Content Creation Drives Content Curation

Fresh, original, useful content is catnip to search engines and visitors alike. It’s also time- and labor-intensive to produce. Long-form feature articles can take weeks to research and write, and while the potential payoff in authority and relevance is tremendous, you need a regular stream of content for your social media channels and blog. One way to get that additional content is through curation.

Just as a gallery’s curator chooses artwork to display, a content curator finds interesting tidbits elsewhere on the Internet and houses it in one place. Buzzfeed, Gawker Media and TMZ are some of the most well-known content curation sites. Twitter and Pinterest are made for content curation and invite users to tweet, pin and share everything that strikes their collective fancy.

Like content, curation varies in quality. Some sites are known for finding valuable content elsewhere and showcasing it to an appreciative audience. Others are information dumps that don’t reach a specific audience, while still others are little better than plagiarists, siphoning page views from content-rich sites without offering proper attribution to the original source. That’s the category in which you never want to find your site, by the way, because eventually, Google and other search engines will catch up with these content-free sites.

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Make Your Landing Pages Sing

A landing page isn’t just where prospects happen to stumble across your offer after idly surfing during a lunch break. It’s a finely tooled and carefully calibrated machine designed to move those prospects one step deeper into your sales funnel. Because it’s specific and targeted, it needs to have the right structure and copy to be compelling on its own, not as part of a larger whole. Here’s a brief guide to punching up your landing pages and turning them into high-impact sales tools.

One Page, One Option

Landing pages make a single offer and feature a single path to take visitors who wind up there to your desired location. They don’t lead to multiple sites or ask viewers to choose from a wide array of calls to action. Once they’re on your landing page, they’re presented with one opportunity – the chance to subscribe, download your white paper, sign up for your service or otherwise contact you. Remember, your landing page is there for a single purpose; if you add more reasons to be there, you dilute that original purpose and make it less compelling.

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5 Signs You Might Need a New SEO Content “Expert”

At this point, every business owner who has a website knows organic search engine traffic is important for success. Understanding how to optimize a site for search engines is a different matter, and many turn to SEO specialists to position their sites as high as possible on Google, Bing and Yahoo results pages. The boom in e-commerce and mobile connectivity has made SEO more meaningful than ever and created a boom in the industry, but as with any rapid-growth sector, not everyone in the SEO business is equally qualified. These phrases are warning signs for SEO content developers who may not give you the best deal.

“We guarantee #1 rankings on Google.”

A blanket guarantee of the most coveted spot on the search engine that accounts for more than 80 percent of searches is the very definition of over-promising. For one thing, it’s vague; taking the top spot for “yoga” is very different from achieving that ranking with “hot yoga class in Long Island.” If you’re first to market with a service and localize your content, you may well land the top spot for your chosen keywords, but a general guarantee of high placement is one no SEO company can deliver every time. Moreover, because Google changes its ranking algorithms hundreds of times a year, even a page that hits number one now could slide into second or third place next week.

Instead, look for SEO content providers who promise specifics: “We guarantee page-one ranking” and “we optimize your site for local traffic” are reasonable statements that a quality SEO content creator can back up with real results.

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Old Dogs, New Tricks: Building Lasting Loyalty with Content

You may have heard the joke about the dog who chases cars: “Sure, he goes after them, but he wouldn’t know how to drive if he caught one.” In marketing, your efforts are often aimed at increasing your reach, expanding into new markets and generating new leads, but acquisition is only part of the story. Your content strategy must also address customer retention. Once you’ve upgraded your SEO to draw more traffic, what’s your customer retention plan?

Content marketing should be featured prominently in your retention strategy because it’s one of the biggest things that keep people coming back. Great content is sticky; people return to it often as a reference, a source of inspiration or a link worth sharing. Once they know they can rely on you to give them usable information, entertain them or inspire them, your visitors will come back. Break that trust with low-value content, and you may have done lasting harm to that relationship.

