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Scalable Content Generation Strategy: The Online Marketer’s Formula for Success

When you are a large company or an agency, generating large volumes of good content can be quite a challenge. It can get expensive pretty quickly.  It is also time-consuming.

And in the end, high quality content is not a guarantee of explosive attention and viral sharing.

In order for your content generation to be sustainable, it needs to be scalable. The formula for success is using fewer resources to generate more high quality content.

In addition, your content needs to provide an excellent user experience and convey a consistent brand message, in compliance with brand standards.

Yes, I know, it is easier said than done!

The only way you can sustain content generation without breaking the bank is by making your content strategy scalable.

Planning Your Content Strategy

Planning your content strategy can be broken down into three foundational steps: defining your target audience, doing a content audit and regular inventory, and setting your content marketing goals.

1. Audience.  You will be using your content to speak to the customers you are trying to reach.  Of course, it makes sense to learn about these people to determine what is important to them.  Why would they listen to you?

Once you know what they want and what message they respond to, you will be able to craft your brand message more effectively.

There are many ways to collect information about your website visitors.  You can run surveys, look at feedback and contact email, or talk to customer support. You can follow your tribe on social media. You can interview your most typical clients.

Once you know who your audience is, look at your website analytics. If you can, segment the data to fit your audience profile better. Trace their routes on your website and make note of what they are doing with your content.

Find out which content they like and share. Learn which content prompts them to take action and become your customer. And finally, which content does not affect them whatsoever.

Note what type of content they prefer – text, video, audio, etc. You will also notice if your audience likes to comment or they prefer sharing.

2. Content audit and inventory.  It is important to do a content inventory regularly.  Audit your content to avoid duplication and ensure accuracy and freshness.

You can combine the audit with your audience review.  The analysis will show if your content corresponds with the interests of your visitors.

When reviewing your site, mark the pages that need to be updated or expanded.  These should be popular pages that your visitors share and comment on.  Review the comments and note ideas for new pages or blog posts.

Some of the content can be re-purposed, some needs to be deleted.  Mark the pages accordingly.

3. Set goals. You know what your audience wants. You know what you have to offer.  It is time to define your content marketing goals.

Revise your business objectives and align them with your content strategy.  Use your business and branding goals to guide your marketing.

At this step, you need to craft your brand message:

  • What are you trying to communicate to your audience?
  • What is your tone?
  • What do you expect your audience to do once they receive your message?
  • Why would they care about what you have to say?
  • What is the benefit for them to know that you exist?

If you have answers to these questions, you are ready for the next step – implementation.

Implement Your Content Strategy

The only way to achieve scalable content generation is to have good processes in place.

 – You can start with a content schedule. Define tools and technology you will need to build work flows, help with the planning, approval, optimization, and distribution of your content.

 – Now you are ready for resources.  Train them. Assign specific roles for each person. Your staff needs to be held accountable for the results and, therefore, they need to own their part of the process. Outsourcing content generation is also an option.  With clear goals and processes, outsourcing can be very successful.

 – Create a process for generating a content pipeline. It should start with ideas. Then you can take each idea and cover different angles for a series of (un)related posts.

  • Take one idea and create content in multiple formats – video, audio, text, infographic, white paper, etc.
  • Use one idea, same content, but different delivery channels: blog, social media, email, press release, conference presentation, advertising, interview, etc.

 – Define types of content that match your goals.  Consider options like how to’s, tutorials, guides, checklists, or glossaries. These are usually very popular types of content.

 – Determine how much of each type of content you need. Create a process for generating each type of content.

 – Remember that content you needed to update? Go for it. Re-purpose those other pages. Put the deadlines on the content calendar.

Measure Results

The only way to determine success is to measure your results. Here are some things to consider:

 – Determine how you will measure success. Go back to your goals and objectives, review your content strategy, and set KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and targets.

 – Define reports and their frequency. Who is your audience for the reports?  What are the next actions for them based on the data you are reporting?

 – What you measure will show you how you are doing.  Base your metrics on data that matters to achieving your goals. A high bounce rate on a blog post might be okay, if the time-on-page is high enough.  But a high bounce rate on a conversion page means that your message missed the mark.

Final Thoughts

Remember the formula to a scalable content generation strategy?

Fewer resources generating more high quality content make a scalable strategy.  Good processes will ensure that few resources are used. They will also streamline the very process of content generation.

