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Content Equals Money by Marya Belanger - 4M ago

Editing for economy means eliminating words that don’t add anything to the meaning of a piece of writing. It is quite eye opening to see just how many words you can remove without affecting the purpose of your blog, article, or eBook. In most cases, editing for economy actually improves a piece of writing overall, by letting readers get to the point easier.

For content writers and the businesses that employ them, every word counts. While economy in other forms of writing means getting the most meaning out of the least amount of words, for us it literally relates to cost, as the name implies. Content writing usually comes down to numbers of words or pages, so eliminating “deadwood” in our writing is definitely an economically beneficial process. A few easy-to-use techniques can help content writers get the most out of their writing.

Recognize Doubling

English speakers’ tendency to double up on phrases in order to sound more professional or intellectual actually has an interesting source in history. Back in the eleventh century, when the ancient French overtook Britain, the languages of the two nations blended to create a substantial part of the English we speak today. At the time, the new blended language became the language of choice for the upper class, and writers attempted to use doublets of English and French words to sound more educated.

The doublets were phrases that included both an English and French word of the same meaning, so people of either nationality could understand important documents. Some such instances of doubling that are still very popular today include null and void, law and order, and cease and desist. Because it is commonplace now, it is hard to realize that these phrases are three words saying one thing. To get to the point, try one of the words or a synonym that captures the meaning of the phrase. For example, null and void simply means invalid.

Along with the specific examples of French-English doubling, another issue is simple redundancy. Often times, we use more words than necessary to express an idea. “Absolutely essential”, “whether or not”, and “social visit” are all examples of pleonasms, or redundancy. In the given examples, “essential”, “whether”, and “visit” express the idea just fine without accompaniment.

Choose Specific Words Over Abstract Words

Another common thing writers do is pair their specific words with general or abstract ones, or pair a specific word with its vaguer category. Examples of this include:

  • The month of June (month is general, June is specific)
  • Upright position (upright is specific, position is general)
  • In the year of 1973 (year is general, 1973 is specific)
  • The shirt was black in color (black is specific, color is general)

Instances of this type of unnecessary plugging are easy to eliminate to improve economy.

Use Vertical Lists to Minimize Repetition

Sometimes, we need to cut repeating words or phrases to increase economy. Imagine a blog detailing the benefits of an item called the High-Tech Glass Cleaning Machine:

“Our High-Tech Glass Cleaning Machine is the number one machine of its kind on the market. The High-Tech Glass Cleaning Machine cleans glass up to 10 square feet in less than one minute. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly glass cleaning social, try our High-Tech Glass Cleaning Machine.”

Sure, you can use prepositions some of the time, but as most writers know, using “it” repeatedly just doesn’t sound good. What can you do? Try a vertical list. The above example would look like this:

“Benefits of the High-Tech Glass Cleaning Machine:

  • Number one machine of its kind on the market
  • Cleans glass up to 10 square feet in less than one minute
  • Eco-friendly”

A vertical list saves all of the important meaning and cuts the word count in half. Another time to use vertical list is in an instruction-type list where the instructions use the same verb repeatedly. An example would be:

“To complete the scavenger hunt, first find the blue ribbon. Then, find the red car. After that, find the broken chair.”

Not only is the verb “find” reused in each sentence, but the order indicators of “first, then, after” add to the word count as well. Using a vertical list, the instructions look like this:

“To complete the scavenger hunt, find:

  • The blue ribbon
  • The red car
  • The broken chair”
Why Longer Is Sometimes Better

The goal of economic editing is not to eliminate as many words as possible, but simply to reduce useless words. Some situations exist where more words actually benefit a piece of writing overall.

  • It’s ok to repeat keywords. Unless it obviously distracts from the writing, repeating key words does not reduce economy. It is important for writing to be clear first, and economical second. Removing key words or phrases and replacing them with shorter but weaker synonyms or pronouns can damage clarity.
  • Don’t cut the actor. Shortening a sentence by using passive voice and removing the subject does not help your economy. If anything, it will add more words as you try to explain an unclear sentence or add another sentence to introduce the actor. A longer sentence is better than guessing who or what we’re talking about

Editing for economy can be a tricky task for the uninitiated. Many more techniques exist to help cut down on wordiness, but at the end of the day, a professional writing and editing team will always be able to get the most out of the content businesses need.

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Content marketing is all about delivering entertaining and educational content to as many of your audience members as possible. There are so many ways to get engaging content out there that small businesses will never stop needing new content. A small business can get endlessly creative with different media and distribution methods, but it all comes down to one thing: written content. We can even argue that every type of content marketing media requires written content in some way. Pictures are worth a thousand words, sure, but they usually have captions.

Benefits of Written Content

Some might argue that in our highly digitized world, reading is going out of style. However, quite the opposite is true – we’re reading more than ever. You might not see anyone pick up a newspaper or magazine that often, but that’s because we do all our reading online, whenever and wherever we want, and as much as we want. The internet is full of written content. We spend our days reading online, even if it’s just article headlines or comments on a YouTube video. At the rate people consume online content, you need to constantly refresh it to keep audiences happy.

Written content offers unique benefits to marketers and consumers alike, including:

  • Easy to produce, therefore always fresh
  • Draws audiences through SEO, making it easier for consumers to find what they need
  • Easy to access and skim, so audiences can quickly find what they’re looking for
  • Non-intrusive, i.e., a blog will never start loudly playing in the middle of a quiet office
#1: Blogs

The top medium for written content is blogs. And no, those aren’t going out of style either. In fact, HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2018 survey found that 55% of marketers consider blog content their top priority, more than any other medium. They also found in previous years that companies that publish over 16 blog posts a month increased their traffic 3.5 times over companies that published blogs 0-4 times a month. Blogs are pure written content, and their frequency is directly proportional to their ROI. If you’re trying to get creative with written content distribution, as this blog is recommending, first make sure your blogging strategy is solid and that you’re making the power of blogging work for you.

