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SMX West 2012: The “New” Killer Content

SMX West 2012: The “New” Killer Content was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

In this session, our panelists discuss Google’s Panda update and tips for quality content and tactics that will help your overall visibility online. SMX West logo

First up: Heather Lloyd-Martin (@heatherlloyd)

If you’re in a space where you’re feeling overwhelmed about what Google is doing, Panda, Search+ your world, about what you’re supposed to do with your content, and worried you’re going to get slapped, this presentation is for you.

Marketers, we are ALL CONTENT marketers. Don’t ignore it!!

Tip #1: Revisit your customer personas

  1. Who are you writing for? It’s NOT EVERYONE on the Web. People change, visitors change. Get your content to fulfill their needs. They ask, “What’s in it for me?” Drill this way down. Get such clarity on these personas to the degree that you can walk into a Starbuck’s and pick someone out of a crowd and know without a doubt that is your target market.
  2. What information do they need to see? Does it appeal the personas of your site visitors? Change the feel and tone to appeal to them.

#2 Tighten up your money pages

  1. Which pages drive the most income (or readers?) All the inbound marketing you do will do nothing if your content sucks!
  2. How can you move the needle and increase conversions?

#3 Clean up your content mullets

Mullets used to look cool, but today they look outdated.

  1. Update your articles
  2. Outdated sales pages
  3. Conference/event pagesthathaven’tbeen updated
  4. Press pages that haven’t been updated

Go clean out your content mullet. It will help build trust.

#4 Create content for your customers (not Google!)

Do your keyphrase research: What is your target market looking for?

  • Customer questions: What are some frequently asked questions that you can answer?
  • Trending topics: What’s hot in your industry right now?
  • Sales funnel: What content do you need to inform prospects about your products or services throughout thes ales cycle?

Readers won’t want to engage with you or call for more info if they can’t see you answering it on your site

#5 Look for SERP opportunities

  • Go to analytics for pages with good position with low clickthru especially money pages.
  • Check out your titles which are like headlines.  Make it compelling
  • Check meta descriptions. They can be a discontent between description and intent of page. If your description is salesy, but the page is informational and they are looking for information, they won’t click through.

#6 Strategically repurpose your content across different mediums

If you don’t have time to write this and that, and Tweet, and …. then repurpose what you have.

  • Write paper/ebook
  • Create a blog series based on white paper
  • Tweet a stat and link back to white paper
  • Post a fact on your Facebook page of Google +
  • Pull out excerpt for an enewsletter
  • Blog post

Think of ways to intelligently repurpose across mediums.

#7 Use editorial calendar

Have a plan 3 months out. Here is the big initiative, blogs we’re going to write.

Larry Chase from Web Digest for Marketers says:

“…The content used in my newsletter is repurposed into 66 Internet Marketing categories at the Web Digest For Marketers website. This is done for SEO purposes. At the time of this writing, Yahoo! shows more than 2,000 inbound links.”

Next: Gary Magnone of Thunder SEO (@garyjmag)

He will be going deeper into Google algorithms.

What is quality content?

With Panda Google finally said here is what we’re looking for. You have guidelines, but what do you actually have to do?

For him that meant at Textbroker he went from quality rating of 2 stars to 5 stars.

The new killer content requires:

  1. Understand your audience
  2. Align business goals to audience needs
  3. Research industry trends
  4. Create a plan
  5. Monitor and refine

Understand your audience -How?

Audience personas – you need to get specific, break up segments, give them a name, job title, age, understand their interest and goals so you can maintain focus on what they need. 

Look at their need states now that you know WHO they are – What to they need, what drives them to purchase?

So how do you do it. Great foundational knowledge here: bit.ly/audience-personas

Use social listening and demographic data

  • socialmention
  • followerwonk
  • Topsy
  • Amplicate
  • Trendistic
  • Facebook ads
  • Doubleclick ad planner
  • Twtrland
  • Hoosaid

Look at what keywords already send traffic.

Now put it into action…

Segment into personas

In example given, he segmented audience into SEO explorer, paid channel perfectionist, ROI hotshot.

SEO explorer – he gave her a face, name, age, background and major responsibilities and goals, examples of conversations during research and keywords used.

Paid channel perfectionist knows SEO, looking to find the right vendor, clearly convey your products and services, thought leadership, give them enough to know you know your stuff

ROI hotshot is looking for the company that will deliver so highlight your USP

After you identify persona, then figure out what keywords they are using

  • He likes Ubersuggest for keyword research. GoogleInsights, Google Trends, Wordtracker Questions,
  • What topics are trending?
  • Topsy – who’s tweeting, what’s hot, what’s trending
  • Don’t ignore Pinterest. See what’s being pinned. Use that to develop content your audience is looking for.
  • SEO Gadget has amazing tool built in Google Docs that tells you what’s happening, what’s being said were. bit.ly/topic-gen

After you map out their persona, align their needs with your business goals

Create a plan – You NEED an editorial calendar

Think about media, video, text, category, where it’s going to post, write for different audience segments, keep track of what assets are needed (picture, photo, video, text)

Bring it altogether and chart out what kind of copy you need for each persona.

TAKEAWAY: Give them what they are looking for. Do the research to find out who they are, then what that is.

