27/03/18 Content Marketing

New Court Decision Could Have Dramatic Copyright and Linking Implications for Small Blogs

It’s not often the courts get involved in anything that impacts SEO. But it does happen.

And you do hear controversy…but usually, it turns into a whole lotta nothing.  

In this case, the impact’s pretty far-reaching.

If the judge’s decision is upheld, it could expose practically any website (and especially those with blogs) to costly lawsuits.

What’s the Big Deal?

Federal Judge Katherine Forrest (based in New York) found embedding a Tweet that includes a copyrighted photo could make you liable for copyright infringement.

Embedding” means you include a link with code from a third-party source that allows you to display their content.

The story is that Justin Goldman took a photo of Tom Brady meeting with Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge in an attempt to lure Kevin Durant to the Celtics. Goldman uploaded the photo to Snapchat, where it went viral and was taken for use and embedding by a number of sports media outlets (Yahoo, Gannett, Time, Boston Globe, and many others).

Judge Forrest rejected the argument that, if upheld, her ruling could affect millions of websites.  

And interestingly, her ruling goes against past precedents.

You could possibly defend yourself from copyright infringement by arguing fair use. But of course, if you’re threatened as a small business, you would probably just back down to save yourself time and money.

Judge Forrest also qualified her ruling a bit, noting that it’s not clear whether Goldman released his image into the public domain by posting it to his Snapchat account. And she also said limitations on innocent infringement exist.

But nonetheless, her ruling contains far-reaching implications for the entire internet.

What Should You Do?

Right now, you don’t have to do anything. No one has proven embedding someone else’s content constitutes copyright infringement.

At the same time, since using images and media remains such a contentious issue, make sure you stay fully within the law to the best of your ability.

If you take a screenshot of someone else’s work online, link back to their website and give them credit.

You can paraphrase an idea without crediting the source. But if you quote it, again, link back.

When you do use images, and especially stock images, make sure you buy them or have permission to use them.

Some images can be used without mentioning the site you got them from – but make sure the website’s owner tells you that explicitly.

If you’re supposed to buy the image, pay for it. But, for what it’s worth, remember that stock photos don’t do you much good in terms of attracting readership or paying customers. In fact, they usually hurt you. They might look cool sometimes, but they don’t necessarily improve your bottom line.

And FYI – companies like Getty Images (who owns large stock-photo sites like iStockphoto) do sneaky and nasty things like installing special tracking code within their images. Then, if you copy, save, and use their image, they hunt you down and threaten you with a lawsuit – unless you pay their unreasonably high fee.

White-collar crime at its best!

For now, you can use the embedded content. But, exercise caution as I just described so you protect yourself.

And, keep your eyes and ears peeled to this blog and others for updates on how this pressing issue might affect you.

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20/03/18 Content Marketing

How to Do a Content Audit in 2018

Have you ever done a “content audit?”

By now, you should have more content in your blog than you can easily keep track of.

With content, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, confused, and out of your strategy.

Plus, this topic doesn’t get discussed a ton.

And then in small and local business, you already have more than your fair share of battles to fight.

…Now I’m recommending you add another item to your list that gets longer every day?

Yep.

What You Want to Learn

When all’s said and done, you want your content to grow your business, right?

Otherwise, why do you create it?

Here are the top goals and metrics you can use to measure your progress:

 

Sales

 

At the small and local business level, this is difficult. No one reads your blog post and excitedly dials your phone.

That’s just not how content works for any business!  

In reality, they read your blog, email, e-book, or whatever. And they do this several times over the course of months, or maybe a couple years. Then, because they remember your information and find it so useful, they give you a buzz when they need your service.

It’s incredibly difficult to measure the precise role a blog post plays in the purchasing process.   

You can drive website visitors from your blog posts to a landing page with a form or unique phone number.

You could also do a correlational analysis. For example, when you notice an increase in your blog readership, you also see an increase in contacts on your website’s main contact form.

That’s less definitive proof.

But if you see a relationship, you know your blog plays a role.

This isn’t easy to measure. And it can require a high amount of customization based on your business and content strategy.

