A common problem organisations encounter is a lack of awareness as to what content is actually present on the company website, this poses a number of problems, no-one in the organisation knows if the website content is of sufficient quality or if the content meets the requirements of your customers, as Kristina Halvorson states:
Its good to know how much content you have,where it lives,what its about, and whether its any good'(Halvorson 2012)
Anne Rockley & Charles Cooper also note the importance of understanding the nature and effectiveness of your website content. The main tool for gaining this appreciation is the content audit, which is what we’ll examine this week.
Halvorson goes on to suggest 3 types of audit, these we’ll examine shortly:
The first type of audit Halvorson introduces is the quantitative audit. This provides a high level ‘snapshot’ of what content is present on the site, what format it is in and where it is stored, in order to gain a more detailed understanding of a websites content a qualitative audit is required which we’ll examine now.
‘A qualitative audit analyses the quality & effectiveness of the projects content’ (Halvorson & Rach 2012)
Halvorson & Rach propose two variants of qualitative audit, both of which are appropriate at different stages of a content project:
This type of qualitative audit is usually undertaken at the beginning of a project, it grades content against established best practises and examines that it actually satisfies user requirements
This is the most in-depth type of audits and is usually performed towards the end of a content project, giving an indication of how well your existing content aligns with content strategy, this will allow gaps and shortcomings to be identified and hopefully eliminated
Unlike quantitative audits automated audit software is not really appropriate for qualitative audits as some degree of human review and grading is essential
Most Content experts are keen to emphasise the importance of content audits for content marketing projects and content-rich websites, although auditing can be time consuming it has a number of important benefits:
Identify Content Shortcomings
it is better to do this in the early stages of a content project rather than close to launch, auditing can identify shortcomings early in the project and if necessary eliminate them
Audits allow substandard content to be identified and removed
when integrated with Analytics software it is possible to identify the content which really strikes a chord with visitors and act accordingly with this information, if necessary develop additional popular content and remove the content that has failed to make an impact
Identify content for reuse and cross referencing purposes
Rockley suggests that an audit allows organisations to identify existing content which may be re purposed or utilised elsewhere, given the costly nature of original content it makes sense to extract the maximum benefit from existing content.
Gain a complete understanding of the content present on the website
Develop effective planning and content maintenance programs
This week I will be returning to the theme of good quality content, depending on the author you are reading this is known by a variety of names, McGovern refers to “killer content” where I prefer the Valuable Content” label used by Sonja Jefferson, same concept, different label. Both McGovern and Jefferson point to the decline in traditional broadcast marketing suggesting that the way business can successfully utilise the web is to produce good quality content which answers the questions of potential customers so building trust and rapport with these leads, basically what’s generally known as content marketing. Jefferson suggests that
‘Good marketing has always been valuable but the difference today is that buyers no longer tolerate or respond to marketing which is less than good (Jefferson 2012)
the perceived lack of quality of much online content is a concern many authors share, its a concern I certainly agree with a lot of online content is frequently rather poor in agree quality with there only being a few golden nuggets of content being available, McGovern complains about the prevalence of filler over killer content, I’ll be using the rest of this post to compare and contrast two definitions of ‘good quality’ content, I’ll then proceed to develop my own definition from this which will be used as the quality benchmark for the rest of the content added to this site
Redish (2012) highlights the usefulness of a websites content and its role in converting visitors into customers, she goes on to suggest that content needs to be
• easy to find
• easy to understand
• up to date
• credible (Redish 2012)
Redish places a lot of emphasis on the usefulness of content
‘People come for information that answers their question and helps them to complete their task’ (Redish 2012)
This tallies completely with Jay Baer’s Youtility concept and Jefferson’s recommendation that valuable content needs to be useful.
This week we’ve looked at a number of viewpoints on what constitutes good content, this is important because a number of prominent authors & thought leaders bemoan the variable quality of online content, its a concern I share, a lot of online content I encounter is rather mediocre, excellent content stands out and will differentiate you from the competition, now I’ll attempt to develop my own definition of excellent quality content which builds upon the previous definitions, In my opinion excellent quality content needs to tick all these boxes.
2. Useful either Informative or entertaining
6. Easily Found
7. High quality
9. Mapped to sales funnel
I personally find that most online content is beginner level only, there is a lot less intermediate and advanced level content available, this is a problem, which extends to printed books as well as online content; perhaps the beginner market is more lucrative? I personally find there is a real dearth of intermediate/advanced level content available freely online, perhaps I need to look harder but I don’t really feel its through lack of looking on my part, Carl Potts Designs offer Content Marketing services designed to
1. Boost Search Engine Performance
2. Improve Brand awareness and trust
3. Improve client retention/satisfaction
If this interests you contact me today either by phone or use the contact form.
