Tag Archive: content strategy

  1. The Key: How Keyword Research Can Get Your Content Read

    keyword research

    It’s not sexy. That’s the first thing I need to get out of the way before I tell you more about keyword research. Smart use of keywords, however, is a highly effective way to help readers find your content. Before I jump into some simple strategies for choosing the right keywords, let’s back up and define exactly what they are and how they function.


    What is a Keyword?

    First off, you may be surprised to find that when most experts say “keyword” they often actually mean “keyword phrase.” Keywords (or keyword phrases, when discussing multiple words) help search engines figure out what your content is about and whether it’s the right content to share given a certain search. For instance, say I’m looking for a plumber to fix my sink. Being an Orlando resident, I might pop into Google with a search query like “best Orlando plumber.” 

    Turning the tables on this example, if I’m Johnny the Plumber and serve the Orlando area, I’d be wise to craft content that includes the keyword phrase “best Orlando plumber.” This will increase the chances that I’m found when Orlandoans search for plumbing services.


    How Does it Work? 

    Google and other search engines are notoriously tight-lipped as to exactly how their algorithms work. However, we do have some idea about how keywords help your content. Google does something rather remarkable: It takes all content published to the internet and has bots review and test its relevancy and reputability. These bots can often sniff out copy/pasted content, spam and other less valuable resources, throwing them to the bottom of search results. 

    It’s in Google’s (and any other search engines’) best interest to deliver only the most relevant, most helpful results to any search query. Keywords come into play because these bots are also looking for recurring phrases that users often search for in part or even verbatim. If a Google bot notices your content mentioning the user’s search terms (keywords), it may deliver your content above others.


    What’s the Catch?

    So, what’s keeping content creators from stuffing their content with keywords? In the early days of search engines, nothing. But Google has pulled the curtain back on their algorithm enough to tell us that simply stuffing content with keywords isn’t going to get you far – in fact, doing so will be counted against you. If a keyword is obviously thrown into your blog or webcopy in an attempt to game the system, Google will spot it and flag it as less-than-quality content. 


    Picking the Right Keywords

    Keyword research is invaluable to finding the right phrases for your content. You may think that you need expensive apps and years of training to conduct such research but I promise it’s not as intimidating or complex as it sounds – at least when it comes to understanding the fundamentals. 

    At its core, keyword research is driven simply by understanding who your audience is, what they want and how they will ask for your product or service. By putting yourself in your audience’s shoes, you can more accurately assume what they’re searching for and, thus, what keyword phrase to use in your content. After all, it’s not you, as CEO or brand manager, who will be searching for your product or service – it’s your audience.

    Still not confident in your keyword research skills? As a common blind spot for many marketing and brand managers’ content strategies, there are plenty of keyword research tools available, some including free versions or free trials. Though helpful, it’s important to think of these tools as supplementary as opposed to a singular solution. The most powerful keyword research tool at your disposal is your deep understanding of your audience.


    Boiling it Down

    Though all of this information is good to know, you may be asking yourself what takeaways you can bring to your company’s content strategy. Here are some key questions you need to ask when trying to choose the right keywords.

    • What is my content about? Remember, the main job of search engines is to connect people with the content they’re looking for. If your keywords don’t match your content, the search engine gives you a big thumbs down and throws your content lower on the results list. Ensure the keyword is indicative of the content itself, and not just a poor attempt at gaming the system.
    • Who is my audience? As stated earlier in this post, knowing who is asking the question will help you better guess how they’re going to ask it. If you know how your audience will search for your services, you can choose a more effective keyword.
    • How vague or specific is my keyword? Something else to consider is the vagueness or specificity of your keyword. Though you may assume selecting a keyword like “plumber” would net you into more searches, it might be too vague to make an impact. Why? Well, the person searching for “plumber” could be looking for anything from a stock photo of a plumber to the definition of plumber. Something more specific, like “best Orlando plumbers,” would be more effective.

    At the end of the day, SEO and keyword research are far from exact sciences and, no, they’re not the sexiest of content marketing topics. However, producing original content that includes well-strategized keywords is, and will remain, a vital best practice. As long as search engines prioritize quality content that best serves users’ queries, keywords are a component of content strategy you can’t afford to ignore. 

  2. 20 Marketing Lessons Learned from “The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing”

    I’ve long been a fan of the Content Marketing Institute, an organization whose mission is to advance the practice of content marketing. Watching and learning from the Content Marketing Institute was a part of the inspiration that led me to write Found: Connecting with Customers in the Digital Age.

