Are Your Online Sales Slipping? This Could Be Why …

Women on slip-and-slide

Don’t let your customers slip away!

It’s never easy to lose thousands of dollars every month to your competitors.

The company (let’s call it Company X) used to be at the top of their game. Product sales were brisk. Their testimonials were excellent. They dominated Google search results for their main keyphrases.

Then, things started to slow. “It’s seasonal,” thought the CMO. “There’s nothing to worry about.”

Two years and many seasons later, business was down by 50%. The product quality hadn’t changed. In fact, nothing internally had changed.

And that was the problem.

Externally, the marketplace had changed – a lot. There were new competitors. Some trends had shifted. The target audience was looking for slightly different benefits presented in a slightly different way.

People were still buying. But not from Company X. The fantastic reviews, great testimonials and top search rankings weren’t enough.

What happened?

Many companies look at outside causes when sales slow down. It’s the economy. It’s a seasonal slowdown. Times are tough “everywhere.”

Yet, the problem can often lie with something completely controllable.

The site copy.

If your sales are slowing and you don’t know why, it’s time to take a hard look at your site content. Here are some steps to take:

Pay close attention to new competitors. What is their unique positioning statement and how does it compare to yours? How well do they discuss their benefit statements? Are they using a tone and feel that resonates better with the target audience? You don’t want to copy a competitor’s strategy. But you can learn from them.

Consider how the marketplace has changed. A major benefit two years ago may get a “meh” response from prospects today. Survey (or preferably, chat with) current customers and learn what’s important to them now. The information you learn can help you A/B test different benefit statements and see what resonates with your audience.

Review your keyphrase research. When’s the last time you reviewed your keyphrase research? Phrases that worked great a few years ago may be too limiting today. See if you can capitalize on new keyphrases, especially ones that target prospects at an earlier phase of the buy cycle.

Review all of your marketing collateral. ALL of it. This means your autoresponders, your site copy, your LinkedIn profile – everything. Chances are, you’ll find some cringe-worthy blog posts, some typos and some messaging that’s outdated and stale. Figure out a plan for addressing your copywriting blind spots and fix them.  If you think your site sounds stale, just imagine what your readers think.

Get an outsider’s opinion. It’s easy to let our egos get in the way of smart sales copy. We may love our writing. But our readers may not. Your copy may be perceived as “too overwhelming.” You may not be providing enough information. Or, your content could be so filled with marketing speak that your reader doesn’t really know what you’re selling. Hiring a consultant (or even asking a trusted colleague to help) can often uncover some quick, easy fixes you can make.

Does this mean you may have to revamp all of your site content? Perhaps. Or, you may be able to make some strategic SEO and content tweaks that can have a huge impact. The key is to immediately develop a strategic plan and start doing something.  After all, there’s no reason to let your so-so content result in lost sales opportunities.

Like this post? Well, I like you! And I’d love it if you subscribed to the SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter. You’ll learn the latest SEO writing tips, how to thrive as a freelance and in-house copywriter and more!

Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to Jeffrey Smith.

SEO Copywriting Top 10: Aug. 13 to 19, 2014

cat swipes toy

Create a copywriting swipe file!

You probably know what a copywriting swipe file is, and maybe you’ve been meaning to start one but haven’t figured it out yet. Well, check out post #2 to finally figure it out!

There’s a bunch about SEO this week, as John McTigue helps you create a Hummingbird-worthy website, Michael Martinez brings you back to the core essentials, Barry Adams helps out with your SEO strategy, and Barry Schwartz shares Google’s top milestones of the past year’s 890 search changes!

Also, don’t miss Chloe Mason Gray’s complete guide to online customer research in post #6. We can all use something to make that easier! 🙂

1. Michael Ofei writes 5 Systems You Need to Skyrocket Your Freelance Writing Career for Write to Done.

2. posts How to start a copywriting swipe file.

