5 Tips In Winning The 2016 Content Marketing Challenge

5 Tips In Winning The 2016 Content Marketing Challenge

2015 has been a long year, with a myriad of new algorithms affecting search and social media, content quality taking center stage, long form content fast on its heels, not to mention the advance of video marketing and the micro moment. PR and SEO are now one output or at least should be, as is SEO and content marketing. The blurred line is spreading across all the digital marketing outputs. We now know that SEO and SEM are not the same thing, that syndicated content is duplicate content, that social media has serious ranking power and that authenticity and relevance are key in content. Click baiting and link farming are the cardinal sin, and, we know that content is STILL king, and that the marketing of that content is the queen.

Yet the deeper insight here is often missed. In this past year I have had the pleasure of working with some of the largest news publishers in the country, the largest marketplace in SA, and some of the best digital agencies in town. And this is the insight I have for you.

The Content Marketing Deluge

The biggest threat to content marketing as a practice is content marketing itself, as content marketing does not equate to content marketing success. The issue I have found most prevalent in the industry is that there is a skills shortage, of epic proportions in the severe lack of content managers, content strategists & content marketing professionals.

Businesses need to build on their internal content teams, ensuring they are equipped with up to date SEO knowledge, principles of copy-writing, ORM and PR basics and of course social amplification techniques.

Copy-writing agencies are now content farms, digital advertising agencies are now social media experts, video production companies are now rich media creators, contract publishers are now rebranding themselves as content marketers… and all this is based on content created from a mix of inexperienced content creators that are already stretched to the limit with no idea on how content marketing works.

This translates to an influx of crappy content, and that means that its just a matter of time before content marketing blindness takes over. Consumers will wisen up to this “new” tactic of mass publication pretending to valuable content. The reality is that content marketing is a powerful tool to get the consumer to drop their defenses for just a little while so we can gain their trust and become their custom. But with crap content disguised as great content, the user who is bitten will not be clicking on the good content in a hurry. So content marketing in my view will become harder with diminishing returns as long as we continue to mass produce content under the guise of believing that hordes of content published means you are a successful content marketer.

Branded content, in my opinion, and yes it is jaded, is the swearword of the digital marketing space, the term “branded content” was created by the world of paid media  it has no place in content marketing in 2016, but allow me to elaborate: Unfortunately, the problem is that the people in control of marketing media budgets in this industry do not understand content marketing as a concept nor as a business strategy.

SO, Who and or what will be successful in content marketing? It’s going to be the businesses and brands that create something of value, something unique, something so close to the audience, it will be precious to them. Those who build a “content brand”, not brands publishing branded content. What brands often forget is that the consumer has enough wit about them to know that:” Brands are a symbol of a promise, and a strong brand is built on promises upheld”

Brands and publishers alike need to stop applying the same old marketing structures and principles to content marketing. Content marketing does not require content assets to be effective, however producing high quality content consistently will be a challenge and the key is: less really is more, less quantity but more quality”.

Smart Content Marketing Tips

Here are some examples of “smart” content:

  1. Answer A Question: Can be called the “how-to” format. This is perfect for instructions like how to bake a cake, or teaching your audience something.
  2. Provide Opinion: Kind of like a review style and a great opportunity to show your perspective on a specific topic.
  3. Add Context: Pick an angle to follow with your particular topic, this is the ideal format for interviews and event coverage. Always focus on connecting with your audience first, if you can illicit some sort of emotional response you’re on the right track, and PS: It’s at this level that people connect and make purchasing decisions.
  4. Smart content uses more than just words, it uses images, graphics, animations and video so use these to bring your content to life.
The Blurred Line between Content Marketing and SEO

The Blurred Line between Content Marketing and SEO

The fact that content marketing and SEO have been thrown in the ring as opponents is not unknown to us, however the truth is that SEO and Content Marketing work hand in hand like a well-oiled machine. SEO has always been about the content, once you get down to the nitty gritty, as terrible content won’t rank no matter how well your site is optimised. In my line of work, the 2 cannot exist without each other. In a nutshell, they do not compete with one another in any way.

My practice and belief on this matter is that SEO and Content Marketing are one output, we could also say that SEO should be termed “Content Optimisation” as if there is no content, there is no SEO. It’s that simple.

If you practiced content marketing without SEO, you would be creating “vacuum content”, this is content that is created and pushed onto multiple platforms, repurposed and redistributed, but unfortunately wasn’t optimised, therefore a total waste of resources and effort. All content that is created for distribution across any platform should be optimised.

The dilemma that agencies and businesses are faced with is where do they put their marketing spend? In content marketing or SEO? To add to this is, another  issue that we are presented with is that SEO and Content Marketing are separated across our industry. There is a disconnect. There are few digital marketers that have both skillsets in one output.

True digital marketers will know that content marketing and SEO are a pre requisite and critical for any marketing strategy online, and that they work together like your mind and your body.

I’m not saying that there aren’t any differences between the two disciplines, SEO is the technical approach to holistic content. Channelling the technical efforts into content marketing is the way to apply SEO, see the secret to content marketing success is to apply SEO techniques.

