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Category Archive: Content Marketing

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. How to Tell if There Is Duplicate Content on Your Site

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    Duplicate content is bad. Using the same content, either in total or partial form, on your website leads to a poor user experience, and triggers a red flag in Google’s search algorithm. In the old days of SEO, duplicate content was often used as a cheap trick to get more keywords and more content on your website, so Google evolved a system to weed out the spammers who violated best practices by doing this. Today, if you’re caught using duplicate content, your domain authority could suffer and your keyword rankings could drop.

    Fortunately, Google is pretty fair about the issue. The company understands that the majority of duplicate content issues don’t come about as a malicious attempt to cheaply increase rank. In actuality, most instances of duplicate content are accidents or are overlooked by webmasters. Still, having too much repeated content on your site can be damaging, and it’s in your best interest to run a test to see if there is any duplication on your site.

    “But I Don’t Copy My Content”

    articleimage938But I Don’t Copy My Conten

    Your first reaction to this evaluation may be one of dismissal. You don’t copy your content from one page to another. You take meticulous care to make sure every page of your site is originally written, with no duplicated phrases or sections.

    Unfortunately, there’s still a risk for you. What Google registers as “duplicate content” isn’t always what a user sees as duplicate content. A user browsing through your pages may never encounter a repeated phrase, but Google may crawl your site and find dozens of repetitions in your title tags, or you may have multiple non-canonized URLs hosting the same on-page content. Even if you feel confident that you haven’t directly influenced some form of duplicate content, it’s worth checking your site just to be sure.

    How to Find Duplicate Content

    articleimage938 What to do duplicate content

    Fixing duplicate content is relatively easy. Finding it is the hard part. Like I mentioned above, duplicate content can be tricky to detect—just because you don’t have any repeated content from a user experience perspective doesn’t mean you don’t have repeated content from a search algorithm’s perspective.

    Your first step is a manual one; go through your site and see if there are any obvious repetitions of content. As an example, do you have an identical paragraph concluding each of your services pages? Rewrite it. Did you re-use a section of a past blog post in a new post? Make a distinction. Once you’ve completed this initial manual scan, there are two main tools you can use to find more, better hidden instances of duplicated content.

    Perform Your Own Search

    First, you can perform a search to see through Google’s eyes. Use a Site: tag to restrict your search to your site only, and follow up with an intitle: tag to search for a specific phrase. It should look a little something like this:

    Site:thisisyoursite.comintitle:”thisisyourtargetphrase”

    This search will generate all the results on your given site that correlate to your chosen phrase. If you see multiple identical results, you know you have a duplicate content problem.

    Check Webmaster Tools

    A simpler way to check for duplicate content is to use Google Webmaster Tools to crawl your site and report back on any errors. Once you’ve created and verified your Webmaster Tools account, head to the Search Appearance tab and click on “HTML Improvements.” Here, you’ll be able to see and download a list of duplicate meta descriptions and title tags. These are common and easily fixable issues that just require a bit of time to rewrite.

    What to Do About Duplicate Content

    articleimage938How to Find Duplicate Content

    Once you’ve identified the critical areas of duplication on your site, you can start taking action to correct them. The sooner you take corrective action, the sooner you’ll start rebounding from the negative effects.

    Eliminate Unnecessary Duplication

    The first step is the easiest and the most obvious, though it can be time-consuming if you have several instances. In any situation where you can rewrite a piece of content in order to resolve the duplication, do it. Put your ideas into different words, use different framing devices, and don’t be afraid to rewrite from the ground up.

    Consolidate Your URL Formatting

    Some duplicate content errors aren’t due to actual duplicated content. They have to do with the URL structure that Google sees. For example, if you have one page that is associated with thisisyoursite.com/, thisisyoursite.com/?, and thisisyoursite.com/?sessionid=111, Google will see that page as repeating content three times. First, choose between www or non-www formatting and stick to that.

    Then, start consolidating your URLs through the use of canonicalization. Google has a great article about how to use canonical URLs, but the gist of it is that you’re going to use canonical tags in your content to tell Google which version of your page is the one it should crawl, thus preventing it from reading your secondary page formats as duplicate pages. You can also set up 301 redirects that take users and search engines to proper pages.

