Ian Lurie on World Building: Weird, Useful, & Significant

planet earthAs an online writer and/or digital marketer, at some point you are sure to come across Portent’s CEO of 20 years, Ian Lurie (if you haven’t already). His wicked sense of humor is matched only by his expertise in all things content and internet marketing.

Here, Ian addresses questions about content visibility beyond the blog, world-building (he loathes the term “content marketing”), and creating “entry points into our world: weird, useful, and significant.”

Hope you enjoy Ian’s interview as much as we did!

In your recent ConfluenceCon presentation you covered a lot of digital marketing ground. One of your main points was about making great content visible beyond the on-site blog.

Specifically, you mentioned using the Open Graph (OG) Protocol and Twitter Cards for social visibility. Could you translate what those are in non-techie speak?

Twitter cards and OGP markup improve the way your content is represented out in the world. In terms of world building, they make the entry points more attractive, and make it more likely that customers will take the first step towards interacting with you.

In practical terms, Open Graph Protocol is something Facebook uses when you embed a link in your newsfeed. Sometimes, when you embed a link, the result includes an image, a site name, etc. The site owner can provide that information to the Facebook crawler using Open Graph Protocol. The more information they provide, the more Facebook can enhance the listing.

In nerdier terms, Open Graph Protocol is a markup standard. It’s code you can embed in a web page that provides additional information, just like meta tags. With it, you can define the page’s topic, title, author, a thumbnail image you’d like displayed when the page is cited and a bunch of other information.

There are also specific OGP attributes you can define for music, videos, products and such.

Twitter cards are similar to OGP. They let you specify images, videos and such that can attach to a tweet of a specific web page. You can link to direct download/install of mobile apps, embed videos, audio, images and thumbnails and set properties like titles, descriptions and the linked site.

You also addressed off-site content marketing, citing SlideShare and free Kindle e-books. What are some general tips for content creators to best leverage these platforms?

It’s all about audience. Use the platform that gives you entry into the biggest, most relevant potential audience. That’s the whole reason for doing it. I know – duh. But when you’re leveraging third party sites, you want to be very, very deliberate about it:

  1. Make a really good case to yourself for using this or that site
  2. Understand the upside if your content is super-successful
  3. Understand what super-successful means on each site

Here are a few examples:

Most people visit the SlideShare for business information. If you want to get visual content in front of millions of business professionals, it’s the place to be. If you don’t have visual content, look elsewhere.

On SlideShare, it’s all about being selected “SlideShare of the Day”. That gets you home page placement, mentions on Twitter by @slideshare and all sorts of other publicity.

LinkedIn owns SlideShare. So success on SlideShare may transfer over to LinkedIn because users can easily share your presentations with their connections.

If that happens, you’ll get lots of visibility. But SlideShare also lets you place lead generation forms in those presentations. I’ve seen that generate leads in the past. Finally, you can let readers download your presentation. That puts your content in a person’s hands, which is great – it’s a permanent invitation to spend more time with you.

SlideShare delivers a very strong, clear invitation to enter your world.

You might write for Medium because you have long-form text content. Medium has a huge audience who come to the site expecting to see great writing in longer format. Medium recommends content to users – play your cards right and you can build real visibility.

There’s no direct business benefit, but Medium is niche-independent. I can make a case for using Medium if I have a unique topic, a non-business topic or a long-form piece in mind and no need for direct lead generation. Medium is the place to make a low-key, sincere invitation to the audience to enter your world and look around on their own.

Finally, look at Kindle e-books. Millions of people monitor Amazon for new free e-books. If you can crack any of the top lists, those people will notice. They can download your e-book and read through it. I’ll use Kindle if I have something text-based in long form and want to create a really lasting impression. Kindle is the rulebook – the detailed map for your audience to enter your world, start learning and really dive deep.