These tips aren’t tricks. They aren’t short-cuts, and they won’t work instantly – but they will work and increase your customer retention dramatically.

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Annuals and Evergreens: Creating a Lush Content Garden

Fresh, timely content signals authority and relevance to search engines, and it’s absolutely essential to your SEO. On the other hand, articles that aren’t time-sensitive slowly accrue greater authority and value. Somewhere between up-to-the-minute news and timeless articles are seasonal pieces that bring in new traffic cyclically. Where should your content strategy focus to get the most SEO value and garner the greatest interest from readers? The best plans incorporate a little of everything. One of the best models for growing your best blog could be right outside your front door: your garden.

The Evergreens: Content That’s Meant to Last

Content creators refer to articles and blog posts that aren’t time-sensitive as evergreen pieces because the content’s utility never fades. These articles support long-term growth, and over time, you can use them to build up a significant content library that can then become an e-book, a research library and a signal of authority to search engines. Evergreen pieces need no further pruning once you’ve published them, and they can enhance your site for years.

While evergreen content is valuable, it also generates traffic slowly. It isn’t trendy or eye-catching enough to leap to the top of search engine results pages as news, and it isn’t subject to seasonal searches. Most blogs benefit from a certain amount of evergreen content, but the specific ratio of evergreen to time-sensitive content you publish depends on your business and clientele. Fashion blogs, for example, tend to follow trends as they happen while law, healthcare and B2B industry blogs lean more heavily on evergreen copy.

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Google’s Pigeon Update Goes Local

When Google releases a major update, it’s big news for content creators and SEO specialists. The search engine giant’s latest release may not be as large as some, but it’s still big enough to affect site rankings noticeably. Although Google hasn’t named the algorithm update as it typically does for major changes such as Penguin and Panda, the Search Engine Land blog has given the new update its own animal-themed name: Google Pigeon.

Google Pigeon’s name is a nod to the localized nature of the update. As homing pigeons can unerringly find their way to a given destination, Pigeon gives users a more fully localized experience. Unlike Google’s biggest and most famous – or for black-hat organizations, infamous – Panda and Penguin updates, Pigeon isn’t here to penalize low-value sites. It rewards local listings and ties rankings more closely to traditional search signals, including domain authority, quality backlinks and rich site content.

To make the most of Pigeon’s power to boost localized content, your site should reflect where you are as well as who you are. Potential customers don’t care about the best Indian restaurant in Ypsilanti if they’re in Yonkers, but they’re eager to know more about businesses in their area. By serving up more local content, Google hopes to offer its users greater relevance.

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What Is Original Content?

You don’t have to spend more than five minutes reading about search engines and how they work to know you need original content for SEO. Google and other search engines penalize duplicate content even if you own both the rights to that content. If your content creator has inadvertently borrowed – or worse, outright taken – that content from another source without owning the rights to it, you could get a DMCA takedown notice or even face legal action. Obviously, original content is important, but what is it? First, it might be easier to look at what it isn’t.

“Original” Doesn’t Always Mean “New” (And That’s Okay)

People watch more than 6 billion hours of YouTube videos every month. That’s about 685,000 years’ worth of adorable cats, product demonstrations and movie clips. The chances that at least two of those videos will feature very similar content are extremely high. The same goes for written content, especially in hotly competitive verticals. Even the best writer isn’t able to produce a startlingly new way of thinking about five ways to trim belly fat or how to keep your shop floor clean. Even if they did, those writers would sell their new magic formulas for millions instead of putting them into a one-off blog post.

What most content creators do instead is take a slightly different angle on a specific topic, giving a new perspective on an established theme and leaving room for future variations on it. Take that shop floor example; a blogger might write one week about how to remove minor oil stains from concrete and cover soaking up liquids efficiently the next. From Google’s perspective – and just as important, from your audience’s – these highly specific articles are useful and original even if someone else has previously written something on the general subject of keeping your shop floor in good shape.

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What The FBI Can Teach You about Persuasion

Some of your content is meant to entertain or inform, but much of what you publish is also designed to persuade. Emails that include a call to action, newsletters with links to your latest product and landing pages that lead to conversions must convince your audience, but conventional advertising gets lost in the torrent of marketing most people see every day. The FBI – yes, the federal agency featured in Tom Clancy novels and “The Sopranos” – might seem like an unlikely source for inspiration, but the organization has done a great deal of research on a far more serious type of persuasion: hostage negotiations.

Hostage negotiators face vastly more pressure than your marketing department, obviously, but they and your sales team both share a need to get someone to come around to a new way of thinking. The FBI trains negotiators to follow five steps to defuse a tense situation and lead a discussion to someplace more constructive. Most people fail when trying to be persuasive because they jump ahead to the fourth or fifth step. Incorporate all of them into your marketing content, and you’ll find a more receptive audience.

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What the End of Yahoo Voices Says about Content

When Associated Content started in 2005, it marketed itself as a way for media to come from the ground up, a kind of citizen journalism that also happened to sell ad space on its margins. Writers had little editorial constraint, and the quality of articles varied tremendously; however, what AC did have was quantity. Millions of articles on everything from entertainment news to restaurant reviews flooded the Internet. Within a few years, AC had become valuable enough to lure big bidders, and in 2011, Yahoo took the plunge and bought the sprawling content platform for $90 million. Despite tighter editorial controls and weeding out close to 100,000 low-value articles from the now-renamed Yahoo Voices, the investment didn’t pay off. Yahoo Voices is no more as of August 2014.

If content is king, why did such a large investment in content ultimately fail? Analysts and SEO experts are debating the exact reasons, but a few common threads tie together most of these discussions.

Lesson 1: Low-Quality Content Gets Punished

Quantity is no substitute for quality, and although Yahoo purged itself of some of the lowest of the low, it still left thin, outdated and poorly written content on its Voices platform. Google, by far the largest and most influential search engine, hit content mills like Associated Content/Yahoo Voices with a one-two punch when it released its Panda and Penguin algorithm updates. Content that was written expressly to draw ad revenue or act as low-quality clickbait with a few hot keywords got severely penalized in Google’s page rankings, and that included a good portion of what appeared on Yahoo Voices. Visitors also learned to devalue the brand because it offered inconsistent quality.

For content creators, the lesson is clear: Prioritize quality over quantity.

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Blog Ideas Your Visitors Love

Having an on-site blog is vital for SEO, customer engagement and establishing authority, but too many businesses use it as an ad delivery system or a dumping ground for ideas that didn’t quite grow into feature articles. That isn’t why your blog exists, and if you’re spending more time talking about “we” than about “you” in your blog, you could be losing your visitors’ interest. On the flip side, some topics instantly attract more attention, more traffic and more social media sharing. Fill your blog with more of these posts and fewer ads, and you’ll see engagement metrics rise.

How-Tos

How-to articles give readers evergreen content – that is, information that stays relevant over time – in a format they can immediately use. A great how-to article also demonstrates your own knowledge of the topic, and knowledge builds authority. Once you and your content creation team have pinpointed areas you know your visitors would like to explore in greater depth, coming up with a few related how-to articles is just the beginning. Those ideas can also become video demonstrations or form the foundation for a new white paper. One caveat: Don’t invest too heavily in how-tos that have already been covered extensively by content mills and crowd-sourced answer sites. Make your how-to content specific and focused, not shallow and broad. Sites such as eHow succeed on volume rather than depth, and no company site can match their output; instead, compete on quality, not quantity.

Mistakes

The opposite of a how-to list, an article that focuses on mistakes or problems the readers might be making can also have a powerful draw. Any reader who has a particular problem will read on to find the solution, while those who don’t know they have a problem will check out the post to see if they do. We all want to be a little closer to perfection, and finding out about the mistakes we’re making gives us a chance to improve. The concept of “new and improved” is powerful in advertising, and it’s equally potent in content; by giving your readers new ways to improve, you’re bound to hold their interest.

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