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300px-Free_Content_Logo.svgContent marketing is becoming more and more of a talking point for SEO services as more people realize they can’t try to trick search engines with pages strictly for the search crawlers and shady link profiles, but many don’t realize this is also changing the standards for content.

Content has always been an important part of an SEO campaign, but it is indisputable that its status is being raised within Google and they are tightening their guidelines. You can’t just stuff keywords into a wall of barely legible text and expect Google to think your page has value. Now your content must be informational, resourceful, and actually captivating.

The biggest question for most is what type of content they need. If they’ve done any research, they might come to you with a list of types of content like infographics and webinars they “need” according to “the internet”, but more likely you will just get asked the broad question of what type of content will be needed. Once you know their business, you can probably make some good guesses, but making a wide statement for what type of content works is a farce.

While blog posts are always a good place to start with creating content, infographics or ebooks will only help relevant areas. A nursing home probably won’t be able to find a relevant infographic, because that way of delivering information doesn’t work well for portraying the complex and focused care they will be giving loved ones. Similarly, videos don’t make much sense for a photographer to have, and tutorials don’t have much place in a medical website.

Most importantly, the content has to be quality, and it has to fit your companies needs. Even if you are delivering daily blog posts and guest blogs, they won’t have any effect if they aren’t worth reading. The best way to know what type of content you need to be making is trying to think like your competitors and customers. If you can make users happy with your website, you are already well on your way to making Google happy with your content.

Speaking of your competitors, you can do competitive analysis to find out what is working for them. I don’t mean scoping out their site and seeing what they have that you don’t. Instead you can use a number of sites and tools to see what is doing well on their site compared to yours, which will give you a good indication what type of content you should be making. Josh McCoy collected a few of those for you to get the jump on your competition.

After the big shift to content focused SEO this year, a lot of the talk has been about the technical ways experts can use to try to get higher rankings behind the scenes. Everyone talks about how important is, but many are still more distracted by the ways they can mathematically manipulate that content to tailor to Google’s algorithms.

What too many are missing is that now the best way to tailor to Google is to turn your focus towards what consumers and visitors want.

The truth is, the top sites online have been doing this for years, because the most popular sites are those that provide quality content. Smaller SEO’s seem to have trouble accepting this for two reasons. The first is that it is hard to quantize how to make effective content. There isn’t necessarily a magic formula for the best blog, even for search engines.

Search engines run on algorithms, and it is an SEO’s job to adapt or even create a site to best fit those algorithm’s needs. However, trying to take advantage of those algorithms has lead to more and more using questionable practices to try to “trick” Google into higher rankings for sub-par content. This lead to Google instituting the Penguin and Panda updates, so that low-quality sites had a much harder time making their way to the top.

The other reason SEO’s often have trouble understanding that great content has ALWAYS been important is the competitive nature of website rankings and business in general. Just having excellent content alone has never been enough, and never will be, because there is a lot behind the scenes that pretty much has to be done to remain competitive for the great content to ever be noticed. The trick is finding the line between being competitive and slipping into more questionable practices.

But, there are thousands of pages worth of articles on how to tackle all of that behind the scenes SEO that you can do. When it comes to lessons on how to actually make the great quality your visitors and the search engines want to see, there’s a lot less to work with. Rebecca Garland, in an article for One Extra Pixel, gives some great pointers on how to actually improve the quality of your content, while also favoring the current search engine climate.

Yep, it’s time again for a post about content marketing! It looks like there will be plenty of these throughout the next year as content marketing stays on the tip of everyone’s tongue when talking about SEO or digital marketing.

But, pumping out quality content continuously takes a lot of time and effort, which can be difficult for a site or marketing team to maintain for a long time. This causes most to get burnt out and ideas for new content stop coming as quickly. If you’re having trouble coming up with new things to talk about and ways to present your content, Sujan Patel has some suggested formats which might help you get started at Search Engine Journal.

  • List Posts – You’ve almost certainly seen lists before unless you stay away from almost all forms of media and information. If that is the case, thanks for reading this before picking up a newspaper or looking at “the cutest 25 cats sitting on things”. Yes, lists are a super common choice for bloggers and writers of all kinds. They are easy to write, and they tend to be more shared than most blog posts.
  • Interviews – Interviews have also always been popular for media, and SEO benefits for the same reasons. When you get an interview with a subject, you will automatically gain exposure to that figure’s followers and draw traffic to your own content. Interviews are also fairly easy. Make sure you understand the technology you would be using to record the interviews, like audio recorders, cameras, etc., then all you have to do is start asking anyone you would be interested on interviewing. You’ll get a bite faster than you know.
  • Reviews – If you have writer’s block when it comes to coming up with topics, reviews are a great way to keep content coming regularly while keeping it interesting for your viewers. Try to be objective and fair with your reviews, and use specific details to keep others from thinking you are just attacking other writers and creators.
  • Link Round-ups – Similarly to reviews, this is a go-to for those who can’t figure out what to talk about. Gathering collections of links has the upsides of collecting resources you might use on your own, while also earning goodwill for other creators’ content you are sharing.

