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How to create absolutely awesome blog post titles

delicious

Your post titles need to be so compelling that people are tempted to read the rest
Image credit:Mr. Austin Frothingslosh (Flickr.com)

They are generally described as the most important element of a blog post. Yet they are one of the hardest parts to get right. Blog post titles are the element where first impressions, last. You have literally seconds to grab someone’s attention and persuade him or her to visit your blog. That’s why post titles are so important. It’s blog post titles I will be examining with this weeks post.

Magnetic Blog post titles

The most commonly used adjective when describing effective post titles is magnetic. This is because great titles grab people’s attention and tempt them to read your blog. That’s why post titles are really important. Using the Restaurant menu metaphor employed elsewhere in her book Henneke Duistermaat suggests you need to create headlines ‘so delicious that readers crave to read your posts’. The example Henneke uses perfectly illustrates this, in a restaurant what would you rather order? That’s the difference of a well crafted title brings. See the use that Duistermaat has made of sensory words such as crisp and juicy, they certainly bring the garnish to life! Making it sound a lot more appetising. When discussing non-edible items such as blog post titles we should make use of emotive terms to add the wow factor.

1)A Ham Sandwich or
2)Home cooked Wiltshire ham on a freshly baked granary sandwich with crisp lettuce leaves and juicy tomato slices
(Duistermaat 2014)

Post Titles best practises

Now we’ll examine what’s considered best practise when developing effective blog titles

Blog titles should tempt potential readers
This means titles should contain a ‘hook’ to grab readers, a promise or answers they seek, they should use emotive terms to grab interest
Post titles should be less than 55 characters long
The character limitation is a SEO consideration; short snappy titles are easier for people to scan
blog post titles should contain a keyword
Blog post titles should feature keywords at the beginning of the title, one keyword will be sufficient, avoid keyword stuffing

Parting thoughts

This is one area of my blogging I’ve needed to improve for a long time. My titles need to have a lot more flare in order to attract readers. I don’t like to overpromise and under deliver. This is a scruple which appears to be fairly rare online, the opposite being a lot more common.

Common problems

One factor I find irritating and which lead to a negative opinion of a blog are post titles, which promise the earth but deliver little. A lot of titles are drenched in hyperbole; it’s a characteristic I’ve built a resistance to, and I’m fairly good at spotting and avoiding now. On a similar note generic or corny blog post titles are another off-putting characteristic. These generic titles date very quickly. She learned to manage email like a boss. Sorry, it’s an old meme, which has been done to death. A year or two ago I tried using titles inspired by sites such as Buzzfeed and other entertainment sites I rapidly dropped the idea as it sounded cheap not quite ‘I gained 1000s of new readers using this weird old trick’ but heading in that direction. One I’d rather avoid …

By | August 26th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

Better Business Blogging:The Benefits of Blog Scheduling

schedule

A Schedule will help you to organise your blogging
Image credit:Steve Jurvetson (Flickr.com)

Why organise your blogging?

Do you want your blog to be lastminute.com or well organised? A blogging schedule helps to bring a degree of organisation to your blogging. Essential if you wish to co-ordinate social media alongside it.
The way I’ve phrased the initial question reflects my beliefs with regards to blogging schedules. I believe a degree of planning is necessary if you want your blog to really shine. In many ways a blogging schedule is a core element of your content calendar. The two Schedules share many features, with a different focus. This week I will be examining blogging schedules and the benefits they bring to your blogging

What’s the Correct Schedule?

There is no correct schedule—Simply choose what works best for you and stick with it. Many bloggers schedule a lot more posts than the one post per week. I maintain. My output is not yet great enough to post more times per week. If you plan on a more frequent blogging frequency then trying to maintain it without a schedule is a recipe for disaster. I personally would prefer to focus on long form content (1500 word posts). I tried wouldn’t be able to post more than once a week without quality taking a nosedive. I personally don’t believe its possible to maintain great quality and post daily, especially for smaller companies. I agree with Marcus Sheridan aka the Sales Lion when he argues:

there is NO perfect blogging schedule. Actually, better stated, there is—the one that allows you to accomplish your goals and love every minute of this wonderful act we call blogging.

What benefits does a Schedule Bring?

I find the main benefit of a schedule is reduced downtime. This means I can smoothly move from one blog post to the next. It also allows me to plan a theme for a period of time I guess I’m in “blogging season” at the moment. A Schedule enables you to be proactive with regards to keyword and preparatory research, leading to better more in-depth articles. This means you hit the ground running when it’s actually time to write. In addition to this, a schedule enables coordination between content production, Social media, and promotion.

