Showing posts with label content writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label content writers. Show all posts

Friday, April 5, 2013

Content Strategy - An Important Aspect of Marketing

It is not that simple to entice visitors towards the online destination of merchandises, oodles of search engine marketing efforts are desired to attract their attention. However, amid all those verticals of this improvised form of marketing that claim their credit in luring the potential visitors, it is perhaps the quality content that ultimately steals the show, let us know why.

Importance of content:
In the domain of online marketing, content could be deemed as a sensible stuff that could motivate the people towards buying a particular product. Having said that, it could be anything but gibberish; intelligently blended with the material that never seems like an advertisement yet manages to gather a respectable customer base. Whatever is its form, whether text, audio, video or image, it ought to be interactive. This evidently fuels the necessity of chalking out a sound and soothing content strategy that could appeal masses.

Content strategy:
Three effective points lead to the formulation of a thriving content strategy that could really lift the reputation of a website:
•    Creation of gripping content
•    Assuring increased search engine rankings
•    Mustering quality backlinks from other sites

Gripping content:
 An engaging content is one that could attract the potential visitors and at the same time could also be indexed by search engines more often. Intense use of keywords is likely to distort the originality of the content thereby making it more search engine friendly rather than user friendly. It is therefore necessary to design content that is appealing enough both for the users as well as search engines. After all, the ultimate goal is to make the most of a web page in the form of high end monetary benefits and only an informative, readable yet SEO friendly content could do the honors.

Enhanced search engine rankings:
Significant traffic boost together with high search engine rankings comprise of the most important ingredients of a thriving content strategy. Needless to say, quality content paves its part significantly towards helping these ingredients striking the right chords. Though, including good Meta tags is definitely a good practice that helps the web page to be identified by search engines. But yet again it is the actual text on a web page that enhances the chances of indexing, which is a must to make way for enhanced traffic and better search page rankings.

Mustering quality backlinks from other sites:
Search engine rankings are heavily influenced by high quality inbound links. If a particular web page is linked to multiple authoritative pages that own a higher credibility over the search engines, the chances of former to secure enhanced traffic and therefore high ranking, increase excellently. However, the number of inbound links could witness an appreciable surge only if the content is genuine, to-the-point and relevant.

Additionally, the number of social media websites such as StumbleUpon, Delicious Digg, Magnolia and so on has increased heavily in the recent times that have contributed towards assuring bigger and better customer base online. The importance of fresh and flawless copy that could enthrall the attention of these millions of online visitors has therefore grown to manifolds. Most of the big companies attain this coveted targeted by producing more articles, press releases and blog posts on regular basis and they have indeed got success in mustering high quality inbound links.

Content strategy in the post-panda and post-penguin era:
Google keeps on updating its algorithms so as to bar the low-quality content from getting any attention on the search pages, this instantly work sin the favor of websites that possess high grade content. Abiding by this fact, many of the SEO companies have been targeted that used redundant, keyword stuffed, and unattractive content, both with respect to the readers as well as the search engines since the past one year, thanks to the advent of Google Panda and Google Penguin algorithm (announced on April, 2012).
Implementation of these algorithms have left the room for only superior content to break the ice while those with lower grade no more share the space of search pages. Owing to this fact, certain important amendments in the content strategy are worthy to be taken care of the prominent of them being avoiding ‘thin content’ and combating the occurrence of LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) issues. In short, attention to details is a must while drafting out a copy, such as:
  •     Reduce grammatical mistakes to all time minimum
  •     Avoid writing crap copy, full of keywords and devoid of real meaning
  •     Use keywords as well as the words that relate to them, such as synonyms in balanced proportion.
  •     Do not overuse or under use keywords
  •     Avoid redundant copy that conveys same intent repeatedly

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What is Content Strategy & How It Works For You?

Content strategy is more important than a lot of people think, but that’s mainly because of the hype that surrounds SEO. Don’t get me wrong, SEO is super important for your entire site, but content is the oxygen that keeps your site alive.

Think about a piece of paper that is shredded into a thousand little pieces, these pieces represent each page on your site. To help those pieces be more understandable, we’ll have to pour on some glue to mend them back together – that’s our SEO. But sometimes things get messy and we realize that we don’t actually need or want all of those thousands of pieces, because people don’t really like the dull, ugly pieces. So, we cut out the ugly pieces and we’re left with a beautiful, bright and shiny collage that even a child would appreciate (this analogy has gone too far). The point is that, that beautiful, bright and shiny collage is your content strategy. Of course there’s a lot more to it, but the results typically pay off for you and your readers/customers.

How do we make a beautiful, bright and shiny collage, a.k.a. Content Strategy?

