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Archive for the ‘content marketing’ Category

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Great article that I spotted from an associate on LinkedIn, and a really important reminder about how quality content is more important than ever in SEO.

The article (http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2164438/Google-Cracking-Down-on-Unnatural-Links-Deindexing-Blog-Networks?goback=%2Egde_102662_member_104140400) details how Google has once more fired a warning shot across the bows of what it considers are unethically optimized websites. In particular the focus here is upon automated link building practices.

Quick and the short of it – Google has started to “take down” placement value of several websites that it feels have employed any form of electronic or automatic (as they refer to it, “unnatural”) link building. As with most Google moves like this, it is reactive to what Google has decided in Google’s own world and it is up to the general public and Internet Marketers to de-engineer the cause of the raucous.

Automated link building has been used by thousands of businesses and web enterprises around the world for as long as the tools to perform that task have been available. Everyone who understands what is required to achieve great Google page ranking also understands that incoming links to a website are one of the more valuable assets. We also know that dozens and many times hundreds of links are nt going to achieve the level of rank increase desired; most times it takes thousands in a highly competitive market.

I’ve been selling the opportunity to build inbound links to my clients for years, and always with the caveat that the process we employ requires manual creation of the links, anchor text, and content. It is slow and, if considered for the level of links required competitively, sometimes quite expensive to build out enough links to add some real value for a client. It always pays off over time, but it is not quick, cheap, or easy. The advantage has always been that the quality of fewer well placed links far outweighs whatever value comes from quantities of poorly placed links, though now that “natural” advantage takes on new prominence.

In a world where headlines win out over material, instant beats out long-term, and quantity is more easily recognized than quality, it appears that Google is trying to take us all back to a more “refined” view of the written word. And while it might be a pain and somewhat annoyingly secretive how it is accomplished, the simple fact is that content remains king (or queen).

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What you say, how you say it, and when you say it – these are the components of content that can make or break your Internet Marketing. Right from the very first words (and images) displayed on your web resources, to the last call to action you hope entices contact.

The process of compressing everything you want to say into a handful of words and a couple of images is a challenge. It is also the most important thing you will do when marketing, whether on the Internet or anywhere else. It is why a good marketing director or advertising agent can be paid a small fortune for what might amount to 100 words over the course of a year. If you can capture the spirit of your corporate voice and entice your audience to action all with a short phrase and a pretty picture, everything else will flow from that starting point.

Take for example the process we are going through with a client right now. This client has established an image for herself as a budget-conscious interior designer on the back of a static, somewhat cluttered presence. Her work and business ethic speak volumes for her, but she realizes that the Internet image she projects has handcuffed her to a limited audience. It is time for her to shine in the light of her personal image, and to get a message across quickly and effectively online.

It is our job to bring any visitor to this new website towards that image. Our initial discussions on the language of the home page for this new website illustrates the concern for tight focus upon her talent and high-end appeal, and still manage to convey her attractiveness as a designer for the budget-conscious. Say too much about “budget” or “affordable” and you turn off those looking for talent over cost, or even those without budget limits (got to love those!). Say too little about affordability and you lose your bread and butter clients who have more limited operating budgets.

You’ve heard the expression “a picture is worth 1,000 words”? Well, that doesn’t always mean that the words are the ones you want. So we are dancing around images as well, trying to send the simultaneous messages of “You Can’t Afford NOT to Use Me” and “You Can Afford to Use Me”. The very best work my client does for those with monetary constraints often leads to images that look much more costly than they were to create. In other words, the 1,000 words of some of these images might include “Wow – this looks too expensive for me!”.

As I mentioned, we are in the design phase right now and are having some fun working around the idea of “The Look for Less”. We are both pretty anxious to get through this phase and into development so that we can start to realize the vision, and begin some serious marketing. I’ll post on this client again when we get there – then you can decide if we managed to get the message right.

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Language is a funny thing. The more you think you have a handle on it, the more it seems to twist away from you.

Take your initial feeling about the title of this posting; something bothersome about it? The expression that comes to mind after reading the first 3 words is “read it and weep”. That is, of course, if you accept that it was meant to be in the future tense – to read something and then weep about it. Yet had you already done that, you would have read this (read that “red”) and wept.

Reminds me of a political expression: If the right is wrong and the left is not right, is what’s left right?

You can’t take for granted that anyone reading what you have written will interpret the printed words as you intend. Sometimes you have to step back and visualize the possible misinterpretations. At least you had better if the words you have written are meant to be a marketing message. Internet Marketing is as much about interpretation of message as it is about the message itself.

It’s been said that words have meaning, but the real sense of that expression should be rewritten as words can have multiple meanings. Using the Internet to push your message often means that you have to be crisp and direct. That doesn’t mean to be a deep-fried guide, it means to be to the point and plain-spoken; but as you can see, with just the slightest misinterpretation we can be places we never wanted to be.

This is one reason why images merged with written content can help deliver a message better than words by themselves. A marketing message that shows and tells works better than one than only tells – picture worth 1,000 words and all. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

What’s the message here? Crisply: words are important. Directly: write with your audience in mind.

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It’s lonely at the top and more and more businesses like it that way. According to a new study by the SEO company Slingshot, more than 43% of organic click-throughs come from the top 5 listings of organic results. While these results slightly conflict with those of other research over the past year, all studies of this click-through relationship seem to agree on one fact – a very high percentage of Internet searchers are using the websites they find on the first page of search results, and of those on the first page, a majority are primarily clicking through the first and second listings.

Statistically the largest number of Internet searchers use organic results over paid advertising (or PPC, sponsored search); that number is most often found to be about 80% to 85% of viewers. So what this comes down to is a probability of somewhere around 3 to 4 of every 10 Internet searchers who click through to a website are going to click to the top 5 results on a search page.

