How to Build a Brand With These Game-Changing Content Marketing Tips

A strong brand can help you stand out from the competition, get more sales, and become a household name in your niche.

It’s also really hard to build one.

You don’t become Apple, Coca-Cola, or Geico on accident.

The good news? If you can build a brand that’s a fraction as successful as the companies above, you can dramatically grow your business.

The question is…how?

That’s what we’ll cover in today’s ultimate guide.

What is a Brand?

You can define a brand in a lot of different ways.

According to Wikipedia:

brand is an overall experience of a customer that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer.

When you think of a brand, the thought of visuals, logo, and the company name might come to mind.

You might think of advertising, commercials, catchphrases, and jingles.

All these definitions work, but we’re going to focus on the brand definition that can move the needle for your business in 2019.

For this guide, we’re going to look at branding through the lens of content marketing. 

Why? Because content marketing is one of the best ways to get your company in front of thousands of people and become a household name.

Branding and Content Marketing: The Perfect Marriage

The first benefit of using a content marketing campaign to build your brand is obvious – more traffic, leads, sales, and name recognition.

But did you know that strengthening your brand has positive benefits for your search engine optimization efforts? In a post titled The Future of SEO: It’s Not What You’re Expecting, Neil Patel had this to say about your brand’s impact on SEO:

The EX-CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, talked about how the Internet is becoming a place where false information is thriving. Essentially, the Internet is becoming a cesspool.

He went on to discuss how brands were becoming more important signals whether or not content can be trusted.

[…]

In other words, if you want to do well in the long run, you have to build a brand.

This makes total sense.

A few years back, SEO was pretty simple – find the right keywords, write decent content, get some backlinks, and boom, you could rank your website.

But Google’s mission has been pretty clear – they want to serve up the best possible results to searchers.

You could have a well-optimized site, but the updates to Google’s algorithm keeps making it harder to use simple techniques:

  • The Penguin Update made low-quality links irrelevant, meaning you had to put real effort into promoting your content
  • The Panda Update made low-quality content irrelevant, meaning you now have to write content that truly stands out to rank
  • The Hummingbird Update helped search engines better understand content, meaning techniques like keyword stuffing became irrelevant
  • Rank Brain ensures you need to have engagement on your website to rank

To date, Google has made thousands of updates to their algorithm. They change it all the time.

You can react to their updates in one of two ways – get frazzled and try to keep up or focus on long-term strategies that work.

The long-term strategies that help you grow your online presence fall in line with activities you should be using to build your brand:

  • Creating content people want to consume
  • Making sure your website is visually appealing and has a positive user experience
  • Being consistent with promoting your business online
  • Spending money on your marketing, like working with an agency or running PPC ads

The bottom line: anything less than in-depth, informative, and entertaining content marketing campaigns won’t work well in 2019.

It’s time to step up your content and branding game at the same time.

Here’s how you do it.

Adopt This Brand-Building Mindset First

Kevin Plank had an absurd dream.

He wanted to compete with Nike.

At the time, Nike is untouchable. To try to compete with them in the sportswear category was insane, but Kevin tried it anyway. And it worked. He also had a unique product to bring to the market – his wick wear technology undershirts. A fullback in college, he grew tired of having to changed soaked shirts during practices and games.

He chose a market segment to focus on — football. You can see Under Armour logos on gear worn in movies like Any Given Sunday and Friday Night Lights. He networked with football teams to feature his gear. Eventually, he expanded the line to feature clothing for different sports and went on to sign major athletes like Stephen Curry to endorse Under Armour products.

This is a post about content marketing, though, what does Kevin’s story have to do with creating content and running a campaign?

There are a few takeaways from his story you can use in your content marketing journey:

  • Audacity – You have to be bold and audacious to become a player in your niche because there are already entrenched brands in it. You have to believe you can become one of those brands.
  • Unique – Kevin didn’t try to sell basketball shoes right away. That wouldn’t have worked. When writing content, you need to find a unique angle. Writing “me too” content won’t work.
  • Long-term thinking – Under Armour was founded in 1996. It took a decade for the company to get real traction. Don’t attempt brand building through content marketing if you’re not in it for the long-haul.

Are you ready to get started?

Let’s move onto the brand building tips.

Build Your Audience

You can’t build a brand without an audience

Your audience is the megaphone for your brand.

When you get more people to know, like, and trust your brand, growing your influence gets easier as your audience grows bigger.

This is true for personal brands and corporate brands.

Corporate brands don’t always consider the importance of having an audience, but that’s because most corporations don’t know how to use content marketing in a creative way.

The ones who succeed, however, do. Take a look at these companies who’ve built large audiences through content marketing and used them to build their brands:

Kettle & Fire:

kettle and fire content marketing

Kettle & Fire

kettle and fire content marketing stats

Due:

due content marketing

Due: Payments Blog

due payments blog traffic stats

The Penny Hoarder:

the penny hoarder content marketing

The Penny Hoarder

the penny hoarder content marketing stats

Having your own audience has a number of SEO benefits, too:

  • Social shares – Google doesn’t outright say social shares effect rankings, but the experts are pretty sure they do. Your audience will share your content for you, sending positive signals to search engines
  • Dwell time – The longer people spend on your site, the better. If you have an audience of people who love your work, they’ll stay to read your content longer than a stranger
  • Backlinks – Oftentimes people in your audience will have blogs of their own. Building an audience is one simple way to get inbound links without even having to ask

Let’s look at some audience building tips one by one.

Guest Posting

Guest posting has been around for years.

It’s been pronounced dead more than once:

 

You can still use guest posting to grow your audience — and even for SEO purposes — but you have to do it the right way.

Here are some good pieces of guest-posting advice from the pros:

  • Choose an engaging blog – A lot of blogs don’t get great engagement. At a minimum, a guest blog you want to post on should have at least some social shares and comments
  • Write good content – You’d think this wouldn’t have to be said repeatedly. There’s a difference between a “filler content” type of guest post and an amazing one that moves the needle.
  • Promote – If you publish a guest post, you should be promoting it much harder than the guest blog itself. This builds goodwill with guest blogs and helps you build relationships in your niche

Some great guides on guest blogging are:

Build Your E-Mail List

The concept of list-building deserves an ultimate guide of its own.

If you can build an e-mail list of people in your target audience, you can make more sales, get more traffic to your website, and have a group of people willing to evangelize your brand.

You have to make sure you’re building a list for the right reasons, though.

Tim Soulo at Ahrefs talks about how their business grew without actively building  a list:

[His] philosophy:

Why focus on converting readers into leads, when you can focus on converting readers directly into customers?

The final verdict: the phrase “the money in the list,” doesn’t always ring true, but you should still consider building one if:

  • You want to become an “expert” or “thought leader” – E-mail is often the life-blood for expert businesses like authors, coaches, and online course creators
  • Your product/service takes some “warming up” before the sale – In Tim’s case, he could talk about his SaaS product and get people to sign up directly through the Ahrefs site. In our case – being an agency who comes up with custom packages – it pays to help you get to know us a little bit first 🙂
  • You run an e-commerce store – Building a large e-mail list comes in handy when marketing an e-commerce store.  You can offer special deals and hit sales volume goals with the click of a button
  • You have a long customer live time value – If your business has the ability to sell to customers over and over again, an e-mail list can help create more recurring revenue.

List Building Tips

To build your e-mail list, you need the following.

A reason for someone to sign-up that’s better than “get free updates”

e-mail pop up software example

Offering something valuable for free is still the go-to way to get people to sign-up to your e-mail list.

You’ll need to find a way to drive traffic to your website to get people to sign up to your e-mail list. Some of the best ways to do this are:

  • SEO and Content Marketing – We’ll discuss this in-depth in a bit, but increasing your organic search traffic and having a website built to convert people into e-mail subscribers is one of the best ways to get more of them
  • Guest Posting – When you publish a guest post, you should always make sure to add a special offer in your bio to get people to sign up to your list.
  • Republishing – We’ll dive into this in a second, but there are several sites that will let you republish your work on their platform (without getting spanked by Google)

SEO and Content Marketing

SEO and content marketing helps you build a brand by creating a footprint of your business online.

Every time a piece of content from your site ranks on page 1 of Google, people see your brand name next to the results.

If you rank for many different topics and keywords in your niche, you’ll brand start to become a household name.

The purpose of this section isn’t to guide you the ultimate guide to content marketing and SEO (we’ve already done this here and here).

Instead, we want to talk about some of the behaviors and mindsets you need to become a successful content creator who gets noticed.

The how-to’s and SEO steps are abundant, the willingness to follow through with them and have the following mindsets isn’t.

Be Relentless

Tim Grover trained elite athletes like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade. In his book, Relentless: How to go From Good to Great to Unstoppable he talks about the attitude it takes to become successful in sports, business, and life in general.

The book boils down to being able to exert a ton of effort, for a long period of time, without quitting, while staying hungrier than everyone around you.

Sounds super easy right?

Now, you don’t need to have the psychopathic levels of motivation that the athletes Grover trained had, but you’re going to have to be willing to go through some pain and hardship if you want to build a brand with content marketing.

Why? Because it takes time to rank well and build organic traffic. Google is slow 🙁

average age of page one rankings chart

Your content marketing efforts won’t pay off right away. Unless you’re a relentless writer or have the guts to work with an agency — spending time and money — over the long-haul, content marketing won’t work for you.

If you’re forward thinking and have a little patience, however, you can build a brand that becomes an “overnight success.” One day, your business or brand will be everywhere.

Get Good at a Few Things (80/20 Rule)

There are a lot of ways to market your business and build your brand, but it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and get stuck in “marketing tactical hell,” where you end up trying a whole bunch of different techniques, none of which work.

Instead, get good at the techniques that move the needle and double-down on them.

At MLT Group our few things are:

  • Content – We try to write the best article on the topic we’re covering every single time we write a blog post
  • Links/Relationships – We’re focused on getting high-quality backlinks for both ourselves and our clients. We also aim to do it the right way. Not by spamming people, but building real relationships.
  • Media – From video to infographics and other media, we realize the importance of having an “omnichannel approach,” but we’re not trying everything in the book, just a handful.

You’d probably do well to focus on these 3 things, too.

Just remember this quote from Bruce Lee when it comes to building a brand through content marketing:

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Watch and Revise

I listened to an episode of the marketing school podcast by Neil Patel and Eric Siu titled “The One Marketing Strategy No One Is Using.”

What was the strategy?

Going back and updating content you already wrote.

This is super unsexy, tedious, and can even be boring, but it’s also a potential game changer.

It’s fun to create new content, but it’s not as much fun to go back and review your entire content marketing campaign to see if it’s working well. These “little things” make the world of difference when it comes to increasing organic traffic. This speaks to being relentless again. Are you (or your agency) really willing to do what it takes to succeed? Sometimes grinding it out is the only way.

Some great guides at revising your work are:

Republishing

Here’s where most people fail at content marketing.

They look at it as a “one and done” process.

You can’t create your content and sit back thinking your job is done.

There are several ways to get more mileage out of the content you’ve already created.

Republishing is one of the perfect strategies for doing just that.

There are several websites who will allow you to republish their work.

Check out these great guides on finding places to republish:

The sites shown are great for republishing, but one takes the cake – Medium.

How to Republish Your Work On Medium

Medium is the most popular free publishing platform online.

Even better, it has a feature that helps you avoid a duplicate content penalty:

rel canonical import on Medium

When you import articles onto Medium, it ads a “rel-canonical” tag to it. That way, search engines know that the original article came from your website. Also, if people link to your Medium article, those links will 301 redirect to your original, giving your website an extra boost of authority.

Here are some great guides on Medium Publishing:

Build Your Brand Through Blogger Outreach

Blogger outreach is the process of reaching out to other blogs in your niche.

You can use blogger outreach to:

  • Genuinely pay a compliment to an expert you follow (highly recommended)
  • Share your content with people who might find it useful
  • Ask for social media shares
  • Ask for backlinks

Notice the first two points involve sharing and giving, not asking and begging.

The #1 Rule to Blogger Outreach (That 99% of People Break)

I’m not the first person to write about blogger outreach, but I might be one of the few people to tell you this:

Reach out to people you actually respect and appreciate their work.

This seems like standard, obvious, and basic advice, right?

Unfortunately, most who do blogger outreach don’t even know the people they reach out to. They just want a backlink. They’re not looking to make a long-term connection. They’re not offering up a resource that’s a perfect match to the blog they’re reaching out to.

The good and bad news about blogger outreach? Most people do it very poorly.

This is bad news because a lot of popular bloggers are jaded after getting so many horrible pitches. This is also good news because genuine outreach sticks out like a sore thumb.

Personally, I’ve studied many experts in content marketing because I wanted to get better at it. I don’t have to dig through their blogs and pretend to read one of their articles to reach out to them because, I, you know, actually read their blogs.

When it comes to building a brand, just being a decent person who respects other people’s time puts you in the top 10 percent of the field.

If you want to build a brand by reaching out to other bloggers, keep it simple. You’re not going to win over every person you reach out to.

You don’t have to write essay-length pitches to get noticed (actually, don’t do that.) Just use a simple process of getting to know people in your niche and reaching out to them occasionally over time.

Here are some tips to help you get started.

Write Good Content

Content marketing boils down to a lot of things that shouldn’t need to be said but bear repeating.

If you want to build a brand and become a known player in your industry, take the time to write good content. Our company is in an extremely competitive niche. We can’t write 1,000 word regurgitated articles and expect them to rank on Google. Even if you’re not in a super-competitive niche like marketing, focus on creating the best possible content on your topic.

content-length-seo

Here’s the run-down of boxes you need to check:

  • Content length – Make your content as long as it needs to be. Don’t stuff extra words to make it long and definitely avoid thin content
  • Insights – Chances are your topic has been covered before but has every single insight been given justice? Probably not. Study your competitors’ content and find angles they haven’t covered yet
  • Stories – A personal or business story is one thing no one else can copy
  • Better – A simple test can help you figure out if your content is worth sharing. Read the other posts on the topic and genuinely ask yourself if yours is better. Revise your work until the answer is “yes.”
  • Effort – Remember, most of your competitors won’t do the work it takes to succeed with content marketing, but you will, right?

Make Yourself Known

Here are some cliff notes from some of the best blog outreach posts online:

  • Leave genuine comments on other people’s blog posts that show you know what you’re talking about
  • Make a list of people you want to connect with. Not a creepy list, but a list of people you admire, respect, and want to connect with
  • Find non-pushy ways to get the attention of influencers in your niche like replying to their tweets or sending them a thank you note via email
  • If you do pitch another blog — whether for a guest post, share, or backlink –  make it succinct and find a way to show them love first
  • Again, don’t be a spammer or a pushy pitcher. It’s not that hard

Here are some of the best articles on blog outreach you can find online:

 

Conclusion

If you take these steps to build your brand with content marketing, you can expect to see increase traffic, rankings, brand mentions, and even sales.

Do the work for a long enough period of time and the results will show.

Have any other brand-building tips to add? Put them in the comments below.

Try These Creative Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses

Are you looking for creative marketing ideas for your small business?

You want to invest in marketing, but you have limited resources and want to use them properly, right?

You want ROI for your marketing.

The bottom line keeps your business afloat, so you have to keep that in mind.

We get that.

Fortunately,  a combination out of the box thinking, (some) investment, and a little savvy marketing can go along way.

Here are some quick creative marketing ideas you can use for your small business.