Content InventoryOur Digital Strategy Group starts every content strategy with a full list of the existing content on a site. When this list is created it is then sorted, dissected and sectioned off into manageable tabs. I’ve done content inventory for sites with thousands, upon thousands of pages. Believe me, it’s easiest to sort content by error free content, content type and content with errors; e.g. 404 error pages and 301 redirects. Content inventory is really just the beginning of the content strategy process and shows what content currently exists on a site. Without content inventory, we couldn’t move on to the other necessary stages of content strategy.
Stakeholder InterviewsThese interviews involve key people at a company, potential/existing clients, people that may refer business to the company or people that are invested in the company in some way or another. Basically, as a content strategist, we need to know how the company operates, how they would like to operate, what their clients think about the company, why people refer business to the company (or why they don’t) and how people view the company. What the company thinks about itself is typically very, very different from what the clients and investors think about it.
In a nut shell, we need to understand the company’s brand message and brand promise from their point of view and an outsider’s point of view.
Keyword Research & Analytics ReviewKeyword research shows us common themes in things that people are searching for that surrounds a company and competing companies, and an analytics review can show us exactly how people interact with the current content on the site. Putting all of this information together begins to show us a pretty good roadmap of how the site should be laid out.
Scrumming it UpThat’s a big fancy word for an internal meet-and-greet. I’m sure there are content strategist out there that feel confident enough to take a stab at a content strategy without involving everyone on the web design team, but here at Bridgeline we like to scrum – that is, meet with the entire team that’s involved with the project so we can all look at the overall direction we think the site should go. This group meeting typically includes project managers, digital strategists, designers, developers, analysts… I know I’m forgetting someone here.
Content Analysis & TaxonomyContent analysis is the process of organizing all of those little pieces of paper. It’s finding the focus of the site, discovering how content could be grouped, what content can be deleted or compiled and making suggestions on new content. I’ve seen websites with over 20,000 pages get consolidated down to 800 pages. That may sound crazy – I mean, who gets rid of content like that – but what ends up happening is a better user experience is created and conversion rates increase.
Taxonomy takes the content analysis one step further and makes suggestions on the navigation of the site. It helps show areas of the site that should remain and opportunities for new sections – this is where keyword research is used rather heavily.
Voice DefinitionNow it’s time to understand what the company’s voice is – the brand voice. It should be consistent across the entire site and help the company discover how the content should come across to visitors of the site. We try to help the company think through all of the different personality styles that could represent their brand, but also speaks in a human voice that’s understandable to clients.
Editorial CalendarIt’s great to analyze existing content, and even better to define what it means in the future, but without a publishing process (or editorial calendar) content typically begins to go stale rather quickly. An editorial calendar can be as simple as who’s writing what and when, to as advanced as setting up monthly themes and promoting annual events.
Inbound Marketing & Social MediaOnce the content is published it needs to do more than just sit on a site unnoticed. SEO really helps with promoting content in the search engines, but companies can get faster results by leveraging inbound marketing techniques (such as email marketing and guest posting) or social media. Our team typically ends the content strategy with teaching our clients techniques on inbound marketing and social media that can help promote the content that is being created. It’s time for syndication and aggregation.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Before hitting publish, give your content some time to breathe. When we write our own personal blog posts out there, we typically don’t have a team of people to bounce our ideas off of and to help us edit our content, but here at Bridgeline we have a slew of people to help edit content before it goes live on our site. I’m not just saying for grammar mistakes, but for consistency, voice, additions, deletions, etc. There are blog posts and whitepapers written that never make it to the blog, but that’s because they needed more work. Getting constructive criticism is never a bad thing. Pass the content around to a team of editors or experts in the company and get different opinions. Or sleep on it and read it the next day to make sure it still makes sense. There’s a big difference between content written for SEO sake, and quality content that brings in qualified leads.
Lastly, monitoring results is important. Between managing analytics internally, or from a group of experts like our Digital Strategy Group, content management should include website analytics, social media analytics and keyword analytics.
For more information on content strategy, which includes 10 Steps to a Successful Content Marketing Strategy, visit our Digital Strategy pages.
Written By: Kasy Allen

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Advanced Content Marketing Strategies - Bring Brand on TOP

You can’t be a marketing professional and NOT create content. In fact, the Content Marketing Institutionsaid so when it published this interesting statistic: “93 percent of marketing professionals create, or plan to create content marketing as part of their overall programs in the next year.”
The question is…are you creating that content in such a way that it takes your business to the next level like American Express, and HubSpot did? And is your strategy advanced enough to handle all the changes to the content landscape?
Well, if you don’t have a strategy…or if it’s not where it needs to be…this guide will help you get up to speed.

Creating content marketing personas

The demand of delivering constant content are very real for any business, and that demand can sometimes force you to generate and push out content that is not geared to your audience.

Neil Patel
In fact, push the wrong content out and you might attract the wrong prospect and even lose high-quality prospects.
The best way to make sure that never happens is to have a plan that identifies your ideal prospect and then run all content ideas through that filter.
This is done by identifying their needs, creating behavior-based profiles and using demographics to create user personas.
Segment – To build the proper content marketing personas you need to ask yourself these questions:

    * Who is your customer?
    * What are their problems and desires?
    * What kind of content do they consume?
    * Where do they consume content?
    * How can you engage them?
From this data you can start to think about your ideal content marketing prospect…and build a representation of this individual.
To get started, simply study your current readership. Use online surveying tools to identify what they like and want.
As you uncover information you will probably start to see patterns.
For instance, if you provide content on house cleaning you might discover that you have people who read your content because they want to do the work themselves; have a crew they want to teach; or want someone else to do the cleaning for them.
Identify needs – Next, start to build an outline of the needs of each segment by asking questions like:

    * What is their number one challenge?
    * What trends are driving their industry?
    * What one need can you fulfill?
    * What’s the best way to solve those needs with content—through video, white papers, blog posts, etc.?
When it comes to identifying needs, look at the path those prospects take to get to you with your web analytics. As you study that path uncover insights about that segment.
Once you’ve rounded out your segment personas you’ll be able to create content geared to them on a fly…never having to worry about neglecting their needs or attracting low-quality prospects.

