I hope you brought a few extra cookies to the lunch table, because with the way SEO is evolving, you’re going to need to make some new friends – and those friends are Twitter and Pinterest.

WebiMax - Facebook
I’ve been SEO writing for several years, and the increasing overlap of the two circles in the Venn diagram of “content” and “social media” is the biggest change to which I’ve had to adapt. Now, there’s scarcely a time when I’m in the process of writing or posting a blog post, article, infographic, or what-have-you and I don’t visit one of these social media platforms. This is not to say that there isn’t a place in the SEO world for Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp!, and the rest of the gang, because those provide a whole new slew of optimization opportunities. I’ve simply found that these two are a) largely accessible to content writers of any level of experience and/or expertise, and b) the ones that make it super easy to pigeonhole your audience.

Let’s delve further into how the writing and social media departments of SEO overlap, shall we?

Twitter
When deciding on a blog topic, we know how important it is to choose a title that’s attention-grabbing. One way to go about that is to make sure it’s current and relevant. We’re a culture of short attention spans – we’re so connected that there are constantly a million different things competing for readers’ attention, and that’s why you need to be strategic if you’re one of those competitors. For this reason, you want to make friends with Twitter and, more importantly, its ‘Trending’ and ‘Discover’ tabs. Twitter is your inside source, letting you know what people are talking about right now – it lets you know what already has people’s attention, so all you have to do is stay on-topic so social media users can’t resist a click.

Keep in mind that hashtags are the best thing to happen to social sharing since sliced bread. Once you’ve posted your blog post or infographic, tweet it and slap one of those trending hashtags on it. Just like that, you’re automatically visible to the millions of people browsing that hashtag.

Pinterest
People go to Pinterest for ideas. You’ve got ideas, don’t you? Otherwise, you wouldn’t be writing that article or blog post. The best way to make use of Pinterest is to be creative: write a lively how-to blog post, or create an infographic with wild and interesting facts. (Another helpful tip from me to you: try not to get sucked in in the process.)


Once you create a pin of your post and post it to the relevant category, the nature of Pinterest does the rest of the work for you. You never know when something might go viral – I once pinned a blog post on bridal showers, and it got over 800 re-pins.

On the flip-side, if you don’t have ideas, you can be one of those people who uses Pinterest for just that reason. Go to the relevant category and see what’s getting the most pins – what are people interested in right now? On my feed right now, I can tell you that an article on how to make an all-natural slug repellent (yum) has tons of re-pins. It makes sense, it’s springtime and this is a current issue. Play off the seasonal idea since that seems to be working.

As I said before, one could easily make the argument for other social platforms and their usefulness, but based on my experience, these have the fewest limitations for both resources and sharing. They require the lowest level of craftiness (and don’t ask for any money, which is always a plus) for making what you share visible to a large audience, and it’s easiest to search for what’s popular on any given topic.

How does your content socialize? Comment and let me know, or drop me a line at sklemowitz@webimax.com.

I’m tired of people saying online marketing is “all about great content.”  Those people have a Kevin Costner mentality.

Sorry, Kev

Don’t get me wrong–I have nothing against great content.  For all intents and purposes, I hope this blog post falls under that category.  But let’s not be naïve either; great content isn’t always the most popular, and it doesn’t always drive the most sales.

And if that’s the case, can you really consider it all that great?  I can tell you one thing. The person who decides on your marketing budget probably won’t.

Great content, in order to be successful, requires great marketing and great strategy behind it.

So, really, people should be saying online marketing is “all about great strategic content” not just “great content.”

Know Your Buyer

In order to sell something, you should probably know who you’re selling to.  It makes it so much easier.

When you know your target audience, you can address topics that resonate with them. More importantly, you know what will drive them to convert.  For example, if you sell motorcycle equipment, your audience would probably be people who ride motorcycles.  And it would be in your best interest to create content that appeals to that audience.  If you decide to produce content that talks about tricycles you probably won’t sell too many Harleys.

When determining your audience and what they want to know, start with these questions:

  • Who uses your products/services?
  • What do they ask about your products/services?
  • How can you answer those questions better than your competitors?

Creating Content with a Goal

Every piece of content you produce should have a goal.   Whether it’s to educate, entertain, or entice, you should establish a goal before you create.

These questions will help you determine a goal:

  • Where will this content appear?
  • Who will read it?
  • How will people share it?
  • What kind of ROI would I like to see?

Essentially, you should decide whether you’re trying to boost awareness, sales, or both.  Then, once you’ve determined what your goal is, it’s time to measure it.

