How to Build a Multimillion-Dollar Company with SEO Content Audits via @bsmarketer

Multimillion-dollar companies don’t guess.

Timing and luck can often explain a lot in the early days.

But when companies pass a certain threshold, and the people inside them repeat their success at multiple different places, it shows there are proven roadmaps to follow.

Not cheesy checklists or ‘guru’ charlatan soundbites.

But legitimate strategies, principles, and decision-making criteria that more often than not move the needle.

Here’s how several multimillion-dollar companies use SEO content audits to lay that foundation and consistently grow month over month, year over year.

1. Start by Auditing Your Historical Performance to Uncover the Biggest Opportunities

Sales is a lagging indicator.

First, comes content. Keywords and links drive traffic. Some of that turns into leads. And then you’ve got revenue.

In other words, it’s impossible to address the bottom line – the output – until you first start fiddling with the inputs.

Gaetano DiNardi’s first task after joining Nextiva a few months ago was a competitive audit.

competitive analysis

competitive analysis

And it’s been the first task he’s used at every company before that, too.

In early 2016, DiNardi joined the Pipedrive team as the new SEO manager.

While leading Pipedrive’s SEO strategy and operations, he was tasked with improving everything from rankings to traffic, sales, and their overall bottom line.

“My entire job was based around inbound marketing. SEO, content marketing, inbound lead generation. The goal was simple: grow.”

The first step was figuring out what was already working, what wasn’t, and where the biggest opportunities were buried.

That takes into account:

  • Landing pages: Length, content, CTAs, value proposition, user flow.
  • Content rankings: Looking at SERP positions, competitors, links needed, and content updates required.
  • Keyword research: Analyzing which keywords they were targeting and finding new long-tail variations.
  • Ignoring vanity metrics: With SEO data analysis, he focused all of his efforts on improving the cost of acquisition and lifetime value.
  • Site structure: How users flow on site and where major drop-offs were occurring.
  • Content audit: Looking at content, cutting and deleting content that isn’t valuable, and finding what he could improve based on best practices.
  • Brand building campaigns: Getting mentioned in major publications like Fortune, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Inc., VentureBeat, and LinkedIn Business to help build Sales Hacker and his personal branding.

He started by focusing on landing pages, improving their calls-to-action and value proposition along with CRO elements to encourage conversions. Doing so increased overall conversions by 12%.

While looking at site structure, DiNardi used Google Analytics reports to analyze and optimize user flow throughout the site:

Google Analytics user flow

Google Analytics user flow

With these reports, he determined the typical path of unique visitors and how they developed brand awareness, including which posts they viewed and how many steps it took them to convert.

A traffic channel or source, for instance, gives you clues into what each visitor wants and how to help them find it.

Plus, he could then see major drop-off points and which pages were leaking visitors, giving him an easy win to eliminate those content pages or better match search intent to make them stickier.

Diving into the content audit, Gaetano focused on ensuring that each post met the best practices for content length, topic, structure, and quality.

Running skyscraper-style campaigns for content improved the length. Then, DiNardi also honed-in on quality, updating content at scale with semantic keywords and relying on automated grammar tools to reduce redundant points.

content analysis

content analysis

This tactic resulted in a 4-5% increase in conversions from organic search, a 20% increase in traffic, and a doubled organic keyword growth.

“Account audits are a must. You can’t know what to attack first if you don’t audit existing strategies and see what type of content you are working with.”

Uncovering these issues and opportunities is only the first step, though. The next one is to figure out when, exactly, to address each.

2. Consistently Re-Prioritize Your Content Audit Opportunities to Do the Right Thing at the Right Time

Advertising used to be cost-prohibitive. So, too, was PR.

Today, however, there are low barriers to entry for almost any channel or medium. Anyone, anywhere, can spin up an ad campaign or fire off a few hundred emails to bloggers.

The problem isn’t having options, then. In fact, it’s the opposite. There are literally too many things you could be doing at any given time.

Content success, then, is dictated by what you choose to do and in what order.

Kevin Jones leads SEO at BigCommerce today. But he learned this lesson firsthand overseeing dozens of sites at a time at an agency called Apogee Results in Austin, Texas.

Client-agency dynamics also played into this issue.

Typically, the most profitable strategies and tactics take a long time to develop. However, clients don’t have time. They want results ASAP.

So you’re constantly dealing with the conflict of delivering instant results to make the client happy, while at the same time building the foundation so that you’ll be able to continue delivering results long into the future.

Kevin’s approach, unsurprisingly, started with an SEO content audit at the beginning. It was in-depth, analyzing the technical set-up first, before the on-site content and optimization, then progressing to link building.

This initial audit was also used to identify potential low-hanging fruit. A simple crawl error preventing indexation, for example, could instantly deliver ROI to the client. If, that is, you knew where to look.

SEO audit crawl error

SEO audit crawl error

“Sometimes people neglect digging into that data and adjusting existing content a little bit. It’s simple, but it often has a pretty big impact. They should do this before ever starting brand new content creation.”

Jones prioritizes technical SEO, first, because “in a lot of cases it’s going to help the most.” Especially with larger websites that have changed or evolved over the years.

“It’s a slow and steady race for technical improvements. And it’s a pain in the ass to clean an entire house.”

From there, Jones moves to on-site changes, like keyword research and content opportunities.

This approach made clients happy because “they could see quicker traffic increases, but still benefit from a long-term balance for technical SEO.”

Every new website is different, so the order might be unique. But generally, Kevin would divide his time into spending around 40% on link building, 40% on content, and 20% on the technical side after the initial fix-it stage.

The mechanics are actually pretty easy. The tough part is to constantly reassess the leverage points based on where you’re already weak or strong.

For example, let’s say you want to evaluate a keyword opportunity. That decision ultimately comes down to:

  • Demand: The number of people searching for this term.
  • Competition: The number and strength of people competing for this term.

Yes, there’s more at play in reality. Yes, funnel stage and search intent and lots of other criteria are involved.

But at the end of the day, it can and should be that simple. Take “content marketing”:

keyword analysis

keyword analysis

Now, compare that site authority and referring domains with your own.

This example is extremely competitive. So unless your site’s been around for a while, your odds of success are slim to none. That means you either need to:

  • Identify a new, less competitive search query to go after.
  • Work to improve your off-site metrics to mirror the competition.

Either way, you probably want to deprioritize this for now. Topping out at the fifth position might as well be the 50th.

So maybe creating new content isn’t such a good idea after all. Maybe doubling down on your existing stuff will produce a better ROI over the next six months.

It’s a simple cost/benefit analysis of resource allocation at the end of the day.

Which option will provide the best, quickest return on your time and money?

It might take you anywhere from half to a full day to create a single blog post from scratch. Then, it might take another few weeks (or months) to get that page to rank.

Or, you could pick an existing page on your site that shows promise and spend the same three to six hours improving it.

Chances are, you’ll see much better results moving from the 11th position on Google to the 5th. And it’ll usually take less time, too.

SEO today is incredibly complex and nuanced. Search engines use machine learning algorithms to teach themselves new tricks.

Unfortunately, many of the get-rich-quick SEO schemes of the past work less and less with each passing day. Which means success over the long haul requires a constant reprioritization of what to do, when, and why.

Today that means one thing. Six months from now it will probably mean another.

3. Reverse-Engineer Content Distribution Tactics – But Don’t Copy

First edition Pokemon cards can run into the thousands on eBay.

Seriously. Check it out:

first edition Pokemon cards

first edition Pokemon cards

Back in high school, David Zheng discovered this lucrative niche market. And it changed everything.

He came up with different ways to collect or barter for the most valuable first editions. Then he’d create the listing, promote it, and dutifully follow through on each order with every buyer.

Despite all the painstaking labor, Zheng started clearing five-figures as a 14-year-old kid.

The only problem?

He was supposed to attend classes during daylight hours. Which meant that packaging and mailing out products had to occur late each night.

Zheng recalls that it wasn’t just the money. Sure, it was nice. But more importantly, it was about “figuring it all out.”

Getting all of the pieces together (so to speak), in the right order, at the exact right time.

The key here is context. Like banner ads. The first one debuted in 1994. Feast your eyes on this beauty:

first banner ad

first banner ad

Probably the worst one you’ve seen, right? Except for one teeny, tiny, detail.

That bad boy pulled in a 78% click-through rate (CTR). 78%!

Take a wild guess at the CTR for the best banner ads today? On Facebook, you’re looking at 0.05%. That’s a 1,500x decrease for you math nerds out there.

Design has little to do with it. Instead, timing does.

Banner ad effectiveness has dropped like a rock for a variety of reasons, including “banner blindness,” ad blocking technology, and an over-saturation of completely irrelevant ads.

But the point is the same.

Like-gating” used to be one of the best ways to get new Facebook fans. Now, that functionality no longer exists (and goes against their policies).

Borderline spamming your fans used to be one of the best ways to increase Facebook fan engagement. Now, organic reach (or your ability to reach your own fans without spending money on advertising) is nearing zero.