Creating a content marketing strategy for tablets

For the longest time content marketing strategies geared to desktop views dominated. That is until the iPad…which changed everything.
Just under 2 years Apple sold over 55 million iPads. Last quarter alone they sold over 15 million units.
And in the months of December 2011 to January 2012 the number of people who own an iPad doubled.
According to the Economist, because of tablets like the iPad we are moving toward a new lean back age of content consumption we haven’t seen since the book.
Jason Calacanis’ called this new age “curl-up” technology. On public transit you’ll notice less people reading books and more people using tablets. And if you are on a plane you’ll notice the same thing.
Of course, they’re not all doing the same thing. Some are playing games while others are reading and still others are listening to music.
The days of how we consume content online have changed…you have to wonder about your content marketing strategy and how it fits into this new tablet world. In fact, crack open your Google Analytics and you’ll see the number of people hitting your site with tablets is growing quickly.
So, what you create won’t change as much as how it’s distributed. For example:
  1. Combine multiple channels of content into one tablet-friendly stream – If you are a content publisher that produces multiple content channels (think about all the channels like Gawker, Gizmodo, Jezebel, etc. under one masthead), you can create a unique experience by combining all of those sources.
  2. Think newsreaders as modern form of SEO – People are starting to discover and consume content through news readers like Taptu, Pulse and Flipboard as if they were search engines. The bonus is content tagged gets hire rankings.
  3. Team up with tech developers – If you are a content publisher, you don’t need to create a new way to consume content via the tablet. Find a startup creating the content and hook up with them. These partnerships can build both of your audiences without you having to re-invent the wheel.
  4. Develop for multiple users – Until the price of tablets drops, more than one person will more than likely share a tablet. So design for a multi-person device. For example, users may not want to stay logged in [which affects passwords] and your app icons should be easily identifiable.
Another noticeable change will be the duration of content. You can now create longer videos knowing that they are more likely to get consumed than when our only option was viewing them on desktop.
This is true about longer blog posts, too. The adoption of tablets with content usability apps likeReadability makes reading a screen a better experience.

Creating a mobile content marketing strategy

Your biggest challenge to your content marketing strategy will come from people who use mobile phones to consume content. While smartphones have improved, mobile is still a pretty difficult user experience for several reasons:

    * Downloads are slow
    * No mouse for selection
    * No physical keyboard
    * Small screen and small text
Even reading comprehension suffers when it comes to mobile content consumption. So what should you do? Follow these eight steps:

    * Step 1 – Create a goal that states what you are creating (app or mobile site) why you are producing it (generate leads or produces sales) and how you plan to measure success.
    * Step 2 – Develop content for people of all ages even though the data might suggest that young people are the only users.
    * Step 3 – Remember that you will be competing in a very distracted arena. Your user will only being thinking of you for only the smallest of a fraction…so you got to make that sliver of attention count for them.
    * Step 4 – If you decide to build an app, make sure it’s not just because “everyone else is doing it.” You must have a solid business reason for creating an app…
    * Step 5 – Using the information you collected above for personas to understand your target audience…and then deliver the substance and distribution channel they want. Make them feel special and they’ll stick around.
    * Step 6 – Consider location as a key to your mobile strategy…and how your content and their location can be used to deliver even better products.
    * Step 7 – Don’t repurpose count…but recreate. Give your mobile users, especially if you’ve created an app, access to exclusive information.
    * Step 8 – Build social sharing features into your mobile content and constantly work on keeping them engaged.

Creating a content marketing social promotion strategy

Speaking of social sharing, what do your plans to spread this content look like? You are planning to promote the spread of your content, right?
Even if you are on top of your game…it’s best you understand the best strategy for social promotion.
For example, were you aware that Twitter and Google+ are both beat out by Facebook as traffic generators? And were you aware that this was the case because of Facebook’s new subscribe button?
This was based on an informal study done by Kevin Rose:
What’s important to notice about this finding is that Kevin Rose has over 1,200,000 Twitter followers at the time, but received 10 percent more clicks from Facebook.
To boot, he only got 1/7th as many clicks over at Google+.
The lesson is this: the Facebook audience is way more engaged than the other two social media sites.
Do you think this would change your social media content marketing strategy? You bet it should!
This is not lost on major brands like Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and National Geographic who’ve noticed that Facebook is slowly passing Google Search as the top referrer of traffic to their sites.


Five years ago your content marketing strategy was pretty simple: create content for the web. This meant writing posts, creating videos or building an archive of podcasts.
While those elements still apply, the landscape in which that content is consumed has changed drastically. You need to be prepared.
What other advanced strategies do content marketers need to pay attention to?
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions.
Written By: Neil Patel Source:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Top 3 Strategies for SEO After Google Panda Update

Google has changed more in the past year than it did in the 12 years prior to that. Most of the changes are good for honest marketers who just want the ranking their content deserves. But taken together, they radically change search engine marketing (SEM) best practices. James Mathewson (author of Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content), won’t go into every change, because they number in the dozens, but this article discusses three changes every SEM should care about.

As some of you may know, I am IBM’s representative to the Google Tech Council. For those who don’t know, the council is a place where representatives from the leading B2B tech companies sit around a table each quarter and discuss our search challenges with Google representatives. B2B Tech companies might have different ways of doing search marketing, but our challenges are common. We all need to rank well in Google for the words and user intents most relevant to our clients and prospects.

Google does its best to programmatically help us solve our challenges. They can’t always help for legal reasons I won’t get into. But where they can, they do. For example, a couple of years ago, several of us complained about the alarming increase in content farms on the search engine results pages. Whether we had organic or paid listings on those pages, content farms caused serious friction for our target audience, and diluted the results we had legitimately earned or paid for.

After that pivotal meeting (though perhaps not because of the meeting), Google began working on ground-breaking changes to its algorithm that would tend to improve the quality of search engine results incrementally over time. The first set of changes was launched in March 2011. Of course, I’m referring to Panda.

Nine months and several Panda updates later, I can confidently say that Google does a much better job with the quality of its search results. I rarely if ever see content farms anymore, and those I do see don’t last long on page 1. Those who think of SEO the way it was primarily conducted prior to these changes—keyword stuffing, buying links on content farms, and participating in commodity link exchange trading—have been left behind.

