen before. It could be an insight based on your own research or experiences, or a recent development that nobody has identified yet. Whatever it is, make sure that piece of information is also valuable and relevant for your target audience.

    3. Originality

    original

    Originality is one of the most important qualities of shareable content. If your piece isn’t original, it isn’t going to be shared; it really is that simple. You may find it difficult to come up with an original piece, especially if you’re basing your work on a piece of news or as an addition to an existing topic. In these cases, it’s important to find an alternative way to distinguish your piece. Are you adding new information? Are you looking at the topic from a different angle? Any distinction you come up with is fine, as long as your piece stands out as being different from the rest.

    4. Humor

    Humor isn’t an absolute necessity for a piece to go viral, but it does help in most cases. If your brand is strict, conservative, and professional, you might want to use humor sparingly, but in other cases, feel free to lighten the mood of your piece and keep your readers entertained. Use casual language, pop culture references, and tongue-in-cheek jokes to build a bond with your readers and prompt them to share that experience with their friends and contacts. If you can make them laugh out loud, you’ve probably already won.

    5. Unpredictability

    Surprises are the spice of life, and people love to be surprised on social media. What’s more, when surprised, they like to share those surprises with their friends. Include something surprising in the context of your piece—it could be a shocking piece of data, a twist ending, or just an angle that nobody would have expected. If your surprise factor is strong enough, your work will be cemented in your readers’ memories, and you’ll see a lot more shares as a result.

    6. Conciseness

    concise

    People have extremely short attention spans, and they’re only getting shorter. If you want to make a measurable impact and get your content shared, you’re going to have to do so in the shortest amount of space possible. Articles with thousands of words and whitepapers with elaborate details don’t get shared—listicles and short, punchy pieces do. That’s because people prefer valuable content when it can be skimmed, browsed, and generally consumed in the least amount of time possible. Cut the fluff out of your content, then cut some more.

    7. Practicality

    It may seem like being informative, entertaining, and surprising is enough, but if you want to hit home, your work should also be practical. You can quote statistics on the state of mining in rural Russia, but that doesn’t affect many people in your target audience. Instead, write with a focus on practical measures your audience can take right now to make their lives better in some way. The more useful your material is, the more it will be shared.

    8. Interactivity

    interactive

    Writing is still an important communicative medium, but if all you’ve created is a wall of text, your content probably will not be shared. There needs to be an interactive or visual component that draws readers in and engages them with the material. Infographics, short videos, and user surveys are just some of the ways you can accomplish this—use your imagination and get your readers actively involved!

    Don’t be discouraged if your first piece of shareable content doesn’t make the impact you thought it would. It’s going to take practice before you nail the art of creating shareable content, and it’s going to take time before your brand builds the authority it needs to really start your efforts with a boom. Remain patient, stay committed to your art, and eventually, you’ll start churning out viral piece after viral piece.

  8. 5 Steps to Auditing Your Content Marketing Strategy

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    Whether you’re not getting the results you were anticipating or you’re just trying to reevaluate your brand’s direction, a content marketing strategy audit is invaluable in helping you find key areas for change and improvement. While each written post is unique, requiring in-depth research in addition to drafting and revision, most content strategies on the whole run on autopilot. The general direction is set, and the individual moving parts that carry out the work simply repeat the same tasks over and over.

    This type of consistency is a strength for content marketing; with the right strategy, repetition breeds familiarity and eventually, a greater impact. But when that strategy is lacking or imprecise, your consistency can be doing more harm than good. Performing a content marketing audit can help you determine whether or not your consistency is beneficial, and if not, how you can drive meaningful change to restore it.

    Knowing When to Audit Your Content Marketing Strategy

    There are two main situations that should trigger you to perform a content marketing audit. The first is a failure, or a set of results that do not meet your expectations. Let’s say you’re evaluating your organic search visits, a key measure of traffic generated by your content strategy, and you’ve noticed your numbers slipping or remaining stagnant over the past two months. This is an indication that something is wrong with your campaign, and should trigger you to perform a content audit to determine the root of the problem. Of course, any metric or indication of lukewarm results can and should trigger you to perform an audit.

