06/07/20 Content Marketing

Why Consistent Content Is Essential for High Rankings

SEO illustration

Because Google says so…that’s why! 

Well, that’s the easy answer. But it really doesn’t go into enough depth. 

However, Google does make the rules of the internet. See this chart that shows the percentage of searches done on Google over the past year: 

SEO metrics screenshot

Source: Statcounter

If you follow the above link and look back for years, the chart looks exactly the same. The only reason Baidu and Yandex get any market share lies in the fact that they serve China and Russia. 

DuckDuckGo also gets an honorable mention. It averages around 30 million searches daily, but as you can see, that doesn’t even put a measurable dent in comparison to other leading search engines. 

Even though Google enforces the rules, they really base their policies on what search users just like you and I want. 

Everything you do through Google gets measured. Every time you click on a website. The length of time you stay on a website. The pages you visit or don’t visit. 

Google collects all that data and compiles it into its search algorithm. So every action you take works like a little vote. And then Google figures out how to rank websites and return search results you like. 

Understand that Google’s business model revolves around advertising. In 2018, for example, $24.1 billion of the company’s total Q3 revenue of $27.77 billion came from advertising. 

If Google fails to return the best search results in comparison to other search engines, they have a lot of money to lose. So they work their tails off at making sure you get what you want and fast. 

Google isn’t perfect. I’m sure you’ve clicked on really crappy and useless websites on Google’s first page and wondered,”How did that get there?” 

Google still makes mistakes. People still figure out ways to manipulate it. But on the whole, it does a far better job than any other search engine. And that’s why people like you and I think of it first when we need to search, despite the availability of other search engines. 

So now you understand why Google ranks websites the way it does. Take a look at what is arguably the most important ranking factor: consistently useful content. 

How Do You Know Content Is So Important? 

The amount of evidence, and the word directly from the mouths of the folks at Google, overwhelms. 

You would have to be insane to claim anything else. 

Google’s John Mueller is now the go-to when it comes to questions about the algorithm and how it ranks websites. 

This tweet shows how he views what you should do to rank: 

Tweet screenshot

More on “awesomeness” later. 

If you’re curious how much content affects your rankings, I have some additional evidence for you. 

Backlinko, a leading SEO blog which studies what makes sites rank higher than others, found “Comprehensive content with a high “Content Grade” (via Clearscope), significantly outperformed content that didn’t cover a topic in-depth.”

Neil Patel, an independent internet marketing thought leader, adds that it’s not necessarily the length of content that matters (although that helps), but really Google wants to see

  • Depth
  • Comprehensiveness
  • Focus on a keyword

Finally, according to Content Marketing Institute, 56% of businesses increased their spending on content marketing in the past 12 months. 

So you really have no question about content’s utility for ranking in search. 

How Do You Make Content That Ranks High? 

It’s not easy. Sit down sometime and try to write a 1500-word article on any topic you think your customers will like. 

You’re smart and capable. But writing content takes a special skill all its own. 

So, creating “awesomeness,” in the words of Google’s John Mueller, could mean a lot. And it means different things in various niches. So let’s go right to where you and I operate: the small and local business level. 

You’ll find a big difference between how we and larger businesses treat content. 

Slightly larger small businesses, like ones with several dozen or hundred employees, have a content budget. They publish regularly on their blog, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or whatever channel mix seems most useful for their market. 

They may have a combination of in-house and contracted content writers. You get in-depth posts that contribute something specific and actionable. 

The content can include custom graphics and videos. It’s basically like reading a magazine. 

In other words, their audience, and Google, consistently have something to chew on. 

Now at the small and local business level, anything can happen. 

You have blogs that haven’t been updated in months. You have posts written in an awkward language (and littered with grammatical errors) by foreign writers with general information that doesn’t engage the audience. 

And every once in a great while, you have a splendidly solid blog consistently updated with super-useful information that people read, use, and remember. 

But effective blogs remain an exception, rather than a rule. 

At the small and local business level, it’s not hard to create a barebones blog that provides genuine utility to your audience. 

Create one post a month. That post has to be super-helpful. For example, if you rent dumpsters, teach your readers how to evaluate the associated costs. 

That’s useful. 

And over time, you learn more stuff your customers want to know. You simply answer that in a blog post. 