Better Teamwork

If a team maintains the blog, a schedule will be necessary to ensure that everyone is working in sync. I’d argue it would be a serious oversight not to have one.

Proactive vs. Reactive blogging

Having a number of Blog posts written in advance is the most effective way to maintain a blog. A schedule is the most effective way to ensure you post at optimum times. And given a truly effective promotion on social media, this avoids the problem of the hurriedly written ‘catch-up’ post where you’ve needed to rush it. I will make the switch to pre-prepared blog posts as soon as possible.

Parting thoughts

Now that I have got used to the benefits of having a schedule there is no way I’d go back to life without one. I confess using a schedule is a recent development for me, although I have made content calendars in the past. I love being able to hit the ground running every Monday morning. During the writing of this blog post, there are a number of possibilities for automation and the like that have appealed to me. I’ll endeavour to move to a proactive blogging & social media schedule as soon as possible. I’ve made a number of changes to my blogging workflow recently. I’d like to perfect my content delivery and promotion; a blogging schedule would enable me to do that.

Further Reading & Bibliography

  1. 5 Ingredients Required to Create a Blog Schedule That Worksjohn.do
  2. How to Create and Keep a Consistent Blogging Schedule by @adamsconsulting sheownsit.com
  3. Best Blog Posting Schedule: Finally, Proof & Real Numbersthesaleslion.com
  4. 3 Benefits of Writing Blog Posts in Advance (and Resources to Schedule Your Posts) | Daniel Deckerdanieldrecker.net
  5. 5 Benefits of Scheduling Social Media (and our Buffer strategy)blog.linkbird.com
  6. Business Blog Schedule: Best Time to Blog? writtent.com
  7. How To Plan A Blog Schedule That Will Crush Your Goals coschedule.com

By | August 18th, 2016|Content|0 Comments

Better Business Blogging:Finding Blog Post Inspiration

inspiration

Finding Inspiration doesn’t need to be a struggle
Image credit:Karen Murphy(Flickr.com)
I’ll be honest here; choosing topics to blog about was THE biggest hurdle I encountered for my first few years of blogging. It slowed the entire process down to a snails pace. In this weeks blog post I’ll examine what I call the blogging mindset, which is how I overcame the problem. I hope it will be of use to you.

What is the blogging mindset?

My personal blogging mindset is to be constantly searching for inspiration. whether I am reading, browsing or talking I am constantly searching for new content ideas. New topics will often develop into another 2 or 3 topics. Customers and forums are a great source of ideas. If an aspect of digital puzzles one & websites you can bet others are as well. Some concerns are fairly common if not universal such as ‘how do I get higher in Google?’ My answer to this is invariably ‘develop good quality content’ this quite naturally leads to more questions such as What are Google’s ranking factors ‘what’s content’, what’s good quality content? Answering these questions is what I mean by the blogging mindset or ‘Oh! There’s a blog post there’.

One of the advantages of Digital Marketing as a niche is that as a sector it is constantly changing. Especially search & social media. Although some people might view this as a pain, personally I see it as a source of potential blog posts. Although the technology is constantly changing, the underlying concepts remain fairly constant.

I could just nick a list of blog post ideas from elsewhere. Rather than do this I’d prefer to identify the most fruitful categories. I’ll examine these categories in greater detail.

• Industry news (including competitors)
• Customers
• Information & advice
• Repurposing old content ideas

Repurposing old content

I often feel that blog posts could be improved at later dates especially if I had extra time to research and write on a given subject. Rather than just rehashing old blog posts here I mean identifying the weak points, eliminating them then rereleasing perhaps as another format such as video, podcast or slideshow

Industry news

Industry news is well worth keeping abreast of where possible. Identify the most important industry news from your customer’s perspective. Then summarize this news in layman’s language (a process I call de-geeking) this could include news of latest products in your niche, especially hot releases which are causing a splash. Reviewing new releases in a readily accessible manner would be helpful for your customers especially pros & cons. With a lot of review and comparison sites I’m dubious about how truly independent they actually are, especially when it comes to software such as anti-virus suites.

Customers

I covered this in last weeks post basically it means fostering an awareness of what really troubles your customers. This can be done via social media, conversation or by visiting online forums. I often hear comments, which make me think ‘that’s not quite right’. This is where a customer, reader or subscriber has misunderstood a concept and this has thrown their reasoning out of kilter. Myth busting is a potentially lucrative source of blog post ideas; therefore listening is an important facet of the ‘blogging mindset’.