The bonuses with content marketing and SEO is the backlink opportunity, both disciplines need these to be effective. Content marketing provides the opportunity of the backlink that SEO demands. Then to add to this, content marketing demands great UX, SEO and UX are part and parcel of the SEO process. The UX is important as it helps the user find the content easier and faster, but still it all comes back to same thing… CONTENT.

An output both SEO and content marketing share. SEO requires consistent output to gain its velocity where content marketing requires this consistency to be effective, as fresh content has better chance of being quickly indexed and will register higher in SERPS.

SEO and Content Marketing are a marriage made in heaven, a true convergence, it would make sense to start thinking of the two as one output, that way you get the best out of both disciplines.

Is Syndicated Content Flagged As Duplicate Content In SEO?

Is Syndicated Content Flagged As Duplicate Content In SEO?

One of the biggest costs and investments for publishers is in content, and with the ability to make revenue out of content only really happening two years down the line, after massive financial and human investment, it’s easy to see why publishers large and small opt for syndicated content.

What is clear to me over the last few years working in the news publisher’s environment is that there are downfalls to the magic solution that is called SYNDICATED CONTENT. Not downfalls that most publishers are even aware of. The downfalls are squarely footed in SEO.

The question is simple, is syndicated content flagged as duplicate content in terms of SEO?

The answer is not so simple.

This is what Google says:

” . . . in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.

In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.”

~ Google Webmaster Tools

So although there are no real penalties from Google, for using duplicated content, the SEO issues are real. Google will only show the article version that is most alike the users search term, as Google only wants to show one version of that article, and obviously we would prefer that version shown is the original, right? Well this is what Google says:

“If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer.”

With everything being equal, in the case of syndicated content, the site that has the most DA ( Domain Authority), most backlinks, that is perhaps even older than the originator, the chances of the search engine ranking the version on the site that is stronger is very high.

There are simple SEO rules and tactics that can be used to prevent the issues mentioned above, methods that will allow you to rank individually and separately for the same content.

Author: Dee Stephens

MD: ClickAss Pty Ltd

How Long Does SEO Rank Take?

How Long Does SEO Rank Take?

In this arena there is a misguided misunderstanding of how SEO will affect your ranking. One of the many questions asked is How Long Does SEO Take To Rank Me At #1 .

In essence the answer is not as simple as one might think, as the question is seriously misguided. That question and the SEO rank practice has long out dated that kind of mind set. In the not so distant past, that was entirely true.

Lets look at how things have changed.

In the past the strategy was to identify keywords relevant to your business, then we identify keywords that get the most traffic, and after that we identify keywords that were not very competitive…thus highlighting and exposing the 5-10 “golden keywords” that would bring about almost all of your traffic?

SEO rank

” I need to be #1 for my keywords” When approached with that very question, I know that the person is stuck inside that paradigm of thinking. For in comparison to the long tail of search, that particular keyword strategy is all wrong. There is no golden metric, single rule or small group of keywords that is or will drive a lot of traffic to your site. In a nutshell, if you are focused on a small batch of keywords generic to your business, chances are you’re not being found by those searchers who ARE looking for you.

Natural Language Search is increasingly driving SEO, as real people are asking the long question, using more detail in their queries and voice search ( Google NOW) is fast coming up in the way SEO is done. So as the searchers are including more and more detail in their search terms, it makes sense that we should cater for these “long tails” by being more relevant. Keep in mind that these are REAL people asking a search engine the question, exactly what Google Hummingbird Algorithm is designed for. In addition, the reality is that the number of searches we get from the long tail search is far greater than what we would hope to get for a batch of “golden keywords”

Rankings… yes they matter, but not as much as you think they do. Well they shouldn’t be your primary focus. Seer Interactive founder, Wil Reynolds has a saying he is fond of: “If, by asking “How long does SEO take to start working?” you mean “How long will it be before I get top rankings?” then you’re mistaking outputs for outcomes.”

Now the question becomes: How long does SEO take to start working? The right question and there is no simple answer. What I can tell you is that it depends on a few factors like what SEO already has been done, how trustworthy your site is, how long your site has been around, quality of site, content ratio’s, link profiles, technical SEO, validation, only to name but a very few.

SEO only works once it has gained VELOCITY. It generally takes about 4-6 months to start seeing results, but this is only the start, as you should be expecting to see double the traffic in month 12 rather than expecting it in months 1-6. Its a clear factor, SEO must be done continuously, its not a once off application. You do not just plug and go.

So many times I have heard the following; “Sorry we are just not getting the results we wanted to see to justify the cost”, and this tells me that these people have a unrealistic expectation. If you cannot afford top budget for a good SEO consultant or firm for MIN 12 months, you’re better off investing that budget in something else. SEO is a LONG TERM online marketing tactic, and should never be seen to be a quick fix.

With proper investment in SEO, coupled with a strategy for the LONG HAUL, SEO is the marketing tactic with one of the BEST ROI’s out there.