An intriguing part of your presentation is how each marketing campaign is a “little community”, and that we create many “entry points into our world: weird, useful, and significant.” How does a content writer find their “weird” and connect those dots?

You might find “weird” purely instinctively: For instance, I’m a cyclist. I know most cyclists are technology nerds. So I might write something about smartwatches, or the best cell phone cameras (for cyclists who want to take snapshots of that long climb they just did).

You can also find “weird” using tools that dig up random affinities: Ideas, likes and wants linked only by the fact that some people like both. That’s all about collaborative filtering tools.

For example, I love using Amazon’s “people who bought also bought” tool. Did you know people who buy cookbooks are really into de-cluttering (ironic)? Sounds obvious now, but I wouldn’t have thought of it. Or that people who buy diet books also read survival stories and books about direct selling?

And, of course, I hit Facebook a lot. You can use their ads tool to test interest categories and see what Facebook suggests. Before I knew Van Diesel played Dungeons and Dragons, I did a search on D&D and his name popped up. That’s pretty random (by the way, my lifetime ambition is to run a game for him). Also, did you know tennis fans like boxing? I wouldn’t have made that connection.

Collaborative filters aren’t always right. Sometimes they’re hilariously wrong. But they’re a great tool for mining the weird.

In regard to content marketing (“whatever that is”, as you said): what content opportunities are you most excited about right now? Why?

Hmmm. As a writer, I tend to always be excited about content J. No matter what the delivery device, it’s about our ability to effectively communicate. I love it.

But you’re going to ask me again, I bet. So… I’m very excited about this ongoing democratization: Sites like Medium and Netflix delivering their own series and increasingly sophisticated social platforms mean we can engage in some really interesting world building.

Real-time information delivery like Google Now is really exciting, too. I can see some real potential for ‘ambient’ content that provides a great user experience. Imagine being able to stand in a location and ask your phone, “What happened here in 1850?” As a history nerd, I find that pretty exciting because we can curate our environments. That may sound creepy, and chances are marketers will completely trash the concept, but a guy can dream.

So how would you define “content marketing”? Do you have a more accurate definition of what we actually do?

I hate the phrase “content marketing” because it’s become a cliché that refers to cranking out dozens of crappy blog posts. I’ve avoided it because the meaning’s been twisted and over-simplified.

What do we actually do? OK, get ready for some seriously trippy metaphysics:

People are surrounded by content. We’re steeped in it, with clumps and clusters of related content forming worlds around, say, our favorite football team, or the car we want to buy, or childcare advice.

Usually, those worlds are pretty random. We see an article here, a social media post there, a blog post in another place, and then we link them together in our minds.

Content marketing – or whatever you call it – deliberately creates worlds around products or ideas. It creates new content and links it to old, or vice versa, or one or the other. Then it creates points of entry – advertising – to bring people into those worlds. It’s intentional, and it’s immensely powerful.

That’s content marketing. Or, as I call it, world building. I don’t expect that term to ever catch on. It’s too geeky. But I like it. So there.

Connect with Ian on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+

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6 (easy) ways to transform your content from meh into memorable

Guest author Jon Ball shares 6+ ways to transform content from ok to fantastic!The internet revolves around content. Communities, friendships, enemies, audiences, traffic, links, exposure – much of it comes directly from the quality of the content you’re able to produce.

So, if you’re looking to start a brand new blog, add a little zing to your content, or simply understand the basic rules of creating for the internet, read on.

First, a word – all content lives and dies based around added value. If you can’t find a way to add value within your content, you’re not going to see the results you want.

So, without further ado, here are six easy ways to beef up your content.


1) Include Research

Did you know that as of 2010, we are creating as much information every two days via the internet as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003? (Techcrunch)

Take a moment and think about that. Seriously – from the dawn of time until 2003. That’s a lot of information. In 2010 we were creating that much every two days. Two days!

Make sure to involve some research in your content to liven up your material. With the amount of information circulating the web today there’s bound to be some data on any subject for which you’re looking to write copy .

