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Killer time-saving content curation strategies

Greetings! Today I thought I’d write up my own guest post by sharing a presentation I gave to the SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification folks back in June, as part of their ongoing student (and post-graduate) training.

Aside from getting an encouraging nudge from “the boss” (Heather Lloyd-Martin) :), I felt compelled to give this presentation because:

1. By much trial and error, I have come to learn and embrace time-saving content curation strategies as the editor and content curator of ~ 3 years for the SEO Copywriting blog – particularly, the weekly SEO Content Marketing Roundupand...

2. Many individuals have asked me how I do what it is I do with content curation over the years, and I had yet to articulate a clear, satisfactory answer. But as I was in the process of outlining the presentation, it occurred to me almost as an epiphany: I’ll be…There is a method to my madness, after all! 

So for folks like Gini Dietrich and Newt Barrett  – this one’s for you!  (And enjoy, all!)

 

So what is content curation?

Lee Odden, CEO of Top Rank Marketing, asked 10 content marketing experts to define the term.

Of the incisive responses, one especially resonated with me:

Ann Handley of Marketing Profs said: “…Content curation is the act of continually identifying, selecting and sharing the best and most relevant online content and other online resources…on a specific subject to match the needs of a specific audience.”

 

 

Why should it matter to you?

Rebecca Lieb of Econsultancy said it well: “Why bother? Tons of reasons….In an era where marketing is supplanting advertising and storytelling is an ever-more essential part of the marketing message, carefully curated content – well presented – is an immense brand asset, be it to a humble, over-caffeinated individual blogger or a Fortune 100 company.”

Source: Top Rank Marketing

 

 

Credibility, trust, & authority: the branding benefits of curation

Once the sacred realm of journalists, content curation is now recognized as not only a way to build your brand, but a way to build trust in your brand.

Offering superior, well-organized and truly useful content – consistently & over time – can help establish you/your brand/your client’s as a trusted, go-to source of valuable information. Golden!

 

 

So how to do this?

Create a separate email address specifically for subscriptions.

Establish an RSS feed of your favorite authors and blogs.

Set up Gmail alerts for select topic interests (e.g., “SEO copywriting”) and favorite sources (e.g., “Heather Lloyd-Martin,” “Danny Sullivan”).

Use bookmarks, apps like Google Reader and bookmarking sites for those sources you may just want to check periodically (as opposed to daily).

 

Social media sources

Monitor (and engage with) relevant forums, groups and blogs for topic threads and originating links.

Social Networking Sites – Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest – depending on the industry.

Social Bookmarking Sites – StumbleUpon, Delicious, Tumbler, etc. – again, depending on the industry.

Alternative Sources – Scoop.it’s, Paper.li’s – several are of high quality and lazor targeted!

 

Twitter for serendipity

Use hashtags (#) on Twitter to segment your interests (e.g., #SEO, #Content Marketing), then follow the yellow brick road of links cited!

Then, move hashtagged finds into corresponding lists. By week’s or month’s end, you’ll have a collection of your favorite links.

Make a point of following industry thought leaders, but keep an eye out for the hidden gems shared by relative “unknowns,” too!  (Hence those “Webgem” serendipities).

Use a smart Twitter application to save precious time (e.g., HootSuite, TweetDeck).

 

Curate the curators!

There are many sources of weekly curated content, and their number is growing by the day.

Be discerning: look for authority and expertise not only with the source, but with the individual contributor(s) cited.

That said, weekly (and daily) “roundups”, “wraps”, “recaps”, etc., can be great sources of “pre-curated” quality content – and perhaps more importantly, of links for cultivating your own content curation list.

Notable daily’s include Search Marketing Land, its sister site, Marketing Land, and Mashable. Exceptional weekly’s include SEO Copywriting, Social Media Examiner, State of Search, HubSpot, GigaOm and Reel SEO (video). Many more have come online since my June presentation, such as ReadWriteWeb.

 

Don’t forget the news!

It’s easy to forget more mainstream online resources like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Fortune and Forbes.

These sources often “catch” news relevant to the industry (sometimes before the industry does), and offer valuable background, context and originating links.

And when dealing with clients – these sources may well be the only sources they know! So more mainstream sources can be most helpful in speaking their language.

 

 

Professional journals & online magazines

There are also hidden “gems” in the way of both print & online professional journals and magazines.

These sources are goldmines for original thought, hard data, interviews and in-depth analyses.

Exemplary online sources include Target Marketing Magazine, eMarketer, Open View Partners, Entrepreneur and Marketing Sherpa. (By no means is this meant to be an exhaustive listing!)