Some principles will always remain relevant. But when it comes to content growth, you can’t rely on blindly copying a tactic or sticking with the tried-and-true. It can only work so long online.

Instead, you have to learn, test, measure, iterate, and come up with your own unique formula.

Content marketing is a system, not a tactic.

Content tactics commonly fail. Systems adapt and evolve.

One of Zheng’s first big wins included working with WaitButWhy.com, a viral blog that hit 31 million unique visitors, while also racking up fans like Elon Musk and Sam Harris.

Sam Harris tweet

Sam Harris tweet

This experience also helped Zheng discover the formula for growing sites with content which he took and repeatedly used to grow other big sites for people like Noah Kagan, taking OkDork’s (Kagan’s personal site) organic traffic over 200% within six months.

Like most good formulas, there’s no single variable. There are lots that all work together.

For example, it could start with detailed keyword research that considers not just search volume, but also relevancy and intent. It extends to the nitty-gritty details like rich snippets that can significantly increase CTR you see from SERPs and social streams.

Then, collecting all the emails you can possibly get your hands on and building relationships with people who talk to the people you want to buy from you.

Why?

Because the stuff that you’re doing over there will affect the results you’re getting over here.

That’s why the fastest growing companies look at the entire distribution system. They’re focused on building their social following through outstanding content and funneling the results into email so they can amplify their message across multiple touchpoints. Layer in retargeting and you’ve got the beginnings of a growth machine.

These content + paid + social + email + SEO strategies that David used proved so effective for Noah that it helped inspire a decent idea, too.

You may have heard of it.

Sumo is now part of an eight-figure business.

Conclusion

Content marketing success doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

And it can’t be learned by following a checklist or blindly following an influencer.

Instead, it comes with the realization that changes on one end create a rippling effect on the other.

Consistently reevaluating your top priorities with SEO content audits is critical. Not annually, but quarterly.

So the best thing you can do is get a front-row seat observing the companies already doing it. And speak with the people behind the scenes who actually perform the work.

Because you’ll quickly realize that marketing success is driven more by the sum of its parts than any one activity, tactic, or campaign.

More Resources:


Image Credits

Featured Image: Pixabay.com
All screenshots taken by author, June 2019

How Much Should You Pay for SEO Content? via @https://twitter.com/seocopychick

“How much do you charge?”

As an SEO content writer that works primarily with SEO agencies, I am used to getting this question. And no matter my answer, the responses always remind me a bit of the Goldilocks story…

“That price is too cheap.”

“That price is too high.”

“That price is just right.”

It’s typically a toss up – which often makes me question whether we all know the true value of great SEO content, or whether I’m simply charging too much.

To satisfy my curiosity, I decided to propose the question, “How much do you pay for great SEO content?’ to a 40,000+ member SEO Facebook group.

The answers, as I had expected, were all across the board.

Mixed Opinions: What Is ‘Great’ SEO Content?

The first thing I noticed is that the responders were in disagreement about what was considered “great” SEO content.

While some highlighted the need for “a fully optimized kick-ass piece of content”, others hailed the simplicity of “spun” content that was then optimized by the SEO people themselves.

Some SEO folks expected the content to be publish-ready while others were OK with content that required editing and optimization.

These mixed opinions spurred a rather heated debate over whether SEO pros were overpaying or underpaying for content.

Some were less forgiving about the idea of, say, a $10 blog post…

Facebook comment from SEO Signals Lab

Facebook comment from SEO Signals Lab

But, ultimately, most responders were in agreement that the end product was what matters.

Great SEO content is content that is written with the user in mind and is thoroughly optimized for search engines. Where someone sources that content, however, depends on a few factors.

Where to Find Great SEO Content Writers

Many SEO pros get to a point where they realize that, from an ROI perspective, writing SEO content themselves is not the best use of their time.

At that point, they are faced with the decision of whether to outsource content or hire a writer in-house.

When one goes the outsourcing route, it can be difficult to know where to look.

Is Fiverr a good option? Facebook groups? College students? Retirees?

The options are nearly endless.

Many Options, Different Prices

Unfortunately, not all writers are created equal.

Many responders complained about the issues of hiring writers from platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, sourcing content from non-English-speaking countries or hiring industry experts who don’t have a writing background.

Some of the top sources listed for finding great SEO writers included:

  • Niche Facebook groups
  • LinkedIn
  • College job boards
  • Referrals (within your network)
  • Content agencies

Even so, all of these sources post widely different rates depending on the:

  • Amount of content.
  • Type of content.
  • Experience of the writer.
  • Level of optimization required.

And a variety of other factors.

Some responders mentioned rates as low as $.02 per word and some as high as $2 per word.

Does the Market Set the Rate?

So, why the wide range in pricing?

Well, it could be said that the market sets the rate.

As the demand for great SEO content goes up, writers who know their value are inclined to charge more – rates that many agencies and companies are willing to pay.

At the same time, writers with the ability to churn out a high volume of content can create a lucrative business for themselves providing low-cost content to agencies.

Quality vs. Quantity – Is It Either/Or?

The variety, therefore, stems from the contrast between quality and quantity.

Some writers are competing on quality, so they charge what agencies are willing to pay. Others are competitive on price, and see the value in turning out more content at a lower rate than their competitors.

While many responders mentioned finding that sweet spot of a low-cost, high-quality writer, some warned that these writers tend not to stay cheap for long.

Once they realize what their competitors are charging (and see how much of an ROI they generate for their clients), they up their prices.

The Cost of Great SEO Content – Depends on the Goal

Therefore, many SEO pros came to the conclusion that what they (and others) are willing to pay should come down to the results they are hoping to generate from that content.

They were willing to invest less money on content that served a primary purpose of either attracting links or gaining the attention of search engines because it was more difficult to assign a monetary value to those gains.

Basically, why invest $$$ in content if you don’t intend to make money off of it.

Content for a Clear ROI

Others, however, reminded people that traffic or links are rarely the end goal of SEO content. Most websites hope to generate leads and sales.

Therefore, if even 1 conversion through a piece of content was enough to offset the cost of the content, what was worth it in their eyes? $2,000 in sales for a $150 blog post?A no-brainer.

All that being said, some SEO professionals are willing to settle with OK content knowing that they will need to edit and optimize it themselves. If not a huge inconvenience, perhaps this is worth it.

My question is, though:

Is the cost of one’s own labor more or less than how much it would cost to hire a skilled writer to begin with?

No one was able to answer this question.

SEO Pros Answer: ‘How Much Do You Pay for SEO Content?’

  • $100-$125 for 600-750 words.
  • $40 for 500 words.
  • $5-$10 per article.
  • $.10-$.20 per word.
  • $35 per article.
  • $.02 per word.
  • $4 per 100 words.

These were just some of the many responses I received to my question, “How much do you pay for great SEO content?” The answers ranged from $.02 per word to $2 per word.

Screenshot of comments in SEO Signal Lab Facebook group

Screenshot of comments in SEO Signal Lab Facebook group

Unfortunately, there was no clear majority answer to this question.

Members of SEO Signals Lab Facebook group discussing cost of SEO content.

Members of SEO Signals Lab Facebook group discussing cost of SEO content.

Some SEO pros insisted that there was no use in paying top dollar for SEO content, while others insisted that a high-quality SEO writer was worth their weight in gold.

Even some writers chimed in to share how much they charge – or how much they think other writers should charge.

Now, one could draw the conclusion that the real answer to this question (like most questions in the SEO space) is, “It depends.”

This may be true, to some extent. But, it’s always helpful to consider the numbers when it comes to making any informed decisions regarding your SEO strategy.

How to Budget for SEO Content

When sourcing content for your clients, you need a proper estimate so that you don’t go over budget. Therefore, it’s nearly impossible to rely on a value-based pricing structure. You need to know how much a writer charges right out the gate.

That makes investing in SEO content a bit of a risk, especially if it comes at a high price tag.

You’ll likely charge your own fee on top of that, and you don’t want to waste your client’s money on content that doesn’t generate results.

For these reasons, it’s worth doing your research to see the going rate for different types of SEO content.

In my experience (supported by many responders in the poll), the average rate for “great” SEO content tends to be between $.08-$.20 per word.

However, it’s not uncommon for writers to charge per page or per post – with the main reason being that a piece of content should be as long as it needs to be in order to be effective.

Great SEO Content Is an Investment

When I first started out in SEO content writing, I charged $.10 per word. This was because I had experience in the field, knew how much I wanted to be compensated for my time, and knew how much other SEO writers were charging.

I knew that I didn’t want to compete on the basis of price. I wanted my value to be apparent. I wanted to generate tangible results for my clients. I knew that my results needed to justify the cost.

As I built my portfolio, the value that I provided became even more apparent.

“We made it to page 1 for a 90,000 volume keyword”.

“Because of your article, someone reached out to feature us on TV”.

“This landing page brought us two leads this week” (a $2,000 value).

These results were gathered via conversion tracking, client testimonials, and self-reported leads generated through content.

