Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Content Marketing Strategy – The Art of Writing for Readers not Rankings

Patricia Davidson Your content marketing strategy should have changed radically over the past year, particularly if you were one of those employing cheap writers to write articles for you and then spread them over the web in ways you didn’t delve into too hard.

In case you haven’t gathered, Google doesn’t like that anymore for many reasons, most of all because most content creation was part of a marketing strategy to obtain backlinks for ranking purposes predominantly, and frequently didn’t benefit the reader that much.

With this turned on its head two things stand out – that from now on you have to write for your reader first, and SEO second, and that those who will succeed the best at this are those who can both write about your subject specifically, have a good working knowledge of SEO, and therefore an ability to write optimised content.

So Who Should be Writing your Content?

I read only last week but in an undated post, that you should ‘find a fella in India to do your article writing for you’, well nonsense to that.  You need people to write your blog posts, email newsletters and social media sharing posts who can understand your subject or product, write grammatically sound content, incorporate your keywords into the relevant content and craft pieces of 400 words plus that are attractive, interesting and useful to read for your market.  So cheap writers offering ridiculous prices per article have just fallen off the wall.

Those writers with value now to a successful content marketing strategy are those who can write quality content on niche subjects.  Make sure that you have one of those to hand in your niche as this is definitely going to be the trend going forwards.

Quality vs Quantity

Content Marketing Keyword Stuffing

Whereas previously it was considered an advantage to create a positive outpouring of content, dripping with keywords, and post it everywhere, now the only thing that matters is the quality of writing and publishing this relevant branded content via your own resources.  There’s no question that brands have now become publishers in their own right and the most successful brands have picked this up and are running with it. 

You’re not writing for search any more, but putting real people first.  Imaging you’re writing for someone specific and that what you’re writing matters, and you’ll get the drift.

Those who are still looking for cheap article writers are about to be left out in the cold and are obviously not keeping abreast of the new content marketing strategy rules.  These can benefit you, or work against you.  And if you’re wondering why you’ve suddenly slipped in the rankings you need to get up to date fast.

You may also like:  Content Marketing 2013:  3 Ways to Optimise your Content

Saturday, 25 May 2013

How to Write a Blog – 5 Tips

How to Write a Blog - Blogging has become part of all good website managers and brand owners online strategy.  Why?  Because not only does blogging create constantly updated content which Google loves (and more about that) but more shareable content to drive traffic to your site.

The Blog at GlamourSleuth

On the subject of Google let’s be clear – there’s no point in writing content of any sort, blogs or otherwise, that is not going to be of interest to your market.  Content needs to be well written, relevant to your potential and existing customer base and, most importantly, optimised for your market in a way that matches how you are being searched for.

Blog at Web Hints 

Blogging without optimisation is like shooting arrows with no target.  You may think you know how people are looking for you, but without the proper research, and then using that research to optimise your blog post for search you will be wasting your time.  You won’t be found on Google, and you’ll be losing the opportunity to capture the attention of your own market.

Here are 5 Tips on How to Write a Blog.

Make sure you know who you’re writing for – who is your customer, what are they looking for and what makes them buy from you?  Always keep your customer in mind when you write, and write for them.

Create a list of posts you’d like to write, or ideas you want to write about, and keep adding to it.  Sometimes something will flash into your brain and you’ll immediately put pen to paper (as it were).  Sometimes you’ll not be in the mood and it’s harder to get started.  With a list of ideas to be developed you’ll always have something waiting to fill the gap.

Do your keyword research – you cannot write an optimised blog post without doing your research.  Use the Google Keyword Tool and research your ideas to find out what words and phrases are being used.  Then use your main keyword or phrase (at the front) of your title, and heading, and several times throughout your post.  This post on Ways to Optimise your Blog Posts for SEO is well worth a read.

Keep your paragraphs short and interesting.  No one is going to read acres of content, so no matter now much you want to write make sure you’re interesting, useful to your target market, friendly and to the point. 

Keep up the Content – Set a target of the number of posts you want to write – be it daily, every other day or once a week and stick to it.  Using your blogging tools you can write posts in advance and set them up for publication.