More “hard data” resources include Pew Internet, comScore, and Experian – again, just to name a few.

 

 

What to take away from this

Content curation, done well, can not only help establish your brand, but it can also infuse it with credibility.

There are scads of resources for curation: news, social media, blogs, forums, pre-curated dailies and weeklies, professional journals and online magazines.

Set up a smart, streamlined system for efficiently cultivating content. I’ve suggested a few time-saving ways, but it’s well worth your while to check out apps designed with your precious time in mind! For individuals, that may mean something as simple as Evernote, while for a larger-scale team endeavor, you may want to look at something like Trello.

(My original presentation, Killer Content Curation Strategies, is available for viewing with bigger, cooler images via Slideshare.)

So do you have a content curation “system” that works well for you? Would love to hear what other content curators are doing – please share your tips with us, and thank you!

 

 

About the Author ~ Laura Crest

Laura is the blog editor & social media strategist for SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting. A journalist by education & earlier experience, she loves digging into stories and chasing newsworthy content down to the original sources. You can mostly find her chirping on Twitter via @ljcrest, although she’s also on LinkedIn and Google +. Any comments or questions? Please feel free to email Laura via [email protected].

 

 

Would you like to learn about SEO copywriting & content marketing? Check into the SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training – the only online certification program to be independently endorsed by SEOpros.org, Top Rank, & AWAI.

 

 

 

The Veg-O-Matic approach to SEO copy development

Earlier this month, I was honored to speak at SMX West. I was originally going to chat about how content strategies have changed over the last year. Then, Chris Sherman (one of the conference organizers) said, “I really like your Tweets and how your firm repurposes content. Can you talk about that?”

Sure thing!

My slides were based on this 2011 blog post. When I originally wrote this, Google+ wasn’t even on the radar. Now, it’s yet another platform that marketers have to use and measure.

Feeling overwhelmed? Relax. Take a peek at my slides, and then read how the Veg-O-Matic approach to SEO copywriting can make your life easier than before.  Really!

 

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.

For those not familiar with Ron Popeil’s Veg-O-Matic, it was a hand held appliance that made slicing and dicing vegetables easy. You could cut a carrot into small pieces. You could shred it. You could even create thin julienne slices. Cutting it up was effortless – and one carrot could take many different final forms.

You can do the same thing when you plan your SEO content. Rather than thinking, “Oh, man. I have a month’s worth of tweets to plan,” think of how you can “slice and dice” existing content many different ways. Here’s what I mean:

Say that your company creates one white paper a month. Once the white paper is complete, you could:

  • Pull out tasty 140 character tidbits and use them as tweets
  • Transform some of the main topics into 500 word blog posts. Each week, send out an email newsletter featuring the posts.
  • Create a video based on a white paper topic (I’ve been creating YouTube SEO copywriting video tips, and they’re pulling in great traffic.)

You see? You’re taking existing content and working backwards. You’re doing what you can with what you already have. Granted, you’ll still want to plan bigger projects (like another white paper or a product page revamp.) But, finding time for big projects is much easier when you’re not reinventing the content wheel every time.

Instead of looking at your editorial calendar and thinking, “It’s mid-March, what do I write/tweet/blog about for the next 30 days,”it shifts to, “We just completed a blog post/case study/video. In what ways can we slice and dice it into tasty content tidbits?”

Once you’ve figured out how to leverage what you have, the content creation process seems much more effortless.

You can accomplish the same goal even if you don’t have one “big” content piece a month. For instance, say that your company blogs five times a week. You could probably pull a couple – maybe more – good tweets out of every post. You could track popular blog topics and develop a Webinar (which could even be an additional profit center.) Heck you could even produce a monthly “Twitter tips” list that you could offer as a downloadable .pdf. The possibilities are endless.

You don’t need to solely focus on existing Web content, either. Do you have an old how-to guide that you could dust off and transform into blog posts or tweets? Did you write an article years ago that you could repurpose? Have you written a book? As long as the content is updated and valid, looking to “old” content sources is a smart idea. Recycling is good for the environment, and it’s great for your content, too!

Consider taking a cue from Ron Pompeil and see how you can Veg-O-Matic your content. You may find that you’re releasing more quality content than ever before – and creating your monthly editorial calendar is easier than ever before.

SEO content & social media marketing synergy: 3 perspectives

Three takes on the interplay between social media and SEO content are featuredIt’s that time again, when we feature some of our best guest author content. And this time, we’re showcasing authors who have touched on social media and its role in SEO content marketing.