Panda is perhaps the most profound change to Google’s search engine since PageRank, which was the technology that gave Google its edge. Ironically, it was overdependence on PageRank that led to the series of algorithm changes known collectively as Panda. The practice of spoofing PageRank by swapping or buying links from low-quality sites had grown to such an extent that the results were polluted by them.

Towards an Algorithm that Rewards Quality Content
The Tech Council was not the only place where Google was hearing that it needed to change. Google’s chief competitor—Bing—had taken some of its share, to the point where Google only owned something like 70 percent of the market, down from 80 percent at its peak. The quality of the results had something to do with this.

The problem Google faced is that it had made regular changes to its algorithm over the years to stay one step ahead of the scammers, spammers, and scrapers. It had even introduced continuous A/B testing that gave pages better results if users actually engaged with them. That approach had reached its limits. The A/B tests were simply not getting rid of the pages fast enough. Scammers, spammers, and especially scrapers could publish pages faster than Google could drop them in the rankings. Google needed to undercut these activities once and for all.

How do you change the algorithm again to reward authentic, high quality content and punish low-quality spam-riddled content from scrapers? The answer was a revolutionary way of building an algorithm: with UX/editorial crowd sourcing combined with machine learning. According to Rand Fishkin, founder of SEOMoz, Google hired hundreds of quality raters—primarily editors and UX specialists—to rate a massive number of pages on the web. It then put the ratings into a machine-learning program, which recognized patterns and built the algorithm organically.

Machine learning is a technique borrowed from artificial intelligence used to enhance the analysis of complex systems such as natural language. When a computer system is said to learn in this way, it is taught to recognize complex patterns and make intelligent decisions based on the data. Watson, for example, used machine learning to train for the television game show Jeopardy!. By studying the questions and answers of past games, and practicing in live sessions with past champions, Watson was able to learn the nuances of the game well enough to play above past championship levels.

There are hundreds of patterns or signals that the Panda machine learning program recognizes in how the quality testers rate pages. Notice I used the present tense because this is an ongoing process. Google releases a new version of Panda every two months or so that reranks the entire web based on a new weighting of patterns and signals the machine learning program learns, all stemming from feedback from the quality testers.

Though the algorithm is changing in subtle ways all the time, the general trend it to favor the following three areas of digital excellence, described in the next few sections.

1. Design and UX
It is no longer advisable to build text-heavy experiences, which force users to do a lot of work just to ingest and understand the content. Clear, elegant designs that help users achieve their top tasks will tend to be rewarded by Panda. There are dozens of books and sites on user experience (UX) best practices, so I won’t rehash them here. But these principles of good UX won’t lead you astray:


Gerry McGovern, Jerrod Spool, and Jakob Nielsen are three of the leading thinkers in web UX.

  • Keep it simple. The whole experience needs to be easy to use. One thing Panda does is put new emphasis on the UX of entire sites, not just one page within the site. Do you help users navigate once they come to the page? Or does your experience drive your users in circles? Can they get back home if they click your links?
  • Don’t make users work. A page needs to have most of the content “above the fold” or on the first screen view. Don’t make users scroll too much. Don’t make them click just to see more of the content you want them to see.
  • Clarify. A page needs to clearly communicate what it’s about at a glance. You have six to eight seconds to give quality testers a clear idea of what the page is about, who it’s for, and what users can do on it.
  • Don’t shout. You already have their attention. The temptation is to make it so blatantly clear that you use huge text and flashy graphics. Don’t insult users’ intelligence. Just elegantly clarify what the page is about.
  • Don’t hide stuff. The temptation for some designers is to be too elegant, forcing users to mouse over items to make them appear. If users don’t know it’s there, chances are they won’t mouse over it.
  • Emphasize interaction. Sites and pages are not passively consumed. Give users ways to interact and participate in the conversations at the core of the content.
  • Answer user questions. Ask yourself what questions users might have when they come to your page. Learn these questions by analyzing the grammar of search queries they used to find your content. More and more all the time, users are phrasing their queries in the form of questions. Answer these questions clearly and concisely.
These and many other design and UX best practices are some of the strongest signals the Panda machine learning algorithm looks for.

2. Content Quality
One of the main complaints I hear about SEO is from my editorial colleagues who say it’s just a way of helping poor-quality content climb the ranking at the expense of good-quality content. Their complaint has some validity. Content quality can’t be boiled down to a simple checklist of where to put keywords. So why are these factors so important in search engine results?

The answer is, they’re not as important anymore. Panda does not primarily reward traditional SEO best practices. Panda primarily rewards clear, concise, compelling, and original content. Only if two sites are of equal quality in Panda’s eyes will it tend to reward the one that displays traditional SEO best practices. But it is easy to overdo SEO practices.

For example, keywords are strong indicators of relevance to user queries. As paragon users, quality testers look for the words they typed in their queries when they land on a test page. If they’re not clearly emphasized on a page, the page will not tend to get a good score. So having well emphasized keywords above the fold is an important positive pattern for Panda.

But having a conspicuous number of the same keyword over and over is the sign of bad quality content. So that’s a negative pattern for Panda. Matt Cutts, Google’s organic quality czar, advises page owners to read the copy aloud. If it sounds natural, it should be fine.

The point is, the rules of good quality content are much more important than any simplistic set of SEO rules for pages. Do traditional SEO practices matter? Yes, because they are patterns Panda cares about. But really good content that does not have keywords in every alt attribute or great backlinks will still tend to rank better than marginal content that has all of the attributes of traditional SEO.

Panda also tends to reward fresh content and punish duplicate content. All things being equal, a piece of content will rank higher if it is more recently published. (So pay attention to the date metatag.) One of the signals it looks for is not at the page level but at the site level. A high quality page that sits in a site full of old duplicate junk will not rank well until you clean the junk out.