Great SEO Writers *Typically* Charge More

Soon it became apparent that I should be charging more. The leads I generated for my clients were often valued at $1,000 or more. I was charging about $100 per post.

My experience also taught me how to evaluate who would be a good fit for my services. If their only goal was “more traffic”, it was a pass. If they wanted more – links, leads, sales, brand exposure, opportunities – then I was on board.

Do the Results Justify the Costs?

All of this is to say that no matter what you spend on SEO content, you should consider things in terms of ROI. If you envision generating thousands of dollars per lead from a blog post, a $300 investment doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

While it’s possible to find that “sweet spot” – high-quality and cheap – these writers are not the norm.

By opting for cheap content, you often run the risk of getting spun content, content that isn’t written with your target audience in mind, or content that it’s correctly optimized.

At the same time, high-quality writers are likely to charge more because they know how much their value is worth.

How to Decide How Much to Invest in SEO Content

With “expensive” writers, there can appear to be higher stakes – but the return could also be far greater than you imagined.

The key, then, is to assess the risk and work with writers that have a good reputation for generating clients a clear ROI.

How much you decided to invest in SEO content should depend primarily on what you want to achieve with your content.

Then, it’s a matter of finding a writer that can generate those results for you, and assessing whether the potential payoff is worth the investment.

11 Tips for How to Find Great Writers

Here are some tips for how to find SEO writers that will generate results that justify your investment.

  • Reach Out to Your Network: I highly recommend reaching out to your existing network to find writers that have a track record of proven results. A referral from someone within your industry is even better, ask what their experience was like working with the writer and what results they were able to generate.
  • Speak to the Writer Directly: Many businesses order content online without having a direct conversation with the writer – and by “direct” I mean a phone call or video chat. A lot can be lost in translation via email or messenger. As much as you are looking for a writer with the right skills, you want to be sure they are a good character fit. Communication is important
  • Ask to See Examples: Always ask to see examples of their work – particularly work that relates to your niche. Just note that stealing content examples is common practice online, so you don’t always know what you are getting. If they can send you an example with their name in the byline, that’s a safe bet.
  • Look for Case Studies and Reviews: Search their site (if they have one) for case studies or reviews. These will make it evident what kind of results they have been able to generate for their clients.
  • Assess Their SEO Knowledge: You may not expect your writer to be an SEO pro, but if you are looking to source SEO-friendly content, they should at least know the basics. It’s appropriate to ask them a few questions about their expertise or to ask to see example work related to SEO.
  • Ask How They Measure Success: Many writers will not know how to answer this question, or will answer with something like “more traffic”. Really, success can be measured in a variety of ways and it should depend on what you, the client, wants to achieve. A great SEO writer should be able to communicate this, and hopefully, speak in terms of ROI.
  • Understand Their Pricing Structure: Not every writer charges per word. In fact, this is becoming less of the norm because aiming for an arbitrary word count often doesn’t do a topic justice. Whether they charge per word, per page, or per project, make sure you thoroughly understand their pricing structure before you invest.
  • Know What’s Provided in Their Services: Some SEO writers only include the content and the H1 and H2 tags. Others include all on-page SEO. Even further, some provide keyword research or content planning. Ask what their services include and what needs to be provided by you.
  • Are Edits Included?: You should also know whether edits and/or rewrites are included. Complete rewrites are rare, as writers are essentially writing an entirely new piece without compensation. It’s common for writers to offer one round of edits and/or a refund if they miss the mark.
  • Know Their Refund Policy: Some writers offer refunds, others do not. Know this from the beginning (and get it in writing) before you find yourself in a pickle.
  • Set Expectations: Hiring a writer is like any other professional relationship in the sense that there are typically expectations from the beginning. Know what’s expected of you, make sure they know what’s expected of them, and outline a clear process when it comes to creating content together.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, there are mixed opinions on what constitutes “great” content, and how much great content costs.

Ultimately, it comes down to how much you are willing to invest in order to achieve the results you want.

I recommend researching your options, outlining clear expectations with your writer from the beginning, and building a relationship of clear communication and mutual benefit.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, June 2019

How to Add More Context to Your Social Media Content via @casieg

With social media engagement hovering below 0.1%, networks showing more ads than ever, and organic social visibility in a continuous decline, social media does not seem like the lucrative marketing channel it once was.

However, user bases are growing, customers are using social to interact with brands, and most importantly, social is having an impact on purchasing decisions.

What does this tell us?

While social media reach may be declining, your customers are still relying on these platforms to help them find information and connect with brands.

It tells us we have to figure out how to reach them in a landscape that’s working against us. We have to make social work for us in a different way.

Part of this starts with the content itself.

How do we give our audience something that interests them, that stands out, that captures their attention, all while adhering to character limits?

How to Add More Context to Your Social Media Content

How to Add More Context to Your Social Media Content

We add context.

As a user, one of my biggest frustrations is clicking on a link only to feel disappointed by the content itself.

Because of that, I’m more reluctant to click on links.

However, if I have an understanding of what the content entails before I actually open it, that’s immensely helpful.

The great thing is this can be done through imagery, expanded updates, videos, formatting, and more.

Let’s dive in.

1. Go Beyond the Headline

It’s simple – copy the post title and throw it into a social update. Easy enough right?

The problem with this is it can be so boring! In most cases, it doesn’t sell the post and it certainly doesn’t encourage people to click.

Instead of just sharing the headline, consider the following.

Quotes

Whether it’s a quote shared within the piece or a sentence that captured your attention, use call outs in your update.

Statistics

Statistics are a great way to make a point and/or support an idea. On top of that, they tend to draw people’s attention.

Have a stat within your content that is intriguing? Use that in your social updates.

Challenges / Solutions

Is your content solving someone’s problem? Then lead with that.

Tell your audience what the challenge is and how your content is helping to solve it.

Takeaways

One of my favorite content tactics, especially in longer form content, is to include a key takeaway for your readers. It calls out important points for the reader and ensures even the laziest readers can walk away with something.

The same thing applies to social updates. Don’t hesitate to focus on the key takeaways.


Want more tips on writing the perfect social media update?

I’d recommend this piece from Post Planner which looks at everything from optimal length to passive voice and audience messaging.

2. Make Better Use of Imagery

This one might seem obvious.

However, in my opinion, images are the key to success in social.

After all, we know users remember images over words and colors can grab attention much better than black and white.

The problem I see, is we are often lazy in our image selection. I know I am certainly guilty of this.

We grab a stock image or the featured blog image and call it a day. How helpful is that really?

How can we use images to add context to our social updates?

Here are a few ideas.

Use Your Words

Remember how I just said to use quotes/takeaways/stats in your updates? Take those and make them into images.

It’s a great way to catch people’s attention and provide some additional information to your update.

Add Motion

A few months ago I came across a Cotapaxi Instagram ad that I absolutely loved. Of course, I can’t find the exact ad, but it looked very much like this:

Cotapaxi is selling coats and these coats come in a variation of colors.

How can you show your audience those variations in one update?

With a GIF!

GIFs are fun, they grab attention, and with technology, creating them has never been easier.

Tools like Gifox, ezGif, and Giphy are free and simple to use.

Add a Voice

Want to give your users a preview of what they are going to get?

Why not talk directly to them?

Brie Anderson, a Program Director of Digital Marketing at WSU Tech recently posted a conference recap…as a video:

What I love about this post is it excites me. It tells me about the conference and what takeaways I should know.

The reality is, this could be done for any type of content and it can be done directly from your phone.

Just like GIFs, video doesn’t have to be hard and even subtitles can be done for free.

Tell a Story

Images allow us to tell a story that we might not otherwise be able to tell. Take for example these Facebook ads Chanel ran during Mother’s Day:

No words would be able to capture the feeling these ads bring. They are cute. They tell a story. And we know exactly what they are for.

Use your images to go beyond the normal. Use them to tell the story you want told.

Know Your Meme

The web moves quick and so do memes. From None of My Business Kermit to Sad Keanu, you never know what you might come across.

While silly, memes can be a great way to add context to your social updates. But just like anything else, don’t jump on a meme for the sake of jumping on it. Make sure it works for your brand. 

3. Use Your Whitespace

One thing I’ve noticed more lately is expanded social updates – updates that take up more space but don’t necessarily include more words.

Here’s an example:

What I love about these expanded updates is they allow you to give your followers more information about what you are sharing without overcrowding. They feel purposeful.

A few tips for creating expanded updates:

Use Emojis

Emojis can help you make a point much easier than words. They also stand out.

Let’s say you are going to list 3 items. Use the emoji numerals instead of simply writing the numbers 1,2,3. It makes the same point but grabs the eye a bit more.

Know the Network

If you are going to create expanded updates, remember that Facebook and LinkedIn will both cut off your update. Put your most important info at the beginning and be mindful of length.

End with Hashtags

Regardless of which network you are posting to, if you are going to create an expanded update, move your hashtags to the end.

While hashtags can be beneficial to search and add context, they can make an update appear crowded.

Go Get Moving!

