Month: January 2017

8 Rookie Mistakes Made By Content Marketers

Improving content strategy is on the list for many marketers this year. There has been an emphasis on trying out new forms of content, tracking the performance of old content, content curation, and many other strategies. These are all awesome ideas worthy of trying in 2017, but sometimes one of the best ways you can improve your content strategy is by improving upon past errors.

More often than not, content marketers have a tendency to gravitate towards the same mistakes time and time again. By identifying those mistakes and making a plan for moving forward, you can turn them into an asset for your content marketing strategy. Check out these 8 common mistakes made by content marketers, and see if there’s anything you do.

  1. Not Planning a Content Calendar

Having an editorial calendar is a content marketing best practice. It helps you plot out which content you’ll be working on and posting on which days, which creates a consistent strategy. Having your game plan at a glance gives you a bigger picture to look at, so you can spot holes in your strategy, diversity in topics you write about, and a general sense of organization.

  1. Failing to Research

There’s no point in posting anything if you haven’t researched your audience or the topic. Knowing your audience is the beginning of content marketing wisdom, because it will show you the topics that will or will not be successful. Plus, a topic well researched is a topic half written, so take due time getting your facts and information together.

  1. Not Engaging with the Content of Others

It’s important to spread your influence across the Internet as best you can, especially if you’re in a niche industry. The benefit of engaging with others is significant: it gives you connections with other content producers like yourself, thereby creating more opportunities for learning, shares, and guest blogging; it drops a breadcrumb trail leading back to your website when you share quality content written by others; and it gives you ideas and inspiration for your own content strategy.

  1. Sticking to the Same Content Form

Mixing up your content forms is already important, but will be even more important in 2017. By offering different forms in the way you present information to your audience, you provide a varied and impactful experience. Some topics are compelling enough to create a video on, while some posts call for a blog post or list. Some subjects will do better being presented as an infographic, while others will thrive as a listicle.

  1. Not Sharing Content on Social Media Platforms

Many people use social media platforms as a one-stop shop for social interactions, personal posting, purchasing, and news. By not sharing your content across social media platforms, you’re actively choosing to miss out on click-happy traffic.

  1. Being Sloppy with Content Production

This goes back to importance of researching. Sometimes we get so focused on producing a certain number of posts each week that we compromise the thoroughness of a piece of content. A sloppy piece of content cuts your chance to offer information of value off at the legs. As a general goal, try and produce content that has something users can leave with without having to read another post.

  1. Wasting Evergreen Content

Your top performing content has the potential to be used over and over again. In a study from Hubspot, they found that 76% of their monthly blog views came from old posts that had been recycled, reposted, and/or revamped. By tweaking or even just sharing some of your top performing content from the past, you can squeeze even more from it.

  1. Not Tracking Content Performance

How will you know what your top performing content is if you don’t track it? Google Analytics should be every content marketer’s go-to for tracking the performance of their content. By incorporating content performance review into your monthly strategy, you can regularly see which topics and content forms have the greatest impact with your users.

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Everything You Need to Know About Chrome’s New Fact-Checking Extension

We live in an age where sometimes the continuous production of information comes at the cost of the truth. This is especially true of online sources, where it can be hard to determine misinformation, reliable sources, and credible reports.

If you have a blog or dabble in any kind of content production, you have a responsibility to put forth the most reliable information you can. The benefit is two-fold: first, users will regard your content as a resource and want to return to your site; two, Google favors website that provide the best information and user experience possible. The same can be said for users, that there is a responsibility to seek, share, and refer to credible content.

But with tens of thousands of pages of information online, weeding out fact from fiction can get messy. That’s where Chrome’s new extension, FirstDraftNewsCheck, comes in. Here’s how it works:

The extension allows you to have an image or video open in your browser and then work through a checklist that prompts you to investigate:

  1. If you are looking at an original piece of content
  2. How confident you are about who created the content
  3. How confident you are about when the content was capture
  4. How confident you are about where the content was captured

The extension then calculates a verification score and creates a button that can be embedded on your website.