    It may take a few weeks for your domain authority and your rankings to return to normal, but stay patient. Once Google sees the majority of your duplicate content instances have resolved, your rankings should naturally climb. Check your site occasionally for duplicate content moving forward to proactively notice any problems and resolve them before they affect your status.

  7. Why All Startups Should Focus on SEO and Content Marketing

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    Inbound marketing is all the rage. Writers, business owners, and professional marketers everywhere have tried to cash in on the strategy and have professed the purported benefits of a unified, consistent inbound marketing effort driven by SEO and content.

    But SEO and content marketing are more than just buzzwords. They’ve gotten a lot of attention in recent years, but that attention is warranted; building your business up with content marketing and SEO is cost effective, and starts paying off exponentially after only a few months of dedicated effort. And because the strategies are so practically useful, they can be used by almost any business in any industry.

    Startups tend to neglect their marketing, since marketing and advertising are sometimes viewed as superfluous expenses. But every startup should be focusing on SEO and content, from the very beginning, and here’s why:

    The Budget Factor

    articleimage885thebudgetfactor

    Startups have major budgeting problems. That’s not to say that all startups budget ineffectively; in fact, many startups have flawless budgets, but still face the tight constraints of limited capital. Even when startups are fully funded, the demands of recurring expenses typically outweigh initial incoming revenue, leaving little to no money to allocate to marketing.

    This is where SEO and content marketing come in handy. Thanks to WordPress and similarly intuitive CMS systems, setting up your website with basic onsite SEO is relatively simple and painless. Getting started with a content program can require as little as one article a week, a task you can easily delegate to one of your team members. Of course, with the bare minimum investment, you won’t see much in return, but you can get the skeleton of your strategy in place with almost zero overhead. All it takes is a little research and a little time, making it a perfect fit for burgeoning companies.

    The Competition Factor

    articleimage885The Competition Factor

    Startups tend to arise to take advantage of key opportunities in the market. That usually means creating something entirely new, taking a slightly different approach to an existing business model, or improving on a business model that already exists. The first two possibilities create a perfect opportunity for startups: a world with minimal competition.

    Let’s say you’ve created a new product. It can probably be tied to a series of keyword phrases that cannot be easily tied to any other product in the market. If that’s the case, you have almost zero competition, and ranking for those keyword phrases is going to be a snap. That’s going to reduce the already low costs of putting an initial strategy together, and allow you to start seeing results in as little as a few months. That’s going to open up a line of near-immediate traffic (and hopefully revenue), which will help you significantly in your first year of operations.

    The Baseline Audience Factor

    When you’re launching a startup, chances are you aren’t going to have a dedicated audience to start with. You might have a target demographic in mind, supported with mounds of research that supports their willingness to buy your product, but you won’t have actual people familiar with your brand. The only exception to this is when a startup launches as a subsidiary or an extension of a larger company.

    Content marketing is the perfect opportunity to build that initial audience (and that will help SEO, as well). In the early stages of your startup, before you’ve formally launched, you can start building an audience by syndicating content, engaging in social groups relevant to your industry, and letting people know you exist. Your content is going to form people’s first impressions of your company, including how authoritative and trustworthy you seem as well as how much they like your brand personality. If you approach it correctly, you can start growing an audience long before you ever start selling.

    The Branding Evolution Factor

    The vision you have for your startup before it launches is not going to match what your startup eventually becomes. That’s because it’s impossible to predict how your business is going to react to new developments, and it’s impossible to fully develop your brand in a stagnant environment.

    Going through the steps of a content marketing and SEO campaign will force your brand to undergo a natural form of development. As you write more blogs for your brand and communicate through social media channels, you’ll become better acquainted with both your brand and your audience, and you’ll be able to make adjustments accordingly. Undergoing these steps of evolution early in the process, while your ideas and structures are still malleable, is valuable in forging a stronger initial business. Seeing your early SEO results can also guide you toward specific topics or offerings that may present a good ranking opportunity.

    How to Get Started

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    You don’t need to be a seasoned SEO expert to get the ball rolling. Building a little bit of momentum in your content and SEO strategy is all you need in the early stages of your startup, and you can do that simply by creating and updating a blog. Once your blog is established, start writing content—at least one article per week—and promoting it through social media to your target audience. Identify a handful of keyword phrases to build into the meta data of your site, and install Google Analytics so you can track changes in your traffic. After the first few weeks, you can start analyzing the data, learning more advanced SEO tactics, and preparing to launch your startup formally.