#2: Social Media

Social media platforms are a great way to distribute written content. While Facebook is an obvious choice, even image-based platforms like Instagram are in need of written content. As mentioned before, pictures need captions, and Instagram captions are short blurbs explaining products, services, or just the company’s link to whatever the image is highlighting. Many images in company stories are just pictures of words, like inspirational quotes. Twitter is another great outlet for written content; despite its word count limitations, a great content marketing strategy is writing up around 20 blurbs to post over the course of a month.

Some not so obvious options for getting content in front of new audiences are Medium and LinkedIn. Medium is a platform where readers can subscribe to different content producers and comment on their articles, essentially having all their favorite bloggers in one place. It features everything from interviews with celebrities to your everyday how-to articles. Medium might be a great place to begin a presence for your company.

LinkedIn is a more professional environment, but also offers great avenues for displaying high-quality written content. LinkedIn has a homepage feed where people can see what their connections like and share, as well as a blog feature. Maintaining an active LinkedIn page for your company and updating it regularly with trends in the professional world and musings on the state of your industry can gain your company a lot of traffic.

#3: Infographics

Another visual mode of content marketing, businesses might pass up infographics in their written content orders. But there’s no such thing as infographics with only pictures! Captions, statistics, headings, and facts are all written content that make infographics stand out. Audiences that don’t care for long-form written content might search for an infographic to more easily digest the tidbits you’re trying to explain.

#4 & #5: Videos and Podcasts

The reason we’re lumping these two together is because of how they benefit from written content. Obviously, the final product is not text. However, videos and podcasts don’t appear out of thin air! They need scripts, talking points, and thorough research. Even videos that only have background music as audio likely have frames with written information in them. If you’re planning on increasing your custom video marketing, like 64% of B2B marketers did last year, invest in some quality content writing to prepare your video. Likewise, prepare speakers in a company podcast with a script to start with and bounce ideas off before actually getting behind the mike.

# 6: Guest Posts

Publishing written content on another site might seem counterproductive, but it’s actually a great way to distribute your content. Not only are you introducing yourself to a new audience, but you’re also expanding the umbrella of your thought-leadership by branching out into a slightly different, but still related, territory. Guest posts are usually blogs, but they serve a whole other purpose than a blog on your own site.

#7: Courses

Courses are a fun way to bring even more value to your customers. If your company is the best at something, why not teach others about it? If your products are kitchen tools, you could offer a multi-part course about how to use the tools for creating incredible new dishes. If your company is a rehabilitation center, you could offer courses on meditation or building healthy habits. A course shouldn’t give away your selling point for free, but instead build upon it and offer a related benefit that simply helps your audience maximize their involvement with what you’re selling. Courses could require original reading material or even quizzes – all just another way to reach customers with written content.

#8: Interviews

You can spice up your typical written content by featuring interviews. Interviews help potential customers feel as though they know your company better. You can publish interviews with customers, not only focusing on how they feel about your products and services but also on general, fun information about themselves. This will help future customers identify better with your brand. You can also interview employees so your audience can feel a genuine connection with your company. Interviews add a level of authenticity and that “real people” feel that brands spend their entire existence trying to develop.

By this point, you’re probably ready to start developing your content plan ASAP, just to fit in all these neat mediums for written content. Written content is more valuable than ever in the age of SEO and inbound marketing. Make sure you stay on top of it and stay fresh with consistent, quality written content.

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At the end of 2018, Google announced they now use Mobile First Indexing (MFI) for more than half of their search results worldwide. The changes have been in the works since 2016 due to significant increases in the amount of users searching Google from mobile devices. Since Google is by and large the most popular search engine, with over 60% more searches than the second place search engine, ensuring your site adheres to MFI standards is vital to getting your audience to see your business.

That coveted position on the first search engine results page (SERP) now has one more stipulation, but how do you know your site is suited for MFI? Understanding what MFI is and just how significant mobile searches are becoming are the first steps towards optimizing your site for Google’s latest rule.

What Is Mobile First Indexing?

Normally, Google uses bots to crawl the desktop version of webpages and decide their SERP ranking. Now, MFI uses a smartphone Googlebot to crawl websites that simulates the way users access the search engine from their mobile devices. A desktop-friendly site is not much use to a mobile user, especially if that site is missing content for mobile viewers, or if a mobile version doesn’t exist at all. As Google is always working to improve the experience of its users, it is moving towards penalizing websites that don’t cater to mobile viewers. 

Mobile First Indexing does exactly what is in its name: it favors sites with mobile versions or responsive designs over desktop-only sites. A site with a mobile version means that the site developer created two different sites, one for desktop viewers and a smaller, lighter, and possibly slightly different one for mobile viewers, and the appropriate site opens based on what type of device a user visits from. Responsive design renders code automatically to suit the device that loads it; there is only one website, and it adjusts itself. Either of these types of sites are favorable to MFI.

As a business owner or site manager, you might wonder why MFI should affect you. Your number one goal is most likely getting leads to visit your site, so any part of Google’s ever-changing algorithm for search results is your concern. You may not realize how many of your users are driven to your site from a mobile device, and how many of them are turned away because your site doesn’t put “mobile first”.

Mobile Search Rates

If you’re thinking mobile searches don’t apply to your business’s audience, think again. Between 50% and 60% of all Google searches now occur on mobile devices. You can always track your own website’s traffic analytics using tools like Google Analytics to see how many users are coming to your site from a mobile device, but chances are your traffic reflects those percentages as well. Whether your business caters to individual shoppers or B2B, your target audience members are likely often on the go and enjoy the ease of access mobile searching provides.

