Month: February 2017

How to Plan Social Media Content

Social media is one of the most cost-effective, easy to use, and impactful tools that every business has access to. Social platforms provide a channel of direct engagement between brands and their audiences, facilitating a consistent and interactive form of digital marketing. If used effectively, a strong social media presence has the potential to broaden your reach, increase brand following, and reveal new marketing possibilities.

Of course, there are some social media fundamentals that all brands should adhere to. Ensuring your profile on social media platforms is fully optimized, appears official, and is complete with brand information gives your brand the credibility it needs to be successful among users. But what’s equally important, especially for brands focused on driving online content (bloggers, artists, etc.), is how it gets shared on social media.

Content sharing on social media requires some strategy. You’ll need to know who’s in your network, who you want in your network, and how to use social media to position your content in an appealing way. But the good news is that developing your social media content sharing strategy now can save you a lot of time later. Ultimately, having a social media sharing strategy in place will support your content marketing initiatives freeing up the time spent blindly taking stabs at sharing content across social platforms. Here are some ways you can get started on developing and planning social media content sharing.

  1. Use Content Software and Tools

Social sharing is something that, to some extent, can be automated. But think of it less like automation and more like pre-planning. Tools like Hootsuite, for example, allow you to pre plan, message, and schedule your social sharing beforehand. By using such a tool, you can hash out your social sharing as you complete the content you’re working on, while also re-sharing old content. Many editorial calendars, such as CoSchedule, offer a social scheduling feature with your tool, so you can have all your work in one place.

  1. Create Templates

Much like the aforementioned tools, creating social sharing templates can save you a lot of time and help streamline your sharing process. Staggering social media messages across different platforms has shown to have a positive impact on content, creating more opportunities for reaching your audiences. Here’s an example of a template:

You can tweak templates like this to best suit your audience and facilitate as much as engagement from every content piece as possible.

  1. Make a Messaging Guide

You know what works best with your audience, but research knows what works best across different platforms. Bringing these two pieces of knowledge together can result in a more successful sharing strategy that draws both interest and engagement from users. When you’re customizing all of the social messages you plan to share, it’s easy to get sloppy with wording. That’s why having a short list of different message styles can be so helpful. Try putting a list together of the different ways to say something. On it, be sure to include:

  • Asking a question that users want to know the answer to. Create intrigue.
  • Share an interesting quote or fact from the content piece.
  • Be straightforward and tell readers exactly what the content contains and why they want to look at it.
  • Use an attention-grabbing visual.
  1. Find Ways to Tailor Posts to Specific Platforms

Each platform is different, so you can expect your content sharing and messaging to perform differently across all of your social channels. Tailoring your messages to what research shows performs best on each platform is a surefire way to set your content up for success. Here’s what some of that research shows:

Make sure you’re modifying your messages to each platform to ensure your posts get attention from users.

  1. Look at What Your Competitors Are Doing

This is not to be confused with a copycat strategy, but rather seeing how much you need to post in order to compete with similar brands. Think of it like a competitor analysis, but for your social media sharing strategy. It helps to know what your competitors are doing, especially if they’re seeing a lot of success with their social media strategy. Look for things like frequency of posts, messaging style, tone, promotional posts, and other indicators of social sharing strategy. It can show you what you need to be competing against and reveal new ways to reach your audience.

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Need Ideas? Where to Look for Blog Topic Inspiration

Inspiration and motivation always seem to be the first things to go when you’re burnt out on blog writing. Trying to flesh out some content ideas, staring at the computer screen with disdain, wondering if there’s anything to say that hasn’t already been said…sound familiar? If so, then it’s probably time to revisit where and how you look for inspiration.

If you dabble in the digital sphere, your work/inspiration/motivation flow is something that needs to be tweaked and fine-tuned over time. Just as the world of blogging and online marketing is constantly evolving, so must your work flow adapt.  The good news is that there has never been a better time to look for inspiration, information, or ideas because there are so many resources available to you. Here’s how you can tap into them.

