What sort of content generates the most backlinks?

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Google have stated that backlinks are amongst the top 3 ranking factors, so links are still important and are likely to remain important for the foreseeable future, the 3 most important factors according to Google are

  • Links
  • Content
  • RankBrain

What are backlinks?

Backlinks are links from someone else’s site to yours, Google views them as a vote for your website. Of course, as soon as some people got wind of this an entire industry sprang up trading backlinks, often from pretty poor quality websites. Google does not approve of buying backlinks and may penalise a site they suspect of aggressively purchasing backlinks, Algorithm updates such as Google Penguin have been engineered to reduce the impact of links that Google suspect may have been purchased. Backlinks are also referred to as Off-Site SEO or Off Page SEO. Marketing expert Neil Patel argues that

“Avoiding penalties while building links isn’t about luck. It’s about earning links. The types of links that Google penalizes sites for are low quality or bought links. If you can buy it on Fiverr, it’s not a good link. Period.

One legitimate way to builds backlinks is to create what are known as linkable assets, this is assets on your website which are worth linking to, ie good quality content which is another of Google’s top three ranking factors alongside link Brain which I discussed a couple of weeks ago, the upperranks.com argue that These days, you have to create something worth linking to. In a nutshell, that is what this blog post will focus on

Website Content Audit

Before starting to Link Build its best to get an understanding of exactly what Linkable content is available on your site, the way to do this is by a
Content audit. These will give you a good idea of what content is present on your website and whether it’s good enough to remain on the site or does it require repurposing or possibly removing altogether?

Content Audits fall into two broad categories, which we’ll examine in more detail now.

Quantitative Content Audit

This is a process which can be automated by using software to crawl through your entire website this will give you a comprehensive overview of ALL the content available on your website, it will facilitate the discovery of SEO problems such as dead links, canonical errors and redirect errors, oops! I’ve discovered one or two already which I’ll now remove/rectify, links to external websites are subject to the ravages of time and will eventually be out of date as other sites around the web adjust/remove their content, as your site develops probably without the benefit of a content strategy or use of personas its entirely normal that some of the content developed will not be fit for purpose or entirely appropriate discovering content which no longer makes the grade is perfectly natural and a sign of the raising standards of your web content so prune and adjust where necessary, discovering the exact nature of your content shortcomings is the job of the other type of content audit

Qualitative Content Audits

Unlike Quantitative audits which they complement qualitative content audits should not be automated here, the input of a human being is required. The only software required is a spreadsheet, which is used to organise the audit. Content expert Kristina Halvorson suggests six questions a Qualitative audit needs to answer these being, in a nutshell the Qualitative audit A qualitative audit analyzes the quality and effectiveness of the content.

  • What does the content say?
  • Is the content accurate?
  • Is the content useful?
  • Is the content used by your audiences?
  • Is the content written professionally?
  • s the content user-friendly?
  • A qualitative audit safeguards the quality of your content and linkable assets, important as your content grows. Qualitative audits enable the accuracy of content to be verified, important in the rapidly changing world of digital marketing. Without the rigor of a qualitative audit, it’s impossible to gauge whether your content fits into your content strategy. Older Content is quite likely no longer fit for purpose and should be archived or repurposed where appropriate, it’s also the best time to ensure that your content contains the correct number of LSI & SEO keywords. Zach Edling (tendo.com) argues that

    a good content audit combines quantitative and qualitative findings with analysis and actionable recommendations
    so a Content audit acts as a starting point which together with a coherent Content Strategy will ensure your website is full of engaging, useful and good quality content so properly promoted it should be fairly easy to acquire backlinks to.

    What’s hot and what’s not?

    There’s little or no point wasting resources creating content no one is interested in so it’s best to examine which topics in your industry are of the most interest. Buzzsumo gives a great overview of the topics in your industry which attract the most attention. Unfortunately, Buzzsumo is not available for free with the cheapest package being $99 per month; there are alternatives to Buzzsumo where one can gauge the popularity of potential topics, this will enable you to choose topics which are of interest to people, useful when trying to develop a content plan for upcoming weeks. Personally, I find the selection of topics one of the most difficult aspects of maintaining a blog. There are alternatives to Buzzsumo such as

