Category Archives: Content

How to Make Yourself Write an Entire Blog Article Every Single Day

writing

Blogging is an essential part of my business, and I can tell you firsthand how difficult it can be.

Believe me. I’ve been doing it for more than 10 years.

Everyone recommends a blog to gain traffic, but maintaining consistent blogging is difficult.

Here’s what happens.

You get all jazzed up about starting a blog. You rush out the gates with reckless abandon, writing on familiar to you topics with energy and verve.

A few weeks go by, and nice things happen to your website traffic and conversions.

And then you start to realize that writing is hard work.

Wow. It’s freaking hard work.

And so you skip a day.

And a week.

And then you struggle to come up with topics, so you skip a few more days.

You kind of “forget” about blogging and feel guilty about it.

Your blog goes dormant, and you curse yourself every day for it.

Sound familiar? It happens to a lot of people. For all the craze over content marketing, there sure are a lot of people who fell off the wagon a long time ago.

I get that. I understand. It’s tough work. It’s grueling at times. It’s thankless. It’s challenging.

And to write an article every single day, day in and day out, year after year? Sounds impossible.

It’s not. And I’m going to tell you how and why.

Here’s what you need to know about what it takes to write a blog post every day. 

1. Read more than you write

Yep. I mean that.

I know that reading takes time (and writing does too), but I have a good reason telling you to do this.

The key to writing is reading. The more you read, the more prepared you are to write. Just to write this post, I read over a dozen articles about blogging to make sure I cover every angle and gather supporting data.

For example, most blog articles are shared without even being read, especially on social media. Even when we do read them, we mostly do a quick scan.

Download this cheat sheet to learn how to make yourself write an entire blog article every single day.

Here’s a graph of how time spent reading an article correlates to its social activity.

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Sometimes a headline and a snippet are enough to satisfy a reader, which is why these elements are so important for SEO purposes.

The content itself can make a difference in whether or not an article is read, especially with branded content. Brands that blog with a purpose have consistently higher ROIs and perform better in every KPI.

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To be sure you’re creating valuable content instead of just parroting what everyone else is saying, it’s important to continue reading.

I’m an expert in content marketing and SEO, but I still read Search Engine Journal, SEOMoz, and other industry publications because even I can’t keep up with everything on my own.

Blogging is a community, and contributing as part of it means you’ll need to read other blogs.

2. Look for inspiration from other bloggers

Since you’re already reading, take inspiration from what other bloggers are doing. Crowdsourcing ideas is a great way to brainstorm. Starbucks, for example, recently found success with its My Starbucks Ideas program.

There are tons of blogs on every topic, and here’s a list of 50 top blogs for every topic imaginable.

See what the greats are writing about. Follow a successful blogger like Chris Brogan to find trends in his writing style. You can even research his site on SEMRush to learn what keywords and landing pages are successful.

By looking externally for ideas, you’ll broaden your blogging horizons, and brainstorming blog topics for yourself will become much easier.

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3. Get out and experience life

Like any other business, your blogs will only be successful if they satisfy a need.

The only way to know what people need is to be a person yourself and go out to experience life like everyone else.

For most businesses, content marketing is a relatively new, experimental concept. In a recent survey, only 8% of B2B companies stated they had a sophisticated content marketing program.

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Until you find your sweet spot, you’ll need to experiment a bit to see what your niche truly is. Tackling the same topic from different perspectives makes content creation much easier and more streamlined.

4. Aim for two a day

About one blog post every other day is the bare minimum to attract a decent, sustainable traffic flow to your blog.

One blog post per day is a great start, but ideally, you’d want to publish multiple posts per day.

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If you can write two blog posts a day, you can quickly build a one-month editorial calendar and schedule enough posts in advance to take a few days off while still publishing that pre-written content on your blog.

The more content on your site, the lower your bounce rates will be, as people will be able to navigate your archives instead of just reading one post and leaving.

5. Make everything else routine

Like I said, there’s a lot more involved in blogging than just writing posts.

Here are a few common problems faced by B2B marketers when generating leads, which blogging is a component of.

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Understanding, analyzing, and running all these operational components is vital to maintaining any successful business, and it has to be routine in a blogger’s life.

When you’re routinely pitching stories, creating outlines, and researching, the actual act of writing for your blog becomes much easier.

And as I explain exhaustively in my blogging guides, quantifying the success of a blogging initiative requires quantifiable metrics and KPIs that allow you to set and measure goals.

It’s much easier to write when everything is running like clockwork and you are not running around like a chicken with your head cut off, trying to put out fires.

6. Create an editorial calendar

Most major publications, like Rolling Stone or People, use editorial calendars to determine what content to publish.

An editorial calendar is great for your blogging efforts too.

Like a director’s storyboard, an editorial calendar gives you an outline to work with and the ability to know at a glance where you’re at and what’s publishing soon.

Here’s an example of a basic editorial calendar:

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With an editorial calendar in place, instead of being in a constant race to come up with new ideas, you’ll be working ahead, making your blog run much more smoothly and giving you time to correct any issues or changes that may come up along the way.

7. Solicit pitches

You don’t have to do all the blogging yourself. Sometimes it’s nice to offer a different perspective, whether from internal team members or external bloggers.

Many bloggers are happy to guest-post on someone else’s site in exchange for a backlink to their site. By collecting posts from a variety of other bloggers, you’ll greatly amplify the reach of your blog through the power of their networks.

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Every post published on your blog is extra content, even if it’s not written by you.

If you prefer to keep your name on every post, there’s always the option of hiring a ghostwriter, who can be found through a simple Google search or Craigslist ad.