The Best Marketing Idea Nobody Uses

Be honest with yourself.

Is your product or service as good as it can possibly be? It is even close?

Marketing works when the product and service not only works but works well.

If you have excellent customer service, pay attention to your customers’ needs, and work on research and development, half the battle is won and it helps your SEO.

How? Having a better product improves your online presence in the following ways:

  • More brand mentions – When word of mouth spreads, more people will search for your brand on Google. More brand mentions = more brand credibility = more authority = higher rankings
  • Reviews – When you have a great product or service, you’ll naturally gain more online reviews, which is a ranking factor, especially for local SEO.
  • Content marketing – When you have a great product, you’ll have more confidence to use content marketing to promote it. Part of the reason why some small businesses fail at marketing is simply a lack of confidence in the business itself.

Find Unique Ways to Build Your E-Mail List

An e-mail list gives you a direct channel to potential customers.

What do most businesses do?

They stick a teeny tiny little box on the sidebar of their website that says “sign-up for free updates.” What a sexy and creative marketing idea that is. If you want to build your e-mail list, you have to be both creative and aggressive about how you build it.

Use a Pop Up Software

“Ugh, not pop-ups,” you say!

You don’t want to interrupt your audience and scare them away, right?

Pop-ups don’t scare people away. Poor and lazy marketing does.

A smart pop up entices the visitor to sign-up instead of trying to coerce them.

Sumo provides pop-up software that’s easy to use. They also do a great job of using it themselves.

Look at this example:

e-mail pop up software example

Note what they do well here:

  • Exclusivity – They use phrases like “peek inside” and “vault” to persuade you to get their secret content. Creating exclusive content you don’t share anywhere else speaks to our desire to be part of the “in crowd”
  • Benefits list – Notice that all three bullet points talk about aspects of the content that would benefit someone with a Shopify store
  • Word choice for the button – Using a phrase like “sign-up” makes people feel like they’re being begged to join yet-another-boring-ass-newsletter. “Get Access Now” speaks to exclusivity

Content Upgrades

Content upgrades are offers for exclusive pieces of content you add into the body of your content itself.

Like this:

content upgrade example

You give someone access to an exclusive piece of content based on the content they’re already reading.

Some great guides for making content upgrades are:

The use of content upgrades isn’t the most revolutionary creating marketing idea in the world. So why add it to the list?

Most small businesses in niches outside of marketing don’t use them.

In fact, most small businesses don’t use any of the content marketing techniques that the common agency does. If they did, they could see their traffic skyrocket.

That’s why it’s important to either become an expert at content creation or hire the (right) agency to do it for you. It doesn’t take a genius to create marketing ideas that beat out most of the competition in many niches.

Collect E-Mail Sign-Ups in Non-Obvious Ways

When you think of list-building, you think of tips like creating content, running ads, doing giveaways, etc, but there are a lot of “outside the box” ways you can build your list, too.

Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Give a speech at an industry conference and pass around a sign-up form when you’re done with your talk
  • Add a link to sign-up to your e-mail list in your e-mail signature.
  • If you’re in a service business with repeat customers, ask for an e-mail address in exchange for a future discount

The list goes on and on. In fact, there are resources that go into much more depth than this:

You can wade through those if you’d like. Our point? Be more creative when it comes to list-building. There are endless techniques. Test and experiment with them.

Don’t Try to Build Your E-Mail List (Do This Instead)

Wait, what?

We just got done telling you to build your e-mail list. And now we’re telling you not to?

Not exactly.

List-building works, but there is another to create a direct channel to your customers.

Talk about your product or service in your content. Don’t just talk about it, weave the use of it directly into your content and make the use of your product or service a core feature of it.

Credit goes to Tim Soulo — Head of Marketing at Ahrefs for promoting this creative marketing idea on his Medium blog:

Ahrefs creative marketing idea

This works better for service as a software product (SaaS) but consider how to incorporate this strategy for your own company.

In our real estate SEO guide, we detail an SEO strategy we created for a client (name omitted).

Over time, we’ll be including more case studies of our agency’s work and integrating our service into the content itself.

You can do the same.

Create Insane Marketing Campaigns

If you have the stomach and creativity for it, you can come up with unique marketing campaigns that range from outside the box to downright outrageous.

Let’s look at some of your favorite examples, starting with “boring” products…

Like razor blades:

And Blenders:

This marketing ad from Billy Gene is Marketing is one we’re even a bit jealous of:


The larger point here…

Fortune favors the bold.

Sure, you run a small business, but that doesn’t mean you have to think small.

Most small businesses don’t fail from a lack of knowledge or money. They fail from a lack of courage and creativity.

If you only thinking about what you stand to lose from going all-in on marketing, you don’t deserve marketing success.

Stay on the sidelines if you want. If, however, you’re ready to take a serious leap into marketing, feel free to reach out to us:

[add form]

Run Facebook Ads (But not for the Same Reason As Most Small Business Owners)

Facebook ads can help you grow your business.

They’re also very easy to mess up.

Don’t think of running Facebook ads the same way as those tired radio ads you’ve heard in the car for the past few decades. A jingle and a 1-800 number aren’t going to work online. You can offer discounts and sell directly to customers with ads, but that’ll only work if people are familiar with your brand.

There’s another way to attract people to your brand with Facebook ads that familiarizes them with your brand: run ads for free content.

What? Run PPC ads for free content? That is small business marketing blaspheme. Maybe, but it’s also a way to get your brand to stand out.

We noticed many SEO tool companies, like Ahrefs doing this:

facebook ad example

We couldn’t find a sponsored post in our timeline, but often some companies will run “sponsored posts,” meaning they’re creating ads for the blog content they create.

This could be a waste of money…

But it could also be a genius idea to get your name out there more.

There’s an industry saying that a potential customer has to see your brand 7 times before they buy.

Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen. The underlying sentiment makes sense.

Build brand familiarity in any way possible.

Conclusion

Winning the small business game has more to do with resourcefullnes than it does the resources themselves.

Use some of these marketing ideas to step up your game in 2019.

What are some creative marketing ideas you want to try with your small business?

Let us know in the comments!

 

22 Unique Content Marketing Tips for Business Owners

Have you heard of content marketing?

If you’re a business owner who’s been researching ways to grow your business online, you’ve heard the term before.

The questions you probably have are:

  • What is content marketing exactly? – Many publications online throw the term around a bit, but it’s important to understand the true definition of content marketing and how it works
  • How does content marketing work? – This post will dive deep into the deep ‘how-to’ and step by step methods for building an effective content marketing strategy.
  • Will it work for my business? – The short answer? Content marketing works for all businesses when it’s done right. Don’t worry, we’ll show you the light.

This post contains the most comprehensive list of content marketing tips on the entire internet. We provided this giant list to give you every option possible to make smart decisions for your business.

Before we dive into the tips, let’s answer the questions above.

What is content marketing?

Here’s the definition of content marketing from the content marketing institute:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Put simply, content marketing is a tool to grow your business. 

If your efforts aren’t leading to your desired outcome — engagement, leads, or sales — your strategy isn’t working.

Unsuccessful marketers focus on vanity metrics — analytics that do nothing more than boost your ego.

Successful markets focus on leading their customers through the sales process from start to finish and improve their efforts until the entire process works.

How Does Content Marketing Work?

You begin a successful campaign by answering the following questions:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What does my target audience want?
  • How does my target audience interact with content online?
  • What types of content drive the desired behavior and results of the customer?
  • How can we create engaging content for readers that also meets digital marketing standards?
  • What is the best way to lead customers through the sales process?

And taking the following actions:

  • Perform target audience and keyword research
  • Create an initial content strategy
  • Produce content regularly
  • Iterate

When you create you create an implement your strategy, you want to track and refine it over time to optimize your results.

Stick with us…

We’ll walk you through tips to answer all these questions and act on the information as soon as possible.

Will Content Marketing Work for My Business?

This question bugs you the most, doesn’t it?

You’re a forward-thinking business owner or marketer. We know this because you’re here searching for useful information.

But, deep down, you might wonder if content marketing will produce results for your business? 

Maybe you think you’re in a ‘boring industry.’

Maybe you’re worried about return on investment — is dumping money, time, and resources into your content going to pay off? How can you truly know if it’s paying off? The ROI of content strategies is notoriously hard to track, but there are ways you can do it.

Content marketing works.

It can work for your business.

It’s nothing more than a tool. It’s up to you or the digital marketing agency you work with to use it the right way.

Side note: If you’re working with a digital marketing agency, ask them how their strategies are going to help your business improve its bottom line. Really, drill down on that question because great agencies can answer that question and bad ones can’t.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s go over the tips. Feel free to jump around and find ones you think will work for you.

Create a Customer Avatar

Question for you — do you know who your ideal customer is? Do you know his or her hopes, fears, desires, and frustrations? Can you paint a vivid picture of them in your mind?

You need to know your target audience with pinpoint accuracy and a customer avatar can help you define your audience. With a defined audience, you can create targeted strategies.

Some questions you can use to build your customer avatar are:

  • What keeps them up at night? Finding your target audience’s deep pain points and frustrations can help you highlight them with copywriting and provide solutions
  • What are their hopes and dreams? You need to know what your client aspires to, not just in terms of your product, but their life in general. This way, you can tie in your product or service with their lifestyle, which builds trust and shows empathy
  • What end result will your product fulfill for them? There’s a classic marketing quote that goes, “When people buy a drill, they don’t want a drill. They want a hole.” Make your marketing fit that mantra
  • What other solutions may they have tried?

With this information in hand, you can create a targeted avatar. Then, you use the avatar to write content for your ideal customer. This makes the reader feel like you’re speaking to them personally.

Use This Word Often

use the word you in your writing

This subtle change can skyrocket the results of your content strategy.

The change? Use the word ‘you’ more often.

When you use the word ‘you’ instead of phrases like ‘our customers’ ‘our client’ and [xxxx], you show an investment in the person on the other side of the screen.

Most companies talk about themselves way too much.

Your customers want to know what you can do for them. Keep your content focused on their needs at all times.

Paint the Picture

Imagine you’re at your computer right now.

You receive a notification with a new lead or sale.

Your phone is ringing off the hook with customers calling after finding your company on Google.

Minutes later, you get another notification from your company blog. A reader just commented, “Wow. This is the best content I’ve ever seen. I’m bookmarking it to re-read.”

You think to yourself, “I wished I’d started sooner,” and you’re feeling the same rush of emotions you felt when you hit previous milestones in your business.

And most importantly, when tracking your revenue, you’re seeing numbers that make you wide-eyed.

These are the results you can expect from a successful content marketing campaign.

Now, read the next few sentences:

Our company provides digital marketing solutions, SEO, and web design. We can help your company reach a broader audience online, engage with them, and produce positive results.

One sentence says what the company does. The other paints a picture of how the customer will feel after you’ve transformed part of their life.

Check out the way Ramit Sethi uses the paint the picture technique on his sales page for a personal improvement course:

copywriting techniques

 

Read Your Customer’s Mind

Want an easy way to figure out exactly what your customers are thinking and make them feel like you’re reading their mind?

Here’s how you do it:

  • Research – Read product reviews on sites like Amazon, Quora, Yelp, Google reviews, and Facebook reviews.
  • Highlight – Find the phrases customers use over and over
  • Become a psychic – Use their exact words in your copy

Use These Tricks to Measure Content ROI

goal conversions

If you want to get an idea of how much revenue your campaigns drive, use these techniques:

  • Goal tracking – Most ad and analytics solutions provide goal tracking, which measures how many times users perform a desired action, e.g., buy your product, call, or enter a contact form
  • Set $ values – Create a dollar value amount per the desired action. A sale is overt, but you can also measure (on average) how much your leads are worth.
  • Compare – Using methods like customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV) you can measure how profitable your leads are.

Don’t be a One Trick Pony

Use different forms of media as part of your content strategy.

When it comes to content marketing, content means much more than the written word.

Other great mediums are:

  • Video
  • Infographics
  • Images
  • Audio
  • Slideshare presentations
  • Paid PPC ads

Elements of Style

Copywriting and blogging aren’t the same as academic writing.

When you write for web, use these elements of style to keep your reader moving down the page:

  • Short sentences
  • Headings (H1, H2, H3)
  • Bullet points
  • Add media in between sections to break up the copy

The Yoast SEO plugin provides a ‘readability score’ to make your content easy to read online:

yoast readablity grader

 

Use the Skyscraper Technique

The skyscraper technique is simple.

Here’s what you do:

  • Find the best piece of content about a subject
  • Write a piece of content that’s 10X better
  • Reach out to people who linked to and shared the other article and show them yours

The creator of this tactic, Brian Dean, uses it to rank for tough to beat keywords like “Google Ranking Factors.”

Optimize for Click Through Rates

When you perform on-site SEO for your website, you will create a unique meta description that will appear on search engines.

You want to add relevant key phrases to your meta description to rank highly in Google and you also want to make sure your description is compelling. 

Why? Because Google’s new Rank Brain algorithm prioritizes click-through rates, meaning they will rank a site with lower authority, but a higher click-through rate than its competitors.

In this post, Neil Patel describes techniques you can use to research your current site pages and optimize them for CTR.

Map Your Content to Lead Customers to the Sales Process

Each customer is at a different awareness stage when they discover your business. They may be unaware of their problem, aware of their problem and wondering if you can solve it, aware of your problem and believe you can solve it, or ready to do business with you because they’re convinced you can solve it.

Leading your customers from lead to customer involves guiding them through the process step-by-step with different pieces of content:

  • Whitepapers
  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Landing pages
  • Service pages

content marketing funnel

To create an effective content funnel, anticipate which stage of awareness your customer will be at when you create a piece of content and use that content to guide them through to the next step.

Write For Humans, Not Search Engines

While you do want to create content search engines love, you must create content people love too. Google is trending toward prioritizing the user’s experience over the standard SEO techniques.

Writing content people want to read also provides these SEO and digital marketing benefits:

  • Longer ‘time spent’ on page (a positive ranking factor)
  • Lower bounce rates (a negative ranking factor)
  • Social sharing
  • Higher engagement
  • Better conversions
  • Brand awareness through word of mouth

Find Your Citations

If your business has been around for a while, chances are people have mentioned it online. When someone mentions your business online, it counts as a citation for your business. Consider a citation a vote of confidence.

You can search for your citations online and reach out to those who have mentioned you and ask them for a link.

Moz created a detailed guide for finding your citations and getting links from people who already love your business.

Create a Welcome Series for Your Company

Email marketing is still one of the top tools you can use to grow your business with content marketing.

To bond with your customer and lead them through the funnel of education to sale, you can create a welcome series. 

A welcome series provides automated emails that send out in sequence based on when a new lead signs up for your email list.

Sending them an introductory welcome email creates an instant connection, helps customers remember your brand, and creates familiarity when you send them new messages:

This infographic from Spark Page shares excellent details and step for creating the perfect welcome series:

welcome series

Beef Up Your Content

Numbers don’t lie. And the numbers say long-form content ranks best on Google.

Industry standards used to say the key length per page was 300-500 words, but new data shows the top-ranked content online usually has 1800-2000 words:

w

When you create long form content, aim to make it the best content about the chosen topic period. You also want to choose an evergreen topic, meaning the topic will be relevant for years to come.

Epic content takes time and effort, which is why it works so well. Few people are willing to put that much effort into their content and the ones who do run laps around the competition.