As we all know, SEO copywriting and content marketing don’t occur in a vacuum. Optimizing for the human reader has become paramount, and Google has made it clear that in its algorithms, content quality and source authority are key. And so in both establishing and reflecting content relevancy and credibility to readers, social media promotion and sharing have become integral to the SEO content marketing process.

Read on to learn what some of the best minds in the online marketing industry have to say about the synergy of social media and SEO content!

 

Wake up! You're in the social SEO copywriting businessWake up, you’re in the social SEO copywriting business!

Miranda Miller notes “there are literally hundreds of factors affecting your content’s search ranking, not the least of which are trust, authority, and engagement” and that “social media is hands down the best content promotion tool out there.” Indeed. She then goes on to share solid strategies to “bake” social promotion into your content “right from the planning phase.” If you missed this reader favorite on holistic marketing the first time around, be sure to read it and bookmark it for reference!

 

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

Jayson DeMers explains the anatomy of SEO co-citations and why we should care about (and utilize) this strategy. With the demise of traditional link building and the end of tactics aimed at passing page rank (which of course is a good thing), co-citations are an indirect way to “share” authority with a well-established site already endowed with “Google respect.” As DeMers writes, “co-citations can be a little difficult to wrap your head around,” but he does an excellent job of explaining (and illustrating) what they are, how they work, and most importantly, why they matter in the brave new world of social SEO.

 

Leveraging content relationships & social proof for CROLeveraging content relationships & social proof for conversion rate optimization

Andrew Isidoro focuses on optimizing conversion rates by using social proof from content marketing and content relationships developed through guest blogging to drive qualified traffic to your site. Using social proof examples from Blueglass UK as well as the content relationship between Distilled and Moz, Isidoro also delves into how to use custom, personalized landing pages “to help create a seamless transition from your guest content onto your own website, and maintain the brand connection between the two.” A must-read for any serious SEO content marketer!

 

photo thanks to webtreats

 

A 3-step outreach strategy for (new) SEO content creators

Jon Ball shares a 3-step process for content promotion for new SEO copywritersPublishing content is thrilling, exciting, and a little nerve wracking. There’s a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and even perhaps, vulnerability.

Creating content can be a very revealing process – we share our thoughts, opinions, abilities and general self. At its core it’s a very unfiltered process. But content creation is no time to be shy – the goal of creating anything is ultimately to share that creation with the world.

That’s why outreach is so extremely vital to content creation, and ultimately intertwined with publication. Because if it’s worth the effort of publishing, it’s certainly worth sharing – which can be unfortunately under-emphasized when creative individuals first start creating great content.

Whether it’s a fear of asking, a certain shyness, or the belief that good content will naturally be shared, there’s a multitude of reasons creators don’t outreach to others after publication.

But I implore you – if you’re creating content, you should be spending a healthy amount of time outreaching that same content, asking for feedback, a social share, or even a link.

There are ways to outreach tactfully and respectfully, which can help you garner important industry relationships and contacts. So, to help propel you down the path of content advocate, here’s an outreach checklist after content publication.

1) Defining an Audience – Who Should You Contact?

Outreach is the antithesis of shyness. It’s better to create a large list and whittle it down, if need be, than to create but a handful of contacts.

Before you can even begin to start an outreach campaign based around soon to publish or recently published content, you need to define who your audience is, who will be interested in your content, and who will merely be receptive.

Although who you reach out to is always influenced by your content, as a general rule of thumb you should be contacting:

  • Anyone involved or participating in the content (such as an interview, for example)
  • Anyone mentioned, associated with, or affected by the content
  • Anyone who’s previously participated, created, or associated with similar content in the past
  • Influencers within the industry
  • Prior relationships within your industry (the earlier the better – think feedback)
  • Anyone you wish to build a relationship with.

Creating a list based upon these factors should give you a doozy of a list for potential outreach – especially if it’s content worth sharing.

From here, it’s time to be realistic. Outreach should always be finely targeted initially to a core group of those most likely to be receptive. Targeted outreach to kick off an outreach campaign is an extremely underrated leveraging tool.

The goal is to land the most likely big name prospects to start with. If you can name drop a few influencers, experts, or general big industry names within the rest of your outreach you’ve guaranteed yourself a higher response rate.

Beyond even that, those initial successes can create a sharing circle that may well hit potential outreach targets before you do – thereby giving your outreach further credence.