Obviously, the best way to get traffic to come to your site is to just offer quality content filled blog posts informing peers in the industry. These formats shouldn’t replace the standard blog post, but when you are at a total loss for topics, these formats are handy to have in your back pocket.

The breakout star in SEO so far this year appears to be content marketing. It was pretty talked about in 2013, but with Google’s penalties and algorithms it will only be more important as the year progresses.

Of course, just as with any SEO tactic, content marketing has its risks. Google has shown that even using the best practices too much can still lead to penalties, and the Penguin and Panda updates have made it clear that you have to put good thought into any campaign you are going to run. Algorithmic updates by their nature don’t have room for leniency.

If you want to keep succeeding with SEO, you have to follow the rules to the letter. Of course, this is complicated Google’s reluctance to give hard rules for SEO. From what we know, it seems moderation is really the key to content marketing and optimization.

Adam Mason, writer for Search Engine Journal and SEO manager at Zazzle Media, shows the best method of dealing with content marketing optimization is to learn the history and know what has changed in the past few years. If you want to know how to push your content marketing campaigns without being hurt by penalties, his article covers anything and everything you would want to know.

Getting your posts out to the masses is one of the hardest parts of writing online. Just publishing them isn’t even close to enough. The good news is, it has never been easier to share on the internet thanks to socia media.

Promoting your content is absolutely a part of getting it in front of other people, and you have to do the promoting yourself. The easiest way to think about it is to ask yourself “why should anyone care about my content, if I don’t care enough to promote it?”

There is no shame in pushing your content in front of the eyes of others. Of course, there is a line where pushing it onto others can be a turn off, but its way better than toiling in obscurity.

Jordan Kasteler, columnist from Search Engine Land, has nine different methods he uses to promote his content online. It may seem weird to put your work out there in front of others at first, but its the only way to get your content out there. In a world where content marketing is a huge part of SEO, its important to get people sharing your work.

Content creation has long been at the top of SEO, but it is leaking from the internet into the real world. One of the front runners of this change in real-life marketing is Red Bull, who has begun publishing their own magazine, The Red Bulletin, which paints a picture of a world where there are no limits.

This isn’t an isolated case. According to a recent survey, 90% of marketers believe that content marketing will only become more essential in the next year. Ronn Torossian has predictions and other instances of how companies are using content creation to reach out to their customers directly, all at Search Engine Journal.

 

Right now one of the strongest methods in SEO is content marketing. It can help you expand your brand’s reputation and build traffic if you do it right. That’s why there are tons of articles out there telling you what to do.

Of course, even if you’re doing everything right except one important issue, your content marketing plan may still be doomed. To help make sure that nothing is holding you back, Sujan Patel has a list of seven ways you can mess up your content marketing plan.

It is a lot of work to make sure you’re doing every step of your plan correctly, but just neglecting one area can lead to a lot of issues.

 

As we all know, the way to become popular on the internet is to create high quality content that engages your audience.

It is obvious when looking at the digital landscape, and even more clear if you ever get to have a conversation with any of the people working for the sites gaining popularity right now. Content strategies are always the most important issue to them for growth.

The issue with content marketing is it can be a little intimidating if you are just getting started. The good news is everyone can do it, you just have to start small.

First, you should probably redefine what you think of as content and what you think of as your product.

When trying to create a high quality product for your company to buy, it seems difficult to justify spending much time creating blog posts, but what you need to know is blog posts, webinars, and ebooks are your products as much as whatever you are selling.

Every aspect of your brand or your company that your customers experience is your product, and your content is often the first chance customers get to see your product. That makes it a bit easier to rationalize putting effort into your blog posts. That doesn’t make the feats any less daunting though.

Your company doesn’t have to start big with content marketing, however. Ray Grieselhuber, CEO of Ginzametrics, suggests starting with something small like an email marketing strategy, which allows you to send your audience more information about your products, as well as telling them how they can achieve what they want through your product. Just keeping in touch with your audience frequently with small bits of content is a good start.

From there, you can begin building a blog, offering larger portions of content, then maybe begin creating a webinar. Start with what you can handle, and build larger. You don’t have to leap into the deep end immediately.

The most important part is, of course, not to procrastinate. Just start making things to connect with your audience. Overthinking it will just make it seem harder than it actually is.

 

The overlap between SEO and content strategy often ends up turning content creation into a marketing ploy, and little more. The blogs cite industry folks and data, and offer tips that are either glaringly obvious or recycled to the point of redundancy.

