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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.

 

Most corporate social media accounts are ignored or unknown. It is possible their audience isn’t engaged, or maybe just not sharing their posts. Either way, they struggle and rarely improve their status.

This is because most sites offer the same tips for getting out there, but they don’t address the real issues hiding behind the scenes that are really keeping you back. This is why we are addressing three less-known reasons your company’s social media pages aren’t getting any traction.

1) Your Material Isn’t Sharable – Very few people will share commercial messages or content. Social media are phobic of direct sales pitches, but the whole point of making corporate social media pages is to eventually sell with it. So what do you do?

You need to make sharable content that promotes your brand, rather than pitching the sale then and there. You want to use social media content to “bait-the-hook”, and once the public is on board, you can try the sale.

There are a few ways you can make sharable content. You can aim to market your product as being extraordinarily useful, but if it doesn’t provide incredible benefits immediately, most people will still view this as a sales pitch.

A better tip is to go for timeless content. The public is usually aware when a company is simply chasing the latest trend, and while it may earn the company some good short term PR, that attention will fade as quickly as it came. Most of all, just make sure your content is simple to spread. You don’t want to dumb it down, but you want your content to be streamlined so that it is easy to grasp.

Most importantly, don’t try to aggressively sell to your customers on this platform. Promote the lifestyle they want to have, and make it clear your brand will help them get there. The rest will almost do itself.

2) Lacking Core Benefit – Incentives are a great way to get others to participate and share your content. It is very easy, you offer them a reward for taking action, and they will be likely to participate in the future. However, this strategy doesn’t always work long term. Instead, try to focus on your audience’s pain points, and position your brand or content as the solution.

You should always be able to answer this question: why should someone interact with me in the first place? You can try to keep your page humorous, but that can take some extra skill and often the legal departments hold you back quite a bit. But, providing relief for problems and pains in your customers’ lives always benefits the audience and gives them reason to engage.

3) You Lack Positioning or Value Proposition – Another question you should always be able to answer, is what makes you unique or interesting? Claiming to be “low-cost” is transparent, and every brand in the market will claim they have the lowest cost value. Even claiming to be “better” than your competition or the “best” in the field read as empty boasts to many consumers.

Instead, your social media pages should stand for some set of values or ideas, even if it means making some enemies.

Brad Smith at Social Media Today shares the strategy of Stone Brewery, the largest brewery in Southern California, who announced last year that that they plan a massive expansion so they can brew the best organic ingredients, and accommodate their constant stream of visitors.

You see, Stone Brewery has taken a strong and vocal stance in their way of doing business, openly disparaging light “tasteless” lagers and their consumers. They even take this stance on their bottle labels, and they include this stance in their social media presence.

Being bold and original will gain you customers that are truly engaged in your brand, and find consumers that share the same opinions you do.

If you can address these three issues, you will be much more likely to get your commercial social media pages off the ground, and strengthen your brand. All it takes is being a little fearless and some originality.

 

The vast changes Google has been making to SEO are well documented and discussed, as they have rendered all of the old ways of ruling searches with manipulative techniques obsolete. Instead, the optimization industry is being dominated by content investment. That, of course, means you’ll need to know how to make the best content possible.

We have some quick tips for helping with the shift to content creation. For a longer list, check out Simon Penson’s list at Search Engine Watch.

Idea creation

  • Come up with a list of ideas you can serialize. Regularly appearing content like “Quick Tips”, Top 10’s, and Q&A’s are a good place to start.
  • Identify types of content that would work well for you online.
  • Use Highcharts.com to see a visualization of every part of your content strategy to make sure everything is consistent.
  • There are lots of different and innovative types of content to create now, but the blog post is still the old standard for a reason.
  • Competitions are a great way to grow audiences via social media that you can later engage.
  • Change up your locations for brainstorming. Different environments stimulate creativity.

Creating Structure

  • While serialized content is good, don’t just repeat the same type of content over and over. Try to come up with a pattern of types of different content you can create and publish.
  • Make a 6-month content plan in the form of an editorial calender, keeping in mind industry events and trends.
  • Include your site pages in your initial structural plan. It is essential to include every part of your site in your plan so that every word matches your brand persona and message.

Content Strategy

  • Think about your timing. Time of day has a large effect on online activities and you should try to maximize your potential reach by considering when you publish content.
  • Learn your audience. Use survey for quantitative data and customer meets for qualitative information. This will tell you more about how to approach creating content for your market.
  • Separate your brand into different personas to match three or four demographics with different needs, then create content for these different personas.
  • Create a content flow as part of your strategy creation process.

Content Execution

  • When creating copy keep the details in mind. Font style and size, kerning, and leading all matter. Your presentation is as important as your content.
  • Take time to make a solid headline.
  • When creating a post, plan the structure beforehand.
  • Create persona writers for your brand and build authority over time to grow AuthorRank.

Measure Effectiveness

  • Don’t measure outreach by just the links earned. Take into consideration factors like referral traffic and brand visibility.
  • Keep social metrics in mind during content marketing measurement campaigns.
  • Set up Google Alerts with a snippet from any major piece of content you make so that you will be alerted when someone copies it.
  • Think of content performance like baseball averages. One hit for every three pieces of content is solid performance.

Hopefully these short tips will help you make the transition from the old SEO practices to content creation. The more you invest in content, the more reward you will see later.

 

Consistently creating good quality content is not easy. For copywriters, good content is something that really connects with readers, and while some can churn out content like robots, most of us have to invest a lot of time and effort.

