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Content marketing is not king of trust

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Content marketing is very useful, but rarely for establishing trust and clinching a sale.

“Content is king.” Who could have guessed that those prophetic words by Bill Gates would today be such a well-worn phrase as to be taken for Gospel truth by pretty much everyone in 2014?

And who could have guessed that those same words would have taken on the misguided meaning that content marketing is king, with the 2014 gold rush to anything that can be labeled “content marketing”.

Content marketing can draw customers inDon’t get me wrong – content marketing is a very powerful tool for many businesses in a number of different circumstances. But the mass migration to the “content marketing” buzzword in 2014 will undoubtedly lead many, many businesses to take up something that is of little value to them, and use it for the wring reasons with predictably unsatisfactory results.

The context for the content marketing craze is the realization that authority is what people and now search engines are looking for.

Well, yes, that is true. It always has been. Google always measured website authority and trust; that’s what PageRank was (still is?) all about, as well as numerous measures of topical relevance, the longevity of a domain and how trustworthy are the websites that link to it. The difference now is that Google seems to have come up with a means of measuring an individual’s authority and trust.

Of course, the expertise of an individual is important when judging the value of his or her advice. However, no algorithm can do anything but make a rough guess on that point.

How does “authority” translate into marketing your business? Is content the marketing king? I recently found myself in a discussion with someone who insisted that content marketing is crucial because you have to build trust to make a sale, and expertise is the basis for trust.

The premise of his argument is that:

A) People read articles as part of the sales process.
B) People follow writers until eventually deciding to buy.

I disagreed, at least for most businesses.

Before going any further, let’s agree – and I think we can – that there are many types of businesses and there are many types of customers. One size does not fit all. The question for each business to determine is what methods fit its sales process and target market.

Let’s also put aside the usefulness of content marketing in the funnel, and content that is actually part of the buying process (demos, product descriptions, etc.), well expressed by Tom Shivers. Those are fairly widely useful, and not at all about building a reputation in the hopes that eventually readers will buy.

When you are the product, such as if you are a consultant or a writer or a designer, your expertise is crucial – no question about that. Trust in you as an individual and in your expertise (authority?) is your main selling point.

When the product is ball bearings or sandals, nobody cares about you as an individual. Yes, trust is crucial, but authority is not. What do they care about?

1. The manufacturer of a product – that the product is made well.
2. The retailer – that money handed over will result in the product being delivered.

Read Also: Make a Winning eCommerce Shopping Experience

In Part II of this discussion (next blog post) we will look at how to build the trust and confidence for a product (hint, it’s not by writing articles or designing Infographics) and for a retailer, too.  For now, let’s look at when the product is you – when authority can be part of the trust equation.

Nobody chooses a web designer for their articles.The number of purchases people make that are in fact expertise purchases is substantial. Consider the following services:

  • Legal help.
  • Accounting.
  • Web design.
  • Marketing.
  • Pest control.
  • Real estate agent.
  • Financial adviser.
  • Healthcare practitioner.
  • Trainer or educator.
  • Pet groomer.
  • Home renovator.

In all these cases, the individual’s expertise is crucial to the value one gets from buying, so authority on a subject matter could have a direct link to consumer trust.

One of the premises of the importance of content marketing as a means of building trust and using expertise to make sales is that people will follow you (and perhaps several competitors) for a while before deciding that you are the person to hire.

This might be the case with financial advisers, marketing help and web design. And maybe if you are planning a move in advance, you would do the same thing for a real estate agent. These are services that you might know about well in advance and might start shopping around before you are ready to make the purchase. And you might very well read their articles to get an idea of what their approach is, if you feel qualified to make some kind of judgment.

Or you might just read their sales pages and look at other trust indicators - ones that take less time and attention that reading through articles – that we’ll be discussing in my follow-up post, and maybe fill in a query form and engage in a few questions.

In fact, for web design, marketing and so many other services, a visual gallery of past projects is more likely what customers want to look at. They don’t usually have the patience to read through reams of words that they know they are unqualified to judge. But most people do feel comfortable looking at pictures and deciding if that looks professional and trustworthy.

I am not saying that articles on a website are useless. I am saying to think carefully about what a prospective customer will look for, on what basis they will decide that you have the expertise to deliver, and create the content that will be most effective – and often it is not articles or Infographics.

