Showing posts with label seo resources. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seo resources. Show all posts

Sunday, April 1, 2012

7 Types of Content to Get Traffic, Links and Social Exposure

I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently working with clients on their content strategies for 2012.  Its something I’ve been keen to evangelise and get them to invest resource into, some clients have been harder than others to convince!  I can see why its sometimes a hard thing to buy into, but I firmly believe that having a solid content strategy in place is essential for the majority of sites we work with.  Tom wrote this post on content marketing yesterday which I’d urge you to go and read.

Why companies struggle with content marketing

Two of the common problems that many companies have with content production are -
  • Resource to create content – many do not have time or specialist writers in-house
  • They lack ideas of what content they can create or their industry is “boring”
There are more, but these are probably the consistent ones that I hear.
I am hoping that the rest of this post helps solve these problems.  I’ve given the following examples for a few reasons -
  • Most of them can be used across most industries – boring or not
  • They don’t all require hours and hours of resource to get done
  • They will help you get traffic or links or both

Getting Inspiration

Before diving into examples, I wanted to give some pointers and tools for how to get inspiration for your clients content. It can be difficult at times, particularly if you have a client in an industry that doesn’t seem particularly interesting at first glance.
Brainstorming internally and with the client
First step should be a bit of a no brainer. But remember some key points to running a good brainstorm session and don’t overlook the opportunity to brainstorm with your client if that is an option. This can have lots of advantages, one of which being that the client can veto or approve edgy ideas straight away. So the outcome will be a list of ideas which you know you can get sign off for which makes the time you send researching more focused.
Non-competitor analysis
You all know to look at what competitors are doing, again thats a no brainer. But make sure you look outside your vertical too and see what cool stuff other people are doing, sometimes you’ll come across an idea that can be easily applied to your own niche or a concept that can be applied to your own content.  For example, with the right data, could you become the Ok Cupid of your industry?
I’ve mentioned this before but its worth mentioning again. I love Spezify. If you are ever in a jam and have a bit of brain freeze, plug a keyword or two into it and leave it for a few minutes. It will go off and aggregate loads of tweets, images and all sorts of other results to give you an idea of what is being talked about right now.
For some extra fun, plug a friend or colleagues name into it and see what it finds :)
So what here we go with seven types of content you can produce for traffic and link building.

Video Content

This is something which is getting bigger and bigger within Google SERPs at the moment and I think that websites that get on board with this now can dominate in the future. For me, there are two ways you can leverage video content to help your website.
As a link building tool – I’ve written before about getting links using your YouTube videos which is something I’d highly recommend. The other way you can leverage videos is to create your own and use them as link bait – but this is hard. If you have the resources, then go for it and create your own videos.  Just take a look at Zappos who have over 50,000 product videos!
This leads me onto the second way you can leverage video content.
To increase click-throughs from SERPs - Take a look at this result from Zappos:
This puts them a step ahead (see what I did there) of their competitors.  If they can get to a point where their product pages are ranking well and have these snippets showing, then they will most likely see an increase in click through rate from search results because they stand out so much.
We’ve been doing some testing lately on a client site where we are trying to get a video showing in SERPs which when clicked, go straight to the client site rather than somewhere like Vimeo or YouTube.  So far its been working well and I’d recommend using something like Wistia to help you with this.


I’ll say it, I don’t really like them that much.  The reason being that I see so many terrible ones that can’t even be classed as infographics.  I also think there are sometimes easier and more efficient ways to get links.  That being said, they can (and do) get links.  If you have the time and resource to do them well, then infographics can be a good way of getting links.
I’ve stolen a few principles from Mark which I’m going to put here.  Really, infographics should do the following if they are to be successful -
  • Answer a question or solve someones problem
  • Be based on real data that can be backed up
  • Make data or facts easier to digest than written content
  • Show the user something they didn’t already know
If you do have a good infographic to promote, there are loads of sites out there which are dedicated to just infographics, I published a list here of the ones which I know of.
I know what some of you are thinking, infographics are mega expensive to produce.  Yes they can be, but they do not have to be.  Take a look at this one which Mark did on his personal site which attracted 115 linking root domains.  All he used was a camera and some nice cake mix!

Interactive Content

This excites me a lot more than static infographics.  For me, the companies who find a way of bridging the gap between their product and interactive content will win in the long term.  Lets take a look at an example.
I love this World Cup planner by Marca.  Imagine if you were a retailer of tickets for the World Cup and you produced this.  Imagine you could click through and purchase tickets for the game of your choice, but rather than the standard way of finding them, you use this interactive selector?
This is a perfect use of interactive content because it attracts people to your website for being genuinely useful, but it doesn’t end there, you can convert these people into buyers with the right integration and calls to action.
The next step of link building and content marketing is the integration of this interactive content onto product and category pages – solving the age old problem of getting links to ecommerce pages.  Do this and you’ll win the internet – its hard though!

