Monthly Archives: November 2015

Why is Content Marketing so Important?

consistent, compelling content -  recommendation for bloging and social media marketing - a word cloud on a digital tablet

consistent, compelling content – recommendation for bloging and social media marketing – a word cloud on a digital tablet

According to Smart Insights (providers of digital marketing strategy advice), content marketing was predicted to be the most commercially important digital trend in 2015, but what exactly is content marketing and why is it so important?

Content Marketing

Content marketing is all about creating and delivering high quality content to customers. Whether it’s in the form of a guide, ebook, review, case study, or any other type of document, the focus of the content should be to educate and engage customers. By educating customers with informative content (rather than pitching products and services to them) businesses hope to gain customers’ trust and loyalty. This is more likely to drive traffic to the business’s website where carefully placed marketing techniques can help to nurture customers into a lead conversion or purchase. Relevant, consistent and ongoing content should be published to help businesses develop long term relationships with customers and gain credibility in the industry.

Content Marketing versus Social Media Marketing

People often confuse content marketing with social media marketing when, in fact, they are two distinct entities. Social media marketing involves the placement of content within the parameters of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc, whereas content marketing focusses on the brand’s own website where content can be published without restriction.

While the two marketing methods differ, the union of content marketing and social media marketing should definitely be considered as part of a business’s overall digital marketing strategy. By posting brand messages and links on social media sites, businesses can direct a large audience towards engaging and valuable content on their website.

Why is Content Marketing so Important?

High quality, original content is beneficial to businesses and consumers alike. Consumers benefit from receiving useful information from the business (which may lead to them using the products or services of that business), and businesses benefit from the relationships they forge with their customers, their ongoing support and custom.

The development of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and keyword rich content also increase the chance of businesses appearing higher in search engine rankings and being seen and shared by a greater number of people.

Performance

For content marketing to be successful, businesses should track the success of their digital marketing campaigns to help determine the effectiveness of each piece of content. This crucial step is often overlooked due to a lack of understanding, but if content marketing is to form part of your digital marketing strategy then it’s important to understand the fundamentals of performance measurement. Content marketing software from companies such as Uberflip can be used to help measure performance and capture customer information. Google Analytics can also help businesses manage online strategies with analytics reports and insights via click through rates and on-site metrics as well. If you already have a good understanding of performance measurement and analytics, there are more advanced tools available such as Hootsuite and UberVU that can be used to push your content marketing strategy further.

The Digital Age

The strength of content marketing in the Digital Age is something that cannot be ignored. It can transform the way businesses interact with their customers and can help businesses develop brand awareness and SEO rankings. If content marketing is something that hasn’t yet been considered, now is definitely a good time to get to grips with the concept and consider the benefits it may bring to your business.

 

 

What Is Hummingbird and What Does It Mean for Content Marketers?

What Is Hummingbird and What Does It Mean for Content Marketers

In August of 2013, Google released a search algorithm called Hummingbird. Hummingbird was the first release of its kind for 12 years and marked a significant course correction for Google. The new algorithm differed from its predecessor in many ways but the most significant change is that Hummingbird focuses much more on semantic data within search requests. Therefore, rather than reacting to single keywords, Google is trying to focus on full phrases. This allows the search engine to return much more meaningful results, relevant to the question which is being asked. The new algorithm is indicative of Google’s overall future plans which could affect content marketers in a big way.

Of course, this change has impacted SEO but not as drastically as some feared. Whilst in the past marketers may have built their content around single keywords, this is no longer as effective. Users have had to adapt to this change by creating a higher quality of content with a greater emphasis placed on intent. These changes have been introduced for a variety of reasons but one of the main issues that Google is reacting to is the way in which users search online content. More and more people are using voice search on their phones and tablets and this will affect how search engines do their job. Overall, Google wants their search engine to treat users as humans rather than machines. Although, SEO is still a viable technique, it’s likely that Hummingbird is just the first move in a larger paradigm shift by Google.

In order to survive in the changing landscape of search algorithms and digital marketing, it may be beneficial to focus on creating semantic based content. This means producing ‘intelligent’ content which acts a solution to a query, rather than an overview of a keyword. Producers should think about specific consumer types and build their content around that. For example, an estate agency may produce general articles or videos on renting, buying etc. but they should also consider potential customers who may want specific information e.g. selling in the local area, regulations etc. Although this may require more effort than generalised content it will reap greater rewards in the long run.

Hummingbird has brought another update to Google which some website owners find worrying- the information card. You’re probably already familiar with the information card, especially if you search on your smartphone or tablet devices. Basically, a user will ask Google a question and if it can, Google will place the answer in an information card at the top of the search results. It’s worth pointing out that Google takes this information from websites, a popular example being Wikipedia. Whilst this may be more convenient to internet users, the instant answer approach could be harmful to websites as there will be no motivation to search out further content. Some people have gone as far as saying that the new feature steals traffic from website owners.

Hummingbird may have seemed like a dramatic change to some people but it’s really only the first step of many. The way in which consumers interact with search engines and websites is changing, whether it be the devices which are used, how they search or what they search for. Google are the driving force behind some of these changes but it also has to react and adapt like any other company. Technology is becoming smarter and voice recognition software has never been more sophisticated and this needs to be reflected in content. Many of the changes to come are unknown but the same advice which has always been applied to digital marketing is as pertinent as ever. Avoid black hat techniques, focus on the customer and create high quality content to the best of your ability.