As a result, you will receive large quantities of different types of content. Applying audience knowledge to your company message will solidify the quality.

About the Author ~ Lyena Solomon

Lyena is the localization director at Service Now. She has extensive experience in SEO, analytics, website usability and navigation. You can connect with Lyena on Twitter.

SEO Copywriting vs. Social Media Writing: What’s the Difference?

It’s not often that something leaves me speechless.

I was chatting with someone who said, “SEO copywriting is so 10 years ago. Now it’s all about social media writing.”

Uh, what?

That’s when I realized that some people believe that SEO copywriting and social media writing are two different skill sets.

Back in the day (around 2001,) “SEO copywriting” was more commonly referred to as “writing for search engines.” It encompassed any keyword-based online writing, including directory listings (I remember when getting a Yahoo directory listing was a big deal,) articles, PPC ads and sales-oriented pages.

The term “SEO copywriting” came about to differentiate the unique direct response writing style that grew out of this new niche. Copywriters were forced to satisfy two target audiences:

  • The automated, soulless search engines (making sure the right keywords were in the right places the right way,)
  • Prospects (using proven direct-response techniques to encourage the sale.)

As far as I know, SEO writing is the first time copywriters were “forced” to include certain words in the main content to make the content searchable.

Granted, us “writing to sell” copywriters were still creating articles, white papers and other types of “non-sales” writing. We just lumped any keyword writing service under the SEO copywriting umbrella.

Now, we have blogs, Twitter and Facebook. We’re communicating with folks in real-time, breaking down the stuffy corporate Website walls and humanizing our companies. We write linkbait posts to drive traffic, send targeted tweets about our companies (knowing that tweets appear in Google search results, too,) and pray that people like and share our latest musings.

From where I sit, social media writing is just SEO copywriting in a different wrapper.

  • Social media writers need to understand keyphrase research (like SEO copywriters.)
  • Social media writers need to understand the audience and write incredibly engaging content (like SEO copywriters.)
  • Social media writers create content to meet a specific goal: More subscribers, more search engine traffic, more referrals from Twitter, more interest in a product or service. Sure, we talk about “engagement.” But at the end of the day, it’s all about driving income.

Having said that, there are some important differences.

  • Not all social media writers know how to write to sell. Direct response copywriting is a very unique skill set that’s based in neuropsychology, psychology and years of testing. A general blogger (who doesn’t usually write sales copy) may not write copy that converts as highly as a dedicated copywriter. To paraphrase Austin Powers, direct-response writing, “may not be their bag, baby.”
  • By the same token, some copywriters can’t shake the sales out of their writing no matter how hard they try. They try to write an informative blog post and make it sound like a squeeze page. The immediacy of Twitter, (“What do you mean I can’t edit my Tweet once I’ve hit send. What if I think of another way to say it?”) freaks them out. Sales copy keeps them happy. Anything else…not so much.

What do you think? Are there any other major differences between SEO content writers and social media writers? What do you call what you do for a living (or what your in-house copywriters do?). Copywriter or social media writer?

Does Your Site Suffer from “Content Mullet” Syndrome?

Remember the mullet? That late 70’s – 80’ish hairstyle that all allegedly cool dudes (and hot chicks) once sported? You know,`a la those hair-tossing rock ‘n roll bands and tough leathered chicks of the time (circa Styx, Journey, Pat Benatar, etc.)?

Well, in this week’s Web-writing video, Heather takes the notorious mullet into another dimension altogether, asking: does your site suffer from “content mullet” syndrome?

Beginning with what a “content mullet” is, Heather walks us through recognizing the signs and symptoms of content mullet syndrome, easy and organic remedies for the malady, and a preventative prescription to guard against relapse…

The content may have looked great…once upon a time…

So what is a “content mullet”?

It’s much like the mullet hairstyle: it might have looked great once upon a time, in its time – meaning it was in, it was fashionable, it was hip – but when you look at it now, it looks a little dated (in the kindest words).

Translating that to your website, your content mullet might have worked very well for you once upon a time, but now it’s marked by:

  • Outdated articles
  • Outdated sales pages
  • Conference/event pages that haven’t been updated
  • Press pages and links that haven’t been updated

These all represent great opportunities for content marketing, and they are all very important to the conversions process.

It may not seem like a big deal…but it sends a message…

You may be inclined to shrug off this out-dated content warning, thinking yeah, yeah, I’ll do something about such-and-so page eventually…but keep in mind that:

  • People notice and wonder what’s going on.
  • This is especially true if your competition is kicking out new, fresh content.