3. John McTigue writes How to Create a Website Google Hummingbird Will Love for Kuno Creative.

4. Joe Pulizzi writes 7 Thoughts That Will Change Your Content Marketing Strategy for Content Marketing Institute.

5. Michael Martinez writes Core Essentials of On Site Search Engine Optimization for SEO Theory.

6. Chloe Mason Gray writes The Complete Guide to Online Customer Research for KISSmetrics.

7. Barry Adams writes 4 Crucial Ingredients for a Successful SEO Strategy for State of Digital.

8. Nathan Safran writes How Content Is Changing And What Marketers Need To Know [Survey Data] for Marketing Land.

9. Kyra Kuik writes How to Create Evergreen Content that Builds Your Business for distilled.

10. Barry Schwartz writes Google’s Head Of Search 10 Biggest Search Milestones With 890 Changes In Past Year for Search Engine Roundtable.

Get all of the latest SEO goodness by signing up for the SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter now!

Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to Vanessa.

Dominate Your Branded Search Result

In most cases, SEO will focus on getting a website to rank for generic keywords that are relevant to the company’s products or services. However, often the most relevant keyword of all – the company’s brand name – is overlooked.

All too frequently SEO practitioners only perform a cursory check to see if a company website ranks for its own brand name. Does a branded search deliver the website as the first result? Yes? Tick that checkbox and move on.

Sometimes however, that can be too hasty a box to tick. Claiming the top spot for your own brand name isn’t always sufficient to claim all branded search traffic, especially if there is content out there on the wider web that could negatively impact public perception of your company.

It pays to make sure that you claim the entire first page of search results for your brand name, ensuring your official corporate presence is the only thing searchers see when they type your company name in to Google or other search engines.

How can you dominate your branded search result to this extent? It’s not particularly difficult:

1. Website with Sitelinks

Of course you want the very first result on your brand name to be your own company website. This will be the case in most instances, however; sometimes you’ll need to work a bit at claiming that top spot, especially if your brand name is a generic phrase instead of a unique name.

This can be accomplished through the usual SEO methods; ensure your website can be fully crawled and indexed, acquire a healthy amount of links with branded anchor text pointing to the site, and try to get plenty of online brand citations.

Whilst cheap directory links are often harmful to a website nowadays, for branded search it’s worth investing in placements on some of the remaining trustworthy online directories such as Yelp and Thomson Local.

Getting a block of sitelinks as part of your branded SERP is harder to do, as it relies mostly on Google properly interpreting the search as a brand name search, and its ability to make sense of your website’s structure. A solid information architecture is required so that Google understands your site’s hierarchy and can show relevant sitelinks.

result with sitelinks

Top result with sitelinks.

2. Social Profiles

The second thing to do is ensure your company has active accounts on all major social media sites. Due to the inherent online authority that most social media platforms enjoy, having a publicly viewable social profile on the main sites – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc – you are almost guaranteed to have several of these rank on the first page of search results for your brand name.

On top of that, when you include your website URL in these social profiles, this will also contribute to your website claiming the top result for your branded search result.

A Google+ Local page can be especially useful in this regard, as often you can get a knowledge-graph-like box on the right-hand side of the search results page, which is filled with information from your company’s Google+ presence:

Google+ Local

Google+ Local-powered information box.

3. Multimedia Content

Google likes to include elements from vertical search, like videos and images, in their main search results. To ensure your brand name claims all available space on search results pages, it’s worth investing in multimedia content to publish online.

For example, you could feature a set of YouTube videos about your company, ensuring these are optimized for your brand name. You could also have a number of images of your company logo and premises available for free use on sites like Flickr and Photobucket, again optimized for visibility on your brand name.

That way if Google decides to include multimedia elements in your branded search result, chances are it’ll be your own content that is displayed and not a competitor’s. This is especially useful if your brand name is also a generic phrase, and Google is more likely to include universal search elements.

image results

Image results on a generic phrase that’s also a brand name

Own Your Brand Space

Never take a branded search result for granted. You should periodically check on your branded SERPs and make sure your company claims all the available spaces on the first page, and ideally a majority on the second page, as well.

Branded search dominance ensures that you claim all branded searches for yourself, and also mitigates the risks of bad publicity ruining your online brand. With total brand dominance in Google, chances are no one will ever see a negative mention of your brand unless they specifically go looking for it.

