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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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Bored? Here’s how you can spice up your SEO content

Has your SEO content gone stale? Here are some ways to spice it up!Whether you consider yourself a niche writer or not, chances are you tend to create content for similar websites. Maybe you tend to write websites for medical or legal professionals. Maybe you have many small business clients. Perhaps you have mastered B2B writing.

Regardless, if you are comfortable writing similar sites, you may be stagnant and not even know it.

When I first started out, I wrote websites for many dentists. I could write about the various types of teeth whitening systems, the differences between an inlay and an onlay, and even the various methods to overcome dental phobia.

The bonus: I could write these websites in my sleep. There was a quick turnaround and very little effort.

The problem: I could write these websites in my sleep. The websites started sounding the same and I lost my desire to write something different. I was bored.

Then I received a referral and things got interesting.

This client sold “marital aids” and wanted an extensive guide.

Was this outside of my normal comfort zone? Oh yeah. But writing about something else was fun and exciting. I couldn’t turn off my brain and mindlessly type. I had a new target audience to write for, new perspectives to consider and new products to discuss.

Plus, I noticed even more benefits – ones that carried through to my other jobs.

The gig shook up my thinking and let me approach the next dental website with a refreshed outlook. I saw new opportunities and broke free from the same boring structure.

All from trying something new.

This week’s SEO content challenge: Spice things up!

Write something different. You don’t have to write about marital aids, just something outside of your normal writing realm.

If you don’t have the luxury of breaking out of your niche (especially if you are an in-house writer), find another outlet. Write a short story. Create an unrelated blog post. Do whatever you can do to shake up your creativity.

You’ll be amazed at how much it helps.

Happy writing!

(And if you have your own tips of how to break through from “boring” into “brilliant,” please let us know in the comments. Thanks!)

Photo thanks to Clyde Robinson

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How to create unique SEO content for location pages

Local search expert Mary Bowling discusses how to create unique content for location pagesYou need to show the search engines unique content on all of your website’s location pages.  Searchers who land on them must also be able to quickly decipher where you are, what you do and who you are.

They should also be able to find all of the information they may want to know about that particular place of business.  Coupled with a prominent phone number and clear calls to action, this is what’s needed to prompt prospective customers to contact the company ASAP.

This is fairly simple with just a handful of offices, stores or shops. It becomes more challenging with more locations, but is still doable for most writers up to a point. However, the more unique pages you need to devise the harder and harder it gets – until it becomes overwhelming.

As I’m sure you know, it’s difficult to write dozens – or even hundreds – of unique descriptions about what is essentially the same thing. It’s also awkward trying to make location landing pages authentic and useful to readers if you’ve never visited those places, seen what they look like and what’s around them, met the staff, toured the business or know what makes their products or services different.

Involving Your Local Operators

That’s why you need to involve the people who manage each branch of the business to help you by providing content that is specifically about their place and written in their own voice.  These are some of the types of unique content they can help you with:

  • description of their business in their own words, including anything unique or different about their products, services or processes that would appeal to readers
  • local business groups they belong to (such as the BBB or Chamber of Commerce)
  • trade associations they are affiliated with
  • awards, certifications, education or training, special licenses they or their staff may have
  • photos (cell phone photos are fine and easy to email) of their storefront, their staff, the inside of their business, some of their most popular products, happy customers in the store, employees performing services and so on
  • driving, biking, walking and public transit directions from different areas of town
  • operating hours, email address and the methods of payment they accept
  • case studies they can share or lists of present and past customers you can publish
  • testimonials they may have received via email or snail mail from happy customers
  • bios of their key staff, especially the people who will be providing skilled services
  • specials or coupons offered

Here’s an example of a location page that incorporates most of the above items without being spammy or overdone. It contains all the information a prospective customer may want to know before they pick up the phone to call.

Great Location Landing page example

 

Involving Your Web Developers

At some point, you’ll need to get the website developer involved in helping to make all of these pages easier to manage. This can be done entirely via a database or your pages can be a hybrid of static and database-driven content.

Ideally, each local operator should be able to log in to their own record and enter or upload the items listed above. Then, if staff, hours or specials change, they can be quickly updated online. If an office moves, the new address is available to web users immediately. If the store is remodeled, new photos can appear on the page within hours. You get the idea!

Having all of this information in a well-organized, accurate database also allows you to “feed” it to data providers for distribution or directly to other websites, like Yelp or Trip Advisor via APIs.

Getting all of this set up is indeed a huge undertaking. However, in the long run, it will save time, reduce frustration and, most importantly, give your enterprise the best chance of keeping the information about all of its locations accurate and update across the web.

About the Author ~ Mary Bowling

Mary Bowling has been involved in SEO and other aspects of internet marketing, with a particular emphasis on Local Search, since 2003. You can connect with Mary via Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

photo thanks to Carlos Guerrera

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Is your home page doing its job?