In short, Panda rewards good content strategy. Content strategists such as Colleen Jones don’t trust SEO “snake oil.” And rightly so. Good SEO is good content strategy and vice versa.

Finally, one of the dilemmas that I hope gets permanently retired with this article is the false dichotomy between writing for search engines and writing for users. I argued in the book I co-authored for IBM Press that they were essentially the same. The attributes users care about are much the same as the ones search engines care about. And we can use the intelligence we glean from search engines as a proxy for intelligence about our users. Prior to Panda, this was controversial. Post Panda, it is not controversial.

The algorithm is derived from user preferences. The only reason why you need a machine to learn those preferences and do the work is because of the sheer volume of pages and sites on the web. The machine is not quite human, but it is getting closer all the time to human intelligence. And it has something that no individual human has: It has the collective intelligence of the whole crowd of quality testers. Like Watson, it is smarter than any individual human because it combines the intelligence of the collective of people feeding it data.

3. Site Metrics
As I mentioned, Google has long rewarded search engine results with high click-through rates, low bounce rates, and high engagement rates by helping them climb the rankings. But Panda rewards these even further by making search excellence metrics strong signals in each update. It also continues to raise the level of sophistication of these metrics signals, where they tend to align with pages rated highly by the quality testers.

For example, Google’s A/B testing didn’t have different standards for different types of experiences. It used a relative standard based on the bounce rates for the words in question. As a result, certain types of experiences for a given keyword tended to rank better over time (ahem, Wikipedia). Yet it makes perfect sense that portals have different bounce rates than single-offer commerce experiences. The more options users can click, the lower the bounce rate, generally speaking. Because humans understand the nuances of different experiences, Panda tends to contextualize these variable metrics values. And it will tune how it weights them over time as the quality testers provide more data.

Another example in metrics sophistication is in the levels of engagements. If a user clicks through to a page from the search engine results page, and clicks three more times, it will count for more than if she just clicked once. More generally, if a site has a high number of engagements per user, it will tend to rank better over time than one with one page that converts well and a bunch of dead pages.

Perhaps the best news of all in this is that you can improve your search rankings just by making incremental improvements to the pages on your site based on the metrics you gather.

Unfortunately, all the changes Panda makes only happen every two months or so. So once you are pushed down in the rankings by Panda, it will take a while to get back up in the rankings. Hopefully, Google will be able to make more frequent updates to Panda in the future so that those penalized by an overaggressive ad executive or an inadvertent UX faux pas can get back into Panda’s good graces more quickly.

Unlike past Google algorithm changes, Panda itself is not changing in any drastic way. It is just getting smarter at recognizing high-quality digital experiences. It’s also getting smarter at recognizing poor quality experiences that look good from a simplistic point of view. If you want to rank well for Google, you will need to invest in building high quality, authentic digital experiences. Given the growing confidence in the Google algorithm, it is a business imperative.
Written By: James Mathewson Source:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Avoid 5 Common Mistakes When Writing For The Web

Writing for the web is a unique style of writing. It’s easy to make mistakes that drive the audience away and you only have a very small window of opportunity to grab their attention. People skim when they read online, so online writing needs to be punchy to draw attention. Here are 5 common mistakes people make writing online. If you can avoid these you’re on the way to web success.

1. Not Grabbing Attention

You need to grab the attention of your audience when they visit. Sounds simple but when you are dealing with a few seconds to accomplish this, the task becomes a bit more difficult – and even more important.

Short and Sweet

Keep your paragraphs short and pack every word with value. Your titles and subheadings need to catch the eye and speak directly to what the section deals with. Whatever you do, don’t sacrifice content in favor of short blurbs. You want your reader to read them and come away knowing something new, not wondering what the point was.
For emphasis in content paragraphs, make things stand out. Use bold tags for keywords. If you’re using links, give them descriptive text instead of just a hyperlink. All of these are ways you can grab the attention of your readers and hold it while they browse your content.

2. Not Utilizing Formatting

Formatting is important in web reading. There are a number of mistakes that can be made in formatting. Make sure everything is aligned properly in different browsers. You don’t want your text to create a horizontal scroll bar. Make sure everything wraps properly.

Create Breaks in Content

Use line breaks for paragraphs. Break up long paragraphs into multiple smaller paragraphs. List information in list format with numbered lists or bullet points. White space in your text is just as important as the text itself. If you have giant walls of dense paragraphs, the average reader’s eyes will glaze over and they’ll skip over the page.

3. Not Being Relevant

Your content above all needs to be relevant. Think about your audience. Who are they? Make sure you’re writing content that your readers will actually want to read. That’s what separates online journals with blogs. Journals are personal information that means nothing to anyone else, blogs are of public interest and relevancy.

Stick to the Subject

You need to be honest with yourself about your writing. You can’t delude yourself into thinking your content is important when it’s not, or that your readers care when they don’t. However, that doesn’t mean you need to write everything in a far-off impersonal tone. Write personally, directly to the reader, and entice them.

4. Not Obeying Grammar

Grammar rules are incredibly important online. It seems like everywhere you go you spot people writing with u instead of you and other chat shortcuts. That might be fine for texting, but web writing is entirely different. The more work your readers have to do to read, the less likely any of them will. Write properly.

5. Not Being Specific

This comes back to knowing your readers. If you use business terms, specific medical terms, acronyms or other esoteric words, define them. If your readers don’t understand what you’re writing, you’re not writing well enough. Anything that might not be commonly known to your readers deserves a definition.
Once you realize that writing for the web is almost the opposite of academic writing, it all falls into place. Every word needs to be important to your readers. Put some effort into it, know your readers, and your web writing will succeed.
Written By: Brendan Schneider Source:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Search Engines vs. News Sites - Optimizing News for Searchers

While content is central to news publishers’ value proposition, you could say that distribution is a close second. Before the Internet, consumers either got their news from a newspaper, a magazine, or a TV broadcast (and word of mouth, but for our purposes, we’ll stick with the media versions).

