Month: April 2017

How to Write SEO Friendly Content

by

Editor's Note: Sarah Robinson is a blogger and SEO enthusiast. She joins us today to explain how SEO friendly content improves your website performance, and how to optimize your content for search engine exposure.

 

Whether you’re writing a landing page for your website, or a blog post, it’s important that all of your content is SEO friendly. SEO friendly content has a tremendous impact on your ranking in search engines (i.e, Google), and the better you follow the conventions of SEO, the higher your content will rank on search engines.

The higher your website is ranked by search engines, the more visible it will be. This also leads to more website traffic and conversions. Your content is also more likely to provoke reader engagement and shares on social media if it is highly visible. Bottom line: you can write amazing content, but unless people see it, there’s no point.

Thankfully, producing SEO friendly content is not as difficult as it may seem. By following the steps outlined below, your content will be more interesting, grab attention and rank higher in search engines without excessive effort. Let’s dive in!

1. Research

Individuals and SEO companies should do at least some research before writing anything. Even if you are an expert on an issue, you should not forego this step. Not only does research provide you with the data you need to make a well-reasoned point, but it also helps you to find the key terms that your audience is looking for. By incorporating these terms into your content, you make it much more SEO friendly for casual browsers.

The research step is especially important for the heading (title) of your content. The heading is the first thing readers encounter, and it therefore determines whether they will click away, or stay on to read more. Your title should be well structured, to-the-point and relevant to common search terms.

A high quality heading will help search engines understand what is on your page, and it will assist in gauging relevancy when a user searches for certain keywords. A headline will also determine whether your newsletter subscribers want to open and read your content.

How do you create a title that engages? To start, it’s a given that you should take a dive into SEO keyword research to find the terms which readers are looking up. But keeping your headlines short and catchy is also important. List articles (‘listicles’) attract attention by outlining the structure of an article in the title, so readers know what to expect before reading.Just take a look at recent BuzzFeed headlines to get a feel for what attracts readers. Here are some examples taken from the website:

2. Unique and original content

It is important that the content you produce is unique and original. This doesn’t mean you have to be a pioneer in your industry and propose something completely new or revolutionary. But if you say the exact same thing as everyone else, in the exact same way, content that is otherwise SEO friendly can still fail. Everyone has a unique spin or view on an issue, and in good content, you must be prepared to offer yours.

While this advice may or may not seem obvious, the point is worth stressing. For SEO-optimized content, it’s vitally important to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism, in this case, means copying large chunks of text from existing websites or even entire articles without the right permission or HTML attribution. Not only is it unethical to do this, but your website can get penalized for these methods by search engines, which will bring down your site’s ranking considerably.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use sources to back up your argument and make your content more credible. In fact, you should be using other sources - but rather than offering extensive and direct quotes from existing content, summarize, and cite the important facts while providing a link. Being lazy will sink you like a brick - Google knows, and you will never get away with it.

If you are working hard to keep your content original, but have to use quotations, there are many places you can go to find out whether search engines will get suspicious. Copyscape is a great way to quickly check if there are any copies of your website content on other sites, or whether original content will trigger red flags to search engines. When in doubt, check first!

3. Images

Firstly, yes you should absolutely include relevant images with your content. And secondly, they can and should be optimized both for readability, and SEO.

Images are important to your content because they visually establish the context of an article, and give readers’ eyes a rest. Have you ever gone on to a webpage and there was just all text on the page? Was it inviting and enjoyable to read? Probably not: no one likes impenetrable chunks of text, so it is important to break it up with images. Images also help to make your content more shareable on social websites; if you use interesting images, you can quickly attract attention.

Images, like the text in your content, will also impact your search engine rankings. You can add keywords to an image’s file name, and captions, tags and alternative text when relevant. It is also important that you check the size of your image, and compress or resize them when appropriate. Images need to be big enough so they aren’t blurry, but not so big that they slow down the loading time of your webpages.

4. Make the text interesting

Just because you have added lots of images to your content doesn’t mean you are done making it attractive! You can (and should) make the actual text more interesting to read by formatting it elegantly.

There are multiple ways to make content pleasurable for reading, and it’s important to implement these methods whenever possible, because Google has quality guidelines, and it checks to see if sites are following them.

By changing up the size and style of font as well as underlining the right words, or putting them in bold/italics, you can direct a reader’s eye to the most important things; content is more interesting to look at when all words aren’t the same.