Social media is becoming more and more difficult but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value.

As you start planning your next round of updates, think about how you can use some of the tips mentioned above to add more context and drive engagement.

Remember, you don’t have to do everything on this list but try testing different elements to find which works best for your audience. You never know what you might discover.

More Resources:


Image Credits

In-Post Image: Pexels

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

The cannabis industry has been exploding in the U.S. throughout 2018 and 2019. Dispensaries, new products, grow supplies and research are all gaining traction.

The fact that the legal framework is shifting almost daily does not stop investors, researchers, and entrepreneurs from investing in this rising market.

Paid advertising is either tricky or straight up impossible for many cannabis-related products due to the terms of service of many advertising platforms.

Organic Google traffic and SEO are the new best friends of the cannabis industry.

Winning the top positions now will hold valuable growth opportunities as the market emerges, and SEO becomes more competitive.

The best time to invest in SEO is now. This article outlines a content marketing framework – not just for cannabis businesses.

I will be walking you through the keyword research and content creation process for SEO using a practical example and highlighting many detailed insights for keyword selection, search intent, and page outline.

Cannabis Is Rising

The two main products of the rising cannabis market are marijuana and industrial hemp. Today, many Americans have access to legal marijuana – medical or recreational.

Business Insider reported:

“Eleven states and Washington, DC, have now legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21. And 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.”

A recent study released by Grand View Research showed that:

“The U.S. legal marijuana market size was estimated at USD 7.06 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.9% from 2017 to 2025. (…) The global legal marijuana market is expected to reach USD 146.4 billion by end of 2025.”

Disclaimer: Future-Proof Your Cannabis SEO

Before building an SEO strategy, check the terms of service of your platform and web hosting.

Make sure to future-proof your business by selecting providers that allow unusual businesses and edgy content. This includes payment providers as well.

It also might mean moving to an international provider.

Why Cannabis Loves SEO

I created one content piece for an ecommerce store at my previous agency. The store sells grow supplies for small indoor productions.

This highly relevant “how to” skyscraper feeds the top of the funnel with visitors:

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

This content piece was created based on the principles outlined in this article.

Understanding SEO Opportunities

Detailed keyword research will uncover where everything is at.

Below, you will find sample data for cannabis, marijuana, hemp, CBD, tinctures, and seeds.

It will give you an understanding of the huge opportunities in search and the overall rise in search volume.

A nice trick by Tim Soulo from Ahrefs is using the content explorer of their tool and setting referring domains to below 5. You will find creative content ideas that rank without many links – add them to your keyword research.

Cannabis keyword list

Cannabis keyword list

Let’s investigate some keywords in greater detail.

An interesting target keyword would be “cannabis tincture” with a keyword difficulty of only 13/100, even though the search traffic has been rising for years:

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

This keyword mainly works for ecommerce stores with transactional modifiers as “buy online,” “prices,” “best,” etc. But it could also make a great educational piece or skyscraper.

However, for the sake of this exercise, let’s dive deeper into the cannabis tincture universe.

A Page 1 review for this keyword reveals movements and changes in the top positions, even in the last 12 months – a great opportunity for your website to rank as well.

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

It also reveals that Google ranks pages that are optimized for “cannabis tincture,” as well as “marijuana tincture.” So, if we check the “marijuana tincture” chart, we see a similar result.

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

This means that Google understands that “cannabis tincture” and “marijuana tincture” both have the same search intent.

In this case I conclude: One target keyword cluster per page, and one page per target keyword cluster. This avoids keyword cannibalization and several pages of your own competing for the same keyword term.

Keep in mind: 2019 keyword selection is not as granular as it used to be. I would create one piece for both queries to avoid keyword cannibalization.

When competing with millions of pages on the web for the top 3 positions, why cannibalize and compete with yourself?

When choosing keywords and content opportunities, I suggest to review:

  • Average monthly searches and the trend over time.
  • Search intent: Does the keyword match your service/product?
  • Page 1: Position changes in successful websites.
  • Domain and page authority of the ranking pages compared to mine.
  • Keyword difficulty.

How to Choose Target Keywords Based on Difficulty

Which keyword difficulty is the right difficulty for your website?

Yes, lower is better (easier), and if you have a brand new website, stick below 10.

But if you have an established website, here is my trick to find the keyword difficulty that you’ll be able to successfully rank for quickly.

Pull a ranking report, filter by rankings between 1 and 10 (or 1 and 5 if you have many successful keywords).

Then put this keyword list into the “keyword explorer” (e.g., Ahrefs or similar), export, and calculate the average keyword difficulty.

In the case, the website has more than 900 keywords ranking on page 1. The average keyword difficulty is 28. Which means, I can comfortably choose a difficulty up to 28 and expect to be ranking well with time (and some SEO love).

Content Planning & Page Outlines for Cannabis SEO

From there, you can start to plan a page outline and supporting articles.

Tools like Answer The Public allow the ability to identify relevant questions that users have around your topic of choice.

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

And while this visualization is fun to look at, make sure to download the CSV, which contains more than 400 questions. Plug them into your keyword tool to find those with relevant search volume:

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

Ahrefs also offers a “question” section within the keyword explorer for even more ideas.

You can use these keywords and ideas to build sections within your page outline.

A sample outline for your guide on cannabis is:

H1: Everything you need to know about cannabis tincture

H2: Cannabis tincture effects

H2: Cannabis tincture benefits

H3: Cannabis tincture for pain

H3: Cannabis tincture for Cancer

H2: Cannabis tincture side effects

Supporting Articles Create Relevance

The keyword “how to make cannabis tincture” would make a good supporting article.

It allows for internal linking to your main piece, while it covers a different target audience that is looking for DYI solutions instead of buying a prepared tincture.

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

When reviewing the top 3 results, they all cover the “how to make” topic within the main piece.

It depends on your target audience and how important the “how to make” keyword is for you whether you are willing to invest into a new piece – or just add a section.

Ideally, you will want to create 3-5 supporting articles when covering a new topic or keyword category. It will allow you to build out the silo and create relevance – and they also make great backlink targets.

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

For cannabis tincture, the supporting articles could be:

  • How to make cannabis tincture
  • Marijuana tincture recipe
  • How to use cannabis tincture

And don’t forgot to optimize your shop category page for transactional modifiers like “buy online”.

Word Count, Variations & Page Elements

We have now created a content plan for four articles: One main piece on tinctures and three supporting articles.

For each of these pieces, you will want to research relevant questions and outline the page using the numerical headlines.

We now want to give our page outline the final touches. I use Page Optimizer Pro which uses statistical relevance to compare my page against successful websites.

By analyzing the top 5 results, I can see that my target word count for the page is: 1,657 words.

We can update the page outline using the on-page SEO recommendations for the target keyword. This turns an editorial briefing based on user interest into a briefing targeted toward Google’s needs. Basically an SEO-friendly facelift of your content.

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

How to Rank Cannabis Content: An SEO Deep Dive

The tool also pulls variations and contextual keywords, and creates the same on-page SEO recommendations.

Relevant variations to my target keyword are:

  • cannabis
  • tincture
  • tincture cannabis
  • thc
  • marijuana tincture
  • thc tinctur
  • tincture’s

Semantically related keywords are:

  • tinctures
  • overview
  • asa
  • legal info
  • leafly
  • lounges
  • social
  • social lounges
  • id
  • oil
  • faqs
  • dispensaries
  • butter
  • events
  • legal
  • step
  • state
  • alcohol
  • cannabis tinctures
  • data
  • image
  • effect
  • news
  • everything
  • want
  • recipe
  • info
  • large
  • fine
  • days
  • thca
  • sign
  • add
  • grams
  • like
  • action
  • cannabutter
  • glass
  • cheesecloth
  • know
  • made
  • final

The tool also delivers some insights on the usage of page elements such as images, video, and lists.

Start Writing SEO Content for the Cannabis Industry

With that, we have all we need to create a content piece that is based on:

  • Data-driven keyword research.
  • User intent and the type of content needed.
  • Statistically relevant ranking factors, including keywords and word count.

Now, all that is left to do is to write 1,657 words of high-quality content.

Now it’s your turn!

Try applying some of these advanced content tricks to create a new piece that both users and Google will love.

More Resources:


Image Credits

In-Post Image: Business Insider
All screenshots taken by author, June 2019

Paywalls & SEO: A Winning Strategy via @ChuckPrice518

Developing a winning SEO strategy has always been subject to debate.

While most SEO professional agree on the key factors to organic rankings as being good content, solid website architecture and strong backlinks, the prioritization and execution of these factors can and does vary widely. This is in no small part due to Google’s non-transparent algorithm and endless core updates.

At the most basic level, the purpose of SEO is to make your website rank as high as possible in organic search results. In other words, make your content more visible to users.

Now consider for a moment what would happen if you put an obstacle such as a paywall in front of a user who arrived at your page intending to read your content. This would seem to run counter-intuitive to providing a good user experience – but not necessarily.