 

Organic Traffic Increase

 

Traffic leads to sales.

If you don’t get the traffic you want, this may mean you have an ineffective content strategy, no good way of promoting your content, the wrong type, or perhaps content that simply doesn’t interest your audience.

It takes months to increase your traffic because Google takes months to index your content.

And if you choose to promote your content actively, it can take months before your contacts actually publish their link to you.

But if you’re consistent in content creation, you should notice an increase in traffic over time.

 

Time On-Page

 

This one tells you whether you hit the mark with your content itself.

A couple aspects to consider:

  • Your content may not receive the time-on-page you want if you don’t have an interesting writer
  • Low times could also mean well-written topics, but a poor topic selection

Basically, you want to see greater than a minute for a 500-word blog post.

That puts you above average.

And if you see a couple or several minutes for a blog post of any kind, you’re knocking it out of the park.

In terms of topic selection, keep doing what you’re doing, and the traffic and sales will come.

…So that’s kind of a quick poor man’s content audit.

And remember, you may need to highly customize yours to accurately measure the effectiveness of your own strategy.

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31/01/18 Content Marketing

How to Write Content That Actually Generates Traffic and Customers

Ever get the advice to just write all kinds of content and then watch the traffic flow in?

What’s been your experience with that?

Got all the traffic you want?

Sadly, many companies don’t get all the traffic and sales they should from their content.

And yes, it does sometimes happen that companies flood the web with content…and end up with practically nothing for their effort.

So how do you create content that generates real business results?

Here’s how:

First, Understand What Works in Your Niche

Buzzsumo’s tool scans the web and finds the topics with the most shares. Just like Google, you simply enter a keyword to find what you want.
I entered a nondescript term, “accounting.”

Buzzsumo came back with:

search content

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, several of the top-shared posts focus on controversial accounting topics. So clearly, that’s a good angle to use to get more shares.

You simply have to make sure you tie the topic back to your customers and show them the pain it could cause. For example, you might write a story about taxpayers overpaying by $2 billion.

Then, your accounting service lines up nicely as a solution that helps taxpayers save money and avoid overpaying.

This is just a quick analysis. Make sure you read a good 50 or so posts to get a good idea of what works in your niche.

Top the Best Content You Can Find

You’ll do quite nicely by simply creating your own version of what’s already proven popular.

…But you can do even better if you top the best you can find.  

This would be a long-term approach to content marketing. It results in consistently higher search rankings that last for years to come.

With the accounting example, you might use the overpaying angle as the opening story.

That gets real interest.

Then, you could share tips, both from yourself and other credible sources, that help taxpayers avoid overpaying.

…Except you don’t just stop with 3, 5, 7, or 10 lame tips.

You go way above and beyond, featuring 25, 50, or even 100.

Wouldn’t that make for a long post?

You bet.

But you see, since most companies aren’t willing to do the same amount of work, you give yourself a huge competitive advantage.

You may even be able to only write one such post per month.

…But that’s okay.

Because you’ve done something so different that most other companies won’t duplicate, you’ve got a much more secure position in search. Far more secure than pumping out 50 – 100 short posts throughout the entire year.

Promote to Attract Links

Is your blog not yet the go-to thousands of people read daily?

Admittedly, your blog may only have a few regular readers at this point.

…No problem!

Every small business deals with the same issue.

Putting in some good ol’ fashioned sweat equity solves that for you though.

At Buzzsumo, and at another tool which does the same thing, ahrefs, you can see all the sites that link to the popular article you emulated.

But remember, you made yours much better.

So, reach out by email to each site that linked to the original post you chose. Just let them know you created a more thorough version.

Some will ignore you. But some will share your post. And others will link to it.

You may want to outsource this process because frankly, there’s no magic trick or special skill to it. You just email other linking sites and enjoy the results you get.

Rinse, Recycle, Repeat

That’s all there is to this.

Now, you simply do it over again.

Of course, you’ll notice tiny improvements you can make that get you even better results.

But if you focus on this strategy, it’s one of the surest ways to secure yourself high search rankings and quality customers for a long, long time!