    List of alternatives to Buzzsumo

    Parting thoughts

    Good quality, well research content will ensure that your content attracts the right sort of attention and backlinks. This in essence is the core of the Skyscraper Technique linked below which takes already popular great quality content and makes it even better The beauty of really great content is that it is really easy to promote, and if others are sharing it will promote itself somewhat but one cannot afford to be complacent about that and the content should be adequately promoted, the standard caveats apply here such as making effective use of visual content (which increases engagement and shares) I’d love to add infographics but I, unfortunately, don’t have the skills yet or the resources to research and design the infographics I’d like to include, I really enjoy creating content which stretches me (I know there’s a hell of a lot of room for improvement, stop sniggering at the back!), in short really great content will enable you to stand out from the crowd, just make sure it adds value to your readers

    Further Reading & Bibliography

    Content Strategy for the Web (Voices That Matter)
    Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach
    Ultimate Guide to Link Building: How to Build Backlinks, Authority and Credibility for Your Website, and Increase Click Traffic and Search Ranking (Ultimate Series)
    Eric Ward & Garrett French
    1. 7 Content Search Tools That Are Perfect Alternative to BuzzSumo thenextscoop.com
    2. What Kind Of Content Generates The Most Links For Business Owners? Forbes.com
    3. 5 Ways to Build Links Without Getting Penalized quicksprout.com
    4. Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days backlinko.com

    By |April 29th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

    Google RankBrain the secret ingredient that determines your search engine rankings

    rank brain

    Image credit: Neil Conway(Flickr.com)

    An article which appeared on searchengineland.com in March provided the inspiration for this post, what was interesting about the article was that Andrey Lippattsev a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google suggested the following were the most important factors when determining the position of websites in Google’s search results

    1. Links
    2. Content
    3. RankBrain

    So what’s the big deal?

    The reason this was important was that Google and the other Search Engines are generally secretive about their Search algorithms and this information was from the horse’s mouth as it were. The SEO community had ascertained the importance of links & content years ago so no surprises there, it’s the third factor RankBrain that I will examine in this week’s blog post.

    Google’s search engine algorithm named ’Hummingbird’ contains over 200 factors, which are used to determine search engine rankings the three most important being Links, Content & RankBrain as stated above. Searchengineland.com provide the following definition of RankBrain
    RankBrain is Google’s name for a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that’s used to help process its search results I want to further clarify this definition into plain English i.e. to de-geekify it. Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems that are designed to learn to perform a task; Machine learning is a form of Artificial Intelligence. RankBrain is a part of Google’s Hummingbird Search Algorithm, which uses Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to better understand vague/ambiguous search queries and provide users with useful information. deMyers suggests that


    RankBrain is an artificial intelligence system that’s being applied to and used with Google’s current search engine algorithms to provide better results to user queries (Forbes.com)

    The growing Importance of RankBrain

    As RankBrain has overtaken hundreds of other factors to enter the three most important signals it must have quite an important role in the continued development of Google’s search engine, that alone means it is worth taking the time to understand it, but how can understanding this improve my own search rankings? that’s the $64,000 question and in order to understand that we’ll need to examine Semantic search

    What is Semantic Search?

    Wikipedia offers the following definition of Semantic Search

    Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding the searcher’s intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace, whether on the Web or within a closed system, to generate more relevant results. Semantic search systems consider various points including context of search, location, intent, variation of words, synonyms, generalized and specialized queries, concept matching and natural language queries to provide relevant search results.Wikipedia.com

    This is best illustrated with a simple example. Semantic Search makes use of the context in which information is presented, take the keyword Jaguar it has a number of different meanings. Jaguar on a web page featuring words such as forest, panther is probably referring to the Jaguar breed of big cat. Where Jaguar on a web page featuring the terms Tata & Land Rover is more likely to be referring to the Jaguar brand of luxury cars this admittedly simple example illustrates what I mean by the role of context when searching by using this the aim of semantic search is to provide the user with more relevant which better satisfies their requirements.

    Parting thoughts

    Like most people who don’t work for Google, I don’t have the exact information about how RankBrain works all I know from Mr. Lippatsev’s interview is that it’s an important ranking factor so I’ll take the cautious approach and recommend the best practices for ranking highly in semantic search.

