Archive | Blogging

The “Write Good Content” Myth

There’s a common misconception among many business owners and some marketers that SEO has become easier the past couple of years – that “good content” can substitute for, or replace, search engine optimization (SEO).

Content Marketing Myth

Although this idea has been around for sometime, it understandingly gained momentum and traction in late 2013, after Google introduced the Hummingbird algorithm.

It has since been perpetuated by countless blog articles, ads, and social media discussions – like the one below from an Insurance Marketing Google+ community.

Content Marketing Myth

Just to clarify – I’m a strong proponent of using content, particularly blog posts and video, to market your business online – blogging and video are among the best SEO tools available to most small businesses. In addition, Brett’s suggestion of creating content around client questions and interviews is great advice, particularly in light of hummingbird – but it should be as part of an overall SEO strategy, rather than in place of it.

Suggesting otherwise either reveals a limited understanding of SEO – this is not meant to be a criticism of Brett, Joey, Jason or Brian (from above discussion), they are insurance experts trying to help each other market their businesses – or worse, represents an attempt to mislead the reader.

Why “Content” Alone is Not Enough

1. Competition: More businesses are waking up to the importance of content creation for marketing and are producing more content everyday. Assuming that some of your competitors are also capable of creating “good content”, what is going to differentiate you in the eyes of the search engines? It will be ranking signals such as keyword choice and use, meta data, authority signals, and technical indicators (loading speed, mobile friendly, etc) – all part of Search Engine Optimization.

2. Backlinks: While Google has become better at identifying high quality links – disregarding or even penalizing the low quality backlinks that were so abused a few years ago – backlinks are still the most powerful signal of a website’s authority, and “authority” is an important ranking signal.

Proponent’s of the “Good Content” myth counter the backlink argument with these two points:

  1. Good Content will Attract Backlinks: this is Google’s stance, and while a nice thought, it does not reflect the reality of most industries. Within the marketing/SEO industry, many writer’s link out to other content, creating backlink signals for that content. However, how many advisors, realtors, or plumbers, link out to other authors or blogs? Not many, in fact a very small number of people create the majority of links within most industries. Rand Fishkin labeled this group the “linkerati“, and it is important that you identify and attract the attention of this group, or develop your own community, to build/attract backlinks to your content.
  2. Social Media Signals: there is a lot of confusion around social media and SEO. Although social media can be a great marketing tool, one that can indirectly benefit your SEO, social signals (likes, +1s, shares) are not ranking signals, nor are social media links the same as other backlinks. Social media cannot substitute for an SEO strategy.

3. Website vs. Blog Content: Many discussions around SEO and Content focus on blog content. While blog articles can be an important source for broad or long-tail keyword optimization, internal linking, and link building, they are not the only content on your website. The pages on your site, particularly your homepage and Product/Service pages, need to be optimized for search. They usually represent your business/industries broadest and most competitive keywords. For the majority of websites, the homepage is the most authoritative page – relying simply on “good content” is a very risky strategy on these pages.

4. Local SEO: For any business that relies on local foot, phone, or web traffic for revenue, local optimization is a must. Local rankings are highly reliant on very specific signals. Although “good content” can support and amplify these signals, the signals must be in place.

5. Technical SEO: Technical SEO has increased in importance and complexity over the past couple of years. From helping to determine what pages to include in your site, to making sure that site loads quickly and is mobile friendly, to managing user experience, and creating content silos, SEO solves issues that ‘write good content” doesn’t address.

6. Google is amazing, but . . . : Yes, Google is definitely getting better at identifying related keywords, understanding context, and determining a user’s intent, BUT . . . its still far from perfect.

For example, a real estate site that I’m helping currently ranks 14th for Henderson Property Management, but 43rd for Property Management Henderson, two terms that use the exact same 3 words and describe the same service, yet Google doesn’t see them the same. I see this all of the time with Finanical Advisor sites as well. An advisors site might rank high for Financial Advisor, but not for Financial Planner, or visa versa. Google is still dependent on keyword selection and optimization for ranking.

Conclusion

I’m not suggesting every blog article needs to be the result of keyword research, or that your writing should be stuffed with keywords. You may identify and target some specific keywords that you want to rank for, but ultimately your content should address the interests and needs of your readers. In doing so, you will naturally cover the topics that are important to your industry and readers, and address many different keywords that will help draw traffic – but don’t stop there. Developing “good content” is a time consuming task – don’t waste your time or content. Use search engine optimization to amplify your content, website, and products/services to the search engines and your audience – good content alone is not enough.

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The Top 50 Triberr Blogs of 2014

1 300x230In November of 2014, on what was then my WP Subs blog, I announced a Triberr Top 50 blog contest. Bloggers were to be nominated, voted on, reviewed for authority and social engagement, then the Top 10 were to be ranked by our judges – Gini Dietrich, Ana Hoffman, and Marcus Sheridan. The results were to be revealed in early 2015.