8. Respond to client/reader questions

A simple way to produce more content is to write long-form answers to reader questions in a Dear Abby advice columnist format.

Quora, Yahoo Answers, Ask Jeeves, and Siri all became popular because of the ability of users to ask and receive answers.

Recent research from Twitter shows customers prefer companies that actually respond quickly to their concerns on the microblogging site.

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If you think of your readers as customers (which you should if blogging is part of your business), you should be catering to their needs, personalizing their experience, and responding to complaints and questions.

If you’ve established yourself as an expert on a certain subject matter, which will be clear from your previous content, people will see you as a trusted resource and ask questions in the comment section.

You can answer in the comments or, if a longer response is required, create a whole new blog post to respond, backlinking to the original question as a resource.

9. Make it a habit

People are creatures of habit, and we appreciate when things are kept consistent. When you make blogging a habit, keeping it up won’t be a problem.

How do you build a habit?

It’s pretty simple, actually.

  • Start with a reminder of the task you need to do. An editorial calendar works great for this.
  • Follow a routine to complete that task.
  • Give yourself a reward.
  • Rinse and repeat.

It looks like this:

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Why does this habit-building process matter?

It matters because blogging matters.

The biggest revenue-generating tactic in blogging is marketing and advertising, which is seeing steady spending from last year to this year:

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If you can provide a steady stream of content, you’ll earn a sustainable income through blogging, but it has to be a habit.

The idea of Ernest Hemingway spending his days drinking and being a playboy while putting out awesome writing is nothing more than a fantasy and a caricature of the great writer.

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Hemingway was good. He made it look easy.

But writing a post a day isn’t about lolling around and waiting for your muse to strike.

Working writers are working writers because they work. They force themselves to work. And then that force develops into a habit, which makes them writing machines.

Once blogging becomes a habit, you’ll often find yourself writing four or five posts a day instead of just one. You get faster over time, and things get easier as you go along.

Conclusion

The fear of not being able to come up with topics to blog about is a mental wall that exists only in your head.

Thousands of people earn a steady first or second income through blogging despite the fact that coming up with relevant things to say about relevant topics on a consistent basis is a challenge.

More content equals more opportunity for backlinks, high SEO rankings, and more sustained organic traffic.

By involving external resources, continuously researching, and employing solid business practices, you can turn your blog into a daily content mill that generates revenue.

What tactics do you use to overcome writer’s block and continue creating every day?


Quick Sprout

Search Update Impact On SEO & Content Strategies: Staying Ahead With A Focus On Quality

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Since Google was first launched in 1998, the company has been continually refining its search algorithm to better match users with online content.

Over the years, many algorithm updates have targeted spammy and low-quality content in an effort to surface this content less frequently in search results. Other algorithm updates have been aimed at improving Google’s “understanding” of search queries and page content to better align search results with user intent.

The bottom line is that focusing on quality content and the user experience really is the best way to ensure your search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing campaigns are update proactive rather than update reactive.

Many Google updates have impacted numerous reputable sites. Search marketers have had to learn how to better optimize their pages with each update to avoid losing rankings. Considering that 67.60 percent of clicks go to the top five slots on SERPs, a drop of just a few positions because of an algorithm update can have massive impact on traffic, revenue and conversions.

Over the coming weeks and months, as recent updates set in and impending updates come to pass, it will be interesting to see how SEO and content strategies evolve in response. In the meantime, here’s my overview of Google’s major algorithm updates (past, present and future) and their impact on the digital marketing landscape.

Panda

The Panda update was first launched in February 2011, though it has been updated several times since then. This update is designed to target sites with low-quality content and prevent them from ranking well in search engine results pages.

Sites that have pages of spammy content, too many ads or excessive duplicate content, for example, often experience Panda penalties.

It was recently announced that Panda was added to Google’s core ranking algorithm, which has caused considerable buzz in the industry.

While there are still some questions about what it means, there are some things we’re fairly certain about. Panda updates are expected to run more regularly, for example, which will be very helpful for brands who have seen their websites hit by Panda penalties.

However, contrary to early rumors, the update will not be run in real time.

When it comes to content production, since the initial Panda release, websites have needed to really focus on providing high-quality information. Websites that have pages of low-quality content, such as thin material with little insight, should improve the existing pages, rather than just deleting them.

Keep in mind that “quality” isn’t measured in content length, so you won’t improve your low-quality pages simply by adding more text. Content can be short or long — what matters is that it provides the information the user seeks. The quality of the content on a website matters more than the quantity.

Penguin

The Penguin update was first released about a year after the Panda update, in April 2012. The two are often grouped together when discussing Google’s big push to raise the quality of content that appears in search engine results.

This update focused largely on targeting spammy links. Google looks at backlinks as a signal of a website’s authority and reputation, taking a site or page’s backlink profile into consideration when determining rankings.

Back when its core algorithm was less sophisticated, people figured out that they could effectively game search engine rankings simply by obtaining significant numbers of (often spammy and irrelevant) backlinks.

Penguin combatted this manipulative technique by targeting pages that depended upon poor-quality links, such as link farms, to artificially raise their rankings. Websites with spammy backlink profiles have been forced to remove or disavow bad links in order to avoid ranking penalties.

Quality links still have something of value to offer websites, although Google emphasizes that sites should focus on developing a quality backlink profile organically. This means creating informative pieces that people will want to source with a backlink.

To attract attention to your piece, you can leverage the search, social and content trifecta. By creating high-quality pieces and then distributing them on social media, you start to attract attention to your work.

This can increase your readership and (in theory) help you acquire more backlinks. You can also use techniques such as posting guest posts on other reputable blogs to leverage your content and build a strong backlink profile.