How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?


How Long Should Your Blog Posts BeBlogging has become big business, whether you are an individual or a large company. With this in mind, content producers are continually looking for ways to boost the traffic to their websites. This means analysing all aspects of your blog, including everything from font, layout, colour and even word count. The length of your articles can be particularly important as it is becoming more difficult to catch the attention of online readers and hold that attention for a long time. So, how long should your blog posts be?

The honest answer would be, there is no answer. It depends on a wide range of factors and even then can vary from blog to blog. That being said, some experts have done research into this area and believe they have come up with the solution. For example, Medium the blog publisher claim that the ideal post will take seven minutes to read, which averages out to about 1600 words. According to their research, Medium found that after about seven minutes readers will tend to lose interest and move on. Whilst intriguing, this is just one perspective on blog length which doesn’t take into account factors such as blog type, layout or the content within the article.

Format

The format of your articles will have a significant effect on your readers and at want point they lose interest. For example, unbiased factual articles can sometimes be off-putting for casual readers so it could be beneficial to keep things short and to the point. On the other hand, if you are aiming your blog towards a niche audience who are already interested in the topic you are writing about, you can actually benefit from a more comprehensive article. Opinion pieces which utilise more of a laid back tone tend to be easier to read and can therefore get away with being longer. Another blog format which isn’t take into account by the research conducted by Medium is list based articles. Thanks to website such as BuzzFeed, list blogs have become incredibly popular in recent years as they are easy to read and often offer an answer to a question asked in the title. List based articles can therefore be long or short, without alienating readers.

Content

The actual content that you include in your blog is going to make a difference on the word count. For example, many websites will upload video blogs with a short written descriptions. Other content producers will create more traditional articles but will incorporate images, graphs or charts, all of which are going to break up the text and will require a longer reading time. Factors such as these could alter the theory put forward by Example of the perfect word count being 1600 words. It is therefore important for bloggers to consider content when deciding on the length of their articles.

Layout

Another aspect of blogging which will affect your readership is the layout of your articles. A blog with a poor layout is likely to put of consumers however high the word count is. The trick is to break the article into manageable chunks. This means making sure your work is split into paragraphs with each new topic separate from the rest. Headings are also extremely useful as they compartmentalise the different topics being discussed which is a much more attractive prospect to consumers. Bloggers should always consider their layout but especially so if they want to produce a longer article.

The best way to judge how long your blogs should be is through trial and error. There are many statistics out there which can help but each blog is unique and therefore requires its own research.

Is It Blogging or Blagging?

Blogging has changed dramatically over the last decade or so. What was once seen as the equivalent of an online diary is now big business. It’s not just individuals who are uploading their own articles, companies have gotten in on the act. Many businesses have discovered that blogging is basically a much cheaper alternative to traditional marketing. It also allows them to create an intimate relationship with their consumers that is difficult to replicate in any other way. Whether you are a business owner or an individual with something to offer, blogging can offer a wealth of benefits- if done right.

Approach

Many bloggers fail to make it past the first hurdle because they expect instantaneous results. Your approach will dictate your overall success. One of the most important things to keep in mind when creating content is that it can take a while to gain a steady readership. This is especially true for individuals who are just starting out without the benefits of a large company behind them. Don’t be put off by a slow start, try to set realistic goals and remain dedicated to your blog.

Content

It may seem like an obvious point but many people forget that the most important aspect of blogging is content. Forging a relationship with consumer’s means that you are required to provide them with something in return and this means offering content. Whether your articles are informative, engaging, entertaining or simply opinion pieces, they should always be high quality. It should also be pointed out that bloggers are not restricted to written content but can also upload videos, pictures or even gifs. Blogs come in many different varieties but search engines tend to prefer those which are more factual than opinion based so this may influence the direction you wish to take.

SEO

Many companies create their own blogs in order to boost their search engine optimisation. It is true that blogging can help your SEO but there can be problems with this technique. For example, some companies will lose patience with slow results and turn to black hat techniques such as purchasing traffic. This is not just misguided but also completely counterproductive to your long term goals. Search engines such as Google have become extremely adept at finding companies or individuals who resort to these techniques and in the long run you could do much more harm than good.

Some companies prefer a more organic approach to SEO which allows keywords to develop on their own. The idea behind this is that by providing high quality content, the blogs will attract their own traffic and your SEO will develop naturally without any manipulation.

Finance

Many companies and individuals will want to monetise their blog but this should be done slowly. Attempting to earn a revenue from your blog in the first few months is unlikely to garner any results and this often the reason why many people give up too soon. You should focus on your readership first, once you have a substantial group of consumers then you can think about money.

When it actually comes to actually monetising your blog there are different options available. The majority of people will utilise Google’s AdSense program which places advertisements on your blog and will create a revenue stream from readers who click on those advertisements. Even with a steady amount of traffic it can be difficult to earn large amounts of money using AdSense but you could try other options. For example, some bloggers will sell products related to their site, anything from usual merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs and prints to more unusual items which are unique to your blog’s identity.