Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Refine and Broaden Your Keywords for Better Content Marketing Results

Keywords are what help search engines categorize and index your content. And, it’s what online searchers use to find what they’re looking for.

Yes, search engines go by lots of other things to rank your content, but when it comes to searchers, they use keywords. I know I use them personally and for my writing research all the time.

But, how do you come up with words or phrases that are what people are using to find a particular product or service? Or, more importantly, how do you find keywords for topics that possibly motivated your reader to get involved in sports, health, fitness, exploring, gold mining, history, you get the idea.

What does this do?

It broadens your reach. It catches those potential customers before they know they want or need your product.

Using fitness as an example, Moz, in a Whiteboard Friday clip, says:

You're trying to gather that information, those subjects of interest. Not just fitness, but other things that they touch on. Content that they may have found or liked before learning that they wanted to track their fitness progress. Websites that they frequently visit. People and brands or accounts that they follow on social media. Who are their influencers?

This is super-useful information.

It not only broadens your reach, but it gives you additional keywords to use to reach those people. And, it leads them to what you’re offering, slowly, but surely.

Now, you’ve got those people before a competitor gets them.

As an example of this, suppose I’m offering inbound marketing classes to home businesses. This is a very broad topic, because there are home businesses in just about every industry and niche nowadays.

But, if I target what they need to know to get started in a small or home business, I’ve got a conversation starter that can eventually lead to how will they market their new business.

I might offer information on using small business loans, or creating a corporation, or being self-employed. I could offer home business tax information or how to go about finding small business grants or creating a business plan.

This strategy opens ups a whole new well of topics to write about to get those thinking of starting a home business or those already knee-deep in one to perceive me as an authority and valuable.

It’s about building a relationship that’s perceived as ‘common interests’ or helpful, rather than writing to promote what you’re offering.

It may take longer to bear fruit, but it’s worth the time and effort.

To read the transcript or watch the short video over at Moz, go to:
Hacking Keyword Targeting by Serving Interest-Based Searches

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Your Email’s Lifespan and Other Must-Know Tidbits

Email marketing is a must. It’s the only way to develop a relationship with your audience. It’s like visiting each one of your subscribers daily, once a week, or monthly. You visit however many times you and your subscribers feel is right.

This marketing strategy builds trust.

Now, although you may be sending your emails faithfully, are they being opened?

If not, that relationship becomes that of an acquaintance. You don’t really have the opportunity to build that trust. There’s no personal connection, all because you’re not getting to visit.

The importance of getting your email opened within 24 hours is critical.

According to a study by GetResponse.com (1):

23.8% of emails are opened within the first hour of delivery
After 24 hours, the chance of an email being opened is less than 1%

So, your email’s lifespan is short – it’s fleeting - barely one day.

Knowing this, it’s essential to know the best days and times to send your emails so they have the best chance of seeing the light of day. This should be the focus of your email marketing strategy.

What Hours Work Best

According to Campaign Monitor (2), 53% of emails were opened during work hours, 9AM to 5PM. The peak hours seem to be 9AM to 4PM, with a drop around 1PM (lunchtime).

Thinking about it, I can see that most employees would open their emails during work hours. Most people have too much to do after work to stop and get online after working all day.

Side note: some businesses are creating open floor plans for employees to discourage internet browsing and emailing during work hours.

One important and interesting note: Mobile devices seem to have the opposite relationship. Emails on the iPhone, Android, and other mobile devices are opened on off-work time – going to and from work, lunch hours, breaks, and so on.

Going back to the GetResponse analysis, 4-5PM saw the most email renderings. What I could gather is ‘renderings’ means ‘seen,’ whether glanced at or fully opened.

What Days Work Best

According to most statistics, as of last year, most emails were sent on Wednesday. Saturday saw the least emails sent.

However, in October 2014, GetResponse analyzed over 300 million customers’ emails and found “Tuesday won for best open rates, while Fridays got the highest click-through rate.”

The theory for Friday getting the highest CTR is possibly Friday emails also get read over the weekend.

Is your head spinning yet?

Test the Waters

Okay, it’s easy to see that email marketing needs to be tested. Aside from the fact that these statistics are from last year, every subscriber list is different. This means you need to find the days and times that work best for you.