These media channels are essentially “push” distribution vehicles delivering, at scale, a produced and edited unit – the news – for mass consumption. Even if consumers wanted to engage with multiple news sources, it's difficult to read five newspapers in a day or watch three separate news broadcasts simultaneously.

This paradigm changed dramatically with the advent of the Internet, as readers could now easily read snippets of news from various sources with a few clicks of the mouse. You could scan the front pages of several newspapers, or even more simply, scan the headlines on a news aggregation site in a matter of seconds to get a quick feel for what is happening in the world. Furthermore, if there was a single big story that day, you could read through dozens of articles on the same subject for different angles and tidbits.

With this paradigm shift, news distribution has evolved into being more of a “pull” mechanism, where consumers are in greater control of what news they consume and how they consume it. News discovery has evolved beyond deciding which TV station to watch; consumers can request information on particular subjects and they’ll come right to your computer screen. Search plays a critical role in this discovery process, and when analyzing the data, some notable patterns emerge.

News Search Optimization – Search Engines vs. News Sites

Keeping up on news search optimization is a daunting task for any news publisher or marketer. With the news business being so dynamic, it's hard enough keeping up on all of the latest news stories, let alone optimizing your search campaigns to capitalize on breaking news at a moment’s notice.

SEO and SEM professionals at these organizations are constantly trying to come up with evergreen architecture and techniques to maximize their exposure as events unfold. Although this is often the most pressing concern with news search, there is an overlooked area worth paying attention to as well:
  • Is the way that searchers look for news on search engines any different than the way they look for news on news websites? 
  • Is there anything we can learn from this that would allow us to better prioritize our marketing efforts?
News-related searching has ballooned over the past few years, both on search engines and on news sites, but how people search on these different sites and what they search for differs greatly.

For the purposes of this research, search engines are defined as the big 5 web searches – Google web search, Yahoo web search, Bing web search, AOL web search, and Ask web search – while news site search includes the six largest news sites based on their search totals – Yahoo-ABC News Network, Google News, Bing News,,, and

In February 2012, U.S. searchers conducted 371 million news related searches on search engines, as defined by comScore’s intent categorization methodology, which accounted for 2.3 percent of all search engines searches performed during the month.

But searches performed on non-search engine news sites actually outdistanced search engines news search, totaling 581 million searches in February. Although search engines play an integral role in the news discovery process, the actual news providers and aggregators are still leading the pack.

Behaviorally speaking, it appears that consumers of news data are still more likely to go directly to a “news” specific search engine than they are to run news searches on search engines themselves. The vertical nature of these sites appears to resonate with the searchers, as news searchers are less interested in extraneous results for their news searches that they may get on the broader search engines (e.g., Whitney Houston CDs being sold right next to the news article they want to read regarding her funeral).

News Search Behavior Reflects Search Context

With a review of the actual terms that news searchers use on these different types of search sites, we can see a distinct difference in the intent of the searchers. Search engine news searches focus heavily on a particular news destination.
Within the top 25 search terms driving traffic to News/Information sites in February, half referred to specific news destinations, such as “CNN”, “TMZ”, “Fox News”, and “MSNBC.” The searchers clearly want to be taken to a news specific destination to consume their news.

Search terms driving traffic to news sites from search engines – February 2012
News site searchers, on the other hand, focus almost exclusively on the content they’re interested in because they are already at their intended news destination. The search term lists pulled from news site search isn’t cluttered with branded news destinations, they are solely about stories and topics of interest.

Celebrity name searching is a particular favorite, dominating the Top 25 list. If this data is any indication, it becomes abundantly clearly why the Paparazzi follow celebrities everywhere they go, U.S. consumers are obsessed with reading about them!

Using Search Intelligence to Win Long Term News Brand Loyalty

Based on the intelligence available, there are opportunities for news publishers and marketers to better allocate their advertising resources that could drive better click-through rates and engagement.

When searchers are on search engines, they focus very heavily on finding a branded news destination first, before searching for a particular news story. So anything that can be done to better brand your news destination site could potentially drive much greater long term value with search engine searchers. This is not to say that optimizing your news stories to be found on search engines isn’t valuable, but the behavioral inference that they rely heavily on branded news destination search terms can impact your broader marketing efforts.

News searchers type in a news destination first, and then search for specific news stories after arriving on those news sites. Being that the branded destinations are key to the way searchers navigate to news stories from search engines, you have to allocate your marketing resources accordingly across search, display, and video. You don’t want to just be their news destination for today’s stories, but for every day’s stories.
Written By: Eli Goodman Source:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Art Of Content Marketing - Things Need to Know

A few months ago I went to collect a friend from hospital. Arriving early, I entered the waiting room and noticed in-house magazines stacked by the door. I picked one up, grabbed a coffee and took a seat.

The magazine read like a very long press release, blabbering on about patient-centric care and employee awards. I was quickly bored, so I read from my phone instead. The magazine failed in its purpose.
Effective content marketing holds people’s attention. It gives you a distinctive brand, loyal fans and increased sales. You don’t need a big budget to succeed, which is why good content marketing is the single best way to beat bigger competitors online.

Content marketing used to be about customer magazines and mailed newsletters. Now it covers blogs, email newsletters, eBooks, white papers, articles, videos and more. In this article, you will learn about content marketing techniques that you can apply to your business.
[Note: Have you already pre-ordered your copy of our Printed Smashing Book #3? The book is a professional guide on how to redesign websites and it also introduces a whole new mindset for progressive Web design, written by experts for you.]