Measuring that Goal

The reason you set goals is to see if you can meet them.  That said, your content should be held accountable to the goals you establish.

For example, if you build a landing page pushing your most popular product and create subsequent content to market that page, try monitoring the conversions on that page.  Compare your return to how much time you spent creating that content.  Was it worth it

In the end, it all boils down to a few simple questions:

  • Does your content get people to buy?
  • Can you produce content in a cost-effective way?
  • Are users engaged with your content?

And just about all of these can be measured through Google Analytics.

Google Analytics
Stop Burning Your Budget

When it’s all said and done, we do online marketing so that businesses can make money.  The reason SEOs try to obtain a number one ranking in the SERPs is to drive more targeted traffic and more conversions to a website.

If the website isn’t showing conversions, who cares if you have a number one ranking?  In the same vein, if a website is showing conversions but doesn’t rank all that highly, who cares about a number ranking?

In the end, make sure your online marketer(s) shares the same goals as your business. The two should be seamless.  If not you’ll watch your budget blow up in smoke.

dark-knight-burning

If you want to start cashing in on your content (or just want to talk about my apparent love of movie references), you can contact me at dheinkel@webimax.com

SEO 101

In many of my previous posts here on WebiMax.com, I’ve discussed the importance of content.  Blog posts, press releases, videos, images and other forms of media on the Web can not only drive traffic to your site; but enhance your brand’s overall reputation, visibility and earning potential as well.

Speaking of blogs, I read a great post on Search Engine Journal earlier today (thanks for sharing, Patty!) which offered some useful insights on how to maximize the value of content.  Of course, social sharing is essential, but content optimization goes far beyond that.  By repurposing text-based content as videos, podcasts or even PowerPoint presentations, you are able to reach a broader audience while simultaneously improving SEO performance.

While I do agree that it is critical to get the most from your content; my own strategy varies slightly from the one Marcela outlined in the aforementioned SEJ article.  The fundamentals remain the same; however, my emphasis on original (yet, supplemental) content provides a more comprehensive experience which incentivizes the user/reader/viewer to remain engaged.

In order to simplify my approach to content marketing, I’ve streamlined it into two phases – Creation and Promotion:

Creation
Begin with mapping out one BIG content blueprint.  What story or topic is relevant to your brand, interesting to your audience and easily expanded upon?  This framework will tell a complete story, but in a somewhat “segmented” fashion.

Start with the basics – a blog post.  Although every blog should tell a complete story, it’s important to always leave an opportunity for your audience to interact and remain flexible enough to create unique supplemental content to continue the conversation of the blog across other mediums.

Follow the blog post with a video, podcast or an infographic.  While the subject matter should be related, these should also work as standalone content.  This will ensure that your audience remains engaged regardless of which “piece” of the content they discover first.  Naturally, all of this content can be utilized cohesively, but originality is a must!

After you’ve created several pieces of unique content around a central topic, it’s time to get them online and promote!

Promotion
Social media is a powerful promotional tool, but there are other options which marketers and business owners have been utilizing recently.  Sponsored content placement, PR and digital video advertising are proving to be effective ways to market content across multiple platforms and reach a more diverse audience, as well.

By developing a tiered approach to content creation and marketing, you’re not only able to increase the long-term viability of the content itself, but generate greater brand awareness and an improved user experience for your consumers or clients.

Share your content marketing success stories in the comments below and be sure to follow us on Twitter for more content tips: @WebiMax

It’s vital to have a definitive, long-term marketing goal in place for your business in order to truly achieve a greater presence and earn more business within the vertical or verticals it serves.  While virtually every brand can benefit from a solid digital strategy, it is important to remember the various components that are integral in creating your own “game plan”.

Why Content is Crucial
Content is the cornerstone of any website, not only from an SEO perspective, but from a more human perspective, as well.  It is necessary to consider who your online brand is geared towards and which demographics your business is trying to reach.  Ask yourself these three questions when structuring any content for your brand:

“Who will read this?”

“Why will they read it?”

“Will this content provide value to the reader?”

All content on your business’ site, including blog posts and even supplemental content should provide some level of SEO value as well as have an informative and entertaining “edge” to truly stand out to the reader.

Targeted Content for a Relevant Audience
While the quality of your content is a definite factor in determining your site’s rankings and overall SEO performance, it is essential to ensure that your content (both on and off-site) is targeted toward your consumers or clients.

Even blog posts and social media content should be seen as an opportunity to captivate your audience and drive more valuable traffic and potential business to your brand.