Parting thoughts

Choosing topics to blog about is one of the hardest elements of blogging but it doesn’t have to be, as with all things practise makes perfect ands it DOES get easier. I’ve provided some ideas for generating inspiration this is the blogging equivalent of give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime which is probably more effective in the long term than a simple list of blogging ideas, which I often find to be very formulaic and cliched.

By | August 12th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

Better Business Blogging: Discover your voice!

voices

Voice is what makes your blog unique
Image credit:Karen Murphy(Flickr.com)

Imagine an hour-long conversation with someone who talks in a droning monotone? Unpleasant isn’t it. You’d be bored to tears, and looking for any excuse to escape, I know I would be. For Bloggers an equivalent concept is that of voice, voice is what allows you to inject some character into your writing. This can work both ways. I’ve just finished a book where the author was cracking loads of jokes; the problem was I didn’t find most of them funny. So by the end of the book I was quite irritated, not the impression the author wished to make. It is the Concept of voice, which I will be examining in this week’s blog post

Why is voice important?

Henneke Duistermaat argues that with 1000s of other blogs covering similar topics it’s vital to ensure your blog stands out from the crowd. Having a unique voice is one way to achieve this. It’s also great for building a rapport with your readers. What sort of impression do you want your blog to give? Do you wish to appear Casual or formal? Some of the blogs I visit can be pretty acerbic at times; this is fine on Political blogs but I feel it would be inappropriate for my company blog and would alienate readers, although occasionally a bit of sarcasm does creep into my blog, not too much mind. Authenticity is a factor here. I would be unable to write in a ‘mumsy’ tone that might be perfectly fine for some blogs and if I did it would appear cloying and insincere. Which I can assure you is not the impression I wish to give. In some ways voice is like humour, Jokes, which are fine with my friends, would be inappropriate in front of my parents. Voice is the same. You need to choose an appropriate voice (or jokes) for the occasion.

So what is voice?

Voice is the tone of your writing and much more. Humour or lack off, the Language used. Voice consists of all of the elements, which make your writing uniquely yours. Does your writing motivate people? Is it bursting with positivity? Voice is adding a dash of personality to your writing. Finding your voice, will take time.

An Unfolding process

Marilyn Martin describes an unfolding process as writers are prepared to take greater risks as their skills and confidence grow, that certainly describes how I’ve found my voice. Confidence developing over time is a fairly common theme. The first posts on this blog were halting uneasy affairs, where I was terrified of offending people. Now I’m quite happy to share my opinion on things, if I cannot on my own blog where can I? Although I feel journey metaphors are completely overused (there I go, adding my opinion again!)You do gradually stop self-censoring your work although I always bear in mind who I’m writing for, and where the posts will appear, which means I never swear on this blog. The friendly & approachable tone I like to maintain, on this blog gives me plenty of leeway.
What sort of impression do you wish to give?
Returning to swearing, I feel it has no place on a professional blog and it runs counter to the impression I hope this blog will make on visitors. So there is some similarity between voice and branding. Branding is possibly a more definitive choice how your brand wishes to appear where voice is almost ‘does it feel right’ decisions about what you write and how you go about it.

Finding your voice

Finding Inspiration from other bloggers appears to be a popular way of developing one’s own voice. Not every voice is going to appeal to you. That’s fine. Choose your own style of blogging and go for it! I would advise choosing a style & voice you are comfortable with. Shoehorning yourself into a crazy writing persona is not going to come across in an authentic manner. If someone is self-consciously trying to appear zany or controversial it makes a negative impression with me. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone or you’ll get nowhere and your writing could be viewed as bland. Please don’t get hung up over this, just be yourself when writing and add a bit of personality to the mix. Over time you will find the balance, which is right for you. Personally, authenticity and quality trump all other factors for me. Voice fades into the background if I encounter a really great content i.e. a blog post, which is interesting and answers any questions I have.