If your website appears to be out-of-touch and its content neglected, your prospect is liable to click back to one of your competitors’ sites – you know, the one with the newest and most relevant information beckoning her and thereby underscoring its relative credibility. (Not to mention that your competitors’ sites are most likely out-ranking yours’ on the SERPs, with Google’s preference for sites with fresh content.)

The key is to take care of business – fast!

Again, this presents an opportunity for you to at once revitalize your site and market your content. And it is something that is relatively easy to evaluate and fix.

All you need to do is:

  • Comb through your site and make a list of outdated pages.

This is going to take a little bit of time if you have a larger site. But check things like your blog posts, press release and conference pages, and any articles to see what the opportunities are. Go through that list and then:

  • Focus on revising a few pages a month until you’re done.

Tip: If one of the outdated pages on your list is a sales page, you probably will want to prioritize it because it will help you make money! Then you can work on the other pages as you go along.

  • Consider if you need to develop a new process.

For example, it is so common for companies to send out press releases and then forget to upload them to their site. If that sounds like something that’s afflicting your business, then make it a point of the process that once the press release is sent out, it goes online as well.

Tip: Just inserting such key points into your content marketing process is a simple way to keep everyone involved informed of when to automatically update any given web page.

  • Moving forward, review your content once a quarter.

Now you’ve ditched the mullet for a far more trendy and attractive  look, make it a policy to review your content at least once a quarter.

An ongoing, quarterly inventory of your content is a smart way to keep on top of the newest content creation and marketing opportunities that will keep your website competitive.

Besides that, it ensures that you regularly discover new ways to tweak your content, update pages, and do anything else that will keep your website fresh and new, and give your readers the best possible content you can deliver!

 

photo credit to IndiePics!/Valarie Apperson/Talamantes

4 Content Optimization Tips for E-commerce Websites

Guest Author, Nick Stamoulis

E-commerce sites often struggle with their SEO. Boring, bland product descriptions make up the bulk of the content, the URL structures are often a mess and because they rely so heavily on graphics the site speed is very slow and most of the site looks blank to the search spiders. However, that doesn’t mean that there is no hope for e-commerce sites when it comes to optimizing their content! SEO best practice guidelines still apply, but an e-commerce site might have to approach it differently than another site.

Here are 4 content optimization tips for e-commerce websites:

1. Make the product descriptions unique.

One of the most common problems plaguing e-commerce websites is that they all use the same product description sent over from the manufacturer. How are you going to make your website stand out when your content is duplicated across a dozen other e-commerce sites? Why should a potential customer choose your site over the competition? Rewrite the generic product descriptions so they include your unique selling point! Don’t be afraid to beef up the product description if you need to; the more content you have the more information there is for the search spiders to read and index. It is also easier to incorporate keywords naturally when you have more content to optimize.

2. Add customer reviews to product pages.

Customer reviews can help from both an SEO and user-experience standpoint. Online buying has become a very social activity. Consumers want to read peer reviews BEFORE they make a purchasing decision so they know it’s the right decision for them. Why let your potential customers venture off site to read a peer review when you can build it right into your website? This helps build consumer trust in your e-commerce site and might be the last push a visitor needs to become a customer. Consumer reviews also gives your site more unique content for the search spiders to read and index.

3. Create Meta data templates

If your e-commerce site is relatively small, writing unique Meta tags, Meta descriptions, title tags and H1 tags (elements of on-site SEO) might not take that long; if your site has 3,000 pages it’s another story. One way to help speed up the content optimization process of an e-commerce site is to create a dozen or so Meta data templates that you can use at random throughout your site. For instance, a Meta description template for a furniture e-commerce site might look something like this:

Shop online with [COMPANY NAME] to find unique [ROOM] furniture sets in a variety of wood types and stains. Click here to order your new [ROOM] furniture.

They could use that Meta description (and slight variations) for the dining room, bedroom, living room or kitchen furniture pages of their site. Over a large enough site, it won’t read like duplicate content. By changing up the targeted keywords depending on the page you can optimize them accordingly.

4. Try different call-to-actions

At the end of the day, an e-commerce site’s job is to sell your company’s products. One way to help your conversion rate is by changing up the call-to-actions throughout your site. For instance, with the holidays rapidly approaching you could incorporate call-to-actions such as “Buy now and guaranteed delivery by Christmas” or “Spend $50 or more and receive free holiday shipping!” There is no “perfect” call-to-action or incentive that is going to make all of the visitors to your site buy right then and there; so change it up! Find the right call-to-action that seems to resonate best with your target audience. Remember, each site is different so what works for your competition might not always work for you.