Blogging can be hard work, but it shouldn’t be too arduous if you think ahead and keep your target market in your sights.  And the more you write the more you’ll be noticed.  Which is where you started out, after all.  Knowing how to write a blog the right way for both your market and search is just the start.
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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

How to Write Meta Tags for SEO

Writing meta tags for SEO is not rocket science, although there are many who would have you think it is.  It is time consuming, can be tedious if you have a lot of pages to write meta tags for, and you need a basic level of knowledge about SEO, but when you understand how important your meta tags are for SEO it can become interesting to see the difference good meta tags will make to your website.

Your title meta tag is what appears at the top of your browser, and it will be read by search engines and visitors to your website alike.  As a result of Google’s algorithm updates in 2012 which have caught many out and sent them to the foot of the rankings (or page two, at least, which is pretty much the same thing) your title tags are more important in that they not only need to be relevant to the page to which they refer, but they need to be readable, rather than just a string of words. 

Here are the basic rules for meta title tags:

Establish your keywords and key phrases with the lowest competition (but a high volume of searches) that best refer to the page you are optimising.

Write your meta title tags for SEO in less than 70 characters and put your main keyword or phrase at the front.

If possible make your title tag form a readable sentence and just use one, or no more than two, keywords or phrases.

Only use the pipe bar | as a separator.  No other characters such as hyphens, commas etc.

Put your brand name at the end of your title tag.

Ensure that each meta title tag is relevant to the page to which it refers.

Don’t duplicate, make sure that each meta title tag is unique.

Don’t use too many keywords.  If in doubt use one.  The days of saying the same thing several different but very similar ways is well and truly over and you will be penalised if you keyword stuff – this applies to anywhere on your website.

Meta Description Tags

Write your meta description tags in a way that is interesting and enticing to readers when your title tag comes up in search.  So whilst you’re doing all that keyword research and optimising your meta title tags, you should write readable descriptions to accompany them.  Meta descriptions have two functions, therefore, both for Google and to get more clicks through to your website.  It’s worth spending some time here.

The basic rules for meta descriptions tags:
The main keyword or phrase should be at the front

Don’t include extraneous characters.

Don’t write anything longer than a couple of sentences, 160 characters is the maximum (you’ll get used to writing to this length as you create your meta descriptions)

Don’t keyword stuff

Be relevant to each title tag, and make sure each meta description is unique – don’t duplicate.

Be enticing and interesting to the reader.  Google will pick up on your keywords and phrases, but you want to get more visitors to your site, so entice them with good copy in your descriptions.

Meta Keywords.

Don’t bother about these.  It’s annoying how most CMSs still have the field for keywords which can encourage people to stuff them with keywords.  One developer even commented to me that he included keywords as the client ‘expected to see them’.  This is nonsense.  As Matt Cutts of Google said a short while back:  ‘Google does not use the keywords meta tag in our web search.’

Enough said……..

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Friday, 10 May 2013

Why you should List your Interests on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Connections
I’m not sure why LinkedIn, in its wisdom, has put the ‘Interests’ field at the foot of each profile page, however that doesn’t change the fact that anyone who is interested in talking to you or working with you (in particular) will want to see that field filled in – and of course you can make it as interesting as you want.

It was pointed out to me recently, about another post on LinkedIn and lazy profile building, that I didn’t mention the importance of putting in this information, so I thought I’d include it here.

And by the way when I say interests, I don’t mean your work interests, which I notice some people adding, from your profile we can tell what you do, or we should be able to, but those hobbies and interests that complete the picture as to who you are. 

Interests for LinkedIn 1
This is one example – not mine, I have to say, so no names here, but I’m sure you get the picture.  Some use the interests field to put what they do, such as ‘Blogging, Social Media Marketing’, but if you’re looking for like minded connections, who can already work out what you do from your main profile and experience, paint more of a picture of who you are by listing your lifestyle interests, those that you want others to know about, anyway.

And for more suggestions as to how to use your LinkedIn profile…..or not:

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Alt Tags and How to Write Them–SEO Tips

Alt Tags for ImagesAlt tags matter, and I’m always amazed at how many websites have not given their image alt tags the attention they deserve and are therefore losing out on the extra search benefits they can bring.  Those benefits can make a big difference to the number of visitors to your website and making sure that all your alt tags are keyword rich and set up properly can only do you favours. 