Parting thoughts

Voice adds character and zest to your writing. Voice is what makes writing uniquely yours. Lauren Pope (gathercontent.com) suggests that voice comprises 3 main elements Personality, Rhythm & Vocabulary. She also recommends considering voice & tone separately. Developing a voice guide for your brand will lead to a consistent and recognisable brand voice so its worth spending time developing. Stephanie Schwab’s four-part formula is primarily for social media but is equally applicable to your blog voice. Schwab’s formula makes it fairly easy to develop a voice for your blog; She regards tone as a subset of voice rather than as a separate factor. However voice is broken down I agree with bufferapp when they argue “Essentially, there is one voice for your brand and many tones that refine that voice.” You need to choose a voice and tone, which matches the impression you want your brand to make.
Defining my voice
I want my blog to be friendly and inspiring. a place people can rely on to find good quality guidance. Enabling SME owners to make informed decisions about their digital marketing and website .I make a conscious effort not to use technical jargon where possible.

By | August 5th, 2016|Content, SME Online Marketing|0 Comments

Better Business Blogging:strategise for success

writing
In the world of Online Marketing, Strategy is a word thrown around with abandon. This is a shame as it devalues the term. if one aims to create a successful blog, a blogging strategy is essential. Strategy is a fancy label for something, which is more or less common sense. Enabling you to blog confidently. See what I mean about the term strategy being chucked about a lot?

What is a blogging strategy?

In essence blogging strategy is a short series of questions, once these are answered you have developed a blogging strategy. So its not as confusing /esoteric as it first appears.

• What is the purpose of the blog?
• What are your objectives?
• How do I measure the success of my blog?
• Who is the blog for?
• How often should I blog?
• How long should my blog posts be?
• How should I promote my blog content?

Why have a blogging strategy?

Answering these questions will provide your blog with a clear purpose, making it more coherent and focused. This removes the problem of blog posts which jar against other posts, leaving the reader with the question ‘why did they blog about this?’. I’ve seen larger companies and agencies fall into this trap. Clear goals will ensure your blog serves a useful purpose so you are not just ‘blogging for blogging’s sake’ by drawing up an appropriate set of metrics, you can monitor if you are achieving these goals. If your blog content interests your target audience then it will lead to a more engaged audience and they in turn are more likely to share the content on social media. Having a blogging strategy improves your chances of creating content your customers and followers want.

What are your objectives?

Convince and Convert offers 3 reasons for having a company blog. Each of the different reasons has a slightly different emphasis and different metrics. Having a clear reason for maintaining a company blog would appear obvious, however I suspect a lot of companies would be unable to provide a clear reason why. Don’t be one of them.

The three reasons convinceandconvert.com offers are as follows:

Blogging for Content
This is where there is a definite emphasis on search engine optimisation. The blog being used to drive traffic and attract backlinks.
Blogging for Commerce
This has similarities with blogging for content Here the emphasis is more on sales with conversions being the name of the game.
Blogging for Community
These blogs try to create a consistent readership around a certain theme or interest. There will be quite a lot of interaction with the readership. This type of blogging is generally for non-commercial reasons, once the community is flourishing. A commercial aspect may surface such as T-shirt sales or .mp3 downloads.

I’ll add a fourth category, which follows on from this
Blogging for Branding
This is where the blogger is attempting to raise his or her profile and to develop their brand. The blog posts are designed, for sharing widely on social media in the hope that some of the content will ‘go viral’.
Please note these aims are not exclusive. It’s fine to focus mainly on one of the goals, whilst including elements of another category. Chasing too many overall goals will lead to a blog that lacks focus. A clear focus and effective targeting are the ingredients of a really great blog. A blog, which answers your target audience’s questions, in an accessible way. Will be regarded as sticky, absorbing and useful. This will attract readers and subscribers, which, surely is the goal of any blog.

How do I measure the success of my blog?

Depending on the objectives you have chosen. You need to choose a suitable set of metrics. Analytics expert Avinash Kaushik has developed a great set of metrics that are easily to implement. They will allow you to monitor the impact of your blog with confidence. We’ll examine a few now I don’t want to crib all of his hard work so I will include a link to his quite blog in the further reading section.

1.Raw Author Contribution

a) Number of Posts / Number of Months Blogging

b) Number of Words In Post / Number of Posts
2.Conversion rate.
this will give you a good indication of the engagement you have with your visitors.
Conversation Rate = Number of Visitor Comments / Number of Posts

Know exactly whom you are writing for

Personas are a vital part of any good blogging strategy. Personas are character sketches of your customers, ideally backed up with data. If you can relate to your readers, this will help you to target your blog posts. Good quality content answers readers’ queries and is more likely to be shared. Having a good understanding of your reader’s requirements will enable you to help them.

How often should I blog?