HTML subheadings to organize your content are also important. Not only do they help to give your content structure and improve readability, but they also show search engines that your web-pages are detailed and useful.

All this being said, it’s easy to go overboard changing up the look of your text. If you change too much, too often, the results can appear unprofessional and distracting. Remember, you want to draw readers attention to the most important parts of your text. Focus, and retain a balance between the mundane and the stylized.

5. Content length

The right length for content depends on your genre, audience, and how much you have to say. Follow common sense in this regard: a blog post should be long enough to be informative (anywhere between 500 and 2000 words). But depending on the subject, you may need a lot more, or a lot less.

Word count does not factor into SEO as much as people sometimes think. 300 is a good minimum, but beyond that, it is more important that you post content consistently. Realistically, if you make content-writing difficult, it will be difficult to read, and you will probably find excuses not to do it. By sticking to a reasonable word limit,content writing becomes more enjoyable, which increases the likelihood that you will continue to produce content in the future, which will also raise the ranking of your website.

Summary

Making your content SEO friendly is crucial if you want it to be seen. You may have great content but if you haven’t properly optimized it, you won’t get readers or leads. There’s no wrong way to start, so if your content isn’t SEO optimized yet, pick something that stands out, and get your site to the top of Google!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Convert More Website Visitors into Customers: Best Practices for Usability and Analytics

Fundamentals of Social Media for SEO

Creating and Curating Content People Love

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Infographic: Content Marketing Strategy

by

Editor’s note: To celebrate the launch of our New Content Marketing Certification, we've created an infographic to help you visualize the team, strategies, techniques and tactics you need to develop a successful Content Marketing strategy that will drive sales, engage consumers and improve ROI.

 

More than 3.5 billion pieces of content are shared each week on Facebook alone, and according to Technorati, 15% of bloggers spend ten or more hours each week blogging. With so much content on the web, it’s no wonder there is high demand for content marketing strategists.

The Online Marketing Institute is focused on providing you with the latest insights into digital marketing. Illustrations are a simple and exciting way to educate, so in the spirit of practicing what we preach, we've created an infographic to simplify the complex domain that is content marketing strategy.

Some key takeaways:

  • Content marketing is not limited to blog posts. Content can be published on micro-blogging networks, social media, apps for smartphones, or even in the form of audio podcasts. Wherever there's a crowd, there's a way to build your audience.
  • Channels to distribute content include your own website, forums or wikis, but it's beneficial to expand by strategically paying for spots on existing platforms. High quality content will end up on unaffiliated, third party sites, which is a massive boost to your brand.
  • Content marketing requires a diverse skillset. You should evaluate and utilize the talents that already exist in your company, and outsource where your workflow needs expanding.
  • Effective content marketing strategy requires an in-depth understanding of your target audience, which can be constructed using buyer personas. Combining data analysis with your company goals allows you to segment the group of people who will appreciate your content the most.
  • Almost all online content is found with the aid of Search Engines. SEO optimization is the most powerful way to build a widespread reach for content that lives on your own platform.

We hope you find this graphic useful and informative:

omi_content_marketin_qpbn9

Want to master content marketing? Get certified with OMI

 


How to Choose the Perfect Images to Improve Content Engagement

by

Editor's Note: Jane Hurst is a business writer and regular OMI contributor. Today, she joins us to discuss how well-selected images can improve content engagement on your blog or website.

 

While text is the most prominent feature of long-form content, if you don’t use images effectively in your blog posts and marketing, you aren’t attracting nearly as much traffic as you could be. Images grab attention because humans are visual creatures: when they see a lot of text without visual stimuli, they will often click away pretty quickly. People need to see something that is visually appealing to capture their attention, but at the same time, you can’t haphazardly slap some photos on and be done with it. You need to research your target audience, and use visuals that will appeal to them in order to raise your content engagement. Here are some tips that will help you do this:

Use Images in Blogs

Studies show that blogs with featured images get a lot more attention than those without visual content. First, it is a fact that we tend to remember things in terms of visual rather than verbal memory. You must therefore utilize images that are tailored to the content you have prepared for your target audience to build a better connection with them. You want readers to read and digest a post, then comment, so you can interact with them and make conversions.

Bottom line: if you want to be remembered and make an impact on your readers, you need to use images that will really stand out in their minds.

