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How Can You Improve the Quality of Your Content Marketing?

Stephen Logan

by Stephen Logan on 2nd August 2012

Content MarketingFor some, Content Marketing offered a chance of redemption following years of low grade articles and spinning text. However, for others, it is simply a more time-consuming alternative. None of the techniques have changed and the quality remains much the same. However, this is not how you get the most out modern Content Marketing.

So, first of all, how do you know if your Content Marketing isn’t up to scratch?

Essentially, if you’ve not even taken the time to review how you write and distribute content in the last few years, there’s a good chance that you’re no longer hitting the high notes. As mentioned, the world has moved on since the bad old days of mass distribution. The content you create today is reflective of who you are as an individual or the brand you’re representing. Links may still be a primary goal, but that doesn’t mean that you can roll out second rate articles to achieve them.

Where your work ends up can be just as important as how well it is written; in fact one will often be reliant on the other. While you always want to produce content that is of the highest possible standard, you also want to ensure that it is featured on a site that will provide the exposure it deserves. So find the best blogs, news sites and other platforms for your words – don’t hide them away where nobody will find them.

This brings us quite neatly along to guest blogging.

Like me, many of you will probably be sick to the back teeth of hearing people extolling the virtues of guest blogging. Let’s be clear, it’s nothing new and it isn’t particularly scientific. However, done correctly, it can really do the business.

It’s a win-win. The blog owner gets free content, you get a free link. Or at least that’s how it should be. Unfortunately, in the age of manic monetisation, some people are charging guest bloggers for the privilege of having their work featured. Ethically, I don’t see anything wrong with this. You’ve built a blog, you want to make money and somebody approaches you with content – why not charge a small fee?

However, the issue that I do have with this is more of a personal thing. Firstly, if I wanted to write and publish an advertorial, then I’d probably choose to fork out a four figure sum on a national newspaper slot or a major blog (actually, I wouldn’t). Secondly, if your pages are full of adverts, then why should I risk effectively buying a link only to allow an anonymous blog owner to make more money?

This is all part of the risk of low-end guest blogging. If the blog isn’t well-established and publishing regular, high quality content, how do you know if it isn’t going to be hit by the next update or be pulled by the owner? You might pay £100 today only to watch that investment disappear within a matter of months. This is why you have to be realistic about who you target, what you write and whether you’re prepared to pay or not.

Improving the quality of your content

If you want to escape the title of ‘bottom feeder’, then you have to be prepared to do what it takes to match the quality of the top writers in your field. The first step to achieving this is to forget everything you were doing in the past.

The quality of an article can be judged by two distinct factors; the standard of the writing and the level of understanding being demonstrated. Just because you are the leading expert in a field, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can write in flowing prose. Equally, a fantastic wordsmith can craft a compelling argument in almost any area – given enough guidance. So as long as you are able to fulfil one of these qualities, you should already be on course to Content Marketing success – both, of course, would be the dream ticket.

So what does this involve in real terms? Well, as Google are always at pains to point out, they are looking for academic standards to be met, work within that model. Provide citations (links), build unique arguments and develop a unique, persuasive tone. It doesn’t need to be a dissertation, but your content should offer something that can’t be found anywhere else.

The more examples you can include to support your assertions, the more valid they become. Sadly, I’m undermining my own point with this particular post, but it’s important that you don’t become blinded by the fear of linking to other sources. There are plenty of bad habits that need to be left in academic institutions, but this certainly isn’t one of them.

Making your content stand out

Again, we return to the idea of individuality and playing to your strengths. A great writer should be able to spin a decent yarn, just like an expert can provide a completely new insight into their area of expertise – even if it is a path well trodden (like, well, Content Marketing). Find something that nobody else has spoken about or look at new ways of presenting ideas. Write a white paper, create an Infographic, maybe even market your own ebook. We might well be deviating from conventional Content Marketing, but if you’re looking to grow your reputation, then you have to develop your techniques accordingly.

There’s no need to head down the path of controversy, unless it’s something that you truly believe of course. Content Marketing is about attracting attention but also building your reputation. Sensationalist writing or skewing of statistical data should be left to tabloid journalists; remember, you’re not trying to shift newspapers, you’re trying to attract an engaged and responsive audience. Of course, if you can turn them into customers or find another host for future content, then that’s a nice little bonus.

Building a portfolio

From a personal perspective, developing a strong body of work will help to boost your reputation in your area of expertise (or that of your client). However, having quality content in all corners of the Internet provides you with an ongoing source of visits and links.

Each piece of content is essentially its own little hub, sometimes quite literally. Therefore, it has the opportunity to gain strength and rankings in its own right. Just because it’s a few years old, it doesn’t mean that your article is redundant. You can link back to it or share the content at a later date, particularly if it becomes a talking point. Having this portfolio of work to fall back on and reference is extremely important, which is why it’s always worth investing time in developing quality work – not just filling a void.

Developing a recognisable style

Every writer has a style. Some are fairly orthodox, others, less so. By developing your own voice, the content that you produce will always be recognisable. When looking to develop a reputation within a particular industry or field, this will be extremely useful.

Remember, if you don’t want to spend all your time seeking new opportunities, then you have to give people a reason to approach you. Successful Content Marketers, like those that we often feature on the Koozai blog, are able to demonstrate knowledge through their existing work. In many ways, this is exactly what Google is looking for with the rel=”author” tag. The more you write on a particular subject and the number of interactions this generates (followers, shares and comments), the better your chances of earning decent rankings in future (possibly, at least).

You don’t want content to be formulaic, stodgy or limp, so put your back into it. Choose titles to target your audience or that answer common questions, then make sure your article fulfils that promise. Eradicate any silly errors and create a plan of action. Remember, if there is an opportunity to link to previous articles and posts, you can revive their fortunes and pass on more visits/strength at the same time.

