How To Produce Content That Gets Read And Shared

viral content

If you are tasked with writing content for your business or you are an online entrepreneur that writes your own content then you know that like anyone who writes on a consistent basis, you sometimes find yourself scratching your head wondering what to write about. The key point to remember is to provide content that speaks to YOUR audience. If you run a blog about women’s shoes it is highly unlikely that they would care to read an article about “How to Change Your Oil” or something equally male oriented. This is just the tip of the iceberg of that which is called demographics. You need to know the demographics of your audience and what they are looking for. So how do you find this information?

Google Analytics

For starters you can get a lot of great information from your webmasters tools via Google Analytics. The data there will give you things like keywords people are searching for, browser used, mobile or desktop, country, city, etc. This is a good place to start gathering your information. It will give you the information you need to take the next steps. Another great piece of information to have is from referring sites. If you know the sites that are sending the most traffic to you then you can focus extra effort on promoting and interacting with them as well.

Facebook

With Facebook’s Open Graph Search feature, the social media giant officially become a true search engine. What is great about Open Graph is that it gives marketers an opportunity to do a little spying on the competition and also find out what other things people interested in your product are into. You can input keywords into the search and it will bring up pages and groups that are related which helps you to see what other kinds of content people may be looking for.

Twitter

Twitter is another great resource to find out what people are looking for and what kind of content is getting the most action with replies and retweets. Not only should you follow your competition but also create lists in Twitter based on the keywords that people are using to find you. This in turn will help you find ides for content to write or produce videos about.

Pinterest

Most people think of Pinterest as an image only social media network but it is actually quickly becoming one of the top “search engines” that people go to to find information. The reason for this is that most people use the pin feature to bookmark actual websites and articles with information that they like or want to read a later. These pins of course are shared with their networks of followers. Again, you want to follow your competition but also search the site by keyword and you’ll find some ideas you may not have considered. In addition you’ll get a great look at how to use images to go along with your articles and posts.

In addition to the suggestions mentioned above I also highly recommend using Google Trends as well as setting up Google Alerts for those chosen keywords you are looking to target. This way you can have hot and upward trending content coming straight into your inbox as it happens. This is a “secret” tool that many journalists use. Use YouTube in the same manner by finding YouTube producers that produce consistent content and subscribe to their channels, every time they upload a new video or even like one you’ll find out about it.

Another really cool resource that I have found recently to be a treasure trove of current blog activity over virtually every type of subject you can imagine is AllTop.com. AllTop collects blog posts from all over the web in a wide range of topics and also has sections that feature the hottest topics. You can get some excellent ideas for writing on topics that are currently trending hot that your readers might be looking for. In closing, I’d like to remind you to keep your focus. Don’t try to be everything to everyone, know your optimal audience and then write to them and get over your fear of video and produce some video content as well. One easy tip to help with that is to do short recap videos about your article. Then you can send people from your YouTube channel to your blog as well to read the entire post.

If you don’t have the time or feel that you just can’t write the quality content that your business needs to be effective give us a shout at Market Taffy and let us handle it for you. We can help you with everything from creating content and email newsletters to copywriting and social media management.

Why SEO Is More About Quality Content And Less About Algorithms

Matt Cutts and SEO

If you maintain an internet presence of any kind then you are used to being constantly bombarded with SEO companies constantly telling you how you need to keep up with the latest “animal named” algorithm change such as “Penguin.” What I am going to tell you today is that staying on top of the search engine rankings has less to do with optimizing for a particular algorithm and much more to do with writing consistent quality content. If you write for a particular algorithm you will always find yourself behind the eight ball trying to keep up with the changes.

The Internet is About Information

Okay, think about this for a moment. When you go online to look for something, all you want is the most relevant information for the particular search that you are performing at the time. These algorithms that the search engines employ to deliver results are designed to deliver the optimal results for you search but they are constantly tweaking them to be “more human.” In other words, they want to give you exactly what you are looking for. This is why writing your content with the end user, the visitor, in mind is the answer to your SEO and content creation questions.