‘This is why I sometimes refer to analytics as WMD or Weapons of Mass Delusion, we can become so myopic about making sure the graph is always going up and to the right that we become fearful about doing anything new'(Pulizzi 2011)
These concerns are echoed by Robert Rose who suggests that focusing completely on ROI, does not help content marketing campaigns to flourish. On the contrary
‘Trying to pin ROI on content marketing is a bit like asking what’s the ROI of your telephone system ‘(Rose 2011)
Rose contends that ROI should be used as a goal or objective rather than a reason for “whether content marketing is worth doing”, Measurement is necessary in order to monitor the effectiveness of your campaign so that adjustments may be made as and when necessary, it is the Analytics Pyramids suggested by both authors that we shall examine next.
The analytics pyramid suggested by both Rose and Pulizzi is divided into 3 layers these being:
1. Primary Indicators (metrics of interest to executives)
2. Secondary Indicators (metrics of interest to Company Management)
3. User Indicators (for use by the Analytics team)
As can be seen each level of the pyramid is intended to provide the measurements required by different strata of the company from executive down to Analytics team, the successive layers increase the granularity and detail, with the Primary Indicators only providing the high level view of various metrics required for strategic decision making by the company executives such as lead generation rate and cost per lead generated.
At first glance a full analytics pyramid may seem somewhat excessive for smaller businesses to employ, especially in micro businesses where Management and executives are probably e content marketing campaign?one and the same. I don’t agree with this view, the detailed metrics and feedback offered by the User Indicator level allow the business to accurately gauge the effectiveness of their content marketing, this fine tuning is required if the content marketing is going to completely satisfy its objectives
I hope this post has given you an insight into the role of metrics in a content marketing campaign, although initially confusing when stripped down to the basic underlying logic its reasonably straightforward
1. What are the objectives of the content marketing campaign?
2. Use metrics to gauge if the campaign is satisfying the objectives set in stage 1,
3. If it is not adjust accordingly, otherwise continue
both Pulizzi and Rose argue that measurement and analysis are necessary, if content publishing is truly to be regarded as content marketing, then continual feedback is required to fine tune your content program, however the satisfying of these metrics should not become the be all and end all of the content marketing program, that defeats the point. Carl Potts Designs offers content Marketing Solutions designed to enable your company to achieve its online goals, if this is of interest to you please contact me today for further information.
This week I’ll be examining Authority one of the two main criteria along with relevance which determine how a website performs on Search Engine Results pages, so if you wish to be at the top of Google its well worth taking the time to understand this concept.
Copyblogger identify 4 core components which determine the authority of a website, these are:
1. Sites which solve the problems or questions of potential leads, this is the Youtility which Jay Baer refers to in his book of the same name
2. Sites which attract links from other authoritative publishers
3. Sites which attract a lot of attention where the audience helps to share your content
4. And it’s the site with a confident, ethical sales process that converts attention into business.(Source: Copyblogger )
Hopefully this list makes it pretty obvious why SEOs constantly harp on about content (I know I do!), but this post is focused more on search authority as opposed to content, although the two factors are definitely interrelated. A site with little or no content will fail on nearly all of the 4 points; a site needs good quality content in order to satisfy the points above.
Note that I highlighted the words authoritative publishers in point 2, this means that links from dubious sites carry little weight when Google determines SERP rankings, Google does not approve of the purchasing of links and will penalise sites it suspects of engaging in the practise, reciprocal linking (if you link to my site I’ll link to yours) schemes carry a lot less weight these days the best way to generate quality backlinks is to develop good quality website content which is worth linking to, this is a point argued by Link building expert Eric Ward (aka Link Moses) who argues that
‘The less useful your content, the less likely you are to ever receive a link to it “(Ward 2013)
this accentuates the link (no pun intended) between website content and good search engine performance.
Point 3 highlights the link between content and social media. Google and the other Search Engines take account of how much attention sites get on the social networks, a Site with 1000s of links from Social Media is perceived as having more authority by the search engines and will perform well on the SERPs
‘The larger your social footprint, the more impact social media will have on your SEO efforts. (Search Engine Land 2011)
Experience suggests that its relatively easy to publicise a site full of interesting, entertaining or informative content on social media (a fact the likes of buzzfeed.com & quickmeme.com utilise) conversely a site with little or no content will receive little or no attention on the various social networks.
Although this article is ostensibly about Website authority, the concept is completely intertwined with website content and backlinks, in a nutshell the website with loads of good content will develop authority naturally leading to better SERP rankings & website traffic which is something most small business owners want. Carl Potts Designs offer Search Engine Optimisation services, Social Media support and content creation designed for specifically increasing your websites traffic.