If and when you’ve received a positive response from your targeted list it’s time to move on to less likely targets – those who probably aren’t as interested in your content, but might be influenced to care by industry names conveniently included in your outreach.

The priority should look something like:

influencers/experts likely to respond>prior relationships>those involved or participating>similar content associations>influencers/experts not likely to respond>anyone mentioned, associated, or affected>potential relationships.

The concept is to build as much authority as possible as you move down the list. This increases the odds that those you contact, as they become less relevant or likely to care, won’t be annoyed at the general intrudance, but in fact be grateful for being included in your outreach process since other important people were also included and responded.

Social proof should never be underestimated.

2) Creating an organized outreach list

Although ideally done before or during the content creation, if you haven’t yet formed a list of outreach contacts you’ll absolutely want to assemble one prior to starting the actual outreach, after you’ve defined your audience.

There’s a variety of tools that can help form and manage an outreach list, including:

Google documents is completely free, with Excel being free if already installed (or you have MS Office). Buzzstream and Raven both scale based upon pricing plans.

Personally, I’ve found that unless the project is fairly large I can get by with Google docs just fine. It’s simple, shareable, and easy to use and manipulate. Pretty much everything I need from an ordered list of outreach contacts. Google docs is a great place for beginners to start.

Organization of the list can boil down to personal preference – do you want a thorough list with a multitude of layers of information, or a minimalistic list to keep it easy to read and quick to navigate?

Here’s what a typical outreach list looks like when I’m building a Google doc outreach form:

First Outreach List Example

 

I started with the result, to ensure maximum visibility and scanability. After that comes the name of the contact, their email, social media, website, our relationship, and three attempts at outreach – the third switching to social media.

This should keep the list well organized as you move through your outreach, but minimalistic enough to ensure ease of use.

Note as well that I froze the first row, so that as I scrolled down through the contacts I was able to keep the identifying information on top (and bolded).

Here’s a screenshot showing how to do so:

Outreach freeze row

 

 

The result, name of contact, email, social media and relationship should all be pretty self explanatory.

Those unfamiliar with outreach might wonder why three outreach attempts. Three is important because:

  • Any more and you run the risk of becoming annoying and/or flagged as spam
  • The first should be personalized, explain the point of the email succinctly, and have a call to action.
  • The second outreach attempt should be a simple follow up, two or three sentences max, attached to the first email, with another short call to action – ie “Emailed you on (date) and wanted to check in that you saw it. Are you interested?”
  • The third outreach attempt will be a switch to social media – again a short notification and call to action.

If you’re only going to attempt a single outreach, you’re better off not wasting your time outreaching – your response rate is bound to be dismal. People are inundated with email and information overload anymore. Your goal should be to contact them in a useful, brief, informative manner without causing further annoyance.

Three is few enough to typically fall short of annoying, while maximizing the chance of them reading, engaging, and responding.

The switch to social media on the third attempt will also help with email fatigue, while offering forward the social proof of your identity (assuming your social media presence is established).

3) The Outreach Process

This has been covered brilliantly a few times, most recently by Stephany Beadell of SEER and Richard Marriott of Clambr, both of which I strongly recommend you read.

To boil down their – along with quite a few other outreach expert’s – advice, here’s what you should know:

  • Be short and to the point, focusing on your message, it’s value, and always ending with a singular call to action.
  • Be human – templates are fine, but your goal for every outreach should be to be as human as possible.
  • Make it easy to respond to – yes or no if possible – and quick to reply.
  • Make sure you’re outreaching to the right people, in a targeted order.
  • Don’t thank someone just for reading your email – although you can and should thank them when and if they do reply, share, or link.
  • Follow up as appropriate – I use a personalized first email, an extremely short follow up email two to three days after the first, and then a final switch to social media if I still haven’t received a response.
  • Don’t get dejected – the online world is fast paced, busy, and noisy. You’ll never have 100% of people respond to your outreach, which means someone important will always slip through the cracks.

Remember, we don’t live on an island. The internet is a fun, crazy, crowded place. You’ll never be noticed if you don’t make some noise yourself. So the next time you’ve created some content worth sharing, and are set to publish, don’t skimp on the outreach campaign. Because without a little elbow grease to get feedback, social shares, and even links, you’ll never get off the ground, nor build any lasting, beneficial relationships.

The internet is no place to be shy.