Don’t Forget SEO

Many people don’t realize that images are an important part of search engine optimization. Photographs can be optimized so that search engines deliver your photos when the right keywords are searched. Optimizing your images for search engines is not hard. Basically, you just have to use the right keywords in the:

  • Image title
  • Description
  • File name, and
  • Alt text

It is also important to ensure that the dimensions of the image you upload are the same as the size used on your page, so that image searchers aren’t disappointed when they are forwarded to your website. Because a lot of people don’t realize this, many bloggers miss out on a great marketing opportunity. It only takes a few minutes to make sure that your images are properly sized, and coupled to the right keywords. Take advantage of this, and get more hits on your page.

Match Your Brand

When you are choosing images for anything, you need to think about some key factors, including your brand’s voice, mood, and style. Remember, you are trying to appeal to a specific audience, so you are marketing to them. Don’t choose images just because they appeal to you; they may not appeal to others, and that is what what matters. Be sure to study your target audience to find out what appeals to them most. Then, use imagery that will make them eager to visit your site and buy your products. This may take a bit of trial and error, but if you really pay attention to what your customers are saying and doing, you will get it right.

Use Relevant Images

If you are creating guides, you should use images that are relevant to what you are demonstrating in the guide. For instance, if your guide is about resumes, you don’t want to use photos of books: illustrate successful resume samples, add images of people writing resumes, as Uptowork did in their How to Write a Resume Guide:

Source

Before creating any type of guide, you need to think about the types of images that are going to get your message across most effectively. Pictures say so much, and if you are not using the right pictures, there is no sense in using images at all. Take the time and effort to do it well; you will be much happier with the results, and so will your visitors.

Let Images Stand Alone

Most people don’t like blogs that are heavy on text and low on visual content. In most cases, visual content is easier to understand, because it can be seen and apprehended in seconds, and doesn’t require reading time. Your visual elements should summarize what you are trying to say in the blog or on your selling page. For example, GadgetSalvation used two images to visualize the Sell Your Macbook page: when readers see the photo, they immediately understand the message, and read on to learn more.

Source

Imagery is one of the best ways to get information across quickly, so you can do more with less effort. The fewer characters you write between images in content and on product pages, the more engagement you are likely to receive from your audience.

Use People in Images

People connect with those who have the same tastes, desires, etc. as themselves. You need to build that connection with them, and to do this, you should feature images of human beings. You also need to know how to use people in images. For instance, a candid photo will generally attract more attention than one that is posed. Studies show that the majority of people prefer images that have just one person, and they also prefer to see subjects looking away from (rather than directly at) the camera. There is a reason why these shots are more popular: when all the factors are added together, viewers feel that the image could be of themselves.

Get Authorization before Using Images

It is vitally important that you have full authorization to use any of the images you display with your content. This doesn’t mean you have to produce the images yourself, but, you do need to gain the permission of those who produced the images or own them to use them for marketing purposes. Using stock photos is one popular option, in which you pay websites like Bigstock for the rights to use a particular image but this should not be your go-to for photos since stock images are often widely disseminated and sometimes overused. If you pull random images off the Internet, you will also need permission to share this content. If you share image content to social media, your audience should be able to share and use them, since this is a way of promoting content engagement and gaining exposure across a wide audience. Be sure to spell out the terms of these permissions in the “Terms and Conditions” page of your site or blog so your images can go viral.

Be Careful with Stock Photos

It is okay to use stock photos once in awhile when you need them. But they are not something you should rely on exclusively, since a lot of readers will easily be able to tell the difference between a stock photo and one that has been created or commissioned for a single campaign. While the stock photos may be excellent in quality, they could also end up turn some potential customers off. The more time and effort you put into your imagery, the more it will be noticed, improving your content engagement, and raising your bottom line.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

B2B Social Visual Storytelling on Instagram, Pinterest & Tumblr

Turn Website Visitors into Customers via Conversation Optimization

How to Create a Content Segmentation Plan

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Five Customer Retention Strategies That Really Work

by

Editor's Note: Samantha Prowell is a marketing strategist and educator, who joins us today to explain the importance of customer retention for your business, and how to implement customer retention strategies into a business plan.

 

Customer retention is an element that no online or traditional business can afford to ignore. Unfortunately, many business owners focus exclusively on customer acquisition, ignoring existing clients and reducing the chance of repeat sales. Good customer retention strategies build trust and loyalty, and customers who trust your business will improve your profitability by spreading the word about your brand. This builds in the long-term to a lasting fallback strategy should traditional acquisition methods ever fail. To help you retain customers and gain new ones through word of mouth, we’ve compiled five customer retention strategies that work every time they are tried. Let’s get started!