Content Marketing is possibly the most influential trend in online marketing today with 93% of B2B Marketers using content marketing (source:CMI)
I want to use this weeks post to explore the concept and clarify what successful content marketing requires then I’ll examine the benefits of content marketing, and how it fits into your overall marketing plan. We’ll then conclude with an overview of the takeaway points
At first glance Content Marketing appears to be an easily understood model, a number of authors suggest that it’s nothing new only that delivery of engaging content via a website hub is a new variant of an old approach, examining the concept beyond the simplest level, Ann Handley suggests
‘Content is what sets your company apart – because it will define how you relate to your customers, and whether your customers choose you over anyone else’ (Curata 2013)
Joe Pulizzi argues that Content Marketing is far more than simply creating content which answers the questions of leads and potential customers, Content marketing sets out to complete business objectives which can include
• Increasing Website Traffic
• Brand Awareness and Visibility
• Asset Downloads
• Lead Generation
• Building trust
• Improving customer loyalty (Source: Curata 2013)
Content marketing has a number of benefits, amongst these being
• Better Search Engine Rankings
• Developing customer trust
• Brand Recognition
It is a lot easier to publicise a website which is filled with great quality content which solves peoples problems as opposed to one with hardly any content. Search Engine Optimisation in 2014 is basically concerned with the development of good quality content, with recent Algorithm changes by Google such as Panda and Penguin have penalised sites with poor quality content, not so much ‘build it and they will come, rather answer their questions, entertain them and they might come’
Jay Baer suggests that top of mind awareness is a powerful sales tool i.e. when a customer thinks of a brand they think of your company, Content Marketing is a fantastic way for generating top of mind awareness especially when your content promoted via Social Media
We’ve seen that Content Marketing is not really a new approach to marketing it is however a new discipline (Pulizzi 2012) beyond the obvious creation of content there has to be underlying and measureable business objectives, it is not a case of simply ‘creating content for contents sake’, there is no need to go over the many benefits of content marketing again. The Consequences of having poor quality or little content are worth examining
• Lack of Customer engagement with high bounce rates
• Poor Search Engine rankings
Please note that the Carl Potts Designs Newsletter regularly covers topics such as ‘what is good quality content?’ and how can Website content be promoted effectively. Please signup today for the monthly newsletter if you would find further information on this subject and other online marketing topics interesting.
This week’s post will examine one of the important components of the content marketing lifecycle I’ve not covered yet. Creating great content, which answers the needs of your customers is only part of the content marketing cycle. It needs to be promoted effectively, which is what I’ll examine this week, investigating both organic and paid promotion methods.
Jay Baer highlights the dangers of neglecting content promotion:
“The notion that you can simply create interesting content people
will magically find it is a lie. If you build it, they won’t necessarily
come. You have to treat your content executions like a product, and
launch them the same way you would launch a product.”( Baer in Buzzstream 2014)
Personally I’d have to agree with buzzstream’s somewhat gloomy appraisal of the current market (2014), the use of content Marketing alone will not differentiate you from your competition, its becoming an very common strategy especially in the United States
While content marketing was once something
new, clever, and practiced only by the people
that ‘got’ the internet, that time is now over.
Now 90% of B2C marketers and 93% of B2B
marketers are creating content for their prospects
Social Book Marking sites
Wikipedia defines Social Book Marking thus:
Social Bookmarking websites allow Internet users to organize and store bookmarks to online resources.’
Popular Social Book Marking sites include (list from about.com):
This is slightly different to the social networks which your company should have been cultivating, in the United Kingdom the most popular networks are, Sharing links is perfectly acceptable on Social Bookmarking sites. Excessive self-promotion on social networks will alienate and irritate followers
3. Google plus
I’ve scrapped the initial post for this week as I could not say I completely agreed with the topic or conclusions it was reaching, from this point on I’m only going to cover topics I completely believe in and I’m actually passionate about, this limits the topics I can cover, it’s a price I’m more than happy to pay. It completely eliminates one of the issues, which was hampering my writing efforts. As I have complete control over this blog Id rather use it delivering an authentic and heartfelt message rather than producing what I describe as ‘corporate – meh’ of which there is already a surplus on the web in my opinion.
By ‘corporate – meh’ I mean content that ticks all the boxes (as laid out by introductory social media books) but fails to engage because it lacks any passion or genuine emotion, looking like its been created to satisfy a quota rather than a genuine need for communication as a result of this it is, it is bland and unsatisfying. I’ll be applying this to my use of social media for promoting the blog and website. I’m in no hurry to produce or promote ‘Corporate – meh’ , basically if a page is good enough for me to clip to my Evernote notebook its good enough to recommend to others ,if not I wont link it. Quality has to trump quantity.