Who chooses a real estate agent for their articles?What about a lawyer? Chances are that you won’t even look for a lawyer until suddenly you need to hire one. You won’t read their articles for months before deciding to hire one. The same thing with accounting. And with pest control. People will not read tons of articles to decide if you are trustworthy; they will make a very quick decision – they need to find help fast!

In fact, I’ll take this argument one step further. Even if you are a financial planner or a real estate agent or a marketing consultant, what percentage of your prospects do research months in advance, and what percentage wait until the last minute, search on Google or Bing (maybe comparing a few websites), ask friends for recommendations and make a flash decision whom to contact and most likely end up hiring?

Of course, if you are shopping for car parts, clothing, gadgets, etc, no individual’s expertise will factor into the buying process.

The reality is that for the vast majority of businesses – even those based upon the expertise of an individual – informative articles on a topic will not be a major factor in converting visitors into customers.  There are more effective ways to establish trust, as we will discuss in the follow-up article.

That does not mean articles are useless, just not a priority in establishing trust within the sales conversion process.

Nor does that mean that article marketing, video marketing and Infographics are useless, just not as a means of establishing trust with visitors to most websites.

What content marketing does very well is to draw in people who are not yet shopping, people who are gathering information and might not yet know that they need your services – top of the funnel. They seek information, in so doing they find your article, they read, they learn, they realize that maybe they need professional help, they visit your website…and then hopefully you can make the sale.

In my next post I will discuss what, rather than articles and “content marketing”, will establish trust with potential customers once they are on your website.

 


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Blogging Fail – how to tell a spam blog

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

If you have old material, sure, go ahead and recycle it. But it looks like somebody was so eager to spread around their old material, that they didn’t bother recycling – they went straight to reusing it.

(Good thing this is not toilet paper!)

 


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5 Things You Must Know About B2B Content Marketing

Monday, July 18th, 2011

*Guest post by Matt Krautstrunk…

I used to think B2B marketing was B2C’s ugly sister. I was obsessed with consumer facing marketing initiatives and branding strategy. So naturally, I took a job as a B2B content marketer, and I learned that while B2B isn’t sexy, my creative spirit can still shine.

So when I began learning about B2B content marketing, I struggled with finding the secret sauce. I began tracking analytics on our site’s content, figured out what other companies actually wanted to read, and learned the most important rule of them all: content for the sake of content is useless.

A B2B audience isn’t searching for “sexy marketing,” with simple, branded web 2.0 messages (Salesforce is about as close as B2B comes to sexy); the B2B buyer is more sophisticated, looking for informational articles, blogs and anything that may or may not give them incentive to buy.

1. Don’t Sell

If you’ve ever seen Harry Potter, almost no witch or wizard dare speak of Lord Voldemort’s name. Well the same concept applies to content marketing, never mention the word, “buy our product.” It sets off the SPAM filters in the reader’s head, discrediting your content and slandering your name. Even if your goal is to guide purchase decisions with your company, don’t treat your readers like sheep. If they are interested, they will find you.

Of course your strategy differs with the type of content you are marketing (blog, article, whitepaper, buyer guide), but I’m often even scared to plug my company if it’s not in the bio. If you are a content marketer, speak with your voice and credit your own name, but have the company back your opinions and insights. This will help your credibility and the overall effectiveness of your content.

2. Statistics Are Your Backbone

In B2B marketing, there can never be enough statistics. Managers love them, creative writers loathe them, and researchers just… research them. Statistics are your backbone for all arguments you will make in B2B content marketing. Looking for reasons to get into content marketing? According to Junta42, in 2009, content marketing spending comprised of 33% of the total marketing budget and 60% of marketers believe that number will increase. This survey was taken in 2009, and content marketing was on the rise; I’d imagine if we surveyed the scene after Panda we’d see much more emphasis on unique content.

Regardless, you should invest in R&D. You should test out new content within the buying cycle and strategically launch your content like you would launch a new product.

3. Say It Only When You Need To

Sites that post content for the sake of posting something are often filled with low level jargon. It’s rare that your company would ever outsource its blog material, but many companies outsource their on-site page content. Does this make sense? From an SEO standpoint, more content is always better. But the real question is where the line cross between content quality and quantity. Does it serve you better to have 100 pages of optimized, poor content, or 20 pages of well written copy? The answer is, it all depends. If it needs to be said, say it, and be weary of poorly written outsourced content.

4. Don’t Copy Your Competitors

Copying a competitor’s strategy is a dumb idea. Whether you are taking basic ideas and repurposing them or blatantly stealing content (which Google will punish you for); always know that competing with yourself is easier than competing with other. Marketers get rewarded for paving new paths, not following old trails.