Your home page should capture and covert prospects. Is it doing its job?When is the last time you really looked through your website pages?

I mean REALLY looked them over, with a critical eye?

It’s all too easy to “set and forget” them, thinking all is well. But is it?

Starting with your home page – you know, your online storefront and the one most indexed by the search engines… do you see it positioning well in the SERPs?

And more importantly, is it capturing web traffic and funneling visitors to your sites’ sales pages?

In short, is your home page doing its job?

Your home page will perform its work much better if isn’t laboring under content that’s all about you. Mission statement? No. Please.

You need to check your corporate ego at the door.

Do you find your home page languishing from too much verbage? Say, laden with wasted words to achieve some mythical ideal wordcount “for Google”? Stop it. Strive for an economy of words, always. If it can be said in 50 words rather than 500, do it. Be ruthless in your editing.

And please tell me this isn’t so – are you trying for an equally mythical keyword density in your content? Knock it off. Matt Cutts even said so – some time ago! It’s time to move past that. Let it go.

A killer home page resonates with your readers with content informed by a well-researched, sculpted customer persona. It will grab your readers’ attention and inspire them to dig deeper into your site.

Next week, we’ll talk a bit about how to optimize that content. But for now..

This week’s SEO content challenge: Make your home page the absolute best that it can be! Then try doing an A/B test to fine tune your revisions.

You may find yourself surprised at what a truly difficult assignment this is. But what a difference it will make for your site’s conversions!

Good luck, and please let me know how it goes – or how I can help!

photo thanks to nikcname

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Content Criminal Minds: Eye candy, passion & community dedication

Your content needs to be attractive, passionate, and show dedicationIn “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. When she’s not running Angie’s Copywriting or on Twitter, she can be found doing other weird and wonderful things like geocaching, crafting, or performing as a professional oboist.

photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Scalable content generation strategy: The online marketer’s formula for success

To produce high quality content in volume, you need a scalable content strategyWhen 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

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 Director of Search at Milestone Internet Marketing. She is leading the SEO and analytics teams providing strategy, overseeing processes, facilitating and carrying out training and testing latest strategies to improve conversion and revenue.

Lyena has extensive experience in SEO, analytics, website usability and navigation. You can connect with Lyena on Twitter and Google Plus.

 

photo thanks to UggBoy<3UggGirl

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SEO co-citations: What they are & why they matter

Anatomy of SEO co-citation and authority transferIt never fails. A new year comes along or Google unleashes a new algorithm change, and SEO professionals start whirling theories and warnings about how SEO will never be the same. They claim SEO is dead.

Once you’ve been in this industry for a while, you learn to pay attention to what’s going on, but not to jump to conclusions and pull your hair out every time someone sneezes.

Link building has always been an integral part of performing effective SEO on any site, regardless of whether it’s a big brand or small mom-n-pop shop around the corner. But when Penguin hit the scene in April 2012, a whole new mindset had to be adopted.

No longer could you easily get away with ranking a lower-quality site merely by creating an army of backlinks for it. And in the SEO world, heads were spinning. To this day, many agree on some principles of links, building them, which ones are good, and which ones really help your site (or hurt them). Other times, there’s disagreement.

Co-citations are becoming a hot topic in the SEO world these days, and for good reason. Several years ago there was a lot of discussion about them; it was the hot new thing for SEO professionals to talk about. But the talk sizzled down… until very recently.

What are co-citations?

Co-citations can be a little difficult to wrap your head around. But I’m hoping you’ll leave here with a basic understanding of them. Co-citations mean that if someone links to your site as well as a well-known, authority site, within or closely related to your industry, in the same article, then you will share some of that authority site’s respect from Google.

Even that was something you had to read several times to try to understand, right?

Maybe this will help:

Co-Citation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In essence, the authority or respect from Google flows both to and from a link. Article “A” links to authority site “B,” and smaller site “C.” The authority from authority site “B” transfers back to article “A” (which is why it’s always good to link an authority site to your content), but it also carries over to smaller site “C.” Got that?

Now, I can just hear you saying, “If I’m writing article ‘A,’ I certainly don’t want to link to a better-known, big-boy competitor’s site!” Well, yes, it can be tricky. What you want to do in this situation is find something relevant and helpful to the reader, but not something that would be a direct competitor to you and your content.

For instance, let’s say you’re a travel agent. You aren’t going to want to link to Tripology or some big travel company. An acceptable alternative might be to link to a well-known luggage store or travel guide books on Amazon for where your readers are interested in going.

This concept has also been referred to as SEO co-citation and similar terms. It shouldn’t be confused with local SEO citations, though.

