Pages

Blogroll

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Seo Tools


Do you get blank looks when you tell people what you do?
I know I do.
Many people aren’t familiar with SEO, so it can be difficult to put the role of SEO into a context lay people can understand. Search marketing is complex, so sometimes it can be a struggle to get across all the benefits we offer in a way people can easily remember.


Whilst explaining is something we all do, there are techniques we can use to improve the clarity of our explanations, and to make our explanations more memorable. So, if you need to give a speech, write a proposal, a white paper, a presentation or a blog post,  here are a few ideas on constructing good explanations.

What Makes For A Good Explanation?
An explanation makes facts understandable to an audience. However, an explanation isn’t just a list of facts. Without context, facts can be difficult to comprehend and remember.
All good explanations have one common result: they make the audience feel smarter.
There are three steps to creating a good explanation: planning, crafting the message, and verification. We determine what we want to communicate, we create our message, and then we verify the message is received and understood.

Planning

Planning involves identifying the audience. It is our audience who decide if an explanation is clear.
A lot of business and particularly academic communication can be dense, wordy and impenetrable. If you, as the audience, don’t understand the speaker’s message, then who is at fault?
In many cases, it’s the speaker.
They might make themselves appear clever, and feel good about themselves, but if we don’t understand their explanations, then they have failed to communicate. The aim should be to make the audience, not ourselves, feel smarter.
Put yourself in their shoes. What questions will they likely have? If they asked “why” about every single point you make, does your explanation include the answers?
Environment & Constraints
Consider their environment in which your message will be received.
Are your audience industry people at a conference, bound to their chairs for the duration? Is your audience  clicking through links and pages on the web hunting for something specific?
The environment affects how the explanation is crafted and delivered. The environment likely imposes certain constraints that also affects the message. Your talk might be limited to twenty minutes, or your document limited to so many words. Constraints can lead to more memorable stories by forcing the writer to focus.
Check out this start to a talk by Richard St John:
This is really a two hour presentation I give to high school students, cut down to three minutes. And it all started one day on a plane, on my way to TED, seven years ago. And in the seat next to me was a high school student, a teenager, and she came from a really poor family. And she wanted to make something of her life, and she asked me a simple little question. She said, “What leads to success?” And I felt really badly, because I couldn’t give her a good answer. So I get off the plane, and I come to TED. And I think, jeez, I’m in the middle of a room of successful people! So why don’t I ask them what helped them succeed, and pass it on to kids?

If he’d had more time, perhaps he would have gone into a lot more detail. But would it have been as punchy?
Many Audiences
Audiences always vary in terms of existing knowledge.
Unless you’re talking one-on-one, there will be some experts who have heard it all before, some people who are new to it all, and the rest falling on a continuum somewhere in between. It can be difficult to please everyone in such circumstances, so be clear what you goal is – keep the end in mind, and work backwards – then identify the most significant audience i.e. the people who must understand your message in order for you to fulfill your goal.
If your goal is to enlighten newcomers about the benefits of SEO, then you would craft your explanation to appeal to them, and spend less time talking to the advanced people. If you need to talk to both groups, then you’ll obviously need to bring the beginners up to speed first. Those with advanced knowledge don’t tend to mind you going over old ground, so long as you signal that is what you are doing, and there will be a payoff for them later.
Start at the end. What is the one thing you want people to do after they hear or read your communication?