 

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New Study Reveals Content Gaining Ranking Power, While Links Losing It
28/01/17 Content Marketing , SEO

New Study Reveals Content Gaining Ranking Power, While Links Losing It

A new study by Searchmetrics reveals content relevance is gaining cred with Google, while backlinks are declining as a ranking signal. If you follow that link, you can read a summary of the major highlights of the report. It also contains a link that gets into gritty, nerdy details. Anyway, you get the gist.

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3 Easy Ways to Promote Your Content to Boost Your Search Rankings 
28/12/16 Content Marketing

3 Easy Ways to Promote Your Content to Boost Your Search Rankings 

How do you get your amazing content the attention it deserves? It’s getting harder but it’s not impossible. Learn how to promote your content so you shoot up the search rankings while your competitors scratch their heads in confusion. Have you ever thought about how much content is online? As you probably have guessed, it’s quite a bit. No one knows a precisely accurate number. Consultant Maurice de Kunder estimates the size of the indexed web at about 48 billion pages.

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The Most Important Things to Build Trust on Your Website
25/07/16 Content Marketing

The Most Important Things to Build Trust on Your Website

What turns visitors into customers on your website? Lots of things. Adding these 6 core trust elements will boost your sales. In an age where anyone with an internet connection can immediately become a business, what’s more important than building trust? Not much…

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What Are Digital Marketing Micromoments?
25/06/16 Content Marketing

What Are Digital Marketing Micromoments?

Have you heard of “micromoments?” In digital marketing they’re small opportunities to win new customers. Learn more in this post.

Can you tell me what a “micromoment” is?

I’m sure just by looking at the word you can offer a guess.

In digital marketing, it refers to four situations, according to Google. And that’s when consumers want to:

  1. Know
  2. Go
  3. Do
  4. Buy

How do you make sure you’ve designed your website so you’ve maximized your opportunity to capture your share of marketing “micromoments?” Well, it’s not easy.

But here’s some steps you can follow:

  1. See How Many Searches Come from Mobile Devices

The overwhelming majority of “micromoments” happen on smartphones. It’s logical. When someone wants to know, go, do, or buy, they’re going to whip out their smartphone and search.

For the keywords you target, you can see the number of mobile searches on that term per month in Google’s Keyword Planner. Check it out in action here for the keyword “Dallas HVAC:”

Micromoments

Let’s see, 63.3% come from computers, and 32.2% from mobile devices. Makes sense. When people need an HVAC contractor, they’re probably at home and search on their desktop computer. And they probably search rather carefully, to make sure they find the best one.

They’re not out and about and suddenly decide they have the need to find an HVAC service.

  1. At A High Level, You Need To Do This

With micromoments, these are the high-level criteria you need to fulfill to be successful:

  1. Being present – You musts know the micromoments for your industry and have a plan for addressing them.
  2. Being useful – Whatever the consumer’s need, you must be able to fulfill it – now.
  3. Being quick – Mobile searchers want fast answers. You must give them exactly what they want in seconds.

Google observes that people stay more loyal to the micromoment need they have than they do the brand. So, if you’re worried about them using you versus big-name competitors, let go of that.

  1. Use Micromoment Mapping to Meet Your Customer’s Needs

For each of the four “micromoment” situations (know, go, do, buy), you must create your own custom map. Use these simple questions to guide the creation process:

  • What would potential customers like to know about the products and services you offer?
  • What might customers search that would lead them to physically visiting your location?
  • What would customers come to your location to do, and how might they search for that?
  • What would customers buy from you, and how would they compare that to the competition?

As you can see, these questions don’t have simple or fast answers. And the answers will certainly change over time.

But, the more intensely you study them, the better. That’s all for now… and all the best to you as you work on optimizing your website for customer “micromoments.”

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How to Make the Right Giveaway to Build Your High-ROI E-mail List
09/12/15 Content Marketing

How to Make the Right Giveaway to Build Your High-ROI E-mail List

SMBs often overlook the use of e-mail newsletters. Learn how to easily get subscribers on your newsletter, your most powerful business-building tool.

Your e-mail newsletter truly is the “secret weapon” in your marketing arsenal.