    Latent Semantic Indexing(LSI)

    LSIgraph.com provide the following definition of LSI keywords

    LSI Keywords are essentially keywords related to the keyword that you search for on search engines such as Google. In a nutshell, they are keywords that are semantically linked to your main keywordLSIgraph.com

    For the Jaguar Cars example above the LSI Keywords would be Range rover, Aston Martin & Maserati that clarify it’s the Luxury Cars brand I’m talking about rather than the big cat variety of Jaguar.

    Internal Linking

    This means links between pages which make up your website, these should make it easy for both users and search spiders to navigate your website, Anchor text, URL structure, and site hierarchy are additional factors with a pyramid being regarded as the optimal structure(see diagram below)
    Pyramid site hierarchy

    By |April 18th, 2016|SEO, SME Online Marketing|0 Comments

    The lure of long-form content

    writing

    Image credits:Flickr Caleb Roenigk

    Gavin Davies was running a struggling small business most of his efforts were spent trying to attract more business for his small company Doobrytech, attempts to use traditional channels such as local retail magazines had been unsuccessful so bearing this n mind and despite a lack of familiarity with the internet he decided to invest in a company website with some time and effort he’d got his head around the basics of Search Engines and had a rough understanding of what keywords are, despite this he’d watched with concern as local competitors had shown up above the Doobrytech website on the Search Engine Results pages(SERP) in order to improve the rankings for his website he’d gone along with advice of others to start blogging on his website something many similar businesses had adopted

    All this despite the fact he’d done little no writing since School & College where he tended to avoid having to write in his wildest dreams or nightmares there’s no way he’d describe himself as a writer or heaven forbid blogger, yet here he was pen in hand trying to predict how business blogging would develop throughout 2016 and the implications for his company website and blog. One potential trend that seemed to be on everyone’s lips was long form content, Gavin tried to understand exactly what was long form content and what changes it would require from his business and would the benefits make all the extra effort worthwhile?

    long-form content

    Using Long Form content meant that Gavin would need to adjust his workflow and content development practises with more time allocated for writing, editing and research it would certainly have an impact on his weekly routine but the hope was the benefits would make this worthwhile

    What exactly is long form content?

    Long form content means longer more in depth blog posts with Forbes’ Josh Steimle suggesting that over 1,200 words per article is a good guideline for the length of the long-form blog post as opposed to the traditional 700 word article length

    Long Form storytelling

    Long form content often employs storytelling and is frequently presented as a narrative, this works just as well for businesses as it does for fiction writers. It facilitates the presentation of more complex topics meaning its easily possible to go beyond the basics into the depth where topics really become interesting

    Why is long form content a good thing?

    Contrary to expectations what Gavin found interesting was that his analytics suite showed that bounce rates for long form content were lower, despite the common belief that attention spans were shorter online the long form content he’d added to his website was proving more engaging that the short form content he’d used previously. Research by moz.com found that long form content was more likely to generate backlinks

    Greater Depth

    Another benefit of the long form format would be that it would enable chosen areas to be covered in greater detail than the previous short-form content allowed him to.The shift in format enabled

    The benefits of long form, What’s in it for my business?

    Much to his delight alongside increased visitor engagement Gavin discovered that search engines loved the long form content he was producing leading to better Search Engine Results page (SERP) rankings

    Better Quality Content

    I broadly agree with Kristina Halvorson’s comments regarding the amount of poor quality uninspiring website content, some of this is due I think to the restrictions placed on authors by the short blog article (roughly 700 words) I’ll always support the idea that quality > quantity and for too long the opposite view has been dominant on the web, so this means I need to improve the quality of my own content, again I’m cool with that.

    Parting thoughts

    Long Form content does take more effort to develop however the benefits it provides more than make up for this The extra length gives authors the opportunity to create richer and more detailed content which goes far beyond the superficial content which is so prevalent on the web, taking advantage of the flexibility which long form content offers will allow you to stand out from the crowd in 2016

    Bibliography

    1. The SEO And User Science Behind Long-Form Content
      Search Engine Land.com
    2. What Kind of Content Gets Links in 2012?moz.com
    3. Why Long Form Content Marketing Works, And Why It Doesn’tForbes.com
    By |January 8th, 2016|Content, SEO|Comments Off on The lure of long-form content