They read it. They remember you. Then they become a customer or share your content with their network later on down the line. 

To understand what “awesomeness” means, you simply research your competitors. Then you top what they have. As long as you aim to give your customers the most value for their time, you’re doing awesome.  

And of course, like any business process, you learn more about what your customers like and feed them more of that information. 

How Content Generates More Customers

Most small business owners think customers come to their website, read a blog post, think, ”Oh my gosh. That’s the most awesome blog post I’ve read on that topic. How do I hire this company?” and then they use your website’s contact form or make a call. 

…Nope! 

That’s not how it works at all. 

That’s how your sales pages work (home page, services pages). When potential customers come to those pages, they’re evaluating whether they should hire you. 

So on those pages, you do want to be salesy and talk up the benefits your business delivers.

But on your blog, they just want an answer to a question. 

In other words, when they read your blog, they’re a lot earlier in your sales cycle. They’re not ready to buy yet. They’re just researching, looking for answers. 

You really can’t make a sale to blog readers right now. You’ll only scare them away because they’re just not ready to buy yet. 

Think of it like asking for a long-term exclusive relationship with someone just minutes after meeting them on your first date. That’s strange. They don’t want that yet. 

But, you can use your blog to build the relationship. Your blog is all about winning attention and staying in someone’s memory. 

So, by consistently producing useful information, they have a reason to remember you and come back. 

When someone else they know needs your service, they remember your name. They share your company name on social media. Or they tell someone in person. 

And then you get the opportunity to turn that person into a paying customer. 

Eventually, you might come to a certain point where one of your readers needs your service. 

Well guess what? 

Because you’ve spent time building trust and credibility by creating a useful blog, they already feel like they know, like, and trust you. 

…And so you have a sky-high chance of being hired for the job. 

Now, remember that your blog works for you 24/7/365. Many people can read it. So you have the potential to generate many customers from your blog. 

And this creates a fly-wheel effect of positive momentum. The more useful your post, the more people who choose to click, share, and stay on the page for a longer time. 

Those signals all tell Google you have something your market likes. And that means you climb up the search rankings. 

That specific post benefits, and so do all the pages on your website. You’ve created something people want to find in search. 

But it’s important to note that this process takes months. You can speed it up a little by marketing your post and getting it in front of more people.

However, the primary thing you can do to make it work is to create useful content your customers need. 

And then everything spreads from there. 

Unlike a salesman who sells just once and moves on, your blog sells for years. It could even sell for decades, assuming the information remains relevant and useful to your audience. 

Just a Single Post Per Month Will Do

So, like I mentioned earlier, businesses with dozens of employees may have several writers creating a half-dozen or so blog posts monthly. 

As a small and local business, you’ll be fine with just one post. Most importantly, it interests your customers. And if it makes them happy, you’ll please Google too. 

That’s the simplest formula to staying at the top of Google’s rankings in 2020 and the foreseeable future.

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17/06/18 Content Marketing

A Minuscule 10% of Local SMBs Have Any Marketing Staff, The State of Local Marketing Report Finds

Of all the aspects of operating a business (customer service, production, service provision, sales, accounting, operations etc…) poor marketing gets the least attention.

And most often, none at all.

BrandMuscle’s State of Local Marketing Report for 2018 found only 10% of local SMBs use any marketing staff at all. 7% have a dedicated in-house employee on staff. Just 3% have a vendor’s help.

Why Do Most SMBs Overlook Marketing?

Typically, it’s because marketing’s ROI is the most difficult to prove. With sales, you know whether you’re closing deals or not.

But with marketing, how do you know exactly what brought a new customer to you?

Did they read your blog, view your website, talk to your staff, click a PPC ad, or respond to an email?

It’s hard to figure out how much each interaction with your company had to do with you acquiring the customer.

Since proving ROI can be difficult, SMBs often become reluctant to hire marketing out.

…But You Still Gotta Try Marketing Tactics

The best marketers are the biggest brands. They pour millions of dollars each year into marketing.

Think Old Spice, Dos Equis, Miller, Corona, Budweiser, Toyota, Lexus, Coke, McDonald’s, Nike – or any of your own favorite brands.

They keep their market share because they know how to appeal to their market segments.

That type of marketing takes decades to develop.

But even though it’s out of your reach, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be marketing.