Set the Mood

I’m not talking about lighting candles and drawing yourself a bubble bath to hunt for ideas. I’m talking about setting yourself up for success by creating an inspiration-friendly environment. When you’re putting on your creative pants and hunting for inspiration, it’s important to be working in an environment that supports the idea-sparking mindset. For some, that might not mean sitting at a desk scouring the internet for topics that will inspire brilliant pieces of content. Try these tips to set the mood for your next big brainstorming day:

  • Eliminate Distractions

It might seem obvious, but it is often ignored. Nothing throws off a creative workflow like the constant ping of group text alerts or a random call from an out of town number. Give yourself a chance to stay focused and lose yourself in the exploration of ideas and information by eliminating unnecessary distractions.

  • Go Where You Brainstorm Best

If you’re sensitive to environment like me, then you probably don’t find your desk ideal for creative stimulation. Some of my best ideas/thinking/writing happens when I’m sitting crisscross-applesauce on the floor or working from a patio on a laptop. Whether it’s posting up at a coffee shop, spreading out on the floor, or munching on a mountain of snacks at your desk, do your brainstorming where and how you do it best.

Where to Look for Ideas & Inspiration

Where inspiration is found is personal to the writer, so I won’t pretend there’s a master list of resources or an idea farm out there. This is simply a list of popular places buzzing with questions, trends, and topics that make them great places to look.

  1. Your Blog

It feels like the last place you should be looking for ideas, but it’s really the first place you should look. First and foremost, look at your analytics and identify your top performing content. Then, spend some time “massaging” those top pieces of content. Is there a new angle you can take on it? Can the topic be expanded? Could it be turned into an infographic, tutorial, or series? Sometimes looking at the ideas you’ve already had and you know have performed well can reveal new angles and options for content.

  1. Buzzsumo

This tool is particularly useful for finding the types of content and topics users are engaging with the most. You can search a specific domain or a general topic, use some filter options (language, content type, date, etc.), and Buzzsumo will pull up a list of the highest performing topic for the selected time period. By looking at the top headlines of your industry, you can get a pretty good picture of what your target audience is looking for.

  1. Industry News Sites

If you need something to talk about on your blog, why not look at the latest and breaking news within your industry? Identify the leading authorities and websites in your industry that are quick to cover updates and news, and then use that to guide your own content. Weigh in on current issues, give your perspective on events and happenings, and then find a personalized spin on it that you can use for your own blog.

  1. Quora

One of the best ways to get content ideas is by answering questions, and that’s why Quora is such a great place to get inspiration from. The question-and-answer site is constantly buzzing with chatter, thoughts, ideas, and, of course, questions. A good way to flex your content/creativity muscles is to filter down to the categories most relevant to you, start answering questions, and see if there are any that can be turned into blog-worthy topics.

  1. Reddit

It’s a fun app for exploring random topics, but there’s also a lot of useful information to be found on Reddit. Similarly to Quora, users actively post questions and engage in discussion on any and every topic. Despite being a little more chaotic than other resources on this list, it’s a great place to harvest potential content ideas.

  1. Social Media

Most social media platforms have a built in “trending topics” component that shows you what other users are talking about. This can be used to your advantage, especially on Twitter, because it can give you an immediate idea on what people within your audience are reading and talking about. Plus, tapping in to trending, popular topics is a good way to snatch some traffic.

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How to Write Blog Posts When You’re Tired of Writing

The Problem

Regardless of how much you love your blog and the industry you write within, there will be times when you simply don’t feel like writing. Content production is, in large part, about your ability to share quality information with consistency. No one wants to have a stagnant editorial calendar, but hitting the wall with content creation or finding yourself immobilized by writer’s block is an experience you’re bound to have.