    The second situation is more subjective, and has to do with the amount of time that has passed since you last critically evaluated your strategy. The consistency of your efforts tend to degrade over time, and the environment is always evolving with new technologies and new audience demands, so it’s worth auditing your content strategy at regular intervals even if you’re seeing decent results. There’s no set interval that works better than any other; it all depends on your resources and your needs. If you’re just starting out, performing an audit quarterly may be effective for you.

    No matter why you’ve chosen to perform a content audit, there are five major steps you’ll need to follow:

    1. Identify Your Goals and Target Audience.

    articleimage946 Identify Your Key Channels and Syndication Strategy

    If you’ve already planned for this, this step should seem redundant on the surface. But there are two possible discrepancies that could be interfering with your content campaign’s success: first, it could be that new factors have arisen—new competitors, new technologies, or changes in your customer base. Have you accounted for these changes? If not, now is the time to do so. Second, it could be that your ongoing content strategy has meandered away from your initial goals. Even if your primary goals haven’t changed, it’s possible that you’ve lost sight of those goals in the day-to-day execution of items.

    2. Identify Your Key Channels and Syndication Strategy.

    articleimage946 dentify Your Goals and Target Audience

    This step is very similar to step one, but it has more to do with the execution of your campaign than the high-level vision of it. What channels are you using to distribute your content and why? Are there any new social media or syndication platforms that you could take advantage of? What portions of your audience are you currently neglecting with your current strategy? Are there any channels that aren’t generating the results you’d like? Reshape your syndication strategy from the ground up for the best results.

    3. Evaluate a Sampling of Content for Voice, Topic, and Writing Quality.

    You don’t have to thoroughly review every piece of content you push out, but do take a random sampling of recent blog posts and social posts, then inspect them for quality. Is the voice in line with your brand? Are your topics original, interesting to your target audience, and searchable? How well-written are your articles? Are they full of details or mostly fluff? If the quality of your content is off, the entire campaign is jeopardized, so in most cases, this is the most important step of the process. Get an outside opinion if you can.

    4. Chart a Beginning-to-End Process to Find Any Weak Points.

    Sketch out a visual diagram of your content creation, publication, and distribution process. Include the members of your team who are responsible for each point and try to objectively analyze the effectiveness of each step in the process. Are there any points where your strategy is being held up? For example, is your content writer only completing posts half as often as you’d like? Are your Facebook updates few and far between? Are only a handful of your posts getting syndicated? Identifying weak points here can help strengthen your entire campaign.

    5. Set Actionable Steps for Improving Your Approach.

    articleimage946 Set Actionable Steps for Impro

    Hopefully, after these first four steps, you’ve been able to identify several key points for improvement in your campaign. But it isn’t enough to simply know about your fault points; you have to actively improve them if you want to see better results. Put an action plan into place, with firm objectives assigned to individuals on your team and realistic timelines for the completion of those objectives. Then, follow up to make sure everything is executed according to your direction and schedule.

    These five steps should be performed every time you audit your content marketing strategy, even if you feel they are redundant. Your content voice may change without you ever knowing, putting your message at odds with your delivery, and going through these steps is the only way you’ll be able to detect it. Only through revision and refinement will you be able to perfect your content approach

  9. 8 Ways to Use Old Content in New Ways

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    It can be tough to come up with new ideas for content to fuel your inbound marketing campaign. Google and your users love to a constant stream of new information, but meeting that demand is challenging, especially considering how many hundreds of articles you’ve already written. If you can figure out a way to re-utilize some of your old content in new, exciting ways, you can save yourself a little time and still give your users and search engine robots exactly what they want to see.