Especially deep dive and dig for data that is:

  • Fresh
  • Unique
  • Timely
  • Surprising
  • Interesting


2) Add Personality

The biggest problem most corporate blogs face is a lack of personality. People are afraid to include their own humor, insights, and personal thoughts into their work when creating company content.

While this is understandable, content suffers heavily if personality is withheld. There’s nothing more boring than reading flat content. Inject a little life into it!

One of the best ways to ensure your personality shines through is to share a story in the content. Even a quick snippet injects a wondrous amount of vivaciousness into an otherwise vanilla piece.


3) Define the Value

Added value is the best recipe for great content. Create content that continually adds value for your target audience and you’re well on your way to success.

It’s not enough to simply have added value however – you need to define it. First to yourself, and then to your audience.

Start by telling how you’re going to enrich their lives. Explain what the value added is. Explain why the value is important to them.

Here I’d refer to the adage ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’.

If you don’t explain the added value, there’s a chance it will be missed. Especially since at least 90% of readers are actually doing more of a fast scan that actually reading each individual word.

So, save yourself and the reader some time and be upfront about the added value of your content. Your audience’s attention span demands it.


4) Use Intelligent (Descriptive) Titles

Intelligent, descriptive titles are an absolute must. With the amount of content being produced online each and every day, readers don’t have time to read a synopsis of each and every piece of content they encounter. They’re going to devote minimal amounts of time (think 5 seconds or less) to scanning titles and deciding whether or not it’s worth clicking on.

80% of readers never make it past the headlines!

There are many ways to optimize headlines, but your number one goal should be to spark interest. With such a low click through rate in online usage, if you don’t capture your reader’s attention you’re wasting your own time.

Good headlines should incite at least two of the following:

  • Interest
  • Curiosity
  • Humor
  • Surprise
  • Controversy


Don’t be afraid to aim for the feels and hit them right in the emotions. A good title is provocative, and demands to be read.

And don’t forget the basics – things such as including strong adjectives, direct value, important keywords, numbers, and calls to action.


5) Know Your Audience

Never write a single word until you know who it’s for. Personal writing for yourself is okay, just don’t expect people to take a look at it.

Many treat their blog as a sort of online journal, and then are frustrated when no one wants to read it. The world doesn’t revolve around you, nor your company.

So, if getting traffic is an inherent goal of your writing, you better be writing with a specific audience in mind.

Knowing your audience can lead to:

  • Targeted writing
  • Tighter focus
  • Better engagement
  • Actual value (it’s not valuable unless it’s valuable for the people actually reading)
  • Content ideas


The short and sweet truth is that if you’re writing without a well-defined audience (often referred to as a persona) then you’re wasting your proverbial breath.


6) Format for Readability

Optimizing your content for readability is extremely important on the web. Once again, you need to bear in mind the deluge of information facing the average internet dweller these days. Nothing will keep your writing from being read like a good old-fashioned wall of text.

So, break your writing in easily consumable chunks. Use elements such as:

  • Bulleted/numbered lists
  • Images
  • Charts/graphs
  • Short paragraphs
  • Snappy sentences
  • Videos


The internet is no place to wax eloquent – leave the prose where it belongs.


7) (Bonus Tip) – Include Links Out!

Often overlooked, don’t be afraid to have outward-bound links. Some site owners are afraid of directing traffic away from their site, but your audience will be much happier if you use links properly – to help support your content.

Supportive links can be the difference between subpar content and truly outstanding, informative content. If there’s a website that will support your message, don’t be afraid to provide a link. The internet being what it is, it’s impossible to give readers the full story in a single piece of content. Links are the perfect solution to this problem, by breaking the story into digestible chunks and allowing each reader to decide when and where to stop.

So don’t be afraid to link out!


And Finally – Make it Sharable!

If you’re creating content for the web – whether for personal or professional use – make sure you’re creating content worth reading and worth sharing.