Recap

After (or before, if possible) publication, you should prepare to outreach by:

1. Define your audience – who’s interested in your content?

a. Anyone involved or participating in the content

b. Anyone mentioned, associated with, or affected by the content

c. Anyone who’s previously participated, created, or associated with similar content in the past

d. Influencers within the industry

e. Prior relationships within your industry

f. Anyone you wish to build a relationship with

2. Create a usable, organized outreach list

a. There are a variety of tools, but beginners might want to start with Google docs

3. The outreach process

a. Be short and to the point, with a singular call to action

b. Be human and respectful

c. Begin with a targeted audience, who you can later cite as social proof

d. Follow up as appropriate, and quick to respond

e. Don’t get dejected – you’ll never get a 100% response rate

 

About the AuthorJon Ball

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

 

Save 25% on the SEO Copywriting Certification training through September 30th! Use coupon code SEPTEMBER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Struggling to create unique SEO content? I can help – contact me today!

3 steps to getting your in-depth articles ranked in Google search

Do you write in-depth articles? Here's how to get them ranked in Google search results.Google has recently introduced a new rich SERP element which highlights in-depth articles towards the bottom of the search results.

For content marketers and SEOs alike, this is fantastic news. Not only does this further emphasise the need for quality content, but also that if you apply the Schema.org Article markup, your in-depth articles stand a better chance of appearing in the SERPs for your relevant keywords.

The search giant has provided some information on how to make it easier for them to crawl and index your content, which increases the chance of you appearing in this block.

Here are three steps to make this happen!

1. Mark Up Your Pages With Schema.org

Schema mark-up is essentially a series of tags used by webmasters to optimise their HTML coding, assigning page elements and content with descriptions so that it is easier for search engines to understand and index them appropriately.

In order for your content to be found by Google and considered for in-depth article rankings, they will need to be marked up with the Schema code for articles. This can be done by adding the following code to your web page HTML:

<div itemscope itemtype=http://schema.org/Article>CONTENT GOES HERE</div>

Itemscope basically determines that everything within <div>…</div> is describing a particular item.

To give the search engines even more detail, you should add microdata to your HTML. Microdata is determined by ‘itemprop’ and refers to the page elements and content more specifically.

Here are the key parts of your page elements HTML that you will benefit from adding microdata to:

Headline – the title to your post

<h1 itemprop=”headline name”>Your headline</h1>

Alternative Headline – a secondary title or subtitle

<i itemprop=”alternativeHeadline”>A sub-headline here</i>

Image – the image(s) in your post, which will need to be crawlable and indexable by attaching suitable alt tags.

<img itemprop=”image” src=”image URL” alt=”Relevant alt tag describing the image”>

Description – A short description introducing the body of the content

<p itemprop=”description”>Your name explores the chosen subject</p>

Date Published – the published date of the article

<meta itemprop=”datePublished” content=”YEAR-MONTH-DAY”>PUBLISHED DATE</p>

Article Body – The content of the article

<p itemprop=”articleBody”>The body of your article here</p>

Don’t forget to close the HTML with </div> otherwise it will be not work correctly.

Adding more specific itemprop microdata will depend on what your content is about. For the full properties (i.e. all of the itemprop definitions you can use for your given topic), check out Organization of Schemas.

2. Connect Google+ Authorship

So you have marked up your pages with the correct Schema and microdata, now it’s time to set up Authorship and implement that into your markup too.

Whenever a piece of content goes live on your site, you should add the below link to the page, preferably in your author bio.

<a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Your Name</a>

Where it says “Profile URL”, this takes us onto the next step.

If you do not already have a Google+ account, it’s time to sign up. Once you have set up an account and uploaded a headshot, add the URL of your profile page to the “profile_url” part of the rel=author tag. Then you will need to update the About page of your Google Plus profile.

Within the ‘Links’ box, you’ll see a ‘Contributor To’ section. Simply click ‘edit’ at the bottom of the ‘Links’ box, and click ‘Add custom link’. Add the URL of your article, or the blog you write for if you write multiple items.

3. Create Compelling In-Depth Content

Last but not least, you need to be creating the right kind of content. It’s all well and good adding Schema mark up, microdata and authorship, but if the body of your content is not up to scratch, you cannot compete against other articles.

For something to be “In-depth” you need to have a strong understanding of the subject matter, so make sure to do your research, and keep the information straightforward and relevant.

Getting individual articles just right will not be enough – currently the main sites appearing as “In-Depth Articles” are big brands, so reputation clearly comes into play too. This should change over time, giving lesser-known blogs and publications a chance to compete, but only if you are doing all you can to make it easy for Google to find you and your outstanding content.