    The institute just released a very useful documentary for marketers called, “The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing.” I would highly recommend watching it, as it does a great job of framing the fact that marketers have to begin to create truly compelling content if they want to stand a chance at connecting with their audiences in a way that matters.

    Less than hour long and containing some very useful content marketing concepts and stories, this documentary is well worth your time.

    I took away 20 key quotes that we can all learn valuable content marketing lessons from:

    1. “Content is really the only marketing that’s left.” — Seth Godin
    2. “[Content Marketing] is really the only way that a business (going forward) is going to differentiate itself in a very crazy, noisy marketplace.” — Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer, Content Marketing Institute
    3. “Marketing, for a long time, has been about interruption.” — David Meerman Scott
    4. “Brands have come into their own when they’ve realized, ‘We don’t have to go through a third party to reach this audience; we can actually try to achieve that directly.’” — Todd Wheatland, Global Head of Strategy, King Content
    5. “Instead of having to advertise in someone else’s channel, I have the opportunity to create my own valuable, relevant, and compelling content in our own channels to really create loyalty, build relationships directly with what we like to call subscribers, instead of going out and having to pay for that attention.” — Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute
    6. “I think we have to change the way we think about getting access to the mind of the consumer we want to have a relationship with and one of the best ways to do that today is through content.” — Andrew Davis, Author, Brandscaping
    7. “I think the brands that really get it are focused on being part of the information you want to consume. they’re focused on creating higher quality content that inspires people to buy something they didn’t know they needed.” — Andrew Davis, Author, Brandscaping
    8. “Obviously content marketing has been around forever, but there’s a whole new thing when content marketing collides with the Internet and with digital.” — Doug Kessler, Creative Director & Co-Founder, Velocity Partners Ltd.
    9. “If I’m trying to get their attention, I’d better be creating some pretty fantastic information on an ongoing basis to get their attention.” — Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute
    10. “Content at this point is a form of currency that brands and storytellers use to have a conversation with somebody.” — Katrina Craigwell Director, Global Content & Programming, General Electric
    11. “Search, by definition, doesn’t create demand. It just fulfills demand. Nobody goes to Google and says ‘Hey, I’d like to buy something… I don’t really care what… Just surprise me.’” — Jay Baer, Founder, Convince and Convert
    12. “Nobody cares about your product. They’re trying to solve a problem.” — David Meerman Scott
    13. “The consumer has incredible amounts of information. Marketers are not accustomed to that. Marketers are accustomed to control.” — Don Schultz, Professor Emeritus-in-Service, Northwestern University
    14. “We’re seeing this transformation of marketing departments that were set up long ago in those mass media days. They’ve transformed into publishing departments.” — Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute
    15. “Like a halfway decent human being, brands have to be about more than themselves.” — Kirk Cheyfitz, Co-CEO & Chief Storyteller, Story Worldwide
    16. “We say that if you can’t rely on the media, you have to become the media.” — Lasse Hoegfeldt, Editor-in-chief, Jyskebank.tv
    17. “The content business is the only part of this business that I can see credibly leading this new practice of advertising and I’m moderately upset because not enough of us are trying to do it.” — Kirk Cheyfitz, Co-CEO & Chief Storyteller, Story Worldwide
    18. “Storytelling helps cut through, helps us make sense of the world. Content that has a storytelling backbone to it is just easier to consume, easier to remember, it’s more engaging.” — Christie Poulos, Global Head of Video, King Content
    19. “What brands have to be in this new age, they’ve got to be a coherent, core narrative because that’s the only thing that’s going to remain consistent and distinguishable and differentiating across all kinds of channels.” — Kirk Cheyfitz, Co-CEO & Chief Storyteller, Story Worldwide
    20. “The only way- The only right way to do content marketing is to be a story.” — Kirk Cheyfitz, Co-CEO & Chief Storyteller, Story Worldwide

    Though the “content is key” maxim is often scoffed at as cliché, it’s important to remember just why it’s cliché to begin with: It’s true. Watch this video and see if you become inspired, just like I was. There are always new lessons to learn and stories to tell in the world of content marketing.

  3. The Top 5 2014 List Posts to Ring in the New Year

    It’s my favorite time of year: List time.

