Search Engine Optimization

5 Important Reasons to Create a Content Marketing Program

Content-MarketingContent marketing has become a major trend in marketing today and organizations are spending an increasingly large portion of their marketing budgets creating and distributing content. According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

In a world of competing demands for the marketing budget, why should an organization create a content marketing program? Here are five reasons it’s critical to create and Content Marketing program today.

1) The buying process has changed and customers are in control.

The Internet has dramatically changed the buying process. At one time, companies that sold goods and services controlled the flow of information to buyers. They provided product information through sales people in stores, at events, over the phone, and through outside sales teams in the form of brochures and other printed documents. Sellers controlled the buying process through the flow of information and buyers often faced an expensive and time-consuming task to get the information needed to make the best decision. The most important information such as reviews and real-life experiences from other customers was often the most difficult to get.

Today, buyers can get access to product and service information much faster on a company’s website, and they can also access articles, videos, reviews, white papers, e-books and other information that is provided by the sellers, their competitors, industry experts, amateurs, social media and even other customers.

Content Marketing lets you engage with potential customers by creating and distributing information that is important to your customers whenever they need it.

2) You need to get potential customers engaged early in today’s complex buying processes.

It’s no secret that the sales cycle for most B2B products is getting longer and that there are more people involved in the process. Since every organization is under pressure to make good decisions and keep costs low, buying committees are created and include people from disciples such as engineering, finance, marketing and IT. These committees develop purchase criteria and evaluate products over long periods of time to make good purchase decisions. Your sales team may only be engaged by the committee late in the process, but they are all consuming content to better understand your offering. If you wait until the end of the process when they are actually taking to vendors, you will miss the opportunity to influence the team as they set their decision criteria and even select possible solutions. By providing good and valuable content early in the process, you will be able to influence the team weeks or months before they reach out to your sales team.

3) It’s critical to establish thought leadership and set the purchase criteria schema so that you win.

Content-MarketingGood content is more than a nice product brochure or pretty web page. It can influence the buyer to establish decision criteria that positions you to win. Well-written white papers or e-books that help the buyer understand how to diagnose a problem or understand a technology can help them, can be delivered in a way that features your strengths in the marketplace. These thought leadership documents are not written to promote your product, but designs to help properly frame the question. If you are successful in creating the framework for their buying decision, you’ll be much more successful when you present your solution to the problem.

4) If you have content, you can leverage social media and search to cost effectively drive engagement, leads and sales.

Social Media and search marketing have become major tools for marketing professionals. By taking advantage of organic search traffic and social media sites, you can generate traffic to your website without paying for advertising, and this in turn makes lead generation much more cost effective. The key to success in social media and search is good content. Search engines such as Google highly value new, original content on your blog and website when they decide on search engine rankings. In social media, it is the marketers with engaging and relevant posts, articles and videos who are successful in turning likes and followers in to website visitors and sales.

5) If you don’t provide the content, someone else will control the conversation.

Buyers have many choices when they are searching for information to help them solve a problem. You may feel that if you stay out of the content marketing game, buyers will still engage with you as they did in the past. The reality is that they have too many choices to go back to the past. If you don’t provide the content that sets the agenda and influences complex buying teams early in the process, you may find that are you left out completely when it’s time for the buyer to actually talk to the sales person.

The Decline of Guest Blogging for SEO Linkbuilding

black-hat-seoThe SEO landscape continues to shift, making it harder and harder for those that are using unearned tactics to appear within the search results listings. In an age when content is king, Google’s Matt Cutts announced in January the decay and fall of using guest blogging for SEO.

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.” – Matt Cutts January 20, 2014

Guest blogging at one time was a great way to gain links, promote content and your brand. As more and more SEO marketers were hungry for places to post content, blog and site owners saw an opportunity to capitalize. They started accepting payments for content placement. This content in most cases had keyword seeded anchor text and links pointing to pages to help increase page authority, which would then increase rank.

Websites like Search Engine Leaks – have been outing services that engage in the tactics of content placement for payment. So how do you promote content now?mattcutts-final

Guest blogging when done correctly is still appropriate to use. If the guest blogger is trusted and known in the eyes of Google then the likelihood of being penalized is greatly decreased. Google’s authorship is one way to gain that trust. The other way is to not have your guest post links pass along page rank. If you “no follow” your links when citing and referencing from your post you are still within Google’s guidelines.

In 2014 let your content speak for itself, if worthy and valuable, others will naturally promote it and share.