About the Author

With over a decade of experience in SEO and digital marketing, Barry Adams is a leading SEO consultant based in Belfast, serving a wide range of clients throughout Europe. Barry is a regular speaker at digital conferences such as SMX, Friends of Search, and SAScon, and lectures on SEO and digital marketing for the University of Ulster, Queen’s University Belfast, and the Digital Marketing Institute. He is an editor and contributor for State of Digital and regularly blogs about SEO on his own website which was shortlisted for Best Blog at the 2013 UK Search Awards.

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SEO Copywriting Top 10: Aug. 6-12, 2014

Customer parking for Slayer only!

Your customers are unique. Give them a USP that can’t be copied!

Your clients are unique – and it’s that difference that sets them apart from the competition and makes them shine brighter to their customers. Your clients need a USP that sets them apart and cannot be duplicated. Matt Ambrose tells you how to capture the perfect USP in post #1.

For content goodness, Kelsey Meyer helps you discover why your content isn’t working in post #3, Heather Lloyd-Martin spices up your boring B2B biz in #4, and Ann Smarty helps you write a perfect headline.

Also, is your site over-optimized? Neil Patel helps shares the warning signs in post #6.

Check out these and the other terrific tips in this week’s SEO Copywriting Top 10!

1. Matt Ambrose writes Define Your Client’s ‘Why’ to Give Them a USP Competitors Can’t Copy for The Copywriter’s Crucible.

2. Jonathan Crossfield writes The Future of Social Media Content Strategy is Really Déjà Vu for Content Marketing Institute.

3. Kelsey Meyer writes Why Your Content Isn’t Working for Kapost Content Marketeer.

4. Heather Lloyd-Martin writes 5 Ways to Spice Up Your B2B Content for SEO Copywriting.

5. Bill Slawski writes Entity Mentions are Good: Brand Mentions are not the New Link Building for SEO by the Sea.

6. Neil Patel writes How to Avoid Over-Optimizing Your Website for KISSmetrics.

7. Julia McCoy writes The Future of SEO: Topics Instead of Keywords for Social Media Today.

8. Daniel Faggella writes Prep For Email Segmentation To Reap These 3 Benefits for Marketing Land.

9. Ann Smarty writes How to (Try to) Write a Perfect Headline for Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

10. David Towers writes Google confirms HTTPS as a new ranking signal: What are the implications? for Econsultancy.

Save almost $200 on SEO Copywriting Certification training with the coupon code FUN! This ends soon, so don’t wait!

Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to Seth Anderson.

SEO Copywriting Top 10: July 30 to Aug. 6, 2014


Hey, you can repurpose a toilet paper roll as a seedling pot. It’s even easier to repurpose your content!

If you’re not repurposing content, you should be!

Save time and energy on coming up with new content – and easily fill up that content calendar – by repackaging existing content in multiple ways. For more on how, check out Niki Payne’s guide to repurposing content in post #2.

Repurposing also helps for those times when you’ve – *gasp!* – lost your writing motivation. It happens to all of us, and Len Markidan offers help in post #4.

Also, to keep with the repurposed-toilet-paper-roll-as-seedling-pot that’s over to your right – get growing! Grow your subscriber list – because that’s where your money is! Rob Young tells you how to add 500 subscribers with a contest in #6, and write high-converting landing pages with Sean Ellis’ six principles of persuasion in #9.

OK, now get reading and get growing everyone! 🙂

1. Jason Acidre writes Using Modern SEO to Build Brand Authority for Moz.

2. Niki Payne writes 6-Step Guide to Repurposing Content for Bruce Clay Blog.

3. Mike Sansone writes Is Guest Posting a Good Business Practice? for ConverStations.

4. Len Markidan writes Lost Your Motivation to Write? The One Thing that Helps for Write to Done.

5. Joe Bunting writes How to Become a Better Writer in One, Simple Step for The Write Practice.

6. Rob Young writes How to Run a Simple Contest and Add 500 New Subscribers to Your List for Boost Blog Traffic.

7. Gabriella Sannino writes SEO and Content Audits: An Honest Look at Your Company’s Web Content for Level 343.

8. Rebekah Radice writes How to Deliver Outstanding Customer Service With Social Media for Social Media Examiner.

9. Sean Ellis writes How to Use the 6 Principles of Persuasion to Create Landing Pages That Convert for Unbounce.

10. James Parsons writes How to Immunize a New Website Against Negative SEO for Search Engine Journal.

Whoa! You’re in luck! Heather extended the Copywriting Business Boot Camp deal. Save $400 with coupon code VIP. Sign up now because this unbelievable deal won’t last much longer.

Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to Stacie.

5 Simple Tips to Make Your Copywriting Clients Deliriously Happy

Make your freelance copywriting clients deliriously happy!

Make your freelance copywriting clients deliriously happy!

We’ve all been there …

You speak to a new client. You’re excited to work with them. You’ve signed an agreement. Yay! This is going to be fun.

But when you start writing their web copy, you begin to feel a little insecure.

Is your copy good enough? Do you really understand their business well enough?

Writing for a variety of clients is great.

You get to know different people and different businesses.

But it can be challenging, too.

How can you learn enough about each business to make each client happy? How can you write copy that converts so your clients can grow their business?

1. Sneak into the head of your reader

“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

When you don’t know who you’re writing for, you can’t write good copy.

Before you start writing, ask your client who their ideal customer is:

  • Is he male or female?
  • How old is he?
  • What is he looking for? And how does your client help him achieve his objectives?
  • What makes him feel frustrated? And how does your client take these frustrations away?
  • What type of language speaks to him most strongly? Formal or informal? Rebellious or friendly? Streetwise or business-like?

After you’ve written your copy, imagine yourself phoning the ideal customer and reading your copy aloud to him. Are you inspiring him to buy? Are you taking away his objections to buying? Or does he slam down the phone because you sound so ridiculous?

When you know who you’re writing for, your copy becomes engages and seduces the right people. And that makes your clients happy because they’ll gain higher quality leads.

2. Dig up the details that make a business special

When you don’t understand enough about a business, your copy becomes wishy-washy, watery and ineffective.

Only when you understand the specific details, can you make your copy credible and compelling.

“When people perceive certain general statements as puffery or typical advertising babble, those statements are at best discounted or accepted with some doubts. By contrast, statements with specific facts can generate strong believability.” ~ Joe Sugarman

Learn as much about your client’s business as you can. Never be afraid to ask more questions, for instance:

  • When a client tells me their facilities are state-of-the-art, I ask them to explain to me why this is the case. What makes their facilities so special? What makes their facilities better than their competitor’s?
  • When a client tells me their customer service is excellent, I ask them to give me specific examples of how they treat their customers.
  • When a client tells me their customers are looking for modern interior design, I ask them to explain exactly what makes a modern interior appealing. And I ask for examples of the type of interior designs their clients admire.

Learn more details about a business, so you can write copy that’s more specific, credible and persuasive. That’s how your client can win more business thanks to your copy.

3. Focus on benefits

Readers aren’t interested in your client’s products.

They’re not interested in your client’s company.

They want to know how they can benefit.

Clients are often so wrapped up in their products and services that they forget what’s in it for their customers.

“The most frequent reason for unsuccessful advertising is advertisers who are so full of their own accomplishments (the world’s best seed!) that they forget to tell us why we should buy (the world’s best lawn!).” ~ John Caples

Your job as a copywriter is to translate features into benefits. Features are facts about a product, while benefits explain what’s in it for customers.

Always ask your clients why a customer should care about a feature. How does it make their life better? What problems does it take away?

4. Keep your web copy concise

Long sentences and long paragraphs make your web copy drab. They’re not inviting. They wear your readers down.
How can you be more concise? And keep web visitors reading on?

  • Make your copy easy to scan by using straightforward headlines and subheads.
  • Don’t be overly clever. Instead, use simple terms to get your message across.
  • Use bullet points. Because they’re easy to scan.
  • Avoid copy sagging under adjective sludge. Highlight all adjectives in your draft copy, and remove as many as you can.