About the Author – Nick Stamoulis

Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing a Boston based full service SEO firm. . You can contact Nick Stamoulis at [email protected]

5 Steps to Great Content for Readers and Search Engines

Kristi Hines

One thing that has become evident in the post-Google Panda world is that if you want to ensure that your site doesn’t lose rankings, you will need great content!

Not simply search engine optimized content, but content that both search engines AND visitors will enjoy alike.

Everyone’s content development process is a little different.  Today I’d like to share mine with you, particularly when it comes to writing.

1.  Figure out your target keywords

Sure, most people know a few keywords that define their site.  But chances are, they are not enough keywords to generate writing topics around.  In some cases, your keywords might be general enough that you can narrow them down into more specific topics of focus.  In other cases, your keywords may be so specific that you need to broaden your horizons in order to find topics to write about.

Keyword suggest tools are the best way to go for finding keyword phrases that people search for often. When you start typing in a keyword on Google, for example, it will start suggesting related search terms:

Google isn’t the only suggest tool out there though – be sure to check out Bing, Yahoo, Ubersuggest, and YouTube for additional keyword ideas.

The best part about the latter four is Topsy and Wefollow will tell you what keywords are popular on Twitter, Delicious will tell you what is popular in articles that are frequently bookmarked, and YouTube, of course, will tell you what is popular in video content.

2. Generate some content ideas based on those keywords that people will want to read

Once you have a great list of keywords, the next step is to create headlines that will appeal to readers.  The best way to generate some great content ideas is to use proven headline formulas, such as those given in the free guide, 102 Headline Formulas by Chris Garrett of Authority Blogger, and plug those keywords into the headlines in which they fit best.

For even more ideas, don’t miss Copyblogger’s How to Write Magnetic Headlines, which is an 11 part series on writing better headlines in no time.

3. Forget the SEO and write your content

Here’s what I consider the fun part.  This is where you forget about SEO for a while and just write your content.  Instead of thinking about optimization, think about the content – articles, blog posts, magazine pieces, etc. – that you have really enjoyed reading and write your content in that manner. Make it enjoyable, valuable, and exciting for readers!

I would also suggest during this writing spree to hold off on the editing as this can slow down your writing process. Let the ideas flow from your mind to your keyboard, then take the editorial run through to check for spelling and grammatical issues.

4. After your article is written, then you can work on the search optimization.

Now that you have a great piece of content that people will love to read, you should go back through and add the optimization features that will make the content easily searchable and targeted for your keyword phrase.  This includes the title tag and meta description, header tags (H2’s and H3’s especially), and optimization of your images (including the  ALT description), and a proper file name with keywords.

5. Get out and promote it!

Last, but not least, once that awesome piece of content is written, optimized, and published online, you will need to go out and promote it.  Content is not something where you create it and your audience will just naturally flock to it (unless you’re Mashable and already have a monster audience).

You will need to promote your content through social media, your mailing list (for those especially awesome pieces), instant messenger, forums, blog comments, and any other form of getting the word out in which you can participate.  Only then will your content be a success!

I hope these steps help you balance the fine line between SEO friendly and reader friendly content development when it comes to your blog posts, articles, and page content.  What additional tips would you like to give writers who have to develop content for both worlds?

Kristi Hines is a blogging and social media enthusiast.

3 Ways to Save Money on SEO Copywriting

Greetings! In today’s Q&A video post, Heather addresses the question: how can I save money on SEO copywriting services? You may have noticed that professional SEO copywriting isn’t cheap. You do get what you pay for. So the challenge is if you want to build out really good content for your site, you’re looking at either:  A) learning how to do it yourself, which is an investment in time, or B) outsourcing your SEO copywriting to a professional, which will cost you money.

Sorry, but there’s no way around this one. If you want great SEO copywriting that gets results, you’ll have to pay for it one way or another. But there are ways you can save money on SEO copywriting services, right now!

Heather explains, focusing on saving money on your SEO content generation:

1) Repurpose Existing Content

There are very powerful ways you can leverage existing content: for instance, maybe someone on your staff has written a book, or possibly a “meaty” white paper: you can take these raw materials and repurpose some of the content into FAQ pages, blog posts, and tweets.