About the AuthorBen Norman

Ben Norman is a leading UK SEO Expert with an extensive knowledge of search engine marketing. He regularly writes straightforward search related posts for his SEO blog. You can connect with Ben on Twitter via @Bennorman and on  Google+.

photo thanks to Steve Jurvetson

Learn the latest SEO copywriting and content marketing techniques – look into my SEO copywriting training options for yourself or your in-house team!

 

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

Does your website suffer from sluggish conversions? Let’s whip your SEO content into shape! Contact me today to see how I can help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 things your SEO copywriter needs to create powerful content

For targeted, conversions-driving content, your SEO copywriter needs to know these 5 thingsSending a list of keywords to your SEO copywriter is a good start for your new web project, but it’s not everything he or she needs to turn your pages into gold.

Your writer needs to have a solid understanding of you, your products/services and your audience. Here are five key pieces of information to send their way so you can maximize your investment.

1.   A detailed ideal client profile.

Your web copy pages should be written for your client – not for your industry peers. The pages should be written as if your company is speaking directly to your customers.

Think about it this way: you’d have a much different style of speech planned if you were presenting to the residents of a local senior center instead of fellow business executives.

Your writer needs to know who they are speaking to. They’ll use this information to do some research about who your ideal clients are, how they speak and how they like to be spoken to.

2.   A tone or approach for your brand.

The way your ideal clients communicate isn’t the only thing that your SEO copywriter needs in terms of voice. The tone or approach for your company is essential information for your writer. They need to speak in the voice of your company.

Is your company a trusted advisor who is formal and informative? Is it the best friend who is giddy and excited to share? Is it the gentle coach who is encouraging and helpful?

If you’re not sure, now is the time to decide. Getting down your tone and feel is important for your SEO copywriting project – and for conversions!

3.   A short list of competitors.

Your direct competitors represent the environment in which you’re making your digital pitch. Your SEO copywriter needs to know who you’re up against, and how your competitors are approaching the same topics that you’ll need to cover.

A review of competitor websites can help tweak a headline or perfect a call to action that will make sure that website visitors convert on your site instead of heading back to the search engine results.

4.   The per page call to action.

Speaking of conversions, your SEO copywriting webpage plan needs to outline the call to action per page.

If this is going to be part of the web design, let your writer know. If they need to use a specific phrase or call to action that will be repeated throughout the site, make that clear. Or if you need a new idea for a site-wide call to action, now is the time to establish that.

5.   An hour interview with your top products/services expert.

Handing off the reins via email or project management system is a good start, but your SEO copywriter will greatly benefit from an exploratory call. Having an exploratory call has become standard operating procedure at Endurance Marketing because we get so much from the experience – and that reflects in the copywriting.

Even if you have thousands of pages of research material, getting on the phone with your top sales person or VP of marketing can help your SEO copywriter sharpen his or her focus and determine where to start first.

Make the effort – and the time – to give your SEO copywriter these key pieces. You’ll see better results in engagement, search engine rankings, conversions and general satisfaction. And who doesn’t want that?

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 Google PlusLinkedIn or Twitter.

photo thanks to Tomas Sobek

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Real link building requires sales

Want to build links? Jon Ball advises you to put your sales hat onThere are a lot of buzzwords right now in SEO such as ‘link earning’, ‘inbound marketing’, and ‘relationship building’. But the truth is, successful link building requires sales.

The simple fact is that if you’re going to spend time creating quality and linkable content, you need to spend an equal amount of time outreaching that content – which is really just a form of sales. Basically, you’re selling the concept of the content and pushing for a specific result – further sharing.

There’s an internal movement in the SEO industry to rebrand from a technical field to a marketing sub-department. I support this in part—it’s a natural fit, and increases the power of SEO—but I believe the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater. Specifically, I’m talking about link building.

With the release of Penguin (and more recently, Penguin 2.0), Google has changed the face of link building. No more can SEOs go out and build 100 quick links and expect to see positive results. Now, links need to be authoritative, editorial, and more than anything relevant.

Many SEOs struggle with this new link building, and are afraid to aggressively pursue links.

And that fear is a good thing. We shouldn’t be building links like they were built in the past. We need to keep in mind Google’s guidelines, because if recent years have taught us anything, it’s that eventually punishment will come.

But that doesn’t mean link building should be left behind.

Baldy said, link earning is too passive. Building content and authority and hoping for links is a result of trying not to anger the Google gods, and it’s erring too far to the left. ‘Link earning’ leaves too much to chance, too much to hope. Creating great content deserves promotion, in the form of sales as well as marketing.

So, if you’re really trying to get some serious link building done, put on your sales hat.