When you are writing, take the time to ask yourself what it is that someone would want or need to know regarding the subject you are writing about and then make your content answer those questions. Write more with the human visitor in mind than for the particular algorithm of the day. If you do this on a consistent basis you will see your search engine rankings move up and stay up through all of the changes.

Website Owners Are Publishers

This is one of the keys that you must understand no matter what your business is. If you run a website then you must accept the fact that in 2014 and beyond, you are now a content publisher. It isn’t enough to develop a professional responsive website, do your on page and off-page SEO and then leave it. Without consistent quality content you will be left in the dust by competition that IS publishing content on a regular basis. Another aspect of this is that you must also understand that content refers not only to written content but also increasingly to visual content in the form of images, infographics and videos as well as audio information such as podcasts.

Content Marketing Strategy

What you need to do in order to be successful online is develop an effective content marketing strategy that employs all of the various types of content mentioned above. Obviously it is beyond the scope of one person to achieve all of these methods effectively. Ideally, you should have at least one person who does nothing but write quality content, another who focuses on creating stunning graphics and infographics and another that focuses on video and podcasting. Generally speaking, the experience necessary to perform quality work in such a wide array of skillsets cannot be found in one person. If you do find one person who can do it all they would not have enough time to be able to do it effectively.

Content Syndication

One thing that we recommend to all of our clients is to make use of the various social media networks that are available today. If you write quality content, it is very easy and natural to get your readers to share your information with their friends and followers across the various platforms. Every piece you produce doesn’t have to go viral to see good results, it’s about the long term not the quick hit. Another reason that we recommend utilizing multiple social media networks is because the demographics vary greatly across them, see our post on social media demographics for more about this.

Basically, you want to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck and social media helps you do this by sharing your content with them. If you operate a blog or have a YouTube channel, and you should have both, then you can link them with Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter for example to have your posts shared automatically as you post them. With Google Plus it is also imperative that you have Google Authorship set up properly which is discussed here on Google’s page on Google Authorship

Mobile Optimization

This is another key point that must not be overlooked as part of your content marketing strategy and your overall online marketing strategy as well. If your website doesn’t display properly on mobile devices you are missing out on a huge portion of the online traffic. More and more people are using their mobile devices to search, especially among the younger demographics. You don’t need a separate website for this, just be sure that your site is built with a responsive theme that will display properly on any device.

So, stop listening to all of the noise from the so-called SEO experts telling you that they can get you to the top of the search engine rankings by optimizing for the latest algorithms. Trying to game Google is a sucker’s bet and you are sure to lose. Focus on giving the visitors the best experience possible and you will find long term success. Remember, Matt Cutts isn’t going to share any Google Secrets with You.

Matt Cutts and SEO

 

 

New To Blogging? Don’t Make These Mistakes

Wordpress

So you’ve been hearing a lot about blogging and you’ve decided to jump in and test the waters. Here are some tips of what to do and what not to do when setting up your blog using WordPress. I am writing this post about WordPress because it is far and away the most popular and user friendly CMS or Content Management System, available. But there are a few things you need to know before you get started.

Choose Between WordPress.com Hosted or Self Hosted Via WordPress.org

Basically we are talking the difference between free or paid and whether you want the ability to do far more customization. For someone just starting out who is planning to just use the blog for writing or sharing photography the free WordPress.com option is probably fine. However, if you are using the platform for business you would be better off with utilizing the self hosted version that allows for customizing themes and adding additional plugins as well as as much space as your server will allow!

Choosing Name/Domain Name

Regardless of whether you go with the free version or the paid version you will need to come up with a name that represents You or Your Brand. As with all web addresses online, the shorter you can make it the better. With the WordPress.com version your URL will be something like http://MyCoolName.Wordpress.com – On a self hosted site you will choose a domain name and buy it through a registrar like GoDaddy for example. This can be a .com or .net or any of a variety of extensions but it is best to get the .com if at all possible. If you can try to get one that uses keywords for what you sell or what you do unless you are branding yourself then you want to try to get the domain for your name. Examples would be, FloridaSunsetPhotos.com or for a name JohnQPublic.com – obviously if you have a common name you are going to have to get creative.