This is an especially smart strategy if your company has been around for awhile and you’ve archived content handy to revise and repurpose.

2) Get Trained in SEO Copywriting Best Practices

This applies to larger companies that have been outsourcing their SEO copywriting for all this time, as well as to those smaller to mid-sized businesses (SMB’s) that have talented writers on staff.

  • For larger companies: It can pay off in a big way to have everyone involved with content and content marketing trained in SEO copywriting best practices, be it marketing, branding, or even I.T. personnel: it’s important that they understand why SEO copywriters write the way they do, and how SEO copywriting fits into the whole web development process.
  • For SMB’s: It can be extremely cost-efficient to train those talented writers on your staff in SEO copywriting best practices, rather than relying on an outsourced SEO copywriter to create content.

3) Consider Guest Blog Posts from Loyal Customers or Readers

It can prove to be a costly investment of time and effort trying to figure out fresh, quality content for your blog. Having one of your loyal readers or customers write about their perception of your products or services via a guest blog post can help to pull in other readers/customers.

  • This will not only save you money, but will also serve to fill out some of those content “holes” in your editorial calendar, and serve your readers by highlighting fresh perspectives from others.

The main thing to consider is that whatever you do, think Quality. Make sure the content on your website, blog, or social media site is something you’re proud of, and want to share with others.

Interview with the Conversion Scientist, Brian Massey

The Conversion Scientist, Brian Massey

Brian Massey is the Conversion Scientist at Conversion Sciences and he has the lab coat to prove it. His rare combination of interests, experience and neuroses was developed over almost 20 years as a computer programmer, entrepreneur, corporate marketer, national speaker and writer.

Conversion Sciences was founded to fill the Web with helpful, engaging and entertaining online Web sites that convert visitors into leads and sales. Brian has helped dozens of businesses transform their sites through a steady diet of visitor profiling, purposeful content, analytics and testing.

So how did it come to pass that you became the “Conversion Scientist?”

Well, I knew that few business owners were waking up in the middle of the night in cold sweats screaming “I need an online marketing strategist,” which is what I technically do. Even fewer are screaming for a “Conversion Scientist.” However, the next best thing to having someone say, “Oh, I need someone like you,” is having them say, “You’re a what?” And I can explain conversion in a sentence.

The Sciences theme plays to the fact that my practice is very data-driven: “I get no pleasure if we don’t measure.”

In your opinion, where is the art of conversion copywriting going?

I think it is going cross-channel. To be a good copywriter, you must be able to be persuasive on a landing page, home page, product page, etc. To be a good conversion copywriter, you have to be able to write a video script, summarize the major points for the landing page, create the series of blog posts that tease the video, compose the white paper that the video pitches, integrate the search key words in all of this and then cram it all into 140 characters… all in a week.

The only way to really know what to write without doing a lot of research is to watch your results. You have to know which topics get clicked. You have to know which headlines get sales. You have to know which search terms like which offers.

A good copywriter watches the numbers.

Do you have any words of wisdom for SEO copywriters about conversion optimization?

Get comfortable reading Adwords analytics and site analytics. Figure out what works for humans (conversions) as well as the search engine (visits). Then practice, and when you get good, charge a whole lot of money.

Besides actual text, what are other ways to induce conversions?

Use big buttons that call people to action. Draw boxes around important points you want to make. Strike stock photography from the site. Add a video. Shorten your signup form. Add trust symbols and logos to your pages and shopping carts. Most importantly, know the person who typed in the page URL or search term, and why they did so at this point in their life. Then make them glad they did.

Where do SEO copywriters “fit” in the overall conversion equation?

Copywriters have more ability to affect conversion rates than any other contributor to the online marketing equation. Richer images can be drawn with words than with Photoshop. Headlines can be more emotional than photographs. Designers assume they have 8 seconds to get someone’s attention. Good writers will capture visitors for minutes. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it’s still the words that count.

Why does it sound like I’m so full of shit? Because writers don’t know how to defend themselves. Most marketing firms believe that, because they own Word, they are qualified to edit a writers’ work. As a result, writers suffer from PRPSD: Post Red Pen Stress Disorder. By the time a corporate committee has finished “reviewing” their work, the storytelling, metaphor and color have all been bled out of the best copy. Copywriters begin to just do what the client asks rather than fight the battle. Copywriter heal thyself. Every situation is different, but I would recommend the following:

Be the most expensive in your industry/area /subject matter. This gives you the freedom to rewrite and do more research if necessary.