Use Search Display and Facebook Ads to Gain New Leads

Most companies think about ads the wrong way. Ads aren’t just a tool to get users to buy right away. You can also use ads to draw in casual readers and move them through the stages of awareness we mentioned earlier.

If a customer doesn’t know or trust you, they won’t click on an ad to buy your product or service right away. If, however, you use ads to provide them with something useful, interesting, and free to get their attention, you can build the trust you’ll need to market to them later. Check out these awesome examples of companies using ads to connect with users:

Emma

 

facebook-ads

Hubspot

Think Long Term

Content marketing requires patience to see the fruits of your efforts.

It may take several months to a year for your post or page to rank on page #1 for Google.

An SEO campaign isn’t considered mature until the one year mark. When you work on a content strategy, think about your long term engagement, sales, and traffic goals then work backward to create a strategy that fits.

When creating a content marketing strategy, think of how you can not only gain a customer but keep them for life. An effective content marketing strategy not only lands new customers but continues to remind them why they purchased in the first place.

Ways to increase engagement for the long with customers and prospects are:

  • Blogging consistently
  • Email marketing (both sales and engagement-oriented)
  • Remarketing ads
  • Special offers
  • Active social media

Use This Powerful Ranking Signal

online reviews

Collecting as many reviews and testimonials from customers and clients has multiple benefits:

  • Google uses reviews as a ranking signal
  • Reviews provide ‘social proof’ which show potential customers why they should trust you.

According to research from Bright Local, 91 percent of people surveyed said they read reviews (at least occasionally) and 84 percent say they trust reviews as much as their own friends.

Republish Your Content

You may have heard that duplicate content is a definite no-no. As it turns out, that’s not exactly true.

You can republish your content on other websites as long as you identify the original piece of content with a rel: canonical tag.

Some platforms, like Medium, have this import function built right into the platform:

Even top Google engineer, Matt Cutts, explains how many forms of duplicate content don’t harm your SEO:

Harness the Power of Guest Blogging

guest post example

Guest blogging on authoritative websites helps you gain quality backlinks, send traffic back to your website, build your email list, and increase your brand awareness.

That is if you do it right.

The aforementioned Google engineer once declared that guest blogging was dead, but he meant that spammy guest blogging was dead.

Given you find a reputable website and create legitimate and useful content, guest blogging is still a top white hat technique businesses can use.

Some great articles on guest blogging are:

Guest Blogging – The Definitive Guide

The Essentials of Guest Blogging Strategy for SEO 

Don’t Build on Rented Land

There are many great third party tools and websites you can use to aid your content marketing efforts.

You don’t, however, want to build your business on someone else’s property. This is called digital sharecropping.

Let’s say you decided to add all of your content only to Facebook instead of your own website. If Facebook decides to change its terms of service or delete your page, there’s nothing you can do about it.

Companies like Facebook change their rules all the time. Relying on third parties alone is a dangerous strategy.

Having your own dedicated online real estate and using long term strategies like SEO and email marketing will ensure your content efforts don’t go to waste.

 

Use Influencer Marketing to Build Your Brand

influencer marketing example

Influencer marketing is the process of leveraging the fame of celebrities to promote your product. This extends further beyond typical “A-List” celebrities like actors, rock stars, and comedians. There is a large number of social media influencers out there — people who are only famous through their social media platforms — that you can work with to promote your product. Neil Patel has a great guide on launching an influencer marketing campaign.

Spy on Your Competition

There’s a simple recipe you can use to beat out your competition on search engines:

  • Find out what your competitors are doing well
  • Do it much better than them

You can use tools like Ahrefs and Buzz Sumo to figure out how your competitors use content marketing. Once you have data on the type of content they create, where their links and engagement come from, and the level of depth they put into their content, you can create better content on the same topics and reach out to everyone who engaged with their content.

It’s that simple.

Create a Maze to Keep Your Readers on Your Website

You can use what’s known as the Wiki Strategy to improve our SEO and keep readers on your website longer.

Here’s a condensed version of the strategy (follow the link to see full):

  • Create the best content online
  • Link to reputable sources in your content – Wikipedia is a heavily cited and linked website. Meaning that you never have to leave Wikipedia to find more information. You want to create the same effect with your linking strategy
  • Find experts to contribute to your site to build the catalog
  • Promote your content
  • Track your progress
  • Repeat

Conclusion

These are just a few of the many content marketing tips you can use to grow your business.

What are some of your favorites?

What have you tried?

Tell us what has worked (or what hasn’t)/

 

 

 

Content Creation : How to Create Quality SEO Content to Grow Your Business

Content creation is the life-blood of any content marketing campaign.

The problem? Content creation can be difficult.

If you don’t use the right strategies, you can waste time and money.

There’s no shortage of companies who’ve tried to do content marketing themselves or hired someone to do it that didn’t get great results.

The question is – how can you make content marketing and SEO work for your business?

How do you know what content to create?

How can you invest in content creation and ensure you get a return on investment (ROI) — even though this is harder to track than metrics like cost per click?

If you’re opting to work with an agency, how can you be sure they’ll deliver?

This guide is meant to be the end-all-be-all when it comes to creating content for your business.

Before we go deep into strategy, you have to get this next part right. In fact, the next section alone will make or break your success.

The Mindset You Need to Become a Content Creation Expert

People don’t talk about this often.

It’s easy enough to read blogs about content marketing.

Doing it and doing it well is a different story.

The funny thing? Content marketing isn’t hard, per se. It’s time-consuming, requires consistency, and only works after you spend a lot of time, effort, and money creating content.

Even if you don’t write the content yourself and hire an agency do to it, realize that not all agencies are created equal.

In fact, the sad truth is that many of them will write “me too” content that doesn’t move the needle. Agencies can be just as guilty at failing to live by the rules of successful content creators.

Rule # 1 – Write 10x, World-Dominating, Head And Shoulders Above the Competition Content

Here’s a guaranteed hack that’ll help you rank better on search engines:

Write content that’s 10x better than your competition.

How can you do this?

Make your content longer and more in-depth:

word count and google rankings chart

Add media to your blog posts to make them stand out:

Add novel insights and contradict the advice of your competitors:

how to write unique content

Use this Simple Framework to Beat Your Competition:

  • Study all the competitor results on the search engine results page (SERP)
  • Note what the ranking pages do well and implement the same techniques in your content
  • Note what’s missing from your competitor’s content and add it to your content
  • Aim to create a piece of content that’s 10x better than your competition

This technique is known as the Skyscraper Technique.

Again, this is about the mindset behind SEO. You can think all you want about using a strategy like the Skyscraper Technique, but actually doing it is about 100x harder than reading a blog post about it.

Rule # 2 – Prepare For Obstacles in Advance

Roadblocks are inevitable.

You’ll write content constantly without getting the results you expected.

You’ll invest money that doesn’t pay off in rankings and traffic right away.

At a certain point, you’ll wonder if content marketing is right for your business.

Spoiler alert: it is, but you need the right mindset to make it work.

Here are some simple ways to prepare for these roadblocks in advance:

  • Plan, plan, plan – From keyword research to creating a content strategy, to adding time-blocks on your calendar to work on content, the more you prepare, the easier content creation will be.
  • Wait – If you decided to commit to content marketing for a year, wait a year before you judge the success of the campaign. Sure, make adjustments along the way, but commit to seeing the strategy out first before you throw in the towel.
  • Why – Remember why you started creating content (or hired someone) in the first place. You wanted to grow your business, build your brand, and connect with more people. Focusing on your “why” can help you persist when times get tough.

Rule #3 – Quality and Quantity

As mentioned in Ahrefs guide about the top SEO creators, they had this to say about Natan Gotch with Gotch SEO:

He consistently puts out HUGE, in‐depth guides. Some are even custom designed.

I’ve seen at least one of his posts garner 750+ comments.

The downside? Putting together such massive guides clearly isn’t the easiest job ever, as Nathan only publishes one post per month on average. Regardless, Nathan is undoubtedly one to watch.

On the flipside, blogs like Search Engine Journal produce multiple blog posts per day.

Both strategies work. Not only that, but quality and quantity don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

A few dozen posts per year provide excellent quantity if all the posts make up for it in quality. Also, you can create great-but-not-insanely-long guides at a faster pace and rank well, too.

There are no one-size fits all solutions.

Use these benchmarks instead:

  • The harder it is to rank for a keyword, the longer and more in-depth your content should be
  • The higher your site authority, the more chance you have of ranking for competitive keywords
  • The lower your site authority, the more you want to focus on creating lots of content that target low to medium competition keywords

Don’t “Try to Become a Thought Leader” Do This Instead

Thought leadership is a hot topic. 

What does it mean?

If you’re a thought leader, it means you’re one of the “go-to experts” in your space.

Content creation is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader, but not if you focus on becoming one.

Right now, you should focus on creating the best content you possibly can.

You should promote your content and connect with people in your niche.

Do this for a long enough time, and you’ll earn the right to be called a thought leader. It will be self-evident.

Content marketing has created an awesome path for anyone to demonstrate their expertise.

Sadly, the majority of content creators focus on the prize instead of just doing the work.

Just do the work. Do it often.

The traffic, sales, and admiration will come later.

Don’t worry about those for now.

Now, stick with us to learn about the nuts and bolts of a solid content creation strategy.

Keyword Research 101

Keywords are the life-blood of a content creation campaign.

Have you ever typed something into Google looking for an answer, a location, a service, etc? Those phrases you type in are keywords.

When you do keyword research, you’re looking to find the right phrases to use in the content you create.

So what qualifies as a good keyword?

Here are some good benchmarks to follow:

Search Intent

The keywords you target your content around should match a goal you have for your business. You want to make sure that someone who types in that keyword will be happy to find your site and you’ll be happy they landed there.

We’ll use an example from our industry. We could create content around the keyword “SEO” but it’s a broad and vague keyword. Someone searching for the keyword SEO might be a curious browser, not someone who’s serious about working with an SEO agency.

Something like “content marketing services” matches our goals better. A person searching for that is at least interested in learning about a service we provide.

Or take this blog post, which we targeted around words like “content creation” and “quality SEO content.” Not everybody who reads this post will want to work with us, but that’s not the point. We provide education about SEO and content marketing so that you either:

  • Decide to work with us
  • Decide to take our recommendations and use them on your own

Both are good options because they meet our overall goal: being a leader in content marketing and SEO. Helping people for free is a big part of reaching that goal, so creating quality content for free is part of our strategy (and will likely be part of yours too)

Competition

Different niches have different levels of competition.

Marketing is, to say the least, a very competitive space. We’re competing with all the marketing blogs in the world.

If you’re a local plumber in, say, Wichita Kansas, your strategy will be different because your competition will be different.

We will talk about the steps to keyword research shortly, but let’s look at some of the ways you can size up the competition as part of your content creation efforts.

Site Authority

Google doesn’t outright tell us who’s site is the most authoritative.

There are third-party tools that give you a pretty good idea though.

Here’s a screenshot from a tool we like to use, Ahrefs:

ahrefs site authority tool

Authority Score 101

Take a look at the two numbers on the right, UR and DR. Here is the explanation of what these scores measure directly from Ahrefs:

Domain Rating is a proprietary Ahrefs’ metric that shows the strength of a target website’s total backlink profile (in terms of its size and quality).

URL Rating (UR) shows the strength of a target page’s backlink profile on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100, with latter being the strongest. Both internal and external links are taken into account when calculating this metric

Domain Rating

Every page on your website has the same Domain Rating (DR) that are based on a few things:

  • Linking root domains – This just means the total number of websites that link to you. 3 links from three different websites are better than 3 links from the same website. Make sense? Ok good.
  • Authority of the linking root domains – Quality beats quantity here. 1 link from a high authority domain can be more important than many links from low-quality websites
  • Link profile – A link profile is all the links you have on your website + how they are linked. A good example to help you understand: a link from a medium authority domain that links out to a handful of other websites can be better than a high authority domain that links out to a ton of other sites. The authority of the whole site, in a way, gets split up by the total number of links. This concept is called “link juice.”

URL Rating

Each page on your website has its own unique URL rating (UR).

Here’s how to think about this. Website pages show up on Google, not entire websites.

Here’s a page on our website that ranks on page one in the search engine results page (SERP):page 1 ranking on the SERP

Google wants the best pages to show up on the SERP for a query (what people type into the search bar). In this case, it’s providing results for people who search for things like “Minneapolis SEO” “Minneapolis SEO company” “Minneapolis SEO agency” etc.

So instead of looking for which websites have the best information about these topics, Google chooses individual pages to show up on the results page.

One of the factors it uses is the authority of individual pages that are targeted for “Minneapolis SEO.”

This authority is measured by UR.

Some of the factors that affect UR are:

  • Linking root domains to the page – Each website that links to this exact page – https:/www.mltgroup.com/minneapolis-seo.php boosts the authority of the page itself
  • Linking root domain authority – You want to get links from pages with high DR and UR pointing to pages you want to rank on Google
  • Internal links – Internal links are links from one page of a website to another page of a website. Why is this important? Internal linking tells Google, “Hey, this page is important!” When you create a page you want to rank, you should link to it from lots of other pages on your website. This screenshot shows how this structure can work

internal link site architecture

Via – Moz

 

How to Use These Scores

When you’re doing keyword research, you want to think about the authority of the pages who rank for the keywords you’re trying to target.

It’s not an exact science, but here are some rough guidelines:

  • Low authority sites/pages – If you have a newer website that doesn’t have much authority yet, you want to first focus on keywords that have low to medium authority themselves (low = 10-30)
  • Medium authority sites/pages – As you create and promote content over time, your site authority increases, making it easier to rank for more competitive keywords (medium = 30-50)
  • High authority sites/pages – If you publish and promote great content over a long period of time, you can start to rank for highly competitive keywords. High competitive keywords usually get more total traffic volume, which means the number of people who search for that keyword in a month. You will need to write the best quality content possible to rank for these terms (high = 50+).

Other Site Authority Considerations and Tools

Site authority is just one of many metrics you can use to gauge your chances of ranking a page on Google.

Just because your site pages have lower authority than others doesn’t mean you can’t rank them. You just have to go the extra mile to beat out the others.

Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Write 10x content
  • Get a handful of top quality backlinks. Nathan Gotch has an excellent backlink guide you can use to get started
  • Use smart outbound links. We will talk about this in more depth, but the quality of the links you put on your pages that link to other sources can help your page rank, too
  • Be bold. You won’t succeed in content marketing unless you’re willing to do what others won’t. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box and over deliver. A great example of this: Neil Patel spent tens of thousands of dollars and essentially wrote a book worth of content to rank for “online marketing

Keyword Research Essentials

Keyword research is a topic that can go into great depth. Here are the cliff notes of a great keyword strategy and some excellent resources you can use to learn more:

  • Steal your competitor’s keywords – With tools like Ahrefs, Moz, and SEM Rush you can plug your competitor’s URLs into their dashboards to see what keywords they already rank for. Then, you can create better versions of their content to outrank them 🙂
  • Good old fashioned brainstorming – You know what products and services you sell. You also have an idea of what words people might use to search for products and services in your niche. Start with those as a baseline. Take a pen and pad, write ideas down, and cross-check with keyword research tools
  • Make up your own damn keywords – If you have a unique strategy or insight that helps people in your niche, create content about it and make up a name for your strategy. It’s a nice hack you can use to get on page 1 fast. Some people go as far as to give their companies a unique name. As their brand gets recognized, they create a total keyword volume out of thin air! Remember earlier when we said to be creative? This is an example of what we meant.