    First, a word of warning: do not directly re-use your content. Duplicate content can earn you an immediate SEO penalty, and it can harm your reputation in the eyes of your users. Instead of simply replicating the content you’ve already written, you can take that content and transform it in new ways. Consider the following strategies to accomplish this:

    1. Post an Update.

    articleimage947 Post an Update

    Let’s say you wrote an article at the end of 2013 predicting what major industry changes you expected to see in 2014. Now that we’re well into 2015, we can be certain that all the information on 2014 is in. Now, you can take that old article and post an update. Recap all the points you made in the original article—in this case, all the predictions you made for the developments of 2014. Were they right? Were they wrong? Why? These updates aren’t limited exclusively to prediction articles, either; you can post an update to any article whose original circumstances have changed.

    2. Write a Sequel.

    articleimage947 write a sequel

    Don’t update your article directly. Instead, write an elaboration on it, or retroactively turn your original article into the first part of a multi-part series. For example, if you wrote an article on how to make guacamole, you could follow it up with an article on different variations of guacamole to try. If you interviewed the CEO of a certain company about a certain topic, repeat a similar interview with a different notable member of your industry or re-interview that CEO on a new topic.

    3. Use It as a Chapter.

    You aren’t limited to simply writing a new post that recaps or expands on your previous one. Instead, you can use your original post as an anchor chapter in an extended whitepaper or ebook. Depending on the length and detail of your post, you may need to edit it to make it fit. It will require more work than simply using the article to generate another article, but the extra benefits of having an ebook in circulation more than make up for that extra effort.

    4. Break It Up and Schedule It as Separate Social Posts.

    This is especially useful for very concise, quotable articles. Take a look back and try to find an article with ample opportunities for segmentation. Pull out a handful of meaningful sentences from your post and use them as social media updates. You can even post a link back to the original article to rejuvenate interest in the full original piece, and move the article to the top of your blog for the same purpose.

    5. Turn It Into an Infographic.

    articleimage947 Turn It Into an Infographic

    This is a useful strategy for any article that has a list of facts or a series of actionable steps in the body. The denser the original article, the more effective the infographic will be. Work with a professional designer to create the infographic from scratch using information you’ve already researched, then post the infographic as an individual post. Syndicate it out on social media, calling attention to the original article as well as the new piece, and reap the rewards of new visibility and new external links.

    6. Take Inspiration From the Comments Section.

    Another idea comes not from the original content, but the effects of the original content. Find a particularly interesting piece in your content archives and see what types of comments it generated. Were people asking a lot of one type of question? Did they offer interesting counterpoints? Use those comments as inspiration to generate a topic for a new piece, which you can then develop as an independent work or a follow-up to the original, as you see fit.

    7. Use It as the Basis for a Podcast or Video.

    If you’re hard-pressed for visual or audio content, this is a perfect strategy for you. Use your original piece as a jumping-off point for an interactive discussion, which you can use in podcast or video format. Either way, invite your users to take part in the discussion and bring up new points related to your old topic.

    8. Create Best-Of Lists.

    Another option is to create a new piece that aggregates some of your greatest works of the past. For example, you could compile a list of “Our Top Ten Posts on Bone Health,” featuring titles, links, and brief descriptions of your most popular posts from each category. As long as your descriptions are comprised of originally written content, your users and Google will see the article as a piece of new material, but you won’t have to do much research to put it all together. Plus, you’ll instantly revive more traffic to some of those long-lost hidden gems.

    The next time you find yourself stuck in trying to come up with a new topic for a post, or the next time you need a new piece of material on short notice, consider using one or more of these strategies. The more diverse your archive of previously written content is, the more options you’re going to have, so focus on keeping that archive of original content sustained with an influx of new topics in addition to reimaginings of old content.

  10. How to Build Authority Without Building Links

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    In order to get your website found in search results, you need to have a high domain authority. The higher your domain authority is, the higher it’s going to rank for relevant queries. For many years, the best way to build that authority quickly was to build external links pointing back to your domain on a diverse range of high-quality sources. However, after the crackdown of Google’s Penguin and subsequent updates, it became harder and harder to build authority using links as a primary strategy.