Putting your content behind paywalls or gates does provide some benefits:

  • One can get more information about users who access the content.
  • Users who go through the effort to seek out content behind a paywall will often consider it more useful, trustworthy and valuable.
  • Users who access gated content are often more likely to become a customer or client than others, who choose not to.

That being said, there are drawbacks to gating content. The biggest three are:

  • You can count on a smaller audience, as users choose not to pass through the gate.
  • It’s harder to earn links as users may not want to be seen as marketers for your content.
  • There’s sometimes a negative reaction by users who get stopped by a paywall or gated content, as they have become accustomed to receiving and consuming content freely.

Paywalls & SEO: A Winning Strategy

Paywalls & SEO: A Winning Strategy

What Does Google Have to Say About Paywalled Content?

Regardless of whether your content is free or premium, you have to follow Google’s guidelines.

The biggest problem for premium content owners is how to be visible in search if their content is not freely available to all users.

To mitigate this, Google initially introduced a First Click Free (FCF) policy. What that meant was that in addition to their premium content, publishers had to provide some free content that users could access through Google search.

Suffice it to say that publishers weren’t the biggest fans of this model and it was discontinued in 2017 in favor of a new one, more aptly called “Flexible Sampling”.

Basically, the new model gives publishers more maneuvering space in deciding how much of their content they want to provide freely to users and how they want to provide it.

There are three options that publishers can choose from in Flexible Sampling:

Lead-in

With this option, the reader gets a portion or a snippet of an entire article, while the rest remains hidden.

If the user wants to read the rest of the article, he or she has to pay a subscription fee. For example, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and The Times all use this model.

Metered

In this case, the user can visit a limited number of articles (usually three) per month. After that, users are prompted to subscribe to the website.

Several websites, including The New York Times, New York Magazine’s Sites and Medium, use this method.

Paywalls & SEO: A Winning Strategy

Paywalls & SEO: A Winning Strategy

Hard Paywalls

With hard paywalls, all content is gated off. Gated content doesn’t get crawled or indexed by search engines.

That means there is no chance of a gated website’s content appearing organically in search results.

So Which of the Three Is the Best Option?

This largely depends on the purpose of your content.

News platforms, such as the New York Times, have had good success with metered content. This model allows visitors to get a good idea of the quality of their content, by providing full samples as “teasers” to entice users to subscribe.

As of November 2018, seven and one-half years into the metered subscription experiment, the “failing” NY Times reportedly has more than 2.5 million digital news subscribers.

That said, lead-in content also has its place. If your premium content revolves more around industry studies, charts, statistics and data in general, you may do better with lead-ins rather than metered content. You can present a problem in front of the paywall and offer to solve it on the other side.

Hard paywalls and SEO don’t mix ~ this is not an option.

Balancing Free & Premium Content

Free content has a clear advantage over premium content when it comes to organic search, due to its sheer volume. This doesn’t mean that premium content publishers will be devoid of organic search opportunities.

In fact, one could argue that engaging in SEO is MORE important for subscription sites, as they have an extra hurdle (paywall) to clear.

Premium content publishers actually have two good options.

  • They can seek to find a balance between free and premium content like the New York Times does.
  • Or they can create content that readers are searching for, but can’t get anywhere else. This content essentially needs to be exclusive.

In other words, one can’t put just any type of content behind a paywall.

Basic articles such as “How to Optimize Your Website for SEO” number in the thousands (millions?) on the web and be found with a quick Google search for free. Users have no reason or motivation to pay for that kind of content.

On the other hand, if a publisher puts considerable effort into discovering a need and then creating a solution in the form of a whitepaper, ebook, or in-depth article, they can justify putting their specialized content behind a paywall. If the content is authored by a renowned expert, so much the better.

In deciding whether to gate content or not, it may be a good idea to consider the following three questions:

What Is the End Game?

Are you looking to increase subscribers or generate leads? If so, then content should probably be gated in some way.

However, if you are looking to generate more visitors and links, the gating approach will be counterproductive.

Is the Content Worth Paying For?

Put yourself in the user’s shoes and answer this question: “Is this content valuable enough for me to pay for it or fill out a form?”

Be careful when answering this question. As the creator or curator of content, pride of authorship can make it difficult to be truly unbiased.

Is the Data Collected Worthwhile?

Another consideration when it comes to content gating is how it impacts the user experience. The rise in the use of pop-ups and overlays is directly responsible for the increase in ad blocking software.

By forcing users to turn over personal information to access gated content, a (sometimes large) percentage of data collected consists of fake names and burner email accounts.

The ‘Fred’ Update & the Difference Between Premium & Cloaked Content

In March 2017, Google introduced an algorithm update that was dubbed Fred.

The basic idea was to reward websites that provided positive user experience and to demote websites light on quality content and heavy on ads.

Fred also had the unintended consequence of demoting some legitimate paywall websites.

Technical SEO Considerations for Paywalled Content

One initial problem with Fred was that it had difficulty in differentiating between paywalled and hidden (cloaked) content. Since then, Google has come up with a solution: structured data.

In order for paywalled content to be eligible to appear in Google search results, it needs to follow the Structured and Technical Guidelines.

JSON-LD and microdata formats are accepted methods for specifying structured data for paywalled content.

Don’t nest content sections.

Only use .class selectors for the cssSelector property.

Here is an example of how to indicate paywalled content to comply with Google’s guidelines:

Paywalls & SEO: A Winning Strategy

Paywalls & SEO: A Winning Strategy

One more important point; clever searchers have learned that paywalls can be bypassed by going into the Google cache and reading content for free.

To prevent this, one needs to use the noarchive robots meta tag, which will stop Google from showing the cached link to that page.

Conclusion

Should your content be behind a paywall? As we’ve seen, there are a number of factors to consider.

Most importantly, does a paywall or subscription provide value? Enough value for users to justify payment? Or can users access the same type of content elsewhere, for free, on the Internet?

If your premium content is truly unique and not available elsewhere online, a paywall can be a good idea.

You just have to contend with the fact that you may have a smaller audience. But the upside is those who do subscribe, will often be more loyal, will tell you more about themselves by filling out forms, and will provide more value by paying for the content.

More Resources:


Image Credits

Featured Image: 7163893/Pixabay
In-Post Image: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay
Screenshots taken by author, June 2019

11 Powerful Email Marketing Tips You Need to Know via @reshurathi

Are you struggling to get good returns from your email marketing campaigns?

If you answered that yes, then continue reading to get powerful email marketing tips that you need to know right now.

Let’s dive right in.

1. Use the Double Opens Strategy

When you use “double opens strategy,” more subscribers will open your emails.

This means a better chance of driving more revenue from these email campaigns.

So: what is double opens strategy exactly?

Simply put, it means you should resend the same email to the subscribers who did not open your first email, but with a different subject line.

Why?

Because 7 out of 10 people on your email list won’t open your email the first time. By re-sending the same email to these non-openers you can boost your open rates and email marketing ROI.

Before you resend the same emails, pay attention to these things:

  • Create better subject lines that captivate non-openers to open your emails.
  • Optimize your preheader text.
  • Pay attention to your send time.
  • Don’t resend it straight away – wait for some time. Ideally, you should wait for 3-5 days before you resend the same email to non-openers.

2. Use a Cliffhanger in Your Subject Line

What is the best way to get more people to open your emails?

The most obvious way is by engaging them, which is true.

But there’s more.

You can hook your email subscribers with your subject lines and make them curious by using a cliffhanger.

How?

Used as an old-school copywriting technique, cliffhangers holds something back from the readers which ultimately will drive them to know more.

Here are two real-life examples to show you how to use this in your subject lines.

I received this subject line from Orbitz, a travel fare aggregator website:

“Wake up like this…”

This one is from The Trip Tribe.

“The secret to a great vacation…”

Because both these subject lines are incomplete and an ellipsis follows them, it compelled me to open the emails.

Caution: Don’t overuse this technique as this can annoy your subscribers.

3. Pay Preheader the Same Attention You Give to Your Subject Lines

Preheader text is super important. The more enticing your preheader text, the better your open rates.

I’d say utilizing the preheader space effectively is one of the easiest way to increase engagement. But the most common mistakes that marketers make: they neglect this space.

It’s not that they don’t craft a preview text, but they rarely use it to complement or supplement the subject lines. And they don’t pay it the same attention as they give to their subject lines.

So, learn to optimize both your preheader text and subject lines.

In the following example, Pottery Barn does a great job with its preheader space by utilizing it to supplement the subject line:

11 Powerful Email Marketing Tips You Need to Know

11 Powerful Email Marketing Tips You Need to Know

 Remember – your preheader is just as important as the subject line itself.

4. Make Your CTA Buttons Contextual

As a marketer, you work hard to craft an eye-catching subject line and write compelling email copy.

But if you aren’t crafting CTAs that encourage subscribers to click on your messages, your campaigns could fall short.

Instead of using something generic like “shop now” or “buy now’’, come up with something that hooks your readers interest a little bit more. Also, when crafting CTA ask these questions to yourself:

  • Is it descriptive?
  • Is it easy to act on?
  • Is it hard to miss?