Change The Tagline

By default, regardless of whether you go with the free or self hosted version, the tagline says”Just another WordPress blog” – Nothing says, “I’m an amateur” more than this. Be sure to change this is your settings to something more suitable that flows with what your site is about. Try to be creative and make it catchy, think of it as a byline – If you are a photographer and the name of your blog is JaneQPhotography.com then a great tagline would be “We capture priceless moments” or something like that.

Change Default User

The default user name for WordPress blogs is simply admin. This makes it a lot easier for people to hack your site if you don’t change it to something different. In addition you can get a little SEO benefit by going into your user settings and creating a keyword user name or using your own name so that it is posted by “John Q Public” instead of admin. You an also change the “favicon” at the same time, and you should change it not only to look more professional but to make your blog stand out from all of those who don’t take the time to do these simple things.

Create Keyword Rich and Simple Categories

The default category for WordPress is “uncategorized” – Again, leaving it like this just looks unprofessional and it gives you ZERO SEO benefit. Your categories should be topics of the things you write about or what your content is about. Change the default to one that would be representative of the broad interest of your blog. You can add categories as you write your posts, just be sure to change the default and keep them short, preferably one word.

Change the Default Permalinks

By default, WordPress will name your post with a numerical reference, something like ?p=456. This gives you no SEO benefit whatsoever in addition to just looking bad! Change the default to postname and then the URLs will be keyword rich based on the title of your post. This makes your blog posts more user friendly and helps you to get better rankings in the search engines which are looking for keywords to rank websites and pages.

Optimize Your Images

Many people neglect this aspect, and you really can’t. People these days are VERY image oriented and if you don’t have an image within your blog post that displays a thumbnail in the search results they may not even click on the link. On top of this, you also want to make sure that the image is titled with a keyword and that you utilize the image alt tags. This is very easy to do and only takes a few seconds. Take it a step further and be sure to rename the image before uploading it as well. This way when people are searching for images to “pin” on Pinterest they will easily find your images and possibly visit your blog as well.

Optimize For Mobile

Mobile is quickly becoming the way that many people navigate the internet so if you aren’t optimized for mobile you are missing out on a lot of traffic. Many Gen Xers will bounce right off of your site if it doesn’t display properly on their tablet or smartphone. Use a responsive theme that displays optimally on multiple devices or utilize a plugin like WPtouch or WPtap that will create a mobile version of your site for display on Mobile.

So there you have it. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it does cover the basics of what you need to do in order to be successful blogging. Start blogging and you will see great results in short order. Just do it, you’ll thank me later. Remember that your blog will not be successful without Quality Content

 

 

 

A Solid Marketing Plan Starts With Quality Content

Content Marketing

Creating Quality Content

If you market online or even spend any amount of time on the internet at all you are probably inundated with “gurus” talking about how social media is the best thing since sliced bread. But you know what came before “sliced bread?” Content… That’s right, think about it. First you have to create quality content that others will WANT to share before social media will have an impact for your business. Granted you can share content created by others, and you should, BUT, when you create your own quality content you get the benefit of driving traffic back to your own website, products and services. Here are a few of the content marketing strategies that you need to employ to get your online marketing seen and shared:

Utilize The Power of Blogging

Blogging has been around for nearly as long as the internet has, WordPress, arguably the predominate blogging platform has been around since 2003. As one who has been in the industry for some time now I still have to stop myself when I ask, “Who doesn’t know what a blog is?” Evidently, there are a lot of people who still don’t! This post is a little more advanced than that, so if you don’t know what a blog is I’ll have to cover that in another post along with how to set it up and optimize it.

For those who do know and don’t have one, I have one question. Why not? Blogging is amazing for SEO and also for helping to establish you as an authority on the subjects that you blog about. Done correctly, blogging can give you a huge boost in traffic to your main site as well as help you to get noticed by others who may want you to “guest blog” for them. Why would you want to write for someone else? Because, if you blog for a site that gets way more traffic than you do then you can get some of those visitors to your own site by utilizing a link in your bio.