Don’t fall into old traps

Article marketing is now dead; forget about it, move on and do something interesting with your copy. Content is, or at least should be an intrinsic part of any online marketing effort. On-site or off, putting words together in a logical formation has never been so valuable. In an online world dominated by social shares and industry notoriety, there is no better way of achieving either.

However, Content Marketing isn’t just about cobbling together articles, copying and pasting a badly worded email and plaguing blog owners. Whatever question is being asked in Online Marketing, harassment is rarely the answer. Create work and share it with the community, if the rewards don’t come instantly, keep looking to improve. The more you do, the better you will become and the more opportunities will become available to you.

But keep looking for those opportunities. Find blogs that accept posts, build your social circles to give you a better chance of being invited or successfully requesting a guest slot. Outreach is now the name of the game. This might all sound like hard work, but if you want the results then you have to be prepared to do a little legwork first. As mentioned at the outset, it’s important to develop the quality of both the content and the host sites. Falling short in one or the other will always limit its impact.

For more information view the services we offer as a Content Marketing Agency.

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Stephen Logan

Stephen Logan

Stephen Logan is our Senior Content Marketer at Koozai. With four years experience writing exclusively for the search engine marketing industry, he has amassed a wealth of industry related knowledge. He will be breaking news stories and contributing compelling SEO related stories.

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7 Comments

  • Kyle 3rd August 2012

    Right on the money, Stephen. I’m glad article marketing is dead…or at least it should be by now. The easier the avenue to write, the worse off the content will be. And besides, if someone does spend, say, 3 hours writing a solid piece of content only to turn around and post it on an article syndicate that’s more than likely ignored by Google, that person’s just wasted 3 hours.

    Hard work comes by learning from those who work harder than you. And quality guest blogs come from unique ideas and a committed outreach plan from there.

    Reply to this comment

  • Kevin Ekmark 9th August 2012

    I’m a fan of guest blogging for sure. I think it does great things for the digital marketing community (to connect with one another) and of course, it benefits your site quality on your readers.

    Keep hustling.

    Reply to this comment

  • daniel 14th August 2012

    Stephen,

    Great post, personally as a site that accepts guest blogs we think it is all about upholding editorial standards. For instance we only accept blogs of 700-1000 words with clear definitions of the subject matter written in a style that anyone can understand.

    A tip for anyone who owns a blog is ensure that your terms for guest blogging are laid down clearly, another thing we ensure is that only one anchor text and one brand link is allowed in any post.

    Reply to this comment

    • Stephen Logan

      Stephen Logan 14th August 2012

      Hi Daniel, thanks for commenting. I absolutely agree that editorial standards are essential for site-owners, regardless of whether you charge for guest blogging opportunities or not. Ultimately it’s your blog, so you have to be comfortable with everything that is published. The quality of a post should really dictate whether or not you accept it; but it’s equally important that the site you’re linking to or requesting a link for is related to your industry and won’t offend your usual readers (adult sites, pharmaceuticals, payday loans may not be widely welcomed for instance).

      The link is absolutely key; otherwise nobody can be sure who you are, which business you’re representing and, just as importantly, there will be no value passed on to your site. People can get carried away with linking to multiple pages on their site, so limiting the number of links is a sensible solution – unless it is genuinely going to add value.

      Reply to this comment

      • daniel 14th August 2012

        Stephen,

        As I am sure your aware we only link of to companies within our industry, sometimes though the issue is the breadth of companies within an industry and niches within niches.

        The problem though is with companies who become to protectionist with regards to corporate blogs. Guest blogs both on your own and other websites is a fantastic way to spread awareness of your topic or subject but more importantly feeds the Google machine with fresh content.

        One thing it might be worth adding is checking duplicate content and ensuring your guest posts both on your own and others sites are unique content!!

        Perhaps it may be worth adding a link to the famous content protection website for your users who are reading this blog..

      • Stephen Logan

        Stephen Logan 14th August 2012

        Very good points Daniel. Copyscape is a great tool for checking whether content is unique before publishing, but equally if you think an article is possibly duplicated, I would always just take a few segments and place them in a Google search (with or without quotation marks) – this will quickly highlight if it has appeared elsewhere. Blog owners need to be vigilant, just as content marketers need to be careful with where their posts appear – it’s very much a two-way street, requiring a lot of trust from someone you may never have met.

        To be honest I can understand why some businesses feel the need to protect their blogs and reserve it solely for in-house copy; however, as you mention, some are missing out on a huge opportunity. After all, it’s not just the extra content that the blog will benefit from; most authors will promote their own work, so it opens the door to whole new audiences and subscribers. I’m sure you have encountered situations with your own blog where you’ve had spikes in traffic from brand new sources as a result of guest blogs being published – I know we have. Again, this is probably one of the benefits of building up a reputation and social presence, from a bloggers point of view, and being careful who you choose to publish (or overlook), from a blog owner’s perspective.

        Guest blogs should do more than just fill a gap, they should serve a purpose. If it meets quality expectations and offers a new perspective (considering those niches within niches that you mention), then blog owners should be doing cartwheels when a guest blogger approaches them. Content is becoming more important with every Google update; it gains rankings in its own right, provides you with something to share and gives you an opportunity to point visitors towards the business side of your online operation. What’s not to like about that?

        Thanks again for your comments Daniel.

  • daniel 14th August 2012

    Stephen,

    I think this is a really important subject and guest blogging etc is a cornerstone of an effective strategy. I have asked my account manager to let you post my recent stats on a viral blog on my website to back up everything you have stated, on condition of not publishing my details as I do not want to make this blog a self promotion for my website or brand..

    Reply to this comment

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