Before creating content, you need to prepare. Think about your tone and style, where to find the best writers and how to organize your workflow.

Tone and Style

Too many companies start writing content before their brand has a defined voice. This leads to inconsistency. It’s like using one logo in your brochure, another on your website and another on your blog.
When speaking with people, you see their expressions and you adjust your tone accordingly. In a meeting, when you see that someone is confused, you clarify meaning, simplify sentences and speak reassuringly. The Web offers no feedback until your content is published, and then it’s too late.
To get the right tone, think of the person who best represents your brand. The person could be fictional or real, and they may or may not work for you. Now think of adjectives that describe them. Once you know what you want, provide clear details and practical examples.
Let’s say you run a travel agency that markets to young independent travelers. You want your representative to sound experienced, helpful and friendly. Try using a table like the one below to delineate what your adjectives do and don’t mean:

Experienced Helpful Friendly
Does mean… Knowledgeable
Write with authority, as though the knowledge was gained first hand.
Explain things clearly and positively. Make sure all relevant information is obvious and accessible.
Use informal language, and write as though you are talking to one person, rather than a broad customer base.
Does not mean… Condescending
You know a lot but don’t talk down to your customers. They probably know a lot too.
Promote your company, but not at the expense of good service. Always have your reader’s wants in mind.
Make sure there are no grammar or spelling mistakes. Proofread carefully.
You’ll also need a style guide, so that your authors write consistently. Should you use title case in headings? Are contractions appropriate? Check out The Yahoo! Style Guide 3 for ideas.

Picking Content Creators

Don’t pick the wrong people to create your content. It’s hard for a non-technical person to pick the best Web developer, and it’s the same with content marketing. You need to know about content creation in order to judge other people’s abilities. Some people suggest making everyone in your company a content creator, but this is a bad idea. Not everyone can be a good accountant, secretary or rocket scientist, and the same applies here. To succeed, you should pick the best.
Ask everyone who wants to be a content creator to write a sample blog post. Then you can find the best few people. Some might not be able to write but have interesting ideas. In this case, you’ll need someone to edit their copy. Perhaps you want to raise the profile of a particular staff member. If they can’t write, have someone ghostwrite for them.


Some companies have a simple workflow: one person does everything. The person researches, writes and publishes without any input from others. This model can work, but you’ll see more success with a workflow that enables other people to take part. Have different people write, edit and proofread. It’s a good way to catch mistakes and to bring more ideas into the process. Think about the best process for each type of content. One person might be enough for a tweet, whereas four to six people might be ideal for an eBook.
Imagine you’ve got a well-staffed company that is putting together a B2B white paper. You could organize your workflow like this:

An example of how to organize your workflow in a well-staffed company.


Your content should be persuasive. Pay close attention to how you speak and what you say.

Use Simple Language

Take the question below on Yahoo! Answers. To “sound intelligent,” this person would like to know “big words that replace everyday small words.”
Big words that replace everyday small words?
Many people make this mistake. They use language that is unnecessarily complicated, usually to show off or to sound corporate and professional.

“Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all,” said Winston Churchill. So, don’t talk about “taking a holistic view of a company’s marketing strategy to deliver strategic insights, precise analysis and out-of-the-box thinking.”

Prefer “make” to “manufacture,” and “use” to “utilize.” While “quantitative easing” offers precision to economists, your personal finance audience would prefer “print money.”

Lauren Keating has studied the effect of scientific language on the persuasiveness of copy. She found that most people respond best to advertisements that contain no scientific language. People found them more readable and persuasive, and they felt more willing to buy the product. Lauren’s conclusion was clear: copy needs to be plain and simple.

Have Opinions

Interesting people have opinions, and interesting brands are the same. Look at the amazing work of new search engine DuckDuckGo 4. It has positioned itself as the antithesis of Google, launching websites that criticize how the search giant tracks you 5 and puts you in a bubble 6. The strategy is paying off: DuckDuckGo is seeing explosive growth 7.
Duck Duck Go 8
DuckDuckGo 9 is an alternative search engine that breaks you out of your Filter Bubble.
While this strategy is perfect for defeating a big incumbent, you don’t have to be openly hostile to your competitors. You can say what you think without mentioning their names.

Bear in mind that people are ideologically motivated. Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler’s study, “When Corrections Fail”, describes the “backfire effect” of trying to correct people’s deeply held beliefs. The authors found that contradicting people’s misconceptions actually strengthened those opinions. If people see you as an ideological ally (like a political party), they are more likely to agree with you on other issues — even ideologically inconsistent or non-ideological ones. You can use your opinions to attract people to your company: converting the agnostic or validating the views of allies.

As a small-scale brewer, for example, you might have a strong opinion on ale, believing in craft over mass production. You might think the market is dominated by big businesses that sacrifice quality for quantity. In this situation, you could use content marketing to talk about the best way to make beer. By stressing how seriously you take the development of your product, you communicate your opinion to those who share it without directly criticizing your competitors.

Think politically: consider the popularity of your views and whether they will attract media coverage. Ideally, your opinions should be bold and popular.

Sell the Benefits

In the same way that you sell your products and services, tell your audience the benefits of your content. This technique is essential if your audience doesn’t know what it wants.

PaperlessPipeline 10 is a transaction management and document storage app for real estate brokers. Its founder, Dane Maxwell, had a creative idea to sell his product. The biggest problem for real estate brokers is recruiting. So, Dane invited them to a webinar titled “Recruiting Secrets of the 200-Plus Agent Office in Tennessee.” Brokers didn’t even know they needed to manage transactions, so he didn’t mention it in the invitation.
Paperless Pipeline takes your real estate transactions and related documents online—without changing how you work.
In the webinar, he introduced PaperlessPipeline and explained how it enables brokers to recruit more agents. The webinar attracted 120 guests, and “16 ended up buying at the end,” said Dane in an interview with Mixergy 12.