There are a multitude of statistics available on mobile marketing data that can give you a good estimate of how common mobile searches are for your demographic. One interesting study from Hitwise found the percentages of mobile searches per industry. The number one sector for mobile searches is the food and beverage industry at 72%, followed by health and sports both at 68%. All of the percentages for common industries like lifestyle and retail are at least over 50%. If your business falls into one of these common categories of online markets, it could be upsetting to imagine how much business you might be losing if your site does not meet the requirements for MFI.

Optimizing for MFI

Google says if you constructed your site using a responsive web design, you have nothing to worry about. Responsive designs, as previously mentioned, automatically render the appropriate content for the appropriate devices, which means they’re all set for MFI.

For other sites, Google lists a few common problems that usually prevent sites from being MFI-ready:

  • Structured data. Many desktop sites put effort into structuring their data but don’t do the same for mobile. If you want to be MFI ready, make sure your site uses the same structured data for mobile and desktop, because MFI will only use your site’s mobile data in search results. Structured data is simply markups in your website’s code that lets Google know what type of content you have and where that content should go on SERPs.
  • Alt text for images. Ensuring your site’s code includes alt-text is a super simple way to get it MFI ready. Search engines need alt-text, a description of an image, to understand the context of any pictures on your site. With alt-text, you’re telling Google what you have pictures of, so when users search for those pictures, Google can find your site for them. You can simply go through your code and find any image tags (<img src=“…”>) and add an alt field (<img src=“…” alt=“…”>).
  • Missing quality content. One great mistake site managers make is filling their desktop sites with lots of high quality, diverse content… and completely leaving it out of their mobile sites. If Google is ranking your site based on MFI, then it’s going to judge your mobile content when ranking your site in its results. If there’s nothing worth ranking there, then your ranking will drop. It is always a good idea to have as much high quality, original content as you can on mobile and desktop sites.

Times are changing on Google (aren’t they always?), and you need to keep your business’s website front and center on search engine results pages. Ensure your site is MFI compatible and loaded with impressive content so you don’t miss out on any customer traffic.

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As a small business owner or B2B professional focused on the outreach of your company or brand, you probably hear “content marketing” and “inbound marketing” a lot. They are seemingly synonymous terms, and you might even consider their differences unimportant. However, if you really are concerned with the growth of your brand, it’s important to recognize the functions of inbound and content marketing as separate entities so you can make sure you’re getting the most out of each. Their end goals are the same: to attract customers by creating value, not by being intrusive. But what does each represent, and what’s so important about the distinction between them?

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a theory of marketing that tries to draw customers in instead of seeking them out. In other words, instead of the classic billboard advertisement or TV commercial, that catches people in places and under circumstances that they do not have a say in, inbound marketing lets customers come to the company on their own time, while trying to gain something. People don’t really respond well to being interrupted or bombarded these days. They do, however, respond very well to being able to make decisions on their own terms, and to having their problems solved. Enter inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is comprised of several important aspects, all of which should make up your inbound marketing approach. These aspects or tools include search engine optimization (SEO), interactive tools, marketing automations, and much more. And, you guessed it, content marketing is one of those tools. Some say it’s the most important aspect of inbound marketing of all.

There are different stages of inbound marketing, according to different sources. In general, the stages of inbound marketing are:

  • Attract. Use leads to get the right people to your website.
  • Engage. Interact with customers once they’ve decided to visit.
  • Delight. Create lasting relationships by delivering the right information to the right person.
What Is Content Marketing?

The keyword in content marketing is “value.” People go online to learn, to find answers to problems, to relieve stress, and for many other reasons, most centering around benefitting themselves. Content marketing is a practical marketing technique that utilizes the consistent creation and distribution of informative, up-to-date information. Why? So people who are looking for answers can find them in the right places and from the right sources, and ultimately build connections with those sources.

Content marketing allows brands and companies to establish themselves as resources for their particular audiences, therefore creating a connection in their minds between that subject matter and the company. As the relationships progress, people will turn to those companies that they connect with for their purchasing needs time and time again simply because they gained something valuable from them in the past.

Content marketing has the same stages as inbound marketing in general, albeit with a different scope. While inbound marketing attempts to attract, engage, and delight audiences with a combined variety of tools, content marketing uses content to achieve each stage, in the form of blog posts, videos, email campaigns, and more. Sometimes, a single piece of content can achieve each stage in one sitting, like a blog post that attracts audiences with answers to their question, engages them with a CTA, and delights them by leading them to an actionable page to carry out their needs.

Is There Really a Difference?

Though they do share common goals and stages, content marketing is clearly a subset of inbound marketing. Content marketing is one piece, perhaps the most important, of an overall inbound plan to provide valuable quality content to the specific audience you want to reach. For a complete inbound marketing plan, it is important to address other tools that add to the natural, holistic methods that customers respond to best. Check out the other inbound tools that will complement your content marketing plan.

Technical SEO

Writing all kinds of blogs on whatever topics pique your interest that day is all fine and good, but getting a little technical with your search engine optimization techniques is the best way to improve your inbound marketing results. You want to focus on people finding you, but not just anyone, only people who are going to convert. If your blog is full of travel tips, but you’re a parts manufacturer, chances are the majority of people who visit your site aren’t going to be interested in sticking around.

You can get technical with your SEO by focusing on keywords optimization, meta data, alt text for pictures, headings, and most importantly, actually addressing your audiences’ needs in your content.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is another one that, like content marketing, gets misconstrued as synonymous with its parent field, inbound marketing. While inbound marketing sure feels “automatic” once leads start coming to you while you sleep, marketing automation is literally the use of automated software. Different inbound marketing tasks that marketing teams can automate include automatically sending personalized emails to the right people at the right times, based on the stage they’re at in the inbound process, scheduling blogs and automatically publishing them around a set calendar, and optimizing SEO with automatic tools that do it for you. Marketing automation is a very valuable sphere of inbound marketing that will nicely complement your content marketing plans.