Hummingbird

The Hummingbird update followed in the summer of 2013. This update was designed to improve Google’s semantic search capabilities. It was becoming increasingly common for people to use Google in a conversational way, to type their queries as though they were asking a friend.

This update was designed to help Google respond by understanding intent and context.

With this update, the development of content had to shift slightly again. With the emphasis on intent, Google was not simply playing a matching game where they connect the keywords in the query with the keywords in the content.

Content needed now to go beyond just the keyword. It needed to demonstrate an understanding of what users are interested in and what they would like to learn.

While keywords still are an important part of communicating with the search engine about the topic of the content, the way they were used shifted. Long-tail keywords became more important, and intent became crucial.

Content developers needed to direct their focus toward understanding why customers might be typing particular words into the search engine and producing content that addressed their needs.

Mobile Update

The year 2015 saw several major updates that impacted content development. The first, Google’s mobile-friendly update, occurred in April. This update was unique because Google actually warned website users in advance that it was coming.

With this update, Google recognized that mobile was beginning to dominate much of search and online customer behavior — in fact, just a couple months after the mobile-friendly update was announced, Google noted that mobile searches had officially surpassed desktop. The mobile-friendly update forced sites to become mobile-friendly or risk losing visibility to sites that were.

With this update, Google wanted sites to take into account what mobile users wanted to do online and how these needs were being addressed.

This meant that SEOs and content marketers had to start considering design factors such as:

  • Responsive design or a mobile page.
  • Having site navigation front and center and easy for customers to use with their fingers.
  • Avoiding frustrations caused by issues such as buttons too close together.
  • Having all forms as efficient and as easy as possible to fill out on a smartphone screen.

This mobile update also brought to the forefront the importance of brands optimizing for mobile, even going beyond what was required by Google to avoid a penalty.

For example, customers on mobile are often very action-oriented. They want to be able to call you or find your address. They want to view the information on your screen easily, without excessive scrolling. While long-form content is commonly read on mobile devices, making it easier for people to get back to the top is very beneficial.

Mobile users also tend to be very local-oriented. Content developed for mobile devices should take local SEO into account to maximize the mobile opportunities that present themselves.

Quality Update

Not long after the mobile update went live, people began reporting evidence of another Google update, which has since been nicknamed the Quality Update. It happened so quietly that even Google did not acknowledge the change at first.

During this update, sites that focused on the user experience and distributing high-quality content were rewarded, while sites that had many ads and certain types of user-generated content were more likely to be penalized. This was even true for established sites like HubPages.

Interestingly, however, not all user-generated content was hit on all sites. Some pages, like Quora, actually received a boost from the update; it is suspected that this is because this site is very careful about the quality of the responses and content that are posted on the page.

The key to avoiding a penalty with this update seemed to be avoiding thin content or other material that did not place the needs of the user first.

Sites also need to make sure that their pages are working well, as error messages place a site at risk for a penalty from this quality update. Google knows how frustrating it is to try to find an answer to a question and instead get treated to an overly promotional article or a 404.

RankBrain

RankBrain was announced in the fall of 2015, and it was also a unique change to the Google algorithm. With this update, the search engine ventured into the world of AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning.

This system was designed to learn and predict user behaviors, which helps Google interpret and respond to the hundreds of millions of completely unique, never-before-seen queries that it encounters each day.

It is also assumed that RankBrain helps Google to interpret content and intent in some way. Although Google has given little information about how their new AI works, they have said that it has become the third most important ranking signal. For site owners, this has placed an even greater emphasis on creating content that matches the user intent.

Since RankBrain has gone live, some marketers have spoken about the importance of making sure that the technical side of SEO, such as schema markup, is all up to date. It is likely that as search engines become more dependent upon AI, these little details will become significant.

The Buzz Over The Last Week: Panda & The Core Algorithm

Last week, some marketers were caught off guard by a new update that seemed to impact ratings for numerous sites. Although there were initially rumors circulating that this update might be the anticipated Penguin update or something to do with Panda, Google put those rumors to rest and officially confirmed that this was a core algorithm update that was not linked to other established updates.

Based upon the patterns established over the past few years, it is most likely that this adjustment, like the others, focused on better understanding user intent and identifying high-quality content.

As “updates on updates” change constantly (even from the seven days it takes a post go live), the best way to stay up to date on core changes is via Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Land.

SEL Updates on Google

We will know more in the coming weeks about what this update targeted and how brands can better respond. For right now, content developers need to continue to focus on creating high-quality content that responds to what their customers want to see.

Conclusion: Stay Ahead By Focusing Quality Content And User Experience

Google, quite rightly, is always looking for brands to provide a high-quality user experience from the web properties. Updates are designed to try to evaluate user experience. Marketers need to pay attention to the various algorithm updates and adapt as needed to maximize their exposure.

In order to stay ahead and minimize risk, being proactive is far better than being reactive.

In general, focus on the following;

  • Providing high quality content. Provide content that is unique and relevant to the user. Do not overstuff content with target keywords.
  • Optimizing your site for the user. Ensure that users have a positive experience and get the information they need (searched for). Factor in page speed, load times and design. Follow best practices for mobile search.
  • Earning links rather than buying links. Focus on high-quality, credible sources, and only link to relevant content.

Nearly every year, Google updates have far-reaching impacts across industries as brands find their content rising and falling overnight, depending upon how well their content is aligned with the new criteria.

Google wants content development to focus less on just rank and more on the user. Marketers that focus on quality content and digital strategies will reduce any risk associated with Google updates and take market share away from their competition (those that don’t).

Be proactive rather than reactive.