The internet is a portal of information unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, and the average readers are responding by lowering their attention span – we see more advertisements, information, videos, headlines and just stuff than ever before. We’re absorbing more than ever before. And, if you can’t deliver meaningful content in mere moments, then odds are you’re speaking primarily to yourself.

So create content worth sharing – hopefully these tips will help you do just that!


About the Author ~ Jon Ball

Jon Ball is VP of Business Development for Page One Power. Jon specializes in the implementation of highly effective link building strategies for clients across the globe. In his previous life he was a professional portrait photographer, and still passionately pursues photography. Page One Power is a link building firm that focuses on relevancy and transparency.

You can connect with Jon on Twitter at @pageonepower.

photo thanks to *brilho-de-conta

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Penguin 2.0: Should you rewrite your evergreen site copy?

The pending Penguin 2.0 update may require you to rewrite your evergreen site copyWelcome back! In this video of the SEO Copywriting Checklist series, Heather discusses the impending Google Penguin 2.0 update and what it means for site owners and evergreen web content.

Matt Cutts, a distinguished engineer from Google, recently released a video announcing the next wave of Google algorithm updates. He specifically discussed Penguin 2.0, saying it will roll out this summer.

So Google is giving site owners a big heads up!

Also, on last weeks’ SEO Copywriting Certification call with Bruce Clay, he discussed Penguin 2.0 and what it means for site content. So Heather thought she would address this update today because it is a big deal to a lot of site owners!

Tune in to learn what web copy on your site might need rewriting, before the imminent Google updates hit:

Are Some Of Your Pages So-So At Best?

– Does your site have any low-quality posts or articles?

– Does your sales copy walk a keyphrase-stuffing line?

When speaking to the SEO Copywriting Certification folks last week, Bruce Clay advised listeners to go through their websites and locate those pages that are of so-so quality, and make them as good as they can be.

A lot of companies have these so-so pages on their site. They might not be technically keyphrase-stuffed, but they’re not necessarily high-quality or well-researched either.

These mediocre pages might be articles that you kicked out all at once and under deadline, so maybe you or the writer in question were working a little bit more quickly than normal. Or you might have some lower-quality blog posts on your site from way back when you first started out.

There also may be old sales copy on your site, where you thought you were supposed to include more keyphrases than you really should, and they are walking that keyphrase-stuffing line.

These are all examples of evergreen content that is ripe for a rewrite.

Also consider that you’re probably not getting much promotional value from them, because you know they’re not good. You never link to them, you never talk about them, and you may haven’t had the time or the inclination to go through your site and make those posts or those sales pages as good as they can be.


Now Is The Time To Make Some Changes!

– Google wants to recognize authority sites.

– Identify low-value and low-quality content and rewrite it.

– If your blog hasn’t been updated in months, it’s time to start blogging again.

In his Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts made it very clear that Google wants to recognize – and reward – authority sites. And Bruce Clay emphasized in his presentation that if you have those kinds of pages on your site that are so-so at best, now is the time to revisit and rewrite them.

So identify that low-value and low-quality content! And if you don’t have time to go through and rewrite those pages, now is the time to find someone who can help you with it.

That way, when the Penguin update does hit, you know that all of your pages are exactly the way you want them to be: they are well-written and well-researched, and you’re able to link to them and refer to them without embarrassment!

And if you’ve neglected your blog for months, now is the time to get back to it. Again, Google wants to recognize and reward authority sites, and the way that you can establish yourself as an authority in your niche is by blogging about it – consistently!

If you tackle this evergreen content rewriting project now, then when Penguin 2.0 and other Google SEO updates roll out, you should be in good shape!

Thanks for tuning in! Have any questions or feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can leave them in the comments, or email me directly at [email protected]. You can also find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd.

photo thanks to nick.amoscato (Nick Amoscato)

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SEO Copywriting Checklist: Are you writing content “for Google”?