Many writers share their tips and tricks to relieve even the worst occurrences of writer’s block. Lighting candles, switching drafting medium, switching up the brainstorming process-the list goes on. All of these are helpful and effective at keeping your writing sharp and perspective fresh, but what I’ve found to be most helpful is a content formula.

The Solution

Less deceptive than it sounds, a content formula is a structural guide that helps you make a complete work of content out of bits and pieces. When you’re tired of writing, connecting ideas to create a cohesive, compelling, and quality piece of content can seem like a daunting and difficult task. Having a general structure in place can carry you through those difficult times so you can stay on track with your writing and meet the demands of your content schedule.

When the clock is ticking, deadlines are looming, and you can’t seem to write what you’re trying to say, try using this content formula. If nothing else, you should be able to plug in enough information to develop the skeleton of your content piece so you can keep production rolling.

The Formula


Introductory Information

Main Points

Key Takeaways


I know it looks so simple it can’t possibly work or help create a complete content piece, but it can and does work! You just have to keep a few things in mind when you’re putting your content together:

  • Title: It’s really important to have your title pinned down before actually writing anything, because it sets the tone and approach for how you’ll talk about the topic. Nine times out of ten, if I’m struggling to write about something it’s because my title doesn’t work and I’m not sure what I’m trying to say. Spending a little extra time developing a strong title will make putting it all together much easier. You can even try running it through a headline analyzing tool to see if it’s effective and will attract clicks.
  • Introductory Information: All you’re doing here is setting up the topic for the rest of the post. You’re leading with facts, background information, personal notes, or anything else that naturally introduces your topic. From there, narrow it down to exactly what you’ll be talking about/the information you’re providing. Cover what you’re talking about, what readers will gain, and why they need all of it.
  • Main Points: Your main points are the meat and potatoes of your post. When you’re struggling with your writing, all you have to do is dump your ideas for main points and find something to supplement them with. For example, if I’m writing an article that argues the necessity of editorial calendar software, I’d have a main point like this: “People who use content calendars typically have more traffic per month.” I’d then find a study or statistic to back that point up. Do this as many times as you need, and in no time you’ll have the main points of your article done.
  • Key Takeaways: So tired of writing you can’t bring yourself to write a conclusion? No problem. At the end of your article, create a bullet point list of the key takeaways from your article. It serves as a brief, straight to the point summary for readers while also helping you get an idea of how complete your content piece is.


Every blog is different, and it’s important to tailor content formulas in a way that meets the needs of your content goals. This formula can be altered to apply to listicles, infographics, guides, or whatever kind of content you regularly produce. That being said, establishing a content formula can help you break through those tough writing blocks so you can get back to the regular rhythm and flow of your writing.

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Considering AdWords? These 5 Reasons Will Make You Want to Start Now

As a search marketing agency, a lot of our clients come to us seeking paid search services. Many clients want these services firstly because they know or have heard that it works, and secondly because there’s a “product” they can actually see (as opposed to SEO practices, which take time and can’t always be seen right away). But what many people also fail to realize is that, like SEO, paid search campaigns require a little bit of faith upfront, a monetary investment, and patience.

All too often, we encounter clients who want to take their budget and target everything they possibly can in AdWords. This approach can be problematic, because clients can easily end up stretching their budget too thin to get any real results. Contrary to the widely held belief that effective use of AdWords means targeting everything possible, you can get significant results by being strategic. It’s all about knowing what to do with what you have to strategically get the best results possible for your business. If you’re still not so sure, here are 5 reasons that AdWords is worth it.

  1. Everything is Trackable

You can be sure that you’re never wasting a dime on AdWords, because everything is trackable and measurable. Clicks, impressions, conversions, time spent on ad, form submissions, calls from websites, calls from ads-you name it, they track it. As is true with SEO, tracking and interpreting data is a huge piece of the puzzle. Through a paid search campaign, you not only put yourself on the map online, but gain a lot of valuable information about what your customers are responding to. This can help your SEO strategy down the line, because you’ll already know which keywords draw the most conversions from your AdWords targeting.