Imagine you run a company that develops technology for mobile phones, and you want to promote a new femtocell that boosts mobile reception in public spaces and rural areas. This technology could be valuable to people who want to improve mobile reception, but those people might not have heard of it.

So, instead of promoting the technology directly, offer content that focuses on the benefits. By using benefit-focused copy, you immediately tell the reader what’s in it for them.


Think about what your audience wants. People want to hear answers and to learn something new, so give them what they want.

Give Answers

Content marketing needs to offer practical advice that people can use. Readers have been trained to expect answers on the Web, and yet so much content fails to deliver.
Consider FeeFighters, a comparison website for credit card processing. One of its blog posts, Do You Know What Makes Up Your Credit Score? 13, talks about the factors that affect your credit score. Instead of offering abstract advice and concepts, the post provides practical tips for improving your credit score:
Area #2: Your Credit Utilization Ratio
The second largest determining factor in what makes up your score is the amount of credit that you have available to you in relationship to how much of that credit you’ve used. This accounts for 30 percent of your credit score. The optimal rate is 30 percent, which means that if you have $10,000 in credit available to you, you should only be using about $3,000 of it. One trap that some people fall into is believing that if they max out their credit cards every month and then pay them off at the end of the month, they’ll build their credit. But since that gives them a 100 percent credit utilization ratio, and that ratio accounts for 30 percent of their overall credit score, they’re really doing more harm than good.

Say or Do Something New

Most content is boring and unoriginal, which is good for you. It makes it easier to beat your competitors.
You can make your content interesting by doing something new, without necessarily saying something new. For instance, you could write a comprehensive article on a topic that has only piecemeal information scattered across the Web. Or you could use a different format for a topic that gets the same treatment; rather than writing the fiftieth blog post on a topic, shoot the first video.

You can also make your content interesting by saying something new. An infographic by Rate Rush 14 compares the popularity of Digg to Reddit, creatively combining a bar graph and clock to present the data. Although Rate Rush is a personal finance website, with little connection to social news, its staff researched a topic they were interested in and drew attention by putting it to imaginative use.

Our agency also researches things that we find interesting, and this has been a great source of content. In 2010, we polled around 1000 iPad owners 15 to find out how consumers use the device. It led to a slew of media attention.

You can do the same. Come up with an original idea to research, and then undertake a study. Also look into studies that your business has done in the past, because interesting stuff might be lying around. One of our clients looked through her company’s research archive and found amazing material. She didn’t spend any money on research but got a lot of great content, links and media coverage.


Give your content more personality. Captivate your audience with stories and characters that will draw them in and keep them coming back.

Tell a Story

Telling a story is a great way to connect with readers. According to a number of studies summed up by Rob Gill of Swinburne University of Technology, telling stories can be useful in corporate communication. Storytelling is fundamental to human interaction, and it can make your content more compelling and your brand more engaging.

Citing Annette Simmons’ The Story Factor, Rob says this: “It is believed people receiving the narration often come to the same conclusion as the narrator, but through using their own decision-making processes.” Told through a story, a message becomes more personal and relevant. The reader is also more likely to remember what was said.

Rand Fishkin is the co-founder and CEO of SEOmoz 16. Instead of sharing only positive accounts of his business, he also writes about difficulties such as his failed attempt to raise capital 17:
Michelle was the first to note that something was “odd.” In a phone call with Neil, she heard him comment that they “needed to do more digging into the market.” In her opinion, this was very peculiar.… Tuesday morning we got the call; no deal.

An email shared by Rand Fishkin in his post 18 about SEOmoz’s attempt to raise funding.
Brands need stories, and stories need people, suspense, conflicts and crises. By reading SEOmoz’s content, and seeing both the positive and negative, you become immersed in its story.

Ikea is another example of a brand that tells stories that generate opinions about its company. For instance, it plays up its Swedish roots 19 and paints a romantic image of a wholesome and natural society. Its website is full of stories that contribute to this effect.

A survey conducted by the B2B Technology Marketing Community showed that around 82% of LinkedIn users found that telling a story through case studies was the most effective form of content marketing.
Sometimes you’ll want to use anecdotes to make a point, and sometimes you’ll write a post or tweet to build a narrative. When you’re cultivating a story, keep the information simple, and don’t be afraid to repeat points here and there; some readers might have missed what you said before.

Always mix interesting stories with useful information; fail to do this and your audience will feel you’re wasting their time.

Use Real People

Think of your favorite writers. You’ve probably seen their photos and heard them speak. Likewise, people need to see and hear your employees, so use pictures, audio and video. This will bring your audience closer to your brand.
Jakob Nielsen has studied 20 people’s reactions to images online. He used eye-tracking software to discover that people ignore images that seem decorative, random or generic. They even ignore generic images of people. But when they come across a photo of a “real” person, they engage with it for a longer time.
People prefer to get involved with a company with which they feel a personal connection. But introduce your employees gradually; as with any story, introduce too many characters too early and you’ll confuse your audience.


Develop a compelling tone of voice. Don’t assume that anyone can write amazing copy, because they can’t. If you want the best content, then you need the best writers and thinkers.
Produce something informative that people will want to read. Give your brand a personality and your business will benefit across the board, from recruitment to sales. Warren Buffett looks for businesses protected by “unbreachable moats,” and no moat is more unbreachable than a brand with a story, ideas and opinions.
Written By: Craig Anderson Source: