How Do People Experience Your Content?

When you meet face to face with a new client or vendor, you get a wealth of communication cues. Tone of voice, gestures and body language speak volumes, creating a second dialogue along with the conversation you’re having. You’re experiencing that connection on multiple levels that online interactions just don’t offer.

That doesn’t mean your blog posts, newsletters and white papers are bland monologues, though. You have a number of ways to enrich the online experience for visitors to your site. Through multimedia presentations, webinars, case studies and written content that goes beyond dry business language, users can experience what you have to offer even before they arrange a meeting with you.

Video: Seeing Is Believing

People instantly respond to video. By including video as part of your static site or landing page, you give visitors a new way to experience your content. It’s your chance to demonstrate how your product works or illustrate key concepts of what you do to interested viewers. In an increasingly mobile online society, video’s a natural way to communicate on tablet and smartphone screens.

Building a video library also gives you an entry point to two social media channels that are continuing their rise in popularity: Vine and YouTube. Don’t forget about Pinterest; it’s enjoying a meteoric rise to fame, and videos are as pinnable as snapshots. As Sarah Perez at TechCrunch reports, Pinterest also supports animated GIFs now.

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Link Building Tips – Using Directories for Links?

Link Building

Link Building

Article directories used to be a popular choice for hopeful writers looking for exposure. Although the practice isn’t as widely used anymore,  directories haven’t gone extinct. Ezine, GoArticles and other directories still attract writers and publishers who need fresh content. Despite many SEO experts’ claims that the directories are over-saturated with low-quality work, many webmasters assert the directory well isn’t dry and return to it for their SEO needs. Which set of experts is right? Are article directories effective, or are they last year’s SEO?

Matt Cutts, Google’s anti-spam guru, has advice straight from the search engine giant in one of his recent videos. After giving some background information, he settles the question once and for all:

Custom Coding“Over time, article directories have gotten a little bit of a worse name. Just to refresh everybody’s memory, an article directory is basically where you write three, four or five hundred words of content, and then you’ll include a little bio or some information about you at the bottom of the article. You might have three links with keyword-rich anchor text at the bottom of that article. And then you’d submit that to a bunch of what are known as article directories, and then anyone can download them or perhaps pay to download them, and they’ll use them on their own website. And the theory behind that is if somebody finds it useful and puts it on their webpage, then you might get a few links.

“Now, in practice, what we’ve seen is this often turns to be a little bit of lower quality stuff, and in fact, we’ve seen more and more instances where you end up with really kind of spammy content getting sprayed and syndicated all over the entire web.”

In other words, while directories may seem like a great opportunity for writers and webmasters, Google is devaluing their authority. The search engine views these articles as the kind of low-quality, thin or spam-filled content it’s trying to filter. Google’s search algorithms may even penalize content and backlinks from article directories.

“We certainly have some algorithmic things that would mean it is probably a little less likely to be successful now compared to a few years ago,” Cutts confirmed.

Articles that make the rounds of directories may also be penalized as duplicate content or contain plagiarized passages. Search engines monitor duplicate text closely and give more weight to content that was published earlier, so sending the same article to numerous directories is an obsolete strategy, according to Cutts.

“Just trying to write one article and syndicating it wildly or just uploading it to every site in the world…I wouldn’t necessarily count on that being effective. My personal recommendation would be probably not to upload an article like that,” he added.

Considering all that we know, heed Cutts’ parting advice and find a better way to spread your content. Blogs, niche sites and industry journals give good homes to custom-written content and SEO articles.

Related links:

The Single Biggest SEO Mistake You Can Make

Google Ranking – What is it?

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Reinventing Your Personal Brand

You might think of branding as something exclusive to major corporations with tennis shoes or sodas to sell, but it’s also a vital tool for small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs. Your brand distinguishes you from your competitors and makes you an integral part of your customers’ lives. Suppliers are interchangeable; brands are not; by reinventing your brand and making it stand apart from the crowd, you become irreplaceable.

What Are Your Differentiators?

From clients to competitors, one challenging question lies beneath all your initial interactions with them: What makes you so special? You’re going to need an answer to that question, and that’s where strong branding is essential. All your business content, including your landing pages, blog posts, tweets and newsletters, should answer it.

You probably know a lot about Coca-Cola and Pepsi, two of the most familiar brands in the world. In taste tests, Pepsi typically wins by a large margin, yet Coke has the larger market share at 42 percent to Pepsi’s 31 percent. If people like the taste of Pepsi better in a head-to-head challenge, why have more people decided that “Coke is it?”

Pepsi is slightly sweeter and has a citrusy top note to its flavor compared to its rival. Over the course of a whole can, your tongue can no longer taste the extra sweetness or citrus notes, but that initial burst of flavor is delicious. In other words, Pepsi’s built to make a spectacular first impression. That’s its strength, and it’s why Pepsi’s closest approach to Coke’s dominance of the soft drink market was in the 1980s during the “Pepsi Challenge” campaign, writes Malcolm Gladwell in Blink.

Let’s come back to what this means for you and your personal brand. Revitalizing your brand starts with identifying your differentiators and showcasing them at every opportunity in your communication with prospects. Generic content won’t do it because it’s the same pitch everyone else is making. Custom content that demonstrates value – the value of your unique sales proposition, your differentiators – is the cornerstone of reinventing your brand.

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What’s Your Niche: Creating Focused Content

You’re bombarded with hundreds of advertising messages daily. They range from subtle suggestions from product placement in movies to overt pitches in your email in-box. You’ve learned to tune most of them out because they don’t apply to you. You aren’t the target market for these broadcast ads, so they become background noise.

Content is a different story. It isn’t an advertisement; it’s valuable information your customers actively seek. It’s never background noise because it reaches an interested, invested audience automatically. Unlike advertising, content carries a meaningful message to a select few prospects. Customized content is one of your most powerful tools for increasing your visibility, enhancing sales and earning a front-page spot on search engine results pages, and it works best when you find the right niche.

Impressions vs. Conversions

A large ad campaign can create an impressive number of impressions, but it may mean little for conversions. If you aren’t in the market for a new car, no amount of glossy magazine spreads or ad spots will persuade you to buy one. Conversions are the narrow end of your sales funnel; they represent the buyers you’ve convinced, not merely made aware of your existence. That’s the point at which niche content reaches your audience. If you were shopping for a new car, you’d notice those ads and seek more information about them – information you’d find on a company’s website, from online reviews or in feature-length articles about 2014 models.

A narrow focus returns big results because your intended audience is self-selecting to a large extent. They’re actively looking for an industry authority on what they hope to buy. Whether you sell Cadillacs or candy manufacturing equipment, your custom content should position you as an authority within that industry. The more fine-grained you make your focus and the more informative your content becomes, the higher your conversion rate goes.

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The Single Biggest SEO Mistake You Can Make

Any SEO specialist with a decent amount of expertise can tell you about the latest Google algorithm changes and explain why the old optimization tricks no longer work. They can tell you why keyword counts and high-volume, low-content backlinking strategies are ineffective at best and could actively harm your reputation. By focusing on the nuts and bolts of SEO, however, they often miss the single biggest mistake any company can make when outlining its online marketing strategy. The most egregious error in SEO isn’t a single sin of commission or omission but an outlook.

If you consider your company’s relationship with search engines an adversarial one, you cannot succeed at SEO in the long run.

When content marketing strategists see search engines as the enemy, a force to be manipulated and a system to be gamed, their site traffic will inevitably be throttled to a trickle. Eventually Google, Bing and Yahoo will update their algorithms to close the loopholes they’d used to gain an advantage. Black-hat SEO relied heavily on exploiting weaknesses in search engines’ algorithms, something that was simpler to do when the systems weren’t as sophisticated as current search engine technology. When you see an article with little substance, poor grammar and plenty of unrelated keywords, you’ve stumbled across a relic of outmoded black-hat tricks intended to fool search engines.

Search engines changed to keep ahead of these low-value sites and provide meaningful results to their users. Major updates like Google’s Panda and Penguin were the direct results of attempts to game the system and get unearned high placement on search engine results pages. Google’s anti-spam guru Matt Cutts has said that the search engine giant undergoes more than 400 updates annually, and while some are small fixes, others have a major impact on SEO tactics. The fight against spam sites and low-quality content is never-ending, and if you want to avoid becoming a casualty of the conflict, choose the side that eventually wins every battle.

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