Social networks, for example, can be a great way to drive traffic to your blog. But they are not the most dominant force out there. Similarly, advertising on social networks can be effective, but only for the length of time you are running them and shelling out cash. It’s yet another machine which, with rare exceptions, does not compound upon its success. This is why the vast majority of top bloggers, even those spending a lot of time promoting themselves on social media, will tell you that social media is not where they get the majority of their traffic from.
An influencer in this space who knows this all too well, Darren Rowse, runs ProBlogger, a website with a huge following that teaches bloggers how to create and grow their blog. I heard him speak to this issue of — where bloggers get traffic — on his podcast, so I reached out to him to get more detail.
“Most bloggers that I talk with admit to focusing most of their promotional efforts on social media,” he said. “However, when you dig into where most established bloggers get the majority of their actual traffic, the answer I often hear is from Google. It seems to me that many bloggers are overlooking one of the biggest and most lucrative sources of traffic: search. The lure of viral traffic from social is strong but if bloggers put a little bit of time each day into their search strategy instead, I believe they would be far more successful.”
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is really the only traffic-driving force that has the potential to one day cross the bell-curve and work passively in your favor. The chances of someone stumbling across your social post from a year ago and sharing it with their audience, for example, is highly unlikely. And yet year-old blog posts constantly find their way to the top of search queries and continue to bring in big ticket traffic for websites that understand the value of quality content.
For example, according to a study by Hubspot, “66 percent of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority. Similarly, a report by Ascend2 stated, “72 percent of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic.”
So, what are the steps to creating content with an SEO strategy in mind?
1. Start with relevant keywords, and search for the low-hanging fruit.
You need a firm grasp on what people in your industry or niche are searching for in order to create successful content. A few ways you can do this:
Use Google’s keyword planner, or a tool like Ubersuggest.
Search keywords on Quora, and look for what questions people are asking.
Do a few web searches with those related keywords to see who is currently dominating the first two pages of search.
Once you have a sense of what people are searching for surrounding your area of expertise or interest, you can start to cater your content toward the keywords that are not as competitive. For example, ranking on the first page for “social media” is going to be much harder than if you were to try rank for something more targeted like “real estate social media strategy.”
2. Create long-form content for better searchability.
Marketers often talk about how today’s online readers have short attention spans, but I don’t buy this for a minute. Readers don’t hate long form content, they hate bad content. They hate bad content even more when it’s long. If the content is great content, then they want even more of it.
A study by Buzzsumo found that long-form content between 3,000 and 10,000 words ended up performing the best online. In fact, according to the study, “There are 16 times more content with less than 1,000 words than there were content with 2,000+ words.”
What this means is that trying to stand out with short-form content in a world of saturated short-form content is extremely difficult. However, if you come in wielding long-form, keyword specific, valuable content, you are far more likely to rise to the top of the rankings and accumulate more organic search traffic. Just make sure it’s great content people actually want to read.
3. Establish a network of backlinks from other websites.
If understanding the landscape is step one, and creating valuable content is step two, then step three is expanding your reach and having other blogs and websites point to your website via backlinks. According to Hubspot, “Companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links.”
Here are a few ways you can get websites and content publishers to link back to your content:
Reach out via email to relevant content publishers in your space or market, and let them know about your content piece. Ask them if it’s a good fit for their audience, and if so, to feel free to share it.
Create a similar piece of content for another website, and link back to your own content as an added resource or reference.
Quote or otherwise include relevant content creators in your space in your content, and when you publish it, tag them in your social media posts with the article. Do you think they’ll share it? Of course they will!
The key is to get what you’ve created in front of the right people, whether that’s through email outreach, social media or even good old fashioned networking.
With SEO there’s bad news, and there’s good news. The bad news is that SEO is a long-term strategy, which means you’ll need to do a lot of work for a long time to get consistently great results. The good news is that because it’s a long-term strategy, most of your competitors won’t focus on it, and then you win.
Attribution is one of the biggest challenges that marketers have been facing for years. Attribution helps marketers understand what tactics, devices, and channels are helping your prospects turn into customers. Google announced this week Google Attribution. This solution aims to fully understand each touchpoint a user goes through from an initial impression of your brand all the way until he or she becomes a customer. Google Attribution’s goal is to help marketers optimize their budget by showing how certain touchpoints are more influential than others in a customer’s path to purchase.
This new product from Google also integrates your attribution data with AdWords and DoubleClick. This is where Google is going to benefit. When smart marketers know what works, they double down on that channel/tactic and milk it until the channel/tactic is overused and ineffective before moving on. Having attribution data sitting next to your advertising throttle will make it a lot easier for marketers to pump more dollars into ads.
How Analytics Platforms Handle Attribution Today
As you know, a prospect goes through multiple touchpoints with a brand both on site and off site before he or she ends up becoming a customer. Today’s analytics platforms unfairly give credit to either the first touchpoint or the last. HubSpot’s sources report first-touchpoint attribution, whereas Google Analytics by default reports on the last touchpoint.
Though there are arguments for each reporting configuration, the touchpoints in the middle get lost and are given little to no credit in the customer’s path to purchase. This makes it hard for the marketer to show ROI for the investment in the middle touchpoints. Based on this chart below, your display ads and direct visits would get all of the credit to the sale in a first- or last-touch attribution model.
Marketers also have access to other attribution models within certain analytics platforms. These include time decay, customizable, linear, and position-based. There are pros and cons to all of these. Google Attribution uses machine learning to understand your conversion paths and the sequential order for each touchpoint that a prospect hits before becoming a customer. This analysis will give you an attribution model that is custom to your business. This is the golden ticket for marketers.
What Does Google Attribution Mean for Inbound Marketers?
We have yet to see Google’s release of its attribution tools, but given its significant investment in Adometry and continuous efforts incorporating third-party data for offline sales, we expect to see clearer reporting on the middle touchpoints (i.e. assisted interaction) across devices and their influence in the consumer’s path to purchase.
Inbound marketers will be impacted by this through:
More credit for nurturing and middle-funnel activities: Email nurturing or retargeting ads for existing prospects is rarely given much credit from an attribution perspective. We expect to see these channels given more weight and credit in the equation.
More predictive and accurate marketing recommendations: Understanding CPA on a channel basis is key to knowing the ROI of your marketing spend. We hope Google Attribution’s machine-learning algorithms can provide more accurate calculations that enable marketers to forecast outcomes based on channel.
Realigning tactics based on ROI: The inbound playbook stages of attract, convert, close, and delight won’t change, but the tactics and time you spend optimizing each stage will. You may spend 20 percent of your week blogging now; however, with Google Attribution, you may identify that, in reality, you should be spending more of that time promoting content using social ads, optimizing your mid-funnel workflows, or building out a more powerful customer referral program.
We look forward to getting access to Google Attribution later this year and plan to share how this impacts our funnel. What are some types of attribution issues your business faces, and how have you addressed them so far?
Read more at http://www.business2community.com/digital-marketing/google-attribution-huge-analytics-change-coming-way-01854868#K4gdyh7qRgSDqmjb.99
Are your blog posts as good as you want them to be?
Perhaps you don’t seem to get many comments or shares. Or maybe your recent posts are great, but you feel like your older ones are lacking something.
You don’t need to rewrite each post from scratch to improve it. Often, a few small tweaks can make a dramatic difference.
Here are ten of my favorites to try out today:
1: Make the Title Stronger
Some bloggers have the knack of writing powerful titles; others struggle. If you find yourself going with the first title that comes to mind, it might need a bit of work.
Good titles grab attention and make a clear promise to the reader. Compare:
Write Better Blog Posts – not specific enough, doesn’t make it clear what the reader will gain from reading this post
Ten Ways to Improve Your Blog Posts – better, though still a little too generic
Ten Simple Ways to Improve Any Blog Post In Minutes – much more specific, makes a clear promise, appeals to readers who want quick and easy solutions rather than lots of theory or detail!
2: Shorten the Introduction
When you’re drafting a post, it’s easy to let the introduction drag on a bit too long, as you get into the swing of writing. That’s absolutely fine … but you don’t need to leave everything you’ve written in place!
