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55 Content Optimization and Content Marketing Tips for 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
2010 was an interesting year for Search.  We saw Google release their new search index with Caffeine.  Google then proceeded to clean up their index with various algorithm updates including Google MayDay in the Sprng.  Meanwhile in August, Bing began supplying their search results to Yahoo marking the end of Yahoo as their own search engine.  In the fall we saw Google make major changes to their search results page and we saw Google launch initiatives such as Google Instant and Google Instant Preview.   In November we saw the unveiling of Blekko a new search engine using slash tags intended to help clean up the Web.  All of these changes forced some (many?) Webmasters to scratch their heads a little and re-evaluate their web properties and the content they feature on their sites. 

For all of these updates from the search engines directly or indirectly affect one thing and that is content.  Google updated their search index to be able to more efficiently crawl the Web to find all of the great (and not so great) dynamic content that is on the Web.  This includes being able to index real-time results and content from sources such as Twitter, Facebook and news sources.  Try a search for "content marketing" in Google and you will most likely find some real-time search results occupying the search results.  Content is the single biggest asset that you have in the online world.  If you are not producing useful and informative content on a regular basis, you are simply not going to do well in Search, or at least do as well as you should be doing in Search.

How Does Content Marketing Differ in 2011?

Quite honestly it doesn't.  Content marketing means that you have to be in touch with your target audience.  You have to think about the needs of your readers and how to engage those needs with the end result of enabling  win-win where your content addresses the needs of your audience and your audience follows though with a conversion for you.  The one area where content marketing may differ in 2011 is how you prepare for your content development strategy.  You will really need to understand your audience through researching their behaviors, actions and online footprints that they leave. 

Auditing Your Content

Now is a good time to start auditing your content.  Ask yourself these four questions:
  • Is the content unique?
  • Is the content useful?
  • Is the content easy to navigate and find?
  • Is the content engaging?
  • Is your content making use of the best channel for your audience (news feeds, social environments, mobile, video)?
 In 2011, content marketing can mean establishing a competitive advantage in the online space.  Content marketing can assist you in:
  • Increasing search visibility on Google, Yahoo and Bing
  • Improving the distribution of your content
  • Improve user (customer) engagement
  • Serve up content focusing on customer needs resulting in improved leads and sales
  • Gain visibility in social arenas
Content marketing in 2011 means probably working a little harder to prepare, plan and launch your content to your audience.  So what specifically can you do to enhgance and optimize your content in 2011?