I’ve written about this under SEO tips before but seeing so many websites that don’t have them set up made me realise that I should write a reminder.

Screen readers can’t understand images, and so if you’ve omitted to put your alt tags in place your images simply won’t show up in search, exactly where you want them to.

You may think, along with title tags, that alt tags are another time consuming effort (and you’d be correct), however there is absolutely no point in having a well designed website and not going down the full SEO journey.  I have had clients who have spent a fortune on Adwords without realising that SEO, whilst time consuming and sometimes costly if you need to pay for help, can generate far better results.  Organic search wins hands down over paid search, by a huge percentage, as much as 94% to 6% according to Econsultancy and so anything you can do to get yourself high up in the organic search rankings must pay off.

Image alt tags need to completed for all of your images (just as your title tags need to for all of your pages). 

They need to be relevant to the picture

Alt tags need to be unique

Do your keyword research and make sure they are keyword rich with your main keyword or key phrase at the front of the alt tag

Keep your alt tags short – just enough words to describe the image.

Don’t try and stuff your alt tags with keywords.  One main keyword or phrase will be stronger, keyword stuffing will lose you points.

Make sure that all of your alt tags are in place and showing properly on your website and they’ll help you more than you think.  They’re not rocket science, but they need to be done.

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Friday, 3 May 2013

Content Marketing 2013–3 Ways to Optimise your Content

Content marketing is no longer about just getting content about you and your business out there.  Content marketing for 2013 turns you the content creator and the brand owner into the publisher – no one knows your business like you do, no one knows your customer like you do, and no one else will produce content specifically aimed at your customer in the way you can.

Now, relevancy and the importance of well-directed content are what counts, as opposed to pre 2013 search marketing techniques which for the most part were based around the concept that content about your business and products pretty well anywhere would boost search as long as it offered a link back to the host site.

Middle to end of last year Google changed all of that, to the effect that content, without being relevant, and optimised for a specific audience, would count no longer.  Now, the content on your website, blog posts, social media marketing and on need to be properly directed to a specific audience, answering and directed to that audience’s desires and fuelling the viral marketplace with the advantage that there is no limit as to how far it can travel.

Know Thy Customer

Creating a profile for your customer is more important than ever.  Knowing who they are, what they are most likely to be searching for and therefore seeking to buy is most important stepping stone in content marketing, as without this your content will not be aimed as it should. This is no finger in the air exercise, but a strategic analysis of your site analytics and purchasing metrics to produce a picture as close as possible to your customer profile.

The importance now of ‘personalised’ content, broken down into segments that aim directly at a specific audience can’t be stressed enough. For every piece of content you write, make sure that it is well aimed, intelligently written, relevant and interesting.

Pick your Keyword Wisely and Use them – Optimise All Content for SEO

Having established who your customer is and what they might be searching for this needs to be analysed in terms of the keywords and phrases most likely to be relevant to them by dint of research.  Keep the keyword tool close to you and write nothing without including judicious use of your chosen search terms. In the same way that your title tags need to be not just optimised for key words and phrases, but readable in their own right, so with everything else you write.

Make sure that whoever is writing your content, whether you do it in house, or use outside help, understands who your customer is, and how and why to ‘optimise’ every word they write.  This is both a skill and an art – you can’t just use anyone to do your blogging for you any more, imagining that word count alone is what matters, that the more content the better.  It is the more fully optimised content that matters, the rest is, literally, irrelevant.
Make sure that your Content Placement is Relevant- Forget content for the sake of it.

There are so many ways now of publishing your content.  Keeping it close to your brand and therefore close to home is what matters most, so concentrate on publishing your content to your website and constantly updating your blog.  Email marketing personalised and segmented and directed straight to your customer base.  Publishing your blog and new content on social media channels regularly that is well written, interesting and optimised both for search and for what your customers are looking for.

The main focus out of all of this is that you and your business are the hub, and every piece of content you produce relates back to you, however widely you publish.