5. Plan Your Content for a Channel

Each channel views and interacts with your content in a different way. Short, concise content does well on mobile, where as more drawn out research oriented conclusions register for trade publications. If you are set to produce a white paper for lead generating purposes you will want to plan out where you will be hosting your white paper (longtail niche site or commercial site with universal appeal) and what topic it will cover before you finalize the draft. You don’t want to make the mistake of writing a “VoIP 101” article for a niche community like TMCNet.

Taking a channel approach to your content, shying away from duplicate content, and saying it only when you need to say it, are all instruments to the success of your content marketing. However, remember to keep your sales pitch at the door, and delivering timely, valuable, statistic-backed information to your audience will keep you relevant with the opportunity to go viral.


Matt Krautstrunk is a writer and social media marketer for Resource Nation, a service that provides document management software tips and tools to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

 


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Blogging Right Takes Effort

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

The following is a guest post by RetroSciFiGeek, a natural follow up to my post on the golden rules of guest blogging.

One of the rules, obviously, is that you should prepare a quality post.  I say “obviously”, because I think we can all agree that it should be obvious.  Apparently, though, it is not.  In fact, most offers to guest blog are of very low quality.  When RetroSciFiGeek tweeted about how much effort he puts into each of his own posts I asked him to write about it for us.  I think it is instructive of how much effort goes into a guest post, or any blog post for that matter.

Some people do not get the difference between spam and a quality blog post,. In all my years of blogging I would say that I have come across spam on mainstream sites and I have come across quality posts on sites that are not so popular. Sometimes it is easy to think that a quality blog post comes naturally to the person writing it. A quality blog post usually takes a while to put together for people like myself. In my experience, a really good quality blog post can take hours to finish while a spammy post can either be one of those automatic hit jobs or a post that takes less than five minutes to complete.

When it comes to quality, the blog post needs to be well researched and it also needs to provide the answers to what the reader is looking for. Take for example the posts that I write on retroscifigeek.com. What most people think is that it took me a few minutes to put these posts together.  However, that is far from the truth. On average, one of my posts takes about three hours to complete. You might be thinking in your mind “Whoa!” or “No Way!” but I can assure it most certainly does.

Here is how the whole process breaks down for me:

Watching the Show (1 hour to 2 hours)

When I write about a particular show I have to watch the episode first. Watching episodes on the television or the computer takes more time for me than it does for most folks. The biggest reason is I have to constantly stop the episode so I can take notes on what is transpiring. Sometimes in really intelligently written shows like Battlestar Galactica or a show where there is a lot of techno-babble, I have to watch the show once and then go back through and watch it second time to take the best notes I can. The reason for watching it twice is to make sure I don’t miss anything that is important to the overall story that is being told.

In all honestly, watching the show is the best part about the whole process because I get to enjoy the show for what it is. When going back through a second time, I have already seen it… so taking notes is so much easier. I can concentrate on the little things that I may have missed the first time through. Obviously, watching the episode online or using a DVR makes the job a whole lot easier, but it still time consuming, to say the least.

Writing the Post (40 minutes)

Writing the post is probably my least favorite thing to do, because sometimes when I am watching a show, I just want to get to the next show. Obviously, I don’t want to forget things about the show that I just watched, so I jump right into writing the post. I know I said I take notes about what happens in a show, but I still remember things while I am writing that I did not remember to write down during the note taking process.

Before you can even begin to write about the episode you just watched, you have to structure the post in such a way that will make sense to the reader. Sometimes that means structuring it by character, place or thing. I tend to structure a lot of my posts based on where the most characters are in the show. Once the structure of the episode is laid out, then the writing process begins. I will say that the majority of my posts tend to be between 900 and 1400 words. This all depends on the show that I am watching and also the length of the show. Then there are times when the show itself is one of those filler episodes. When this happens, the posts tend to be shorter because the story is not adding anything to the overall story.

Editing (20 minutes)

Editing the post takes about 20 minutes for the entire piece. I know my grammar is not the strongest in the world, so I use Microsoft Word 2007 for grammar and spelling. Even then I know my grammar could use some work. I always joke about how I got a “C” in English and a “B” in French class. I still cannot figure that one out. Anyway, when I reread the post I find sentences that don’t make sense or words that are missing or words that don’t belong. Editing can make a world of difference and believe me — sometimes I get lazy during this process.

