Long form content leads to high search engine rankings

In a crowded, competitive market for the attention of customers and clients online, long-form content has become a key differentiator for the strategically sophisticated business, as a number of industry experts have detailed. In particular:

Long form content leads to higher search engine rankings, according to a recent article by Robert Mening (@RobMening) in Search Engine Watch.  Kissmetrics Blog details how long form content creates “more proof of your authority and industry expertise”.  And Jayson DeMers (@jaysondemers) explains in Forbes how long form content is helping businesses “stand out in an ever-more-saturated and competitive market”.  

Long form content helps small businesses compete

Mening explained when smaller companies are seeking to compete with larger, more well-funded competitors – blogging can be an equalizer.  He explained how Google prefers “rich and informative content” — which gives the blogger an advantage over a product or service website page.  

Longer content is vital

Longer content of above 1,000 words ranks better as a means by which to capture higher search engine rankings.  Mening cites a study by serpIQ which details how content comprising a minimum of 2,000 words is required to rank in the top 10 positions in Google search.

What is evergreen content – and why is it important?

Companies that blog need more than just lengthy content – they also need comprehensive evergreen content to most effectively impact search engine rankings.  As Mening explains, evergreen content “works over a longer period of time…deliver[ing] traffic, leads, social shares, and can occupy valuable positions in the search rankings for months or even years after [it’s] publish[ed]”.  

Well-written content is key

Mening emphasized that in order to be relevant to users, content must be well written and address the needs of its intended audience.  Kissmetrics blog also explained the importance of excellent writing to the success of long form content:  “Whether you do it in-house or hire a freelancer, quality will make your content shine. That top quality might come at a high price….but readable, expert content is the difference between content that flies and content that flops.”

Higher rankings, more traffic and more social shares

The benefits to publishing longer, more comprehensive content include higher rankings on Google, more traffic, more social shares and links — and a higher recognition as a trusted authority in your niche.  Businesses seeking an advantage in a crowded market would, therefore, be wise to integrate long-form content into their online marketing strategy.

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Essentials of Content Marketing #3: An editorial calendar

While many business have turned to content marketing as a means to attract new clients or customers — some have not adopted one of the most essential elements of these efforts — an editorial calendar.

As Sydney Rayl of Turn the Page Online Marketing explains — successful content marketing “means building a loyal following that trusts your brand for quality content and provides you with repeat business”.  Vitally, as Rayl also explains, “the key to achieving a successful content marketing strategy is to consistently [produce] high-quality content that is focused on what you’re audiences wants to see”.  And the best way to do this, Rayl notes, is by adopting and committing to utilize an editorial calendar.  Garrett Moon of CoSchedule Blog puts it a bit differently:  He explains that “the number on way to get traffic to [a] blog is through the very habits than an editorial calendar [helps] develop:  organization.

A consistent, well-planned strategy is required for content marketing success

As Garrett Moon explains in more depth — content marketing “requires a lot of strategy to be successful”.  While understanding your audience is central to strategy — an editorial calendar is just as important from an implementation standpoint.  Without it — you won’t be producing consistent, thoughtful content that attracts a growing audience.   In addition to helping you plan out consistent posts — and editorial calendar permits you to more easily alternate between topics, track writing and editing assignments, new ideas and deadlines.

As Moon argues, a written editorial calendar also helps to keep a content marketing team accountable — helping to make “each individual more likely to deliver high-quality, relevant content consistently over time.”  That consistency, Moon explains, is vital to building a larger following.

The basic components of an editorial calendar

Creme Blog contains an excellent example of an editorial calendar.  Writing for Creme, Tabita explains how to create an editorial calendar.  Here’s what Creme details:

  • Make a list of topics that will be of interest to your readers.
  • Set the number of articles you’d like to publish on a weekly basis.
  • Determine what type of content you’d like to publish — whether it’s written articles, videos, podcasts, pictures, graphics or others.
  • Set dates certain for producing and publishing each piece of content.
  • Determine which channels you’ll utilize to promote the content: Facebook? Twitter?, etc.
  • Utilize a digital, shareable calendar for dispersed teams and easier collaboration.

Discipline will yield better results

Among the greatest challenges to producing regular, high-quality content that address the needs of your key audiences — is consistency.  An editorial calendar will go a long way to creating a disciplined and hence more successful — content marketing strategy.