In the following example, Blue Nile does a great job with its CTA – the button is creating a strong sense of urgency that can help in driving action. The CTA button also gels well with the subject line and copy of the email.

Contextual Call-to-action

Contextual Call-to-action

 

5. Make Engagement a Priority

Most marketers approach email marketing with a short term goal in mind – to boost sales.

That’s a natural thing to do; after all, the primary goal of your marketing email is to increase sales.

But it’s actually the opposite of what you should be doing. You should keep the focus on building a relationship with your subscribers.

People join your email list because they want to know more about your business, not because they want to buy products from you.

Remember engagement is the key to driving good returns from your email campaigns in the long run.

6. Keep the Subject Line Concise to Standout in Mobile

Want to increase your email open rates? Trim your subject lines!

Do you know 51% of emails are opened on mobile devices these days?

You don’t have much space to draw in your readers, so try to keep your subject lines concise and compelling that will make readers want to know more.

Now you must be thinking how to keep your subject lines short, enticing, and captivating all at the same time? Here’s how:

  • Use numbers, symbols or emojis.
  • Leverage the power of personalization.
  • Use creativity.

Here are a few examples to show you how:

Clear and concise subject line

Clear and concise subject line

Short and enticing subject line

Short and enticing subject line

Personalized subject line

Personalized subject line

7. Use Frequency Capping

We all know that no matter the channel over messaging can lead to frustrated customers and email marketing is no exception.

Every subscriber has their limit when it comes to how many messages they receive, and if you cross that limit there are consequences.

Nearly 46% of subscribers will mark your email as spam or unsubscribe from your email list:

Why subscribers mark you spam

Why subscribers mark you spam

Now the question is how to avoid over emailing your subscribers? Well, you can use frequency capping!

Frequency capping is a feature that allows you to limit the number of mailers your subscribers will receive during a particular time. You can set the value to the desired number to avoid the hazards of over emailing.

While this may be a common sense tip, it isn’t a common practice, especially for B2C companies.

As a subscriber, we all have received a promotional mailer, a cart-recovery mailer, and a welcome mailer from a brand in a day. By capping your email frequency, you can prevent that from happening to your subscribers.

8. A/B Test Your Email Copy Frequently

Regular split testing is one of the best ways to improve your email campaigns.

The more you test, the more patterns you’ll start to spot, and the better you’ll be able to adjust your email strategy.

But when doing A/B testing do not pay much attention to your opinion as your gut instinct can be surprisingly far off the mark when it comes to what will work in email marketing.

So it’s incredibly important to base your decisions on data rather than guesswork or intuition.

What elements of the email should you split test?

  • From line
  • Subject line
  • Preview text
  • Email copy
  • Call to action

Test only one element at a time (either subject line or preheader text) for the most accurate results.

Use A/B testing, not your guesswork to pick what’s right.

9. Maintain Your Email Lists

 To get good results from email marketing, you need to remove the bad addresses that affect your reputation as well as your overall deliverability.

It’s not an email marketing tip that gets written about, but it’s as critical.

Too many marketers keep the focus on growing their email list, but they forget that there is no benefit of having more people on the list if you won’t reach the inboxes of your subscribers.

Don’t spend all your energy trying to get more people on your list; direct some of your energy toward reaching the inboxes of your subscribers, too.

10. Keep It Short

I have noticed that shorter emails are more likely to land in the Primary tab.

Is that a coincidence? This is a topic of much debate. And there is no conclusive evidence.

If you don’t believe that the length of the email plays a role to land into the Primary tab, then you can conduct an A/B test.

11. Stay Updated

Email marketing has changed significantly, and it is continually evolving. What has worked in the past may not work now or in the near future. And we all know that.

That’s why most email marketers think the only path to success is by learning more. But they forget that unlearning what is not working is also essential.

When marketers fall victim to some email marketing myths and misconceptions, their conversion from this channel falls.

Be aware of what’s not working and avoid those mistakes at all costs – if you want to convert your subscribers into customers.

To Sum Up

Email marketing has been around for years, but only a few marketers have mastered it.

If you want to master this channel quickly, this is this important thing you need to know:

Make sure your emails focus on what your audience wants to hear and not necessarily what you want to tell them.

Keep that in mind, and you’ll be on your way to maximizing success via this channel.

Also, don’t forget to pay attention to these important email marketing tips.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, April 2019

How to Harvest Content Ideas from Reddit via @gregjarboe

Getting the right organic content to the right people at the right time can seem impossible.

Unless your name is Daniel Russell. The COO of Go Fish Digital, Russell has worked with some of the world’s largest organizations and well-known public figures to build their brands online.

In just the last year, his work has hit the front page of Reddit, earned the #1 spot on YouTube, and has been featured in The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Yahoo News, and Inc.

His presentation at this year’s Content Marketing Conference (Secret Sauce: Harvesting Content Ideas from Reddit) explained how to open up the treasure troves of content ideas on Reddit, so we can create content that is:

Following the conference, I interviewed him about his secret sauce. Here are my questions and his answers (note: some answers have been edited for clarity and length).

When did Reddit stop looking like a ‘dystopian Craigslist’ and start acting grown up?

Daniel Russell (DR): Many would say it’s still not grown up, and they’d be mostly right.

Outsiders continue to find Reddit’s interface confusing and the community quirky, but Reddit has come a long way from its early years.

One of the biggest jumps forward was in 2016 when Reddit hired a team of about 20 graphic designers and UX specialists to work on a redesign.

About a year and a half later, in April 2018, Reddit released the first major visual overhaul of its interface in over a decade.

Initially, the community was not happy about the update. They had been using the same interface for 10 years and now they had to adapt to something new!

The redesign also drew a lot of inspiration from Facebook’s most recent interface, and a lot of users drew disparaging comparisons between the two – the community wants Reddit to be the anti-Facebook, not look more like it.

For me, as an active Reddit user and someone in the digital marketing and design space, I had a few thoughts about it as well.

I was not excited about learning a new UI and it did look like “ugly Facebook”, but it was much more user-friendly and I could tell that fewer people would hit Reddit’s front page, be intimidated by its layout, and leave.

By moving from what looked like a basic link aggregator with some poorly designed buttons and hyperlinks scattered around the page to a more buttoned-up, social-media-platform-esque design, Reddit has attracted new users and increased engagement.

Why do you think Reddit is an amazing place to find content ideas?

DR: A lot of it comes down to volume. Reddit isn’t fully transparent with their numbers, but we do know that Reddit.com saw 542 million visitors in March 2019 alone.

That’s billions of visits if you extrapolate that out over a full year.

Those visitors are constantly finding or creating cool content to post on Reddit (in hopes of collecting Reddit’s socially-validating “karma” from other users who “upvote” content), so hundreds of millions of users mean a daily deluge of new content flooding your computer screen.

Not all of it is good stuff. A lot of the content on Reddit is low quality and some of it is plagiarized. But the upvote/downvote system helps keep the cream of the content crop rising to the top.

Reddit’s user base is also exceptionally young. In Pew’s research study on Reddit, they found that 64% of the platform’s users were between the ages of 19-29.

That younger demographic tends to be the source of many social trends, so the content they’re generating on Reddit often pops up on other platforms like Twitter, Buzzfeed, and Twitch several weeks after it is first seen by Redditors.

So, marketers who are tuned-in to the Reddit scene and use it to source ideas can be on top of the hippest content from one of the prime young audiences.

That 19-29 demo is also one of the most lucrative audiences for advertising.

While you certainly can advertise on Reddit, you definitely should use Reddit to understand that audience and get more from your advertising copy and content.

What are all the Reddit rules and cultural nuances in a nutshell?

DR: Reddit has a lot of rules. It has so many that most users violate half of them before figuring out the ropes.

Reddit has moderators, a mix of volunteers and Reddit employees, who enforce these rules and who remove content or ban accounts that aren’t in accordance with the rules.

Luckily, breaking minor guidelines usually won’t get you banned. And the major rules that will get you banned are also the ones that most affect the content you’ll find on Reddit, so they’re really worth paying attention to.

Probably the most important rule for marketers to know is “No Spam”.

Reddit users hate spam because it ruins the genuine community they belong to and Reddit the organization hates spam because it wants you to just pay to advertise.

As a result, self-promotion is hunted down and penalized with ruthless abandon. There’s even an entire subreddit dedicated to sniffing out spam called r/HailCorporate.

What does that mean for marketers?

Well, for one, don’t try to spam Reddit! It’s risky and usually the downsides outweigh the potential rewards.

It also means that most of the content you see on Reddit is organic and genuine.

Like many internet cultures, Reddit has a unique lingo.

If you take the slang used by today’s high school and college crowds, mix in some technical jargon, and then add Reddit’s internal labels in the pot, you’ll understand most of what you read.

Reddit’s own labels are the most important for marketers.