Write SEO content for your readers, not for GoogleGreetings! Welcome to another installment of the SEO Copywriting Checklist series. Today, Heather gets back to the basics in discussing whether you’re writing content “for Google”.

The idea that you need to write content in a particular way for it to position well in search results is a tenacious misconception. It’s also an unhealthy one, both in terms of search engine appeal and user experience.

Tune in to hear what Heather has to say about writing “for Google” and how to correct for this stubborn tendency in your own SEO content:

“Gift Baskets” Is Repeated 9 Times!

So here’s an example of what writing content “for Google” can mean, where the term “gift baskets” is repeated nine times within a teeny-tiny block of copy!

I’m sure that the person who wrote this content didn’t do so thinking “Im gonna try to spam the engines and get up to the top results!” But the problem is that a lot of folks still think this kind of keyword stuffing is the way you write good SEO content.

Relax! Google Wants You To Write Good Content

So if this has been your mindset – that you have to write separate pages “for Google” or stuff the page full of your keyphrases in order to get a good ranking – you can relax: Google wants to you to write good, quality content. Really!

– Never write copy “for Google”. Write it for your readers.

Instead of hanging onto the notion of writing your content for Google, think about writing for your readers – always focus on their experience!

You don’t want to include a keyphrase so many times that it becomes distracting. People may well bounce off your page and out of your site to find another source of information that sounds more reputable, and offers content that is easier to read.


– Keyword stuffing won’t help your SEO.

Google has closed that loophole. Once upon a time, sure, jamming your copy full of keywords might’ve worked – but not today. So there’s no reason to do it!

– Unsure if you added too many keyphrases? Read the copy out loud.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you’ve been heavy-handed with the use of keyphrases in your content, sometimes the best thing to do is to just print that page and read it aloud.

The same applies if you’re a site owner working with a copywriter: when s/he submits the copy, read it out loud. That way you’ll hear if the keyphrase has been used too many times.

– Think quality – not quantity.

When thinking about your content, it’s always best to think of it in terms of quality.

It’s not about how many pages you can kick out so Google starts thinking you’re an authority on “X”. It’s about how many good pages you can write for your readers, so you attract more traffic and build your brand that way!

Thanks for joining me for this week’s video! As always, if you have any questions about today’s post, or anything else for that matter, I’d love to hear from you! You can email me directly at [email protected], or find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd.

image thanks to warrantedarrest (Tomas de Aquino)

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SEO Copywriting Checklist: Is your content personality-challenged?

Learn how to bring technical content to life with tone and feelHello and welcome back to another installment of the SEO Copywriting Checklist video series! Today Heather addresses the question of whether your content is personality-challenged.

And while you may not be quite sure what “personality-challenged” means, chances are you have come across sites that, well…bore you to tears. Elicit the yawn. Have the charisma of a rock. That kind of thing.

So tune in as Heather discusses how you can avoid the yawn response to your website, no matter how technical your profession:

Are you boring your reader?

– This can happen in any industry, but especially medical and legal.

– The text often sounds dry, boring and technical.

– Yawn.

I see personality-challenged sites most frequently in the medical and legal fields. Typically these sites have content that is very dry, very technical, contains lots of really big words, and doesn’t forge a connection with the reader.

People will write their content this way for a couple of reasons:

1. Because that’s how they’re used to writing.

For instance, if they are a physician or an attorney and they’re writing their own content, their day-to-day technical writing style transfers over to their website.

2. Because they think it makes them sound smart.

Some site owners think that the more technical their content is, the smarter they sound, and that will dazzle their readers into contacting them. Actually, the opposite may very well happen. If people hit a site that speaks over their heads and they can’t connect with the copy, they might just back out and find another site they do connect with.

You don’t want folks to have the yawn response when they visit your website! You want them to think “Wow! I can really connect with this person. I love what they have to say, and I want to learn more!