As you can see, the scoring is pretty thorough:

Screen-Shot-2017-01-27-at-7.57.51-AM Everything You Need to Know About Chrome's New Fact-Checking ExtensionScreen-Shot-2017-01-27-at-7.58.04-AM Everything You Need to Know About Chrome's New Fact-Checking Extension

This tool can be helpful for people across all industries looking to find and create fact-based content and put forth information of a higher quality. The use of it has the potential to provide a more optimized user experience while also making the internet a less sketchy place to learn!

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5 On-Page SEO Methods to Avoid

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

In the case of SEO, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what you should do. A company can do all of the things Google suggests when it comes to on-page SEO, but this won’t mean much if you’re also using black hat tactics. In other words, the “black” methods trump the “white” methods when it comes to on-page SEO, and in most cases your website simply won’t rank. Fortunately, understanding some of the on-page SEO methods to avoid is easy to put into (or take out of) action.

Understanding On-Page SEO and Black Hat Tactics

It’s first important to understand the difference between on-page and off-page SEO. On-page SEO is exactly as it sounds: optimizing your actual website for Google. Off-page SEO is what you do away from your website in order to prove to Google that you’re a reputable site. Off-page

Acceptable and successful On-Page SEO includes:

  • Internal Linking
  • Unique & Relevant Content
  • URL Structure
  • Meta Data
  • Image Optimization
  • Keyword Density

Once you understand what you should do, it’s time to move on to the all important “avoid at all costs” list.

Top 5 On-Page SEO Tactics to Avoid

Those in the industry typically refer to these types of SEO methods as “black hat tactics” as opposed to “white hat.” If you can avoid these strategies, your hard work on your campaign should be able to shine through and help your website rank:

1. Links: Avoid hiding and selling links.

Creating invisible links means that you are linking to something that is of no use to the reader. Some webmasters think that they can embed an irrelevant link (usually to another one of the webmaster’s websites) into a piece of text in order to help give that webpage PR juice. Some webmasters even try to do this by embedding a link into a piece of punctuation in the text as a way to fool the Google spiders into crawling. If you’re going to incorporate link building into your SEO practices, make sure it’s done manually. Automated link building can and will get you penalized by Google.

2. Keywords: Do not practice keyword stuffing.

This action is just as it sounds. Websites often try to stuff keywords onto a page so that search engines see them and visitors do not. This is often done by creating very small text or typing in a keyword in white on a white background. Search engine bots then think that the page is all about a certain keyword (although it can be entirely unrelated), and your website will rank. That is, of course, until Google catches you and knocks your ranking done. This kind of unethical tactic wastes more time than it saves you, so just don’t do it.

 3. Pages: Doorways pages will get you penalized.

Doorway pages are a way for a website to quickly create low quality pages that rank well for many different keywords. These pages are usually of no use to readers and are full of copied content, but companies do this in order to funnel readers onto pages that will convert. In other words, a company will rank well for certain keywords with a very poor page and then hope that visitors will find their “money making” pages once they get there.

4. Content: Never use duplicate content.

Creating unique content is time consuming, so many companies scrape content online. In other words, they copy content from other websites and claim it as their own. The duplicate content penalty does not apply if you link back to the website and give credit, but you do have to make sure you have a good mix of your own content and content you’re sharing from others. You’ve heard over and over that content is king, and not much has changed there. The content you put forth for users has the potential to offer high value and positive ranking results, so channel your energy into creating valuable, utility-driven work.

5. Delivery: Do not have one page for your visitors and another for Google (known to the experts as “cloaking”).

The biggest thing to remember is that everything you do on a webpage should be for visitors and not Google bots. All of the above black hat tactics are a way to try and fool Google, and in the long run, it just doesn’t work. Google continuously updates and optimizes to provide users with the highest quality resources, so in most cases you will get caught, penalized, and lose any good SEO work you’ve done (or any work at all).

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Viral Marketing: How BuzzFeed Made Cookbooks Cool

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know what BuzzFeed is. The Internet media giant cranks out news, quizzes, trending topics, and pop culture “buzz” that attracts audiences from teens to twenty-something year olds en masse.