Q&A Content

If you are tight on budget, this can be a great one to use.  Chances are that whatever product or service you sell, you get common questions about it.  If you have email support staff, they probably have standard copy and paste answers that go into emails – is that content on your website and indexable?  If not, get it on there.
The beauty of this type of content is that it has the ability to attract traffic as well as links, in particular in technical fields.  Also, it is obvious that Google are moving towards becoming a better place to get direct answers to questions, searches such as this prove it -
The trend for users searching using a question rather than a keyword is growing too, look at the insight data for “how can” and “does the” -
If you can position yourself as a site where you provide direct answers, you will not only get good long tail traffic, but you will also move towards becoming an authority in your field.
Make sure you take a look at the Wordtracker Question Tool which can give you some ideas of what people ask related to your keywords.  Also look at your keyword data in Google Analytics and filter for keywords which include things like “how” “what” and “can” etc.
Bonus for ecommerce sites – if you can tie Q&A content into your product pages, you have a massively scalable way of getting good quality, relevant content onto your product pages.  Here is an example of how Jessops are doing this -
I don’t believe this content is currently crawlable, but if it were, long tail traffic would most likely increase.

User Generated Content

You’ve all read about customer reviews as user generated content, but what about other forms of content such as images or videos?  Amazon have been doing this for a long time now but smaller retailers are doing this too, even this retailer that sells garden sheds -
You may need to add an incentive to get customers to go to the effort of this, but even if its just a 10% off voucher, some will do it and you have another sale.
Pro tip – make sure you are asking these customers if they have a blog, Facebook or Twitter accounts.  If they do, send them appropriate calls to action to get them to share the images once they are live on your site.

Guest Blogging

I bet most of us have spent time guest blogging to get links for clients, but how many of you have invited guest bloggers onto your blog to write for you?  It has two main advantages -
  • Allows you to get good content if your own resource or time is short
  • The writers will naturally share it and link to their article
You will need to dedicate some time to quality control, but this will not be anywhere near as much as you writing the content yourself.
Taking things a step further, you can also use a few principles of gamification to motivate your guest bloggers.  For example you can reward bloggers who get the most traffic, most links or social shares with a random prize.  The key is to make this reward publicly visible and be super transparent about how bloggers can win these prizes.


Don’t dismiss this one.  If you can get creative enough, this can not only be a content win but also a link building one.
If you can find a way of coming up with a competition which involves people producing content in order to win, you are onto a winner.  Here is an example of this on PostGrad which involved getting entrants to visualise a piece of data.  The best visualisation won the competition and was featured on the blog.  This not only got links but provided great content for their site -
You can be pretty flexible on the type of content you ask for -
  • Written content such as a blog post
  • Images – e.g. baiting photographers for their best photos
  • Videos – e.g. record a video of yourself singing a song
Some thought it needed to make sure the barrier to entry is low but the quality of the output is high, but this is definitely possible across most industries.
To wrap up, I know that producing great content is not easy.  But you need to at least make a start on the path to getting it right, online brands who are not investing in content are going to get left behind.
Written By: Paddy Moogan Source:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What is SEO and how it can define or rank for 2012