Is your introduction gripping and engaging? Does each sentence draw the reader into your post, maybe by giving them a vivid picture of the problem they want to move away from – or a promise of what’s about to come?
If your introduction seems to ramble a bit, cut it down. Readers rarely need to know exactly where the inspiration for a particular post came from, for instance.
3: Add More Images
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blog post that had too many images! A large image at the start is always a great way to draw the reader’s eye … but you can also use images along the way to break up the text and to add useful information (e.g. screenshots, book covers).
“White space” is all the stuff around the words of your post. It might seem an odd thing to think about when you’re trying to improve the post itself – but white space makes it easier for readers to engage with your actual words.
You can add more white space by:
Writing in short paragraphs.
Using bullet-pointed lists (like this one!)
Including quotes (see #5)
Using subheadings (see #7)
If the text on your blog seems a little cramped or difficult to read in general, consider increasing the font size and/or the spacing between lines. You can do this by switching to a different WordPress theme, by adjusting your theme options (for some premium themes), or by editing your Style.css file.
5: Include a Quote
Quotes from other people can help support the points you’re making in your post. You might use a quote to kick-start your post, or you might include one part-way through.
Normally, quotes are set in “blockquote” formatting, which will often be indented on the left-hand side – creating extra white space.
Have you written about a related topic in the past? Include a link – either part way through your post, where it’s relevant, or at the end of your post in a “Further Reading” or “Next Steps” section. This is a great way to draw people further into your blog – and it can be very handy if you want to cater for readers of different ability levels; you can link to basic information and definitions for beginners and/or to more advanced posts for experienced readers.
Of course, you can link to other people’s posts too: this provides just as much value to your reader and also helps you build relationships with other bloggers (who’ll almost certainly be delighted by the link)!
7: Use Subheadings as Signposts
Like it or not, most readers will not read every word of your carefully crafted post. They’ll scan through for the parts that are most relevant to them.
Subheadings are very helpful for these readers: they “signpost” what’s coming up. If you haven’t used subheadings, or if yours aren’t very clear, go through and make sure that each key section of your post begins with a subheading that explains, briefly, what you’re about to cover. (In this post, for instance, each item in the list begins with a subheading.)
8: Add a Conclusion
Is your post rounded off nicely … or does it just stop? Your conclusion is just as important as your introduction: it ends your post neatly, giving readers a sense of completion – and it also often prompts readers to take action.
If you’re not sure how to finish your post, you could:
Invite comments (“Do you have any tips to add? Leave a comment below!”)
Encourage readers to implement what you’ve written about. (“Try just one of these ideas this week…”)
Offer extra resources (“Click here to download my .pdf on…”)
9: Proofread Carefully
One very simple way to improve your posts is to proofread them – carefully. It’s so easy for typos to sneak in, and your spellchecker won’t necessarily catch all of these. If, like me, you tend to leave [notes to self] when you’re drafting, do make sure you’ve gone through and filled in any blanks!
If you’ve written a particularly important post (perhaps a guest piece for a large blog or a post that you’re going to be sending a lot of traffic to), then it might be worth asking another blogger to help proofread: sometimes, fresh eyes can spot mistakes that you missed.
10: Categorize it Correctly
This might seem like a small thing, but it can make quite a difference to readers: make sure you’ve categorized your post correctly. Definitely avoid using “uncategorized” as a catch-all default – this tends to look haphazard and unprofessional.
Not all blogs use categories as navigational tools, but if your does, it’s particularly important to check that you’ve put your post in a sensible category. That way, people interested in that particular aspect of your topic can easily find past posts that are relevant to them.
Improving your blog posts doesn’t have to mean spending hours rewriting them: a few little tweaks can really make them shine.
You don’t need to do all ten of these for every single post on your blog, of course. Instead, pick one or two that you’re going to try out this week (either when you work on a new post or when sprucing up an old one).
If you’ve got any quick blog post fixes to add to the list, too, drop a comment!
About Ali Luke
Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft and business of writing at Aliventures. She has two free ebooks on blogging, Ten Powerful Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Stronger and Ten Easy Ways to Attract Readers to Your Blog … And Keep Them There : to get your copies of those, justsign up for her weekly e-newsletter (also free!) here.