Crafting The Message

1. The Five W’s
Journalists are taught to cover five questions when information gathering and researching:
·       who?
·       what?
·       when?
·       where?
·       why?
Known as the “Five Ws”, this is a good strategy for your topic research phase, as it helps us get the “full story”. Each question should have a factual answer.
Focus on “why”. Start with the “why”. Once people understand why you’re doing something, they’ll more readily listen to the rest.
“People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.
2. Create A Catchphrase
No doubt you remember the phrase “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit”.
In “How To Deliver A TED Talk”, Jeremy Donovan talks about what makes for a great catchphrase. They are rhythmic. They often have internal rhyme (“fit/acquit”).
“When you construct a two part catchphrase, make the second part positive and sharply contrasting with the first part…”You must acquit if the glove doesn’t fit” simply does not have the same ompf”.
Catch-phrases bury themselves in the mind, and stay there. “Don’t be evil” is a rather unfortunate example, of course ;)
Use with caution.
3. Write – Or Speak – Using Plain Language
Plain language (also called Plain English) is, as the name suggests, is about using simple words and phrases. In short, don’t use ten words when one will do! President Obama signed Plain Writing into law in 2010, in the form of the Plain Writing Act . The aim was to improve the effectiveness of communication between Federal agencies and the public.
This is the polar opposite of the type of writing many Universities teach. It took me years to get out of the painful habit of using the convoluted dense, academic writing that I’d learned at University. Whilst academic writing has it’s place, this mode tends to be too wordy, time consuming and confusing outside the world of academia.
This is not a slight on the audience’s intelligence. Academic writing simply isn’t a style that is geared to modern day life for most people. Your audience aren’t stupid, but they are likely to be time constrained and so must divide their attention between a multitude of competing messages. This is easier to do if your message is readily understandable. The phrase “don’t make me think” applies to both usability and language.
Whilst there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to good communication, try these general guidelines:
·       Use active voice, rather than passive voice. Active voice is where the subject performs the action denoted by the verb. For example, “the fox jumped over the lazy dog”, not “the lazy dog was jumped over by the fox”.
·       Use personal pronouns: I, we and you.
·       Be clear and concise. Sentences and paragraphs are often improved by severe trimming!
·       Avoid slang and cliche. It can be ambiguous.
·       Match the tone to your audience i.e. formal/informal
·       Write short sentences. Present one idea per sentence.
·       Use titles and subtitles that are informative or summarize the text.
·       Cut out information that is not essential to your goal
·       Use graphics, charts, and pictures to reinforce facts and points
·       If you use technical terms or acronyms, explain them, unless your entire audience is familiar with them

4. Relate New Ideas To Something Your Audience Already Knows Well
Many of the most successful applications on the internet were related to something people already did, and that they knew well.
Email is like writing and sending a letter. A search engine is like using a library catalog. Facebook is like a yearbook. YouTube is like a home video player on your computer.
When explaining something new or difficult, try and liken it to something your audience already understands. Danny Sullivan has a great explanation of the benefit of SEO for people who don’t get the benefit of SEO:
“Yes, search is magical. For years, I’ve described search as a “reverse broadcast system.” In a broadcast system, advertisers spend lots of money to reach a mass audience, hoping to build desire for a product or service. But most of the audience is not interested in their pitches. Search is the reverse. Each search is an expressed desire, something that someone at a particular time actually wants. Advertisers can tune in to the “desire-cast” that’s going on”.
How do you explain SEO? Feel free to add your explanations to the comments :)
5. Start With A Fact On Which Everyone Can Agree
A common sales technique is to get the prospect to answer “yes” to questions. The interaction feels more positive, and the prospect is more likely to want to answer yes to further questions, which may involve a sale.
By stating a fact on which everyone can agree – such as “it’s difficult for lay people to understand what an SEO does” – you build empathy. People will feel what you’re saying is relevant to them. You can then ease them into the change you want them to accept.
6. Provide Context
There’s an old joke about Microsoft.
A balloon was flying high above Seattle, but the pilot was lost. The pilot slowly drifted over a building, drew a handwritten sign, and held it up. The pilot’s sign read “WHERE AM I?” in large letters. People in the building quickly responded to the pilot, drew a large sign and held it in a building window. Their sign read: “YOU ARE IN A BALLOON!” The pilot smiled, waved, looked at his map, determined the course to steer to his destination, and landed safely. After the pilot landed, the passenger asked the pilot how the sign helped determine their position. The pilot responded “I knew that had to be the Microsoft building because the response they gave me was technically correct, but completely useless.
Context is the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.
Try starting with a high level view. The 50,000 foot view. I often find it’s a great way to set the context for an explanation by explicitly stating “So, here’s the 50,000ft view….”. People then expect to hear the broad context.  Then drill down to specifics.
For example, if we’re talking about SEO, the 50,000 foot view might be “how do we make sure the relevant audience hears your message?”. SEO is a subset of that idea, but readily understood within that broad context.
7. Tell A Story
Meet Carol.
Carol has a presentation to make tomorrow, but she hasn’t yet started. She stares at the blinking cursor. She just can’t think of a good way to start!
Carol emails her friend, Dave, and asks for a few tips. Dave suggested that Carol just start writing in a stream of consciousness, even if what she was writing seemed like gibberish. He told Carol this would help her separate the writing side of her brain from the editing side. Her internal editor was restricting her.
Carol tried the technique, and found she filled up five pages quickly. She went back and edited what she had written down to two pages of useful material.
If you’re ever stuck staring at a blank page, give the stream of consciousness approach a try.
A basic story, but it works because it’s easily understood. Stories help make facts more memorable.
Here’s how to structure a story:
·       Character has a problem. Character feels pain.
·       Character discovers a solution to her pain and tries it out.
·       As a result of trying the solution, character overcomes pain.
·       Bring the audience into the story
Another way to use stories is to contrast how people do things now, with how they could be done better. For example, if the customer is using print, radio or tv advertising, then the pain might be the difficulty in tracking response. How do they know which advertising is most effective? A cure for the pain might be to use internet advertising, where they can track actual visitor response and link this data back to their marketing campaign.