So my advice is to try small, controlled experiments until you find what works well for your SMB.

Because, after all, 90% of local SMBs don’t do marketing. So when you find what works, you have a huge advantage over your competition.

8 Possible Marketing Tactics to Try

Take a look at just a few marketing tactics that make sense for you to try – and one pro and con for each:

  1. Website/SEO – Get the best ROI for the dollars you invest; may take 12-18 months before you see results
  2. Direct snail-mail – Easy to track results and fast response; can be hard to find someone who does it well.
  3. Google Paid Ads – Lots of data and easy to track results; can cost a fair amount early on while you work out the imperfections.
  4. Radio – Works well for name recognition and branding; hard to track ROI.
  5. Facebook – Great data and access to specific market segments; can have higher startup costs in early stages.
  6. TV – Excellent name recognition and branding; rarely generates a good response.
  7. Writing Expert Articles – Can quickly generate a flood of good leads; can be boom-or-bust and require months of trial-and-error before you succeed.
  8. Cross-Promotion with Other Local Businesses – A great way to reach customers with a likely interest in what you offer; you have to make sure you offer your promotional partner similar results they offer you.

So even though I’m an SEO and recommend SEO, it’s far from the only way to market your business locally in 2018.  

It’s a great long-term strategy when you have an agency you trust. But there’s other tactics you can use too that also create predictable revenue streams.

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07/05/18 Content Marketing

3 Advanced Sales-Boosting Website Conversion Techniques

Keywords. Traffic. Rankings.

These things are all good…

But what do you really want from your website?

Sales!

Right?

Because that’s what keeps you in business after all, yes?

SEO’s code word for sales is “conversions.”

You hear this more general term because it could also refer to newsletter subscribers, product sales, contact form requests, or service sales.

It can be a broad term, depending on the source.

But when I use it here today, I mean “sales” – cash in your company’s pocket.

The average website converts 2% of traffic into paying customers.

Even though a 50% improvement results in just a 3% conversion rate, you still get 50% more profit in your coffers.

So for those websites that convert well above average, what are some advanced techniques they use?

These:

Exit-Intent Popups

Typically, you think pop-ups only annoy. They do in some cases. But when used right, they capture a substantial amount of business.

Affordable tools, like Sumo, allow you to customize when popups appear and exactly what they say. Then you test the heck out of them until you find what works.

“Exit-intent” pop-ups appear when people on your site hover their cursor over the “X” in the upper right of their browser.

Instead of living, you could hit them with a 10-20% discount on an item (and get their email address). You’d have to test offers to find the highest converting one specific to your business and website (because every website is different).

But it certainly presents a great opportunity to win more business.

Use Sticky Bars – AKA “Nanobars”

You’ve likely seen these before. Basically, they’re a small bar at the top of your website that follows your visitor as they scroll down the page.

You do give them the power to close the bar if they want.

However, you increase your conversions by giving your most persuasive offer. If you sell a service, maybe you give a limited-time offer of 25% off to just the next 5 customers.

If you sell products, maybe you notify your customers of a site wide sale that’s only good for the next 72 hours.

Again, you have to test the offer structures to find what works best. But, another opportunity to increase your conversions.

A/B Test Your Marketing Messaging

Called “split testing,” you can now get free tools (through Google and others) that allow you to easily test one variant of a website against another.

What you say in certain areas of your website (especially your titles) affects your conversions.

…Like a lot!

You could easily increase your conversions 100-300% by testing different titles.

Where do you find ideas for your titles?

Easy. Anywhere you can find reviews:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • A niche review site like Avvo (a law directory for lawyers)

You can even use your competitor’s reviews to cross-reference and gain more certainty of what messages to test.

As long as the messaging applies to your company and you can deliver on the promise it makes, it’s totally fine to use.

Look for words and phrases people use over and over for the highest-selling ideas.

Conversion Doesn’t End There

Those are just some simple low-time, high-return conversion techniques you can use starting now.

However, entire websites with millions of words of information dedicated to conversion optimization exist.

Companies exist who charge 7 figures or more to do “conversion optimization.”

So, it gets highly sophisticated.

For now, you’re at least loaded with a few high-return techniques to grow your sales.

And that’s something no business can object to!

Contact us at Best Dallas SEO for to let us help you throug onling marketing.

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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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