  8. 7 Qualities of Content That Earns Links

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    Link building is a must for any SEO campaign. Without a solid ongoing strategy to increase your domain authority through offsite links, you’ll be missing out on a significant ranking boost—significant enough that it could compromise your entire campaign.

    However, building links in the traditional way—that is to say, manually hunting down quality sources and posting your backlink in each location—is both tedious and risky. Spending all that time building manual links is a waste of valuable resources that could be used for more important tasks. Plus, if one of your links appears to be unnaturally built or irrelevant to the conversation, you could be hit with a Google penalty.

    The better, easier, more effective way to build links is to use content to get the job done. When you create a piece of exceptional content, it will be shared and posted on other sites with links pointing back to your domain; essentially, your audience is going to do all your link building for you, and that backlink composition will be both natural and diverse, giving you the most authority for your effort.

    However, creating a piece of “exceptional” content is easier said than done. It takes time and talent to create a great piece of content worthy of thousands of social shares, but these seven qualities can get you started:

    1. Original

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    First and perhaps most importantly, your idea has to be original. People aren’t going to share your article if they’ve read different versions of it a hundred times before. Coming up with a unique idea can be difficult, so try taking a new angle on a previously explored subject. What new information can you contribute? What new ideas can you unfold? Original research goes a long way in making your content more shareable, so if you can, get your hands on some. It might take some extra time and money upfront, but the added benefit is that more external sources will link to you in an effort to cite your data.

    2. Informative.

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    Next, your content needs to be informative. It’s true that many modern memes become viral a simple image with some text pasted onto it, but achieving virality with these types of memes will not result in attracting new links. Instead, your content needs to be informative, or at least have an informative component. Again, it’s better if the information you’re providing is original, but if you’re offering new ideas or new strategies and using secondary data to back it up, the result will be similar.

    3. Entertaining.

    Consolidating raw information and submitting it through social channels isn’t enough to attract significant attention. You’ll also need to have an entertaining component, which usually comes in the form of a light tone or a bit of humor. How entertaining your content can be depends on your brand standards, but including things that make people smile or laugh as they encounter your content is always a good idea. You can also use a more casual voice to appeal to a wider audience.

    4. Practical.

    Random facts and statistics can be interesting and entertaining, fulfilling the three requirements above, but learning about the sun’s average surface temperature isn’t necessarily practical if you’re running a B2B sales agency. Practicality is a big factor in content that goes viral, since the individuals who share the content will get credit for sharing worthwhile information. Make sure your content is practical when you’re coming up with the concept for your piece, and frame your information in a way that makes it useful to your audience.

    5. Visual.

    Written content is great, but when you want to attract significant external links, it just won’t get the job done. Your content needs a visual component if you want it to circulate virally. Many times, this means formatting your information in the form of an infographic, or consolidating your information into a video. If you don’t have the resources or experience to produce one of these mediums, at least include some strong images in the body of your written work.

    6. Interactive.

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    Interactivity is a difficult quality to build into a traditional piece of content, but the more interactive your work is, the more likely it is to be shared and published on external sources. Simply asking your followers for their thoughts can add an interactive touch to an existing piece, as can inviting others to contribute to your data. The key is to make sure your followers feel like they are noticed and appreciated.

    7. Timely.

    Trends come and go quickly, and striking when the iron is hot is critical if you’re out to capture the greatest number of links. For example, if you’re working on a piece that has to do with a current event, make sure it’s published within a day or two of the original article. If it’s focused on the impact of a new technology, wait until the technology starts to increase in popularity before you release your content so you can capture the greatest number of interested consumers. The timing of your content can mean the difference between limited syndication and thousands of new shares.

    If you can create a piece of content with these seven qualities, you’ll be in a prime position to earn a host of new links. Syndicate your content through social channels to earn the greatest possible initial visibility, and let your followers take care of the rest. Once done, you can monitor the progress of your efforts by auditing your backlink profile with a tool like Open Site Explorer—from there, you can easily determine your overall effectiveness, and make strategic changes for your next viral content push.