Verification

Speakers often ask people to raise their hands if they know about certain things. This helps them gauge where to pitch. It also helps them get to know their audience better.
Seeking feedback helps ensure your message understood and remembered. There’s nothing much to say about verification other than to make sure you roll feedback it into your strategy. Ask questions, test your messages out on friends, enable comments, directly ask people what they think.
It’s the only true way to know if your explanation worked.
If you have more ideas on how to make explanations clear and memorable, please add them to the 


 Both Raven & Ahrefs recently announced that they will drop scraped Google search result data. As part of the Ahrefs announcement they stated that:
Ahrefs is going to close Keywords Analysis on 11 January 2013. Till that time Keywords Analysis will be totally free for all.
So if you wanted to use a competitive research tool for free, set up a free account with Ahrefs today, look up your leading competitors to see their top keywords & if there are any areas that they are targeting that you missed. A number of other competitive research tools & rank trackers have also offered free trials & discounts in order to try to get people to give them a try.

Competitive Research

 SpyFu is offering a free 3-month trial. A couple great features from SpyFu are cached historical SERP results & the ability to download an unlimited number of keywords per website (many competing services only allow you to download the top 1,000 or 10,000 or so keywords per listing). Their free trial also includes their RECON files product, offering brandable reports.
·       SEM Rush is offering a free 1-month trial. They have some innovative features in allowing you to cross compare sites, as well as comparing AdWords vs organic search data. Recently they added filters by URL footprint.

This is really a two hour presentation I give to high school students, cut down to three minutes. And it all started one day on a plane, on my way to TED, seven years ago. And in the seat next to me was a high school student, a teenager, and she came from a really poor family. And she wanted to make something of her life, and she asked me a simple little question. She said, “What leads to success?” And I felt really badly, because I couldn’t give her a good answer. So I get off the plane, and I come to TED. And I think, jeez, I’m in the middle of a room of successful people! So why don’t I ask them what helped them succeed, and pass it on to kids?


If he’d had more time, perhaps he would have gone into a lot more detail. But would it have been as punchy?
Many Audiences
Audiences always vary in terms of existing knowledge.
Unless you’re talking one-on-one, there will be some experts who have heard it all before, some people who are new to it all, and the rest falling on a continuum somewhere in between. It can be difficult to please everyone in such circumstances, so be clear what you goal is – keep the end in mind, and work backwards – then identify the most significant audience i.e. the people who must understand your message in order for you to fulfill your goal.
If your goal is to enlighten newcomers about the benefits of SEO, then you would craft your explanation to appeal to them, and spend less time talking to the advanced people. If you need to talk to both groups, then you’ll obviously need to bring the beginners up to speed first. Those with advanced knowledge don’t tend to mind you going over old ground, so long as you signal that is what you are doing, and there will be a payoff for them later.
Start at the end. What is the one thing you want people to do after they hear or read your communication?