Marketing vs. Sales

Inbound marketing can earn links. Unfortunately, it’s a spray and pray approach. Instead of targeting your efforts, you create great content and market it to a large audience hoping something sticks to the wall.

Link building is sales. You’re vetting a specific target audience, approaching them on a one-on-one basis, and working to acquire a link. You’re actively working for each specific link.

Although there are no guarantees, link building as a strategy will produce far more results for 99% of sites over inbound marketing.

That other 1%? They’re the sites that have established authority, credibility, popularity, and have a large amount of eyeballs on everything they do. Something that doesn’t happen overnight. Or even a year. Just ask Rand Fishkin how long it took to grow SEOmoz (now Moz) into an inbound titan.

A quote from his AMA on Inbound.org earlier this year:

“We had to flee an office space we were renting at one point, because we couldn’t afford to pay the next month’s rent. Matt (Inman, who was the first real programmer we hired) and I traded off who was taking paychecks home a few times (that sucked). Gillian didn’t take a paycheck from ~2001 to ~2006.”

You can’t help but to admire Fishkin’s bootstrapped success. But will his business model work for everyone? I’m not so sure.

Real Link Building is Sales

The very essence of link building is sales – we’re basically selling our website, directly or indirectly, to other webmasters. We’re convincing them that the site is worth sharing with their audience, and that their audience will appreciate the link.

Indirect sales can work if you’ve already built trust, brand, content, and popularity. Which means, of course, that the majority of sites on the web have to rely on direct sales if they really want to build links.

A direct sale within link building looks something like this:

  1. Consistent creation of quality content
  2. Marketing to the public
  3. Pursuing leads
  4. One on one outreach to a specific site/webmaster (warm lead)
  5. Selling both the site and content (product)
  6. *Negotiating the link (sale)
  7. Closing the sale (link acquired)
  8. Nurturing the relationship

*Please note, I absolutely don’t mean paying for a link. Negotiating a link can take a variety of forms – including the placement, anchor text, specific page, content exchange, interview, etc., etc.

That’s what real link building looks like. As much as it would be nice if you could simply stop at step number 2 – marketing your content to the public – and see the links roll in, sadly that’s very very rarely the case.

Instead, let’s take a look at a real example of link building.

Link Building in the Real World

First, let’s take a look at a common example, a guest post.

For the sake of contrariness, let’s say you’re starting from scratch, with no contacts and a relatively fresh website.

Of course, you’ve spent time making a great website that’s useful, user friendly, and an overall betterment to the web (right?). Now you want to share it with the world, drive traffic and build great links. In order to do so, you’ve decided to contribute across your industry and build links in the form of guest posting.

Here are the steps you’d take:

1)  Compile a list of target sites you’d like to contribute to and receive a link from

  • Make sure they’re relevant to your industry
  • Make sure they have the authority and traffic to justify time investment
  • Make sure they’re open to communication and contribution

 

2)  Begin the outreach process. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Social media engagement
  • Commenting on their blog or community websites they’re also contributing to
  • Directly emailing (don’t forget to follow up if at first you don’t receive a reply)
  • Web form (try and avoid this – web forms receive terrible response rates)

 

3)  Build trust

It’s not enough to simply outreach – you need to establish trust. Often this takes the form of honest communication and thoughtful interaction. Ask an intelligent question, praise their website, find common ground.

4)  Negotiate a link

Once you’ve introduced yourself and (hopefully) had some positive interaction, it’s time to negotiate the link. Ask appropriately, based upon your previous interactions. In the case of guest posting, mention that you have an idea for an article and if they’d be interested in seeing it and sharing with their audience.

While discussing article details such as content, length, angle, etc., don’t forget to mention that you’d like a link back to your site in the post. Communicating clearly and up front prevents any ill feelings down the line and gives you the power to negotiate up front. Will they give you a link in content? A branded link in the bio?

5)  Deliver and Close

Once you’ve negotiated make sure you deliver in a timely manner. Closing the sale and securing the link is more than just simply emailing over the article. Ask for feedback. When will it be posted? Promote it through your social media channels. Thank them for their time and the opportunity.

6)  Follow up

Finally, don’t get a link and disappear. Nurture the relationship; drop them an email from time to time commenting on the industry, their site, your shared interests, etc. Often the next link opportunity comes through the contacts you’ve already made.

Characteristics of a Successful Sales/Link builder

I’ve employed a few successful link builders in my time, and I’ve found that it truly helps to share a core set of personality characteristics with salesman (salespeople?), which help them thrive in the link building world.