  1. Set expectations up front: “I won’t let just anyone edit my copy.”
  2. Don’t EVER assume that the client knows their customers, especially on the Web.
  3. Get good at doing personas of Web visitors. These fake people will rise to your defense when your copy is attacked.
  4. Threaten to fire clients frequently.
  5. Gather data from every client you don’t fire to demonstrate your prowess.
  6. Call yourself a Copy Scientist, Persuasion Editor, or Conversion Linguist… and then kick ass.

Content Criminal Minds: Eye Candy, Passion & Community Dedication

In “Content Criminal Minds: Why your content needs a BAU” (the first of my Content Criminal Minds series*), I introduced the stunning Derek Morgan.

Yes, he’s eye candy, but he’s functional eye candy. While he adds beauty to the show, he also shows a lot of passion for his job and dedication to his community.

Content and content strategies need that same functional beauty. After all, first impressions make all the difference. If your content and website look spammy and low quality, it won’t get the attention it deserves and no one will see the value.

Content and Content Strategies Should Be Pretty

Whether you’re looking at an individual piece of content or all of your content as a whole, it has to look good and reflect well on your brand. (And yes, I mean it should be high quality, but it should also have visual appeal.)

For example, a piece of content should have images, video, audio and other mediums instead of just text. This will make it easy for people to read, it’ll make the page look nice, but it will also help with things like SEO, social sharing and comprehension. Your content strategy should be the same.

Including a variety of mediums in your content strategy will:

  • Keep your site (and your brand) fun and interesting.
  • Expand your reach by catching those who prefer alternative media.
  • Improve your authority and value by further exploring a topic.
  • Make your content easier to consume and share.
  • Better show the value and benefits of your products/services.

Use Content to Show Your Passion and Personality

Part of what makes Derek Morgan attractive and such an important member of the group is his personality and passion for what he does. And it shows in everything he does. He knows when to have fun and when to get serious. Your content and content strategy needs to do that, too.

It’s important to get down to business and get your information out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s your only option. Even if your brand is highly professional and refined, you still need to be personable and show your personality. You might even want to have a little fun.

Take Nike, for example. They’re a huge company and very, very formal and professional. Their advertising also screams quality and professionalism, but they’re not afraid to have a little fun, either. And they’re passionate, too.

If you can’t get excited about your industry, products and services, your target audience won’t be able to, either. So, get excited, show the love you have for what you do and open the window to all the benefits, value and opportunities your industry can bring. You’ll find it will get a far better response and be much more effective.

Be Easy to Work With and Make Sure People Know What You’re About

Derek Morgan may have the occasional disagreement with other characters on the show, but he’s easy to work with and they always know where they stand with him. There’s no beating around the bush or playing games. Your content and content strategy should be the same.

Everything you do should have a single purpose. If you add something to a page (or to your strategy) that doesn’t meet that specific purpose or goal, it doesn’t belong. This strengthens your marketing, adds clarity and strengthens your message. Visitors will be more likely to get your message and you’ll be more likely to meet your goals.

Navigation through your content and your content strategy are also important. Everything you create should be easy to find. People should be able to find what they need without digging, and most importantly, they should find it in the right order.

In other words: You need clear content funnels that move visitors from the landing page to the “goal” or “money page”. That being said, your content strategy can’t just be a stream of advertisements and product pitches.

Your content should be well rounded. It should be a well rounded strategy filled with relatable, confident and valuable content that informs or entertains. And it should all have an emphasis on serving your community (your target audience).

Derek Morgan adds good looks, passion, a fun personality and an unwavering dedication to his community. Your content and content strategy should do the same.

*The Content Criminal Minds series:

Content Criminal Minds: Why your content needs a BAU

Content Criminal Minds: 11 essentials goals of a solid content strategy

Content Criminal Minds: Fast & easy ways to streamline your content strategy

About the Author ~ Angie Nikoleychuk

A seven-year veteran in the war against boring, crap content, copywriter Angie Nikoleychuk loves writing, but she loves content strategy even more. She’s always up for a challenge and enjoys showing others how much fun (and effective) content can be. Find her on Twitter.

photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Learn the latest in content marketing and SEO copywriting best practices – check out my SEO copywriting training options and find the best program for your needs!

Wake up, You’re in the Social SEO Copywriting Business!