Write Your Own White Papers and eBooks

If you have a fear of writing this is a great way to get over it quick,fast and in a hurry. Don’t worry, you don’t have to know all there is to know on a subject to write a white paper or an eBook on it. That’s what the internet is for, research. Pick a subject that your followers or potential clients would be interested in, ideally a solution to a problem and write about it. It’s that simple. Link to resources that you use in your eBook or white papers and then offer it as a free download to help build a list and your credibility.

Also, when compiling your content remember to use some quality graphics that compliment your written content. People are very visually oriented and not only will great looking graphics get your content read but it will also help with sharing. If you aren’t a graphics whiz, outsource it. You can find people that will do quality graphic work inexpensively on sites like Freelanced and Fiverr.com

Create Your Own Video Content

Again, people are VERY visual. With video you get visual and auditory senses into play and the result is a much more memorable experience for the viewer of your content. Most people would rather watch a video than read so it just makes sense to include video content as part of your content marketing strategy. You can utilize videos in a number of ways and you should. From YouTube and Google HangOuts like this one we did on “What is SEO” to  short messages via Vine and Instagram.

There are all kinds of options as far as to how you want to create your videos. You can use a first person approach where you simply sit in front of your webcam and spit knowledge or have a discussion or an interview with someone else. You can use a program like Camtasia to do screen capture videos to do tutorials and how to videos, or use Vine and Instagram for short and catchy messages to fans and followers. The key is to be like Nike and “Just Do It!”

This is just getting started but hopefully you can see the value of taking the time to create your own content. Realize that content isn’t just written. Creating content means articles, blog posts, tweets, images and infographics, slideshows and videos, and audio files as well. You can create videos from phone interviews or Blogtalk radio shows and include images to produce videos that will go viral with the right information.

Social Media

Now, that you have taken the time to create your own quality content you actually have something to share via social media networks that will help drive traffic back to you and help you gain more credibility. By utilizing all of the different formats I have suggested you will also have content that will be usable on all of the major social media networks. Post your Videos to YouTube to take advantage of its position as the 2nd largest search engine for direct traffic and SEO benefits as well. Post snippets of your blogs to Tumbr and Twitter with links back to the original blog post. Getting the picture? Good! Now get to it.

How to Start Blogging with WordPress

 

Website Fails That Can Kill Your ROI

Web Development Mistakes

How Website Mistakes Can Kill Your ROI

 1.     Not Setting Up Measurable Goals And Baselines – In any endeavor, setting up goals and baselines is a prerequisite in order to properly measure results and identify problem areas. When marketing online this is even more crucial, not having key data to analyze can destroy your online business if you have no idea what it takes to produce a sale or convert a visitor. You need to be able to answer questions such as, “How many unique visitors do I need to reach X revenue?” What is the optimum click through rate I need on my sales/lead pages?”

In my experience consulting with upper level managers and business owners most are quite frankly clueless when it comes to online marketing. The fact is that you need to be even more stringent than offline with monitoring your various marketing methods because there are so many facets. You need to know which online marketing methods work best for your particular business and customer demographic. The only way to do this is to have measurable baselines to start from and utilize tools such as Google Analytics to measure data such as unique visitors to leads and leads to sales.

 2.     Establishing Your Own Unique Selling Proposition Or USP – This is like an expansion of the “elevator speech” that many of us were perhaps taught in sales. You know, the quick 20 second overview of what you do and why people should do business with you. In the online world with millions of competitors most businesses fail before they begin because they don’t separate themselves from the crowd.

Don’t follow into this trap. Develop a solid USP and market it on your site and in your advertising. You MUST tell prospective customers what it is about your company or brand that sets you apart from everyone else and WHY they should do business with you. This post from About.com shares some great USPs from well-known brands that should help you see how you should structure your own.