Getting high search rankings is a great start for growing your business. That gets you regular visitors, who you can then work on signing up to your newsletter.

In a previous post, I explained why you need to grow your e-mail newsletter list. I’ll summarize some of the main reasons here:

  • People who sign up for your e-mail newsletter are your best, most dedicated customers. They only sign up because they already know, like, and trust you a lot.
  • It’s cheap (in terms of both time and money) to send out a monthly newsletter to remind your subscribers of what you do.
  • People on your newsletter list will buy from you again and again.
  • Your newsletter list is immune to those nasty changes Google unexpectedly makes from time to time.

But you have to get people on your list in the first place. To make that happen, you bait them into signing up by offering a tantalizing free incentive.

Here’s what to do:

  1. You Should Just Offer Content

Don’t offer a big coupon or discount on your services. You’ll get mostly people only interested in getting the big discount. They’ll unsubscribe from your list as soon as they get it.

When you offer content, it means they like you, your company, what you do, and how you can help them. That makes them highly likely to be high-paying customers for a long, long time.

  1. What Content Should You Offer?

Remember, the golden rule of content is to:

“Offer something that’s more useful than anything like it on the internet.”

So let’s say you’re a siding contractor. Your free content could show customers how to care for their siding after you install it.

So you’d research other blogs and watch YouTube videos to see what other people say. You’d notice some things they miss, or that aren’t quite right.

You talk about that stuff, in addition to all the basics. You could talk about types of pressure washers to use, brands you like the most, whether to rent or buy one, where to rent or buy one, what to do, what mistakes to avoid – every last detail you can think of.

You can write a guide and include detailed images. If you’re not a writer, you can shoot a series of videos with your smartphone.

But Won’t That Cost You Business? After All, Now Your Customers Can Do It Themselves

Some will, no doubt.

But most don’t have the time. Or they realize it’s a better use of their time to hire an seo to do it.

In most people’s minds, they’ll think of how helpful you were to them. And then your name pops up when they need your services, or when one of their friends or family members do.

So, you get word-of-mouth referrals on top of more subscribers to your newsletter.

Your free content doesn’t have to be pretty. Be as professional in your presentation as you can, but don’t obsess over it.

Simply be useful, make it easy, and people will sign up in droves to your newsletter list.

And you’ll have more stable and consistent revenues for years to come.

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4 Easy Ways to Identify Content Ideas Your Customers Will Love
01/10/15 Content Marketing

4 Easy Ways to Identify Content Ideas Your Customers Will Love

Finding engaging content ideas is easy…when you know how. Learn 4 simple techniques for finding such ideas in this post.

One of small businesses’ biggest struggles, and I hear it over and over again, is finding stuff to blog about.

Well, I have good news for you: interesting content ideas hide all around you in plain sight.

You just haven’t had anyone show you where to look for them.

When you find ideas that interest your customers, you engage them and build relationships. Over time, they get to know, like, and trust you. And when they finally need what you sell, your name pops into their head.

Write the “wrong” ideas that bore them, and this process never even starts. They forget about you and move on to someone else that’s more useful and helpful.

So here’s some easy ways to find topics you know they’ll love:

  1. What questions do customers ask you in person over and over again?

Make a list of the most common ones. Those are blog post ideas that’ll be a resounding success. Questions that require a more in-depth response could be “special reports.”

You can also give brief answers in your FAQ section.

  1. Research with Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo’s a tool that’s absurdly easy to use. Go to their website. Enter in your topic by keyword. That’s it.

What’s really important, and I can’t stress this enough, is to look at the number of social shares each topic gets. The more social shares, the more attractive the topic. So, you can write your unique slant on the same topic.

Or maybe you can clarify something mentioned in that topic. Or you can disagree with it entirely.

You get to view 10 results for free, and you get something like 5 free searches daily. No need to use the paid version unless you want to become a serious content powerhouse (i.e. you want to hire a freelance writer to write your content for you).

  1. Industry and Competitor Blogs, and YouTube

The idea here is similar to Buzzsumo. Go to your competitor’s blogs, and leading industry blogs. Research topics on YouTube.