The shifting perspectives on co-citations

This has been a pretty well-known concept in the SEO industry for a while. But today, the strategy of using co-citations seems to be shifting. The same principles still basically apply, but now we’re going deeper, due to the need to respond and adapt to Google’s constantly changing algorithm. We should be concerned not only about who we’re linking to and who’s creating content that links to us and authority sites, but also the anchor text.

The age-old practice of using keywords as the anchor text is out. Instead, Google seems to be factoring in the words that surround or are in close proximity to the anchor text, as well as the context and subject of the entire article.

Using the example above, in which we imagined you are a travel agent, here’s an example of a great link to have pointing at your site: A blogger for an African Safari company writes a piece about the new day trip they offer. They’ve noticed a spectacular deal you have right now for travel to Africa and link to you saying: “And if you’re looking for a great discount on traveling to Africa, click here.”

They’re using only the “click here” for the anchor text, but it has “discount on traveling to Africa” very close to it. Let’s say they’ve also linked to Wikipedia for the term “African safari” and to a guidebook on Amazon.com.

Essentially, you’re now sharing the authority of Wikipedia, Amazon, and that company’s blog. Plus, you’re keeping Google’s Penguin algorithm on your good side because the link anchor text isn’t keyword-rich.

So how do you make this happen?

I’m hoping this has helped you understand what co-citations are, how they’re shifting, and why you should be striving to get as many of them as you can. But that leads to the next question: How can you get them?

The best advice is to create content that’s not just for SEO, or purely for the sake of link-building, but to be helpful to the user. Every article, post, video, infographic, or whatever you create should focus on a targeted theme. It should be insightful or trigger an emotion among your readers so they feel encouraged to share it within their networks.

The more people who discover it, and like it, the more people will link to you; the hope is that they’ll also link to related authority sites.

If you’re actually creating content to use for linking back to your site (guest posts, for example), remember to avoid always using your keywords as anchor text. Instead, use different keywords in close proximity to your anchor text. And don’t forget to link to authority sites that are related to your industry.

If you create a post that links to resources the reader finds useful, and if you create content for your own site doing the same… co-citations will come naturally, along with better rankings, traffic, leads, and sales.

About the Author ~ Jayson DeMers

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based SEO agency, as well as Crackerize.com, a lyrics-humor website. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.

image thanks to Dzhus (Dmitry Dzhus)

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SEO content creation: 50 time & sanity-saving tips

6 video and text posts sharing 50 content creation ideasContent, content, content.

That’s the mantra these days, wherever you turn. Google’s Panda and Penguin updates – and the collective tenor of the online marketing industry – have skyrocketed the demand for fresh, original, quality content…on a consistent basis.

As the top SEO priority for businesses large and small, content creation has many folks scrambling. If you’re one of them, overextended and overwhelmed by the daunting task of continuous content development – or if you just need some time-saving ideas – then you’re at the right place!

Here are six of Heather’s most popular how-to’s on saving your time and sanity when developing SEO content, including both video and written posts. Enjoy!

 

Blog Content Recycling1. Blogger’s block? Time crunch? 5 easy ways to reuse your blog posts

Crunched for time? Uninspired? Suffering blogger’s block? 

You’re not alone, by any means.  A lot of bloggers struggle with the occupational hazard of being chained to creating exceptional content on a regular basis – even if their muse, time, and sanity are suffering. So in today’s video blog, Heather shares five easy – note, easy – ways you can reuse your hard-labored, older blog posts to produce new, fresh content!

 

 

25 SEO copywriting content ideas2. 25 SEO copywriting tips and content ideas you can implement today

It doesn’t make a difference if you’re a big brand or a DIY small business. One of the hardest things about launching a Web writing campaign is figuring out how to start.

If you’ve been facing content marketing overload, here are 25 SEO copywriting tips you can implement right now…

 

The Veg-O-Matic approach to SEO copy3. The Veg-O-Matic approach to SEO copy development

One of the areas where many site owners get “stuck” is content creation. There are more SEO copy opportunities than ever before, including:

  • Tweets
  • Facebook posts
  • Product/service pages – new pages, as well as updates to existing pages
  • Case studies
  • Blog posts
  • White papers
  • Videos
  • Webinars

(I’m sure you could add more to the list.)

The challenge with “content overload” is that nothing gets done. Planning an editorial calendar seems impossible. There’s too much to write in too little time.

That’s when you bring in the SEO content Veg-O-Matic to slice and dice your content into little bits…

 

3 SEO content ideas for the blogging blocked4. 3 SEO content ideas for the 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…

 

15 headsmacking SEO copy ideas5. 15 headsmacking SEO copy ideas

I love “headsmacking” SEO copy opportunities. You know, ideas that are so simple, easy and obvious that they make you hit your head and say “Doh” when someone points them out.