This means I won’t be in a rush to produce Morecambe’s first Harlem Shake. Sorry. It was funny at first but after the forth or fifth marketing department initiated Harlem shake the novelty had completely worn off. Memes and viral videos are fantastic when they are spontaneous and developed for pleasure by the general public rather than by a marketing team wishing to make a brand or product appear ‘fun’ there’s a World of difference between the two. I don’t feel the mad rush to produce viral content is a good thing, instead focus on producing great long term content rather than ‘flavour of the month’ viral content.
Which brings me neatly to the book I’m currently enjoying ‘Engagement from scratch’ by Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark, Mitch Joel and Mark Schaefer, I’ve read a lot of books on internet marketing and this is the one which in my opinion really hits the nail on the head with regards to what makes content good, they identify likeability, trustworthiness and quality as the three pillars of enchantment which lead to an engaged audience, which is something all content requires otherwise its achieving nothing. The book contains a number of Chapters written by successful Internet Marketers & Bloggers. One aside I especially enjoyed was a small dig at “Social Media experts” who write books and attend plenty of conferences but achieve little in the way of real success with blogs and social media, sarky but accurate. This I find is the problem with social media and content marketing books, There are plenty of books aimed at beginner level but the Intermediate and advanced levels of Social Media and Content Marketing are rarely visited by existing literature and content.
For this weeks blog post I’m re-examining Content Marketing strategy, I’ve seen arguments for and against expressed in recent weeks with some commentators believing that a content strategy is not necessary, this post will examine both sides of the argument then I’ll give my personal opinion on content strategy and whether a content strategy is really necessary
‘But before you start planning the specifics of your journey. You need to answer one extremely critical question: what’s your destination?’
Kristina Halvorson (Content Strategy for the Web 2nd ed)
This quote from Kristina Halvorson for me succintly sums up the purpose of a content strategy, it gives ones content a clear direction and purpose, your content strategy doesn’t need to be a 40 page epic which for smaller companies would be a waste of time and resources to develop, but might be a justified use of resources for a larger companies content / web development departments. My personal content strategy is simply 2 sentences long. A Content strategy lends an overall cohesiveness to website content, which is required if your website is going to build customer trust in your brand or company. Content strategy simply sets the destination of your journey or specifies aims of your website content.
On further reading the Garrett Moon “Why you don’t need a content marketing” article which inspired this post is not an argument against having a content strategy per se it is an argument against having bloated content strategies. Aside from the sarcastic dig at the use of the term strategy to disguise a lack of expertise (I can see where the authors coming from there) I happen to agree completely with the argument, developing overworked 40 page content strategy epics is simply a complete waste of time and resources for smaller companies. Lean, flexible and stripped down content strategies are the way forward for SMEs
Personally I believe that a content strategy is an essential part of any Content Marketing effort, it could hardly be termed a plan without an overall strategy. I don’t believe small businesses require huge Content Strategy documents, however justified they are in larger organisations, without an overall direction content runs the risk of appearing disjointed and confused while carefree wandering may appeal to philosophers and poets its not a recipe for successful website content which satisfies the requirements of visitors and potential customers(I hate the term leads). Having cohesive content is a huge bonus when promoting with social media. I’ll paraphrase Kristina Halverson’s quote to reflect this leaner approach, one of the advantages SMEs have over larger organisations is the flexibility of not needing to satisfy numerous stakeholder(s) or departments why throw this advantage away?
‘But before you get bogged down in the specifics of your journey. You need to answer one extremely critical question: what’s your destination?
The case for engaging good quality content is pretty overwhelming when examined logically. Why is Google the most popular Search Engine? Would be a perfectly reasonable question; ‘because it gives the best results’ would be a fair answer to this.
Now it’s worth considering ‘what are the best results’? In more detail, a selection of relevant good quality websites which stand a good chance of answering a searchers information requirements would be a sensible definition of good search results not over optimised websites which contain very little information, its in Google’s interests to stay ahead of their competition and the way they do this is by giving better quality results to search queries,
the challenge for small businesses and Post Panda SEOs is to anticipate the questions their customers are asking (through techniques such as keyword research)and then providing the information that their customers are actually searching for, then advertising these answers in the social media their customers use.
What’s interesting is that so many companies fail to provide interesting websites, often suffering from a lack of real content, merely a few stock images in the vain hope it will satisfy site visitors, it’s the online equivalent of having an empty shop with disinterested/bored staff milling about.
I’m busy formulating business strategy for the new year, This includes various content management and ecommerce packages available. I’ve set up a local Lamp server and I’m pleasantly surprised how good Linux Mint is, additionally I’ve been evaluating Drupal, I’ve come to the conclusion its vastly overpowered for the type of websites I generally develop, so I’ll be continuing to use WordPress for the majority of my websites , this is not denigrating Drupal in any way its simply far too powerful for the small business websites I work on , another factor influencing this decision is the user friendliness of WordPress which makes it perfect for clients who are slightly wary of Information Technology.