Great example of a friendly, accessible tone and feel

Here’s an example of a site that’s done right.

You can find it at Dr. Cynthia Bailey is a dermatologist based in California who has an office, but also sells products on her site and writes a blog. If you look at her content – and she’s written 99.9 percent of it herself – you’ll see how approachable it is.

Dr. Bailey’s site has a very friendly tone and feel.

Even her “About Us” page (shown in the screenshot) makes her sound very friendly and approachable. She talks about how patients describe her like a trusted sister – where people can come to her with their embarrassing skin problems and she can help fix them.

Her site does really well.

She writes tremendous blog posts that get great traffic, and she sounds like a human being – not like the scary doctor behind the scenes. She sounds like someone that you would actually want to call, and visit her office or buy her products, because you feel like you can trust her.


– Friendly, approachable content works.

– You can still sound smart and experienced with a more casual tone and feel.

– Consider your readers’ needs carefully.

The example of Dr. Bailey’s site is something to consider with your own website if you’re working in the medical or legal profession: is there a way to shake up the tone and feel where you still sound smart, and you’re still outlining your expertise, but it’s not so technical?

Really think about your readers: What do they want to see? How do you connect with them in person, or on the phone or in an email? That’s the tone and feel you might want to capture in your web content to connect with your readers. It might work a lot better than copy that sounds dry, boring and technical!

Thanks for joining me! As always, if you have any questions at all or comments about today’s video post, I’d love to hear from you! You can reach me at [email protected], or on Twitter @heatherlloyd.

photo thanks to johnc24

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3 proven strategies for the challenged SEO copywriter

Has your writing muse abandoned you? Fear not – it happens.

In these three “best of” SEO copywriting video how-to’s, Heather shares her favorite writing tips to awaken your mind and kick-starting what it is you do best: brilliant SEO copywriting!

Take courage and avail yourself to Heather’s savvy & successful SEO copywriting tips with these three video shorts:


3 SEO content ideas for the blogging blocked

Heather discusses three SEO content ideas for those of you who may be “blogging blocked.”

If you’ve been blogging awhile, eventually you’ll probably hit the point where you’re not sure what to write about anymore. It can be very frustrating to sit there, looking at a blank page, thinking, I need to come up with a post, what am I going to do?

So here are some ideas for those folks who may be stuck because they’ve been blogging for a while, or for those who are just starting to blog and they’re looking for different avenues in which to do it…


How a swipe file can conquer writer’s block

Heather shares her favorite writing tip that can benefit all writers, whether you’re an in-house copywriter, freelance writer, blogger, or even a novelist. And that tip is: how to use a swipe file.

Swipe files are spectacular because they offer a great way to conquer writer’s block and provide inspiration on those days that you really need it!

Tune in to learn what a swipe file is, and how to use it to infuse your writing muse…


How to create an editorial calendar

In past webinars, Heather has discussed the importance of having an editorial calendar, but she has never actually addressed how to create one. So in this video, she does just that.

Listen up as Heather de-complicates the “editorial calendar” with three steps to creating one that serves both you and your content development team…


photo thanks to eamoncurry123 (Eamon Curry)


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When video content means bad news for your site

Greetings and welcome back! In this week’s SEO copywriting video how-to, Heather addresses when video-only content can be bad news for your website.

You may be thinking “How can that be?” because first off, THIS is a video post, and it’s well known that a lot of people check out YouTube every day, and that YouTube results appear in Google’s SERPs…so how can video be bad news?

Listen in as Heather explains those circumstances when going strictly video can be counter-productive for your site’s search appeal, and how you can do so much better by adding textual content to accompany your video…

How can video work against you?

I know a lot of companies are now relying on videos for pretty much everything, probably because in a many cases, it’s easier to do something like “What I’m doing here today” or shooting video, than it is to hire someone qualified in SEO and content marketing best practices to write search engine optimized, textual content.