Keyword Research Resources and Tools

The basics are enough to get you started, but if you’re looking for more in-depth resources to start your content creation campaign, these guides will be a ton of help:

Here are some keyword research tools that we didn’t already mention:

Remember those unique ‘thin air’ keywords we talked about earlier? Here are some cool examples you can model:

Market Research 101

On top of doing keyword research, you can perform market research to make your content even better.

Part of this research involves studying your competition.

The other part involves studying your potential customers and people in your target audience.

Study the SERP

We wanted to rank this post for keywords like “quality content” and “SEO” content.

When studying the SERP and the blog posts we found, we noticed a few things in common between the posts and saw ways to create something better.

First, we noticed most of the posts used short tips and tidbits on how to create quality content that was a bit vague:

competitor analysis example

 

If you wanted to create content using these tips, you’d have a general idea, but not a step by step process or useful resources.

That’s why we put together step by step information with screenshots, resources,  and concrete processes you can use right now to create quality content yourself (and if you don’t have the time, our company will use this exact process for your business.)

We also noticed the posts talked (mostly) about ways to impress Google. 

Yes, you have to optimize your content for search engines, but your number one goal is creating content your visitors find useful.

In a later section, you’ll see our step by step process for creating user-focused content.

 

A final, and really important item, we saw missing was a lack of focus on the content creators themselves.

Nowhere did we find tips on the mindset and tools you need to be a successful content creator.

Or, for business owners looking for content creation help, we didn’t see any tips on finding the right type of agency or content marketer to work with. We included sections on both in our guide.

Studying the SERPs is just one of a few important tasks for content creation.

Stick with us to discover the true keys to content marketing success…

 

Use The World’s Largest Customer Research Center

If your business doesn’t have a product, service, or content related to something on Amazon, you have a very obscure niche.

Amazon reviews offer great insights you can use to create content.

We looked at some books on content marketing to see what readers thought about books on creating quality content:

Image from Gyazo

 

Even though we’re writing a single post, we can use insights from book reviews to help make our post more useful.

We looked for 3-star reviews, which usually have a good mix of praise and criticism. We found some interesting insights.

Some readers were looking for relatable ideas for their kind of business instead of the “create epic content to grow a massive company” style content you often see:

customer research example

This led to us creating a section with examples and scenarios for normal small and medium-sized business owners.

We also noticed many comments about formatting and ease of use for finding information:

content marketing research

We added a table of contents, FAQ section, and worked to make our in-depth guide as simple to read as possible.

We also noticed a theme where readers didn’t feel the content was catered to their experience level:

research for content creation

In our tips section, you’ll see sections for different skill levels.

Customer Research With Quora

Quora is a question and answer platform. Users ask questions about a wide range of subjects. You can plug keywords into Quora to see what questions people are aking in your niche. You can use these insights to create content that answers people’s questions, which can help your posts rank better on Google (remember Google likes user-focused content).

Digging through Quora, we found this question, which led to us creating a section with our top recommended tools:

customer research example on Quora

 

With the keywords and insights in hand, you can start to plan for the different types of content you can create for your business’s website.

Different Types of Content You Can Create

Different types of content require different strategies to be successful.

If you’re a content marketer (or you’ve hired an SEO agency to help you out), it’s important to know what goal each type of content serves.

If you want to get technical about it, there are lots and lots of different categories content can fit into.

For this guide, we’ll focus on the basics (pro tip: mastering the basics is often better than trying all techniques at once.)

Blog Posts

You’re reading a blog post right now.

Why? Probably because you’re looking for information to help you create your own content or insights you can use to get somebody to do it for you.

Either way, you’re here because you need or want information.

If you don’t think this post is going to deliver what you want, you’ll leave.

If you think the post does deliver want, you’ll read through the whole post, maybe sign up to get even more marketing tips, or reach out to us directly because you want our help.

We write blog posts to educate people about content marketing and SEO.

We want our content to be so in-depth and useful that you can implement the strategies on your own.

Why? Because we’re building our brand as content experts. Getting every single person who reads our posts to buy our services would be nice, but that’s not our goal. Done strategically, creating a company blog can help your business stand out as an industry leader.

Blog Post Best Practices

If you want your blog to be successful, it has to hit certain benchmarks like:

  • Content length – Studies show a correlation between blog post length and rankings. The longer your post the better – as long as the content is useful. (As Rand Fishkin points out in his Whiteboard Friday Episode there is no *perfect* content length)
  • Intent – Search intent means people who visit your blog post get what they’re expecting. Study the posts that rank well for your target keyword to get insights on intent.
  • Optimized – Each blog post you write must be optimized for a certain topic or keyword to rank on Google.
  • Media – Pictures, videos, infographics, and other forms of media keep readers on the page longer. “Dwell time” is a ranking factor search engines use.

With these benchmarks in mind, focus on the content marketing done in your industry. Blog styles and formats vary from industry to industry.

A simple recipe that works for any industry, though: study the blog posts your competitors create and make your content undeniably better.

Service/Product Pages

Services and product pages have a simple goal: get people to buy or request more information.

Your service and product pages should be more focused and, for lack of a better word, aggressive than your blog posts.

Each services page should include:

A Unique Selling Proposition or Tag Line

You have to provide reasons why your product or service is better than the others and communicate it well.

Look at content marketing expert Neil Patel’s service page for his agency, Neil Patel Digital:

Landing page example

He does a couple things well here. The call to action at the top of the page is simple, straightforward, and compelling at the same time. Who doesn’t want more traffic?

On top of that, he displays logos of the companies he’s worked with. Why? Two persuasion techniques are used here: social proof and the power of association.

Social proof is basically evidence of why something is good, e.g., positive book reviews. Us humans like to know other people trust a brand or product before we purchase it. Then there’s the association bias.

Whenever you can, it’s smart to associate yourself with other trusted brands. Who doesn’t know Facebook, Google, and eBay? Neil leverages his partnerships with these companies and it’s persuasive because they’re so well known.

Highlight the Benefits of Your Product/Service

Content creation often boils down to one question:

What’s in it for me?

All the content on your product and services pages should answer that question.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes for a second. Say they visit one of your services pages and the first paragraph they see is something boring about how your company “was founded in 1965 in a one-room shack” or whatever.

Does that information really drive decision-making? Perhaps, but more often than not business owners use their service and product pages the wrong way – to talk about themselves and talk about the features of their services instead of the benefits.

Nobody cares about the fact your riding mower has x, y, and z capabilities. They care that your lawn mower mows lawns faster!

Focus on the benefits your product or service provides.

As the famous saying goes, “People don’t buy drills, they buy holes.”

Look at this example from Legion Athletics. On a product page for one of their supplements, they start the page by addressing the problem and providing solutions in the form of benefits:

product page example

They list all the features of the product on the bottom of the page. Much more time is spent on highlighting the benefits of the product and the transformation it will provide people who buy it.

This is how smart marketing works.

Other Considerations

Many of the guidelines for creating great blog content apply to creating product/service pages:

  • Content length – Your content has to be as long or longer than the competition to rank. For product/service pages, use images to “break up” the words on the page
  • Media – See how the video was used in the example above? Adding media to your product/service pages can make them more persuasive and keep people on your pages longer.
  • Optimization – You’ll need to do keyword research and optimize your product/service pages, too. You can use modifiers to get more clicks like “Buy” “Discount” “20% off” “Free Trial” etc.
  • Calls to Action – Make sure to prompt readers to either buy or learn more about your product/service in an overt way (see screenshot below)

call to action example

Landing Pages

When we use the phrase landing pages, we’re talking about highly-target pages that provide readers two options:

  • Engage by signing up or buying
  • Leave

You won’t see menus on these pages. You won’t see any links pointing you somewhere else.

These pages are focused.

Landing pages are often used to get e-mail subscribers.

Let’s say you’re running Facebook Ads to get more customers. The last thing you want is to spend money, have them click on your ad, and then leave without subscribing.

This is why most landing pages make it crystal clear what they want you to do next:

landing page for email subscribers

This is a landing page Leanne Regalla used to get more subscribers from her guest post.

She used this call to action at the end of the post, which directed people to the landing page shown above:

guest post call to action

The page itself displays benefits and has a dead-obvious call to action.

How to Write Copy for Landing Pages

You only have a split-second to get someone’s attention when they visit your landing page. If your offer doesn’t compel them fast, they will leave.

How do you get them to convert?

You have to make an offer so good they can’t refuse it.

You can do this in a few ways.

Create a Compelling Headline

This example uses the word “free” highlights how valuable the offer is (16 parts) and speaks to the results you’ll get from signing up and using it:

landing page headline example

Via Henneke Duistermaat at Enchanting Marketing

Use Bullet-Points to feature the persuasive benefits your offer provides:

landing page offer example

Via Meera Kothand 

And Make Sure You Make it Clear What to Do Next:

Landing page call to action

Other (Optional) Forms of Content

Content means more than the written word.

Other forms of content exist and are useful. We focused on written content creation for this post because it’s a core type of content you must master.

Once your content marketing campaign is in full swing, you can try other formats to pour gasoline on the fire.

Video

Video can be an excellent content marketing tool. Some people prefer visual content to written because…they don’t like to read all that much! No worries, video is a great way to repurpose your content. Each blog post you publish can be transformed into a video. Each video can be broken up into smaller pieces and shared on platforms like Instagram. You can take one video and feature it across multiple platforms like Youtube, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Some great in-depth guides on using video are:

Social Media

One blog post can be turned into several content pieces you can use on social media.

Some examples are:

  • Sharing links to your post across all social channels
  • Making quote-cards with visual displays of quotes from your content
  • Sharing video content across social media platforms
  • Adding click-to-tweet buttons from your content that share highlighted quotes instantly

There is a lot you can do with social media and content marketing. So much so that there are awesome guides solely dedicated to that process. Check them out:

Conclusion

Content creation can help you grow your business, but only with the right strategies, tools, insights, and effort.

What do you think?

Leave your most “important keys” to content creation, promotion, and marketing below.

 

 

 

SEO Best Practices for 2019

Most SEO best practices posts don’t tell you anything new.

The posts usually contain the same old SEO information and the writers simply add the current year to the title.

We want to be different.

This post is going to cover the SEO best practices you won’t hear anywhere else.

Above and beyond the normal advice like “create epic content or use the Skyscraper technique” we’re going to look at SEO insights that really move the needle. 

Let’s dive in.

The Most Important SEO Best Practice of Them All

The SEO industry has a lot in common with the weight loss, self-help, and finance industries.

Every year, millions of articles come out in these spaces with either the same old advice:

“Count calories”

“Write down your goals”

“Save 20% of your income”

Or there’s a hot new fad everyone wants to jump on:

“Do the Keto diet”

“Wake up at 5 a.m. and meditate”

“Buy cryptocurrencies”

In the case of SEO, the common advice would be something like “perform outreach to get backlinks” and the advice of the day might be in relation to the latest algorithm change.

In all cases, you’re choosing the wrong strategy if you dwell too long on either type of advice.

The most important SEO best practice is simple:

  • Experiment with new strategies
  • Analyze your findings
  • Double down on what works

Instead of reading articles about writing epic content, write epic content (or hire someone to do it) and measure the results.

Instead of watching videos about blogger outreach, take the last piece of content you wrote and promote it as hard as you possibly can.

If you’re a business owner who’s on the fence about working with an agency or getting marketing help, stop reading blog posts about “finding the right agency,” pick one and give them 12 months to build a successful campaign.

SEO has much more to do with implementing sound advice than it does being an expert.

Someone with less SEO knowledge but more commitment can rank their websites higher than the competition. Speaking of…

The Easiest Way to Outshine Your Competition

Imagine you’re a local business owner in Cleveland, Ohio who sells plumbing services.

You think you’re in a “boring” business.

With that belief in mind, you don’t go the extra mile when it comes to marketing. Maybe you try writing some SEO content, but you don’t take it any further.

You can’t see past ranking #1 for “Plumbing services in Ohio.” You have modest goals because you run a modest business in a modest industry.

Instead of doing what every other plumber in the city does and wishing for the best, why not go above and beyond your competition — not just in SEO, but building a brand that stands out in your entire industry. 

For local SEO, here are some techniques you can use that most of your competitors won’t:

  • Write detailed blog posts about interesting ways your business connects with related topics, e.g., your new green plumbing system/fighting climate change
  • Add humor and personality to your content marketing like Dollar shave club and Blendtec
  • Create an animated infographic showing how easy it is for normal objects to clog a drain
  • Ad humor and flair to your PPC ads

In your case, look for these two simple and easy ways to differentiate yourself from the competition:

  • Break one of your industries “norms”
  • Use a content marketing technique that requires either too much money or effort for your competitors to even think of copying

Don’t Start with SEO in mind at all

You’ve heard that backlinking is a key piece of the SEO pie, but what if I told you there were websites earning tens to hundreds of thousands of visitors per month without actively backlinking at all?

Enter the Cup and Leaf Blog.

Nat Eliason, owner of Cup and Leaf, Growth Machine, and a fascinating personal blog, has been growing his tea blog by using something called the wiki strategy.

Here’s an excerpt from the post discussing the strategy:

The first principle of the strategy is that you should only write something if it’s going to be the best article on that topic on the Internet. Anything less than that is a waste of time. If there is already a better article on the topic out there, then you’re only adding to the infomania pollution of the Internet by publishing yours, so you must only publish something if it is truly the best article on the topic.

Why does this strategy work?

Because it focuses on the user first and SEO second.

Google is not (just) interested in your website’s authority score. It’s interested in whether or not your website — and business as a whole — serves the needs of searchers.

When it comes to creating content, designing your website, creating a site structure, and more, start with the premise that you want to provide the best user experience possible.

This means:

  • Writing in-depth content that answers readers questions
  • Having a great user experience
  • Adding entertaining elements like media

After you’re done, go back in and use the core SEO techniques.

Understand this Core Behavioral SEO Best Practice

Remember when I said SEO and marketing are a lot like finance, weight-loss, and self-improvement?

These industries have another thing in common:

The need to commit to goals.

Consider adding the commitment to your company’s marketing to your list of goals for 2019 and follow through with it.

SEO can take up to a year before it really starts to kick in  — just like losing weight or saving money.

This year, consider suspending your judgment and spending a full 12 months — either on your own or with the help of an agency — doing a full scale 100% effort digital marketing campaign.

What would that look like?

Research Keywords to Create Content for a Full Calendar Year

You want to have enough keywords to create as many new pieces of content you decide you need for the next 12 months.

How do you decide how many pieces of content to create? Some useful guides are:

Keep these thoughts in mind while you research.

Go In Through the Side Door

In our article about real estate SEO, we talked about how hard it would be to rank on the first page for a key phrase like “Homes for Sale in Minneapolis,” without a big brand with a lot of authority.

We suggested focusing on less competitive long-tail keywords like “Condos for sale in Stillwater, MN. (Stillwater is a suburb of Minneapolis.

Creating unique pages for these types of key phrases can help you grow your organic traffic as a whole over time.

Use This Obvious But Under-Utilized Technique

There are a ton of articles about ways to verify the quality of your keywords.

One piece of advice many business owners — and even SEOs miss — is taking the time to read and analyze the content that appears on page one.