Know Your Customers

Forbes says that business associates who know their customers well succeed more often than those who treat them like any other client. According to behavioral psychologists, people tend to remember a particular service positively when they are not rushed or ignored. These studies demonstrate that you should get to know your customers better to enhance their loyalty. In a brick-and-mortar setting, ask your customers questions when possible to clarify needs. Let them tell you about what they want to build and accomplish. Tell your customer service representatives to spend a little bit more time with clients in order to understand them better.

It’s equally important not to make assumptions regarding customer preferences and beliefs. The behavior of consumers changes over time, so avoid judging your clients based on previous experiences.

For online businesses, getting to know customers better is more tricky, since it is impractical (but not impossible!) to communicate with all of them one-on-one. That being said, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are excellent ways to interact with your customers and get to know their preferences and personalities better.

Depending on your business, social media is not the only method of customer-interaction. For instance, Regions online mobile banking service invites experts to engage and retain their customers by using emails to touch base with clients on a monthly basis. This strategy has helped them to get quality engagements and build long-term relationships. While not everyone can use this method, it shows that being creative can build opportunities that your customers will appreciate.

Set Customer Expectations

Interacting with customers is a great way to build positive experiences, but it’s also important to avoid creating negative ones. Even if repeat clients have done business with you hundreds of times, one or two bad transactions will stand out in their memory like a sore thumb. It is therefore vital to set expectations for your customers early on so they are fully aware of your processes, and won’t undergo any nasty surprises. Everyone on your team should be aware of what your clients expect, and what you have promised to deliver. Prioritize the fulfillment of these expectations to minimize the chance of accidents or mistakes.

Your business should set expectations at every point in the sales funnel, from marketing, to product descriptions, to shipping terms, etc. A classic and highly effective strategy is to underpromise and overdeliver on the expectations you lay out. This streamlines your business plan by ensuring that customer retention is built into the very fabric of the way you do business, and helps to establish key performance indicators which can be used to judge the success of a particular period or campaign.

Be an Expert in Your Industry

Entrepreneur Magazine claims that nine out of ten customers will switch to competitors if they don’t get the right solution to their problems. Customers want to create long-term engagements with businesses they believe can provide long-term solutions that will last.

While it’s always nice to have a corner in your market, nobody starts there: you will always be competing with other businesses that do the same thing you do. As such, it’s important that you stand out among your competitors to prevent customers from going somewhere else for their needs. One effective way to do this is becoming an expert in your field, thereby giving customers value they cannot get anywhere else.

Become your customers’ most reliable adviser to build loyalty and trust. If you are selling electronic accessories, become the street smart equivalent of an MBA who knows the ins and outs of every electrical gadget in the market. Demonstrate this expertise by publishing content and advice that is relevant to your customers’ interests. Be ready to give your opinions when asked, and always be there when customers need support.

Give Discounts and Promotions

Customers always look for companies that reward them once in awhile. Regular promotions and discounts are primary reasons that people start to follow brands, especially online, and if your competitors don’t have special offers, a promotional program will grant you a tremendous and obvious advantage in the minds of consumers. It doesn’t hurt to occasionally give away free products and samples, or sell at discounted prices. Make sure to use the element of surprise rather than announcing special offers in advance, since this creates a lasting, positive impression on your clients: people will remember when you surprise them in a good way.

While giving away something of value may seem like a net loss for your business, research proves that it’s an investment - consumers are 30% more likely to shop with businesses that offer discounts, so this is a retention strategy you can’t afford to ignore.

Create Trust Through Shared Values

Building shared values entails developing an interest in your clients and their daily occupations. Do research to determine what your clients love to do as a demographic, what causes they support, and the media they consume. Using this information strategically in content, branding, and product development strengthens the image of your business tremendously for existing customers by tying your company with the things they care about.

Conclusion:

Customer retention should be a key goal for your business, whether online or traditional. It is the foundation for expanding sales volume in the long term, and acquiring more clients in the short term. Hopefully the information listed here will help you to create and implement an effective customer retention plan!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Improve Relationship Marketing Using Social Media

Top of the Funnel Tactics for Inbound Marketing

Content Marketing Implementation: Executing a Winning Content Program

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.