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8 reasons why your business should outsource digital marketing

Many business would benefit a great deal from outsourcing some or all of their digital marketing efforts — as these efforts are complicated and require specialized expertise.  A recent series of articles provides some of the best reasons why business should outsource digital marketing.  In preparing this post – I’ve drawn upon the insights of Freya Jones, Irene Sun and Sheldon Payne to create a list of 8 reasons why your business should outsource digital marketing.  Here they are:

  1. You’re hiring experts —  The best digital marketers can identify custom strategies for your business and their unique role within that strategy.  Some digital marketers maintain a successful focus on one or a small number of industries — and will have the track record to prove it.
  2. You’ll receive a valuable outside perspective on your business —  An outside perspective from a digital marketing expert will provide you with a wholly unique and informed perspective on what might best benefit your marketing strategy.   
  3. You’ll receive a continually optimized strategy — A digital marketing expert will be committed to the ongoing, informed optimization of your strategy to achieve best results.  
  4. Less risk —  Digital marketing involves a number of areas of expertise, including strategy,  content marketing, social media engagement, analytics and more.  When you outsource these tasks you won’t be wasting your own time attempting to hire one person who is capable of performing all of these roles capably.
  5. You’ll achieve better results — A digital marketing expert will have the experience of previous successful efforts and be in a position to help guide your strategy and implementation to faster results. 
  6. Your marketing efforts will be seamless — By hiring a digital marketing expert, you’ll ensure your own staff won’t need to worry about this often labor-intensive work. Your digital marketer will have much experience in juggling a wide variety of tasks at all times.
  7. You get to do more with less — As digital marketing utilizes many channels and a variety of areas of expertise – by hiring the right professional for each task — you can turn over large portions of your marketing function to the copywriters, designers, SEO specialists and others integral to creating a fully functioning, sophisticated digital marketing effort.
  8. You get access to the latest technology — Digital marketing utilizes technologies that often change and adapt in the fast-paced digital economy.  An expert in digital marketing will know about these changes and be adapting your marketing efforts to be as up-to-date as possible.

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Essentials of Content Marketing Part #2: Research

This post is the second in a series dedicated to examining the components of content marketing.  In the first post in the series, strategy was examined.  This post discusses the importance of research and identifies some important elements of content marketing research.

As Demian Farnworth has detailed in copyblogger, good research is essential to securing and keeping your audience’s attention.  He identifies 6 key areas you ought to be focused on when researching for content marketing efforts.  Farnworth focused on content marketing as applied to B2C content marketing.  Here I’ll apply Farnworth’s concepts to B2B content marketing — and more specifically — to the marketing of professional and consulting services.

Research Clients

Farnworth explains that research “should begin and end” with the client at the forefront.  It’s very important here to understand that your content research is focused on the needs and desires of your client.  Not your firm.  

Research Competitors

Farnworth explains the importance of researching both direct and indirect competitors.  Direct competitors are other firms competing for the same clients with the same services.  Indirect competitors are firms that compete for the same clients with different services (or products).  They can be more difficult to find.  Wherever your ultimate client might have options where another provider might supplant you – learn about these indirect competitors and seek to create a content strategy that distinguishes your firm as the better choice.

Research your firm and its’ services

It’s vital to know as much about your firm and what services it offers.  To do so Farnworth advises speaking with a variety of professionals within your firm.  In the case of professional services or consulting: Speak with marketing, management, practice group leaders and others key to the development, administration and cultivation of new business.   This will give you a much clearer understanding of firm value propositions and how they might be effectively articulated to existing and prospective clients.

Research how clients learn about your firms’ services

How do clients find your services?  How many different “channels” do clients utilize? Are there new channels you might use?  Or existing channels you might make better use of?  It’s also important to understand how existing clients are communicating with the firm about new and emerging needs.

Research industry trends

It’s important to understand what is happening in your industry before seeking to conduct a content marketing initiative.  Both short and long-term trends should be examined.  Look for the opinions of thought leaders, news reports and social media feeds relevant to the industry.  Subscribe to trade journals, magazines and blogs which discuss topics relevant to your industry.  By being proactive you can develop leading content marketing initiatives which keep you up to date with or ahead of your competitors.

Research international markets and events

Make sure to keep abreast of what is happening in your firm’s international markets.  Are there any current or emerging events which might impact the firm?  This permits the firm to both capitalize on opportunities as well as manage challenges which arise as a result of a changing international commercial environment.  To do so follow major publications – both print, broadcast and new media – which cover your markets in ways relevant to your firm and your clients.

Research will help you stand out among potential clients

Good research affords professional services and consulting firms an opportunity to develop a content marketing initiative that will truly distinguish it in the marketplace.  And this, ultimately, will lead to more long-term client relationships and firm revenue.

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Essentials of Content Marketing Part #1: Strategy

The ascendance of content marketing

More and more companies are now utilizing the internet as a means by which to communicate with key audiences.  And this communication is commonly referred to as content marketing.  Content marketing utilizes a variety of forms of communication — including written, audio and video — often published on a range of social media channels.

Alexander Jutkowitz, vice chairman and chief global strategist at Hill+Knowlton has written about this trend, noting the “historic transformation for brands and companies” centered around content.  In particular, Jutkowitz has detailed how “nine out of ten organizations are now marketing with content”.  “The succes of content marketing”, he explains, “has radicalized the way companies communicate…mark[ing] an important new chapter in the history of business communications: the era of corporate enlightenment.”