Word count doesn’t indicate the value of your copy.

In contrast, your writing is most valuable when you communicate a clear message concisely.

5. Be compelling

What’s the purpose of each web page?

What would you like your reader to do next?

Should readers pick up the phone to call your client? Or should they sign up to an email list? Or buy straightaway?

Understand your client’s sales funnel, and how the website (and your copy!) should contribute to sales. Agree on website objectives and a call-to-action for each page.

Make your calls-to-action crystal-clear, and conversions will go up, making your client happy.

The Truth About Your Client’s Copy

To write persuasive copy, you have to become a super salesman, a supreme marketer and an excellent psychologist.

Get to know your client’s business at least as well as your client does.

Sneak into the head of their ideal customer. Tap into their desires and dreams; and take away their objections to buying from your client.

That’s how you write persuasive copy. And that’s how you make your client deliriously happy.

And happy clients means more business for you, and more referrals and higher fees.

About the author

Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent copywriter and marketer. She’s on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make boring business blogs sparkle. Get her free 16-Part Snackable Writing Course for Busy People and learn how to enchant your readers and win more business.

Stay updated on all of our money-making copywriting tips. Subscribe to the SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter now!

Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to Eric Danley.

SEO Copywriting Top 10: July 23 to 29, 2014

Want to become a full-time writer? Check out post #1 for a way to overcome woes and live your dream.

Want to become a full-time writer? Check out post #1 for ways to overcome woes and live your dream.

Leave all of the above writer cliches behind – oh, except for that “successful” one (which isn’t a writer cliche at all anyway) – and live your dream of becoming a full-time writer. Carlos Cooper shares how he did it – and how you can, too!

Lying awake at night distraught over your glaringly blank editorial calendar? Heidi Cohen’s content curation tips will help you quickly fill it up!

For you search geeks – aka you … and me – Bill Slawski gets all knowledge base entities on us. To learn more about that, check out post #5.

The rest of these posts are great, too! Enjoy!

1. Carlos Cooper writes 9 Things I Did To Become A Full-Time Writer for The Write Practice.

2. Ray Edwards writes A Five-Part Framework for Writing Better Sales Copy for Goins, Writer.

3. Heidi Cohen writes 9 Content Curation Ideas for Bulking Up Your Editorial Calendar for Content Marketing Institute.

4. Jon Morrow writes Why Your Site Gets Such Pitiful Traffic (and What to Do about It) for Boost Blog Traffic.

5. Bill Slawski writes How Knowledge Base Entities May be Used in Searches for SEO by the Sea.

6. Chloe Mason Gray writes 39 Resources for Understanding the Science & Psychology Behind Great Marketing for KISSmetrics.

7. Heather Lloyd-Martin writes New to SEO writing? 5 Essential Things You Need to Know for SEO Copywriting.

8. Ronell Smith writes How To Crush The Competition And Own Your Business Category for ISOOSI Blog.

9. Webbiquity writes 17 Helpful SEO Tools and Tool Reviews.

10. Henneke writes 13 Ways to Move Forward When Self-Doubt Sabotages Your Business Progress for Enchanting Marketing.

Impress – and help – clients with your search knowledge. It’s easy! Sign up to receive the SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter for the latest updates delivered right to your inbox.

Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to kbowenwriter

New to SEO writing? 5 Essential Things You Need to Know

Are you new to SEO writing and wondering if it’s right for you?

You may fear that SEO writing is too technical. Or it’s too unnatural to write “how Google wants.”

Relax. SEO writing is much easier than you think.

If you’re looking to build a new skill set, here are the essential things you need to know.

– You need to be a good writer. Period.  

Can you tell a compelling story? Can you keep readers on the edge of their seats, salivating for more information? Good. SEO writing is more than “giving Google what it wants.” It’s being a good writer – period.  That means years of writing, practice and good old fashioned trial and error. Understanding Google’s “rules” doesn’t mean a thing if your site copy sucks.