The post Search Update Impact On SEO & Content Strategies: Staying Ahead With A Focus On Quality appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Search Engine Land

How to plan and create evergreen content

Last week I looked at the potential of evergreen content for SEO purposes, showing how it can work over time. 

This time I’ll look at how to plan and create content like this, where to find ideas, and the different formats you can use.

Planning and idea generation

Ideas for content come from a range of sources, but here a few places to look for inspiration…

Matching your product to the content

Part of the challenge around evergreen is the nature of the product or service you’re looking to draw attention to.

For Search Engine Watch this isn’t too tricky. We’re about providing advice and insight into (primarily) search marketing, so that’s what we do.

However, it isn’t so easy for some businesses. Exciting brands like Lego can create (or get their fans to create) content easily thanks to the product.

But what if you’re selling pest control solutions, or insurance?

The deBugged blog from pest control firm Ehrlich is one example. Content such as guides to termites is evergreen, while there’s also some playful posts, insect brownie recipes for one.

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Identify common user/customer problems

This is a great starting point for content creation as it ensures that the focus is on solving genuine issues.

Take a look at this from Repair Clinic. Its drop-down menus allow customers to navigate according to the problem they’re experiencing.

Repair clinic nav

Now, this is a useful way to navigate, but it also reveals something about the process of creating content.

Either from keyword research, or more likely an analysis of common customer questions and issues, Repair Clinic has identified some of the reasons customers look for repair information.

It has then created the page to match the query, and produced some useful resources for customers.

From an SEO perspective, it works beautifully. I’ve taken a few of the common problems from the drop-down menu, and invariably you’ll see Repair Clinic in a prominent position.Repair Clinic SEO

So, Repair Clinic has found common user problems and created content which addresses those issues.

The fact that this content is easy to find in the SERPs should ensure that the company attracts plenty of relevant traffic, and sells a few spare parts.

Mining your data

Ideas for content are all around, and many are there in your site’s data.

For example, you could look at your site search data for common queries and issues which content could address.

Do your users’ on-site searches reveal issues that haven’t been addressed by your current content? Do any topics stand out?

What has worked before?

Look back through analytics data. Identify the evergreen posts you already have on your site.

This is easy enough, just take a look at the top content fro the last year or two. Are there posts with recurring traffic over that period?

ga evergreen

 

Evergreen content should look something like this:

evergreen meta tags

As we can see, it’s receiving a consistent amount of traffic over a long period of time, just over a year in this case.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be huge amounts of traffic. If the content is relevant to your products or services, the important thing is that it’s attracting the right kind of visitors.

Once you’ve identified your own evergreen content, think about what these pages have in common:

  • Headlines. Is there a pattern? In our list above, and other reports, common factors include compelling headlines, lists, and how-to guides.
  • Topics. What are the common themes and topics that perform well?
  • Article style. Are they stats based articles? Infographics? Long-form content?
  • Presentation. How are articles presented? I find lots of relevant charts, example screenshots and clear headings make an article more readable and hence more likely to become evergreen.

Look at social data

Using social tools such as buzzsumo you can identify the posts that perform well over time on social media.

This doesn’t necessarily equate to consistent traffic, but it quite often does and provides more inspiration.

Buzzsumo SEW

Search rankings

See which terms you’re ranking for and which pages are ranking well for those terms.

This should help you to identify the evergreen content that is already working, as well as providing ideas for new content.

seo evergreen

For ideas, I’ll often look for search terms where there is room for improvement. Maybe terms where rankings have slipped due to older content, or where we’re near the top of page two.

Updating and keeping content fresh

An easy way to create evergreen content, and one which follows on from the previous points, is to refresh and rewrite existing evergreen pages.

We’ve done this once or twice with SEW content. For example, this Facebook cheat sheet article from 2013 has been consistently popular, but the information within will change over time.

So, we created a social media image size infographic with more up to date information. It was published in December, so it’s early to judge whether or not it will be evergreen, but it has been popular so far.

Some sites will simply update the content and republish posts as new. It’s a tactic which can work and something I’ve experimented with in the past.

In short, with an update and a new publish date, you can attract extra traffic, links and shares, and it can boost the rankings for that page as Google sees fresh rather than refreshed content.

However, I find it more honest and transparent, and more useful for readers, to create new articles based on older content. You can always use the older pages to link to the new version, and vice versa.

Evergreen content formats

These article formats have worked well, and can be adapted for different sites and topics.

Go niche

Don’ be afraid to get into the detail on posts. Evergreen content isn’t all about popularity, it’s about delivering the right kind of traffic over time.

For example, a post on using redirects may seem niche to some, but for a site like this it can deliver consistent long tail traffic.

e.g: Guide to 301 redirects for SEO

How-to guides

How to guides fit very well with this site’s ethos, and work well over time as they provide practical guidance for users.

They also perform well in search for the same reason, as well as the fact that people will often append searches with ‘how to’.

seo internal linking

E.g: Internal linking for SEO: examples and best practices

Curation

Listing useful tools or stats adds value for users and creates a useful resource which keeps people coming back.

For example, this post on free SEO tools has been in the top 10 SEW posts for the past couple of years.

Lists

Some people may dislike them, but the truth is that lists work very well.

Indeed, they make up roughly 70% of our most popular articles over the past few years.

They work principally because they tell the potential reader that they will be easy to scan and digest, and also appeal to people’s curiosity.

E.g: 14 ways to reduce your site’s bounce rates

Go long-form

Longer articles tend to be more comprehensive and can provide readers with much of the information they need on a given subject.

There is a belief that the internet has destroyed people’s attention spans, and that longer articles are to be avoided, but I don’t subscribe to that.