With the importance of content’s role in modern marketing, those who might utilize it should first be aware of its’ essentials.  This post is the first in a series dedicated to the Essentials of Content Marketing.  It’s about getting the overall strategy right — before beginning any content marketing effort.

Content strategy tailors consistent messages to specific audiences

British public relations consultants Mackman Group have ably detailed the essentials of content strategy on their website.  As they explain, a content strategy permits an organization to align their business objectives with meeting the needs of their customers via online engagement.  Well thought-out content, as they explain, will be shared and more easily relevant in internet searches.  This amplifies those key messages and ultimately leads to more interest and more customers.  

The first step of a content strategy is research — which allows an organization to understand their key audiences.  Once understood, content can then be consistently crafted to meet the ongoing needs of an audience.  Too, companies should utilize platforms best suited to reaching and engaging with the audience that specific content is created for.  In particular: “[Content] output must be consistently good…regular, original and varied, [while] in keeping with the brand’s overall style.”  This is essential for building and maintaining an audience.  And well planned social media is required to properly promote content and engage with an audience.

Importantly, “customers are not the only audience content engages… members of the media community – [including bloggers and writers] — should not be overlooked”.

A well-planned content strategy will lead to measurable results

Mackman Group concluded that a “clearly set out strategy” means content is easy to implement and measure.  They recommend setting specific objectives which can be analyzed by using social media feedback and analytics from web traffic.  This author would also note that content marketing, properly integrated into outbound business development initiatives, can be credited with a percentage of the sales proceeds firms generate from this unified effort.

While much more is available online about content marketing strategy, this post provides a basic overview of the central importance of strategy to content marketing. More of those elements will be detailed in this series in the future.

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The emerging global virtual workplace: A work in progress

The virtual global workforce is already here.  It just may not seem apparent.  When people log in to their smartphones to check email or apps for messages – call on clients or their office — from locations outside the traditional physical workplace – this is virtual working.  And prospectively, there’s going to be a lot less traditional physical office and a lot more virtual connectivity between employers and employees.  And the employer-employee relationship is fast becoming instead — predominantly clients and flexible talent (or temps or consultants, to use more well-known terms).

In 2007, the iPhone changed the workplace

John Naughton details in The Guardian how 2007 was the year the “world turned upside down” — as that was the year when Apple launched the iPhone.  The iPhone, as Naughton explains, changed fundamentally how people accessed and interacted with the internet.  And that billions more in the next decade will get internet access.  Most people are predicted to spend a majority of their waking time online.

That people can access the internet and work remotely has transformed the industrial-era workplace of employers and employees at a fixed location to purchasers and suppliers of units or subscriptions of work provided often virtually.   And this trend is rapidly moving to create what will be a predominant virtual workforce in the future.

Nearly half the workforce to be virtual by 2020

Alain Dehaze, CEO of Adecco Group detailed recently a prediction “that by 2020, 43% of American workers would be independent contractors.”  And this trend of course is a global one – where talent will connect with need on a project-to-project basis.  These forces have already disrupted numerous industries including hotels (with AirBnB) and taxis (with Uber), to name a few.  Now the world’s labor markets, powered by sophisticated, remote access to the internet via smartphones – are going through the same disruption.  

Dehaze encourages employers and workers to focus less on qualifications and more on learning — and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman — in a recent interview with Charlie Rose — outlined how he sees the new social contract related to employment being centered around a willingness by employees to be lifelong learners.  Dehaze believes employers seeking top talent need to be more relaxed and flexible in their corporate cultures — including a willingness to hire a more mobile, international workforce.

Some ways to adapt to the virtual world of work

Looking forward from the perspective of someone who’s worked virtually in international markets since 2002 (save for one year):

For workers:

  • Those who will increasingly seek work virtually will need to see themselves as primarily solutions providers to businesses.  
  • They’ll need to market themselves and run a profitable solopreneur business – while at the same time adjusting to the fundamentally different life a virtual career represents.  
  • A mastery of a range of tools available to help virtual workers will be required.  
  • Importantly, there will be essentially no traditional social outlets or opportunities provided by employers in a virtual career.  Think about the wide-sweeping ramifications of this over a decade and how it might impact your life.  

For employers:

  • There’s a deep need to understand that virtual talent is already highly motivated and entrepreneurial to be working with you virtually.  
  • Workers will essentially be crowd-sourcing their career and will have an ability to select the employer or client.  
  • If that employer or client is prepared to offer an attractive remuneration package – they’re more likely to retain the emerging elite talent operating as global virtual specialists in their niche.

Resources like Google and FourSquare’s joint Digital Marketing Academy exist to help workers adjust to and thrive in the new global virtual workforce as digital marketers.  Employers should find similar ways to adapt to continue to attract and retain the best talent.  Over time more virtual-friendly resources will emerge for employers and workers alike – as the world becomes increasingly a place where talent and employers are operating in a virtual, global context.

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