Blogging frequency is another element of a blogging strategy. There is no definite answer to how often should a blog be updated. my answer would be as often as your resources will allow, without the quality suffering . I feel that daily blogging is not a long term option. Quality will decline in the long run. Regular blogging has a number of benefits such as:
Indexing rate
This is how often the search engines index (or read) your website to see if there have been updates. A regularly updated blog will be indexed more often.
Search Engine Ranking
Regular updates boost the search engine ranking of ones website. Failing to update a blog often will result in a rankings drop. I can confirm this from personal experience.
Establish Authority Status
A regularly updated blog looks great, and will help to establish your authority. Over time this could increase the brand loyalty of your readers. Especially if you offer good quality content.
Shareable content for social media
A regular conduit of good quality content will provide plenty to share on social media. Raising your brand’s profile even further.
More subscribers
Once you have established yourself as a source of regular good quality information, it will be easier to attract blog and newsletter subscribers.
Attract a loyal readership
A regular good quality blog that answers people’s questions will attract readers. However, your content promotion efforts will need to be up to scratch.

Promoting Content

Promoting content is just as important as creating it. However, it’s an aspect of blogging, which is often neglected. How much time should be spent promoting content is a personal choice. I think it is prudent to spend nearly as much time promoting blog posts as creating them. This means making an active effort to network with other bloggers. Rather than relying on Google’s good graces. How your content should be promoted is another aspect of your blogging strategy to consider. Effectively promoting blog content requires a lot more than simply sharing a blog post on social media. Blogger outreach or building ties with other bloggers is a major aspect of blog content promotion. Many bloggers are influencers one definition of which is:

Influencers are a person or group that has the ability to influence the behaviour or opinions of others.

Search engines want to reward good quality content with high search rankings. How do they know if content is good quality? If other people are sharing it is a good sign, especially if they are authorities in a niche. Blogger outreach needs to be an on-going process. You cannot approach other bloggers ‘Hey! I’ve got a great blog post. Help me to promote it NOW!’

Guest blogging is a great way to increase the size of your network and to build your reputation. Guest blogging involves writing posts for other people’s blogs in return for a service or backlink

The easiest way to find guest blogging opportunities in your niche is simply to search for them. a search query such as niche-keyword + “submit a guest post” should find plenty of guest blogging opportunities. Kissmetrics rather helpfully provide a list of potential search queries. Simply add a keyword for your niche where appropriate.

• keyword “submit a guest post”
• keyword “guest post”
• keyword “guest post by”
• keyword “accepting guest posts”
• keyword “guest post guidelines”

Parting thoughts

This article has explained what a blogging strategy is and I hope convinced you of the benefits .As you can see it’s not complex, merely a set of common sense questions which need to be addressed before one commits to having a blog. Let’s be honest having a blog is a commitment, a pleasant one, once you get used to it. You cannot expect to just blog for two of three posts. It is a long-term effort, a marathon not a sprint. Having a blogging strategy ensures you are running in the right direction.

Further Reading & Bibliography

  • Using buyer personas in content marketingsmartinsights.com
    1. Using buyer personas in content marketingsmartinsights.com
    2. 31 business building benefits of Buyer Personas businessesgrow.com
    3. How to Create Easy, Yet Actionable, Content Marketing Personas contentmarketinginstitute.com
    4. How to Create a Successful Blog Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guidehubspot.com
    5. Planning Your Blog Strategy For 2015 Starts Today, Why Wait Until January?magnet4blogging.net
    6. How Do You Create An Effective Blogging Strategy? pushingsocial.com
    7. 1210 Reasons to Develop a B2B Blogging Strategykomarketingassociates.com
    8. 7 Successful Blogging Strategies from Great Bloggersfalconerwebmarketing.com

    By | July 22nd, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

    To blog or not to blog? The case for SME blogging

    writing

    Image credit: Bruce Guenter(Flickr.com)

    This series of blog posts will elaborate on the fantastic framework developed by Simply Business.co.uk I’ll examine every stage in the framework in detail and make sure you have all the information and tools necessary to succeed at business blogging, in this article I will examine the case for blogging, what the advantages are and why I believe every business should maintain a blog if they have a company website. In the series of blog posts coming up I will try to make sure you have all the information required to run a successful and interesting company blog.