It seems simple and obvious, but reading and analyzing 10 blog posts or website pages requires time, patience, and effort.

Our analysis found the following.

All the posts in the top 10 results talked about what to do, but not the mindset you need to follow through with SEO best practices:

SEO best practice example

 

This led to us creating tips not just about SEO best practices, but the behavior and mindset you need to pull them off.

We also noticed the #1 result came in at about ~1,100 words. Is that really enough word count to explain SEO in detail. We don’t think so, so we doubled the word count with useful information.

Remember the standard best practice that content length matters for SEO:

word count and google rankings chart

 

Follow this Rule When it Comes to Choosing Topics

How do you become an industry thought leader?

How do you build an audience that respects your opinion?

You only talk about topics you know inside and out and avoid everything else.

Artificial intelligence and voice search are hot SEO topics — ones we’re fascinated about and plan on focusing on more in the future.

But, as of this moment, we’re not trying to become the go-to experts about these topics.

Why?

First, because we focus on providing useful content for business owners and marketing employees, we want to write about topics that are the most actionable for our audience.

We’re not discussing A.I. in strategy meetings with potential clients, so why write about it?

Second, as of this moment, we simply can’t write about those topics with a level of authority we’d feel comfortable with.

This is the exact opposite attitude of many other SEO companies and digital marketing agencies.

They might write a paragraph about artificial intelligence in their blog post, but if you reached out to ask them to build a custom A.I. based digital marketing strategy for you, they wouldn’t be able to do it.

SEO is at the peak of competitiveness in 2019. Writing “me-too” content isn’t going to work. Mentioning topics that are hot and trendy, but you know nothing about, won’t work either.

Focus on becoming the best at what you know and sharing it with your audience. This 80/20 approach will reap massive rewards.

Run Your Content Marketing Campaign, Add Experiments Along the Way, and Double Down on What Works

You have your content planned out for the year, but written content can’t be your only content marketing channel.

You’ll have to use a combination of these channels:

  • Social Media
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Visual/Graphic content

The goal and steps are simple — test marketing channels and run experiments until you find a channel worth mastering.

You don’t want to throw spaghetti at the wall forever. When you find a channel that works, do it again.

Model your thinking after this excerpt from a blog post about making $2.5 million dollars with an online course:

“Everyone who’s ever launched a product—a book, an event, a course—has asked this question. It’s the number-one question every amateur entrepreneur wants answers to. It’s the question I asked after launching my first product.

And it is absolutely the wrong question to ask.

I made the mistake of asking this question to Derek Halpern right after my first successful course launch.

I had released a brand-new course for writers called Tribe Writers. Even though I launched it to a list of less than 2,000 people, I sold over 400 courses and made $25,000… in a week

“What should I build next?” I asked Derek.

“Whaddya, stupid?!” Derek said in his most wonderful New Yorker accent.

“Uh, no?” I said.

“Why would you go build something new when you have a product that is selling?”

“…”

“Let me ask you something,” he continued. “Do you really think everyone who needs this product has heard about it yet?”

“Oh, definitely not.”

“Good. And do you think everyone who has heard about it and is going to buy it has bought it? Or do you think more people on your list will eventually buy it?”

“I think more people will buy it.”

“Ok. So why are you talking about another product? Why don’t you just keep launching this product and learning how to sell it better and better?”

Once you find a marketing channel that works for you – double, triple, or quadruple down on it.

Here are some excellent examples of people doing just that.

Neil Patel and Eric Siu

Neil Patel owns an agency called Neil Patel Digital and runs a popular marketing blog.

Eric Siu owns Single Grain, Growth Everywhere, and a SaaS product called Click Flow.

Together, they both host the Marketing School podcast where they create a short daily episode about marketing.

At the end of each episode, they use the same call to action – help them reach 1,000,000 subscribers:

 

marketing school podcast

They’re building towards an end goal.

They started the podcast as an experiment and doubled-down on it when it worked.

What do other marketers do? They either rest on their laurels or try a new strategy.

You should try new strategies – Eric and Neil both use many other marketing channels – but only after you’ve mastered and optimized a channel or technique that’s working.

Track Everything (And Don’t Forget to Do What I’m About to Tell You)

You want to track the success of your marketing efforts, but that’s not the most important part of a successful campaign.

What is?

Let’s (for the last time) take a look at one of the related industries we talked about earlier — finance.

Take a Look at this excerpt from a post titled The Psychology of Money:

[…] managing money isn’t necessarily about what you know; it’s how you behave. But that’s not how finance is typically taught or discussed. The finance industry talks too much about what to do, and not enough about what happens in your head when you try to do it.

This quote doesn’t just describe finance, but many other industries including SEO.

Add Sub-Head Here

See, it’s easy to nod your head when you work with an agency and they tell you that SEO takes 12 months.

It’s hard to stick with the campaign after you’re 6 months in, spent $15,000 on the campaign, and haven’t got the flood of traffic you hoped for yet.

Facebook ads seem like a great way to promote your content.

But sticking with them when your ads are bleeding money could mean the difference between disappointment and marketing pay dirt.

Our SEO best practices guide contains much less tactical information and much more behavior-oriented and psychological information.

Why? Because winning the SEO game is about what goes on between your ears, not the techniques themselves.

Trust the process long enough to get real insights.

Conclusion

The SEO best practices that work have nothing to do with simple techniques and strategies. Often, they have more to do with comittment, persistence, and long-term thinking.

What do you think?

Are there any SEO best practices you’d like to add?

Have questions about SEO?

Let us know in the comments.

Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Isn’t Working (and How to Fix That)

Is your content marketing strategy failing?

If I had a dollar for every time I heard “content is king,” I could retire.

Content marketing works, but it doesn’t work for everyone. The same can be said for SEO, pay per click advertising, and social media marketing.

Marketing channels work, but you have to make them work. It’s easy to throw money at something like PPC ads, but it’s hard to figure out how to get ROI from them.

Marketing isn’t a magic potion. It’s a tool to help you grow your business.

The good news? You can always fix your content marketing strategy and sometimes it doesn’t take an overhaul — a few simple changes can make all the difference.

Let’s dive into the tips.

The #1 Content Marketing Strategy Mistake 99 Percent of Business Owners Make

Here’s what will happen when you start a content marketing campaign (or hire someone to do it).

You’ll get excited to see all the new content published on your blog.

You’ll anxiously check your analytics and Google the keywords you targeted with your content.

A little time will pass without any major movement. No worries, things will pick up soon. But they don’t.

You’re a few weeks (or months) in and your rankings haven’t budged.

Your traffic is stagnant.

Then you start to worry.

You spent a ton of time working on the content.

Or you spent a lot of money for an agency to do it.

Either way, you’re worried about your return on investment.

Do you wait it out and give your strategy time to work, or do you bail?

The answer to that question makes or breaks your content marketing strategy.

Google is slow 🙁

It can take months, a year, or even multiple years for your strategy to truly take off:

average age of page one rankings chart

Source: Ahrefs

You have to think like an investor.

Content Marketing Creates Exponential Results

Investors know compound interest will make their money grow faster over time.

If you think like an investor and use a lot of resources up front, you’ll reap rewards later.

This means:

At first, your traffic and rankings won’t move much, but after time, they’ll rise up the rankings. Higher rankings mean more traffic and more authority for your website.

When some of your pages start to rank high, they’ll attract backlinks and gain authority on their own.

Why? Because people often Google information to use in their own content and tend to cite results that show up on page 1.

If you write evergreen, in-depth, and useful content, people will link to you naturally, which gives your entire site more authority.

When a single page ranks for one keyword, it will start to rank for other related keywords — these are called LSI keywords. 

A single page can rank for dozens, hundreds, or thousands of keywords.

You can go back in and sprinkle these LSI keywords into your content, which will help it rank better overall.

Stop Doing This Immediately

Marketing experts are aplenty in 2019.

They’re all giving the same advice.

People who take that advice give the same advice so on and so forth.

This becomes a content marketing pyramid scheme.

Everyone copies each other, meaning no one is original or has anything truly useful to share.

Did you develop a strategy based on copying your competitors? It’s time to rethink that.

How? Figure out ways to differentiate yourself from the competition.

One Strategy No One Can Copy

Ayetkin Tank, founder of Jotform, writes a blog on Medium.com

What separates him from other people in the space? He tells personal stories. Look at the story he used to open a blog post about the taste of customers:

storytelling in your content

You can’t replicate someone else’s personal experience. Stories shape the world and humans love learning through stories.

Try to think of ways to inject more narrative into your content strategy.

Do you have unique testimonials and case studies from people who’ve bought your products or services? Use them.

Do you have industry insights you gained from unique experiences? Sprinkle these stories into your content.

Zig When They Zag

Is everyone in your niche writing blog posts? Do more videos.

Are all your competitors on Facebook? Try LinkedIn.

An innovator is simply someone who has tried something other people haven’t.

Always think…what’s the opposite of what your competition is doing. Do that.

It won’t always work, but it helps you think outside the box. With so many businesses creating content, creativity is at a premium.

Kill the Sacred Cows

Fun fact: a lot of conventional wisdom is completely wrong.

People just repeat mantras over and over again until they become accepted.

If you can discredit the “sacred cows” in your industry and provide better solutions, you’ll stand out.

Nat Eliason is a great example of this. In his post about the Wiki Strategy — which includes creating a ton of content with a heavy internal link structure like Wikipedia –, he called out the sacred cow.

He said backlinks and typical SEO optimization aren’t all that important.

According to Nat, as long as you write the best content possible and cite credible sources, you can rank your posts without any backlinks. 

Not only does this fly in the face of typical SEO advice. It’s useful and it works.

You Chose the Wrong Partner

You can work with an agency who can create content for you.

Here’s the problem, though: some of them just aren’t that good.

The marketing waters are…murky to say the least.

Some agencies have good intentions but can’t execute.

Some are flat out incompetent.

Agencies who can help you create stellar content are the exception, not the rule.

Business owners know this, as many of them have been burned by shoddy SEO and content marketing companies.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to find out if you’re working with the right agency.

Check Their Own Content Marketing Skills

We kid you not, there are some content marketing companies who don’t do it very well, or often, for themselves. 

Would you take workout advice from someone who is out of shape?

Here are a few tells the agency you’re working with isn’t cut out for the job:

  • Thin content – content length is a ranking factor. If the company you want to work with doesn’t write 1800+ word long guides and posts, run.
  • Unoriginal content – read and analyze the style and voice of the content on agency websites. If theirs is dry and drab, why would yours be different?
  • No proof – if you don’t see reviews, testimonials, and case studies, there’s a good chance there aren’t any

Choosing an agency to help with content marketing is a big decision, don’t make it lightly.

Want to ‘feel us out’? Fill out the form below and get one of our marketing proposals, 100% free:




 

Your Content Marketing Strategy is Off Target

Everything in your content campaign should strive toward an ultimate goal.

This could be traffic.

Or leads.

Or sales.

Figure out the metrics that make sense and measure the success of your campaign by them.

If you notice the strategy is working, consider this: you’re targeting the wrong people, writing the wrong content, or sending out content at the wrong time.

Targeting the Wrong People

We’re an SEO company.

Naturally, we’d love to rank on the first page of Google for the phrase “SEO.”

But if we did, would it be worth the effort to get there?

Someone searching the phrase “SEO” could be doing so for a number of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with becoming a lead or a sale for you (not that this always matters, but still).

Instead of trying to rank for broad keywords with many different types of search intent, we focus on keywords that complement broader topics like SEO and content marketing.

Long-tail keywords are more targeted and have a narrower audience, meaning you can create content that better matches what searchers are looking for.

Writing the Wrong Content

Each industry has its own standards for content marketing.

If you’re running a Pizza shop in Boise Idaho, you don’t need to write a 3,000-word treatise on pizza toppings to rank well.

If you’re in a competitive and information heavy industry like we are, you’ll have to write 10x content to rank.

Either way – the lesson is the same. See what content is already doing well, emulate what works, and add more to make yours stand out.

Sending Out Content at the Wrong Time

An awareness funnel shows the process people go through before they trust you enough to become a lead or buy your product/service:

inbound marketing funnel

If you sent the right content at the wrong stage, it won’t have the effect you want it to have.

This is why it’s important to create a digital marketing strategy from start to finish before you start creating content.

You need each stage of the funnel ready to go when the time comes with the right content for each stage.

Your 1 Track Mind Gets You in Trouble

Creating more content isn’t the solution to all your woes.

Some people think creating a bunch of content will magically make their site explode with traffic and get more sales and customers.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Content marketing isn’t just about writing content. It’s about experimenting with different strategies and iterating over time.

Too many marketers and business owners are running on the content treadmill.

It’s time to step away and analyze your results.

Here are some useful tips.

Use This Technique Improve Your Rankings Fast

The easiest way to get more out of your content marketing strategy?

Improve the content you already have.

If you’ve been creating content for a while, odds are you have pages that are ranking well.

Why not just make those pages better?

“Because marketers keep yelling at me to create more content!”

Ok, don’t listen to them. Listen to me.

Make Your Content Visually Stunning and 10x Your UX

Design and user experience play a huge role in SEO and content marketing.

Make sure your website loads lighting fast, has interesting media and use different techniques to make your content appealing.

Look at this example by Ramit Sethi at I Will Teach You to be Rich.

His personal finance ultimate guide goes from bland and boring to exciting, not just with content, but design:

content marketing example

Notice the unique way he breaks up with words with design and adds calls to actions:

content marketing calls to action

 

If you can think of ways to go above and beyond with design, you can outshine the competition.

Harness the Power of LSI Keywords

Remember earlier when we told you that your blog posts and content pages can rank for more than one keyword at once?

You can take those secondary – LSI Keywords – and add them back into your content.

If you use a tool like Ahrefs, the process is simple.

Enter the URL for a piece of content into the Ahrefs dashboard and click on organic keywords:

LSI keyword examples

Then, find the keywords ranking from positions 4-20 for that keyword (keywords on page 1 and 2 excluding the top 3 positions):

organic keyword finderUse the keywords you see and:

  • Add them to your body content
  • Add them to headings
  • Create entire new sections based off of LSI keywords

Remix, Rematch, Combine, Create

You can get a lot more mileage from your content by simply…being more creative.

Content marketing is frustrating when you continue to use the same tired strategies and content over and over again.

The good news? There are plenty of ways to reinvent your content marketing strategy, techniques, and the content itself.

Combine Content

Often, you have too many pieces of content competing for attention because they’re too similar.

Better to just combine them. Nathan Gotch with Gotch SEO calls this The Cake Technique:

  • Find similar content assets
  • Choose the most authoritative one
  • Combine the content and 301 redirect the old URLs to the new, monster-sized content asset

Recycle Content

There’s no rule saying you only have to publish content on your own website.

There are other websites who will let you republish your work on their platform.

Medium is an example of this. It has an important tool that lets you publish your content on Medium without suffering a duplicate content penalty.

The import feature automatically adds a “rel canonical” tag to the republished version of your post, which lets the search engines know which piece of content to rank.

Remix Content

A single blog post can be turned into…

A video:

 

Several visuals for social media:

social media content recyle

An infographic:

content marketing infographic

And more.

You can use one single piece of content in a variety of ways.

Conclusion

Content marketing is a long game.

You need patience, skills, and lots effort to succeed.

But it can be done. Make these fixes to your content and watch the ranking and traffic roll in over time.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to creating content for your business?