    Best of, worst of, top-selling, funniest, weirdest, most viral – I love those compact, summarizing, quick-hit catalogues of cool.

    When I was little, I read The Guinness Book of World Records cover to cover. It was my favorite Christmas gift. As an adult, I’m a grocery store, housework honey-do, holiday shopping, bucket list kind of person, so when you put anything on a list, I will probably read it. I especially can’t wait for those annual who-said-what, who-watched-who and what-sucked-most list posts because they’re a mind-blowing reminder of how fast 365 days actually pass by (the Olympics were a few months ago? Really?).

    List Posts = Efficiency

    How to Enjoy List Posts

    On social media and blogs, list posts are the most read social posts. There is so much content out there that searching for quick answers to your questions can be overwhelming. Because of this, simple, digestible bullet points are rewarded. When sifting through millions of Google results or clicking through to find out the 4 Steps to Creating a Marketing Strategy, people are more likely to take a look at this concise dose of facts than a vague title that…well…sounds loooong. Sad, but true. And when it comes to list posts, laziness is good. It is a promise of efficiency.

    So, my lazy and nostalgic friends, I give you my 5 Favorite “Best of 2014 Lists” List (listception!).

    1. The most popular “word” in 2014 was not a word at all; it was an emoji. A heart-shaped one, to be exact. This “word” barely edged out Ebola, which makes it a little less upsetting that our most popular word wasn’t even a word.
    2. The best advertisements of the year featured people acting “like a girl,” Bill Gates dumping ice water on his head, and Matthew McConaughey acting weird normal.
    3. Of course we were appalled every day on social media about something “important” so why not make an Outrage List? Take for instance, on July 2 we found out that Facebook was doing mood experiments on us without our knowledge and on October 21 we were abuzz by Renee Zellweger’s new eyes! Yes. We. Were.
    4. The Top Ten Viral Videos of the year include a couple of my favorites, such as Emma Stone’s lip sync battle with Jimmy Fallon and President Obama on “Between Two Ferns,” but how did I miss the video with the Lion King cast on the New York subway? Wow!
    5. 2014 was the year many people tried to “break the internet” and the Masters of Photoshop were very bored…I mean…busy.

    What lists are you reading to ring in the new year?

    P.S.: I still can’t believe Pharrell’s hat was 2014. It seems like that was so 2013!

  4. Social Media Marketing Drives Search Engine Marketing

    Every two years, Moz (formerly SEOMoz.org) surveys a group of SEO experts and asks them to give their opinions on what factors they believe will be most important in driving search engine rankings.  Since Google and other search engines do not make the mechanics of their algorithms publicly available, surveys like this are important to try and identify patterns and trends.  The results of the 2013 survey are now available online and there are some interesting conclusions to be drawn.

    In the world of SEO, things change quickly and dramatically.  In order to gain a little context, it may be helpful to review the results of an older survey (i.e. the 2009 survey) to see how the times have changed.  Just four short years ago, having the proper text inside a link was crucial; now, that practice is almost frowned upon.  As such, keeping tabs on these factors is important to any marketer who wants to rank well in keyword searches.

    While some of the survey results are pretty technical in nature, there are some really important generalizations that can be made.  Most notably, social media marketing continues to increase in importance with regard to how search engines rank a particular page or site.  From the survey results, here are some key take-aways on this point:

    • Google+ – How many +1’s (the equivalent of a Like on Facebook) that your page/site has is very high on the chart.  If a company has no Google+ presence, the time has come to move forward in creating and developing one.  Better late than never!
    • Facebook Likes, Shares, and Comments – Your pages must be tied to Facebook and boldly solicit Likes and Shares.  Google looks at the number of times your pages are liked and shared and considers these as votes for your content.
    • Twitter Influence – Your site and content will be measured for its appeal on Twitter.  The more tweets and influence on Twitter, the more favorably characterized your page will be.
    • Content, Content, Content  – This is not a new revelation by any means, but it is a known quantity that high quality content drives search engine visibility AND the three categories mentioned above.  Sites without fresh, interesting, and engaging content don’t receive social media attention from Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

    There are many other conclusions to be drawn from this important survey, but it’s abundantly clear that truly working on your social media strategy will go a long way toward increasing your site’s search engine visibility.  A brief snippet of some of the results are below, but you might consider reviewing the full survey results for yourself.

    A glimpse of the 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors survey results.

    A glimpse of the 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors survey results courtesy of moz.com.