– What you think is SEO writing may not be accurate

I’ve talked with many writers who say, “SEO writing is so unnatural. I don’t want to worry about keyphrases, meta descriptions and search engine stuff.” I get it. I do. At the same time, the definition of good SEO writing has changed over time. It’s no longer about sticking as many keyphrases into the content as you can. It’s about writing tremendous content and making it easy for people to find it. Once you learn the “rules” of SEO writing, you’ll see that they aren’t as restrictive as you thought!

–  Geek speak? No problem. You’ve got this.

HTML. Meta descriptions. rel=author. SEOs’ alphabet-soupy terminology can be scary – especially if you’re a new writer. After hearing the terminology, some writers decide right then to never learn SEO. After all, SEO is what “geeky people do.”

Although the terminology is a bit propeller-head geeky, it’s actually easy to figure out. Yes, there’s a learning curve. No, you won’t understand everything in a day. But you will understand it. It just takes practice.

– You really do need to learn this stuff.

If you write in-house, mastering SEO writing will give you the skills to really shine. The content you write will be sharable, seen by the right people and drive lots of yummy traffic. That means great job security (and more opportunities) for you. If you’re freelancing, offering SEO writing services to your clients gives you another profit center. After all, if you don’t offer it as a service – your competition will.

– No matter what, it will help your career.

Are you selling a book? Understanding SEO will help you reach more people, build your authority and create a killer author platform. Starting a side business? Why pay an SEO consultant to drive traffic when you can do the work yourself? Want to get a better writing job? Companies love working with experienced writers with proven track records. A few hours of learning time could result in a huge income jump. That’s some pretty powerful ROI.

I love teaching people how to be better writers! If you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll learn about the latest blog posts, be first in line for exclusive sales and more. Join me!


Photo thanks to © Edwardsamuel |

SEO Copywriting Top 10: July 16 to 22, 2014

niche market content strategy

Niche market? There’s a content strategy just for you!

You freelance SEO copywriters won’t want to miss this one!

In this week’s SEO Copywriting Top 10, there’s a guide to optimizing client websites, 140 websites that pay writers – and hot USP strategies!

You’ll also want to keep up with Google by reading the latest on author rank and how Hummingbird has impacted search so far.


Got an unfamiliar niche? Check out #8 for a content strategy that’s perfect for you!

There’s more copywriting greatness in there for ya, too, so enjoy!

1. Kristi Kellogg writes Google Authorship Photos Removed, Author Rank Ahead for Bruce Clay Blog.

2. Peter Da Vanzo writes Guide to Optimizing Client Sites 2014 for SEO Book.

3. Matthew Barby writes How Press Requests Can Be A Link Building Gold Mine for Search Engine Land.

4. Jennifer Roland writes 140 Websites That Pay Writers in 2014 for Make A Living Writing.

5. Mike Sansone writes 13 ½ Business Blogging Tips to Impress Readers and Skyrocket Sales for ConverStations.

6. Kevin Carlton writes 10 super simple strategies copywriters use to find a sizzling-hot USP for Write Online.

7. Gabriella Sannino writes Optimizing Your Content The Best SEO for Level 343.

8. Adrienne Erin writes How to Develop a Content Strategy for an Unfamiliar Niche for Search Engine People.

9. Ian Lurie writes 8 Simple But Powerful Landing Page Copywriting Tips for Unbounce.

10. Eric Enge writes Assessing Hummingbird’s Impact On Search — 10 Months Later for Search Engine Land.

Get SEO copywriting tips and course discounts delivered to your inbox! Sign up for the SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter now!

Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to Daniel Hanson.

Creating Blockbuster Content: 7 Essential Tips for SEOs

you-are-what-you-createMore content no longer means more success in SEO. It just means too much content.

When it comes to content creation, we’re seeing a shift in quantity to real quality. The launch of Google’s original Panda algorithm, which targeted thin content, started this big focus shift, which continues to this day.

At SMX Advanced, Brent Csutoras, Social Media Strategist & Owner at Kairay Media, shared seven essential tips on how to create blockbuster content today. Here’s a recap.

1. Goals Define Your Definition of Quality

Quality is in the eye of the beholder (the reader or customer). That means quality varies from person to person.

Ultimately, quality is defined by your goals. The content you create needs to be beneficial to you as a company.