So what I see is companies creating a lot of video around their sales pages, around their FAQ pages, and even instructions on how to do things with their product or service – and that’s cool! You can certainly have that content as part of your site…

BUT the flip side is that…

  • Not everyone will sit through a video – they’d rather read content instead.

There are some folks who will watch a video for pleasure and they love doing that, but when it comes to the business applications in video, they may prefer to read rather than wait for the video to provide the answers they need.

  • If people want answers FAST, video will work against you.

Video will work against you for readers who wanted their information yesterday, already! In these cases, content will serve them better.

  • Unfortunately, many companies just use video to describe their products/services.

But happily, there is a work-around for this need for speed in info-gathering and conversions, allowing you to have the best of both worlds!

Enjoy the best of both worlds!

Enjoying the best of both worlds is relatively simple and straightforward:

  • Yes, include your video. But also include a transcript (or write completely unique content that summarizes the video) and have that on your site’s Web page.

If you check out the SEO Copywriting website (if you happen to be watching this on YouTube), you’ll notice that the above is exactly what we do in providing unique content that summarizes the video!

We embed the video in our blog, but we also make sure we summarize the video with text.  I’ve received a lot of thank-you’s from folks who say “I really love the videos, but I love the fact that I can also quick-skim the content and get an idea of what the video is about!”

  • Your textual content can also include hyperlinks to other pages and reinforce the call to action.

The cool thing about including that textual content is that yes, it can position and do all those things you want it to do for Google, but from a Call-to-Action standpoint, you can include hyperlinks within that textual content that can point to other pages within your site – and that’s always wonderful, too!

  • People who want video can watch your video. People who would rather read can read your content.

Folks who prefer reading and need your content fast can do so – they can get to that textual content as quickly as they need to, and find the answers they need! While folks who prefer video have their needs and preferences met, as well!

  • It’s the best of both worlds!

And voila – you have the best of both worlds when you include textual copy with your video. Now go forth and do it! :)

Thanks for tuning in to this week’s SEO copywriting video how-to! As always, you’re most welcome to contact Heather Lloyd with any questions or comments below, or via her email at [email protected], or via Twitter @heatherlloyd.


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SEO content marketing roundup, week ending April 20th

Maybe it’s due to the tax season, but there seems to be a lot of number crunching going on in this week’s latest and greatest web writing news.  From content marketers trying to make sense of data and social media marketers measuring returns on relationships, to the SEO and search community analyzing the relative impact of social influences, valuation is the common denominator.  Here’s the tally of this week’s selections:

Content Marketing:

Great read at Design Damage about achieving long-term online marketing success, and a smart post at Eisenberg & Associates exploring the value of content marketing.

Seth Godin addresses the “economies of small,” and “tiny media” (the four horsemen of media).

HubSpot posts Excel tricks for crunching tons of marketing data, as well as an (“inbound now’) interview with Joe Pulizzi about all things content.

Content Marketing Institute posts a two-part series on content marketing analytics, the first about what to do with all those numbers and the second about turning analytics into actionable tasks.

The brave and bumpy path to exceptional content is posted at Shelly Bowen’s site (pybop), while Copyblogger posts how brevity can sometimes be bad for your content.

Hugo Guzman discusses the Johari Window concept as a way to understand your marketing, and HubSpot posts a video interview with Gary Vaynerchuk on “context marketing.”

Sonia Simone posts how to consistently attract high-quality traffic to your site at Copyblogger, and Frank Reed posts the many factors that make up internet marketing at Marketing Pilgrim.

Patsi Krakoff (of “the Blog Squad”) posts how to connect the dots to drive content marketing results at Writing on the Web, and Brian Tarcy offers five tips for better business storytelling via HubSpot.

The fundamentals of starting a company blog are at {grow}, and brand expert Jim Joseph shares tips to win customer loyalty at PR Web.