Finding Pictures, Videos and Finishing Up (30 minutes)

At the end of all the other processes, it is now time to find the pictures, videos and other doodads that belong on the post. I pretty much use Paint.net and Google Images for all my picture needs and Youtube.com for all my video needs. Usually I do a search on Google Images and then edit them for size in Paint.net

For videos, it is pretty cut and dry. Go to Youtube.com find the video and then place the code into the post. Now sometimes you will want the video at a different size. All you have to do in that case is to change the size parameters in the video code. Not too hard but it still takes time to do.

This whole process has taken over three hours to do and I have not even touched WordPress yet. I always upload my posts as a draft and then I go into WordPress to make sure the post will look right in a browser. Sometimes, but not all the time, I find little errors that have to be fixed so this makes publishing the post take a little bit longer. Once I have the whole post edited, and the code fixed, I am then able to add tags, categories, and anything else that the post may need.

As you can see writing a quality blog post takes time, research, patience, and the will to do it. It might take a little bit of computer know-how, but WordPress has made things so easy that I believe anyone can do it. In my past, I used to write those spammy looking posts that were less than 200 words. I used to always wonder why I was not getting the money and/or traffic for those posts that I thought I should get. I also used to wonder how sites like Problogger or Techcrunch were able to get so many followers. Now I know! It is a process of writing good quality posts first and then everything else will take care of itself.

 


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The Newest Oldest SEO Tool

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The latest SEO tool is not an automated submission device or some web page analyzing script.  It’s the thesaurus on your desktop.  No thesaurus?  Better get one soon.  Google has just announced that it has made great advancements in reading synonyms.

While even a small child can identify synonyms like pictures/photos, getting a computer program to understand synonyms is enormously difficult, and we’re very proud of the system we’ve developed at Google.

What does this mean for you?

Thesaurus

If you are optimizing for “real estate Kentucky”, you had better not leave off related search words like “homes”, “property”, etc.  These words will be treated as synonyms of “real estate”, and “real estate” will be treated as synonyms of them.  More variations – in other words, more synonyms – looks a lot more like natural language than the forced language of always using the same word just for SEO purposes.

It also means that one website can easier dominate a niche across several searches.  For instance, a page with a great link profile that was ranking very high for “real estate Kentucky” due to an astounding backlink profile, but was ranking at 100 for “Kentucky property”, might suddenly become competitive for “Kentucky property”.  This is just an uneducated hunch, but I suspect that the strength of your backlink profile could help you greatly with searches for synonyms of the terms you are actually optimizing for.

In any case, this is good news for searchers, since their true intent is more likely to be satisfied.  As web marketers, we also want to satisfy them, so make sure you use natural language with a generous use of that thesaurus – both on-page and in the text of your backlinks.

 


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SEO Tips for Affiliates

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Guest post by John Lamerton… 

Affiliate marketing refers to internet based marketing, where a business offers rewards for others directing traffic to their website. This may take a number of different forms, including the omnipresent advertising banner, text links and, in the case of less scrupulous advertisers, spam and adware. The vast majority of affiliate marketing is legitimate and can be extremely lucrative.

Affiliate marketing can also be very successful for the merchants themselves. Indeed the industry is increasingly taking the place of conventional online and offline marketing. Greatly improving a brand`s visibility, offering a reasonable and stable price for marketing, affiliate marketing is relatively easy to establish and appropriate for companies of all sizes.

Search engine optimisation – or SEO – has become a considerable industry in itself, and is the subject of much discussion. There are various techniques available which may maximise a website`s chances of appearing in search engine results, and ensure that those directed to the site are of a good quality. The golden rule is that in the world of SEO content is king. Without a considerable quantity of good quality and relevant content a website can only progress so far. In terms of the structure of this content, the most obvious place to start is in giving consideration to the titles used. Titles should contain important keywords, as they feature highest in search engine results. Use a description of the service being offered, rather than a simple name, otherwise there is a risk of losing traffic.

The body of texts should again focus on important keywords and phrases, ensuring the most likely variations of words or phrases are given hearing. Content should be relatively accessible, with no unnecessary jargon, simple ideas expressed simply, in short sentences and paragraphs. Subheadings often work well, but steer clear of lists where possible. Account for potential spelling mistakes, and use metatags – the code as `seen` by the search engine robots – to its fullest effect to better explain the content and focus of the page in question to the search engines. Also ensure that target phrases are emphasised in bold or strong tags a couple of times and that keyword density for each phrase is around 2-4%. Keep the spread of target phrases on any given page to a clear and narrow focus. Also ensure that you use the heading tags H1 and H2 and that your content is a minimum of 300 words in length – ideally between 500 and 1000 words or so per page.