    Content Audits, how you can get started on the right track

    Content Audits

    Content auditing may not be the most exciting part of your content program this doesn’t detract from its importance. Knowing exactly what content your website contains allows resources to be allocated effectively, in addition to this it enables the quality of your website content to be analysed and adjusted accordingly giving you the opportunity to focus on the areas which require improvement. Content expert Kristina Halvorson suggests a number of benefits offered by auditing a website’s content such as

    • Help you to scope and budget for a content project
    • Give you a clear understanding of what you have and where it lives, even if only to being thinking about maintenance or content removal
    • Serve as a reference for source (or existing) content during content development, making it a highly efficient tool for writers and other content creators to keep track of what they have to work with

    Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach: Content Strategy for the web(2012)

    Moz.com suggest further advantages which are detailed below, the difference in the advantages is due to the different focus of Ms Halvorson who is a content strategist and Moz.com which is a SEO based website and service.

    • Determine the most effective way to escape a Panda penalty
    • Determine which pages need copywriting / editing
    • Determine which pages need to be updated and made more current, and prioritize them
    • Determine which pages should be consolidated due to overlapping topics
    • Determine which pages should be pruned off the site, and what the approach to pruning should be
    • Prioritize content based on a variety of metrics (e.g. visits, conversions, PA, copyscape risk score…)
    • Find content gap opportunities to drive content ideation and editorial calendars
    • Determine which pages are ranking for which keywords
    • Determine which pages “should” be ranking for which keywords
    • Find the strongest pages on a domain and develop a strategy to leverage them
    • Uncover content marketing opportunities
    • Auditing and creating an inventory of content assets when buying/selling a website
    • Understanding the content assets of a new client (i.e. what you have to work with)

    Different Types of audit

    Halvorson identifies a range of different audits some of which have a complementary role to play in the detailed auditing of your website’s content. These are as follows:

    Quantitative Audit

    Quantitative content inventories are a comprehensive top to bottom records of all the content in your website. Automation has a role to play in the creation of Content Inventories, as this could be a very long winded process otherwise, a quantitative audit is used to get an idea of what content is present on your website determining whether it is fit for purpose is the role of the other type of audit, the qualitative audit.

    Qualitative audit

    Qualitative audits are used to examine the quality of your website content, is it good enough to use or will further effort be required to bring it upto scratch? The Qualitative audit will highlight content which requires removing from the website. This should be part of your on-going content maintenance efforts.

    Parting thoughts

    I’ve already started auditing the content of this website and the initial quantitative audits have highlighted relatively minor issues (both of which are now rectified), as a website evolves its easy for content to fall out of date or by the wayside, I’m confident the qualitative phase will highlight content which doesn’t make the grade, My intention is replicate the 4 grades of content which moz.com use when reviewing their content which are “Keep As-Is”, “Remove”, “Improve”, or “Consolidate”, this will enable the quality of content to be maintained and where necessary improved. Furthermore the content audit is the starting point of developing a cohesive and realistic content strategy which is what I will be examining with next weeks post.

    Bibliography/Further Reading

    1. Content Strategy for the Web (Voices That Matter):Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach New Riders 2012
    2. How to do a content audit moz.com
    3. Qualitative or quantitative: which one do you need? stickycontent.com
    By |November 13th, 2015|Content, SEO|Comments Off on Content Audits, how you can get started on the right track

    Fine tune your content by understanding the different types of search query

    search-keyboard

    (Image credits: Flickr:www.gotcredit.com/

    Search Queries fall within three main categories. These are as follows

    • Transactional Queries
    • Navigational Searches
    • Informational Searches

    If we can understand how searchers use Search engines then it should be possible to build websites, which enable them to satisfy their informational needs.

    Navigational Searches

    Navigational searches are where web searchers are looking for a particular website, “Facebook” and “You tube” are both navigational searches (incidentally they are the top two searches on Google (source:wordstream.com) these are good examples of navigational searches.SearchEngineland.com suggest that ‘Navigational searching seeks to locate a specific web site’(searchengineland.com) On a more everyday level searching for a particular company name in the hopes their website will be revealed is an example of a navigational search. Research has shown that around 10 -15% of searches are navigational in nature.

    What can I do about Navigational Searches?

    Wordstream.com suggest that ‘The fact is, you don’t stand much of a chance targeting a navigational query unless you happen to own the site that the person is looking for’(source:wordstream.com) this limits the options available for website owners

    Informational Searches

    When searchers are looking for facts and answers to questions this is known as an informational search. Research has shown that 50-80% of searches are informational in nature (searchengineland.com)

    How can I target Informational Searches?