A few characteristics I always look for when the time comes to hire, outside of technical knowledge:

  • Natural charisma
  • Optimism
  • High energy level
  • Naturally friendly/open personality
  • Social intelligence
  • Problem solving
  • Persuasiveness
  • Determination
  • Competitiveness

All these traits definitely have value in the link building world. They’ll help empower link builders to pursue their job successfully, and make them resilient to a harsh reality faced by both sales and link builders – rejection.

Link building is a hard pursuit, and can be a rather thankless job. Having the built in drive to succeed and secure links is very similar to the desire to close a sale.

Recap

At the end of the day, link building requires sales – or at least a close approximation to it. Simply marketing your content isn’t enough. Real link building requires dedicated members going out, finding targets, and outreaching in a personal one-on-one environment.

The process is already naturally parallel to a sales position, so don’t forget to look for key sales characteristics when finding professional link builders.

What do you think? Is there anything I missed? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

About the Author ~ Jon Ball

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

You can connect with Jon on Twitter at @pageonepower.

photo thanks to Denise Krebs (mrsdkrebs)

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Leveraging content relationships & social proof for conversion rate optimization

How to leverage social proof from content relationships for CROThough content marketing has only recently reached buzzword status within the search industry, guest posting has been a popular method of promoting products and services online for a long time.

It’s often cited as a great link building technique and when done well, can help your website in more ways than just search.

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) has long been a technical art within digital marketing, but there are also a few ways in which you can utilise guest blogging and the relationships you build in the process to help improve conversions:

Qualified Traffic

Search is a fantastic driver of traffic for many businesses but it can also be wasteful in terms of conversions.

This is where content marketing can have more of an impact, as you’re segmenting your market before you ever set out your stall. When quality content marketing campaigns are focused around specific sets of users, they can be a powerful tool to drive qualified traffic to a website.

Social Proof

Wikipedia describes social proof as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect the correct behaviour for a given situation… driven by the assumption that the surrounding people possess more information about the situation.”

In other words, in observing the behaviour of others the decision process is simplified, providing us a convenient mental shortcut to responding to the task in hand.

The Blueglass UK website provides a prime example of using social proof from content marketing:

SEO Social Proof - 1

As you can see above, they have chosen to highlight their relationships with outlets that have featured their content as well as with other brands using their services, leaving visitors to ask themselves, “If it’s good enough for the Guardian, it must be good enough for me right?”

Authorship

While I could talk about the benefits of Authorship (and the fabled AuthorRank) all day, suffice it to say there is a huge amount of value to be had in including your author profile within content.

As you begin to write and publish more content, your author picture will become synonymous with your writing. Use the same image across all platforms and content and searchers will recognise the visual clue as a familiar and trusted face within the search results. Not only does this lead to improved CTR but it also allows the user to personify the company, transferring their views of the individual content creator to the organisation.

Relationships and Testimonials

Once you’ve placed your content with a high profile blogger, don’t let that be the end of the relationship. There are so many more mutual benefits to be had!

One such example is Testimonials. Rand Fishkin wrote about this method for attracting links back in 2009, but I find it serves a double purpose. Not only does the content creator get a nice link back to their website, but you get a glowing reference that can be used as further proof of your credentials to potential prospects.

Distilled does this very well on their consulting pages, thanks to their close relationship with SEOMoz (now Moz):

SEOmoz Social Proof - 2

 

Custom Landing Pages

A personalised landing page can be a great tool to help create a seamless transition from your guest content onto your own website, and maintain the brand connection between the two.

This is particularly potent when looking to gather blog or whitepaper subscriptions without the user feeling like they are just being “handled”.

From these pages you have much more control over the user journey and can look to move the prospect onto a proven conversion path as soon as possible.

One great example of this is from James Agate who guest blogged for Raven Tools and used a custom landing page to squeeze users towards subscribing to his newsletter.

Simple, yet effective.

We all know that content marketing is here to stay, but as you can see there is so much more to it than meets the eye. By using the relationships we garner through our content outreach we can help further our business goals long after the article has been published.

Have you used social proof to help improve conversions? What are your thoughts on using brand relationships for CRO?

About the Author ~ Andrew Isidoro

Andrew Isidoro is a Cardiff-based SEO Strategist at Box UK, a software development consultancy, helping to run the digital marketing department. You can find him on his blog talking about digital marketing and the state of semantic search, or on Twitter: @andrew_isidoro.

Could your conversions use a boost? I can help. Check into my direct response SEO copywriting services today!