Maybe you’re marketing to stay-at-home moms. The workday results won’t cut it with this audience. Or, maybe your list is retirees. Or, maybe, maybe, maybe.

As with everything else is marketing, strategies and what works is always changing and always need to be tested for your particular audience.

I’m changed my email sends to Tuesday. Wednesdays were okay, but I want to see if changing the day will make a difference. After Tuesday, I’ll check out Saturday.

Another note: From just about all the analysis going on, Mondays don’t work well because it’s the beginning of the work week and on Fridays people are thinking about the weekend.

Oh, well. That’s why testing is the only way to go.

References:

(1) http://blog.getresponse.com/whats-best-time-day-send-email.html
(2) https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/post/4207/best-time-to-send-email-campaigns-by-device

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Publishing on Social Media Networks - 3 Powerhouse Optimization Tips


Some social networks, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and GooglePlus, have optimization features for shared blog posts. It’s kind of how you’d optimize your blog posts on your website.


Below is a list of 3 social network features to be aware of (and take advantage of):

1. The post title.

Along with creating a keyword effective and powerful blog post title, you need to keep the characters to 40. Even in blog posts, search engines only pick up the first 60 characters of the titles.

What does this mean for you?

Use those characters carefully. According to webinars by Marketing Experiments, make your title a complete thought. Along with this, be sure to include your keyword.

Just as important, you should make the title ‘WIIFM’ (what’s in it for me) effective. To do this, think of the benefit the reader will want. If you’re a fitness writer, your title might be:
Lose Weight - 7 Pounds in Just 7 Days.

Notice the title is a complete thought, it has the WIIFM (look your best), it’s keyword effective, and it under 40 characters.

2. Create a brief, but powerful description.

Along with the post title, you’ll be able to add a description of the article. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ all allow for this additional search engine optimization. Absolutely take advantage of it.

See the example below. You have plenty of room to show your ‘authority’ and help others with your niche ‘words of wisdom.’ And, don’t forget that search engines use descriptions to further categorize content.



S0, how would you write a description for the article in the Google+ share?

The title is, “Accepting Guest Posts and Third-Party Links.”

How about:

(1) Google’s Penguin algorithm takes a long, hard look at your website’s external links. If a link is suspicious or outright spammy, the search engine giant will not be happy with you.

(2) Google’s Penguin algorithm takes a long, hard look at your website’s outbound links. Better watch out.

Either of these two descriptions is fine. The first though, gives more information as to ‘what’ the possible problem is with outgoing links (suspicious or spammy).

In (1) above, there are 150 characters, and I have four keywords (can you find them). Along with this, the description is clear and to the point.

In (2) above, there are only 87 characters, but it’s not as informative as the first. It does though have a ‘warning’ (better watch out).

So, you can see that they both have the potential to grab the reader and help the search engines find and categorize the content.

Note: The article is about accepting third-party links. It focuses on whether to allow any or all links the guest blogger has in the post. These links are considered outbound (or external) links, as they’re going out from your site and in to another site.

3. Use hashtags where applicable.

While you may associate hashtags with Twitter, Tumblr and Google+ also provides this powerful feature.

So, what exactly do hashtags do?

They are basically keywords or tags that are relevant to your article’s topic. They help the social engines on the network you’re posting to identify and categorize your content. Hashtags also allow other users to quickly find posts that are relevant to the topic they’re looking for.

In fact, Twitter has made hashtags a ‘conversation driver.’

Hashtags work. Hashtags are powerful. You should use hashtags where applicable.

Summing it up.

There are lots of other social media publishing optimization strategies, but these are the top three in my opinion. They help boost engagement and help the search engines find, categorize, and use your content.

References:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-improve-your-google-plus-marketing/
http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2327748/5-brilliant-ways-to-use-hashtags-in-social-media-marketing#

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Blogging Frequency and Lead Generation through Inbound Traffic

A new study shows evidence that there is a correlation between lead generation (through inbound traffic) and blogging frequency.

I’ve written about this before, that blogging on a regular basis and as often as you can matters for at least three reasons:

1. Search engines love fresh content. If you’re offering content that is valuable to your audience, it will boost your search rankings.

2. It will increase your authority and credibility.

3. It will increase your website traffic.

Well, there’s another benefit of blogging often: you’ll generate more leads. More potential customers, more potential clients, more connections making their way to your website.

So, just how often do you have to blog?