    Wordstream.com argue that The best way to target informational searches is with high-quality SEO content that genuinely provides helpful information relevant to the query.Searchengineland.com suggest two broad categories of informational content, “time limited” and “evergreen” content, websites will derive more benefits from the latter type of content which doesn’t go out of date however they warn that evergreen how to type content has

    unfortunately earned a bad reputation due to sites like ehow and wikianswers, where you are as likely to find content on how to tie a shoe (not particularly useful) as you are on how to tune a guitar (useful). If a how-to is useful, then by all means, you should write it and include it on your website.searchengineland.com

    Transactional Searches

    Transactional searches are where a searcher is intent on making a purchasing decision ‘Apple iPhone 4s’ would be an example of a transactional search as would ‘takeaway pizza Lancaster’ many local searches are transactional in nature.

    How can I target Transactional searches?

    Wordstream recommend using Pay per click to complement organic search results arguing that with sponsored as transactional searches are generally near the bottom of the sales funnel targeting these type of queries will deliver ROI results already taking up a sizeable chunk of ‘above the fold’ content on search engine results pages (SERP),PPC would be an effective way of ensuring that your site ranks for this type of query.

    Parting thoughts

    The types of search query customers use changes during the customer journey or depending on their position within the sales funnel. A potential customer will have different questions and information requirements from a repeat customer it’s the job of your website to support customers with their questions during the buying process or at what http://www.entrepreneurial-insights.com describe as touchpoints. Providing a range of relevant and useful content is the best way to do this.

    By |October 23rd, 2015|Content, SEO|Comments Off on Fine tune your content by understanding the different types of search query

    SEO Basics: Spider,Crawlers and bots oh my!

    Map of London underground

    This weeks article will build on the previous weeks it’s a closely related topic, how search engines index or read & record the content of websites, by using search spiders (aka webcrawlers or bots) to identify and store the contents of the web, understanding how this works will enable the designer to build websites which search engines can easily index or ‘read’.

    What exactly are search spiders?

    spiders also known as web crawlers and bots(be prepared for plenty of arachnid metaphors here) are special pieces of software which crawl the web analysing the contents of web pages and feeding the information back to search engines. Google offer the following description

    We use software known as “web crawlers” to discover publicly available webpages. The most well-known crawler is called “Googlebot.” Crawlers look at webpages and follow links on those pages, much like you would if you were browsing content on the web. They go from link to link and bring data about those webpages back to Google’s serverwww.google.com

    How do Spiders traverse the web?

    The best metaphor I have encountered for explaining this is the in the book The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization (Theory in Practice) by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola and Rand Fishkin it uses the famous London underground map to explain how stations(web pages) and lines(hyperlinks), it is this network of hubs and spokes which search siders traverse, feeding the information back to the search engine, allowing the search engine to develop a representation of the web, when we (the end users search the web we are actually searching the Search Engines indexed representation of the web which has discovered by search spiders and fed back to

    Why is this important?

    Understanding how spiders operate enables designers to build websites that spiders can easily traverse and it explains why setting up robots.txt and xml sitemaps are best practise when optimising a website, it also influences the structure or hierarchy of the website, it is essential that spiders can completely traverse the website, it is best to minimise the depth of the website ‘no page should be more than 3 clicks away from the homepage’ (source: http://www.webseoanalytics.com) breadcrumbs(a navigation aid which shows the user where they are in the website) provide a convenient way to enable spiders to completely traverse the website, breadcrumbs are also excellent from a usability perspective.

    Robots.txt

    The Robots exclusion standard or robots.txt is a text file stored on the webserver, which provides instructions for search spiders. The file informs spiders which parts of the may be accessed and which parts are effectively off limits to the spiders. Wikipedia provides the following description of robots.txt.

    A robots.txt file on a website will function as a request that specified robots ignore specified files or directories when crawling a site. This might be, for example, out of a preference for privacy from search engine results, or the belief that the content of the selected directories might be misleading or irrelevant to the categorization of the site as a whole, or out of a desire that an application only operate on certain data. >Wikipedia.com

    Sitemaps.xml

    Sitemaps are xml(extensible markup language) file which provide spiders (and search engines) with information how a website is structured it is best practice to have a sitemaps.xml file in the root folder Google offer the following advice:

    If your site’s pages are properly linked, our web crawlers can usually discover most of your site. Even so, a sitemap can improve the crawling of your sitesupport.google.com

    this advice is especially applicable if it’s a large website, Google then add the following warning, however its certainly advisable to ensure that your website has a sitemap.