How to Promote Your Business in 2020 (with 15 Tips and Examples)

If you’re a business owner, you want to know how to promote your business the right way.

You’re learning more about marketing — especially online marketing — because you know promoting your business online is necessary in 2020.

The problem? There are a million different ways to promote your business and a million different “experts” giving you advice on how to do it.

How do you know which way is the right way?

Before we dive into specifics, let’s talk about the truth you need to understand to promote your business the right way.

Online Promotion in 2020 Means Adding Value for Your Customer

Whatever content you put on the web has to genuinely engage your target customers.

Inform them. Entertain them. Teach them.

Simply putting your customers first relates to SEO in a lot of ways.

When you build a well-designed and user-friendly website because you want your visitors to have a great experience, you get “SEO-credit” in the form of “dwell time” and a low “bounce-rate.”

When you create content people want to share and link to, your site builds authority naturally.

The better your product itself, the easier it is to get positive engagement both online and word of mouth, which helps boost the “engagement signals” Google uses to rank websites.

All of our tips on how to promote your business revolve around putting your customers first.

…But Your Product Has to Follow Through

Here is an aspect of business promotion that goes overlooked — improving your product or service.

  • Have you been going the extra mile with customer service?
  • Are you actively listening to customer discussion and feedback?
  • When was the last time you did a deep analysis of product development?

When you start to hear back from customers online, listen to them. Engage with them.

Take their experiences to heart when they discuss your product, for good or bad.

And when you do improve your product or service, promote the heck out of it. Get that message out. Let the customers know you listened and you acted.

Nothing compares to the reputation of a business that’s sincerely tuned into its customer base. That good sentiment is invaluable in a market that increasingly rewards companies with transparent operations.

Smart digital marketing will take that sentiment, amplify it, and share it with as many potential customers as possible.

#1 – Invest in Your Website

When it comes to promoting your business online, all roads should lead to your website.

Why?

Your website is the one piece of the internet you totally control. You own it.*

Social media can drive engagement with your business, but you’ll never have 100% control of those spaces.

When you invest in your website, you build equity for the long-term. You develop an asset that never stops working for you. You build a home base for your customers.

Build a beautiful, easy-to-use website, and fill it with content that’s useful for your customers.

*(Or you should own it. All too often we’ve seen small businesses pay a monthly fee to a web development company for a custom website. NEVER do this! If you decide to engage an agency for a custom web site, make sure you 100% own it.)

 

#2 – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is an example from one of our clients, demonstrating about a 3x increase in organic traffic. Organic SEO will still work well in 2020, but it’s going to get harder as Google (likely) exerts more influence on its results.

SEO continues to be relevant in 2020, and you should still (mostly) care about Google, whose sites receive over 90% of search queries.

It’s true that the SEO game is changing. One SEO expert notes that June, 2019, was the first time when fewer than half of all Google searches resulted in no clicks.

What does that really mean?

Many people nowadays use Google search and then find their answer without actually visiting a website.

Google continues to grow as an answer service rather than as a simple (but massive) index.

Still, organic SEO drives traffic to your site—but your SEO has to be smart. You must be able to identify relevant keyphrases with strong click-through rates.

Organic SEO will build equity in your site, keeping it working for you in the long-haul. That’s why we recommend organic SEO over pay-per-click ads in many cases.

A couple of factors to keep in mind:

  • Your market – what keywords do your customers use when searching for services or products you offer?
  • Competition – Who else is ranking high for your best keywords?
  • ROI – Some industries have searches with more “buyer intent” than others, meaning people use search to make purchasing decisions more in some industries than others

Organic SEO is STILL a great way to promote your business online, but it’s getting harder in 2020 and will continue to do so.

#3 – Reviews

google reviews

Google and other search engines use online reviews as a ranking signal.

You should seek reviews on these platforms from your customers.

Also, reviews are a basic kind of social proof, demonstrating your quality.

To get those reviews, you have to have an awesome product or service.

Here are some quick tips for improving your product/service to get more reviews:

  • Actively seek feedback from your customers and use it to improve your product/service
  • Make sure to ask for reviews after your service has been performed or product delivered
  • Follow up with customers regularly (for long-term customers)
  • Aim to have the best customer service possible (this is not a trivial insight)

#4 – Brand-Building

Marketing expert Neil Patel wrote an article about the future of SEO. In it, he mentioned brand building as one of the top ways to promote your business.

Why is brand building important?

Google trusts established brands.

If you have an established brand, your website has a better chance to rank.

If you create a product or service people rave about, more people will search for your business online by name.

The more searches your business gets by name, the more brand credibility it has.

Focus on putting yourself on the map in your industry with both product/service quality and digital marketing.

 

#5 – Content Marketing

“Content marketing” means producing content (blogs, videos, graphics, memes, etc.) that resonates with your customer base.

Content marketing is NOT writing a blog post about the 10 reasons someone should buy your product. That’s an advertisement (and a bad one, too).

Content marketing is the long game. Imagine it like you’re building a fanbase for your business. You’re building a following of people who are interested in what you say and do.

You build that fanbase using consistent, engaging content.

And remember: “engaging” is determined by your audience!

Content marketing from a CNC manufacturer might mean white papers and case studies. Something a purchasing manager at an OEM would like.

Content marketing for a B2C company like Casper, who sells mattresses and sleep products, looks like this:

An instructional “how-to” video like this is useful content that adds value for your customer. It’s not a straight-up advertisement. It makes your business look good, establishes authority, and keeps customers tuned in.

Content marketing has mixed results for different companies.

This excerpt from Smart Blogger highlights why:

content marketing

You need to plan your content around your business as a whole.

You need to keep the following in mind when creating your content:

  • How familiar is the visitor with you when interacting with a certain piece of content?
  • What type of content is needed to build more awareness so visitors know, like, and trust your company?
  • What are the goals of your campaign – building an email list, increasing brand awareness, increasing conversions for a particular service or product?
  • What problems, pain points, aspirations, and desires are your content addressing?
  • Who does your content need to target (this changes based on the stages of awareness)?

Content marketing is a topic worthy of an ultimate guide of its own.

The bottom line – content marketing is a tool that works for any business when done the right way.Top of Form

Next we’ll look at some specific forms of content – especially what will be most relevant in 2020.

#6 – Optimized Blog

Blogs will continue to be a relevant way to promote your business in 2020.

An optimized, consistent blog is the backbone of your website’s organic SEO.

A solid blog takes time and a regular commitment to research, writing, and revising successful posts.

Here’s what an optimized blog can do to promote your business online:

  • Generate traffic. Blog posts should target keywords that relate to your business and that are frequently searched. Blog posts can be great ways to target longtail keywords.
  • Build an email list for email marketing (see more below). Write engaging and useful content for your audience, and they’ll be more willing to sign up for email communications.
  • Drive conversions. Blog posts cannot simply be advertisements for your business. However, they can drive good traffic to the parts of your website that are designed to convert visitors.




#7 – Video

There are two great frontiers in digital marketing in 2020: video and podcasts. Let’s talk video first.

Look at these video marketing statistics:

  • The 25-34 (millennial) age group watches the most online videos and men spend 40% more time watching videos on the internet than women. (Wordsteam)
  • Cisco has projected that more than 80% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2021. (Impact)
  • 45% of people watch an hour or more of video per day (Hubspot)

There are many different ways to promote through video.

You can add a humorous twist and make creative commercials like Dollar Shave Club:

 

You can make “how-to” videos for using your product:

Or, you can leverage video in paid ads to grab people’s attention:

 

video marketing example

 

#8 – Podcasts

Podcasts are becoming the next big frontier in online promotion.

The audience for podcasting is growing significantly.

Check out these key stats from this 2019 Edison Research study:

  • 32% of Americans over 12 listened to a podcast monthly
  • 41% of Americans say they’re listening to podcasts more than they did last year
  • Americans averaged SEVEN podcasts per week during the period studied

What does this tell us?

There is surging demand for podcast content.

Podcasts are becoming the new radio – but much cheaper, easier, and with far greater reach.

If your company can pull it off, a regular podcast can be the center of your content marketing strategy. A good podcast will build an audience and establish your brand’s authority.

Don’t have the resources to do a good podcast regularly?

Few do.

However, you can still promote your business with podcast advertisements.

Many podcasters include advertisements in their regular shows.

If you can identify niche podcasters with audiences relevant to your business, they can be a goldmine for targeted advertising.

#9 – Infographics

Infographics are another engaging medium. Here’s an example from a demo version of our employee referral tool – Referral Factory Pro:

 

infographic

Like all your content, a good infographic should add value for your audience. Teach them something. Show them something useful. Don’t simply advertise your business with an infographic.

Share a good infographic through your online channels – blogs, social media – to engage with your audience and link back to your website.

The bottom line – the more relevant and engaging media you can use the better.

Each of these content marketing channels should lead back to your home base, your website.

Not only is it informative and entertaining for your visitors, but it helps improve important SEO metrics like:

  • Dwell time
  • Bounce rate
  • Total time spent on site

#10 – Email Marketing

If you don’t already do it, you might not think about emails when you think of how to promote your business.

But why should you do it?

For the same reason you should invest in your website:

When you invest in building email lists, you create a long-lasting asset for your business.

According to Hubspot:

  • “More than 50 percent of U.S. respondents check their personal email account more than 10 times a day, and it is by far their preferred way to receive updates from brands.”
  • “59% of respondents say marketing emails influence their purchase decisions.”
  • “>59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI.”

These stats are HUGE—and only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to email promotion.

Just about everyone today has an email and pays attention to it.

If you can get them to trust and value your brand, they’ll be more than willing to share their email address.

Implement smart (read: not annoying spam emails) marketing, and this list can generate leads and repeat sales.

To build this list, you need compelling, useful content. You need to demonstrate to your audience that you’re worth listening to.

The takeaway: email marketing is one of the best ways to promote your business. It’s not going away anytime soon. Invest in it–though it’ll take time to create an email list, it’ll be worth it.

#11 – Social Media Marketing (duh)

Yeah, of course social media plays a big part in promoting your business online.

It IS useful, but don’t come to wholly rely on it and expect it to do all the heavy lifting.

Again, invest in your website first — the piece of the internet you do own.

You can spend a lot of money on social media channels, but you’re not building a long-term asset like you would for a website.

That said….

Instagram is top-notch for visual marketing, so make-up would look great there.

For B2B companies, LinkedIn is your place to be.

You’ve probably said to yourself “I need to promote my business on social media more.”

But which platforms are right for you?

Each comes with its own pros and cons.

Let’s take a look.

#12 – Facebook

Facebook has excellent audience targeting features for paid advertisements.

Facebook’s organic reach – traffic you can get for free – is not so great for businesses.

It’s still wise to have a Facebook page for your business to get likes and reviews, which count as a ranking signal for Google.

Bottom line: You should probably have an active Facebook page for your business.

The best organic activities on Facebook are:

  • Sharing content and media – blog posts, videos, and other forms of content should be shared on Facebook
  • Reviews – encourage people to leave reviews on Facebook and respond to them
  • Engagement – if you have a community based-product, e.g., an education business for parents and children, answering questions and interacting with users works well on the platform

Facebook does tout one of the top social media paid advertising platforms.

Here are some excellent articles on creating Facebook ads the right way:

#13 – Instagram

Instagram works well for products and services you want to show. 

Custom home builders, health and nutrition companies, and landscape design companies are all examples of businesses who should leverage Instagram.

Also, if your target audience is in a younger demographic (<50), odds are they use Instagram.

If you can create quick, punchy, and entertaining/informative videos about your brand, Instagram is a great cross-promotion channel, too.

You can run Facebook ads to both Facebook and Instagram, too, since Facebook owns the company.

#14 – LinkedIn

If you have a B2B business, you should be promoting it on LinkedIn.

Over the years, LinkedIn has improved its features in both paid advertisements and organic reach.

The trend shows LinkedIn is gearing up to become a much more user-friendly and community-oriented platform, shifting away from its old identity as a dry B2b social media company.

While companies like Facebook and Instagram had explosive growth, LinkedIn has played the long game.

LinkedIn has been steadily building its userbase and functionality for years. It’s getting more solid as time goes on. That makes LinkedIn more than worthwhile to continue using in 2020.

Marketing expert, Neil Patel, has been doing a ton of videos on LinkedIn. Always pay attention to the early adopters in marketing trends:

IinkedIn video

Notice the engagement on a simple and short video.

If you can create bite-sized content:

  • Short videos
  • Short excerpts of posts
  • Shared posts with insights

You can reap the rewards of LinkedIn’s algorithms.

Look at the insane amount of reach from one shared article:

linkedin posts

All B2B brands should utilize sharing, curating, and storytelling to promote their business on LinkedIn in 2019.

#15 – Twitter

Twitter engagement varies from industry to industry.

In the content marketing and SEO space, Twitter is a great tool for promoting content about marketing because users engage with it.

Businesses with a heavy focus on media do well on Twitter:

twitter promotion

Online magazines, public figures, marketing companies, authors, news outlets, and personal finance experts are all examples of businesses who can benefit from Twitter.

Local carpet cleaning companies? Not so much.

If your business uses content marketing as the main tool, Twitter is a great place to promote your work.

Think Long-Term

If you can’t think long-term, digital marketing won’t work for you.

Neither will marketing in general.

Digital marketing isn’t a cookie cutter solution.

You have to learn what works — and what doesn’t — after a long period of time.

How long, you ask?

Well, when we work with companies, we tell them SEO and Content marketing takes 12 months before the campaign fully kicks in.

It can take even longer to build a stellar brand and reputation that stands out above all the competition.

It’s counterintuitive. Some of the most important aspects of marketing have nothing to do with the marketing tactics.

They have everything to with your vision, outlook, tenacity, persistence, and willingness to collaborate with other smart companies like digital marketing agencies.

That’s why we call ourselves “strategic partners” to our clients.

It takes more than tactics to succeed online. It takes a level of dedication and patience that doesn’t come easily for everyone.

This also makes digital marketing easy, in the sense that most companies aren’t willing to invest the right time and resources into their marketing.

If you differentiate yourself, you can win in 2019.

Commit to Promoting Your Business in 2019

Above all else, you need to commit to promoting your business online to succeed in 2019.

The biggest marketing secret isn’t a secret at all.

Either on your own or with the help of a smart digital marketing agency like MLT Group, make this your year to invest more in marketing than any year previous.




Real Estate SEO: How to Compete With Big Brands in Your Area (updated and expanded)

Real estate SEO presents a unique challenge.

If you are in a competitive niche, like real estate, it is going to be difficult to rank highly and get traffic for the common and competitive search terms in your niche (unless you run PPC ads). You can get around this, however, with useful tools and the right real estate SEO strategy.

Allow us to explain how this ties into SEO for real estate.

Google uses a variety of factors to rank website pages and there are a few key factors they use that make it hard for smaller businesses to rank for competitive search terms as part of the realtor SEO process.

Some of those factors are:

  • Authority – SEO authority is measured by many factors including backlinks, citations, content, site architecture, and much more. Big brands check the boxes across the board.
  • Brand recognition – Google shows preferences for businesses and websites with high brand recognition
  • Service and product type – Certain types of services and businesses make it difficult for small businesses to rank because of the way they choose to display listings on the search engines results page (SERP)

Let’s take a look at each factor one by one.

Authority

While Google doesn’t share its ranking recipe with us, many smart SEOs have created useful metrics. Moz uses domain authority and page authority to help show which sites have more authority than others.