Delays due to busy judges, a major brand consolidation that brought me from 3 websites and 2 blogs, down to 1 website and 1 blog, and troubles with our badges, completely derailed the announcement schedule. However, I’m proud to finally announce the Top 50 Triberr blogs of 2014!

Those of you that are part of Triberr know what an amazingly talented and supportive community of bloggers it is. Thanks to all who participated in helping to identify and acknowledge the top members of our community, and congratulations to those 50.

What is Triberr?

1-10

1. Mark Schaefer
2. Ian Cleary
3. Sarah Arrow
4. Michael Brenner
5. Pam Moore
6. Neal Schaffer
7. Rebekah Radice
8. Shelly Kramer
9. Brooke Ballard
10. Michael Kitces

11-25

11. Mandy Kloppers
12. Ileane Smith
13. Carol Lynn Rivera
14. Daniel Newman
15. Mandy Edwards
16. Ryan Biddulph
17. Harleena Singh
18. Dorien Morin van Dam
19. Jessica Ann
20. Alisa Meredith
21. Stacey Corrin
22. Ian Anderson Gray
23. Meghan M. Biro
24. Adrienne Smith
25. Mike Allton

26-50

26. Jim Dougherty
27. Adam Connell
28. Randy Bowden
29. Ted Rubin
30. Kathi Kruse
31. Jennifer G. Hanford
32. Steven Hughes
33. Ashley Faulkes
34. Bryan Kramer
35. Ken Mueller
36. Laura Candler
37. Reginald Chan
38. Donna Merrill
39. Jens-Petter Berget
40. Melissa Stewart
41. Craig McBreen
42. Lilach Bullock
43. Lisa Gerber
44. Matt Crawford
45. Pamela Morse
46. Paul Shapiro
47. Shelley Pringle
48. Tim Bonner
49. Steve Farmsworth
50. Brittany Bullen

The Top 50 will be listed on my website, will receive website badges and an will be invited to join the Triberr Top 50 tribe. I’ll contact winners through Twitter and Triberr with more information.

A special thanks to Dino Dogan and Dan Cristo for all of their work in building Triberr and their support of this project, and to our judges for lending their time and expertise to the contest.

The Triberr Top 100 of 2015

I hope to make this a yearly event and plan to start the process again in November of 2015. Having gone through the process once, there are changes that I’m considering making, but would welcome and appreciate feedback and suggestions from the Triberr community.

  • I think there are enough Triberr members that it could easily be a Top 100 rather than 50
  • maybe future rankings should only reflect the community vote? No judges or technical scores?
  • reveal results in January of 2016

What other suggestions do you have to identify the Top 100, get the word out to more community members, or increase participation?

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3 Audiences Your Writing Should Be Targeting

Businesses that want to appear in the search engine ranking pages for competitive search words, have 3 audiences that they should be writing for.

Photo by Jyrki Salmi - Flickr CC

Photo by Jyrki Salmi – Flickr CC

1. Your reader: This one is always the most important and includes the peronas you identify as being part of your target market. Your content should always be well written and of interest to your readers.

2. Search Engines: If you hope to be found on the search engine results pages, you need to write content related to the products or services you want to be found for, and you need to include keywords – period. However, this does not mean that you need to stuff the keywords into the content, or that your content should sound unnatural. These articles should still be well written and of interest to your target readers.

3. The Linkeratti: This is a phrase that I first learned from Brian Dean at Backlinko, one that he attributed to Rand Fishkin of Moz – it refers to the people (often times, influencers) in your industry that link out to others.

Backlinks (links pointing at your website from another website) are still the currency of authority in the eyes of the search engines – they are hugely important to ranking well in competitive industries and for competitive search terms.

Google’s “story” is that if we write good content, others will find it and link to it, and our “good content” will rise to the top of the search engines. This is a nice story, one that can work for influencers or brands, but doesn’t work very well for small business blogs. Most have us have either experienced, or observed, the small business blogger regularly producing good content but gaining no or little traction.

The problem is, that outside of the technology or marketing industies, very few people practice linking out to content authored by other writers. Those few that do are the “linkeratti” for that industry. It is important that you not only create content that is “link worthy”, but that it gets in front of the right people – the linkeratti.

All of your articles should be well written and of interest to your readers, but not all articles will be targeted for SEO or the linkeratti. However, it is important to understand that those audiences are out there and should be addressed at least occasionally. How often will depend on your industry, goals, writing, and networking abilities.

Have you been reaching your 3 audiences? As always, your comments and questions are welcomed and appreciated.

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