You can learn most of these by reading Reddit’s FAQs and rules pages but the big ones are:

  • Subreddits (smaller discussion boards dedicated to particular topics).
  • Mods (short for “moderators” or the people that control content and enforce rules).
  • Shadowbanned (the status of users who have been banned from certain subreddits or Reddit as a whole).
  • Karma (the points users collect from other Redditors).
  • Repost (content that has already been posted on Reddit before – sometimes allowed, sometimes not).
  • OC (stands for “Original Content”).

These definitions are a good starting point, but to get fully fluent in “Redditor”, you have to become an active user.

Finally, Reddit is filled to the brim with inside jokes.

For example, it was really popular a couple years ago to compare everything on Reddit to the size of a banana.

Someone would take a picture of a sunset over the Grand Canyon with a banana in the background and title their post on Reddit “Grand Canyon Sunset (banana for scale)”.

If you came in cold at the height of that inside joke, I’m sure it’d seem strange. But if you were there for the whole buildup of the joke, you’d probably think it was hilarious like the rest of Reddit.

There’s not much that can be done here except to become an active user. And if you see something that makes zero sense, it’s likely one of these inside jokes.

How do we use the quirks and hacks for advanced search and discovery?

DR: You can get a lot from Reddit just by paying attention to what’s on the front page and what’s trending. But you can take your idea harvesting to another level by treating Reddit like one of your marketing software tools.

Marketing departments and agencies pay a lot of money for the analytics gleaned from tools like BuzzSumo, Ahrefs, and others, but you can get amazing insights from Reddit for free.

It’s an unbelievable tool, and you can unlock its potential by using Reddit’s filter and search functions.

The basic search bar on Reddit is not the greatest. Instead, I recommend using Reddit’s advanced search function and relying on search parameters to narrow down on niche topics.

But my all-time favorite method for sourcing content ideas from Reddit does not involve the search function. Instead, I use the Reddit’s filters to get at the golden ideas.

My favorite filter combo is to:

  • Pick a subreddit that matches your target topic.
  • Filter that subreddit’s content by “Top” so that only the most popular content shows up.
  • Reduce that list down to just content that was posted in the last month.

This helps you get the magic mix of relevancy, potency, and recency.

Who provides some case study examples that can guide the research process?

DR: I’ve got a bunch of case studies that follow actual content marketing campaigns sourced from Reddit. The most effective campaign we’ve done so far was for a jewelry client of ours here at Go Fish Digital.

Our team noticed that the Hydraulic Press Channel, a channel on YouTube with rising popularity, was regularly on the front page of Reddit.

The YouTube videos usually included footage of various things (like watermelons, computers, playdough) being smashed in a hydraulic machine press.

My coworker, Blake, threw out the idea that if a diamond was smashed in the hydraulic press, it would probably make it to the front page of Reddit.

I found the Hydraulic Press Channel’s purveyor – a gentleman from Finland who runs a machine shop.

I got his contact information and we sent him our proposal: we’ll send you a big diamond if you’ll crush it for your channel.

They said yes!

The video came out a few weeks later and went to the top of Reddit, the top of YouTube, and the top of the internet.

Our client’s diamond and brand saw over 10.5 million video views, 100,000+ social shares, mentions from top news outlets like Huffington Post, CNN and even the Weather Channel, and lots of backlinks.

And it all started with finding top content on Reddit.

Where can we find the new road map to harvesting ideas that will be a surefire success?

DR: The main gist of the strategy is to use Reddit to keep up on what’s trending around topics that matter to you. Use the platform’s search and sorting functions to in-depth with specific keywords and topics.

Here is the high-level outline:

  • Become an active Reddit user.
  • Curate a list of subreddits that have topics and content that align with your industry or business.
  • Keep an eye on what is trending in those subreddits.
  • Use the advanced search and sorting functions. My function is to take your target subreddit and filter the content by “Top” from the last month.
  • Model and riff off of the content that you find

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5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing via @JuliaEMcCoy

What’s trending in content marketing and SEO these days?

Let’s say this: Content is more important than ever.

More specifically, quality, media type, authenticity, and audience targeting all come into play if you want to win with readers and Google.

Ready to learn more?

These are the five content marketing and SEO trends you need to know.

1. Go Beyond (WAY Beyond) Superficial Content

We’re seeing brands leave superficial content behind in favor of blogs and articles that plumb the depths of a topic.

That means more and more blogs are comprehensive, thoroughly researched and – you guessed it – long.

For instance, look at the SERP for the query [content marketing examples]. The top 4 results have an average length of 2,207 words.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

Furthermore, all these results are chock-full of real-world examples, studies, statistics, and facts.

This research had to be accurately and carefully compiled, referenced, and cited.

This Optinmonster blog (result #2 and a featured snippet) is well-researched, meaning it includes lots of examples, links to sources, and screenshots. It also clocks in at over 3,000 words:

This is what is necessary to rank well with readers and search engines these days.

Still publishing unplanned, unresearched, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants content?

Not going to work anymore. In fact, I could argue this method never worked in the first place.

Superficial content will get you superficial results, at best. There is rarely any value in content that skims the surface of a topic.

No value = no audience interest. No audience interest = no results.

2. Invest in Content Creation Processes

To create best-of-the-best content, more brands than ever are investing in content creation processes.

According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 B2C research, 56% of content marketers increased spending within the last 12 months on content creation.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

That might involve:

  • Researching keywords and topics.
  • Planning what the content will cover (and why).
  • Writing the content.
  • Optimizing.
  • Editing.
  • Creating graphics, pulling screenshots, or leveraging the written content into multimedia.
  • Posting and promoting the content across multiple channels.

The interest in creating content is a matter of course.

Content marketing has reached peak popularity over the last few years, according to Google Trends.

Most marketers want a piece of the promised land.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

Investing more dollars in content creation processes makes sense:

How else can you create the type of value-packed, high-quality content that readers love and search engines rank?

If you don’t invest, you won’t have the resources to do it right.

End of story.

3. Use Content Personalization for Ultra-Targeted Content

Another widely-adopted content marketing trend is content personalization.

According to a survey from Evergage, 93% of marketers use personalization for at least one channel in their digital marketing strategy.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

This practice focuses on tailoring the content your site serves to different users based on readily available personal data like demographics, preferences, and search/browsing history.

According to the Evergage survey, most marketers agree that this tactic:

  • Helps deliver better customer experiences.
  • Increases customer loyalty.
  • Generates measurable ROI.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

The point is, the content that speaks to one type of user won’t speak to another. A first-time visitor to your page has different needs than a visitor on their 20th session, for example.

Content personalization gives each of them slightly different pages filled with content that will appeal to their personal needs.

Conversion XL Chart

Conversion XL Chart

This chart from ConversionXL shows how two different versions of content are served to two different users.

4. Double-Down on Building Customer Loyalty with Authenticity & Transparency

According to a 2019 Stackla survey, 90% of consumers agree that authenticity matters for the brands they like and support. Most marketers are aware of this trend and want to be that authentic voice people crave.

The problem? 92% of marketers think the content they create oozes authenticity, but 51% of consumers think less than half of all brands accomplish this.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

However, when brands get authenticity right, the rewards are huge. A Cohn & Wolfe survey found almost 90% of consumers are willing to reward a brand’s authenticity by taking action:

  • 52% said they would recommend the brand to other people
  • 49% would give the brand their loyalty

If marketers are often mistaken about the authenticity in their content, how can they get past their overconfidence and reach what works?

Brands that understand what authenticity actually means will come out on top. Michael Fertik for Forbes defines it like this:

“Being authentic means being accountable and upholding your brand promise. It requires transparency and a dash of vulnerability. When a brand is authentic, consumers know it, appreciate it and prioritize their spending accordingly.”

For examples of authenticity in big-name brands, look at Amazon, Apple, Lego, and Intel – all of these appear in Cohn & Wolfe’s list of the 100 Most Authentic Brands ranked by consumers.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

5. Expand Your Horizons Past Just Blogging

Blogging is a big deal in content marketing, but it’s not the end-all, be-all.

Blogging is awesome, don’t get me wrong.

My agency has seen 99% of our leads and sales come through our organic content rankings.

That said, we are living in a dynamic, multi-channel, multi-experience digital world.

If you only target people who read blogs and articles, you’re missing out on all the people who prefer only video, only audio, or a mix of two or three in their browsing adventures.

According to Nielsen, U.S. adults over age 18 now spend nearly half of their days – over 11 hours total – consuming content. (Over 6 of those hours are devoted to video content!)

They get their content everywhere: On live TV, time-shifted TV, the internet, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, radio, DVD/Blu-ray devices, and other internet-connected devices.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

Most marketers are wise to this trend and are diving into the uncharted waters of YouTube, podcasts, webinars, and live streaming along with their blogging strategies.

If you’re still only blogging, it’s time to start thinking about adding on a YouTube channel, a podcast, or some other form of dynamic media to your content strategy.

For best results, go where your audience lives.

Trending Content & SEO Tactics Are Just the Beginning

As content marketing evolves, these trends are just the start of new shifts in the industry.