  • Domain authority – This measure calculates the authority of your domain name (your website as a whole.) They use the number of inbound links, otherwise known as backlinks, the age of your domain name, your internal linking profile, and more to create this score.
  • Page authority – This measure calculates the authority of a single page on your website. They use the same factors above to calculate your score, but on a page by page basis.

Let’s take a look at the DA and PA of some of the websites that rank well for competitive search terms like “Homes for sale in Minneapolis” and “Homes for sale in Minnesota.”

These are very valuable terms, as they receive a combined total of 15,000 searches per month.

Here is a screenshot from the Moz analysis tool that shows the DA and PA for a website page that ranks highly for these terms:

authority scores
Zillow.com

 

 

Domain Authority and Page Authority

The website example has a high domain authority score.

Scores of 90 and above are reserved for major brands like the companies above, CNN, Facebook, Twitter, and Google itself.

Page authority scores of 50 and above are also very difficult to achieve

The odds of a smaller real estate company achieving those scores are slim to none.

Linking Domains

The website page example shows hundreds of different linking domains to the page. The more sites that link to an individual page, the better. Big brand website pages have no problem receiving links from various domains because they’re well known and established.

The website also has a high number of individual links pointing to each page.

In our example, we’ll use a score pulled from a realtor website in the area (that doesn’t have proper SEO yet):

business-domain-authorirty

This score is typical for an individual realtor website and it’s no match for the big brands who rank for these terms.

In fact, the entire first page of the search engine results page for these terms feature big brand companies with very high scores:

real-estate-seo-SERP

According to most SEO data, if you’re not in the top 3 results on a SERP, you won’t receive much traffic:

click-through-rate

Via – Smart Insights

While ranking on page one for these terms would help you gain a large amount of traffic, you’d need to spend the same amount of money, time, and resources as these big brands and it would take a very, very long time to do so. These brands have been established on Google and other search engines for decades.

Real estate SEO requires you to find unique opportunities to rank in search through long-tail keywords, which we’ll discuss later on in the post.

Other search engine results page factors 

By looking at these results page examples, you’ll notice the following:

  • Brand recognition – For competitive terms, big brands get special treatment. Why? Because they know they can trust the credibility of big brands. Oftentimes, their name recognition alone will push them to the top of search results, even if they’re not actively using the type of real estate SEO techniques we’ll show you.
  • Service and product type – Google also knows people searching for homes in large metro areas want to browse lots of listings. Industries that exhibit this behavior from searches, like real estate, will always show preference to aggregates like these.

Fortunately, there are techniques to help you rank highly for a number of medium and lower competition phrases.

For small businesses in competitive industries, targeting a large number of medium and low competition phrases gives you a better chance of gaining more traffic as a whole.

A real estate SEO expert realizes a little extra thinking is needed and the right techniques can help any real estate website get the traffic it needs to grow their business.

Let’s take a look at some of our best real estate SEO hacks.

Realtor SEO Step 1 – Find Long Tail Key Phrases

The question is, if you can’t rank for the phrases you think are best suited to your business, what do you try to rank for?

If you think outside the box, you can find dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of keywords with decent traffic volume.

First, you want to find key phrases related to your business based on the main topic, but not directly targeting it.

Here are some low to medium competition real estate SEO keywords we found based on the topic “Homes for sale in Minneapolis”

  • Twin Cities real estate (220 searches per month)
  • Central MN homes for sale (220 searches per month)
  • Minneapolis lots for sale (800 searches per month)
  • Northern mn lake homes for sale (170 searches per month)
  • Lake homes for sale MN (4400 searches per month)
  • Lake homes for sale southern MN (170 searches per month)
  • Lakefront homes for sale MN (320 searches per month)
  • Lake property MN (320 searches per month)
  • Houses for sale south Minneapolis (480 searches per month)
  • Lake cabins for sale in Minneapolis (1000 searches per month)
  • Mansions for sale in MN (480 searches per month)
  • Minnesota lake homes (880 searches per month)

These are a selection of hundreds of terms we found by using just one search in a suggested keyword research tool.

Step 2 – Google Each Term and Test Viability

Notice how each term listed above didn’t attempt to compete for direct variations of the main term “homes for sale in Minneapolis,” like “homes for sale in Eagan, MN”

Why? Because these variations [competitive keyword] + [suburb] are all dominated in real estate SEO by the same big brands above. They have an infinite number of listings and variables to create pages that rank.

What you’re looking for are terms that feature individual small business on page one.

Type each researched phrase into Google. If you see an individual small business appear, you have a shot at ranking.

Notice the insights from our research. The low to medium competition phrases we found didn’t mention the main phrase head on, but rather niche topics surrounding the phrases like:

  • Home types
  • Regions of the state instead of the exact city names
  • Nicknames in the industry/state people are familiar with like Twin Cities

The big brands usually focus on competitive terms only, because they can. They dump tons of data onto their websites and, voila, they rank.

The lower to medium competition phrases contain topics as opposed to overt key phrases.

Bonus  SEO Techniques

If you get even more outside the box and double down on your research, you can find tons of awesome related topics people are searching for on Google.

Think outside the box. What are some topics people might search that aren’t competitive keywords?

Look at more of our research findings:

  • Best neighborhoods in Minneapolis (880 searches per month)
  • Best schools in Minnesota (880 searches per month)
  • Best neighborhoods in St. Paul (140 searches per month)
  • Best places to live in Minnesota (1300 searches per month)
  • Cost of living in Minnesota (1300 searches per month)

Benefits of Using Long Tail Real Estate SEO ‘Topics’ over High Competition Keywords

When you create content around long-tail topics instead of high competition keywords, you stand a much higher chance of getting traffic from search engines.

Also, you are getting a much more targeted and qualified searcher.

Think of someone looking for “homes for sale in Minneapolis.”

They could be ready to buy a home or they could just be casually browsing. They’re also reaching results pages with tons of results, which can be too overwhelming for some.

Now, imagine you’re the person searching for phrases like “Minnesota lake homes” “best neighborhoods in Minnesota,” and “best schools in Minnesota”

Someone who performs all these searches might be seriously thinking about buying a home in the area.

If your website pages rank for these topics, you’re giving the searcher exactly what they want.

They don’t have to sift through mountains of data and content to get the answer they’re looking for.

These topics also signal a very valuable factor — search intent. Search intent is the reason behind the user’s search. Targeted searches mean a higher level of search intent, which means you’re getting a more qualified lead.

Imagine this same user not only searching for multiple topics but continuing to find your business at the top of the results pages for each topic.

Supply them with very targeted, informative, and useful content and your business will be top of mind.

Even if they don’t engage with you right away, where do you think they’ll visit when they’re really ready to buy?

The big, bland, uninformative aggregate which may or may not have a Minnesota lake home in a great neighborhood with a good school — where even if they do find this perfect home it will be a needle in a haystack — or your website that’s already proven to give them the exact answers they were looking for?

Step 3 – Create Content that’s 10x Better than the Competition

Long tail key phrases, or topics, aren’t anything new.

Hundreds of SEO’s, marketers, and agencies talk about using them.

Many people do try ranking for long tail key phrases, but they stop short of what they need to do to reach the top of the results.

Here’s what a typical marketer would do:

  • Find a long tail key phrase
  • Create a piece of content around that key phrase
  • Wait for the rankings to skyrocket and traffic to roll in

A real estate SEO expert would take it further. These techniques might work for non-competitive industries, but to do well in competitive industries, you need to do more.

This is where the power of content marketing comes in.

Content marketing is the process of creating content to engage, educate, and persuade readers..

The rules for success are the same in content marketing as they are for … anything else.

You have to work harder than your competition and provide more value. The idea of content marketing sounds nice, but when it comes to doing it well, most won’t put in the required effort.

This is why this real estate SEO technique works so well. Most people aren’t willing to do it. The competition for low-hanging fruit — results anyone can get — is ten times higher than the competition for results that require effort.

This is the most counterintuitive aspect of content marketing, the higher you aim, the easier it is to compete.

At MLT Group, we provide realtor SEO services and can create a real estate SEO strategy just like this. If you’re curious to learn more, send us a note.

Here are the steps you can take to create ‘10x’ content to blow your competition out of the water.

Visit your competitors’ pages and analyze them

Let’s look at the top result for “Lake Homes in Minnesota.”

It has strong authority scores, but these can be overcome:

Here’s a screenshot of the top ranking web page:

real-estate-seo-example

Let’s analyze what it does well:

  • Focus – you can tell the entire site is focused on one subject
  • Search filter – while they list thousands of results, they provide an easy to use search feature
  • Authority factors – as stated above, the site is pretty authoritative

To outdo this result, do everything it does well and then add to it. Fill in the gaps and do what your competition isn’t doing.

Some ideas for this are:

  • Homepage results – This result is a homepage. As it stands, many home pages still rank well, but topic-focused pages with great content marketing are trending up
  • No content – Google uses content length as a ranking factor
  • Lack of related topics – This website mostly shows listings. It doesn’t contain much of the useful and informative topic information we discussed earlier

In the next step, we’ll show you how to create a page that Google loves to compete with this result.

Create 10x Content With Tons of Rankings Signals

Let’s say we’re creating a page for “Minnesota Lake Homes.”

How can we create a page Google loves?

Increase Content Length

Studies show Google prefers long-form content. One study showed the average page one results have 1,800 + words of content.

One way to outrank your competitors is to simply double or triple the amount of content they have on their page.

You don’t just want to create content that rambles on. You want to make it both useful and relevant to the search engines. The next step will show you how to do just that.

Find Related Phrases

Take the main topic you’re creating the page on and type it into Google. Scroll to the bottom of the results page to the ‘people also searched for’ section:

LSI keywords

These related searches are known as LSI keywords. If you add these keywords to your content, it helps Google better understand what the page is about.

Bonus tip: take each of these LSI keywords and put them into a keyword suggestion tool like Ubersuggest to find even more related keywords to your related keywords. Then, you can map out the LSI keywords as topic headings and use their related keywords for the content within those headings.

Create a Page With Solid SEO Structure

The main topic of your page is “Lake homes in Minnesota.” You’ll want to mention this phrase a few times in your content. 

Then, you can use the LSI keywords to create an outline for your 10x content page. Here’s an example of how we might do it.

Page Title – Lake Homes in Minnesota

In the opening section, you can create an introduction for the entire page. Make sure to use the main target keyword in the first sentence of the page because it is a ranking factor for Google.

Add heading – Lake Homes by Region

In this section, you can mention that you service regions across the state of Minnesota. Then, you can add subheadings for each major region.

Examples:

  • Lake Homes in North Central MN
  • Lake Homes in the Twin Cities
  • Lake Homes in Southern MN

Each of these regional sections could include featured listings from the are and a brief introduction for each region discussing what’s awesome about living there.

Then, for each regional listing, you can display all the individual cities within the region. You can add links to each city that takes users to a page displaying listings narrowed down to each city.

Example:

  • Lake homes in Wayzata
  • Lake homes in Minnetonka
  • Lake homes in Wabasha

Bonus tip: when users click on each individual city, what should they find? Another page with awesome content, featured listings and sub-topics. In the future, when your site is more authoritative, each page could rank for a long tail keyword.

Add heading – Lake Homes by Type

In this section, you can write a paragraph about the different types of lake homes you provide. You can show a featured listings section with one home of each type to explore

Also, you can create sub-topics based on your research, list them, and link them to pages with full listings for each type of lake home. Again, these pages will feature their own detailed, informative, and useful content.

You can repeat this process for every variable of region or type based on “lake homes in Minnesota.” Also, you can create headings around other useful and relevant topics like “best Minnesota neighborhoods” “best Minnesota schools” and “cost of living in Minnesota.” Each of these sections will have content tailored to areas near Lake homes.

Doing this will create a ‘resource hub.’

See this video from Moz for an explanation:

 

Google likes pages that layout information neatly and tell users exactly where they need to go for more detailed information.

Also, Google’s robots ‘crawl’, or scan, the pages of their website. If your content and link structure is too confusing, Google will stop crawling your pages, meaning your results won’t get indexed and rank on Google.

You can create these ‘resource hub’ pages for medium competition topics like “Lake Homes in Minnesota.”

Double Down

Over time, you can add unique individual pages for each LSI keyword and subtopic, giving you many opportunities to rank.

Here’s an example of a niche page a realtor created that ranks #1 for “Historic homes for sale mn” and “Victorian homes for sale mn” – http://www.minneapolisrealestate.com/historic-homes-for-sale.php

Again, even for these little niche pages, you want to 10x the content on those pages compared to your competition.

Underneath each of these niche topics, you can repeat the process and add more useful content, e.g., writing unique blog posts and linking to them from your niche page.

Here are some examples of real estate blog topics you could write about:

  • Best neighborhoods in the area
  • Top school districts
  • Tips on moving to a new city

This entire process will help your website cover a broad range of topics.

The cool part? The more you do this, the more opportunity each page of your website has to rank for dozens or even hundreds of keywords.

For real estate SEO, creating topic-based pages and subpages works much better than trying to rank for competitive terms. And, it creates a multiplier effect. Once Google crawls your page enough times, it’ll realize you’re a go-to resource, and it will start giving you preference over other websites.

Instead of wishing you could capture a share of the 15,000 searches for “homes in Minnesota,” you can get double the traffic by avoiding the strategy altogether.

Optimize Your Content on Each Page

After you’ve created your ‘resource hub’ page, make sure you still follow the basic on-site optimization steps:

  • Use your target keyword in the content
  • Use your target keyword in the meta description
  • Use your target keyword in headings
  • Save all images you add to the page under names that have keywords in them (Google can’t read images)
  • Link to other credible resources from your page, e.g., local newspapers, trusted local bloggers, Wikipedia, .gov and .edu websites.

Bonus Tips

You can use media, tools, and content structure to make your pages more useful and entertaining. This serves a major benefit.

These strategies keep users on your site longer and Google tracks time spent on your site as a factor.

It also helps you avoid a ‘bounce’ – when a user visits your site and leaves quickly – which is a negative ranking factor.

Use the following strategies:

  • Write short sentences
  • Use headings and bullet points to make your content easier to follow
  • If your page is very long, create a hyperlinked menu so users can pick and choose which sections to read without having to read
  • Add Google maps to your page
  • Add videos from your Youtube channel to your page (Google owns Youtube and prefers sites who display Youtube Videos)
  • Add visuals like images and infographics

Step 4 – Promote Your Content

This is the last leg of the race.

If you want to guarantee your pages will rank high, you want to promote your content and build relevant links from high-quality sources back to your pages.

Although backlinking isn’t the only SEO strategy you need in 2018, it’s still important

If you want high-quality links, you have to reach out to other websites and ask for them.

There are a few ways to find quality links.

Get Links from Your Competitors

You can enter your competitors’ website URLs into backlink research tools from companies like Moz, Ahrefs, and SEM rush. Find the websites who link to your competitors’ websites and present them your new, improved, 10x better version of content on the same subject.

A few of the sites you reach out to will link back to you.

You can repeat the process for each of the pages that rank on the first page.

Source Local Bloggers

You can reach out to local bloggers in the area and reach out to them.