    In my experience, most small companies in the UK do not maintain a regular blogging schedule. I’m not sure why this is the case, I suspect a dislike of writing lies at the heart of it, that and trouble figuring what to blog about

    Benefits of Blogging

    I know that the advantages of blogging in business are widely understood and quite possibly it’s a topic which has been done to death elsewhere. I include them here for the sake of completeness; I’ll be honest and say that SEO Benefits are my primary reason for maintaining my company blog; there are plenty of other benefits, which we’ll examine now

    Increase your authority

    Blogging is a widely accepted way of developing your reputation in a particular niche; many bloggers are now regarded as experts in their fields after creating popular and successful blogs. People such as Neil Patel (quicksprout.com), Jon Morrow, Jon Bloomer, Seth Godin et al all started out as bloggers.

    Domain Authority

    This is not the same as domain authority; a SEO metric developed by moz.com, which measures the authority of a web domain. Page authority measures the authority of individual pages within a domain. The authority to which I refer here is the reputation and stature of a blogger. Higher authority sites will rank more highly in the search engines, which brings us neatly to …

    The SEO Benefits of blogging

    There are a number of SEO Benefits to blogging such as

    • Fresh Content
    • Target specific Keywords
    • Backlinks

    I’ll now examine these in greater detail.

    Fresh Content

    Search Engines like fresh content, neglect your blog for a week or two and its likely your website will drop a few places in the SERPs

    Target specific Keywords

    Blogging provides an easy way to target specific keywords. Simply blog about the topics that, you wish to rank for. This can include LSI Keywords in addition to Search Keywords.

    Backlinks

    Backlinks remain an important part of the SEO Equation. Blogs provide one of the easiest ways of attracting backlinks if your content is of good quality. They also provide a ready source of shareable content although this is more a social media consideration.

    Linkable assets

    Linkable assets are simply awesome pages on your site that you can leverage for links over and over (and over) again. quicksprout.com

    Backlink expert Eric Ward suggests that linkable assets are a vital factor when developing content for a website, really good quality blog posts are linkable assets and if they are not I’d suggest the quality needs to improve

    Parting thoughts

    This weeks post has highlighted some of blogging’s many benefits, if you’ve not written for a number of years some reticence is understandable. I’d argue that the benefits of search engine rankings alone make the effort more than worthwhile. Thesaleslion.com argue that

    Blogging, when done the right way, will change your business. It will change your life. It will change everything.thesaleslion.com

    The aim of this series of blog posts will be to ensure that you have all the information at hand to develop a great quality blog for your business and are able to blog the right way, so I hope to see you in a couple of weeks time when I examine setting worthwhile goals for your blog.

    Further Reading & Bibliography

    Blog to win business:How to enchant readers and woo customers
    Henneke Duistermaat
    1. The SEO Benefits of Blogginggot2web.com
    2. Top Five SEO Benefits of Blogging localvisibilitysystem.com
    3. Why Blog: The Benefits of Business Blogging for Visitors & Links searchenginewatch.com
    4. SEO Benefits from Blogstoprankblog.com
    5. Why Blog? The Benefits of Blogging for Business and Marketingblog.hubspot.com
    6. The Top 10 Benefits Of Blogging On Your Website forbes.com
    7. The 20 Biggest Benefits of Blogging incomediary.com
    8. 5 Benefits of Blogging for Your Small Businessopenvine.com
    9. 50 Blogging Benefits that Will Change Your Business Forever/thesaleslion.com
    By | July 8th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

    is your content aiming and hitting the right targets?

    Is your content on target?

    Image credit: Falcon® Photography(Flickr.com)

    Content takes time & resources to create, therefore it’s imperative that there’s actually an audience for the content you create and it covers a topic people actually want answers to, This doesn’t mean only write about high traffic/high competition topics, there’s still some value to covering long tail keyword terms where there is less competition and searchers are further down the sales funnel and it is this selection of topics to be covered I’ll examine this week, this post is influenced by Trond Lyngbø’s excellent article ‘The seven deadly sins of content Marketing’ on searchengineland.com, I’m mortified to see I’m making two of them and that why I was inspired into writing this post so you can avoid making the same mistakes.
    Lyngbø argues that

    (businesses) are passive and keep postponing any corrective action. They know it’s important, but they don’t want results badly enough to make the changes happen. It’s easier to pretend nothing’s wrong and carry on. Sometimes, it takes a serious failure to jolt them out of their comfort zone.searchengineland.com

    Keyword research is one of the core requirements of the approach Lyngbø advocates, paradoxically (to some) Keyword research isn’t just for SEO geeks its also part of the Content Creator’s toolkit as well, Keyword research can be used to gauge

    • What information people are searching for
    • what keywords are they using to look for it?
    • how many people are looking for it?
    • How much competition there is for these keywords

    Not just Keywords its, demand!