    Using a sitemap doesn’t guarantee that all the items in your sitemap will be crawled and indexed, as Google processes rely on complex algorithms to schedule crawling. However, in most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap, and you’ll never be penalized for having one.support.google.com

    Parting thoughts

    Understanding how spiders work is an important element of building spider friendly websites which can be completely analysed by spiders, failure to do this will result in parts of the website being off limits to web crawlers, thus rendering them invisible to search engines, for this reason caution is advised when securing parts of the website and using JavaScript heavy websites, historically spiders have had difficulties completely indexing JavaScript so best practise involves allowing fall-back methods to enable complete access where JavaScript causes problems for crawlers.

    By |October 16th, 2015|SEO|Comments Off on SEO Basics: Spider,Crawlers and bots oh my!

    Onpage SEO Basics – Images

    Flying_Pigeon-bicycle

    Flying Pigeon bicycle (image source:Wikipedia)

    One of the most common problems I encounter when developing SME websites is a lack of understanding of how search engines actually work it these misconceptions I aim to correct in this short series of SEO basics articles which will enable you to build on solid foundations when making Search Engine Optimisation(SEO) choices for your website, one of the more common problems is not understanding how Search engines ‘see’ images

    On Page Best Practises

    There is a range of best practises for SEO optimised image placement; I will give an overview of them here generally search engines value usability(ease of use) highly so Search Engines will approve of

    naming images

    As stated earlier Search bots cannot identify images, which is why its best to help them to identify images by giving them descriptive and relevant names preferably featuring keywords, so its best to rename images from IMG_5528.JPG to say carl-potts-portrait.jpg, this identifies the image in a way which search bots can decipher this process can be aided by suitable use of alt tags which we’ll examine next.
    human view of BBC website

    Human view of the BBC website

    alt tags

    Alt tags provide a usability aid. They are intended to assist partially sighted users who rely on screen reader software to use
    About.com provides the following description, in order for certain variants of html to verify correctly images are required to have completed alt tags, and this is good from both a usability and SEO perspective.

    The alt attribute is an attribute of the img tag and is meant to be an alternative for non-visual browsers when they come across images. This means, that the text is meant to be used when the image is not visible on the page. Instead, what is displayed (or read) is the alternative text.http://webdesign.about.com

    Image Title Tags

    Title tags are another frequency overlooked image attribute(I know I’m guilty on this front!) but they are great from a Usability perspective
    Search Engine Journal provide the following description of title attribute for images


    image title (and the element name speaks for itself) should provide additional information and follow the rules of the regular title: it should be relevant, short, catchy, and concise (a title “offers advisory information about the element for which it is set“). In FireFox and Opera it pops up when you hover over an image:
    www.searchenginejournal.com

    How this works in practise is probably best illustrated with an image and example.THe Above picture of a bicycle has all of the best practices completed including image title, alt tags and file name.

    Parting thoughts

    Optimisation of Images is one aspect where websites often run into problems, if accessibility is an important factor then care sure to be taken to ensure that alt tags are completed for every image however to completely optimise the site then images should be named accordingly, this is an easy way to get good search engine results where people are searching for images, by following the best practises I’ve laid out in this article you will be completely covered from a search Engine and usability perspective

    By |October 2nd, 2015|SEO|Comments Off on Onpage SEO Basics – Images

    Brand Voice will enable you to take your content & Social Media to the next level

    character

    Image Flickr:Jae Storer

     

    I’ve mentioned before that I believe that Authenticity lies at the heart of great content and social media it’s an element of this I wish to examine with this weeks Blog post that of Brand Voice. The reason I’m discussing this topic is I find it hard crafting calls to action designed to suit a British audience, I suppose an understated type of British Call to action would be appropriate, why not try our they are really rather good, would be fine, mind that Cranks Britishness up to 11 and its in danger of being included in Downton Abbey but on reflection the approach is fitting. If you are serious about Branding, the Brand voice and persona are important considerations.