The obvious answer is as much as you can, more is better. If you can blog daily, great. But, how many people or home/small businesses can realistically do this, especially if you’re a solopreneur? Not many.

Luckily, you don’t have to blog every day to make a difference, to boost your lead generation. It doesn’t take as much as you might think.

In an analysis by Hubspot, of its over 13,000 clients, it was found that overall, “companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published between 0 - 4 monthly posts.” (1)

Keep in mind that this is an overall amount. More specifically, businesses with 1-10 employees saw a significant increase with 11+ blog posts per month.

My Blogging Strategy

I publish new content 3 times per week, averaging about 12 posts per month. For many, this is doable and it’s enough to make a big difference in your visibility, inbound traffic, and opportunities.

To post new content this often is a commitment. It’s a matter of creating a writing schedule, possibly having blogging templates to work with, and keeping up with what’s going on in your industry. Write about what your audience wants to know and what they should know to move forward.

If this will put a glitch in your other work that needs to be done, you can always outsource your content writing.

I know a good content writer. (hee, hee)

B2C Shows More Benefits

Okay, plug aside, what was also interesting about Hubspot’s study is that the benefits of blogging more frequently were more significant with B2C than B2B companies. This was true for inbound traffic and inbound leads.

Posts can Keep Working for You

Another factor relevant to blogging more frequently is you’ll generate more blog posts that will keep working for you.

I have posts from years ago that still get traffic. Obviously, you need to make sure your older posts still offer relevant information and the links still work. If not, simply update them a bit and they’ll be ready to re-share.

Hubspot noted that “companies that had published 401+ blog posts in total got about twice as much traffic as companies that published 301 - 400 blog posts.”

Summing It Up

Blogs are influential. They’re persuasive. Offering valuable content on a regular basis of at least 3 times a week will boost your inbound traffic.

Definitions

Lead generation – the marketing process of motivating interest in what you have to offer in an effort to make sales.

A lead – a business or person who is interested in your product or service, a potential client or customer.

B2B – Businesses that sell to businesses.

B2C – Businesses that sell to consumers.

To read Hubspot’s analysis, go to:
(1) How Often Should Businesses Blog (New Benchmark Data)

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Social Media Publishing - Titles Matter

Last week I talked about creating your own social network posting schedule template. In that article I mentioned having an Excel column for Titles in the template.

I added a ‘Title’ column in my template, so I can tweak the title of a particular post for each time I tweet it within a week, a month, or other.

Why do you want to tweak your titles?

The hard truth is that only a minute fraction of your followers will see a particular post when it’s published. Those who actually see it at a particular time may not be motivated by the title.

If you’re publishing that post twice or more within one day, tweaking the title will give it a better chance of getting clicked, Retweeted, or Favorited. It’s about ‘different strokes for different folks.’

In fact, even if you space out that particular post, if you didn't get good engagement with the first title, try another one.

For example, below are three different titles.

  • How Social Media Marketing Helps a Storefront Business
  • Social Media Marketing Can Help Storefront Businesses – Case Study
  • Build Your Storefront Business with Social Media Marketing – Case Study

Each title will motivate different Twitter users to engage with the post. Words are powerful, but not everyone will be motivated by the same combination of words. Mixing it up broadens your chances.

Take a look at the titles again, is there one that is more enticing than the others? Which one, if any, would motivate you to engage with the post?

What about the titles below?

  • Using Images in Your Content Marketing is a Sure Way to Boost Engagement
  • Different Image Types to Use in Your Content Marketing
  • Content Marketing and Images – How Many Types Do You Use?
  • Content Marketing with a Variety of Image Types
  • Different Image Types to Boost Your Blog Post Engagement
  • Content Marketing – Spice it Up With Different Image Types
  • Spice Up Your Blogging with Different Image Types

Is there one that would motivate you to engagement above the others?

I prefer the last three. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be the last one. It would be the one to best motivate me to take some kind of action.

Testing Titles

In copywriting it’s advised to write lots of different titles for an article. Then decide which works best.

But, with publishing on social networks, you can use them all. Then analyze which gets the most engagement.

I do this and the title really does matter. Remember, the title is the only clue the reader has to what your article is about. You need to get it just right. Or, at least keep trying until you find the one that works best.

Even then though, you’ll still throw a wider net if you vary the title up now and then.