Star Trek's Commander Picard asks "How can you say you're social when you never say anything socially?"If you remember the good ole’ SEO copywriting days of yon, you may recall a tool that was all the rage for a couple of years called the Keyword Density Counter.

It was a dark time in SEO, when we could rank for just about anything simply by inserting our keywords of choice in the title, description and a few times throughout the copy.

The more you could squish in there, the better! Keyword counters were everywhere online; all you had to do was drop in your text to see whether you hit that magical 5 to 7% goal your client had requested.

I still see people ask for a specific keyword density but now, it makes my brain hurt.

Tactics like keyword density just don’t work anymore, but that’s old news. Optimizing content for search engines requires more finesse and now, optimizing for human readers is critical. There are literally hundreds of factors affecting your content’s search ranking, not the least of which are trust, authority, and engagement.

Social media is hands down the best content promotion tool out there. Though many will argue social activity won’t directly affect the way search engines rank content, getting eyes on your content (and enticing them to stay there) means page views, social shares, lower bounce rates and hopefully conversions.

Audiences have matured and we’ve had to take another step back and learn to factor social sharing in earlier in the game. It’s not enough to say what you want to say and hope for the best; a holistic online marketing strategy requires that social promotion is baked into your content right from the planning phase.

Plan for Social Promotion

Ideally, you’re no longer planning content based on what it is you want people to hear about your company. When the purpose of your blog posts, press releases, website copy or other content is to attract people to your business and convert them to customers, your content needs to offer them some value, by way of informing, convincing, or entertaining.

Visitors Flow - Google Analytics

 

Using the data available to you, choose topics and angles based on what it is your readers are looking for, even if they haven’t expressly told you.

A few great sources of information you already have at your disposal include:

  • Site analytics – How are people arriving at your site and what were they looking for? Check out the Visitors Flow section, in particular (see the above image) – it’s a great source of information to inform your content plan. See where visitors drop off (shown in red). Is there an opportunity to retain their attention by building out on a topic in which they lost interest?
  • Social media activity – What are people asking you about on your social channels or discussing outside your network? Listen actively and plan content to address the needs you see that aren’t necessarily expressed as such.
  • Trends monitoring – Stay on top of trends across the web and social sites using free tools like Google Trends or Monitter. Plan optimized content to release as annual or monthly trends are surfacing.
  • Competitive intelligence – Use monitoring tools to keep an eye on competitor web and social activity. If you can’t afford a tool like Radian6 or Alterian, start with a few quick and dirty tactics like seeking out negative sentiment or competitor mentions with Twitter’s advanced search. Use these insights to identify audience pain points and solve them with your upcoming content.

Optimize Content for Social Discovery & Sharing

British flag showing TopRank Marketing's shared Flickr image of blog post

Top UK Online Marketing Influencers & Bloggers in 2013

Now that you have your editorial calendar populated with content ideas, get creative and plan for the maximum promotion of each piece before you begin writing.

Here are a few ways to increase the chances your final product will be socially shareable:

  • Interview an expert. Make your blog post the source of information others can’t get anywhere else. If they want to quote the CEO of XYZ Company sharing a specific piece of information, make other publishers refer to you as the source.
  • Include a thought leader. You might interview this person, refer to their previous work or interviews, or otherwise include them in your work. Make sure you do so in a meaningful way to increase their likelihood of promoting the piece.
  • Think about what it is you want people to share. Boil down a paragraph of facts or figures to a bulleted list of factoids for easy reference. What one idea or concept do you want readers to take away from the piece and have you made that clear in your title and description?
  • Connect the dots between your media and content item. Embed a SlideShare illustrating the process you’re describing in the blog post and use the description space available on SlideShare to link back to your post for more information. Embed a YouTube video and link to the post from YouTube. Add an image from your Flickr account and link to the post from there (see the example above, from TopRank blog’s Top UK Online Marketing Influencers & Bloggers in 2013). Make your content discoverable on the media sites from which you pull media content.

Promote the Right Content to the Right Social Audience

I find it amazing (and not in a good way) when I stumble across really great, high quality, interesting content that hasn’t been promoted in a meaningful way. Once you’ve done the legwork to produce an item that you’ve optimized for social sharing, get out there and start sharing!