    tone, voice and persona

    There’s some confusion between the terminologies I’m using here, I want to use this section to clarify the differences as the following terms are sometimes used interchangeably

    Tone

    Stephanie Schwab defines tone thus

    Tone is the underlying vibe that emanates from your brand’s communications. This is where you establish your credibility; place your brand in the past, present or future; and subtly alert fans and followers whether your brand is going to be wide-open or a bit more buttoned up www.socialmediaexplorer.com

    Voice

    Buffer app define voice as

    “Your brand personality described in an adjective. For instance, brands can be lively, positive, cynical, or professional.” I find this is where some of the confusion creeps in. Julie Wildhaber at quickanddirtytricks.com suggests that

    You could consider tone a subset of voice. If voice is the personality of a story, then tone is the mood. www.quickanddirtytips.com

    The Difference between Tone and Voice

    I like the way that Charisa Weaks clarified the difference using dictionary definitions however I’ll use a different dictionary Chambers UK , a method I’ll copy here

    Tone
    a quality or character of the voice expressing a particular feeling or mood

    For example you could write in a sarcastic tone where I much prefer to use a helpful tone on this website and a playful/friendly one on social media

    Voice
    expression in the form of spoken(or written-Carl) words gave voice to their feelings

    Wheaton College provide a helpful explanation of the difference, the voice is what makes communication uniquely yours a stylist fingerprint if you like

    Anything you write should still have your voice: something that makes your writing sound uniquely like you. A personal conversation with a friend differs from a speech given to a large group of strangers. Just as you speak to different people in different ways yet remain yourself, so the tone of your writing can vary with the situation while the voice — the essential, individual thoughts and expression — is still your own. www.wheaton.edu

    Persona

    Persona is a fairly similar concept, which Ms Schwab defines thus, this is a different meaning of the term persona to the usual on employed with social media and content marketing

    This is the starting point for the development or furthering of your brand voice: Who does your brand sound like? In order to determine this, you may need to first determine who your customers are, so you can assume a persona for the brand that will resonate with your primary target audience.

    Parting Thoughts

    The key words here are ‘will resonate with your primary target audience’ get the brands voice wrong and you risk alienating your audience, which is not a good idea. Like authenticity Brand voice is a topic I feel quite strongly about, content and communication without voice is boring and bland at worst its like talking to a RSS feed (an approach some social media users adopt with lots of posts with scant interaction with other users, I’m not convinced about this approach with social media it may attract followers but does nothing for engagement which really is the whole point of social media if you ask me. Brand Voice is a vital consideration, a poor choice of voice will make my hackles rise I don’t know if this is just me being grumpy .Voice even extends to the choice of fonts, Colours and Imagery used

    Poor choices make a poor impression

    For a Curriculum Vitae Comic Sans would be deemed inappropriate choice of font, yes I appreciate that’s a heavy handed example but it illustrates the point there are even instances of Gravestones set in Comic Sans (no, I’m not joking) it shows how information delivered in the wrong voice can be jarring and make a bad overall impression, in this case not so much the deceased person but their friends &family!

    By |September 11th, 2015|Content, SEO, SME Online Marketing, Social Media|Comments Off on Brand Voice will enable you to take your content & Social Media to the next level

    Discover the Importance of context

    Scarecrow Fox by David Wilcoxson: Sculpture In Context 2012 at the National Botanic Gardens by William Murphy (Source: Flickr)

    Scarecrow Fox by David Wilcoxson: Sculpture In Context 2012 at the National Botanic Gardens by William Murphy (Source: Flickr)

    This week’s post will introduce a concept I believe is of vital importance for those making use of social media or content marketing as part of their marketing mix

    Defining Context

    Chambers dictionary offers the following definition of context

    context noun 1 the pieces of writing in a passage which surround a particular word, phrase, etc. and which contribute to the full meaning of the word, phrase, etc. in question. 2 circumstances, background or setting. contextualSource: Chambers.co.uk

    To simplify the concept context applies to the where, who and how of communication, where one is communication, who one is communicating with and how one is communicating, pictures of kittens etc. would be perfectly in context on a social media channel but would be woefully out of context on LinkedIn, when communication is out of context it jars and grates on people. Risqué jokes might be fine at the pub but they’d be badly out of place at a family gathering/christening, this toying with context is frequent source of humour in Best Man Jokes where risqué humour is concealed in ways which wont offend the easily shocked members of the wedding party

    As Marketers why is this important to us?