Refresh Your Pages to Engage Your Readers
Content Management Systems are a major asset to business-oriented sites or any sites which require frequent updates or changes.  These platforms make it easy for even those with limited knowledge of HTML or other advanced programming languages to create fresh content on-the-fly in order to keep site viewers engaged and keep content up-to-date and relevant.

These guidelines are the key to developing a winning content strategy for your brand and bringing your site to the forefront of search results and maximizing your business’ potential for success in the digital marketplace.

SEO is almost constantly evolving, growing and becoming more complex, but regardless of how search engine optimization techniques change; content will always be an important component of online marketing initiatives.

While a majority of my posts emphasize the benefits of rich content and multimedia within Internet marketing campaigns, the role of blogs, articles and other on-site text is as crucial as ever before.  In fact, creating more effective and “SEO-friendly” content is a primary objective of many campaigns.

Since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates made their now-infamous debuts, words like “quality” and “relevance” have become prevalent in the SEO community, but creating strong, relevant content is only the first step.  Search engines actually encourage the promotion and distribution of such content and have even developed useful tools to help authors achieve greater visibility within the SERPs.  The following strategies are amongst the most effective in the industry for authors and marketers looking to enhance the reach and visibility of their content:

Utilizing Authorship
When properly utilized, Google Authorship can be an excellent resource for content creators and can help to increase overall visibility and social engagement within Google+.

Chris Countey - Google Authorship

Notice how a Google search of the term “Chris Countey” returns results from sites on which our own SEO guru is featured as an author?  Additionally, when Chris is mentioned by other contributors with authorship enabled, those results appear prominently on the SERP, as well.  Authorship offers distinct advantages to content creators and definitely provides value within SEO campaigns.

Social Media Promotion
Outside of G+, networks such as Facebook and Twitter provide prime promotional real estate.  Sharing, tweeting and liking have played a part in social media marketing and optimization campaigns for quite some time now, but using these platforms to promote blog posts, articles and other content has also helped many SEOs achieve greater success and higher visibility.

PR & Media Outreach
There are opportunities for content creators that go beyond guest blogging and social promotion.  PR efforts such as press releases, media outreach and interviews provide major platforms for content creators to enhance their audience on a local, national and even global scale.  Some Internet marketing firms are already offering PR services and more are likely to jump on the bandwagon in the months ahead due to its proven success.

Speaking of PR, I’ll be presenting at next week’s Agile SEO Meetup and further elaborating on the role of public relations and media outreach within online marketing campaigns.  Click the link to check it out live next Monday (the 12th) at 7pm EST or tune in online via Webex.

As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts on content marketing and optimization and all things SEO.  Reach out to me directly at brymshaw@webimax.com or find me on Twitter: @brwebimax.

Market Content Through StoriesI recently read a quote from Lewis Schiff of the Inc. Business Owner’s Council who said: ”Facts get recorded; stories get remembered.”

Well, I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Schiff.  And here’s why.

Let’s use this year’s Olympics as an example. I’m willing to bet that if I asked you what John Orozco scored on the pommel horse, you wouldn’t be able to tell me.  However, if I asked you to tell me about his childhood in the Bronx, you’d probably respond without hesitation–facts get recorded; stories get remembered.

John Orozco isn’t the only Olympic athlete who we’ve come to know through story, though.  The Olympics thrive off stories–the Blade Runner, Michael Phelps, the Fab Five, etc. That’s why people get so invested; they want to know how the story ends. So what does this mean for marketing?

Simply put, stories stick.  As human beings, we’re hard-wired to remember stories much more easily than we remember facts.  There’s a reason why most TV commercials are in story form. And there’s a reason why public speakers start with an anecdote–they lock us in.

Stories keep us engaged.  They connect with us on an emotional level, which in marketing can make the difference between someone using your service and someone brushing you off.

Still not sold on the power of stories?

Let’s look at TOMS Shoes.  This company’s story has been its driving force since day one.  Owner Blake Mycoskie started the company after being inspired by a trip to Argentina where he saw extreme poverty and health conditions, as well as children walking around without shoes.  This led him to reinvent the native Argentine alpargata shoe which he would sell to customers around the world, and for everyone one pair sold, he would donate a new pair to a child in need.  Are there better shoes being sold online? Sure. But people want to buy from TOMS because they know their story.  They want to be a part of the movement. It’s something real that they can connect with; it’s something emotional.

Of course, not every company has a story like TOMS to use.  But every company does, in fact, have a story.  It’s up to you to find that story and share it with the world.  The content will literally market itself. Once you start doing that, you’ll find that customers don’t just record your name, they remember it.

Think you’ve figured that story out? Start sharing right here on our blog–we’re all ears.