 3.     Failure to Monitor Bounce Rates – Do YOU know the bounce rate of your website pages?  To keep it simple, a bounce is when a visitor comes to a page on your website and then leaves without clicking through. In my experience the majority of websites tend to have bounce rates of 60% or higher. This is costing them a fortune, the target bounce rate should be under 30 percent.

To lower bounce rates be sure that your USP is displayed concisely, while giving a solid overview of the products and services you offer. It should also cover your customer profile(the market you serve), along with how the solution you have to offer solves their problem or need. This information should always be above the fold on the left side of the page so it is highly visible. Get rid of any visual clutter that may distract visitors, and always include clearly defined CTAs or Calls to Action on every page.

4.     Search Engine Optimization Or SEO Is Lacking Or Nonexistent

With the information available and the many qualified individuals who have years of SEO experience there is simply no excuse for this. Establishing and online presence without SEO would be like opening a new brick and mortar business with no signage and not telling anyone you are open.

SEO is NOT about “gaming” the algorithms as many novice SEO companies try to do, it is about providing QUALITY content that gives solutions to problems visitors are searching for. SEO is about providing “visitor optimized” content in the form of website copy as well as blog posts, videos and more that utilize the predictive keywords that someone searching for your product or service might be searching for. While you want to include these keywords and phrases in your copy for the “search engine spiders”, you must also ensure that it is “visitor friendly” and not written for particular search engine algorithms which change constantly.

5.     Know The Demographic Of Your Ideal Customers – Many online retailers make the mistake of trying to be everything to everybody instead of focusing their marketing where it gives them the best results. Large multi-billion dollar companies can afford to do this because they have broad client bases but most companies NEED to focus on their optimal demographic.

It should go without saying that a website that is marketing medicare to Baby Boomers should be constructed and written differently than one that is selling skateboards and accessories to Gen Xers! You must take the time to implement in depth demographic research to discover your optimal client and create your content primarily for them to obtain the best ROI for your efforts.

 6.     Be Sure Your Website Is Easy To Navigate And Understand – A lot of brands and businesses get sold on fancy flash presentations and high tech designs that lose the message in all the glitz and glamour. Just because you and your web designer love the look doesn’t mean it will convert well. Make sure that the information flows properly and includes instructions that lead visitors through your sales funnel with no issues that could cause roadblocks in the buying process. Have contact and comment forms on each page and don’t let your ego keep you from accepting constructive criticism from visitors. Use visitor and customer comments to fine tune your every aspect of your online marketing plan.

 7.     Don’t Lose Your Visitors In Industry Jargon – With few exceptions website copy should be written for the average visitor, which according to statistics is reading and comprehending on around a 6th grade level. This means you need to stay away from using words that aren’t commonly used that require a thesaurus to figure out and don’t write like you are writing your Doctoral thesis.

Obviously if your site is specifically geared towards a niche market such as physicians, or Quantum Physicists then the above may not apply. It all goes back to KNOWING you target market demographic and creating content optimized for them.

 8.     Include A Strong CTA For Each Page – Don’t put up content on your website just for the sake of content. Each page of your website should have a defined purpose and include a call to action that directs the visitor to accomplish some measurable goal.  These actions include opting in to email lists for newsletters, ebook downloads, social media interactions and sales. All of these can and SHOULD be set up and tracked in Google Analytics so you can see where to invest your money and where to cut back. Yes, Google CAN be your friend, IF you know how to use the tools.

Establishing an online presence and creating a marketing plan is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marketing a brand or business on the internet. The Internet is constantly changing and evolving due to the infinite amount of data available to those who create the systems that run it. Even those of us who have made this our chosen career must stay on top of new innovations and changes on a daily basis to continue to be effective.

This is why it pays to hire a company to handle all of these processes for you. No one can run a company and stay on top of the day to day operations that they need to be doing and handle all of the online aspects as well. It just can’t be done. It takes a team of qualified professionals with varied skillsets to accomplish all of the tasks mentioned above in an efficient manner. Even those of us who know how to do all of them would not take on the task alone.

Common WordPress Mistakes