55 Content Optimization and Content Marketing Tips

We have compiled an extensive list of tips and practices that you can leverage as part of your content strategy.  It should be noted that these tips and practices are not in any particular order.  Why are we providing these tips for free?  Well chances are you may be already using a number of these practices, furthermore, this list may serve as a reminder for you as you hone your online publishing and content development skills.  We only ask that if you find these tips useful that you "Like" our post by clicking our "Like" button at the end of this post.  With that, let's take a look at our content optimization and content marketing tips that will help you promote your content in 2011.
  1. Develop personas for your target audience - take the time to really get to know who your audience is and what type of content they are looking for.
  2. Set goals for your content - you need to have an understanding of what you want your content to do.  Is it to answer a questions?  Is it to generate leads?  Is it to build a relationship?  Is it to improve your reputation?  Every piece of content that you put out should address a goal or fundamental business objective.
  3. Create unique content - for many, this can be harder than it sounds.  The fact is that simply changing a few words on the page, having a different title and meta description may not be enough to make your content unique.  All of you e-commerce site out there pay attention.  Work to feature unique content.  Although there are many duplicate content myths out there, duplicate content can provide some grief for you from a search engine perspective.
  4. Make your content crawlable - in order for the search engines to place your content in their search results, they have to find it first.  Ensure that your content is able to be crawled and indexed.  While the search engines are getting better they can still have difficulty in crawling and indexing content that is found within frames, Flash or images.
  5. Avoid sharing your content on multiple domains - if you have have multiple sites, do not share the same content across all of those sites.  Work to feature unique content on your web properties.
  6. Understand your content inventory - you should have an idea of the existing content that you have out on the Web.  Know what you have to work with.
  7. Apply SEO best practices - using SEO best practices should be ingrained with your writing team so that any piece of content that goes out is optimized for the Web.  This one should be self explanatory by now.
  8. Monitor your content - in this day and age syndication of content can be a good and bad thing.  People can easily steal your content so monitor your content to ensure that your content remains "your content".
  9. Take advantage of news - leverage press releases for news worthy topics.  These items can include anything from company announcements to industry news.
  10. Develop content style guides - make it easy for your writers to optimize your content for search.  Give them style guides that will educate them on the fundamentals for writing great web content.
  11. Try blogging - while many say that blogging is on its way out and while it is true that there are a high percentage of blogs that are dormant, blogs are great ways to get you content out there quickly.  Maybe you experimented with a blog a few years back.  It might be time to dust off your blog and generate some fresh new content.
  12. Turn your blog posts into a book - if you have spent the time creating great content, perhaps your audience would like to view it in the form of an ebook?  You have already written the content so why not turn it into a book for readers to peruse?
  13. Create a Facebook Page - setting up a Facebook page will give you another touchpoint to engage with your audience.
  14. Use analytics to understand what your most engaging content is - which pages on your site incur the most time spent and lowest bounce rate
  15. Engage with your audience on their blogs - content optimization and content marketing does not mean that the content needs to reside on your site.  Participate by guest blogging or commenting on some of your customer's blogs or forums.  Be honest and not too "salesy" so that the conversation is a meaningful one.
  16. Leverage articles - to discuss timely topics that are of interest to your audience.
  17. Leverage people's questions - I don't know about you, but quite often I find FAQ content extremely helpful.  Ensure that your FAQ section is up to date and answers the questions that people want answered.
  18. Write a mini e-book or white paper - that addresses some of the common concerns of your audience.
  19. Experiment with video - YouTube is the second most popular search engine in North America and while everyone is telling you to do video, you just don't know how to get started.  This is something I hear all of the time.  You know it is not always the most polished video that goes viral.  Video content is another channel that you can tap into to engage with your audience.  If you are not currently using video to communicate your content, make 2011 the year you try video.
  20. Keep videos to three minutes or less - make the video engaging, do not bore your audience.  Use video to answer their questions, demo a product or introduce a new innovation.
  21. Learn how to conduct proper keyword research - keyword research is at the heart of your content.  Optimizing (but not spamming) for keywords will help you with your SEO and search optimization efforts.  The tools that can be used for keyword research continue to evolve.  You should be learning something new about the keywords your desired audience is using every month.  Become familiar with keyword research practices and tools to ensure that your content is not simply marketing jargon but is in the language of your audience.
  22. Write in the language of your audience - avoid using too much industry jargon.  If you customer calls a white widget then you call it a white widget.  Hoo boy do we see some doozies out there with some of the sites that we have worked on in the past.
  23. Develop an editorial plan - this can assist you with content creation, optimization, promotion and monitoring.
  24. Tie in online content with offline - surprise, but not everyone is on the Web 24/7.  Ensure that your messaging is consistent between your offline and online marketing efforts.
  25. Pay attention to your competitor's content - it is always a good idea to check in with your competition by visiting their websites and see what type of content they are putting out there.  If they are doing something that you are not, you might want to consider trying it (not copying it) and improving upon it.
  26. Create timely content - real-time and timely information will always be in demand.  Creating content that is relevant and current will serve you well.  This is why news releases do so well and with Google displaying scrolling real-time search results, the creation of timely content can provide a real boost in the search engines. 
  27. Get social with your content - love them or hate them, Facebook and Twitter are not going away.  The number of people who are using social networks continues to grow.  Facebook has become one of the most visited destinations on the Web.  As a result it may make sense to promote your content there.  Famous micro-blogging service Twitter is also another great way to promote your content and engage in conversation with you target audience.  Developing your content strategy should go hand in hand with developing your SEO and social strategy.