Interactive Tools

Nowadays, audiences aren’t satisfied with static content. They want to get entwined with what they’re being told, ask questions, and try things out themselves. Using interactive tools is vital to inbound marketing because it builds upon the precedent of the theory – providing value to customers and letting them make decisions for themselves. Interactive tools are usually incredible software in the form of plugins for your site, that allow customers to fill their carts by clicking the items they want in an online catalog, take quizzes to match themselves with your products, talk to experts about their questions and concerns, and much more.

Inbound marketing is really an umbrella that encompasses content marketing and all the other aspects that bolster content effectiveness. Once you have a solid content marketing plan, try some of the other aspects of inbound marketing to really get the most out of your content.

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Blogging might feel like the bane of your business’s existence. You keep up with a regular blog schedule, write on riveting topics week after week, craft high-quality content, and then…crickets. What’s stopping people from reading your blog? It could be a number of things – many of which might have nothing to do with your writing and everything to do with technical details. Use this simple troubleshooting guide to get to the bottom of your clogged blog.

SEO Pitfalls

Search engine optimization (SEO) could be the reason no one is seeing your blog. It’s not that your readers are ignoring your content – it’s that they can’t see it to begin with. SEO best practices change regularly according to new search engine algorithms, but many basics stay the same. SEO depends on keywords, meta titles, images, alt image tags, headlines, subheads, white space, and many other elements search engines use to rank your site. Here’s how it works:

  1. You optimize your website for search engines. Your goal should be to create blog content your target audience will want to read, because this is what will get you positive attention from search engines. Focus on relevancy, quality, and personalization.

  2. Google and other search engines send out “crawlers” to review your site. Crawlers are automated scripts that collect data from websites to give to the search engine. It visits URLs and basically judges them based on their page elements.

  3. You receive a rank. The search engine will then use the data from its crawlers to rank your website. It will use algorithms to rank your site based on key performance indicators and page elements. Your rank will decide how far up or down your page appears during search queries.

If you aren’t optimizing your blog posts for SEO purposes, your content could be virtually invisible to your target audience. You must do your research and tailor your content for a better position on the search engine page rank (SERP), or else outsource a professional SEO company to do so for you. Online SEO checkers exist to help you identify and avoid pitfalls in the future. Shaping up your blog for perfect SEO can make a world of difference in your number of views.

Wrong Keywords (or No Keywords)

Keywords are essential for SEO purposes. Your blog content should contain keywords that are relevant and trending in your industry. If you are a lawyer, for example, your blog could focus on keywords such as, “personal injury,” “car accident,” and “fault laws.” Inserting these keywords at an ideal density can improve your SERP position and get more visibility for your blog posts. Use a free resource such as the Google Keyword Planner to get the correct keywords for your audience.

You could go wrong with keywords in many different ways. You may not be using relevant keywords for your target audience, or you might not have realized you needed keywords at all. You could also be guilty of keyword stuffing – something Google has condemned in the past. Keyword stuffing refers to filling your content with keywords solely for SEO purposes, rather than for the benefit of the reader. Search engine crawlers can pick up on the difference and will penalize websites that load content with too many keywords.

Content That Misses the Mark

Where did you come up with your blog topic? Did it just come to you, or was it steeped in consumer data and research? It’s important to write about topics your audience will find intriguing. Relevancy is everything when it comes to getting views for your blog. Search for trending topics to write about in your industry through Google News. Sign up for alerts to be the first to know about new developments. Join a subscriber’s list for news from a high-authority site in your niche, and then craft pieces into your own blogs.

Create a target persona, then gather data about what that consumer searches for online. Use keyword planners and editorial calendars to stay on top of your blog strategy. See what your competitors are posting. Look for posts on other websites that got a lot of views and comments. Then, craft your own version, with a unique take on the topic. Hone in on relevancy, and see if that helps boost your readership.

Leaving Your Readers Wanting

There is such a thing as a blog post that’s too short, although you can never really go too long. Blog posts that are 200 words or less simply might not be doing the trick for your audience. It might not give enough relevant or valuable information or have enough room for SEO elements. Although the number changes with algorithm updates, statistics show that the ideal length for a blog post is around 1,000 words. The minimum should be 300, but around 1,000 tends to rank best with search engines. Put quality over quantity, however; make sure every word you write serves a purpose.

Posting Inconsistently

You can’t expect to gain a loyal readership if you only post sporadically. Readers want to be able to rely on you for consistent, relevant news and information. They will subscribe to blogs that give them a steady stream of useful or entertaining information. They are less likely to subscribe if they glance at your blog and see you haven’t posted in the last year. Consistent posting is one of the keys to a successful business blog.

If you can’t keep up with a content schedule, consider using an automated system and writing your posts ahead of time. You could also outsource your blog posts to experts who understand SEO best practices and the secrets to great blogging. Outsourcing your blog could free up time and resources at your company, while still delivering ROI. You can give your readers the exceptional, consistent blog they deserve without taking time away from your team.

What is such a significant investment as a blog for if not to boost business? If your business blog simply isn’t getting the ROI you expected, you could be going wrong in a few different places. Content Equals Money can help get your blog back on track.

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Think about the last time you needed a definition. The webpage you came across while searching for the definition is an example of evergreen content. Evergreen content takes its name from plants that retain their green leaves year-round. Like the plant, evergreen content stays relevant 24/7/365. It doesn’t turn brown or wither with time. It is content your readers will find useful today, tomorrow, and five years from now.

Evergreen content is as useful for your company as it is for your readers. Since it doesn’t become dated or irrelevant, it retains its return on investment (ROI) potential for your brand. You only have to invest resources into creating it once (plus a few touch ups), yet it will continue giving you ROI for years to come. Honing your evergreen content skills can help your brand become a go-to source of information in your niche, ultimately boosting business.

What Does Evergreen Content Look Like?