What is SEO? The acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization. But the definition of SEO is a more difficult question.
It’s not what it once was, that’s for sure. The problem is, I see references to outdated definitions of SEO on a fairly regular basis.
If you have arrived here thinking SEO is a sham, snake oil and/or dead then a) you are grossly mistaken and b) let me disabuse you of that notion.
SEO Definition
Here’s my definition of SEO in 2012.
Search Engine Optimization is a multidisciplinary activity that seeks to generateproductive organic traffic from search engines via technically soundand connected sites by matching query intent with relevance and value.
It’s a bit of a mouthful, I know. I’ve emphasized the areas that I feel are particularly important and deserve a more in-depth explanation.
Productive Traffic
SEOs are Chefs
The goal of SEO is not to increase traffic willy-nilly. You increase traffic by 30% but it makes no difference to the bottom line. Who cares!
Productive can mean different things to different companies. Productive may mean leads or subscribers or revenue or page views. Whatever it is, it’s important to define and track productive traffic rather than simply focusing on increasing traffic overall.
I might be able to generate more traffic by adding ‘Nude’ and ‘Free’ as keyword modifiers but is that really going to bring productive traffic to a site?
This goes (way) beyond brand versus non-brand traffic, which I find to be the most rudimentary of divisions. This is having a fundamental understanding of the traffic that makes a difference to that business.
That may mean moving away from high volume terms and generating less traffic overall. Don’t get saucer eyes when it comes to keyword volume. It’s about the right keywords, not the biggest keywords. (That’s what she said!)
Yet, even if you’re driving the right traffic there are other factors that contribute to a productive visit. If the focus is leads, you might realize that the call-to-action is weak, doesn’t match the query intent or competes with other elements on the page. Perhaps the lead form itself isn’t very good either.
If the goal is page views, you may realize that the design is confusing, the text hard to read and the content without a structure that allows for easy navigation.
Because productive traffic is the goal an SEO needs to understand design, user experience, information architecture and conversion rate optimization. Otherwise it’s like a chef who creates a menu but then has no input on how the food is cooked, the quality of ingredients, decor of the establishment or the presentation of the meal.
It’s okay if you’re in the business of driving any old traffic at a website and then shrugging your shoulders when it doesn’t really do anything for the business. But that’s not SEO. You’re just a burger flipper at some fast food joint.
Technically Sound
As an SEO you need to have very strong technical skills. What does this really mean though? At a minimum, it means you need to know how the Internet works and how search engines crawl and index the web.
You should also be comfortable analyzing HTTP headers and know your status codes cold. Get good using Firebug or Chrome’s Developer Tools. Mine those weblogs, because there’s gold in them there data. (Sorry, I just watched True Grit.) Bonus points if you can code something up yourself to extract it.
Understanding how to diagnose and solve accessibility and crawl efficiency problems is critical.
SEO is about knowing enough about … everything. HTML, CSS, JQuery, AJAX, Flash, JavaScript, XML, JSON, RSS, PHP, SQL. Experiment with and understand these technologies.
But you’re not done yet because you still have to understand the technical side of specific search engine directives including (but certainly not limited to) noindex, nofollow, rel=canonical, rel=author, rel=publisher, rel=standout, hreflang and various competing schemas of microdata.
SEO is about knowing all of this to ensure technical issues aren’t obstacles and to create positive relationships with engineers. You must speak their language. You don’t have to understand everything and you should never bluff, but you damn well better be able to carry on a coherent conversation.
You should know the difference between a GET and a POST; between server side and client side scripts. An SEO should be able to convey when and why to use a cookieless domain. You shouldn’t get a deer-in-the-headlights look when engineers talk about CDNs or minifying code.
I haven’t even touched on diving into the details of information retrieval, natural language processing, machine learning and other methods that inform modern search engine algorithms.
The more technical you are the more effective you become. And there’s always something more to learn.
Puzzle Pieces
What do I mean by connected? Today it means links to and from other sites and connecting with and through others on social platforms. In plain language it’s about links and social.
I’m not a huge fan of link building and prefer a link gardening approach. Mind you, I understand the value of links but too often link building is done for the wrong reasons and weighted far to0 heavily in the scheme of things.
It works a fair amount of the time. I can’t deny that. But I’m never sure at what expense. Too often I see those companies on a treadmill of link building efforts. Frankly, you should reach a point where link building isn’t something you’re workingat.
Oddly, linking out is an overlooked and underrated tactic. Tadeusz Szewczyk was an early and strong proponent of this practice. Linking out is a form of built-in reciprocity. You wind up getting back links from those to whom you link out. It’s a way of connecting to and engaging with people in your niche.
That sounds a lot like social doesn’t it? Social takes on a number of dimensions. First is producing content that is worthy of sharing and then doing everything you can to make it portable. That includes an interaction design that promotes sharing andensuring that the shared content is optimized.
Of course there’s also really being social and getting out on these platforms and connecting with your users and customers. I don’t mean public, glorified customer service but actually socializing with some of your users and customers. This is both extremely tough to do at scale but also valuable for a variety of reasons.
Today it also means understanding how social is being integrated into search (it’s not the other way around) and learning Facebook SEO and Google+ SEO.
Now we finally get to the real heart of SEO and the initial reason I started this blog post. Query intent is perhaps the most critical part of SEO.
You should understand the syntax of your user and the motivations behind their search and queries. At the bare minimum you should understand differences between navigational, informational and transactional queries.