Indeed, the Quartz curve is a good example. it found that articles of between 500 and 800 words weren’t performing as well.

The reason? More than 500 words but less than 800 is too long to be easily digestible yet too short to be in-depth. It’s a kind of no-man’s land.

quartz curve

While the exact word counts may differ, I’ve seen the same thing on sites I’ve worked on. So, this article is 1,336 words long…

In summary

There isn’t necessarily a magic formula for creating evergreen content, its more something to aim for.

You can create a comprehensive guide to a topic but, for various reasons, sometimes they just don’t work over time.

However, if you attempt to produce quality content with an eye on SEO that aspires to be evergreen, you’ll get there a lot of the time.

Source: Search Engine Watch
How to plan and create evergreen content

Why Local Rank Trackers Fail

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Hey, rank trackers! You know I love you guys, but let’s face it — your local rank tracking is a fail. This Twitter thread says it all.

I’ve got nothing against any of you, but I am hoping this rant will spur some of you on to solve this problem. Hey, maybe you already have, and I just don’t know about it. Hit me up, and I’ll get SEL to cross this whole thing out and put a nice juicy link to your site at the top with anchor text = “best local rank tracking software.” (Editor’s note: This is not going to happen.)

For local search marketers — and if you have been following the evolution of mobile search, you know we are all on our way to becoming local search marketers — rank tracking can be helpful to both understanding the SERP landscape and communicating with clients. (I know, no one wants to report rankings to clients, but they all still seem to want them.)

There are a ton of Local Rank Trackers — our list of Local SEO Tools has 23 — but the process has become increasingly difficult as Google iterates on their technology.

The Problem(s) With Location-Based Tracking

Google likes to return local pack/maps results based on the user’s physical location; however, there is often a lot of wiggle room. Google always thinks I am one city over, for example.

On top of that, local organic results are not always driven by precise location targeting on GOOG’s end. So before we even start tracking, the data is a bit fuzzy. Par for the course in Local.

Now consider that these tools are generally designed to track rankings in markets where a business is physically located. This presents a huge problem for service area businesses that may be attracting customers from dozens of cities. How about a business where customers will travel greater distances (like to get a great deal on the exact car they want)?

These businesses generally have to pay a significant amount of money for enough credits to cover all of their “markets,” and then they usually have to track all these areas as separate locations. That means a single plumber may need several “locations” in a rank tracker just to properly track search results in their target markets.

Now imagine how this works when you have 1,000 locations. On second thought, let’s not.

What Do You Mean When You Say “Local Rankings?”

When you say “local rankings,” do you mean local organic rankings, or are you talking about local pack rankings?

Crushing It In Pleasanton!

Or maybe you mean Google Maps? And what about Apple Maps? How do you factor one-boxes, local Knowledge Graph results and combined local/organic results into you tracking? Oh yeah, and let’s not forget about mobile SERPs and app indexing. And how do you report this mess?

Tracking Frequency Vs. Ranking Volatility

We all know that search rankings are incredibly volatile, so how do you separate the signal from the noise?

Some rank trackers track daily, because they want you to have a complete data picture, but that includes a lot of noise that is difficult to sort out. This is especially true of multi-location brands where daily tracking across hundreds (or thousands) of locations becomes an impenetrable abyss of “big data” that needs significant analytical skill and time to sort out.

If you try to cut through the noise by using weekly tracking, then you are only looking at a slice of the whole picture that may omit important movement based on days of the week.

It’s basically a given at this point that user behavior influences search rankings, so your business vertical may be specifically prone to these fluctuations; that’s another variable that drives your average multi-location brand analytics guy to break bad.

Tracking Technology

Part of the problem with local rank tracking is that there are several different ways to do it (a long but interesting discussion).

Minor differences across rank tracking methods may cause you to see different results from those your client sees — or worse, your CEO, who knows nothing of rank tracking issues…

Thoughtful Jon Snow, Local SEO

This is not exclusive to local rank tracking, but how many times have you had a client complain that they don’t see their site ranking for a certain keyword when your tool says they do?

The Data Aggregation Problem

On top of all these problems, if you’re an agency or multi-location business that needs to aggregate data to track performance, then you have a whole other set of headaches:

  • How is all the data aggregated by default?
  • How can you get the data aggregated with a custom agreement (aka more $)?

For instance, say a multi-location national brand has 300+ separate websites for their different locations. There are some enterprise-class rank tracking solutions that don’t do a good job at rolling up hundreds of different websites (You know who you are, guys).

Meanwhile, other rank trackers may be able to roll up hundreds of websites, but they aren’t designed to break out reports at the local keyword or regional level (And you know who you are).

This is further complicated when you are talking about rankings in areas where a business isn’t physically located, as you will need to roll up these areas to the “location” level and then roll them up to your higher levels of aggregation. I just wrote that, and I’m not even sure what it means.

Epilogue

It’s easy to complain, but that’s just because there’s so much to complain about. Someone, please fix this, and on your deathbed, you just may receive total consciousness. #gungagaloonga

The post Why Local Rank Trackers Fail appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: Search Engine Land

Google Core Algorithm Updates Continue As SEOs Notice Weekend Google Update

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Almost exactly like the week before, many SEOs and webmasters this weekend reported major ranking changes in Google.

Google was quick to answer that this weekend was the same as last, with ongoing updates to their Core Algorithm.

Gary Illyes from Google said on Twitter this morning that the weekend fluctuations were “core algorithm” and “not Penguin.”

Many webmasters are waiting for a Google Penguin update, and we are expecting it to happen early this year. So when we see major fluctuations, some are quick to say it is Penguin.