Evergreen content is the cornerstone of your website. It is the webpage that describes the very basics of what you do or sell. It is the article that defines basic terms in your industry, answers frequently asked questions, or provides tips that won’t expire. It is content your readers could use years from now to answer their questions, without you having to rewrite the article. Common examples of evergreen content include:

  • Original research and white papers
  • Statistic collections
  • FAQ pages
  • “How to” articles or videos
  • Advice columns
  • Common concepts in your industry
  • Testimonials
  • Product reviews
  • Resource lists
  • History of a topic or product

While most concepts in the search engine optimization (SEO) world focus on what is happening now, evergreen content stays relevant no matter how much time passes. Your brand can achieve the same SEO benefits without having to constantly crank out new content or spend time on updates. Evergreen content has the power to produce lasting positive outcomes for your business, with minimal effort.

Why Is Evergreen Content Still Important?

It may sound redundant, but the very concept of evergreen content is evergreen. As long as there are businesses and buyers, the need for solid basic content will exist. Readers will always search for tips, tricks, definitions, and general information on your industry. This means you will always have the opportunity to have your evergreen content seen by your target audience…if you know how to make SEO work in your favor.

Evergreen content can work wonders for your website’s SEO and page ranking. It can provide a wealth of opportunity to achieve keyword densities, add images and infographics, and get user engagement stats to boost SEO. Making evergreen content work for your SEO strategy takes ensuring the piece you’re writing is actually evergreen and equipping it with all the right tools and features for positive page ranking.

How to Write Evergreen Content

Content is only evergreen if it withstands the test of time. If six months from now, your content will not add value to a reader because it contains dated information, the content is not evergreen. This doesn’t diminish the content’s usefulness for your company, per se; it simply means the content cannot be part of your evergreen strategy. Evergreen content must also achieve SEO results. Otherwise, it won’t be helpful for your brand. Follow these tips for crafting evergreen content that fulfills all the requirements:

  1. Stay away from the news. Evergreen content generally is not news-related. Instead, they are in-depth pieces that dive into your industry, providing universally enduring information that will stay relevant for months or years down the road.

  2. Don’t use clickbait or keyword stuffing. Evergreen content should be of the highest quality and relevance to your target audience. Do not use clickbait headlines or stuff your content with keywords. This will hurt your SEO rating, not help it.

  3. Make quality a priority. Evergreen content should be some of the highest quality writing on your website. It should be poignant, information-filled, factual, and have links to reputable sources. Evergreen content may take you longer to write, but it is worth the effort.

  4. Make it SEO friendly. Use SEO best practices for evergreen content such as adding title tags, backlinks, and image texts that include your keywords. Make your content easily readable, with plenty of white space, bullets, and subheadings.

  5. Check your efforts. If you aren’t sure whether your evergreen content is doing your website any favors, check your website’s SEO to see how your articles are holding up. Use the results to tweak your content or other website features for better page rank.

Evergreen content can establish you as a thought leader, get click-throughs, and encourage reader engagement long after it’s published. It can drive immediate spikes in traffic to your website, as well as bolster your long-term authority on the subject. Evergreen content can be an invaluable type of digital marketing for your brand.

Pruning Your Evergreen Content

Even evergreen content can benefit from a little maintenance now and then. Although evergreen content should never need a total overhaul or rewrite, it may better serve your purposes with a few touch ups as the weeks and months go by. One of the perks of content that’s evergreen is you can tweak it just a little, post it again months or years after the original post, and get renewed views and interactions. When the time has come, check your evergreen posts and update the following:

  • Links. Check all your links to make sure they are still connected to active pages. If you get a 404 Error Not Found message, or if your link is to a post that’s more than a few years old, update the link to something newer.

  • Keywords. Although your main keyword topic should be evergreen, you can sprinkle in a few new keywords to your existing piece to improve SEO ranking.

  • Product specs. If your FAQ or product review pages reference an item you no longer sell, update the model to something you do sell, if possible. If you frequently change your inventory, product-related posts may not be evergreen.

  • Statistics. Go back and refresh the statistics in your evergreen post, updating them to the most recent year data is available. This will keep your content fresh and relevant, without needing to rewrite the entire article.

Evergreen content is a gift that keeps on giving. Knowing what counts as evergreen content in your industry, how to write it, and how to update existing evergreen content on your site can keep your brand relevant for years to come. Even if you don’t think you have a green thumb, use the tips in this article to give evergreen content a try. The returns can be immense if you do it correctly.

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If you’re looking for the perfect way to organically spread your brand and gain more exposure in your niche, consider guest blogging. Guest blogging puts your content on well-respected websites in your community. It helps to position you as a thought leader and can gain new leads without coming off like sales-speak or spam. A guest blog can provide content of real value to readers, along with the benefit a website that already has significant readership. If you aren’t guest blogging, you could be missing out on an incredible opportunity.

Why Become a Guest Blogger?

Think about the top five brands in your industry (that aren’t competitors). If you’re a digital marketer, for example, they could be HubSpot, Neil Patel, Smart Insights, Digital Marketing Institute, and Forbes. Then, imagine your content on these sites, free of charge. Your content would get in front of thousands of readers who look up to these brands, trust them, and turn to them for advice and information. It could put your company on the map, without the expense of advertisements.

Today’s consumers are not impressed with traditional advertisements. Their buying decisions do not center on which brand’s content they’ve seen most often or who has the loudest commercials. In fact, the modern consumer has had enough of intrusive, interruptive, and irritating ads. The discord is so strong that major companies like Google and Facebook have started penalizing businesses that engage in annoying ad practices. How do you advertise your brand without advertisements? Strategies like guest posting.

Becoming a guest blogger can increase brand awareness organically. Rather than shouting for attention with loud, flashy ads, show your target audience you are a brand that knows what it’s talking about and has something of actual value to offer. Guest blogging on reputable websites establishes you as a name that matters in your industry, and a contender with the best of them. You can get your message across without turning customers off.