Here’s another example:

  • Self-Talking Yourself Into Being a Better Writer, Better Marketer
  • Tips on Becoming a Better Writer, a Better Marketer

The first title is the one I originally used. But, I got lots more engagement after I switched to the second one.

One other factor to consider when using a social platform that limits word count, is the length of the title. Twitter only allows for 140 characters.

You’ll have to tweak the title until it sounds great and is short enough to allow for the link and hashtag keywords.

One final note on titles: You must make your title relevant to the content. Be sure to give the reader what the title promises, without having to jump through hoops.

While this is a no-brainer, lately, I’ve come across a number of Tweets that have motivating titles, but once on the site, it’s an opt-in landing page. I would have to give my email address to get the information the title promised.

Very disappointing and annoying.

So, think of your readers when crafting your titles.

A note about posting: Try not to use the same content over and over within the same day. I’ll post the same content during the day and then again in the middle of the night, only to reach users in that time zone. But, more than that isn’t a good idea. And, I don’t repost every tweet twice in one day.

People want fresh content.

And, don’t forget to share the relevant titles (posts) of other users.

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This is a 4-week e-class through WOW! Women on Writing and covers: optimizing your website, blogging smart, email marketing, and social media marketing.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Power Words in Your Content Marketing

Power Words to Make Your Promo Succeed


Guest Post by Will Newman


Let me start by apologizing to you.

I'm going to talk to you about something I talked about a couple of years ago. Not the same words, but the same ideas.

Today we're going to chat about verbs … and how the verbs you use can make or break promotional writing.

Let's start by recalling briefly the 4-Ps: Promise-Picture-Proof-Push. You use the "picture" part of the 4-Ps to make your promise and the benefits of the product come alive.

The picture makes your product real to your prospect. With a compelling picture, he sees his life improving, because your words paint a visual image for him.

Let's start by taking a look at three groups of sentences:

1. A brilliant sunset of reds and golds completely covered the sands of Saint Tropez.

2. A brilliant sunset of reds and golds splashed the sands of Saint Tropez.

1. Investors are quickly earning huge profits from these stocks.

2. Investors are reaping huge profits from these stocks.

1. Natural pain relievers move more speedily through your bloodstream than synthetic ones.

2. Natural pain relievers surge through your bloodstream faster than synthetic ones.

Which of the sentences in each of these groups paints a clearer, more visual picture?

Not much doubt, is there? The second sentence of each group is more visual than the first. You can picture what's happening more easily because of one small part of the better sentences …

The verb.

Your seventh grade English teacher told you something like: The verb is "a word that expresses action, being, or state of being." Not very exciting.

I much prefer grammarian Karen Elizabeth Gordon's description. This author of numerous entertaining and offbeat grammar books calls verbs "the heartbeat of a sentence."

Strong verbs bring life to your writing. They paint that all-important picture for your reader.

Not all verbs are created equal …

The verb in the first sentence of each example (I've underlined them for you) is what you might call an "everyday verb." It isn't very lively. The verb in the second sentence of each example sounds and feels more active, more dynamic.

"Covered" just sits there … like an unmoving blanket. When we writers use an everyday verb, we feel forced to use an adverb to add pizzazz to the sentence. I added "completely" in this case.

Change "covered" to "splashed" – a more active, dynamic verb – and you can feel the different colored lights dancing on the sands.

Everybody dreams of "earning huge profits." When I read it, though, I get the image of someone standing in line at the paymaster or sitting at a desk opening the pay envelope.

I tried to enliven the image by adding the adverb "quickly." It helped a little. But not much.

But, look at "reaping." This verb brings to mind amassing piles of golden wheat … or golden cash. No adverb necessary.

Those natural pain relievers? Which would you rather use? Ones that move speedily? Or ones that surge?

The Master of Horror on the horror of weak verbs …

Use everyday verbs, the ones that lack excitement and verve, and you'll find yourself trying to bolster their visual power with adverbs.

A little bit of English review again. Adverbs are the words we attach to verbs to describe how someone is doing something: Run hurriedly … move quickly … yell loudly.

Adverbs often – but not always – end in "-ly." (And, not all -ly words are adverbs.) Our teachers taught us to dress up our writing with these words. Here's what Stephen King says about them …

The adverb is not your friend … With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn't expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across.