  28. Create content around industry hot topics - from an SEO perspective, if you can be early or "first to market" with some content surrounding an emerging topic in your industry you can generate a lot of links and traffic to your site.
  29. Conduct regular usability testing - the more you can learn about how visitors are interacting with your site, the better.  Are people missing your prime content because of usability issues?  Any time you can gain feedback about your website and your content you should take advantage of it.
  30. Incorporate user generated content into your site - whether it is as simple as a testimonial or a more detailed user review of your products or services, user generated content can be a great way to build trust with your site and more importantly with your brand.
  31. Optimize for local - developing local content is critical for most businesses.  People who are searching for local or geo-appended terms tend to be closer to making a purchase and thus are closer to the end of the buying process.  Optimize your content for local search to take advantage of those looking for local content.
  32. Mobile friendly content can make a difference - ensure that your content can be viewed fully on mobile devices.  If you have a mobile version of your site, you will want to leverage mobile SEO to help enhance your content fo those who will be accessing it via a mobile device.
  33. Promote your content with a smartphone app - no explanation needed as this just makes sense and provides another interception point to engage with your audience.
  34. Create an iPad app to promote your content
  35. People love lists - lists often provide great information often in a prioritized manner.  People tend to interact very with with content within a list.
  36. Use tools such as DIGG to identify hot topics in your industry - depending on your industry, you should look at various resources that you can use to identify potential content topics to include on your website.  See item #26 above.
  37. Create helpful content resources - such as checklists, user guides or "cheat sheets".
  38. Provide comparison data - create content that compares your product/service with others.  If people are are comparison shopping they are going to visit competitor sites, that is unless you are confident in your product/service and can provide a one-stop comparison.  This goes a long way in providing all of the information that your audience is looking for.  How many Pepsi commercials have you seen with reference to Coke?  The reason?  Pepsi is attempting to demonstrate how their product is superior or is preferred over Coke.  Comparison content can help your audience make their decision.  If you have the superior product that meets their needs, you should win their business.
  39. See item #27
  40. Make your content compelling
  41. Clean up duplicate content - see item #3 above.
  42. Prioritize your content in your XML sitemap - this will help tell the search engines which of your pages are more important in reference to your other pages.  While this will not improve your rankings, you can direct the search engines to crawl areas of your site that you want them to frequent.
  43. Hire expert writers - an experienced content writer can make a huge difference as to the content that you put out on your website.
  44. PDFs, Slidedecks, and Content Disks can be appealing - the way you present your content can make a difference as to how your audience digests your information.  People react differently to different types of communication.  Some people prefer in-person conversation, others prefer email or reading printed material.  In fact many people will still print out a report or valuable piece of content to read at their leisure.  Tablet computers are changing this, but you should be evaluating the various options that you can use to communicate your content.
  45. Pay attention to content length - when writing articles, web copy or whitepapers consider the length.  If your content is too short, you may not be able to get your point across.  If your content is too long, you may lose the reader's interest.  Find the sweet spot for your audience.
  46. Do not rip off somebody else's content
  47. See item #45
  48. Optimize images within your content - effective use of images, tables and charts can make your content more engaging.  Be sure to follow image optimization best practices.
  49. Avoid ambiguous copy - be clear and concise with your content.
  50. Avoid having too many outgoing links on a given page - this can disrupt the reader's flow and take them away from the content that you have worked so hard to get them to read.
  51. Make conversion triggers clear and accessible - ideally a user should be one click away from a conversion trigger from any page on your site.  Ensure that your content makes it easy for users to take action.
  52. Keep it simple - the secret to success is simplicity.  The same holds true for your content.  Clear, concise, informative and unique content will always outperform content that is unfocused, uses marketing or industry jargon and is dated.  Knowing what your target audience is looking for can help you create content to serve their needs.  Keeping the messaging simple can ensure that users will find what they are looking for when they are on your site.
  53. Be consistent with your messaging - try not to confuse your site visitors.  Answer their questions and deliver value to them with consistent messaging.
  54. Empower all employees to contribute to content development - content development is not just the responsibility of your marketing or web team.  While you may have experienced content writers, many people within your organization can be great assets when creating content for your web properties.  From blogging and tweeting, to team testimonials, your employees and coworkers are great resources in the creation, promotion and monitoring of your content.
  55. Give the people what the want - consumers are in charge, give them the information that they are looking for.
Content marketing should be a part of your marketing strategy in 2011.  If you are going to create content to market your product,service or brand, you need to provide value.  You do not want to flood the Web with useless or duplicate content.  Your content must provide value.  In order to do this, you need to have clear goals and sufficient resources to deliver the content to your potential customers.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, January 11, 2011  
4 Comments:
  • At 8:54 AM, Anonymous GregC said…

    Thanks, I think. I got all sorts of ideas after reading this article, now my head is swimming.

     
  • At 7:04 PM, Anonymous SEOP Inc. said…

    Really great tips. Thanks for sharing. These will really help me improve my campaigns for the better this new year.

     
  • At 8:12 AM, Blogger Jody said…

    Thnaks for checking us out. we hope you'll make use of these tips is you are not already using them. Content optimization is an important piece of your content development strategy. Having good content is simply not enough. You have to optimize, promote and monitor in order to have the greatest success. Hopefully these tips offer some additional insight on how to go about this.

     
  • At 10:28 PM, Blogger sandinfo said…

    Very useful advice. I’m no expert on SEO, but I think anybody who’s in business online should have a good knowledge of the most important factors.Thanks for sharing about this SEO tips. Will be interested if you write anymore on SEO cos I’m sure I still have heaps to learn. Thanks for sharing with us.

     
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