Rank Tracking
·       Advanced Web Ranking is a desktop-based rank tracking tool. They offer a boatload of features & a free 30-day trial.
·       AuthorityLabs is a web-based rank tracking tool & the one that originally powered Raven. They are offering a 25% discount for new members using SEOBook2012
You rarely see Google warning people against meta tags or blocking people from shooting themselves in the feet. That some of these companies are being warned out of the market is recognition of the value of the data by Google. That many of the remaining tools are offering free trials is a Christmas gift for SEOs.
This is really a two hour presentation I give to high school students, cut down to three minutes. And it all started one day on a plane, on my way to TED, seven years ago. And in the seat next to me was a high school student, a teenager, and she came from a really poor family. And she wanted to make something of her life, and she asked me a simple little question. She said, “What leads to success?” And I felt really badly, because I couldn’t give her a good answer. So I get off the plane, and I come to TED. And I think, jeez, I’m in the middle of a room of successful people! So why don’t I ask them what helped them succeed, and pass it on to kids?



If he’d had more time, perhaps he would have gone into a lot more detail. But would it have been as punchy?
Many Audiences
Audiences always vary in terms of existing knowledge.
Unless you’re talking one-on-one, there will be some experts who have heard it all before, some people who are new to it all, and the rest falling on a continuum somewhere in between. It can be difficult to please everyone in such circumstances, so be clear what you goal is – keep the end in mind, and work backwards – then identify the most significant audience i.e. the people who must understand your message in order for you to fulfill your goal.
If your goal is to enlighten newcomers about the benefits of SEO, then you would craft your explanation to appeal to them, and spend less time talking to the advanced people. If you need to talk to both groups, then you’ll obviously need to bring the beginners up to speed first. Those with advanced knowledge don’t tend to mind you going over old ground, so long as you signal that is what you are doing, and there will be a payoff for them later.
Start at the end. What is the one thing you want people to do after they hear or read your communication?
content Marketing

What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a catch-all phrase to describe the use of content to attract people, convey marketing messages, and lead people to take a desired action.
One obvious example is a blog which provides content demonstrating our specialist knowledge in a given niche. We are sharing information, and we do so for free, however our underlying agenda is to engage people in order to sell our professional services or products, or our message.

Why Adopt A Content Marketing Strategy
Conventional marketing approaches, which may involve publishing sales copy, as seen in brochures, or on landing pages, don’t tend to provide information of high value. This type of content is usually a description or depiction of a service or product, and little more. It is disposable.
Content marketing is about creating and distributing genuinely valuable information, that remains valuable over time. It is less direct than conventional marketing, but can be considerably more effective, as many people are put off by low-value sales pitches.
In a sea of information noise, valuable content stands out. It gives us more opportunity to engagecustomers.
Content marketing can be cost effective. If we run a PPC campaign, we may budget $x per week, but we know that when the spend stops, so does the traffic. By contrast, if we spend the same amount producing and marketing a piece of content, we may receive ongoing visitors over time with little or no additional cost per visitor.

The Middle Man Is Disappearing
The invention of the printing press changed the world. It enabled the mass production of books, which up until the 1400s had been the domain of scholars. Anyone with access to a printing press became a publisher, and could spread their information far and wide, so long as they had access to a distribution network.
Publish. Distribute. Profit (or whatever your aim happens to be).
The Internet was an even greater invention. Not only can we publish, but we can distribute to everyone else in the world, so long as they have an internet connection, at the touch of a button.  The middle-man is being disintermediated. The third-party publisher is becoming increasingly obsolete.
These people used to be the gatekeepers. The economics of distribution served as a barrier to production, even if you did have access to a printing press, or typewriter. As a result, there was a lot less published content in the past than there is today. It is now estimated that the internet consists of 5.7 terabytes of content, and it is growing rapidly every second.
Given there is so much content being produced, and only so many humans with limited time to read it, it is clearly not enough to just publish and hope people will come. Instead, we must devise strategies to actively market content in order to fulfill our business objectives.

What Is Content?
Content is whatever you choose to create.
In terms of content marketing, it is content an end user will find valuable. The content you create should be the content your chosen audience will most likely respond to, and engage with.
Many people assume that they should create content first, then seek an audience. However, the most effective content marketing finds an audience first, and then works backwards to create content that meets audience demand.

Devising A Content Marketing Strategy
There are two parts to content marketing:
·       Creating appropriate content
·       Getting your content seen
When devising your content marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to think of this process back to front. First, establish the market demand for the content, then create the content to supply that demand.
You can gauge demand by using keyword research. If you’re familiar with this topic, feel free to skip this section. If keyword research is new to you, then you’re about to discover one of the most powerful techniques in marketing.