While the nature of this particular company may not exactly align with your own, there’s a lot we can learn from how BuzzFeed turns small ideas into really big, viral marketing trends.

It starts with the brand.

BuzzFeed has a distinct brand that sets it apart from other media companies. Quirky, playful, and borderline irreverent, BuzzFeed adopts the diverse attitudes of its millennial audience and mirrors it back at them. The effect is such that users who follow BuzzFeed come to think of it as more of a close friend than a media outlet (I know this because that’s how I like to think of BuzzFeed).

By embracing, owning, and capitalizing on a uniquely quirky brand, BuzzFeed essentially creates trends out of thin air and turns them into viral pieces of content that earn shares, likes, and engagements by the thousands. But the real genius is how BuzzFeed used one of their trends to create a wildly successful, “old school” product.

Extending Successful Ideas Into Products

One of the greatest things that’s ever happening to your Facebook feed is the “Tasty” series created by BuzzFeed. In about a one minute video, an anonymous pair of hands will show you how to make a recipe.

The videos, not one of which has less than 100k views, have been a viral sensation this year. To extend the success of the videos, BuzzFeed created Tasty Cookbooks, where users can go to the website and assemble a custom cookbook of their favorite tasty videos, decorate it with emojis, and have it shipped to them for $24 (or $39 if you want hard cover and an apron).

Since making the product available, more than 100,000 copies have been sold. And, since they’re all made to order and printed on demand, the profit margin stays high.

What Small Marketers Can Learn

When you see an opportunity to extend the shelf life of a marketing campaign, product, or piece of content, cashing in it on it can have big pay-offs. By extending some of your most successful content into a product or service, you can draw the most engagement and squeeze every last usable component out of your idea.

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The Malware Targeting Mobile & How to Protect Your Site

As you likely already know, the number of mobile users continues to grow, and search engines have become increasingly mobile-focused/inclusive. As search engines adapt and account for the shift in user behavior to mobile, so do websites and advertisers. And as websites and advertisers optimize and adapt their strategy to target mobile platforms, so do hackers.

The Problem

Earlier this month, expert cyber security resource, Sucuri released a report regarding the rise in cyber-attacks through mobile platforms. It shows that hackers are taking advantage of the rise in mobile usage by showing users unwanted pop-ups and redirecting them to malicious sites.

SEO-spam The Malware Targeting Mobile & How to Protect Your Site

This trend in hacking is problematic, because SEO is one of the main reasons this malware targets vulnerable websites. It’s called ‘SEO spam,’ and the dangers of the mobile malware include:

  • Allowing attackers to arbitrarily access, read, and interact with emails and backend interfaces
  • Stealing data (ex: media files)
  • Injecting ads into pages they aren’t supposed to be
  • Giving sensitive information from their browsing activity

This is bad for users, because they can potentially install ransomware, unwanted programs, or even have hackers take over their browser and damage your website through the backend. This, of course, is bad for websites, because it costs them the trust and business of their customers.

The Solution

Even though this particular form of mobile malware is made possible by SEO, it does not mean you should halt your optimization efforts or rule them out of your digital marketing practices. The fact of the matter is that for every practice, action, or existing space online, there is a hacker trying to attack it. This is true for ecommerce sites, social media accounts, content management systems, and every other existing corner of the internet.

Like most things online, the solution to this problem lies within preventative practices and tight security. As a webmaster, site manager, or online business, it’s your responsibility to protect your internet property, as well as the users who visit your site. Some security measures you can take to protect your site, not just from this particular mobile malware, but all malware, are:

  • Use Sucuri’s SiteCheck. This tool is tailored to emulate different mobile user agents and warn users about possible issues that may affect your computer when accessing your website (it’s free!).
  • Monitor user feedback, questions, and complaints closely. One of the easiest ways you can monitor the security of your site is by keeping tabs on what users have to say about it. If you see lots of complaints about pop ups and redirects, it’s a red flag.
  • Sign up for Google Search Console. This is helpful for any and all management or security practices you have. If Google detects any malicious redirects, they’ll send you a message in Search Console.
  • Secure your CMS. Whether your website is powered by WordPress or Magento, there are specific actions you can take to ensure the security of both you and your users. Learn more about making your website hacker-proof here.