But Google is telling us this is not Penguin but rather just common core ranking algorithm updates.

The thing is, the past week or so has been pretty volatile in the search results for both the automated tracking tools and based on how the community is talking about it. But again, Google is saying it is not Penguin, it is core.

We have asked Google for more on these latest updates and if we hear back we will update you, but for now, we still do not have a Penguin update to report for you.

The post Google Core Algorithm Updates Continue As SEOs Notice Weekend Google Update appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: Search Engine Land

4 Tools to Create Interactive Content in Minutes

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If we take a quick glimpse into the crystal ball, we see a future of content marketing less about the impact of words and more about the experiences created for the consumer. Traditional content has flooded the Internet and is starting to feel stale. Admit it – how often do you find yourself briefly skimming an article only to move on within seconds to something new?

Brands are coming to terms with this reality, fostering tools that engage their audiences in an activity – answering quizzes, watching clips, or exploring scenarios. It’s the perfect way to capture the audience’s attention from the get-go. It can challenge individuals to think and respond – snoozing is no longer the preferred option.

Let’s take a look at these interactive content tools that promise to engage the socks off your audience.

1.   Apester

Interactive content, such as tests and quizzes, keeps users hooked. It also enables you to provide more content to your target audience and encourages participants to share their outcome with their nearest and dearest.

Apester offers brands the ability to create polls, surveys, personality tests, and video quizzes, which they can embed into articles to get readers involved. Apester is revolutionizing the age-old custom of storytelling via a digital experience, allowing readers to help shape the content delivered to them.

There are dozens of ways brands can use Apester to interact with their target audience.

Frito-Lay sponsored a contest, Lay’s Do Us A Flavor, in which it invited people to submit ideas for a new chip flavor. AOL posted an article about the winner and used Apester to embed a quiz asking users, “Which flavor was your favorite?” Readers who clicked on their favorite could immediately see the results of the poll and received links to related content. Naturally, the quiz got tons of shares from readers who ultimately marketed Lay’s new chip flavor to their friends.

Lay's-new-chip-flavor

The Weather Channel hosted an Apester-created video quiz, The Extreme Weather Driving Challenge. The six-question quiz hosted by The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore seeks to engage and educate viewers and reinforce the message that The Weather Channel is the go-to resource for all things weather related.

2. Zaption

In an era when video engagement rates can make or break a brand, Zaption helps brands ensure that their videos are as engaging and captivating as possible. The platform enables brands to add images, text, questions, and quizzes to any video, effectively transforming passive videos into interactive learning experiences. Although Zaption is used primarily by educators and instructors, brands will find value in this platform for solidifying their message and ensuring that viewers fully retain and understand video content.

For example, Zaption created a training video for potential customers, explaining its key features and how to get the most out of the platform. Along the way, Zaption stops the video and adds a quiz or question to ensure that the viewers understand what they are reading and seeing. Zaption also adds notes on the side, making it easier for users to follow along.

Zaption-presenter

3. WebyClip

Videos also can allow users to participate in the experience. With WebyClip, viewers can interact with items they see in a video – taking purchasing to a whole different level. eBay offers this service – as items appear in the video, the “related product” pops up in a listing on the right. Viewers need only click on that product and they’re taken to the site where they can buy it. The personalized experience and innovative features make this tool a necessity for engagement with potential customers.

webyclip-screenshot
4. Mapme

Users join the conversation with Mapme, a socially influenced mapping tool. Brands can create maps based on their own designated interest or one from Mapme’s list and share it with their audience. Users then can add new locations and sites of interest to that map – it’s crowdsourcing for locations of interest.

For example, the Chilean government uses the platform to track start-up growth in Chile, Pride of Place uses it to understand LGBT impact in England, and AccessNow utilizes Mapme so that its users can easily discover nearby accessible places.

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Conclusion

Your audience will love feeling a part of the action and interactive content makes this attainable. It also has a longer lasting impact. These three tools offer just a glimpse of how you can empower your audience and give them every reason to engage with your brand for years to come.

Join our upcoming #CMWorld Twitter chat on interactive content on Tuesday, January 19 at noon Eastern with special guest Scott Brinker.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

The post 4 Tools to Create Interactive Content in Minutes appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

Source: Content Marketing Institute

SearchCap: Google Now Updates, SEO Mistakes & SEM Success

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Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

  • Google Tests “What’s Hot” & “What’s Nearby” As Android Search Options
    Jan 15, 2016 by Greg Sterling

    Artem Russakovskii found an interesting Google search options test for Android. In addition to recent searches, Google inserted a “What’s Hot” and “Nearby” option in the pull-down menu. Here’s what it looks like: I asked Google for a comment or more information on this. Google provided the following statement: “We’re always experimenting with the look and feel of […]

  • Automate Your Way To SEM Success
    Jan 15, 2016 by David Fothergill

    Columnist David Fothergill makes the case that automation can free up valuable time to let search marketers do what they do best: strategize.

  • 6 Big Mistakes That SEO Rookies Make
    Jan 15, 2016 by John E Lincoln

    Columnist John Lincoln has been in this business a long time — and seen a lot of the same mistakes. Learn from the errors of other SEO newbies to start your career off on the right foot.

  • Search In Pics: Justin Trudeau At New Google Canadian Office, Google Expeditions Subaru & Fallout 4 Statue
    Jan 15, 2016 by Barry Schwartz

    In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau At Google’s Kitchener-Waterloo Office: Source: Google+ Google Piggy Bank: Source: Google+ […]

Recent Headlines From Marketing Land, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Internet Marketing:

Search News From Around The Web:

Local & Maps

Link Building

SEO

SEM / Paid Search

Search Marketing

The post SearchCap: Google Now Updates, SEO Mistakes & SEM Success appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: Search Engine Land

Does native advertising really work?