Keyword Research

We start by gauging existing demand.
A great way to do this is to use a keyword research tool. There are various keyword research tools, and they all operate in much the same way. They collect keyword search data i.e. the keywords people use to search on search engines and count how many times people use certain keyword phrases. The aim is find existing streams of keyword traffic that relate to your niche.
You then build content around these keyword terms, thus satisfying demand you already know exists.
Step One: Business Analysis
The first stage of keyword research doesn’t involve a keyword research tool. The first step is to clearly define your niche and potential customers.
Imagine we’re running a wallpaper hanging business. This business has determined their customers are people who have already purchased wallpaper, or will soon do so from another supplier, but want to know how to either hang it themselves, or get someone to do it for them.
This wallpaper hanging service makes money by selling people their hanging service, or by selling them tools to get the job done themselves. These tools include seam rollers, brushes, pasting tables and instructional e-books and DVDs.
It’s important to be clear about what you offer, who your customers are, and what you want them to do. Once you have this clear in your mind, it makes it much easier to choose the right keywords. Also, you won’t waste time and money on keywords that won’t result in the action you desire.
For example, there wouldn’t be as much value in targeting terms such as “designer wallpaper” as our example business does not sell wallpaper.
Content is time consuming and expensive to create, so spending a little time on business analysis is time well spent! Brainstorm a list of keywords your customers might use. Look at your competitors sites for inspiration. Once you have a list of your chosen keywords terms…
Step Two
Log into Google Keywords.
Create an Adwords account, or if you don’t wish to create an account, provide the type in characters. In the “word or phrase box”, enter a keyword from your list.


As we can see from this result, there are a number of keyword terms that would provide a great basis for our wallpapering businesses content marketing strategy. The keyword phrase “how to hang wallpaper” has around 14,800 searches per month, and gels nicely with our business case. “Wallpaper hanging instructions” only has 170 searches per month, but it might be a great term to target given this business sells ebooks providing instruction on how to hang wallpaper.
Repeat this process for all your keyword terms, thus building up a list of possible, relevant terms. These keyword terms become headings and topics for your content production.
You can, of course, use a variety of different keyword tools, which will give you slightly different information. However, don’t get too bogged down in the numbers. A rough idea of keyword volume is good enough, because you don’t yet know what content will work best in terms of achieving your business objectives.
For example, a keyword may have a high search volume, but your competitors have also noticed this fact, and have provided a lot of information on this topic. This means it’s more difficult to rank well for that term.
It’s also possible the keyword term doesn’t translate into business value. The only way to know for sure is to publish information and track results. It’s best to try and pick highly relevant terms that have existing demand but the content offered by your competitors is either non-existent, or of low-quality.
Also keep in mind that by publishing content and monitoring results via your analytics, you’ll create a rich keyword data set of your very own. Your keyword logs will reveal the search terms under which visitors have found your content. These keyword terms will likely be variations on the keyword terms you targeted and may not show up in keyword research tools. This information is gold and difficult for your competitors to acquire. This data will give you more ideas for appropriate content in future, or ideas on how to tweak your existing content to better meet visitor needs.
In this respect, we’re constantly iterating around what users actually want, as opposed to what we imagine they want.

Trends
Other tools that can help you decide on what content to publish include trend spotting tools. Here’s a good list.
One good way to use trend data in a content marketing strategy is to look for fast breaking trends and, if they are associated with your niche, publish content on the trend topic in order to capitalize on the growing interest. This approach is particularly suited to news-driven content. Let’s look at one trend tool in a bit more detail, as it’s free and therefore readily accessible.
Google Trends
Google Trends, like the Google Keywords tool, shows how often a keyword term is searched for relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world. This tool was split out into Google Insights For Search, but Insights has been shut down and reintegrated back into Google trends.