  1. Granular Targeting

This is great for businesses only interested in targeting customers in a specific area. Through AdWords, you can target as granularly as zip codes and demographics. While other SEO practices can also be localized, none get quite as targeted as is possible through AdWords. By using this feature, you can focus in on the area you want to target to make sure you’re seen by people who will actually be able to visit your store. This is important, because many mobile users (which we now know represent the majority of internet traffic) are searching for local businesses on their phones or mobile devices. AdWords will help you cash in on that traffic and focus on getting people in the area into your business.

  1. There’s More to Gain Than Just Clicks & Traffic

Yes, AdWords can be expensive if you want it to be, but something to keep in mind is that you’re only paying for ads that people click on. You gain much more from AdWords than just clicks and traffic. Through targeting specific keywords, you can find out exactly which words drive the most conversions for your business. You’ll also gain a clear picture of who is and is not part of your target audience. Both of these gains are important, because they shed light on how you should optimize and to whom you should optimize for when you expand into other SEO strategies.

Try not to think of it as gaining clicks and traffic, but rather as gaining insights, knowledge about user behavior, and learning more about your market.

  1. You’ll See Results Fast

More traditional SEO strategies take time before you really start reaping the benefits, but with a PPC campaign you’ll start getting results instantly. Campaigns and their start rolling in as soon as a campaign goes live, giving you an accumulation of data and traffic information that you can later use to accelerate other SEO strategies. As soon as you or your PPC specialist put together a campaign, you’ll see what it looks like across multiple devices, the keywords you’re targeting, and everything else pertaining to your ads.

  1. It Gives You More Control

What most people like the most about AdWords is the amount of control they have. You can control how much money you’re spending, turn campaigns on and off, and customize every component of your campaign. Compared to other digital marketing and SEO practices, the user/marketer has more control and flexibility to adjust their efforts on an as-needed basis.

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10 Skills Every SEO Expert Should Have

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

Whether you’re going to hire someone to run your SEO campaign or you’re going to take a stab at it on your own, there are certain skills that help the optimization process happen smoothly. The skill set for SEO experts is typically quite broad, but there’s normally a baseline of traits that contribute to their digital prowess. In considering how you or your SEO service provider handles your optimization, keep an eye out for these ten skills.

The Must-Have Skills in SEO

  1. Problem Solving – Every website is different and thus every SEO plan is different to get the desired results. When performing SEO, you perform a great deal of problem solving (think: finding potential issues with sites, competitive research, finding ways to strategically out-optimize competitors). Having a knack for identifying and solving problems goes a long way when it comes to SEO.
  2. Prioritization – There are many different levels to SEO, and an expert should know what website changes need to be done and in what order they need to be done in. The order in which you execute your SEO plan can be largely dependent on what you choose to prioritize, so you want to make sure the most important, impactful tasks are getting done first.
  3. Research –Comfort and confidence are crucial when it comes to researching skills. Whether it’s researching keywords, analytics, or competition, any search engine changes. If you can’t research correctly and successfully, then you can put an effective plan together to get top rankings.
  4. Analysis – Analytics are at the core of SEO, because every action taken can be measured. That’s why every expert should know how to pull analytics, read and interpret data, and know how to use it for future planning. SEO is extremely report-based, so an expert without the ability to understand different data software will be struggle.
  5. Decision Making – You are constantly making decisions as an SEO professional, because things are constantly changing. SEO is never consistent, and when you first start creating an SEO strategy for a company you are going to have to make assumptions quickly. You won’t always have the statistics needed to make a perfect, confident decision, but you should have the know-how to make the best decision for a given situation.
  6. Flexibility – An SEO approach has to change with each new website because each website is different. You must be able to switch strategies at any given moment without slowing down, while also having flexibility to adjust website plans as needed, because SEO does not have a one size fits all solution.
  7. Content – It’s important that an SEO expert understands what makes great content. Even though most SEO experts hire writers, they have to have an idea of the type of content that will earn clicks in order to delegate work to the writers.
  8. Coding – An SEO expert will need to at least be familiar with Meta tags and the basics of web design. Web designers don’t always worry about SEO, because SEO isn’t always “attractive,” so it is the job of the SEO expert to help figure out a way to mesh the two aspects of the site.
  9. People – Having people skills will help an SEO expert in the communication department. Many clients and company owners get upset with SEO experts because they don’t understand how it works and feeling comfortable and confident explaining and working with such people is an invaluable skill. You don’t just want to communicate your point effectively, you want to do it in a way that can really reassure people that SEO results will happen in time.
  10. Desire to Learn – SEO and the digital landscape in general is constantly changing, which is why it’s so important for those in this field to be naturally curious with a desire to learn. Believe it or not, this is a skill. Some people simply prefer to learn what they can to do their job, then go home and do other things. For an SEO expert, work cannot be something to just “get through.” You will want to have that rare skill of figuring out ways to learn more.