I’ll set out my stall straight away, I don’t particularly like native advertising. 

However, I’m seeing this as an exercise in trying to dispel my own confirmation bias.

I would love nothing more than to rant endlessly about an advertising practice I’ve described before as no better than “autoplay video, Spotify ads and downloading spyware onto your browser” or, horror of horrors, downloading a U2 album into your iTunes.

But… as you will have noticed from time to time, we run sponsored articles on SEW and I would come across as somewhat hypocritical. Just like how I accused pop-up ads of being “contemptible” yesterday and yet you were probably presented with one on your first visit here.

The balancing of user-friendliness, our own editorial judgement and the need to make some actual money is a difficult thing to get right. I’ll save the pop-up conversation for another time though, let’s get back to native advertising… 

Despite any personal feelings, they are part of our business model for the time being, and they help this site continue to exist.

There’s no doubt that we’ve gone on far too long expecting everything on the internet to be free, advertising needs to exist in order to support the existence of the sites you love visiting so much. The sooner we retrain people’s expectations, the better. 

But, display ads don’t really work anymore; overlays, push-downs and full-screen pop-outs just piss people off. Is there an argument to say that sponsored content is a better alternative? Surely an article among the rest of your content, that carries some advertorial leaning is better than endless interruptions from display ads?

Sponsored content NEEDS to be clearly labelled as such, carry the same editorial tone as the rest of the site and be just as informative, useful or entertaining as the non-sponsored posts on the site.

But there in lies the problem, if you’re scrolling down a homepage and see ‘sponsored content’ you’re going to ignore it, just like you’ll ignore the banner or MPU.

And why the hell would you read an article on the best debut albums of 2015 by Microsoft?

Or am I completely wrong? Maybe people don’t give nearly as much of a damn as I presume? Let’s take a look at as many different stats as I can possibly find to see whether native advertising really works or not.

I promise to remain impartial.

Native advertising stats 

Over at Inc. there’s an infographic by MDG (ps… there’s a great big ol’ pop-up when you click that link) with loads of juicy stats.  

  • 70% of people would rather learn about products through content than traditional ads 
  • 52% of people who click on native ads have a higher purchase intent then those clicking banner ads (34%)
  • Forbes claimed that 20% of its 2013 revenue came from its native ad platform 

The following stats come from Dedicated Media:

  • Native ads are viewed 53% more than banner ads
  • Native ads generate an 82% brand lift 
  • 32% of consumers say they would share a native ad with their friends and family 

What does this tell us so far? People prefer native ads to banners mainly, and that they can work as a brand awareness tool as well as generating revenue.  

I reported last week that fewer native ads are due to run in 2016. 45% of marketers say they’re going to use native ads in 2016, a dip of 5% from 2015, but I’m not sure this really reveals much about their worth to visitors.

But hey, while we’re poking around for stats, why don’t we reveal some data from under our own hood.  

The following figures from Google Analytics are for our last sponsored post, published October 7.

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With 3,695 unique pageviews accrued between publication date and 13 January, this is only 1,000 unique pageviews less than our top performing post that same week, but between 1,500 – 2,000 above other guest posts. 

So in terms of traffic, it did very well. As for the content itself.. well, you can judge for yourself, but personally I think that although it does contain some insight, it falls too heavily on the ‘advertorial’ side of native advertising. 

Are you likely to trust a review where the subject is the sponsor? Then again, this is no different to any brand’s marketing copy trying to show off the benefits of the product, if you’re in the market for this type of thing, then great! But then again, are you coming to Search Engine Watch to buy a rank-checking tool, or to get independent, objective advice on which is the best one to buy?

It’s here that I return to my earlier thoughts, surely this sponsored article is still better than a display ad though? It’s less irritating or invasive. One thing’s definitely for sure however, the article should have been clearly labelled as ‘sponsored’ at the top, as this information isn’t revealed until you scroll to the bottom. This is where native advertising becomes as irritating as pop-ups, people want complete transparency about the motive behind they’re reading. 

People don’t necessarily mind seeing adverts, in fact some people will go out of there way to see them, so I don’t believe there’s any need to ‘cloak them’ as anything else.

So I’ve not really drawn much of a conclusion other than native ads probably aren’t going away anytime soon, people don’t really seem to mind them, they can be as successful as non-sponsored content and with a little bit more adhesion to guidelines (transparency, quality content) they don’t have to put people off coming back to your site.

Next week: an argument in defence of YouTube pre-roll ads. 

Not really.

Source: Search Engine Watch

What do you need to know about ‘responsive content marketing’?

When content marries with mobile, mobile will truly excel. 

At the moment, content is universal. You do some research, get the lightbulb moment and then write an article. You publish this to the web and, hey presto, it’s available on desktop, tablet and smartphone.

The content itself will soon be responsive though. Text will actually change depending upon the device. Content will adjust automatically just as a responsive website would adjust to the device it is being displayed on. 

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Articles will be much shorter and concise on small mobile screens, with more bullet points. On desktop, the full version will be available.

Content needs to be responsive in order to serve users better.

Some apps have already gained popularity in this sphere. Yahoo! bought Summly which is kind of an app version of responsive content marketing. 

Duplicated content

With all these versions of responsive content how will search engines deal with duplicate content issues? Well, the answer lies in Google’s latest developments – artificial intelligence (AI) and RankBrain

Google will soon be able to discover strong entity connections between content and keywords. As content is published it will note the devices too. Engines will know that content is from one domain and it has various versions for each device, just like a responsive web site. It will then plug this information into its 3D index, which Panda already sits on.