Of course, practice will always make you a better content creator. Having an intimate understanding of copywriting and how it works is the foundation you will be building on. We all know a solid foundation is important.

Thankfully, the folks at ABC Copywriting have everything you could ever need to know about the copywriting processes all in one infographic. They include a walkthrough of every step of copywriting, as well as tips for quality sales letters, information documents and webpages. With it, you will have a solid base of information to become a great content creator and copywriter.

Google has made five recent SEO changes that will make most content marketers, writers, and bloggers quite happy. They play to your strengths. Some users may be less happy about these changes, however.

The changes were mostly made to keep more people on Google products, which isn’t a bad idea from a business perspective, but some may find the changes effect searching negatively.

The good news is, the changes were also made so that your results would be more personal by monopolizing on the fact that people are more likely to purchase something if they know their friend also likes it.

The even better news is these changes are great for anyone who makes content for a living. I will walk you through all of the changes and help you to take advantage of them.

1) Optimize personalized search – One of the biggest changes Google has made completely changed SEO by making search results personal. The results you get for a search will be different than mine, based on factors like your browsing history, the content you create and content shared by your social circles. People are finding their content more and more through social media networks and searching less.

So how can you optimize your content for personalized search? One option is you can increase your Google+ circles. Google is actively trying to get people to sign up for Google+, and in this instance, using Google+ and connecting with more people on there helps improve your search. The more people you have in your circles, the higher relevant content will show up in your searches. This also means that your circles can see your content when they search.

2) Increase social sharing – As a content creator, getting shares on social media is a great way to get your content high in the search rankings. According to a study by branded3, the more tweets leading to a URL you can get, the higher you will appear in rankings. For example, anyone that gets over 7,500 tweets (not an easy task) will appear in the top five results almost always. This type of logic most likely also works for Facebook.

As a content creator, capitalize on social sharing and you can beat your competition in the rankings. Just make sure to make the social sharing buttons obvious so that readers can find them, encourage your readers to share and try to court others with influence in your target social circles. Interview them or offer to do guest posts. Anything to establish a connection.

3) Employ semantic keyword research – Google is improving at segmenting search results, which gives you an opportunity to rank higher in verticals. This is a surefire way to get higher conversion rates because your prospective visitors are better targeted.

To take advantage of this, you’ll need to look for “advanced search” keywords. When you search, there is a way to refine results with a tool hidden in “show search tools”. Within this advanced search tool, you can look at “related searches”. Now you have semantic options you can test for the highest search volumes. There are also ways to improve your keyword list such as Google Insights for Search, which lets you narrow keywords down via categories.

4) Play with the Panda update – Google’s Panda update finally made life hard for spammers and content farms by harshly punishing sites with low quality content. This is good for all of the content creators who put hard work into long blog posts with useful content. Google even offered questions to determine the value of your content.

5) Implement the Google Authorship Mark-up – A search marketing firm proved rich snippet will increase SERP CTR and traffic. It’s that simple. Their analytics show a 150% increase when rich snippet was implemented. You might not get results quite that good, but it’s almost certain you will benefit if you implement the Google’s authorship snippet. It can be complicated, and it is slow to show results, but if you invest now you’ll see results in the not too distant future.

All of these Google changes have radically changed the SEO game, but they have made it a wonderful moment to be a content marketer. Those that put out shoddy content are being penalized, and there are all sorts of opportunities to really get your content out there.

 

For a more in depth look at author rank, read Neil Patel’s article at Quick Sprout.

Most people skim articles until they find something that catches them. You could use a gimmick to grab people’s attention, but the best way to get your readers to read your entire post is to create high quality content with proof to back it up. Case studies are one easy method to get into a topic while providing your readers with quality information. They are also one of the most favorable forms of content on the internet and wonderful “social link bait” or quality links.

Creating a case study should be easy if you can write high quality content. By adding reasearch and data, you can make a superb case study.

All case studies are unique. Your experience on a given topic and the amount of time you allocate for creating content make every study different. You will have to experiment, but the more time you put in will probably decide how good your content will be. You’ll need to do a lot of reasearch so that you can disect whatever the topic is well enough for your readers to understand. True quality content takes a lot of effort and time to make something the majority of a demographic will be interested in.

Case studies have a lot of benefits, including increased website traffic, brand recognition, social link bait, networking and overall site improvement.

Out of the many benefits of creating high level content, especially case studies, one of the best is the creation of social link bait. Social link bate is “any content of feature within a website designed specifically to gain attention or encourage others to link to the website.”

Social media has become ingrained in the lives of millions.  This has lead many away from Google and SEO over the past ten years. This is why link building is essential. “People will start caring less about links in future years because social popularity will become the new link popularity.” (Point Blank)  Google and Bing have even started including social media information in their searches. It also seems logical that Google will put in place a “social rank” system to compliment the “page rank” system many are unhappy with. With these changes, more professionals have seen the divide between research and data-driven results.

Social link bait is similar to regular link bait except it is shared by more websites. Social media is the most common platform for our demographics to share link bait.

To create social link bait, remember that it must be “socially sharable.” You can use sites like ThingLink for image optimization. It even includes a way to include links in your images.

Articles are simple and classic, but content can be made other ways. Why not try out a case study and try to make some social link bait? Money isn’t needed to make viral content and trying these methods might be a great start.

Gregory Smith writes for Search Engine Journal.