Interest Over Time

Google Trends is a great tool for comparing the relative popularity of one term against another. However, it’s most compelling use is to spot rising trends relating to your keyword area. Content that caters to a new, rapidly growing demand has a high chance of success because chances are there isn’t a lot of existing quality content on the topic yet.
We can also see which regions are most interested in these trends. For example, wallpapering appears to highly popular in the UK. This might be a good regional target audience for our company.
Another tip: look for “where do I” + keyword questions. For example, if you constantly monitor “where can I” + wallpaper in Twitter, you could respond to relevant tweets, in real time, and post your URL. It’s also a great way to gauge what is really on people’s minds. Our wallpapering company might assume people want wallpaper services and tools, yet they might spot a lot of questions about removing existing wallpaper that they hadn’t considered or emphasised. Also use variations, such as “how can I”, “anyone know”, etc.
This type of research can help make our FAQs pages more relevant, too. After all, we have clearly documented evidence that the questions we answer really are frequently asked questions!

Types Of Content

The internet is a rich, multi-media environment.
Use Google Keywords and search for categories of information relating to your niche i.e. wallpapering + video, wallpapering + photos, wallpapering + white papers. This way, you can gauge demand for each type of content before you create it.
Consider:
Video – creating video is getting easier and easier as cameras and editing software becomes ubiquitous. Video is particularly good for demonstrating procedures or for anything that is action oriented. Pay careful attention to lighting and sound as these areas can make a video appear cheap if done poorly.
Infographics – an info-graphic is a graphical representation of information. The London Tube map is a famous example of an info-graphic  Today, marketers use info-graphics to draw attention by visualizing data.
Articles – How-to articles, advice, promotion, descriptions, stories, and anecdotes.
Audio – radio shows, music, podcasts, spoken word, and interviews
·       How to make a Podcast 
Photos – you know the drill! :)
White papers – authoritative report or guide that helps readers understand an issue. Typically, white papers make an argument as to why one product or service is the best option to solve a business problem. They can take the form of a backgrounder, a set of tops, or pose a problem and a solution.
·       Top ten tips for creating great whitepapers
Case studies – case studies are research, bringing together data and analysis, and making observations about the results. An example of a case study could be how you approached and solved a problem for a client.  These are especially useful when the results can be applied universally.
News – the latest news, gossip, or insider industry information.
Blogs – a less formal take on news, typically heavy on opinion and discussion. Also consider forums.
Tweets – you can use Tweets to get known for covering a particular niche of information.


Why Is Content Marketing Becoming More
 Important

The main advantage of content marketing is that it is enduring.
Unlike a PPC campaign, which stops when you stop paying, content can endure for many years. The cost of hosting content is almost zero, so there is little reason to delete it once created.
“Evergreen content” – which means content that will always be relevant – can draw visitors many years after publication. For example, the activity “hanging wallpaper” doesn’t really change much, so if you wrote a definitive article and made a video on how to hang wallpaper, it will stay relevant over time. Contrast this with news, which has a short shelf life i.e. is useful only so long as it is new, before it’s replaced by more recent news.
Your content should also be engaging. The internet is changing rapidly from a top-down publishing medium to a relationship medium. You could just publish, and the reader could passively consume your content, however content can be made a lot more engaging if the reader can interact with it. Given the opportunity, they may comment on it. They may share it with their friends via social networks. They may write about it on their blogs. They may repurpose it and make something else out of it, and redistribute it again.
This activity can make your content more usable and extend your reach. Viral marketing is based on this idea i.e. where one person takes a message and then spreads it, and then ten more people spread it, and so on.  Think about ways to make this happen. How can you encourage people to share your content with others?

Master Of Your Niche

For a content strategy to work, you need to establish authority.
Are you the go-to person in your niche? Are you one of the few go-to people in your niche? If not, then it’s going to be difficult to establish authority. Lack of authority will undermine a content marketing strategy as it’s only human to question if someone is worth listening to before we give our time to them.
There are many ways to establish authority. The hard way is to spend a lot of time challenging  established competitors. An easier way is to go where there aren’t many – or any – competitors. One way to do this is to redefine your niche. Go more granular until you find some clear space.
Craig focuses on a narrow niche – the quality score in Google Adwords. This is not to say Craig is not an authority in other areas, he may well be, but his detailed content and razor sharp focus certainly help establish him as the  authority on the quality score.  By doing so, he’s not competing directly with every other PPC expert. He’s created his own clear space.
If you want to compete with established authorities, then one good tactic is to associate yourself with thought leaders in that niche. You could guest post on their blogs, interview them, get links from them, be seen with them, and so on. Sometimes, we can even get away with not being an authority, but be considered one, simply by association. If you have a guest post published on no-nameblog.blogspot.com is not going to carry as much weight as having the exact same article published in the New York Times. Look to leverage the existing reputation of publishers.