What sells? What’s profitable? The content you create should have a business benefit.

If you sell 50 products, but only 10 are real movers and shakers, start there. Explore related topics to those products and prioritize creating content around those items. Don’t start with the whole company or every product.

Don’t be too commercial or create content that is totally unrelated to your business. Find balance.

2. Winning Types of Content

The best sites are those that are resourceful, helpful and interesting. People link to and share this type of content. You also want to be viewed as forward thinking.

Some examples of content that, when executed well, are popular include:

  • How-to guides
  • Long-form content
  • Lists (Greatest/Best/Top 10/15/20, etc.)
  • Infographics
  • Visual guides (especially on Pinterest).

Content should exist for a reason, such as to solve a problem or answer a question. Visit a support forum and see what questions people are asking. Wherever there are lapses or content gaps, there is a content opportunity!

When your content is really resourceful, it will be shared and referenced. And it can help brand you as an authority on a topic.

3. More Minds = More Great Ideas

You’ve done your keyword research using your tools of choice. You’ve explored popular hashtags on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. And you’ve looked at sites like Reddit to see what is being written about in your niche.

Don’t stop there.

Once a week, gather everyone on your team together in front of a whiteboard and start coming up with ideas. Most people get ideas from other people’s ideas.

By pulling in all the minds you can, you’ll get a lot better variety of ideas. Come up with 100 ideas in one session.

Once you’re done, have everyone involved in the process score the ideas from 1-10. Put it all together in Excel and you’ll get a good sense of what ideas have the most potential to be popular and help you successfully hit all your goals.

4. Look at Your Competitors’ Content

What is getting the most social shares and comments on your competitor’s site? What are they showcasing?

Certain content succeeds, some doesn’t. Look at what content works, and compare it to what content doesn’t work. See what is getting the most traction for your competitor and figure out what similar types of content might also work for you.

5. Push Your Content Further

Your content can always be better. Your goal is to be at least a little better than the competition.

Ask yourself these questions when you’re writing:

  • Is there more to the story?
  • Has it happened before?
  • Does it relate to current events?
  • Are there unanswered questions?
  • How are you adding perspective?

Also, make sure to do a quick search and social lookup to make sure your article is complete, add quotes and references, and link out to related information that adds value.

People are going to share the best source, the one with all the information. Make sure your content isn’t just one of 50 stories about a topic.

6. Formatting Your Content

  • Provide quotable, shareable, linkable text excerpts. Providing people with excerpts will help them share on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites, which will then drive more people to your site.
  • Break paragraphs for easy skimming. Try to limit yourself to one idea per paragraph. The majority of folks have lost interest in deep-form reading, so make it easy for people to skim.
  • Use bulleted lists. These help break up content, are easier to read and let you highlight key words and phrases.
  • Images. Use pictures to summarize concepts, break up content and provide something socially shareable.
  • Optimize for mobile. Make sure people can read and share your content on mobile devices, and make sure your content loads fast with a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights.
  • Avoid commercial elements (e.g., shopping cart buttons) or pop-ups (e.g., ads, signups). These end the user experience. Users are turned off, close your page and leave the site (and may never return). Also try to avoid ads within content.
  • Get rid of old junk: Ditch those calendars, tag clouds, counters, and any old social buttons.

7. Don’t Forget the Power of Social

If you see a bunch of people waiting outside a restaurant to get in, you presume it’s good. The online equivalent of this is social engagement.

If you see that a piece of content has many likes, retweets or comments, this sets up a subconscious expectation in a reader’s mind that the content they’re about to experience is of a certain level of quality. Don’t forget to promote your content socially and engage when people comment (or start the discussion in a positive way).

Creating blockbuster content is only half the battle. You must Plan for social promotion.

You can check out Csutoras’ presentation here.

About the Author
Danny Goodwin is Associate Editor of Search Engine Watch, the longest-running search industry publication dedicated to covering the latest search and social marketing news and trends, as well as providing how-to guides and actionable advice for marketers and advertisers of all skill levels. You can find him on Twitter.

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Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to wiredforlego.