  • Tag people or companies you’ve mentioned in your post on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Let them know they’ve been featured and many will share a positive piece of coverage. Better yet, email them a sneak preview and give them a vested interest in promoting your work.
  • Participate and share in LinkedIn or Facebook Groups & Google+ Communities. If you’re not yet the most prolific social marketer in the world, with every person who could possibly be interested in your work already following you, blasting your content out to your own network isn’t enough. Become a resource in the greater community around your industry. Just don’t be a spammer.
  • Repurpose content and optimize for different social networks. Pin your blog post image. Ask a question to go along with your link on Facebook. Pull a few highlights out and use them in the status update section of your Google+ post. Turn your post into a conversation starter by considering your audience needs on each network and tailoring your social post to catch their interest.
  • Actively seek out opportunities to address needs with your content. Hopefully you’re still monitoring the social web… find opportunities to use your content to answer a question or solve a problem. Again, don’t be a spammer.

Planning content with social promotion in mind allows you to maximize the return on your investment of time in each piece… and your time is valuable. Know what it is you want to communicate and how you plan on enticing others to share before you begin writing, to make social promotion an integral part of your content creation process.

I was going to sum this up with a question, but I think to stay true to the column, I’ll just say this: If you found this helpful, share with your writer friends!

About the Author ~ Miranda Miller

Miranda has been writing for the web since long before it was cool or profitable. Over the past several years, she’s completed over 350 client contracts, ghostwritten 60 e-books and one financial guide, and published thousands of articles for herself and clients. She’s also worked in transliteracy, adult education and advertising in her hometown of Owen Sound, Ontario.

photo thanks to Raphaellove

Adapting to visual content: 3 musts for the SEO copywriter

The SEO copywriter needs to adapt to visual content marketingWith each new photo-friendly social network (and updates to existing networks to make images look even better), I cringe a little. There was a time when the best way to get your message across online was through some high quality, optimized text. As writers, we were kings and queens among content creators.

But now the tide is shifting. The web has become, for many, a primarily visual experience. Here’s some food for thought:

  • 40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text. (Zabisco)
  • On Facebook, photos perform best for likes, comments and shares. (Dan Zarella)
  • Pinterest generated more referral traffic for businesses than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube. (PriceGrabber)

(stats courtesy of Hubspot)

So what is the SEO content writer to do? It’s time to adapt. You can’t deny the power of images, and if you want your clients to reach their business goals through marketing you need to offer what is best.

Text is still important – but smart content writers need to make some strategic moves to stay on top of what clients (and search engines) are looking for.

Here’s how to do it:

1.   Think strategist instead of writer.

Many copywriters and content creators don’t realize that they are playing an important strategic role in their clients’ success. The writing you’re delivering isn’t just writing – it plays into your client’s ongoing success.

As content shifts heavily towards images rather than writing, put on your strategist hat. Help your clients understand how your writing is supported by images, and vice versa. Craft a strategy for them that combines your words with key images for maximum impact.

When you take this position, you’ll be able to overcome any qualms your clients might have about spending money and time with a content writing specialist.

2.   Partner with a graphic designer.

There’s never been a better time to form a strategic partnership with a graphic designer who can add beautiful images to your artwork.

Here’s an example: You write a lengthy, thought leadership blog post for  a client and the graphic artist creates a series of beautiful quote images from that article. Your client can use those images to market the piece on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more. Or you could formally offer presentation creation services so your clients can leverage SlideShare, LinkedIn and Google+ promotion opportunities.

3.   Make incredibly awesome content.

The goal of most visual marketing is to get your audience to click back to a website and take action. That’s where your role as an SEO content creator comes in.

You get to create an incredibly awesome landing page that speaks directly to your client’s audience and gets the conversions that they are looking for. Plastering the web with cat memes and dancing Picard gifs will only get you so far (it will get you really far with me…but I’m a unique case).

If your client wants to leverage visual marketing they need somewhere to send that traffic. Put effort into developing incredibly awesome content in the form of landing pages, websites and blog posts.

Is visual content here to stay? Most definitely. But that doesn’t mean that our days are numbered as web writers. We just have to adapt.

How are you incorporating visual content into your approach? I’d love to read your ideas.

About the Author ~ Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing. She’s an SEO Copywriter and content marketing specialist who creates clickable content for clients in both B2B and B2C markets. As a proud graduate of SuccessWork’s SEO Copywriting Certification training program, she geeks out on algorithm updates and content marketing metrics. She’s always in the mood for a good cat-based meme. You can connect with Courtney on LinkedIn.

photo thanks to Ron Mader (planeta)

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