Links on a website tend to improve rankings, as do links from other websites. In an ideal world these sites should themselves have good rankings with Google, so don`t be afraid to contact relevant sites in order to exchange links. Ideally offer third parties something of value in return for a link and try to link out from and gain links in from content pages rather than links pages or directories as the latter seem to be carrying less and less weight. Most importantly, ensure that your link partners are relevant for your audience and that they are linking to you using your preferred anchor text (search term).

Choose the style of affiliate marketing which is best suited, and don`t assume banner ads will work best. Banners are no longer as effective as they were, and the focus has tended to shift to content, as people increasingly search for quality writing as opposed to garish flashing banners.

Also research the options regarding Pay Per Click (PPC) and other affiliate marketing models, as their suitability varies between industries. With a little investment of time in finding the right affiliates and model for each particular case, affiliate marketing and extending into the world of content affiliates can work for many a business.

 


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Link bait lesson from Matt Cutts

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Matt Cutts, Google’s public face for webmasters and search engine consultants, has shown us how to do link bait.  Oops, I mean, how to do really good quality content.  Yeah, that’s what I meant to say.

Here is the link bait…I mean content:

http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/9-google-mobile-iphone-tips/ 

Note that it is a numbered list, and not a “top 10″ list.  Matt chose a top 9 list, which is just a little offbeat..  Note that there are plenty of illustrations.  And the text and images combined are useful – actually demonstrating how to do something - not just silly stuff (although sometimes I like silly stuff, too).

Matt submitted it to Digg: 

http://digg.com/apple/9_Tips_for_Google_s_New_Voice_Recognition_App_for_iPhone

As of now, it has 42 Diggs. 

Study it hard, becasue even if your content doesn’t get more than one or two Diggs, this is how the Google guru prepares his content, so you can’t go wrong posting something like this on your website. 

There now, Matt just got a link from me as a result of his quality content.  You see?  It works. 

 


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You Need Sucky Links

Monday, November 10th, 2008

I’ve been meaning to blog about your desperate need for sucky links for some time, because I have not seen this aspect of link quality discussed anywhere.

People approach me all the time asking for high-quality links.  Not surprising – who would want low quality links?  But if you ask an SEO consultant to build you only PR6+ links, consider what message that sends to the search engines.

At worst, Google will assume you are buying links to buy PageRank…and we all know how much Google loves link-buying to boost PageRank, don’t we.

At best, the search engines will think your site appeals only to some kind of an elite.  How else would you explain that only high PageRank (high traffic, high-trust, etc.) pages link to your website?  Why do smaller blogs not link there?  How come your website is not included in any normal directories?  Why does this website have no appeal to normal people…and why should we rank it if it has no popular appeal?

No, the search engines won’t ask these questions outright.  But remember that all algorithms are created to simulate what would be normal linking and trust patterns that real people would follow.  Having links only form high quality, top-ranked websites does not look normal.  It’s a giant red flag.

Ironically, the more high-quality links you have, the more poor quality links you need.

CAUTION:
By “poor quality”, I do not mean spammy websites.
I do not mean you should be on pages full of words related to
enhancing body parts and gambling away the kids’ inheritance. 

But I do mean, that you want links form websites with a variety of linking profiles, ones that might be new or might not be running any link-building campaigns, ones that we might consider much less significant.  In short, you want a normal linking pattern.

The ideal way to build links is still the tried and true…

Step one, create awesome content such as useful articles, instructional videos, samples and demos, all the things that are generally called “link bait”.

Step two, publicize this content.  If it really is good, many websites will link to it, including top-rated websites and many smaller less significant websites.  They will do it naturally. So you will have a natural linking pattern.

To answer the obvious question, yes you will surely want to put extra effort into publicizing your content to high-trust, authoritative websites.  But those links are the kind of links that less-significant website owners will follow, read and link to, as well.

So don’t forget to get links form a wide variety of insignificant websites as part of your link-building campaign.  With algorithms designed to simulate something like democracy, votes from “the little guys” count, too.

 


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For SEO, Write More Text

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Over at the High Rankings Forum a couple weeks ago, the following question was asked:

“What’s the general consensus on padding your site pages with paragraphs of extra test just for Google or for better page rank? Does it work? I’ve always believed that web sites should be designed for humans and if done well, the search engines will find it. What’s the prevailing wisdom on this?”