    In her whitepaper ‘Why Context is essential to Digital Marketing’ Rebecca Lieb argues that

    The more marketing can be targeted in context, the better – and more relevant – the customer experience. Context means the right person receives the right message at the right time, but also in the right place, on the right platform and in the right language.(Source: Lieb 2014)

    So context even plays a role in Search, for example I do a quick search for pizza I don’t want results in New York, Exeter or Chicago, I want the results for Morecambe and perhaps Lancaster in a format which is readily understood on my computer of choice (desktop or smartphone)

    Parting thoughts

    Context is what takes Content Marketing to the next level, as Rebecca Lieb notes it is growing in importance so its worth taking the time to understand this concept and to apply it to your own marketing, I hope I’ve explained the basics of context well with this post, Context complements content to ensure that customers & visitors to your site have the best possible experience when using your website, I’m inclined to agree with Kevin Jorgensen’s emphasis on the importance of personas here, the value of which is already well understood by professional content marketers, context uses a thorough if not complete understanding of your customers to provide an excellent service, if a website can be said to serve people. If context could be mapped to the position of customers within the sales funnel then it would completely transcend standard content marketing, the question has to be can smaller businesses leverage this technology & way of thinking, based on what I’ve researched this week, I’m starting to reappraise context in how people and companies utilize social media, think of it as another dimension of communication if content marketing is 2d communication, Context adds the 3rd dimension. Failing to appreciate this will lead to less effective communication.

    By |August 28th, 2015|Content, SEO|Comments Off on Discover the Importance of context

    Keyword stuffing is a waste of your time, heres why

    keywords(image credit: Flickr Darwin Bell)

    One of the most common problems I encounter is that of keyword stuffing, before explaining what keyword stuff is I need to define keywords. Technopedia define keyword as

    A keyword, in the context of search engine optimization, is a particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a Web page. Keywords are intended to act as shortcuts that sum up an entire page. Keywords form part of a Web page’s metadata and help search engines match a page to with an appropriate search query.(source:techopedia.com)

    I’ll define keyword as the phrases people use when they are using search engines such as Google, it’s a slightly misleading label keyword phrases would be more accurate way to describe them as its rare to search with one word its usually a combination of words which people use when searching i.e. pizza shop Morecambe would be a keyword.

    What is keyword stuffing?

    Where a website owner has attempted to cram an excessive amount of keywords into a page element be it bodytext , heading or title tag(more on that later) Yola.com define Keyword stuffing as

    The term “keyword stuffing” has been around since the early days of SEO. It’s used to describe a shady technique website owners adopt in order to manipulate their site’s search ranking for a particular keyword, or set of keywords. If you have been to a website that displays a list of words or phrases that have little or no relevance to the content on the website, then it is likely that website is keyword stuffing.(source:Yola.com)

    Webopedia’s definition is as follows ‘A SEO technique used by Web designers to overload keywords onto a Web page so that search engines will read the page as being relevant in a Web search.’(source: webopedia.com)

    My encounters with keyword stuffing generally lie between these two definitions common features are as follows:

    • Developers overload a page or text with keywords
    • Cramming keywords into a page where there is little or no content which is relevant to said keyword

    Page titles

    From an SEO perspective page titles are extremely important they are used to describe the contents of a webpage, best practice here advises using no more than 2 keywords separated with a pipe character | if necessary, titles are limited to 70 characters (including spaces) as they will ignore extra characters

    | | company name is the best practice solution for page titles suggested by moz.com

    This approach is like a kid in a sweet shop, the website owner has identified a list of keywords (probably using guesswork rather than genuine keyword research) then decided they’d like their site to rank for these keywords, the problem is its basically ineffective and will alienate users for little or no reward. If you wish to rank for a keyword there has to be genuine content relevant to that keyword present in the website.

    Parting thoughts

    Keyword stuff is a waste of time, a page completely stuffed with keywords will have minimal chance of ranking for those keywords, its an easy way to make your website look poor quality and spammy, Google’s webmaster guidelines actually advise against loading a page with irrelevant keywords

    By |July 24th, 2015|SEO|Comments Off on Keyword stuffing is a waste of your time, heres why