Over the last year alone, we have seen brands reprioritizing their audiences, refocusing on telling authentic stories, and shifting to include more channels in their content strategy.

Going forward, brands that invest in the right trends will see more growth overall. Are you ready?

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Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, May 2019

How to Manage & Maximize Content Creation on a Large Scale [Webinar] via @lorenbaker

Producing content is a challenge for businesses of all sizes – but especially for large organizations.

With so many moving parts, enterprises should find a way to streamline the content management process while ensuring quality output.

So how can content teams achieve success and make their content stand out in a crowded marketplace?

Join our next live webinar on Wednesday, June 12 at 2 p.m. ET as ScribbleLive’s Lauren Klein and Makayla Millington of Autodesk share the best practices to manage and maximize your content creation process on a large scale.

In this sponsored webinar, you will discover:

  • How Autodesk and ScribbleLive work together to automate project management, simplify workflow, and increase collaboration.
  • Examples and best practices for streamlining content creation, management, and usage across a large organization.

I will host a live Q&A session following the presentation.

See you there!

register

register

Writing Successful Slogans & Jingles: 11 Perfect Examples via @searchmastergen

Some brand jingles and slogans are easily remembered. Others are easily forgotten.

That’s because different people remember different things.

A person can typically remember the jingle, its message, and (most importantly) the brand represented by it, when considering some of the best jingles and slogans over the last 30 years.

Sure, some stick out more than others. Some have been iconic; others have been legendarily awful.

But no matter how you slice it, the really good ones leave impressions that last years, decades, or even a lifetime.

Here are some of the most iconic jingles and/or slogans that have succeeded over the last three decades because of the high-quality writing behind them.

11. Motel 6: “We’ll leave the light on for you.”

This Motel 6 slogan was born in the best way: as an ad-libbed line-turned-instant success – and a perfect representation of the motel brand and its values.

Created off the cuff by NPR personality Tom Bodett, this slogan was an optimal way to convey the hotel chain’s welcoming spirit, affordable prices, and general availability.

A slogan that has lasted more than 30 years with showing no signs of stopping, it clearly stands for what Motel 6 is trying to communicate.

And it’s working.

If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

10. Maybelline: “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.”

Used since 1991, the slogan was the anchor for “the number one cosmetics company in America” and its advertising.

It made it until 2016, when it was replaced by the brand’s new “Make it Happen” tagline. But not before it was voted “most recognizable” over the last 150 years by Marketing Week in 2013.

9. Red Bull: “Red Bull gives you wings.”

Red Bull has been a revolutionary product creating a revolutionary experience since the Austrian company’s inception in 1987.

And what better way to do that than with a slogan like “Red Bull gives you wings” for an energy drink that was going to change your day, and ultimately your life?

Only problem was, Red Bull wasn’t offering much more than the average cup of coffee in terms of a jolt (via caffeine). And the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York decided that the slogan was misleading customers.

The extra pep in your step – or “wings” as Red Bull called them in its marketing – was deemed ambiguous and Red Bull paid out a $13 million settlement.

8. Skittles: “Taste the rainbow.”

Remarkably in its 25th year as the slogan for Skittles, “Taste the rainbow” has done plenty right.

What began in 1963 under the name “Glees,” Skittles have become the most popular non-chocolate candy in America with its iconic slogan.

Sure, being a tasty candy helps. But the brand’s marketing has found a way to keep the same slogan throughout multiple generations, all while effectively communicating with its audience in a way that has kept us listening, watching, and even laughing.

The slogan has helped convey an enticing image for its product and its relationship with the “rainbow” reference, a connection it will likely always – at least for the general future – be associated with.

And for good reason.

7. McDonald’s: “I’m lovin’ it.”

Another jingle that was communicated – at least in the beginning – by a famous personality was McDonald’s long-running slogan of “I’m lovin’ it,” which got assistance from Justin Timberlake in 2003 when it launched.

The fast-food company’s campaign was anchored around the J.T. song by the same name, which became one of Timberlake’s full-length songs on his album at the time.

McDonald’s spent $1.37 billion in advertising in 2003 when the campaign launched, which led to an 11% increase in sales that year ($17.1 billion).

So, yeah, you could say it worked.

6. Marines: “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”

Used since 1977, “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” has remained one of the Marines’ primary recruiting slogans, but it hasn’t been the only one.

Other, similar slogans were used (i.e., “If everybody could get in the Marines, it wouldn’t be the Marines”) but none of lasted as long as “The Few. The Proud.”

Each supplemental slogan has served a distinct purpose to the Marines recruiting missions in terms of needs of the military branch throughout different generations, according to the Marine Times.

“The Few. The Proud.” was nearly dropped in 2016 after the organization explored other possibilities but made a proud return to the Marines’ marketing strategy after a short hiatus in 2017.

“‘The Few. The Proud.” does a great job distinguishing (the Marines) from the other branches (of military) and making us prestigious to recruits, but it doesn’t say anything about what we do or why we exist,” said Lt. Col. John Caldwell, a spokesman for Marine Corps Recruiting Command, to the Marine Corps Times in 2016.

5. Army: “Be all you can be.”

While the Army has since stopped using its “Be all you can be” slogan, its impact cannot and has not been ignored.

And it still resonates today.

The slogan was used by the land warfare service branch from 1980 through 2001 and was eventually replaced by several new attempts to effectively reach its target audience.

First came “An Army of one,” which ran from 2001 to 2006 but didn’t show the same success as “Be all you can be.”

That was eventually replaced by the short salute “Army strong” in 2006, which was successful, but did not carry the same type of message as “Be all you can be,” according to Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey.

“‘Be All You Can Be’ was a national identity to the Army … it is still today,” Dailey said. “I can say ‘Be All You Can Be’ and people just – it was the national identity to the Army.”

That’s a slogan that’s certainly implanted in many of us who grew up around that 21-year stretch of “Be all you can be” messaging. I know I’m one of them.

4. Burger King: “Have it your way.”

The fast-food chain’s most successful slogan to date, “Have it your way” was a revolutionary call-to-action for Burger King’s customers to order what they want, how they want it.

It’s easily Burger King’s most well-known slogan in a battle that was devoted to catching up to McDonald’s while also fending off other chain challengers. The slogan helped (the best it could).

BK ditched the phrase in 2014 and has since replaced it with several new slogans, including the “Be your way” slogan and, most recently, “Feel your way” slogan, both obvious plays on the original jingle.

3. GEICO: “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.”

GEICO spends more than a billion dollars a year to tell potential customers they could save money if they use it as their insurance company.

It is the largest brand advertiser out there and it shows.

We all know the slogan – and the humorous commercials that often accompany it.

It’s simple, concise, and communicated across a multitude of mediums: switch to GEICO and you’ll save money.

It’s also (mostly) true, according to a study by Forbes.

Catchy, easy-to-remember, and, most of all, legitimate in its claim – the GEICO recipe for success has helped build one of the most noticeable brands in America.

It also helps to have deep pockets, A.K.A. budget.

2. Farmer’s Insurance: “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.”

Another insurance company making big noise in a clouded insurance market is Farmer’s.

Competing among some of the most notable advertisements in rotation (see: Geico, State Farm, All State), Farmer’s nails this slogan that is based on real-life facts and statistics and also relays a message of confidence and trust to its customers.

Built around the idea that Farmer’s has dealt with some seemingly unbelievable insurance claims – and properly taken care of those involved and covered by Farmer’s – the car insurance company-turned multi-line, multi-company insurer and financial services group has even built its Hall of Claims section on its website to back up its claim.

It’s tough to contend with high spenders like GEICO, but at least when Farmer’s does it, it drives home a strong and meaningful (and true!) slogan that can help put customers at ease.

1. Nike: “Just do it.”

The power of the best slogan of the last 30 years comes from not just its longevity, but its overall impact, not just on the fitness and footwear industries, but in powerful and meaningful walks of life.

That it would also help shift the industry when Nike needed it most makes it that much better, too.

Aiming to gain market share from other brands like Reebok, advertising executive Dan Wieden created the game-changing slogan on Nike’s behalf from two unusual places in 1988, further adding to the longstanding tagline’s lore.

“It was about the ultimate statement of intention,” Liz Dolan, former chief marketing officer at Nike, told The Washington Post. “It had to be personal.”

And it was, and continues to be.

Just as momentous as its support to helping Nike grow into the worldwide powerhouse it is today is the ability it has had to adapt and continue to still inspire to this day.

From Colin Kaepernick and his stance against social injustices, to women’s equality and admiration, to being a large part of some of the gutsiest performances by athletes across the world, Nike’s message has consistently motivated humans to be faster, stronger, and better.

“Just do it” has only grown in intensity and effectiveness as Nike continues to utilize the message and the underlying drive-home point in all of its overarching messaging.

It’s evolved into a cultural rally cry for standing up for what’s right, fighting your hardest, and making a real impact that isn’t limited to the field, court, or rink.

Nike will continue to use the infamous tagline for many more years to come, and it will likely keep winning by doing so and shifting with the times.

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