    The words of Google’s own John Mueller echoed a fear in the search marketing community. Recently, he was quoted as referring to link building: “in general, I’d try to avoid that.” While links are still valuable for passing authority to your domain and a high-quality link building strategy can improve your overall domain authority without much risk of a penalty, for the average search marketer, it may be wiser to stay away from link building altogether.

    That raises an important question; without link building, how can you increase your domain authority, and by association, your search ranks? Fortunately, there are several alternative strategies that can boost your domain authority just as much as—if not more than—a traditional link building campaign.

    Creating Viral Content

    articleimage1creatingcontent

     

    Your first option still involves link building, but in a much more organic way. Rather than building any links directly on outside sources, you’ll be calling upon your audience to do all the work for you. The goal here is to produce a piece of content with a high potential to circulate virally—that means it’s highly informative, entertaining, shareable, and practical—and share it to a wide audience. Those audience members will share your content in turn, and eventually, it will catch the attention of several dozen (if not hundred) external sources. Those sources will link to you as a credit, of their own accord, which will pass ample domain authority onto you without ever having to get your hands dirty.

    Social Media Marketing

    articleimage2socialmediamarketing

    In addition to being a perfect outlet to begin syndicating your viral content, social media is a great platform for building your domain authority. While it’s not clear exactly which factors Google takes into consideration when calculating your social-related domain authority, there are many social signals that can actively improve your position. For example, companies with large social followings tend to have higher domain authorities than those that do not, and companies with high levels of engagement—that means your followers have a high tendency to like, share, or comment on your content—also have increased domain authority. Engage with your audience frequently and make an active effort to build your following. If you can encourage enough activity on your social profiles, you’ll earn a much higher domain authority without the need to build external links.

    Brand Mentions

    Google also considers mentions of your brand name on external sources when calculating domain authority. In a sense, you can consider brand mentions to be a milder form of external links. Because brand mentions do not trigger any spam-related red flags to Google, it is much safer to build brand mentions on external sources, and you can therefore use them as a simple substitute for your traditional link building strategy. Capitalizing on the same high-authority, industry-relevant sources, you can post occasional brand mentions to boost your domain authority, and you can also use nofollow links to attract referral traffic to your brand without upsetting any search bots. This works both for company brand names and branded names of individual products.

    Navigation and Interlinking

    If you’re looking to increase your domain authority, don’t exclusively incorporate offsite tactics. Onsite SEO implementation is just as important for building authority. For example, the navigation of your site has much to do with how much authority Google evaluates your site to have. Sites with a clear, simple, and intuitive navigation will have a higher authority than sites with a confused, jumbled, or overcomplicated system. This is because Google values high-quality user experience above all other factors when ranking websites. You can also increase your domain authority by interlinking your content; the fewer clicks it takes to get to any one page of your website, the better. You can improve this by implementing user surveys, finding ways to consolidate your pages, and redesigning your site to be more intuitive to the average user.

    Historically Great Content

    articleimage1greatcontent

    Everyone knows that great content is essential for SEO, but don’t forget the fact that one piece of content doesn’t trigger an increase in domain authority. Authority must be gradually earned over time. If you produce high-quality content, consistently, over the course of months and years, your domain authority will flourish. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut for this. Domains that have been around for decades will always have more domain authority than similar sites with a shorter history. Stay patient and committed to your domain.

    Remember, as long as you’re posting on highly authoritative and industry-relevant sources with a diverse and appropriate style of links, you shouldn’t have to fear a penalty from link building. Link building can still be a valuable strategy, especially if it is used in moderation and in conjunction with the authority-building strategies listed above. The more diverse your strategies are and the more effort you spend trying to improve user experience, the more you’ll be rewarded in search engine visibility across the board.

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