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Trying New Content: Who, Why, & How to Get Started

Hitting a wall in your content production is a pain. But perhaps even worse is hitting a wall in your content production without realizing when it happened, why it happened, or that you’ve hit a wall at all.

If you’re experiencing a lull in content engagement or have noticed a drop off in the successfulness of what you’re putting out there, it might be the kind of content you’re creating. An all-too-common tendency for some blogs is to churn out content with an “X number of posts per week” goal that takes away from the quality of what you’re producing. Yes, it’s a great idea to have a goal number of posts in mind, but not if it’s costing you your creativity.

Turning out identical post after identical post can create a certain predictability that turns users off. If it feels like they’re seeing the same thing over and over again, they will eventually stop coming back and search for more stimulating, engaging content. This, of course, is bad for your SEO.

On the plus side, mixing up your content types isn’t particularly difficult, can rev up your engagement and therefor SEO, and potentially unlock new ideas about how to connect with your audience. Check out these top content types for SEO and engagement, and try to implement them on your content calendar.

3 Content Formats To Try for Successful SEO

  1. Videos

I’ve talked a lot about video recently, because it’s an increasingly popular content format that is/will be wildly popular in 2017. The role of visual content is really important when it comes to user behavior, and having a well-done video-whether it’s a tutorial, an explanation of a subject, or a compelling showcase of a product-can attract all kinds of users.

  1. Other Visuals

Infographics, photo galleries, and other such visuals should dominate your marketing strategy. Users respond favorably to visuals, because it grabs their attention faster than a block of text. One study even revealed that content with relevant images gains 94% more views than content without, so it’s definitely time to beef up your content with visuals.

  1. Long-form Guides

Yes, they take a while to create, but the gain from having a thorough resource guide, beginner’s manual, or other long-form content piece is worth it. By offering your users something valuable that they can learn from and work with for free, you’re establishing your website as a useful resource with a whole lot to offer. Not only that, but a compelling piece of content with a longer format generally keeps people on your site longer, which is good for SEO.

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What are PWAs and what do they mean for you?

Described as “experiences that combine the best of the web and the best of apps,” PWAs are pages that use modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like experience for users.

Bear with me here.

PWAs are browser mobile web apps. They bring experiences you’d expect from a native app to mobile browsers. This is good, because it not only lessens the necessity of having an app, but also caters to the growing shift to mobile to provide a better user experience.

Google has been hyping PWAs for a while on their webmasters and developers pages. Per their description, a Progressive Web App is:

  • Progressive– Works for every user, regardless of browser choice because it’s built with progressive enhancement as a core tenet.
  • Responsive– Fits any form factor: desktop, mobile, tablet, or whatever is next.
  • Connectivity independent– Enhanced with service workers to work offline or on low-quality networks.
  • App-like– Feels like an app to the user with app-style interactions and navigation because it’s built on the app shell model.
  • Fresh– Always up-to-date thanks to the service worker update process.
  • Safe– Served via HTTPS to prevent snooping and to ensure content hasn’t been tampered with.
  • Discoverable– Is identifiable as an “application” thanks to W3C manifest and service worker registration scope, allowing search engines to find it.
  • Re-engageable– Makes re-engagement easy through features like push notifications.
  • Installable– Allows users to “keep” apps they find most useful on their home screen without the hassle of an app store.
  • Linkable– Easily share via URL, does not require complex installation.

PWAs also load really fast and have highly engaging features that become increasingly powerful as the user spends more time building a relationship with the app.

In short, your mobile website becomes your super fast/highly engaging app and turns out a positive user experiences for mobile users.

Who Needs A PWA

You might be compelled to get one immediately because it sounds so good, but not everyone needs a PWA. Moz has a handy little checklist that illustrates the who and why behind needing a PWA:

Screen-Shot-2017-01-17-at-6.51.42-AM What are PWAs and what do they mean for you?

If that checklist fits the bill for you and implementing a PWA sounds like the next step, you can get a run-through on creating one on Google developer’s intro to PWAs.

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