Guillaume Bouchard from Search Engine Watch has another idea for content creation. Think about what people want, not what “works” within the market. What works changes as fast as the industry can, while what people want stays relatively consistent. Long term success comes from reading what your visitors want.

For SEO professionals, you can follow the 70/20/10 model for a simple model for content creation.

The 70/20/10 model goes like this:

  • 70 percent of content should be low-risk
  • 20 percent should try to improve on what already works
  • 10 percent should be high-risk experimentation

The model comes from Coca-Cola, and can be transferred to SEO pretty easily. Link baiting is low-risk. Optimizing and trying to capitalize on some newer trends in the market covers trying to improve on what works, and that leaves 10 percent experimentation.

70 Percent: The Link Bait – Link baiting certainly has its pros and drawbacks, but for this model just think of it as content made with a purpose. It informs audiences, communicates complicated ideas, and establishes your reputation as an expert. This helps establish your brand in the industry. This acts as the mainstay of your content. Always available, but it can’t be all you have.

20 Percent: Optimize and Sharpen – For optimizing, look at what content is doing the best and what people are saying about your content. Try to improve upon what is doing best, and reinvigorating old debates with new information. Stay aware of trends and ideas in your industry, and react to them with content. This type of content creation helps keep you tuned to the changes in your industry, and keep you relevant, which will always translate to your audience.

10 Percent: Proactive and Reactive Experimentation – Time to have some fun. Experimentation requires really understanding your audience, and being confident enough to have an opinion. Think about fashion trendsetters. They see what is popular now, and act on their impulses in response. Content creation experimentation is all about seeing what is popular in the field, and making new content that people have never seen before.

This model isn’t something to keep set in stone, but it will help keep you relevant and interesting. Those are two things audiences always want.

 

The internet is awash with tips and suggestions for SEO, but there aren’t many articles that clear up those pesky rumors and myths of the industries of optimization and blogging. So I’m here to help tear down those lies people hear and tell themselves about building an audience.

1) Making good content before you have an audience is a waste of good content – This is totally untrue. First impressions are all you get online, and if you are “reserving” all your good stuff for when you have a bunch of visitors, you will never get popular.

It is like selling a product before you’ve made the actual product. If you have just a few people coming to your site but they see good content, they will keep coming back as well as spreading the word. If you have a large amount of people visiting because you are advertising widely, but your content is worthless, they’re all going to leave and never look back.

Yeah, it isn’t fun to make great stuff that only a few are reading, but you have to keep an eye on the future. Great content attracts people eventually, as long as you put in the extra work to promote it. Plus, once you have an audience, they can always still find that great content no one was reading a month ago.

2) Great content will bring an audience – I emphasized that quality content will help attract an audience above and that still rings true, but there is other important work to be done before you’ll gain a crowd. You have to “pound the pavement” so to speak. Neglecting to actually promote the content can end up costing you links in the end.

Rae Hoffman at CopyPress has a full list of strategies for promoting great content, but the biggest emphasis is only push your awesome content. Spending energy on mediocre content won’t go anywhere, but if you can back up your promotion with quality content, you will get the launch you need.

3) Having a unique voice isn’t always possible – If you can’t find your specific voice, then you are doing the wrong type of work for you. Your site will never gain traction if you can’t have your own identity. You need a point of difference, or POD.

Finding your own POD can be as simple as combining seemingly seperate interests into your blogging, such as the girl who runs SkinnyTaste. She was just another amateur photographer who also loved making tasty low fat recipes. Both of those areas are flooded with contributors, but by combining the two into a blog with great recipes and enticing high quality pictures of the food, SkinnyTaste became a contender.

4) I’m not a great writer, so I’ll never be a great blogger – If you have found your own voice or POD, being a technically great writer is irrelevant. Many bloggers would have not gotten great grades in school if they turned in work in the style they blog in because they often make grammatical errors. Readers don’t care however, as long as the writer has a unique voice and interesting information.

5) Once I’ve got an audience, the rest will be easy – Rae Hoffman’s article earlier mentions Perez Hilton in this situation, and I can’t imagine a better blogger to express this point. Perez Hilton became a cultural figure for a short period because of his strong opinions and voice. So where is Perez Hilton now? Still blogging, but his television appearances have fizzled out, and you rarely hear his name brought up anymore. This is because Perez’s blogging became less celebrity journalism filtered through Perez’s voice, and more about why being Perez Hilton is wonderful. His focus left the gossip people were craving, and moved to the benign stories of a psuedo-celebrity.

The point of Perez’s story is once you gain popularity, you can’t rest or slack off. People are coming to you for whatever special information or content you are offering, and if you start slipping that audience will be gone faster than you could ever dream of.

Most of these myths are the type that people tell themselves when they are scared of making the leap into blogging, or the lies people give for why their site is floundering. Don’t let them keep you from getting started making a name for yourself, and if you are struggling, consider whether you’ve found your voice or POD or not.