10 Undeniable Benefits of the Guest Blog

Don’t underestimate the good guest blogging can do for your brand. It should not be an optional addition to your content marketing strategy, but a centerpiece. Crafting original guest posts specifically for other websites shows your dedication to your product, service, or industry. It can be just what your company needs to break through the noise and stand out from the crowd. Guest blogging can lead to a variety of business benefits, such as:

  1. Get more qualified leads
  2. Earn low bounce rates on content
  3. Increase search engine authority
  4. Generate better online influence
  5. Build brand credibility
  6. Get better search engine optimization (SEO)
  7. Build a subscriber base
  8. Get comments and engagement
  9. Expand your personal network
  10. Stimulate social media shares

Guest blogging can spread brand awareness, increase exposure, place a company on a high-authority website, and result in greater social media shares. It’s an excellent tool for building a larger following and boosting business. To become a successful guest blogger, however, you need a few tips and tricks.

How to Guest Blog Like a Pro

The first step in becoming a coveted guest blogger is finding the perfect host site. Start by thinking of brands you admire in your industry. Make sure they are not your competitors, but brands that complement what you do or offer insights into your industry. Then, visit their websites and search for an application to become a guest blogger. Not all websites welcome guest bloggers, so you will need to do some research to find matches. Some of the most popular host sites for digital marketers include:

  • HubSpot
  • Mashable
  • Social Media Examiner
  • Creative Marketing Institute
  • Benchmark
  • B2BMarketing
  • Shout Me Loud

These sites welcome guest bloggers, as long as the content complies with the rules and requirements. Make sure the site you choose is one that makes sense for your company and your goals. Most host sites will have mandatory topics, word counts, formatting, and other rules, such as not including any promotional-type language in your piece. Follow the rules exactly if you want the host to consider publishing your content. It should not matter if your company is still relatively unknown. If you write good, gripping content, the host will most likely consider posting your work.

Don’t Self-Promote

The trick to a great guest blog is not to self-promote, but instead to let the information do the talking for you. Guest blogging is not a platform for shameless advertisements. For it to work in your company’s favor, it has to be the opposite. It has to be a place where your brand can shine as a resource for readers, not a place to showcase your latest products or services. Save the advertisements for your PPC campaign.

Remember, the goals of guest blogging are to build domain authority and establish yourself as a provider of high-quality, useful content. If you can achieve these goals, then by extension you can grow your brand and positively impact your bottom line. If you are hoping to see returns on investment from a guest blog that reads like an ad, however, you will be sorely disappointed. Readers are expecting a certain type of content from a guest blogger. Don’t disappoint.

Follow Up

You’ve found your ideal host, gotten your pitch approved, and submitted a masterpiece that checks all the boxes. You’ve done well, but your job isn’t over. It’s time to engage with your audience by fielding comments and posting helpful, friendly answers. Keep an eye on your guest blog, and try to respond to comments within 48 hours.

The comment section gives you more leeway to self-promote, but it should still read as helpful rather than salesy. Aim for meaningful, value-driven engagements with your readers. If someone comments on your post, and that person has a website that would be a great host for a future post, reach out and establish your interest.

Finally, type a thank-you letter to your host site. This is a polite and unexpected way to let the host know you appreciated the opportunity, and that you would be open to guest blogging against in the future. Most guest bloggers don’t bother sending thank yous, so you’ll stand out from the crowd. It will show that you are appreciative and open to becoming a regular guest blogger. Then, sit back and enjoy the returns!

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It’s the age of DIY – and plumbing and HVAC are no exceptions. Armed with Google and YouTube videos, home and business owners all too often try to fix things themselves. This means plumbing and HVAC companies must now work even harder to establish their value to customers, and to remain relevant in the industry.

Customers of plumbing and HVAC are savvy. They want to know what’s wrong with their systems, how to fix the problem, and how much it will cost. They want a company that’s up to date on all the latest techniques and technologies for fast, effective, and affordable repairs. Attracting leads and converting them takes a killer content strategy, with attention-grabbing blog posts customers can’t ignore. If your blog has been clogged, use this post to loosen things up again – and get the sales funnel flowing.

Target Your Perfect Audience

The first step in any successful marketing campaign is identifying the correct audience. A winning blog is all about relevancy. Leads won’t read what they don’t find relevant, necessary, or interesting. The only way to know what topics will intrigue your readers is to know to whom you are writing. Defining your audience is the first step toward creating a map for your marketing campaign.

Think about who needs your service, as well as who already uses you for plumbing and HVAC. Your content should be geared toward new lead generation, but you shouldn’t forget your existing customers. Part of your marketing goal should be to retain loyal, repeat customers. Create a persona of the customers already using your services. Who is it? What is his or her age, job, income, and interests? What does he or she need from a plumbing/HVAC service provider?

Next, create a marketing persona of the person you would like to attract. It could be more of your existing customers, or it may be slightly different. Think of the ideal customer. In your industry, this can be a wide variety of people, since everyone needs plumbing and HVAC. Your target audience should be local, since you do not want to book calls that are too far away. From there, it’s up to you who would make the best long-term customers.

Don’t forget about referral partners when creating your personas. Referral partners can quickly grow business and spread your company through word of mouth. Include other professionals in your target audience, such as electricians, roofers, landscapers, general contractors, interior designers, property managers, real estate agents, and appliance repairers. Attracting a professional audience base could be beneficial to everyone involved.

Create a Strategy Based on Data

Once you know who your content should be talking to, map out a smart strategy on an editorial calendar to organize your future content. An editorial calendar tool can help you generate blog ideas, create categories for different parts of your marketing, and plan your strategy in advance. This will give you clear-cut stepping stones toward a greater campaign goal. Creating an editorial calendar can feel daunting, but it isn’t when you have the right tools and a solid template.