An interesting interview with Hugh MacLeod, discussing the infinite market for something to believe in, is posted at Copyblogger.

Content Marketing Institute offers a step-by-step guide to the new LinkedIn company pages for content marketers, and Search Engine Journal posts free Google tools for generating great web content ideas.

Social Media Today posts thinking strategically about content curation, and a Mashable posts no less than 40 new digital media resources.

Finally, Marketing Sherpa’s inaugural Optimization Summit, June 1st – 3rd in Atlanta, is fast running out of room.  Those interested are urged to register soon!

SEO & Search:

Marylene Delbourg-Delphis authors a great piece about the real nature of SEO power words at her site, and Distilled’s Tom Critchlow shows “how to make SEO happen” at SEOmoz.

ClickThrough Marketing reveals the biggest search engine marketing spenders, and Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici reports that Demand Media shares have tanked as a result of Google’s Farmer/Panda update.

In a related post, Search Engine Land’s Matt McGee reports that Google has lowered the boom on eHow, and Pamela Parker reports that the big G is planning to distinguish poor quality landing pages from policy violations.

SEOptimise publishes 30+ resources for Google’s Farmer/Panda update, while DIY SEO gleans the opinions of 45 experts on the biggest mistakes that small businesses make with SEO and online marketing.

Smart guest post by Level 343’s Gabriella Sannino about the need for customized social media and SEO strategies is at Search Engine Journal, and Search Engine Watch posts a great piece on “granular” SEO analytics.

Michael Gray addresses steps to make your website look more brand-like to Google at his SEO blog, and Kimberly Castleberry shares Matt Cutts’ video addressing how to prove your content is original at her site.

Search Engine Land post discusses an “Outbrain” study showing that search drives both more and better traffic to content sites than does social media.

Rand Fishkin looks at detailed data about the relative influence of Facebook and Twitter on Google search rankings at SEOmoz: interesting!

Website Magazine posts an article on 2011 search marketing trends, while Marketing Sherpa discusses capturing future seasonal traffic lifts with four SEO factors.

Ann Smarty guest posts on how to highlight your brand’s name in Google Reader search results at Search Engine Journal, and Linkbuildr discusses tactics for keeping your link-building “fresh.”

SEOmoz’s Dr. Pete discusses eight “easy wins” for on-page SEO, and Search Engine Land offers six simple SEO tips for small businesses.

On a much more ambitious note, SEO Book discusses starting an SEO business, and Level 343 takes on writing for your website visitors.

Finally, SEOmoz announces Pro SEO Boston, scheduled for May 16th and 17th.

Social Media Marketing:

The Social CMO proposes a new measure of social media success, namely, return-on-relationship (ROR) rather than ROI.

How to optimize your brand’s Facebook page for search engines is addressed at Read Write Web (Biz), while All Facebook posts tips for using Facebook features to market your brand.

Top Rank’s Lee Odden posts understanding B2B social media via infographics, and Social Media Examiner cites a study showing that small businesses benefit most from social media.

Pure Driven discusses how to protect your company from “dysfunctional” social media strategies, and Social Marketing Forum posts a thoughtful piece about social media advertising.

iMedia Connection posts simple tips for Facebook and Twitter success, as well as 10 Facebook lessons learned from Apple vs. Google.

The book “Marketing lessons from the Grateful Dead” is discussed by Mack Collier, while Brian Solis announces that his Engage 2.0 in now online and available at bookstores.

Social Media Examiner posts how to use geolocation in your marketing initiatives as well as ways to use social media to sell successfully.

Mark Schaefer posts a video interview with Jay Baer at {grow} in which Baer shares his advice for those wanting to go into social media consulting.

Speaking of Jay Baer, he ponders if Twitter is massively overrated at Convince and Convert, while For Free Blog discusses what makes a great tweet.

Finally, Social Media Examiner headlines its weekly news with YouTube’s new YouTube Live streaming video feature.