 

SEO “Likes” Social Media, time to update the “Relationship Status”

For businesses there was a time when social media and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) were looked at separately.  SEO was taking diligent notes in the Honors Calculus class while social media was making sure everyone wore team colors to the football game.  Now we are seeing the brains and the beauty joining together to be prom King and Queen.  How did we arrive here, and what will the future bring?
SEO Loves Social Media
There are many elements of a strong SEO strategy that have been constant over the years.  Your website still needs to be easy to crawl by search engines, meaning; no missing pages, redirects in place where needed, no missing meta descriptions, clear title tags, and keywords baked into page content, titles and headers.  Thorough research on targeted keywords is still a necessity as you want to assure you are targeting the right words/phrases for your target audience and you want your on-page content to align with those keywords.  A well built back-end to your web pages is the foundation for strong SEO, but how do you remain relevant and continue to increase in popularity?  Social media walks into the classroom and all eyes slowly look up from the textbook…

Looking good social media!  Put on some Al Green and ‘Let’s Stay Together’.

Content is king
Content creation
is the most important aspect of ongoing SEO and social media campaigns.  Search engines don’t want to see the same stale, stagnant pages on your website and you want to give users reasons to visit your site and your social media platforms.  Content is King, we’ve all heard that phrase plenty over the years, now the King has a Queen (social media) and she is here to tell the online world about your fresh content.  Cross-promotion of content on social media platforms (Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube to name a few) has become the best way to be seen by users and by search engines.  Creating natural links between social platforms and your website will greatly improve the impressions your content is making, improving your visibility and popularity online.

At minimum, we can now safely say that SEO and social media are “in a relationship” and the future looks bright and prosperous for the two moving forward.  This is a dance you can’t afford to miss!

3 Interesting SEO Poll Questions and 3 Takeaways for Marketers

Not everybody does things the same way.  Some people walk down the stairs into a pool while others dive right in.  Most people know that for a building to be built you need to start with a blueprint, but do they know all of the steps in between that take it from a blueprint to a finished product?  The point is we go about even the simplest things in different ways and we see things happening in front of us all of the time without fully understanding what else goes into it.
How we search for things online and why we see what we see in Google is no different.

Google Search & SEO

A recent SEO and Search Marketing study asked consumers about their online search habits and what drives them to click where they click.  We have highlighted 3 questions that we found most interesting and have the potential to impact your marketing efforts.

1. People were asked for possible ranking factors consumers believed most likely to affect organic search results.

  • 56% said relevancy
  • 49% said popularity
  • 33% said click through rate
  • 18% said back links

Meanwhile, actual search engine ranking factors in order of importance:

  1. Trust/ Authority
  2. Link Popularity
  3. Anchor Text
  4. On-Page Keyword
  5. Hosting Data
  6. Traffic + Click-Thrus
  7. Social Graph

2. How consumers feel about PPC ads that run alongside organic results.

  • 63% are more likely to click an organic result over a paid ad
  • 23% have never clicked a paid ad

Google Adwords
3. Most consumers are unaware that the results they see are not the same for every Google user.

  • 64% are unaware that Google personalized their results
  • 54% are unhappy that Google tracks their online activity to personalize results

In conclusion, marketers should look at these results carefully. It shows a general public still unaware of the increases in personalization and trust in determining search engine results. We can recommend 3 takeaways for the marketers from this study.

1. Backlinks and Trust are two key elements of search engine ranking success and should not be discounted even if consumers feel otherwise.
2. There is still a reluctance for consumers to click on paid ads, so SEO spending should be continued in addition to paid search.
3. Social media will continue to impact SEO regardless of consumers knowing or caring about this trend.

Simple SEO Tools to Diagnose Your Website

There are days where I feel like somewhat of an auto mechanic; instead of being asked to provide a diagnosis on a car that is in need of repair, I am asked to repair websites that have been neglected and just never had the basic maintenance done. Like a mechanic, I also use a bunch of tools to diagnose areas of a website that need to be fixed; to help improve website visibility and get it back in good repair.

With so many SEO tools out there which ones should you focus on using to provide a quick diagnostic of the health of your site?

The first SEO tool I like to use when reviewing a website is a plugin for FireFox.  Rank Checker from SEObook provides a quick, “on the fly” way to check a websites visibility and rankings in the search engines.  Once the plugin is installed you can open the program and type in the keywords you would like to check, along with the website’s URL. There are hundreds of tools that are similar, but this one is simple and easy to use.

Xenu’s Link Sleuth, is also a great tool to audit your website’s pages and have a comprehensive overview of your website’s URLs, Title Tags and Meta Descriptions. This tool can help expedite the process of where to begin by allowing you to see some basic SEO elements. Once familiar using this tool, Xenu can also be used to create a report that provides broken links and error pages found within your website, which I find helpful to keep your website in good working order.

The third tool I like to use to have a quick basic understanding of SEO page content is also a plugin for FireFox. Quirk SearchStatus gives a user a few options like page links and Meta info, but the most useful components are the keyword highlighting and keyword density of a page function. If you want to see how often a specific keyword is used and where it used, just enter the keyword and a pop up screen gives you the page’s content in relation to the keyword usage.

Using these 3 SEO tools will not solve all your SEO problems, and you will still need to determine how to resolve the SEO issues you uncover, but they are invaluable, and tools that I use every day to quickly assess a website and understand what is going on.

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