One of the first steps toward mapping out an effective content strategy is identifying and recording your industry keywords. Keywords are the lifeblood of search engine optimization (SEO), and one of the only ways to attract the right audience – or any audience at all. If your current blog or website isn’t getting a lot of action, it could be a lack of proper keyword planning.

Use a tool such as Google Keyword Planner to easily search for today’s most-searched key terms in your industry. Come with a few words relevant to plumbing and HVAC, enter them into the planner, and start writing down words and phrases to use in the future. The Keyword Planner uses real data from real searchers, so you can rest assured you are building a keyword-based content strategy that will attract the right audience.

Generate Relevant Blog Topics

After you know your keywords and have mapped out a skeleton content strategy, fill it in with stellar blog ideas. Start brainstorming what your target persona wants to read. Use your keywords as jumping-off points for blog ideas. For example, “water heater” is a popular search term in the plumbing industry. You could start with some evergreen content, or blog posts that will stay relevant for a long time. These could include “What Is a Water Heater?” or “How to Buy the Perfect Water Heater.”

Then, start thinking of more current-event topics, such as “Hottest Water Heaters on the Market in 2019,” or “The Latest in Hot Water Heater Technology.” Posts on current events can drum up business actively searching for the latest information on plumbing or HVAC. If you have the resources, assign a team to stay on top of blog topic generation. Putting more than one creative mind together can help you create more poignant blog ideas. You could also consider outsourcing your content creation, for professional SEO, blog posts, and other website content.

Measure Your Success

You’ve identified your audience, created a content calendar, and filled it with exceptional ideas. Now, it’s time to get writing. Again, decide whether you need an in-house team that can stay on top of new content creation daily, or whether you want to outsource this to professionals. Keep up with a regular posting strategy. Research shows posting three blogs per week at a minimum is ideal for lead generation, as long as the content is consistently high quality. If you don’t think your team can keep up with the demands of consistent content, outsource the task.

Finally, measure your success using website data. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) such as click-through rate, bounce rate, average session time, conversion rate, and profitability to see how your content is measuring up. If your customers aren’t lingering long enough on your blog, or failing to make it to the finish line, your content could be the problem. Content Equals Money is a trusted content provider for plumbing and HVAC companies around the country. Contact us to discuss your need for consistent, creative, high-quality content that converts.

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As of 2019, the world of Facebook advertising as we know it has ended. Last year, Mark Zuckerberg announced the Facebook algorithm would be undergoing significant changes. His goal for the platform is to “bring people closer together.” In essence, the new algorithm encourages personal connections by filtering out ads and sponsored content from businesses. That’s right – your content.

You don’t have to panic, however, even if Facebook is one of the key ingredients in your marketing campaign. You can use the new algorithm to your advantage with the right knowledge, tools, and best practices. It is still possible to make branded content visible to target consumers on Facebook if you know how to outsmart the system.

Press Play on Video Content

The new Facebook algorithm prioritizes meaningful interactions. You can find a breakdown of what Facebook now prioritizes in a Google doc posed to Matt Navarra’s Twitter. Navarra is a social media consultant who published the slides from a Facebook webinar. In essence, Facebook will use signals to determine what content to make the most visible. These signals include comments, likes, shares, shares via messenger, and engagement.

One of the best ways to stir up better user engagement on Facebook is with video content. Video ranks high in terms of shareability as part of a marketing campaign. One survey found video content to be 600% more effective as a marketing tool than direct mail and print combined. Online video traffic today accounts for about 80% of all consumer Internet traffic. Videos under two minutes long receive the best user engagement.

Increase your video content on Facebook to cinch more comments and shares, and to tick the boxes on Facebook’s requirement for meaningful interactions. Views and likes are no longer enough to keep your branded content front and center. You need better user engagement to stay in the game, and video is the way forward. Concentrate on your video marketing this year to keep up with the new Facebook algorithm.

Crank Up the Comment Section

[Part of Facebook’s new modus operandi is rewarding certain interactions more than others. While previously the Facebook algorithm considered things like views and likes, it now prioritizes more involved forms of content engagement – including comments. The comment sections on your branded content should be a space that welcomes opinions, tags, emojies, and other interactions. The more commentary your content receives, the easier it will be for Facebook to recognize it as something that promotes meaningful engagements.

How does a company foster comments? Contests and giveaways are a good idea, and always generate more comments and tags than other types of branded content on social medial. Host a small giveaway, in which you will randomly select a winner from the comment section. Ask people to like your page, leave a comment, and tag at least two friends to qualify for the competition. Other ideas for encouraging comments are asking questions at the ends of posts, or posting a hot topic that is sure to get some lively debate in the comment section.

Make It Share-Worthy

Shareability is also a main concern of Facebook’s new algorithm. Social shares and shares on messenger will increase a content’s score, meaning Facebook has determined it to be relevant to users. This will increase the odds of the content appearing in the feed. The first step in getting shares is to get people talking. Post content that is relevant, interesting, and that sparks in-depth conversations. Ask questions, post something unique, and post something that will resonate with thousands of people. Again, video content is shared more often than standard posts.

The more people share your content, the more comments and interactions it will receive. This will lead to a higher score on Facebook’s algorithm, and greater visibility for your branded content. The key is to keep a laser-focus on your customers. Only publish content they will want to read. Create posts that will add some kind of value to your readers’ lives. If the content is only serving you, odds are it will get lost in the Facebook vortex. Your content must serve your customers first and foremost to receive the engagement you need to stay visible.

Let Go of Clickbait

What sparked the Facebook revolution was thousands of social media users complaining about their feeds getting overloaded with advertisements and clickbait articles. Consumers today are not impressed with blatant advertising that interferes with their social time. Facebook has been penalizing content that takes the form of ads since 2017. It especially demotes ads that are disruptive or that have shocking or malicious content. In other words, it expanded its efforts to block low-quality advertisements.