No, this is not about personas. All too often time and money are spent creating personas that create artificial divisions in the long-term, a type of stereotype that others glom onto to as a way to promote their own views. “Remember, that’s not what Sally Searcher is about.” (Ugh, kill me now.)
Instead this is about doing the hard work of understanding how and why people are searching for your content and products. It’s about syntax, psychology and consumer behavior among other things.
Intent is also informed by context. Geography, time of year and platform (i.e. – mobile) can all play an important part of understanding intent. It’s never something you can just copy and paste from one site to another.
For instance, here’s a real search that wound up coming to this blog.
how to change the blue link title of your website
I find these types of queries fascinating. It forces me to think different. SEO is about knowing how people are thinking and searching, not how that business thinks their users should be searching. SEO is an advocate for the user.
Relevant LOLcat
Not too long ago SEO was about matching keywords with relevant content. This is why content farms became so popular and profitable. All you needed to do was take a long-tail keyword and match it with relevant content. It also meant you could shard a keyword concept into a large number of pages.
So you might find a different page for ‘how to squeeze orange juice’ and ‘how to squeeze fresh orange juice’.
Was the content relevant on these pages? For the most part, yes. But it was the content equivalent to empty calories.
That doesn’t mean that relevance isn’t important. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s still incredibly important. A fair amount of on-page SEO is about making relevance obvious. Because it doesn’t just need to be relevant, it has to be perceivedas relevant at a glance.
Relevance must be seen through the lens of intent instead of a simple keyword match. Relevance is the beginning, not the end of SEO.
Relevance is always coupled with value. Is value subjective? Sure. But it gets easier when you trace it back to intent. Does that page truly satisfy the query intent? Notthat it’s relevant. Not that it matches the keyword. Did the page provide enoughvalue to satisfy intent.
You’ll notice that I’ve used satisfy twice and that’s not by accident. Search engines (and SEOs) are increasingly concerned with user satisfaction. An SEO might not talk about ‘delighting the user’ (eye roll) but we’re measuring satisfaction through both qualitative and quantitative measures.
Is it readable? Was the user experience positive? Were they able to find the information? Did it lead them to other related content? Was it easy for them to subscribe or buy? Were they able to print or share the page? How many pages did they view? Did they convert? What is the bounce rate?
We’re also there to call your baby ugly and identify gaps in a site’s content. That might mean the content produced isn’t valuable enough or that there is unsatisfied query intent (i.e – you don’t have the right content).
SEO is about producing positive and satisfying interactions that support the brand and flow into other marketing channels.
What About Rank?
You’ll note that I didn’t talk at all about rank. Rank can be important but only in the context of driving productive traffic. In many ways rank should take care of itself if you’re doing everything else right.
In addition, rank becomes less important when you’re working on large sites with more than, say, 100,000 pages. There are ways to measure rank in these situations but I don’t often find that of great value except in communicating with clients obsessed with rank.
Rank is also losing it’s fidelity with the continuing personalization of search results. If Search+ is here to stay then rank will become increasingly fractured.
SEO vs Inbound Marketing
There are many who probably look at my definition and explanation and believe it better matches ‘inbound marketing’. This new umbrella term created by Hubspot works for a lot of people. They find it easier to describe and convey to clients. It’s more palatable and allows them to distance themselves from the poor reputation SEO has acquired. I get it. But I don’t like it.
I’m an SEO and I’m proud of it.
I use SEO as a client filter. I can skip those who think it’s snake oil, find the ones who ‘get it’ and help educate those who might be on the fence. In many ways these are the clients who are most thoughtful and can contribute and collaborate on SEO efforts. Those are my kind of clients.
If I were trying to sell into the Fortune 100 or have thousands of clients under contract at a time I might decide inbound marketing was a better term. I wouldn’t have the time to explain and educate.
That’s not Blind Five Year Old. While the company is expanding, I still have the ability to create personal relationships with clients.
In the end, I’m not sure I want to work with a client who would accept my help under the guise of inbound marketing but not as an SEO. Perhaps that’s my own type of elitism.
SEO 2012 Example
So lets take my SEO definition and apply it to an example. Suppose you have the query ‘eureka lightforce 300 manual’. What do you suppose the intent is behind that query?
Eureka Lightforce 300
Are they really looking for that vacuum’s manual? Or are they instead having a problem with their vacuum? If you were able to look at query reformulations you’d see users cycle through modifiers like troubleshooting, repair, problems, information, solutions, manual and parts. In fact, you can use Google’s related queries to see how these are linked.
Two years ago you might have been able to get away with creating a page with a highly optimized Title, dynamic boilerplate text, a generic product description and a link to a PDF download of that manual. It would have been relevant but you wouldn’t have truly satisfied intent or delivered real value. More to the point, the value that you delivered was a commodity.
What would a SEO page for this term look like?
You’d still have a solid Title, product description (and specs), and a link to the manual. But you’d add a list of common problems with that vacuum along with potential solutions. These might include step-by-step DIY repair guides.
You’d provide links for replacement parts. You might dynamically serve them local vacuum repair shops. You may even have a section dedicated to buying a new vacuum. Maybe you even have a calculator that tells you whether it’s worth fixing the old vacuum or buying a new one. Heck you could even provide links to house cleaning services.
A well designed page with these elements would provide relevance and value, thereby satisfying query intent.
SEO is about generating productive organic search traffic by matching query intent with relevance and value. The implication of this definition is that SEO must draw upon an increasing number of disciplines including design, user experience, information architecture and conversation rate optimization.
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