Why would search engines invest in responsive content?

Publishers and technology companies have united to form faster loading mobile webpages in a project called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). This is a step in the right direction for mobile. Our attention span is much shorter on mobile because of the busy environment we are often in when we are holding the device. Responsive content marketing aids this.

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Responsive content marketing will truly segment and personalise the mobile journey to create an even more comfortable experience.

Google has recently got clever with mobile by adding Tap Now to Google Now. Google Now is based on picking up on searches on multiple devices. 

The next addition of Tap Now would be to add a responsive content layer so we can, at the hit of a button, pick up on content on the device of our choice and to enable content to be efficiently rendered on that device for the greatest possible user experience. 

With Google’s clear support for mobile, it is only natural that this mining of content will merge with mobile: ‘responsive content marketing.’

I wrote this article to trigger some industry thoughts. Please share yours below.

Source: Search Engine Watch

Why companies create content – Part one: to create and change perception

There’s a lot written about how to plan, publish and promote content, but much less on the reasons for doing so in the first place.

The majority of businesses know there’s a damn good reason for having branded social media profiles and regularly communicating with their audience about something other than their products, but actually pinpointing ‘why’ can often be difficult.

After reviewing the output of thousands of companies we’ve established seven core reasons for creating content. These can all be tied to genuine business objectives; tangible activities that can be tracked and contribute to the bottom line.

Working out the rationale for activity is often harder than actually getting on and doing it, but that’s where the heart of a solid strategy lies. Get that bit right and everything else should slot neatly into place.

Here is part one of our seven part series:

Part one: to create or change perception

Brand identity is one of the most powerful assets a business has. Maintaining a positive one can have a dramatic (albeit indirect) effect on revenue; the opposite also rings very true.

The content your company publishes acts as the public face, creating an instant impression to people arriving at your corner of the web. What you say and how you say it ultimately dictates who you are.

Traditional brands may want to show they’re still relevant in a modern market. Companies in competitive and homogenised industries (e.g. utilities, banking) can demonstrate differentiation to customers. Startups can upset the status quo, using their new kid on the block status to get people excited about how things should be.

While connecting ‘perception’ and ‘profits’ can be a bit finger in the air, correlating what you create online to peaks (and troughs) in sales allows you to see how and where content can make an impact.

A matter of taste

Coke vs. Pepsi is a battle as old as time itself – or at least since the 1970s. In the digital age, this is less about blind taste tests and more about #ShareACoke vs. the reinvigorated #PepsiChallenge.

One pushes the theme of family and friendships, one’s more about exciting experiences. While there’s crossover, these broad concepts offer a general sense of how these companies want people to feel when their brands pass through the conscience.

Can you guess which of these Instagram posts is from @cocacola and which was posted by @pepsi? Find the answer at the bottom of this article.

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When it comes to money, during the 2011 trial period of ‘Share A Coke’ in Australia, the company claim consumption jumped 7% among young audiences. That’s a hell of a lot of cola!

When asked “If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?” Jeremy Rudge,  Creative Excellence Lead for Coca-Cola said:

“We’d probably spend a fraction of what we spent on TV. As I said, there wasn’t the confidence in social media then that there is now. “Share a Coke” showed that this new landscape was here. There is still a belief in the marketing world that you need to spend big on media to make sure people see your ideas, but we have proved that you can focus your resources on building ideas people want.”

Note specifically that he says “see your ideas” not “buy your products” – people don’t need to be told to buy a Coke, they need to be fed with content to support the idea that it’s a beverage that fits with their lifestyle.

Creating effortless presence

Rolls-Royce have been making the world’s best motor cars since the early 20th Century. They’re one of the most desirable brands on the planet and have developed an online audience that’s the envy of others.

CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös talks about the business in a very bold way:

“Nobody needs a Rolls-Royce. It’s a luxury good at the end of the day and you are deciding about it as you decide on a very precious watch, jewellery, a chalet in the Swiss Alps, something which you enjoy and which you buy to reward yourself for certain achievements in life.”

The vast, vast majority of their global audience can only ever dream of sitting in a Rolls-Royce, let alone owning one. So why do they commit resources to building content to fuel an online presence?

This isn’t about shifting units, it’s about building an army of enthusiasts and maintaining Rolls-Royce’s status at the pinnacle of the luxury market. They want those travelling in their vehicles to see passers-by giving them a thumbs up, not a middle finger.

They create aspirational associations with cool people like Lewis Hamilton, Sienna Miller and Labrinth, share footage from track events and art exhibitions, and photograph cars beside marinas with a backdrop of superyachts.

It would be easy to dip into the archives and show off iconic cars from the company’s illustrious history. But this is a new era for Rolls-Royce, one where they’re trying to appeal to captains of football clubs just as much as they are heads of state.

Content is geared towards removing a feeling of inaccessibility, inviting people ‘Inside Rolls-Royce’ to marvel at the methods and materials used, offering a sense of the unfathomable number of bespoke combinations available to buyers.

Together as a collective stream, this content paints a picture of who today’s Rolls-Royce owners are, with a view to planting a seed with people that they may one day join this exclusive club.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Warren Buffett

What is it you want people to think when they come across your content. If you treat everything you produce as part of a collective set rather than as individual pieces, over time you’ll be able to shape positive attitudes and influence opinions.

PS: The picture above was from Pepsi, the one below from Coca-Cola.

As an aside to this seven part series, check out Ayima’s free DIY Content Marketing Strategy ecourse, designed to help improve the ROI of your content.

Source: Search Engine Watch