  9. How to Find Cheap Images in Your Content Marketing Strategy

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    One of content marketing’s biggest advantages is the fact that it can be used even without a massive budget. Traditional advertising campaigns, which once required costly physical placement, would price small- to medium-sized business owners out of the running, but written content—which can be easily produced and syndicated online—has no such barrier.

    However, having a basic content marketing strategy is no longer enough to see exponentially increasing returns. Almost every company with an online presence is using some form of content marketing, which increases competition and drastically increases the need for companies to find new ways of standing out. Images, which can enhance the visual attractiveness and inherent value of content, are a pivotal element to building a more compelling content strategy, but finding affordable images can be a challenge.

    Fortunately, there are many free and cheap sources of images that you can use to complement and support your content strategy.

    Why Images Are Important

    articleimage850Why Images Are Important

    Written content is great; it provides detailed information, rounds out online pages, and perhaps most importantly, gives something tangible for Google to scan and interpret. Posting high-quality text-only content will undoubtedly earn you some loyal readers and followers, but it’s difficult to get noticed unless you have a strong visual cue to draw your readers in.

    For example, site visitors are far more likely to click into an article that features an image in its heading than they are a plain-text article; according to MDG Advertising,that distinction can earn you 94 percent more views. Similarly, shared articles and features on social media tend to get more likes, clicks, and shares if they sport an accompanying image. You can even increase the value of your blog post by using illustrative or example images to prove or validate your points.

    There are many ways to use images in your content marketing campaign, but all of them ultimately serve the same goals: increasing your visibility and improving your users’ experience.

    Free Sources of Images

    articleimage851Cheap Sources of Images

    Obviously, if you can get your images for free, you’re going to want to. Fortunately, there are dozens of sources of free images on the web, and most of them have a surprisingly diverse collection of material. It will take you some time to find the perfect source for your needs, but once you have one, your image-hunting will be accelerated and simplified.

    As a first step, try out Photo Pin. It’s a completely free tool that allows you to search through Creative Commons photos and images from sites like Flickr. If you find an image you like, you’ll be able to download it and then use it as you see fit—whether it’s embedded in the body of your post or just serving as an accompanying image. However, do note that not all photos on Photo Pin are licensed for commercial use, so be sure to verify the licensing agreement before you put them to use.

    Other options for free images include:

    • Pixabay,a free search tool to find images on the web
    • Wikimedia Commons, an open source database that hosts millions of photos, as well as sounds and videos (should you find yourself needing some)
    • com, which collects submissions from designers and photographers and presents them for free use

    Remember Your Attribution

    When using free images, it’s legally mandated and personally courteous to give proper attribution. On most of these free sources, you’ll find short snippets of code that you can copy and paste into your blog in order to post a proper attributing link. If you can’t find one, be sure to acknowledge the source of the image and link back to where you originally found it.

    Cheap Sources of Images

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    There are also a number of relatively inexpensive subscription and per-image sources of visual content on the web. For example, Picjumbo offers a number of free images, as well as a $6 monthly subscription for more advanced features and a wider variety of available photos. Compfightis another search tool that will populate both free images and paid stock photos that you can browse for and purchase for a reasonable price.

    When to Pay a Little Extra

    Cheap and free sources of images are great for the small business owner looking to enhance his/her content marketing strategy with a handful of visual pieces. However, there are some drawbacks to using these types of images over a long period of time.

    First, the pool of images you have to choose from is significantly smaller. You may find that you’re using the same image as another site for a different blog, or that your image appears so general and common that it turns some users away. Handling your own photography, paying for more diverse images, or creating your own images through other means can remedy this, but also cost more as a result.

    Second, the images you find on free and cheap providers aren’t specific to what you’re covering. Demonstrating a step-by-step tutorial through images or creating an interactive infographic will require you to find or create very specific visuals; if this is your goal, free or cheap images will not be a possibility.

    If you’re trying to dramatically increase the value of a blog, create a piece of standalone visual content, or otherwise try to use images to bolster your authority, remember that you get what you pay for. For the more important images, it’s almost always worth paying a little extra, or taking extra initiative to find the perfect material.

    For the budget-conscious entrepreneur trying to make gradual improvements to his/her content marketing strategy, free and cheap sources of images are the way to go. All it takes is a bit of extra time and dedication to find the right images to complement your work.