Demonstrate Mastery

Once you’ve decided on your niche, you should then demonstrate mastery. This helps establish trust, which leads to engagement. You will likely receive more links (nobody provides legitimate links to non-authorities, unless paid to do so) and have more people contact you than if you provide mediocre content.
It’s almost impossible to provide too much detailed information. In our wallpaper hanging company example, they might create a half hour video on wallpaper hanging, backed by ten articles outlining each step in detail. They show the tricks of the trade, the problem areas, and how to achieve the best finish.
Now, some people will consume this information and undertake the wallpapering job themselves. However, most people will see it as a demonstration of mastery, which builds trust, meaning they are more likely to call this company. The company has demonstrated they can do the thing they are  selling – wallpaper hanging. This wouldn’t be nearly as effective if they just wrote a few hundred words of copy saying how great they are at wallpaper hanging.  
Show, don’t tell.
The same goes for cooking shows. Most people who watch cooking shows don’t cook the recipes being demonstrated. Why not? Because people have other constraints. They may lack the time. They may have other things they need to do that have a higher priority. In the end, they watch the show, then go to a restaurant i.e they let the professionals do it.
Yes, you’ll always have those who do-it-themselves, but they were never really your customer anyway. If you didn’t offer this content, they’d just find it from somewhere else. However, our wallpaper company can still sell these people wallpaper hanging tools! After all, they’ve just shown them a video demonstrating how to use them.
This is business value being built on top of providing valuable information for “free”.

Building Brand Through Content

If you become the trusted authority in your niche, you are creating a strong brand by default.
The value of brands lies not in the logo or symbols, but what those logos and symbols represent. The Apple brand is not just an Apple logo, or a look, it’s about the experience of buying, owning and using an Apple product. While no company is perfect, Apple don’t do half the job well, and then let the quality drop for the other half. Brands typically need to be consistent in order to be valuable.
Likewise, a content strategy should be based on delivering consistent quality. This is a change in approach that was common on the internet a few years ago. Before the Panda/Penguin updates, Google rewarded content, so people produced a lot of content. The more content you had, the more visitors you could likely attract. This was the basis of the content farm strategy and it resulted in a lot of poor quality content.
However, the emphasis is shifting towards quality and this trend will continue.
Therefore, a sound content marketing strategy should be based on producing high quality, valuable content. Although the rhetoric doesn’t always match the practice, Google tend to reward quality over quantity.
But there’s a better reason to orient around quality.
Given that publishing on the internet is so easy there will be a lot of noise. Everyone wants to find the signal amongst the noise. Producing mediocre content is easy. That is no barrier to entry. Producing quality content is more difficult, so many people won’t even attempt it.
Quality is a means of standing out.

What Does Quality Mean?

It’s ephemeral, but most of us know it when we see it. Quality content is typically “better” when compared to what is available elsewhere. It has more depth, more insight, more relevance.
Content must, above all, be relevant. To be sure we’re providing relevant content, we should test. We can look at engagement and performance metrics to see what content our audience likes the most and produce more of the same. We should produce less of the content they don’t engage with. In the end, quality, for our purposes, comes down to what the audience thinks is most relevant to them. It’s the content they engage with.
Imagine if our wallpaper company produced high quality content, most of the time, but also produced some low quality content of dubious value. This could undermine the brand they have worked so hard to create. In this scenario, it would be better to cut or improve the poor quality content rather than risk the trust relationship they’re trying to establish.