It’s easy to have blind spots around our own SEO copy – we either look at it all the time (so we don’t see opportunities,) we wrote it (so we’re too close to it,) or both. Here are the most common headsmacking opportunities I see…

 

How to create an editorial calendar6. How to create an editorial calendar

Are you feeling the need to get your (editorial) act together? If so, you’re in luck, as today’s SEO copywriting video is on how to create an editorial calendar. Heather has wanted to do a video how-to on creating an editorial calendar – especially for those new to SEO content writing and for DIY SEO copywriters – because she realized that in previous posts, her using the words “editorial calendar” may have implied a complex concept, when in fact it is very simple.

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

Thanks for joining us for this video and text post mashup! What time-saving tips would you add? Please share them in the comments below!

photo thanks to striatic

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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. Miranda was the lead writer at Search Engine Watch until recently joining the team at TopRank Online Marketing as Content Marketing Manager.

 

photo thanks to Raphaellove (Raphael Love)

 

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How to create an editorial calendar

Are you feeling the need to get your (editorial) act together? If so, you’re in luck, as today’s SEO copywriting video is on 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 today, she does just that.

Heather has wanted to do a video how-to on creating an editorial calendar – especially for those new to SEO content writing and for DIY SEO copywriters – because she realized that in previous posts, her using the words “editorial calendar” may have implied a complex concept, when in fact it is very simple.

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

“Editorial calendar” sounds so complex…

  • People think that it should be a fancy, detailed document.

Many folks assume that creating an editorial calendar means that they need to have a special document and do things in a special way in order to track all of their content…and it really doesn’t have to be that complicated.

  • Two advantages: planning and accountability.

The advantages of having an editorial calendar are that you can plan all of your content and that everyone involved is accountable.

That way, it’s not just a case of having all of this stuff in your head – you can actually lay out a schedule so everyone concerned knows what pages are going to be written, by whom, and when. Down to the end-process of who is responsible for uploading the page or post, everyone involved knows what’s going on and can then fit it into his/her individual workload.

  • There are a lot of ways to create an editorial calendar (and some of them are fancy and detailed), but let’s keep it simple…

Step #1: What are your monthly SEO content goals?

The first step in creating your editorial calendar is to make a list of your monthly SEO content goals. This is where you sit down and think: “All right, what do I want to do this month?”

Things you might want to consider include:

  • What new pages do you want to create?
  • Are there pages that you want to edit for keyphrases?
  • Are there other SEO content initiatives (for instance, changing page Titles or descriptions)?
  • What’s your content “theme” for the month?
  • Think “manageable.” Know how much content you can create/edit a week.

In considering the last point – manageability – the upshot is to not overwhelm yourself. It is all too easy to write a list of 50 things that you want to do in a month, when the reality is that you can do about 10 of those things.

Focus on what’s really important to accomplish in the month, and hold yourself to what you know you can actually do.

Step #2: Mark up a page from a calendar

This is the easy part: print out a calendar page or buy a calendar, then start marking it up with content specifics and deadlines, such as:

  • When are you starting the writing project?
  • Who is the writer?
  • When is the rough draft deadline?
  • When are the edits back?
  • What’s the final deadline?
  • When will the content be uploaded and who will upload it?

If you feel more comfortable with an online calendar, then by all means use one.

Once you’ve completed the month’s editorial calendar, you’ll be able to look at any given week and know immediately what’s going on.

If after you’ve created the calendar you realize that the schedule is overwhelming, then it’s absolutely okay to take some stuff off! You want the calendar to be something that is manageable and that is going to work for your team – not something that’s gonna drive people insane!

Step #3: Get more detailed (if you choose)

While simplicity and manageability are key, it may be that you’ll want to go a little deeper with your editorial calendar and provide more detail.

Ask yourself: What does your team need to see?

For instance, if you use an Excel doc, you can include details such as:

  • Per-page keyphrase focus
  • URL
  • Title
  • Call to action

You can also group content by type, detailing such things as creating X number of sales pages/month, or writing Y number of blog posts/month.

  • “Type” of content (sales page, blog, press release, “how-to” page)

This is something that you can play with, and again, it’s about what works for you and for your editorial team.

There is no set way to create an editorial calendar, but it is good to have something that is functional because – guaranteed – you’ll not only be able to write much more content, but that content will also be better because: you have planned the time to work on it, you know the scheduling details, and you know the deadlines, so you can upload your content on a consistent, regular basis.

Thanks for joining us for this week’s SEO copywriting video how-to! Do you have an SEO copywriting question or topic suggestion for Heather? Love it! Send it on over to her [at] heather@seocopywriting.com or tweet her [at] @heatherlloyd. See you next Monday!

 

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photo thanks to yoppy