Stephen King
On Writing

It's natural to use everyday verbs and adverbs when you write … in your first draft. On one of your editing/rewrite passes, seek out every adverb. When you catch one, try eliminating it.

But don't eliminate it simply by deleting it. Eliminate your need to use an adverb by examining the verb you're using. Is your verb as powerful, as visual, as active as it needs to be?

If you're depending on an adverb to give life to your verb, your verb is weak. Slash it out. Replace it with a strong verb.

In On Writing Stephen King presents this example: "He closed the door firmly" vs. "He slammed the door."

You hear "slam" in your mind's ear. "Closed firmly" barely makes a whimper.

All of them?

Should you abolish all your adverbs?

Not at all. Adverbs have their place. The trick is to make sure you use the strongest verbs you can and shun adverbs where it counts most.

Where's that? In copywriting, it's where you paint your picture of the reader's life as the product will change it. Or, where you describe the product's benefits. Or, where you describe what the reader might lose by ignoring the opportunity you're giving him.

When you need to make the biggest impression, that's when you wear your fanciest clothing … strong, active, visual verbs.

Yours for a successful copywriting career,

Will Newman

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Golden Thread, a free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Website Metrics - 5 Tips to Keep Your Head Above Water

An article I wrote a while ago, Website Ranking - Basic Metrics (1), got a lot of engagement. Interestingly, the engagement came from both sides of the coin – those who like knowing their ranking numbers and those who don’t.

Down with Rankings

On the ‘con’ side of dealing with website rankings, some appreciated the information the article provided, but don’t hold much weight in the ranking system. They judge how they’re doing by the traffic they see coming to their sites and the engagement they get. They kind of feel rankings are too volatile to work with.

I tend to agree with this strategy . . . in part.

While, ranking plays a factor in whether the search engines will use your content as the results of a search query, it’s far from consistent.

One day you’re doing ‘good’ in the rankings and the next your floundering. It can feel like if you hiccup or turn-your-head, your ranking numbers will fluctuate. Sometimes, significantly.

So, while worrying too much about ranking numbers will definitely give you a headache, it may not do much to actually boost your rankings.

Ranking Numbers are Helpful

On the flip side, others felt the ‘website ranking’ information in the article was very helpful because it gave explanations of some of the metrics involved. They felt better equipped to head in the right marketing direction for their sites.

Too many bounces? Now they know why that may be.
Visitors not staying very long? Now they know how to fix this situation.

So, in some instance, knowing your website metrics can be very helpful. As the saying goes, ‘knowledge is power.’

But, the problem arises when you become overly involved with those numbers.

So, what’s a blogger to do?

Here are five tips on keeping your head above the turbulent marketing waters:

1. Take the time to learn the marketing and SEO basics. Know what Google wants and try to appease the giant as best you can.

You don’t have to check your numbers every day or every other day. Once a week should give you a good indication of where you’re heading or where you’re going wrong.

You want to use those ranking numbers as a guideline for some of the metrics, such as visit lengths, bounces, and sites linking in.

Going astray in one or two areas? Adjust how you’re working those areas.

2. Know your audience and give them what they want. And, be sure the information you provide is helpful, is actionable.

People know if you’re earnestly trying to be helpful or just slapping up fluff. It will make a difference in your shares, comments, engagement, and rankings. Therefore, it will matter in your sales.

3. Don’t limit yourself. Use social media marketing as another means of traffic. Be active and helpful (share the posts of others) on the networks you participate in. This motivates other users to do the same for you.

Posts and content you share to sites like Google+ and Twitter are picked up by Google’s search engine and used in its search results. Just be sure to include relevant keywords when you post your content. And, if there’s a post description option, be sure to fill that in also.

There’s also LinkedIn’s Pulse – LinkedIn’s publishing platform. You can broaden your visibility and marketing reach by posting content on this platform also.

4. Test what you’re doing. Does some content bring more traffic and engagement than others? Write more on the topics that work. Do you find a particular social channel works better for you? Then use it more.

I’ve noticed that social media content is currently the heavy hitter. I get more engagement with that type of content than content on blogging and email marketing.

5. Don’t overstress numbers. Do your best. Follow the rules. Write quality content. Share what you write. Share the ‘shareable’ content of others. And, have great products or services to offer.

Writing for your audience is really what it’s about. 

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