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The Most Effective Link Building Strategies for Your 2017 Plan

If there’s one SEO practice more prone to sketchy, black hat temptation than the rest, it’s probably link building. Link building can be so helpful and positively boost the ranking of a website, and that’s what makes people want to automate their link building strategy to get instant results. The consequences of automated link building far outweigh the benefits, and there are plenty of ways to obtain the high quality links you need without resorting to any sketchy practices. Here are two of the most effective link building strategies you can incorporate into your link building this year to get the results you need.

  1. Create Linkable Assets

We do this at HigherVisibility all the time. Creating linkable assets refers to the creative process of coming up with content ideas that will appeal to others in a way that generates links. Let’s say, for example, you’re an online boutique selling women’s clothing. For that kind of business, a linkable asset might be something like an infographic about 10 staple items to have in your closet by the time you’re 30, or a guide to finding the perfect dress for every body type. It’s a piece of content that offers utility and value to users without being too self-promoting, enough so that other websites think, “Hey, this is a great tool for my users, I’ll gladly post it on my website.” Infographics, resource guides, visual content, tutorials, and other such products can serve as linkable assets that get you the high quality links you need for healthy link profile.

  1. Panels, Interviews, “Ask the Experts”

One way to get as many links as you can from a single piece of content is by incorporating multiple people in your posts. Panels, interviews, and roundup are all ways to do this. Most people are receptive to being featured in an article by someone affiliated with their industry, so getting people together isn’t all that difficult. Start by coming up with a content idea, and then putting together a group of people you could ask questions about the topic. Once you draft your content piece, put together a plan to promote the post, including having those featured in it sharing it across their platforms. Again, most people are eager and willing to share posts in which they’ve been featured.

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New Local SEO Ranking Signal? Google Patent Sheds Some Possibilities

Last week Google was granted a patent enabling them the ability to check whether users follow through with recommendations in search results to visit geographical locations made to them.

Bill Slawski from SEObytheSea, wrote a wonderful description about the patent. The example Bill gave was “For example, people living near a certain restaurant may be recommended as a place they might like to go; and the patent determines whether or not people may be following those suggestions.”

On top of that, this morning Google announced a new feature to keep track of your favorite places and share them with friends via Google Maps. Here is the full announcement:

Could these two features be tied together? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as soon as Google was granted the patent that a new Google Maps feature that aligns very closely with the patent was announced.

Does this mean that Google is going to start using this in their ranking factors? Not yet but I can see the reasoning of why Google might want to potentially go down this road. Google understands that personal recommendations hold more weight than an online review.

Think about all of the data Google can gather from this: how many users add a particular location to a list, how many users visit that location, how many then review the location, and ultimately what was the review rating. As more adoption to the new list sharing feature takes place, it is going to be interesting to see if Google utilizes this data to incorporate into their ranking signals but the writing is on the wall.

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