Push It Out There

After having determined your audience and created the content – what next?
Network.
If you’ve done everything right from an SEO point of view, your content should start to generate visitor traffic, views and engagement. Visitors will arrive via search engines, and any other site on which your content is hosted, such as YouTube.
If you’re lucky, this activity continues to grow as people discover your content, tell friends about it, and link to it. More likely you’ll see some traffic, but growth, if any, will be somewhat slow. This is why we need to actively market content. We need to adopt PR strategies. PR – public relations – strategies are mostly about networking.
It’s important to build, cultivate and grow a network of like-minded people as it’s much easier to spread your message far and wide if other people are prepared to do it for you. Given the popularity of tools such as Twitter and Facebook, building effective networks has never been easier.
Here are a few things to consider:
Be where your customers are: don’t expect them to come to you. You need to go where they are, and attract them to you. If your customers spend a lot of time on Facebook, you need to be on Facebook and engage with them there.
Go where your competitors are: if your competitors are posting on YouTube, you should be there, too. Check out their followers on Twitter. Make their followers your followers. Make a note of their most popular content, and their least popular content. Learn from their successes, and mistakes.
If You’re B2B, You need to be on Linked In: And even if you’re not, you still should be. LinkedIn is a professional network of contacts that is fast replacing the resume. It also includes, a place for the membership to ask and answer questions. Not only is this a great way to connect with movers and shakers, it’s a great way to see what problems people are having, and how they phrase and articulate those problems.
Forums & Blogs: Find the forums and blogs that relate to your niche. In the case of forums, sign up and participate.
It’s a great idea to publish thoughtful, valuable pieces on forums as a lot of forum posts tend to be low value. It’s not that difficult to stand out from the crowd. Such posts are almost always appreciated, not least of which by forum owners who typically encourage people to provide quality information, which in turn boosts the value of their forum. You’re giving away content in order to get in front of an established audience.
Likewise, adding thoughtful blog comments will get you on the radar of the blog owner, and readership, who may follow your links back to your site.  Again, this is leveraging an existing audience in order to boost traffic to your own site.
A common practice is to guest post on someone elses blog, which is an even better way to get in front of their audience. Before you make an approach, be sure to study their previous posts and editorial policy as blog owners are unlikely to want off-topic posting. They will like the fact you’re offering them free content, but only if that free content is unique and of sufficiently high quality.
Forums and blogs are also great places to foster professional relationships. Typically, you’ll find like-minded and enthusiastic people, especially moderators and blog owners. Help them, and they’ll help you.
Giving forward works.
Press Releases – this is traditional PR activity, but can be a bit hit and miss. Use services such as PRWire to distribute your press releases. Remember to include links back to your content.
The value of press releases has been diminishing as social networks provide a somewhat richer, two way experience, but there is still a lot of traditional media who use press releases. Keep them relevant, targeted and interesting.
Email marketing – Email marketing is still powerful because people regularly use email. People have learned to block out spam, so your messages must be targeted, and relevant. Preferably, you should be building your own list from your site as this becomes a valuable database from which you can remarket to existing customers.

Rinse & Repeat

It’s tempting to publish, market, then forget.
Certainly, when it comes to evergreen content, your content may stand the test of time. However, content can appear stale over time, which is why we should adopt a regular maintenance schedule or audit.
Keep an eye on your top performing content and add to it and make it richer, where necessary, in order to keep it fresh. Nurture it. This doesn’t matter so much for less popular content, however non-performing content should be archived or moved down the hierarchy in order to re-focus attention on your your popular content.
One way to ensure content is performing well is to assign goals to specific content. For example, “our news section should have 1,000 email subscribers six months from now”. The goal should be aligned with a business requirement i.e. “we know 3 in every 100 subscribers become repeat buyers, so we should devote resources to growing our email list”.
We could also devise engagement metrics, such as bounce rates, to see if people are reading our content, as opposed to just clicking back. If we’re getting a lot of traffic to a piece of content, but people click back at a high rate, it means we’re likely got our topic right, and our marketing right, but we haven’t followed through on the delivery.  Look for any pieces of content that meet this criteria and look to revise content, as necessary.
These types of audits also ensure we stay consistent. Consistency is particularly important when it comes to brand. If people come to expect a certain level of quality from you, then the existence of low quality content may compromise your brand value and positioning. Either remove or improve such content.
I hope that’s given you some ideas! Good luck with your content marketing.

One of the many reasons why Ahrefs is my tool of choice is its ability to break down an anchor text profile quickly and efficiently.
In this post, I’ll show you how quick it is to spot potential issues and how deep you can actually dig with this feature of an Ahrefs membership.