  10. 7 Content Hacks That Can Make You a Better Writer

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    Improving your own writing can be a challenge, especially if you already have a system for how, when, and why you write your posts. Experienced content marketers may fall into the trap of repeating the same process and the same ideas or losing track of the established brand voice, while new content marketers might struggle to get established with a solid foundation. Either way, if you want to improve, you’re going to have to work at it.

    The best way to get better at anything is to practice, but sometimes practicing the same thing over and over can actually make your writing suffer even more. That’s why I’ve come up with these seven “content hacks,” which can jumpstart your content campaign and make you a better writer:

    1. Collaborate.

    articleimage846Collaborate

    Writing in the same voice on the same topics can get repetitive. Even if you enjoy the work, you may find that your writing naturally addresses the same recurring themes in the same predictable ways. It’s happened to all of us. One of the best solutions to this is finding another voice to add a fresh, unique layer to your writing. This can come in a variety of forms: you can ask around the office to generate new ideas for your blog you hadn’t considered before, you can offer guest posts from new writers on your blogs, or you could simply have a new face give feedback on your work. However you choose to do it, getting outside perspective can help.

    2. Peek at the Competition.

    articleimage846Peek at the Competition

    Your competition can be your greatest allies when it comes to content marketing. If you’re looking to infuse your content with some new ideas and a new direction, your competition can serve as the perfect platform. See what they’re writing about, and how they’re writing about it, then figure out a strategy you can use to incorporate those themes into your own strategy. Don’t mirror them exactly; instead of mimicking one of their posts with a similar one of your own, take a different stance or a different approach. It’s a perfect opportunity to refine your abilities and adjust your overall direction.

    3. Get Current.

    articleimage846Get Current

    Read the news. Read as much of the news as often as you can, both within your industry and on a national and international level. This is going to help your writing in two ways. First, you’ll have greater exposure to the events going on around you, and as a result those themes and concerns will naturally find their way to your writing. You’ll appear more up-to-date, you’ll appeal to a modern audience, and you’ll appear more authoritative as well. Second, you’ll be able to incorporate more of an authoritative tone in your writing by exposing yourself to higher journalistic standards. You may not need to adjust your tone, but it should help you write more confidently about your subject matter.

    4. Look Back.

    Instead of looking at everything currently going on in the world, you can take the opposite route by taking a long look back. Go through your older blog posts, analyzing the types of topics you’ve covered and how you’ve presented the material. Hopefully, you’ve evolved as a writer over the course of time, and you’ll be able to rediscover and re-present those topics in a new, better light. On the other hand, discovering your old writing style could help you refine your voice to a more consistent, more clearly defined state.

    5. Address Problems.

    One of the best ways to find great topics to write about is to address the problems your customers and readers face. It’s more valuable to the people reading it, and it’s going to attract more people naturally as they search for solutions to their specific problems. However, finding problems to address in itself can improve your abilities as a writer. Do some research on your current and prospective customers, discovering their major pain points and what problems they currently face (related to your industry). This can give you a deeper insight into your target audience and a better understanding of how your industry works, which in turn will improve your writing style.

    6. Use Multiple Mediums.

    It seems counterintuitive that using images, videos, or other alternative mediums could make you a better writer, but it is true. Incorporating different mediums into your writing forces you to think about your subject matter in new ways, giving you the opportunity to craft a more specific, more comprehensive message around the presence of an alternative source. It also has the nice side effect of attracting more readers, keeping them engaged for longer, and improving your domain authority in the eyes of search engines.

    7. Invite Discussion.

    Finally, use your blogs and other forms of content to invite discussion amongst your readership. Cover a subject to the best of your ability, and open up some questions to your audience related to that subject. This, by itself, won’t improve your writing, but it will open the door for your readers to share their thoughts on your selected topic. Over time, you’ll gain insights about your audience and new perspectives on your usual range of topics. As long as you can incorporate those insights in meaningful ways in your own writing, you’ll see improvement in your content strategy.

    Put these content hacks to good use; you’ll find that the more you diversify your outreach and shake up your routine with new tactics, the more agile and comprehensive your writing will become. Of course, as you continue to sustain your writing efforts, you may find yourself falling into a rut. If this happens to you, reintroduce these hacks into your process and get your creative momentum back.

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-The AudienceBloom Team