The study does not attempt to draw conclusions as to why the drop-off is so large after the top 5 (a mere 9% of click-throughs occur from the first page positions 6-10), nor why there is still significant traffic (about 48%) coming from page 2-3 results. It might be as simple as the laziness of using Next or Continue rather than scrolling down, so that the “above the fold” top 5 of each page is viewed rather than all 10 of each page – look at your smart phones!

Content-driven search results (what top organic results are most based upon) hold the key to obtaining these top organic positions; what this study also revealed was that the keyword phrases that had this type of high-ranking also provide additional leverage to long-tailed keyword phrases. If the keyword “ABC” ranks in the first page of Google results for your company, the phrase “ABC brown loafers” will score substantially better in search results than if “ABC” did not rank well.

Most of this information is intuitively obvious, at least to anyone who pays attention to search results at all. Higher placement in search results not only provides a direct link to you from searchers to their search phrase, it also builds out your brand reputation. When people are more likely to click on your link for those top 5 organic results, imagine how much psychological value it has to your company as you appear in those rankings for more and more terms. Your online reputation scores subliminally higher with each viewing of your company brand, and those top listings are getting the vast majority of those viewings.

Not to say there is no value in the lower page one rankings, or even page two – they account for most of that remaining 56%+ of those organic click-throughs after all. It’s simply a matter of ROI. Even that 15% of first page PPC results is a decent piece of the potential action.

If you want to have more traffic faster, the obvious way to achieve that is to dominate positioning in search results.  It always comes down to the simple questions of “How much is enough?” and “How soon is soon enough?”.

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When I last posted about this particular subject (see B2B and Content Marketing; Perfect Together), I mentioned that the research at that time indicated strong trends in business to improve and expand Content Marketing as a means to gain leads. As is so nice to see with these types of marketing projections, the evidence clearly shows that trend is not only continuing, but increasing.

Several studies have produced results that show that more and more businesses are turning towards Content Marketing in an effort to both generate leads and to build brand awareness. Focus Research is an online Q&A and Research group that consolidates the analysis of thousands of experts in multiple industries, and this in particular case they concentrated their questions upon business use of content.

As this chart indicates, most businesses are using educational

Content Marketing - Types of content used by businesses
Focus Research: Content Marketing – Types of content used by businesses

content to attract and hold visitors, and the reason is simple. Their audiences are searching for answers to industry-specific questions, and if these businesses do not want to lose that audience to Wikipedia or other educational providers, they have to produce those answers themselves.

 
The use of webinars and blogs are most prominent, showing how the constant flow of information is providing these businesses with multiple venues to attract prospective clients. Overall and as you can see from these research results, businesses have decided that what we Internet Marketers have known for some time – content is king (or queen) and the more of it you provide your target markets, the more likely it is that you will be found and used as an industry resource.
 
Small or large businesses can all benefit from the same Content Marketing principles. A blog post does not require a staff of 10 professional writers, and a webinar can be produced and distributed to 5 or 5,000 people. The size of your market audience does not determine the tools to use, only the scale of the information you provide. If there are 1,000 people for a small local business to attract, getting the attention of 10 at a time might make sense; if 10 million is your audience then think in terms of wider distribution. It doesn’t matter the scale, only that you write your content to speak to the intended audience.
 
For those businesses who still insist that the Internet is not the way for them to attract leads, perhaps it is time to take some baby steps into the arena and find out exactly how large the audience is that you are missing. Producing quality content for your target market can never hurt, and you might be surprised how many people out there are hungry to hear from you.

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As so often happens, something out of my personal life acted as a simple reminder of what is important in my professional life. We have a house full of visitors these past weeks, and among those visiting us is a beautiful little 3 year-old. Generally everything she says is worth listening to because if it is not funny in and of itself, it is often illuminating to us adults; having the world shown to us through innocent eyes. Such was the case this morning.

Our little visitor was trying to let us know that my dog had a hair in his butt. Now anyone who owns a dog knows that this statement is true on its face – all dogs have hair in their butts. But our 3 year-old friend seemed unimpressed with our agreement with her observation. In fact she insistently repeated the information several times – Axl (our dog) had a hair in his butt!

To our delight we eventually deciphered the true message; Axl was bothering our visitor and was being a pain in the butt, an expression that had been heard and partially (but incorrectly) absorbed.

What struck me later about this incident was that our 3 year-old friend had a complete understanding of what she was saying, and had attempted to communicate the message to us on our level, using an adult expression to let us know about her problem with our dog. As an Internet Marketing professional I am very familiar with this dilemma: many people have a complete understanding of what it is they are trying to say via Internet Search, but have an incomplete knowledge of the correct terms or phraseology needed to home in on the object of their search.

In point of fact there is little difference between what a 3 year-old might try to express and what an adult often does express when both are starting from a point of incomplete or erroneous knowledge. If I have no idea what a CV joint is and my car is making clicking noises, I am limited in my ability to ask Internet search questions beyond “car clicking noises”. While I might be fortunate enough to actually find a search result that answers my question, I am at the mercy of the thousands of mechanics and car enthusiasts, one of whom might have created content relevent to my search. I am like a 3 year-old trying to tell you about the hair in my butt, at least relative to those more knowledgable than me on the subject.

It is an old message but remains as true today as it has since the beginning of Search Engine Optimization and content writing to support those optimization efforts: you need to talk to your audience, not to your industry. All of those Internet 3 year-olds performing searches need your help as a business owner who holds the answer to their questions; you simply have to get down on your hands and knees and try to converse at their level of understanding. If you can accomplish that, they will learn and you will earn.

Word Meaning is SO Important in Search Engine Optimization!

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