    It’s not just a case of just going for the popular high traffic keywords or you’ll end up with a website offering free pads and celebrity news the topics you cover need to be covering are ones which fit in your overall content strategy or game plan or are of interest to the people represented by the personas developed while creating your content strategy or your typical customer, The Approach suggest by Trond Lyngbø removes any guesswork from the selection of topics, and will ensure you choose the right topics for your blog and any associated content

    On reflection I’m now guilty of 3 of the seven deadly sins this one area of the content cycle I have neglected. No more. Personally, I’ve been jolted out of my comfort zone and I hope if you are content marketing it will jolt you out of your comfort zone so when developing your content marketing strategy, research of potential content ideas for blogs keyword research needs to be park of the equation
    In her excellent “What should I blog about post” Kimberly Grabas suggests a list of three factors a blogger should consider but neglects to mention the SEO research Trond Lyngbø advocates, in Kimberly’s defence she’s not writing for content Marketers or SEO wonks her audience is writers/bloggers so the SEO considerations still apply really as it’s a rare blogger who doesn’t want to attract a larger audience. She does advise using of Google’s Keyword planner whilst researching so her keypoints are
    1. Who is your audience or the intended consumer of your content?
    2. How do your passions, interests and talents intersect with the wants and needs of this specific group of people?
    3. And finally, what are your goals or the results you wish to achieve?
    4. Does Keyword research confirm that there is sufficient interest in the topic to justify the time and resources it will take to add value to the current state of the topic area i.e. is what you are producing better than the current content devoted to this topic

    Parting thoughts

    Historically this has been one of the weak points in my content marketing and its one I’m determined to rectify from now on ,Analysis of the success of content is a major part of Trond Lyngbø’s recommendations and from now on I’ll monitor this using Google Analytics, this is the feedback loop which ascertains if your content is actually working (so it’s essential if you wish to be accurate rather than relying on guesswork I don’t want to just use ‘click bait’ style titles I want to offer genuine value to my readers) so there’s still some work to do on my content cycle and Workflow

    Further Reading & Bibliography

    Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization (2011)
    Olivier Blanchard
    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. What Should I Blog About?haleymarketing.com
    2. What on earth should I blog about? flyingsolo.com.au
    3. What Should I Blog About? 10 Ways to Discover Your Perfect Niche buildingaframework.com
    4. Blog Post Ideas for Writers: Solving the “What Do I Blog About?” Conundrumwww.yourwriterplatform.com
    5. The 7 deadly sins of content marketingsearchengineland.com
    6. Topics Over Keywords: An SEO-Driven Approach To Content Marketing www.anumhussain.com
    7. Content Marketing: How to Choose Topics That Deliver Serious ROI www.upwork.com
    8. How to Find Content Topics That Score Big Using Keyword Researchwww.copyblogger.com

    By | May 13th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

    What sort of content generates the most backlinks?

    Sharing

    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

    Creating great Visual Content on a Budget

    emotion
    The benefits of visual content are well understood, however for smaller businesses without IT knowledge & graphical savvy expecting them to make use of Photoshop or similar software may be too much, personally, I’ve got over ten years experience with Photoshop it’s not a cheap piece of software to purchase and it can at first glance be quite a daunting prospect, There are cheaper & free alternatives which will be perfectly adequate for small businesses wishing to develop visual content for use on their blog and in Social Media That’s what I’ll examine in this week’s blog post how can Small Businesses develop good quality visual content on a budget without extensive graphic design training?

    Fonts

    Fonts are important and can be used to define your brand’s identity this is a two-edged sword because using an inappropriate font can give the completely wrong impression so Comic Sans is out I’m afraid especially for professional websites & content. I cannot give you an extensive training in typography here, I can offer a handful of basic pointers to ensure you don’t make beginners mistakes when using type or text in your visual content.

    Cheesecake fonts, great but don’t overdo it!

    Graphic Design rookies have a tendency to overdo what Robin Williams describes as ‘cheesecake fonts’, so called because they are really enjoyable in small amounts but sickly if overused. Cheesecake fonts are great but only if used SPARINGLY e.g. for subheadings only. When I started out as a web developer this was a trap I fell making extensive use of one particular font in every website I developed*cringe*

    Great Font sites

    Font Prices range from hundreds of pounds meaning these bespoke fonts are the preserve of Large Corporations. Sites such as font squirrel http://www.fontsquirrel.com/ and dafont http://www.dafont.com/ have extensive ranges of free and nearly free fonts but ensure that you’ve checked the terms and conditions before using as some may not be used on commercial products, these two sites alongside Google fonts (https://www.google.com/fonts)should cover most if not all of your font needs.