Some good examples of types of local blogs you could reach out to:

  • mom blogs
  • tourist blogs
  • teaching blogs

You can reach out to each blog and attempt to get links in the following ways:

  • Find a related blog post and suggest one of your pages to link to as a bonus resource
  • Offer to write a guest post that relates to their blog topic and link it back to your website
  • Offer to pay for a sponsored post by the blogger themselves for a link back to your website

Use Google Alerts to Find Easy Linking Opportunities

Google Alerts is a tool you can use to get notifications whenever a site mentions a certain phrase.

You want to set Google alerts for your business time to get a link whenever someone mentions your business.

Also, you can enter some of your topics and related phrases. Whenever someone mentions the topics as part of their content, you can reach out with your useful resource to link to.

Promote Your Work On Social Media and Forums

You’ll want to share each piece of content you create on all your social media platforms. You can also use tools like Buffer to schedule multiple posts at once and share them repeatedly.

Find relevant forums surrounding your topic and post your content there as well.

Use Retargeting Facebook Ads to Follow Up With Visitors

If you install a tracking code on each of your ‘resource hub’ pages, individual topic pages, and blog posts, you can send them retargeting ads to bring them back to the site.

Step 5 – Wash, Rinse, Repeat

If you perform this process repeatedly you can start to rank for many topics and keywords in a matter of a few months.

If you continue to do it, your site will start to become more authoritative as a whole, making it possible for you to start ranking for competitive key phrases.

This strategy takes a lot of work. As a real estate business owner, you might not have the time to do it yourself.

That’s where our digital marketing agency comes in. We can implement the entire strategy we just showed you to help you dominate real estate SEO and SEM in your market and location.

Call us at 507-281-3490 or fill out this form and we’ll get back to you right away.

5 Deadly Online Marketing Mistakes Your Business Might be Making (and How to Fix them)

You’re in a tough spot.

You want to invest in online marketing, but you also want to make sure to invest wisely. Online marketing is just one portion of your operations.

There’s employees, equipment, supplies, utilities, rent and a long list of moving parts you have to account for.

You’ll invest in online marketing — SEO, PPC, and Content Marketing –  if you believe it’ll provide a return on that investment.

We understand your concerns, but let us ask this…

Have you considered that you’re looking at the cost of online marketing the wrong way?

The Right Way to Think About Online Marketing

You run or manage a business.

We can use fancy words like search engine optimization, pay per click advertising,  digital marketing, responsive design, analytics tracking and more, but your main concern is the bottom line.

Instead of thinking of how much online marketing costs, think of how much it’s costing you not to market your business effectively online. Even if you have a steady client base, good service, or healthy revenue, chances are you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t get the most out of your web presence.

Here’s something we can agree on…

We live in a digital world. Keeping up with the trends in the marketplace won’t be optional much longer. Deep down, you know this, but we have some facts and data to back our findings.

Are you making one of these 5 online marketing mistakes?

Online Marketing Mistake # 1 – Not Having and Search Engine Optimized Website

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a second.

He or she is looking for a product or service you offer.

What do they do next?

Do they grab the nearest phone book? Look in the newspaper?

No. Either on their desktop or phone, they go to searching for information online.

They go to google and enter the service or product you buy into the search box — both paid and organic.. When they see the results, do they find your business? 

This is someone with either the curiosity or intent to buy your product or service.

From a logical standpoint, it seems like a no-brainer to display your business in front of people who are already looking for what you have to offer, right?

 

If the idea of putting your products and services in front of people who are actively searching for them isn’t enough, consider some startling pieces of data:

How many leads and customers are you missing out on by not having an optimized site?

For example:

Let’s say you sell a product that costs $100. Let’s also say an average of 500 people searches for that product in your area.

The number one result receives 33 percent of all traffic to a results page. If you were the number one spot, you’d have 165 leads coming in every month. If you converted 10 percent of those leads into sales, you’re looking at $1,650/month and roughly $20k /year of extra sales and that’s from an optimized page for one product. Think of numbers like those with multiple products and/or services. 

This example illustrates what we’ve been able to do for clients in various industries. Do the math. Think about how putting your business in front of hundreds or thousands of people will do for your revenue.

Online Marketing Mistake # 2 – Not Blogging

If you thought the search engine optimization statistics were startling, take a look at the data behind the magic powers of blogging:

Why does blogging matter?

First, search engines want to know you’re regularly updating the content on your website. Search engines use this as a ranking factor because they want help users to find businesses who are proactive about keeping their site information up to date.

Second, people want to know you’re proactive about keeping your site information up to date. If they visit your blog to find you haven’t posted anything new since 2012, what will they think about your business?

We know what you’re thinking. You don’t have time to write a new blog post once a week or once a month.

That’s where MLT Group comes in. We provide blogging and other content marketing services to help you work on your business instead of in your business.

Online Marketing Mistake # 3 – Having a Slow Website

Did you know your website loading speed directly affects where your website ranks on Google and other search engines?

Think about it.

Doesn’t it annoy you when a site loads slowly? Haven’t you clicked away from a slow loading site to find a faster one?

Google uses certain measures as clues to how fast your site loads including:

  • Bounce rate – A bounce means someone visits your site and leaves quickly. Slow loading websites cause bounces. Google penalizes your site for having a high bounce rate.
  • Time spent on site – Google and the other engines also monitor how long people stay on your website. The longer they stay the better. Having too many bounces reduces the average time spent on your site.

According to a study analyzing 143,827 different websites, there is a significant drop off in site loading speed after the top five ranking results. What does this mean? To compete with other businesses trying to rank highly in Google, your site must be coded for fast loading speeds.

You can use this test to measure your site speed.

Wait a minute? This post is supposed to be about online marketing. Isn’t site speed more of a technical issue?

Your website is a marketing tool. If your marketing tool is running inefficiently, you have a marketing issue.

At MLT group, we use proven hosting technology and code all of our websites to load quickly. This creates a positive user experience and a site Google goes gaga for.

Online Marketing Mistake # 4 – Treating Your Site Content As An Afterthought

Words are so prevalent they almost go unnoticed.

You see them in emails, ads, on websites, and seemingly everywhere you turn.

What if we told you the words you used on your site could mean the difference between a sale and a customer clicking away from your site?

Far too often, business owners treat website content as an afterthought instead of a core piece of their marketing. This is a mistake because words have power.

The lead generation company Sumome cites over 400 ‘power words’ you can use to increase conversions. 

Does our team use a few of these remarkably effective and authoritative psychological content techniques? Maybe 😉

The point is this — unless you’ve dove deeply into the untapped power of content marketing, you have no idea how powerful it can be for your business.

Think about it.

While your competitors use the same old cliches and buzzwords to describe their business — words every business uses — like quality, efficiency, and customer service, you can shock and awe your site visitors with stellar content.

Maybe you’re no Hemingway. No worries. We employ a tightly knit group of a few dozen copywriters with expert digital marketing knowledge who can help your business attract and engage customers.

Here’s how it works. You sit down with our head editor. She interviews you. We take your answers and spin them into content gold.

Noticing a trend here? Working with a smart digital marketing company fills the gap between the results you want and the methods needed to achieve them.

Online Marketing Mistake # 5 – Ignoring Design and Multi-Media

Maybe you have a website, but it’s — to put it nicely — outdated.

If you think you can just get around to redesigning your site, think again.

Remember those two important metrics we mentioned earlier — bounce rate and time on site? Your website design affects both metrics in various ways.

If your design isn’t appealing, some visitors will visit it and leave creating a bounce. If on the other hand, you have an attractive website, visitors will stay longer and increase your average time on site statistics.

 

 

 

In addition to having an appealing design, you can incorporate other multi-media elements to keep your visitors’ eyes glued to your website:

  • Video – From commercials to product tutorials, video helps inform your users and gives them another option to learn more about your business aside from reading
  • Infographics – Infographics provide an effective way to display your companies benefits. For example, sharing an infographic about the benefits of working for your company can increase employee referrals
  • Images – Images on pages, in blog posts, and in photo galleries add another visually appealing element and can also show your product or services benefits. For example, you can display before and after pictures of a service you provide for homes.

The Bottom Line

Online marketing matters.

Investing in online marketing will provide the return you’re looking for as long as you do it the right way.

You have to work with a company you can trust. One who has intimate knowledge of the space.

How can you know who to trust? Take a look at the companies’ own online marketing.

In our case, we only have 500 + blog posts providing information on how to help businesses stand out on the web.

In fact, we’ve provided so much information you could use it on your own. Why give away the secret sauce?

Well, knowing what to do isn’t that hard. Doing it well is an entirely different story.

You’ve made it to the end of the post, which means you’re at least curious about how we can help.

Here’s what you do next…

Pick up the phone, like right now. Call 507-281-3490 and talk to us about custom web design, SEO, and more.

We’ll lay everything out for you so you know exactly where your money goes and what our services will do for you.

It’s that simple.

 

 

 

Video SEO and Video Content Marketing 101 (2018-2019 updated)

Have you heard of Video SEO?

What about Video Content Marketing?

You can use video production to drive traffic to your website and create better content.

Doing both is important because you have to stay ahead of the curve for your business to succeed online.

Just ask the companies who failed to create mobile websites and lost their rankings after mobilegeddon.

Ask those who lost traffic because they didn’t improve their content after Google’s Panda update. 

Google introduces new updates like these all the time like Google penguin and recently Google Rank Brain.

 

With each update, business owners like you must alter your strategies to keep getting traffic, leads, and sales to your website through Google.

What’s the SEO focus in 2018? Google wants quality content and not just written content, either. Video and multimedia are now cornerstones of both SEO, paid marketing, and content marketing. Just take a look at the numbers.

Video SEO and Content Marketing by the Numbers

There are also compelling statistics behind the wave of multimedia in SEO and content marketing:

  • 59% of those surveyed in this study agree that if both text and video are available on the same topic, they are more likely to choose video.
  • Social video generates 1200% more shares than written content and images combined.
  • Video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80% or more.
  • Landing pages with videos are 53% more likely to show up on page 1 of the SERP.
  • Blog posts with videos receive triple the number of backlinks as blog posts without video.

Are you missing out on web visits and leads if you’re not using video? The numbers say ‘yes’ emphatically.

You can use Video in two different ways — as an SEO tool or as part of your content marketing.

How to Use Video SEO to Drive Traffic to Your Website

You’d have to be living under a rock to ignore the fact that ranking highly on Google can send visitors to your website.

What many business owners don’t know, however, is that Youtube – a company owned by Google – has its own unique ecosystem and search function with comparable power to send new leads to your website.

Imagine the following scenario. You’re an e-commerce store selling uniquely branded makeup. The makeup industry is one where video search makes a huge impact. Just look at these results for the query ‘makeup tutorial’:

 

 

video-seo-example

 

 

 

The top search results for this query have millions of views. If your company creates makeup tutorials, ranks them highly, and siphons some traffic from your videos to your e-commerce store, you have the potential to dramatically increase your sales.

Even better videos for certain subjects — mainly how to material — ranks at the top of search results themselves:

 

seo-for-video

 

Here’s an example of video potential for a healthy snack company:

video-content-marekting
1 million views for top results

 

And one for a fish and tackle company:

video

The bottom line is this — if you have creative videos to share, you can use them to drive traffic with video SEO.

Some key points to understand about Video SEO using Youtube are:

  • Videos can be optimized – Videos on Youtube utilize titles, descriptions, and tags for SEO purposes. The same methods of keyword research and use of key phrase rich content derived from website SEO apply to Video SEO.
  • Youtube uses similar ranking factors – Google uses time spent on page as a ranking factor for websites. Youtube uses time spent watching videos as a ranking factor. Google measures click-through rates of search engine results pages as a ranking factor. Youtube does the same. Google measures engagement as a ranking factor and experts say social sharing matters. Youtube ranks videos using similar metrics like comments per video.
  • Content is king – When it comes to ranking highly on Google, nothing is more important than the quality of the content itself, especially with new Google updates like Rank Brain suggesting depth and quality of content will soon become the top ranking factor. Conversely, your videos must also provide content that informs your audience about the topic you optimize your videos for. Yes, Youtube can track the content of your videos just like Google tracks keywords in your content.

The steps to building a traffic engine using Youtube and Video SEO are:

  • Do your research – In search engine optimization, keyword research is the cornerstone of a successful SEO campaign. You must know how many people are searching for certain terms to decide how to optimize the pages on your site. For Video SEO, follow tried and true methods like brainstorming, using the Google keyword planner and following suggested results on Google search engine results pages. After you have your list of words, take them to Youtube and test your results by typing the researched phrases into Youtube search box. Youtube has a different results page and the words you research won’t have the exact number of viewers as they do searches on Google. Using the results strategy helps you see if there are viable numbers of viewers for your topic.
  • Leverage existing videos – If you have company videos available that match researched topics, use them! Make sure the video title, descriptions, and tags include an optimized keyword. For each video, you’re allowed to enter a URL in the description – this is where you want to add your site’s URL. You can also add calls to action within the video itself. You can find a guide for doing that here.
  • Create new videos – If after doing your research you discover a huge potential for site traffic and views, consider shooting new professional quality videos. Using a video production company like MLT group will help your videos rank higher on both Google and Youtube because high-quality videos increase viewer engagement and retention.
  • Promote your videos – Share your videos on social media repeatedly, send them to your email list if you have one, and embed them into the content on your website. Speaking of the last point, there are more benefits to video than ranking on Youtube and Google.

How Video Has Become a Content Marketing and SEO Staple

We’re long past the days of newspapers. Even “newer” methods of content creation like blogging are seeing rapid changes. Video has become a major part of the content marketing conversation and will only grow from here.

Let’s just take a look at a few of the goals of content marketing and SEO:

  • Engage your target audience – You want your target audience to know, like, and trust you. What better way to build a relationship with them than provide your content in a medium that’s both easy to digest and fun to use?
  • Keep visitors on your website – You want visitors to stay on your website for long periods because Google uses this as a ranking factor. Users have been known to visit sites and leave quickly. If however, while reading your content a user discovers a video in the middle of the page, they may find themselves staying on your site well past the industry standard two to three-minute mark for effective SEO.
  • Give the people want they want – The easiest way to turn off site visitors is to give them content in a way they don’t want to receive it – think providing a written manual where a video could be much more informative. Some people simply don’t enjoy reading, so video provides all-inclusive option to attract new visitors, leads, and customers.

You don’t have to create videos for SEO purposes only. You can create them with the intent to provide a fun and unique way to market your business. 

Blendtec provides a great example of video content marketing.

How do you market something as simple as a blender?

Blendtec thought outside the box and created a video of their blender shredding different items like iPhones. The campaign went viral.

 

When you think of marketing your business, don’t look for the obvious only. Be creative with your marketing because it’s more fun for customers and ‘Mother Google’ wants you to as well.

Let MLT Group Take Your Digital Marketing to the Next Level

If this post made you interested in the power of video production, let’s talk about creating amazing video together.

Thinking of putting together a cool campaign to build buzz for your business? We offer full marketing strategy, social media management, and an entire suite of services to draw eyeballs to your business.

Does the thought of keyword research and SEO make your head spin a little? No worries, that’s what the pros are for. From start to finish, we can help you achieve results that help you grow your business.

When you’re looking for a digital marketing company to work with, check their digital marketing strategy.

With literally thousands of pieces of content, we aim to prove we’re the cutting edge and go to option in Rochester, Minneapolis, the Twin Cities, and across the U.S.

You’ve made it to the end of this post, which means you’re interested. If you’re interested, what you do next is simple. Pick up the phone, call 507-281-3490 and learn how to skyrocket your business’s marketing.