You can see the original post at http://www.highrankings.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=37658 …but you won’t see my response.  It must’ve been one of those times when the Internet crashed on me as I was uploading my response.

So for what it’s worth, here it is.

First, you can place a trillion words on your page and it won’t help your PageRank…unless the words are such that will inspire others to think, “Hey, I want to link to this page!”  That’s what PageRank is all about. 

That being said, I am a big more-is-better believer both for the search engines and for real people.  Why? For search engines: If you replace 300 words with 800 words, and the words remain on-topic and keyword relevant, the following will most likely happen: 

1. Your keywords will show up more often.
2. Variations of your keywords will show up more often, as will synonyms that might not have fit into your shorter text.
3. Many other words will show up that could be part of long-tail searches.
4. It is possible that the amount of information on a page might even play a small role in  rankings.
 

For humans: If you replace 300 words with 800 words, and the words steadily aim to provide increasing explanation/evidence as you scroll down, the following will most likely happen: 

1. Impatient doers will ignore everything below your first “click here” or other call to action, so the added text makes no difference to them.
2. Undecided people, who like your message but are just not sure, will keep reading and you have the chance to convince them.
3. Analytics (people who need lots of info to make a decision) will love you and will be much more likely to follow your call to action.
 

There is no right answer to this, but for what it’s worth…write!  Write!  Write!

 


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BrowseRank Strategies – Quality Content

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Last week, I reported on how BrowseRank goes beyond PageRank to rank websites according to user behavior.  I won’t repeat all that here, but the bottom line is that increasingly you will need to reduce bouncebacks from your website to the search engines.  A fe days ago I offered the first in a series of strategies to employ.  I am generally moving from most obvious to least obvious, so last week I offered tips on how web site design can keep more visitors on your site.

Today, we look at an almost as obvious strategy…

STRATEGY #2 – Write website content that keeps the reader reading.

Nothing in this post is revolutionary, but all of it is necessary.

  1. Make sure the content is relevant.  Stay on theme.
  2. Check and double-check your grammar and spelling.  Do as I say, not as I do!  This is crucial, because if people see a spelling mistake, they will wonder, even subconsciously, if your product also has flaws.  And they might leave to conduct a new search.
  3. Make sure the content is useful.  We run a freelance writer’s service, and you would be amazed (or maybe not) at how many website owners come looking for optimized website content.  Quality?  Well, the writing has to be good (see tip #1 above), but it really doesn’t matter what we write, what message we offer, what information we include.  More important is that it is cheap.  I usually send those people over to GetAFreelancer.com.  They are missing the point.  Useless optimized content offers a very small benefit.  Useful optimized content offers so much more.
  4. Answer all the questions.  This is something that takes a little more thought.  What questions do your visitors have?  Does your content answer them?  Questions could be about you, about your policies, pricing and shipping, and about what you offer.  Those are obvious.  But what about how to use your products?  Where they can be found?  Can they be used in cold Canada or hot Mexico?  What if a person is older, younger, thinner, wider, a newbie, a pro…what about all the possible questions that every niche or subniche of your customers might have.
  5. Expanding on #4, can people easily find shipping info?  For instance, do you ship to Canada?  If I can’t find that out quickly, I won’t stick around.  Is pricing easy to find.  If I am already at the stage where I might be ready to buy, I look for pricing almost immediately.  If I can’t find it, I’ll search somewhere else.  In short, any content that your audience is likely to be searching for needs to be obvious and easy to find.
  6. If your website is an ecommerce site, do you have plenty of descriptions and suggestions of how to use each product?
  7. New and unique non-commercial content is also ideal, because that also engages a visitor.  Just make sure to read tip #1 above before creating an entertaining video or interactive game or photo gallery or top-ten list.  We recently redesigned the website of a steel-bending client, and tracked the click locations.  An amazing number of clicks were on a “samples of our work” link that is just a souped-up, funky slide show we created for them.  Yes, even an industrial website can be cool!
  8. Remember to use small paragraphs.  Huge chunks of text make people’s eyes gloss over and they subconsciously reach for the “back” button.

From a site usefulness perspective, your content needs to first an foremost include the information visitors are searching for, so that they do not bounce right back to the search engine.  Secondly, it needs to engage readers so that they stay on and make a purchase…and at least if they do bounce back to the search engine, it’s after a long visit on your site (signaling that the site was useful for them).

 


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