    The Benefits of Visual Content

    In her book ‘the Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand (2014) Ekaterina Walters argues that the brain absorbs visual content up to 60,000 times more quickly than textual content, in todays attention starved world this explains the popularity of visual content such as Infographics and photographs in the fast paced world of social media in addition to this Walters argues that Photographs can be used convey mood far more effectively than text.

    Stock or not?

    Stock Photography is a relatively cheap way to get professional quality photography for your website, what could possibly be wrong with that? The problem is a lot of stock photography is extremely corny and instantly looks just like stock photography a characteristic which the brilliant http://womenlaughingalonewithsalad.tumblr.com/ pokes fun at, I’m not sure any company would want to look corny & fake but it’s a mistake lots of companies make overusing stock photography with little or no thought about the impact, I’ve tended to shy away from using stock photography in recent years for the reasons I’ve mentioned so I get most blog images I use from Flickr which is free and frequently a lot better than the stock photography available.

    By | March 25th, 2016|Content, SME Online Marketing|0 Comments

    Its time to reexamine email marketing

    mailbox

    Image credit: Steve Johnson(Flickr.com)

    One of the received wisdoms associated with online marketing is “The money is in the list” Google it if you don’t believe me its almost a cliché. The rise of mobile technology has meant that marketers are reappraising the role of email marketing, which had previously fallen somewhat out of vogue. Its email marketing I’m examining with this week’s blog post

    What’s the list?

    The list which I’m referring to here is the email marketing list which is basically shorthand for you email marketing database which contains the names and email addresses of people who have given you permission to email them.

    Segmentation

    Segmentation of the email list is a strategy that can dramatically boost the impact of your email marketing. Both
    Mailchimp & AWeber support segmentation. Hubspot’s research reported the following results

    39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue.blog.hubspot.com

    Segmentation will facilitate more effective targeting of emails. Segmentation means organising your email list along group lines these can be things such as

    • Gender
    • Geographical Location
    • Behaviour
    • Purchase history
    • Persona
    • job title
    • Age
    • Interests

    Segmentation has a number of benefits such as:

    • Improved open rates, more people will actually open your email
    • Improved click through rates (CTR) i.e. people clicking on offers or links contained in your emails
    • Reduce Unsubscribing one of the main reasons I personally unsubscribe from lists is I feel the content offered is not relevant to me, segmentation reduces the danger of this happening you can offer relevant & interesting content to the people you have targeted

    Purchased Lists?

    Rather typically for the Internet there are email lists for sale, as with fake twitter /Facebook followers this is NOT a practice I’d recommend, it takes time and effort to build up a mailing list. The trading of lists is against Mail Chimps terms and conditions and could potentially lead to your account being closed, AWeber another bulk emailing solution certainly advise against the trading of email lists on their blog. The big difference between purchased and earned email lists is that people on email lists have given you permission to email them, which is often the trade off for Free e Books offered online, without that permission you would be guilty of being a spammer. This is why the entrepreneur Seth Godin hatched the term Permission marketing which is defined below

    Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.sethgodin.typepad.com

    Advantages of email marketing

    • For the small business email marketing has a number of distinct advantages the low cost being foremost amongst these, the MailChimp plan I use is pay as you go
    • email marketing is measurable meaning its easy to see which emails are effective and which are not its easy to implement a/b split testing so email formats & various titles can be compared and contrasted
      Email Marketing can be used to develop brand loyalty and trust for your brand
    • its easy to offer personalised email messages unlike the “one size fits all” approach of typical printed mail campaigns. Research by eConsultancy in 2015 shows that 78% of email marketers believe that all email marketing will be personalised in the future (source: www.business2community.com)
    • Email lists can be segmented so its possible to target emails precisely with some experts suggesting that “batch & Blast” techniques are obsolete, this means not sending everyone on your email list an identical email.

      Parting thoughts

      email marketing is perfect for small businesses it offers a cost effective way to raise brand awareness and reach amongst your customers with targeted emails which is a distinct advantage over printed marketing. There does appear to be some disagreement regarding the effectiveness of email marketing. Neil Patel (quicksprout.com) argues “its really easy to make mistakes” so please don’t give up if your email marketing doesn’t immediately give good results.

    By | February 5th, 2016|Content, SME Online Marketing|0 Comments