Monitor Performance

Set specific goals you can track

  1. Increased page views an time on site for how to content
  2. Increased opt-ins for whitepapers and research studies
  3. Referrals to services /product pages from case studies, track movement through conversion goals

Track what matters! Figure out what is moving the needle. He likes RavenTools for this. First figure out goals, then you can figure out how to track it.

Always be updating. Content gets old and stale. Ask: Is it still relevant? Is is still achieving my goals?
Maturation of industry can cause a page to be old, for example.

Up Next: Jon Wuebben of Content Launch (@jonwuebben)

What is content marketing?
Technique of creating and distributing relevant content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined target audience with the objective to drive a profitable customer action.

Ask if I was the customer, how would I like to be talked to?

Killer content delivers life-long repeat buyer. Build a relationship/partnership and break down wall between company and customer. Content is the way to do that. Become a valued resource for them. Are you? They are looking for ways to make their life easier, advice, etc.

Content lifecycle

  • Content strategy and planning
  • Creation
  • Marketing/distribution
  • Management/Curation

Embracing lifecycle is key.

Three pillars – content, design and usability. The way it looks is important.

3 Channels

  1. site blog
  2. white papers, webinars – lot of businesses miss this.
  3. off-site, slideshare, twitter, FB , Videos

To Support Content

  • Leverage customer testimonials – ASK your top customers and use in content
  • Do SEO
  • Entice prospects with a free trial or free sample
  • Guarantee
  • Montior compeittion
  • Actively pitch media
  • Build partnerships with others in industry
  • Important to know the current trends -
    • Social media gets huge
    • Mobile beomes the real deal
    • content mktg expands into new venues smart phones
    • online retail
    • integrated marketing comes of age – mobile with TV
    • local check-in

Quality more important than quality!

Analyze your content. Take inventory of what you have. How’s your SEO. Analyze social marketing potential. Brainstorm new ideas.  Rewrite if necessary.

Make it compelling, visible, linkable to partners, shareable and [can’t type fast enough, sorry. ;)

Ensure Content impact

  • Reciprocity – Subscribers will pay you back at some point in the future if you provide something of value
  • Commitment and consistency
  • Consensus
  • Affinity
  • Authority
  • Scarcity

Website content modules

  1. Information module – main body
  2. News module
  3. lead gen
  4. opinion
  5. impulse buy module graphic banner
  6. human interaction module – live help feature?

Mobile

  • Keep pages short andcompact
  • Make navigation easy
  • Create content that’s touch friendly
  • Go easy on images
  • Most important info at top
  • Break up copy into small sections
  • Keep sentences brief
  • Use short words
  • Don’t force users to scroll too much

Takeaways – Content should be:

  1. Relevant
  2. Optimized and sharable – What more can you do with social media?
  3. leverageable – can you create an ebook or webinar out of blog posts,
  4. Profitable

Finally: Shari Thurow of Omni Marketing Interactive (@sharithurow)

Usability professional and SEO since 1995

4 bldg blocks of SEO have NOT CHANGED!

1. Build blocks first. They are hard to fix at a later date!

Keyword focused text content must contain words and phrases that users type in search queries, information scent must be strong. 3 click rule is bogus. Validate on landing page.

2. Site and page architecture – provide user friendly access to contetnt for both searchers and search engines. Consists of information architecture and technical architecture.

3. Link development – number and quality of objetive, 3rd party links pointing to a URL, link popularity, click popularity

4. Searcher behaviors

Lots of SEO ignore this.

Informational What can I learn? Answer to question, a quick fact, read reviews, list. What types of pages on a site naturally answer questions: FAQs, reference, how-tos, white papers. Showed bad reference page at National Cancer Institute. It was bad because they isolated content. You can’t see related informational pages. Medicine.net did a good job. Linked to definition, slideshows, pictures. List: When someone queries a plural word, chances are they want to see a list. Also “top ten.” Category landing pages are lists. Optimize for the plural form of the word and need of reader.

Navigational where can I go? Means I want to go to a specific page, such as querying “iTunes.” Killer content nails navigational queries because that’s when people want to go to your site. Example: thryoid cancer cancer.gov. If your site is not appearing on navigational queries, fix it!

Transactional What can I do? Doesn’t necessarily mean buy. It can be a free download – MP3, video, videos, pictures. All websites should contain linable assets: References, checklists, fact sheets, FAQs, guides, quizzes, white papers, tools, infographics, slideshows, videos, infographics, etc. eMarekter.com does great job with infographics. Tip: Trying to make a point in a pie chart? Put it between 12 and 3 o’clock.

Linkbuilding should not be an afterthought!

Linkable assets shoudl be a part of site’s information architecture.

Conclusion: Don’t ignore building blocks. Make sure pages support searcher goals. Interview users. They have more info about keywords than tools!

Q/A Points

  • As a marketer, you’re overwhelmed and need help. How do you get company boss to hire content writer? Suggestion: hire a freelancer to write a limited amount and then prove ROI.
  • The ultimate copywriter is a  persuasive sales person who knows how to write to get results, and also is an analytical geek, knows SEO and analytics, and knows how to tweak to make it work.
  • If you’re thinking about hiring a specific writer, and they are not asking you questions about your business, what converts, and more questions about your customers and business model, then you might want to look elsewhere.