Buzzsumo doesn’t catch everything (but it is a nice tool).

Again, you’re looking for topics with the most social shares on these sites.

  1. Ask Your Customers What They’d Like to Know

Do this in person when they stop by. Or shoot a message out to your e-mail list. If one person wants to know, odds are many others do too.

One Way NOT to Do This: Searching Randomly on a Social Media Site Like Twitter

You can certainly go to Twitter, follow others in your niche, and see what they write about.

But that’s a huge mistake!

And that’s because you have no evidence supporting the popularity of the content. On Twitter, anyone can publish anything. And they might be publishing stuff they think their customers want to know…but really don’t care about.

That’s why you always get some evidence that at least some customers will like your topic: social shares, or the words directly from their mouths.

Remember, the Internet is Word-of-Mouth on Steroids

Because you can get so up close and personal with your customers, you can build relationships with them that are stronger than they were before the internet.

And when you’ve built those relationships, that increases word-of-mouth referrals.

Since social media makes it so easy to communicate and share, you can build lots of strong relationships and more sales much faster than you could before the web.

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The Way-Too-Busy-Person’s Guide to Writing Content
23/09/15 Content Marketing

The Way-Too-Busy-Person’s Guide to Writing Content

What? Now Google expects everyone to be a pro writer? Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. Learn how to write awesome content in just minutes.

With its recent “Phantom” update, Google continues to push the quality of the Internet to new heights.

That’s good news for searchers.

Sheesh! But, that means more work for small business owners.

And since you have so much free time in your schedule, it fits in just perfectly, doesn’t it? 🙂

Hope you picked up on the sarcasm there. But it’s the reality you now have to deal with. Instead of active penalties and punishments, many SEOs wished Google assigned “good” for high-quality work and “less good” for lower quality stuff. But that’s a loooong discussion for another time.

In the meantime, you can use this simple guide to write content. All you need is just a couple 500-word blog posts each month to do the job.

Let’s get to it:

  1. Find Topics

You may know your competitor’s blogs. That’s a great place to find ideas. If they average 25-50 social shares per post, you have a reliable gauge of which posts do well.

You can also use BuzzSumo to find some of the most popular topics on the entire web. You get 10 results for free – that’s all you need. Paying’s not necessary.

AllTop aggregates popular blogs from around the web. It instantly exposes you to hundreds of ideas. Simply Google “[your keyword]+ AllTop.”

You can also write topics around your customer’s most common questions.

  1. What Parts of Your Content Should You Pay Attention To?

The title makes or breaks your post. Spend most of your time writing that.

You can use this title generator to create hundreds of interesting titles. The wording’s a little awkward, so you might have to clean it up a little. But, it gives you unique titles fast.

The first paragraph is your lead. You have to put your most interesting stuff right there so people read the rest of your content.

Interesting ways to write your lead paragraph:

  • Show why common thinking isn’t right
  • Use a startling fact from a credible resource
  • Tell a story from personal experience
  • Overcome an objection
  • Explain why your post offers unique information that can’t be found anywhere else
  1. You Must Use Interesting Sub-Heads!

Did you know web users read just 20% of the typical web page, and 28% at most (according to web usability expert Jakob Nielsen)?

Your best chances to get attention are:

  • Page title
  • Lead paragraph
  • Sub-heads
  • Bullet-points
  • One-sentence paragraphs (like you see at the beginning of this post)

A good way to use sub-heads is to allude to what information comes next. Wet your reader’s taste buds, but don’t give them the full story!

Examples of tantalizing sub-heads:

  • Most Homeowners Think Their A/C Doesn’t Need Winter Maintenance, But…
  • The Real Reason Your Home Isn’t as Comfortable As You Want
  • The Most Recommended Cure for Insect Pests (And Why it Doesn’t Work)

Whew, Well, That’s Enough!

99.9% of businesses don’t use these techniques…at all. So just being aware of them…that puts you way ahead of the pack.

And they’re boiled down to fast and easy nuts and bolts, so you get things done quick.

Use these techniques today – and I guarantee you’ll get a better response from your readers.

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