The latest algorithm change filters out ads with even less tolerance. If you want to stay relevant on Facebook, you have to let go of clickbait article titles or advertisements. This means captions such as, “You’ll be SHOCKED at what this product can do for you,” and similar phrasing that is meant solely to capture clicks. Instead, your advertisements should take the form of interesting, relevant, and valuable content for your readers. Do not withhold information, sensationalize headlines, or create content that may come across as spam.

Track Your Score

Facebook does have a few tools to help business owners keep up with the new algorithm. The Ad Relevance Score tool can estimate how your latest post is resonating with your audience. You will receive a rating between 1 and 10, with 1 being the least relevant and 10 the most relevant. You can receive daily estimated results that can track your content’s reach and give you data on clicks, lead generation, page engagement, comments, video views, offer claims, and more.

Your ad relevance score can help you gauge what works and what doesn’t for your target audience. You can then tweak your next post or marketing campaign to better suit your audience’s needs. Facebook Insights can also give you information about the visibility of your content, under “Posts.” If you wish to compare your Facebook posts over time, use a tool such as Brandwatch Analytics to measure how your page has performed over time. Tracking your performance and progress is important to tailor your future strategy and stay on top.

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In content marketing, the tone of any copy – from a tweet to a long form – is as important as any aspect of a brand’s image. It needs to be consistent across all written content, which can be difficult when many disconnected writers are handling the copy for a single company. The task usually falls to editors to right these discrepancies.

“Please revise for tone” or “Edit for style”, however, can be some of the most confusing assignments for the uninitiated editor or writer. This is likely because they require an editor to assume the role of a writer, and vice versa. Adding to the ambiguity are vague client requests asking for a more conversational, friendly, educational, or authoritative tone. Describing writing in such a way can seem subjective, and therefore impossible to truly achieve.

Know the Brand to Know the Tone

A writer or editor needs to understand clients and brands they work for well enough to know what tone revision requests imply. In that regard, there are no short cuts; read other content on their sites and in other media and get an idea for how they want to present themselves.

Reaching that level of familiarity takes time, though, so what can you do right away to turn an informal piece into one of authority, or a strict, factual work into a friendly one? Start with the following checklists for the two most common general tones and styles in content writing.

Revising for a Conversational Tone

Conversational can generally be a synonym for friendly or informal. A request for a conversational revision usually means the client has a certain laid back, approachable, or easy going brand image that the last writer missed. And it happens; the age of personable brands on social media is relatively new, so many writers still automatically assume all clients want serious, professional content.

If you find yourself struggling with a conversational overhaul, consider these simple starting points:

  • Second person. It’s in the name: conversational. Talk to the readers, directly. Change a simple statement of fact to a sentence that includes the reader somehow. “We have 100% organic cotton clothing” is better as “You and your friends will love our 100% organic cotton clothing.”
  • Direct questions. A conversational piece is meant to make readers forget they’re reading and feel like they’re talking to you. Change a simple statement to a question to make readers feel involved, like turning “Our newest product is the lemon blueberry scone” into “Have you tried the new lemon blueberry scone?”
  • Colloquialisms. English has so many colloquialisms, or informal phrases, that it’s actually much harder to write without them than to include them. Just fit in phrases that come to mind as you’re reading the edit. This article is littered with them!
  • Extra information. Now, I am not advocating filler. However, in conversational writing, there is a place for additional, reader-focused information that would otherwise be absent in professional writing. Imagine you are editing a pharmaceutical ad that wants to sound more conversational. Instead of only including facts like “This new drug provides 24-hour relief from allergy symptoms…”, add something to it that brings the reader into the story, like “…so you can enjoy family camping trips once again”. That sentence would have no place in a formal piece of writing, but it effectively creates a conversational tone in less than 10 words.
Revising for an Authoritative Tone

Authoritative writing goes hand in hand with educational, professional, or even technical writing. A client who wants an edit for authoritative tone most likely deals with serious or high-risk businesses, like law or the medical field. There are many resources available on how to write with authority. Editing for an authoritative tone follows the same rules as writing for one, with more emphasis on whittling away unnecessary parts.

  • Complete clarity. Some people associate long, unpronounceable words with highly formal writing, when in fact the opposite is true. Authoritative writing has absolutely no ambiguity – vocabulary is clear, and no words are left to interpretation. If you have to look up a definition or have a flashback to your SATs or GREs while editing, get rid of the word. There is always a clearer, simpler substitute.
  • Firm language. Going with the theme of clarity, another thing to check for is a lack of firm language. Words like should, could, maybe, and may have no place in a truly authoritative piece. As an editor, replace them with more decisive language, like must, need, is, or the appropriate verb. Of course, make sure it makes sense and don’t just do a Find and Replace.
  • Short sentences. A good rule for any type of writing, but especially so with authoritative writing, is one idea per sentence, and one point per paragraph. If a sentence has more than one comma, chances are you can break it into two sentences. This increases the professionalism of your tone and eliminates rambling.
  • No contractions. Contractions seriously detract from the professionalism of a piece of writing, because they represent the way we speak. Write out the words, except for in cases where the formality may be too over the top. Also, edit “his/her” and “and/or” to “his or her”, and usually just an “or” will suffice.
Consider All the Pieces

I can’t emphasize enough how past content from the business or brand are the most important resources to study while editing for tone or conducting a rewrite. However, this list is a great start to quickly checking off what can be a confusing or frustrating task.

Because the seemingly subjective nature of tone edits, an editor may not dedicate meaningful time to the task. But it is extremely important. Marketing specialists and brand managers should take a look at all the content surrounding their businesses and make sure the tone matches across the board. If not, try out some of the above tips and you may notice a difference.

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