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by Tara West on 13th June 2012
We all know great content is important, but following recent algorithm updates it’s going to become even more important. With more and more businesses turning to content creation as a fundamental part of their online marketing strategy, what can you do to make sure your content really stands out?
Well, one of the things you can do, before you even start writing your content, is to make sure you’ve got really strong keyword research behind it. This video is going to look at briefly all the areas of the content marketing cycle. In particular, it’s going to focus on keyword research. We’re going to look at keyword research in two parts and list some tools that can help you do a really good job of this. All of the tools will be linked to at the end of the video. So don’t worry if you don’t catch them all.
To start with, let’s take a look at a good place to start in the content marketing cycle, which is looking at your objectives. This is thinking about where your content is going to go. Is it for your site? Is it for an external site? What do you want this content to achieve? Is it a direct response action, like filling in a form on your site, or is it something less tangible; like building brand loyalty or building trust with a consumer?
You next need to think about your audience. Content is no longer about creating things just for the robots to get links and to build rankings. You need to really think about who the person you’re writing for is. What are their interests at the moment, and what’s happening in the world that’s topical to them at the moment?
The next stage is keyword research. So I’m going to break away from the cycle for a minute and really focus on this in-depth before I carry on with the other areas. Keyword research is going to help you really make sure your content has got legs before you even write it, so you know you’re not wasting your time.
Finding a really good idea for your content is the first thing you should do. There’s a good set of idea generation tools that you can see here. A good place to start, Experian Hitwise has got lots of cool data on top trending search terms at the moment and search terms that are growing the most at the moment. AOL Hot Searches is another tool that’s really good if your client is in the media or gossip industries. It gives you a lot of ideas of what’s trending at the moment.
BBC News right now is a page on their site that’s dedicated to telling you what’s trending on their site at the moment, so what content people that view their site are sharing the most. You can sort it by hour as well, which is really good, because if you need something that’s really trending right now, and you’re going to create that content immediately, then this is a great place to look.
SEO Gadget have created a really good tool that basically scrapes a load of sources I haven’t mentioned here, like social bookmarking sites, and tells you what content has already been written. So you can look at that and see what’s trending at the moment.
Social is always a good place to look. Google+ recently have got a column in the top right-hand corner of the page now, which tells you what’s trending on there.
Twitter is also a good one not to forget about. Not only when you log into Twitter does it have trends, but there’s a site called Trendsmap that plots these trends by location. That’s really handy if your content campaign is location specific.
If you don’t know what a trend is about and you want to find out more, there’s a tool for that as well called What The Trend. It’s a really good site.
So those are just some ways of coming up with ideas for your content. That’s kind of a top level decision about what you’re going to write about.
The next stage is refining this down to keyword level, which you’re going to use keyword refinement tools for. There’s lots of tools out there that are specifically for keyword research, but I think some of the ones that work particularly well are tools that aren’t actually designed for keyword research, but that provide you with a lot of good data.
Google Analytics used to be the best place to look to start with. Recently, because Google are concerned about user privacy, they’ve taken away a lot of keyword data. If you’ve still got that data, it remains a really good place to start looking.
Not going directly down the path that Google want to send you down by taking away keyword data, but your AdWords search query report is another really good place. This is within AdWords, and it will show you everything that’s triggered your ads recently. You can set the date range, so set it for a recent time period that you want to look over, and filter by things that have had over 100 impressions. This just makes sure they’ve got a really good search demand behind them. Also, look at things that are converting, because if it’s already making you money, then it makes sense to create content around it.
Google Webmaster Tools does a similar thing, but it shows you things that you also just get impressions for, not necessarily clicks. You can see that, within Webmaster Tools, there’s a section for search queries. This is really cool because it shows you something that your site has got the potential to rank for, but maybe doesn’t yet get clicks for.
YouTube have a keyword research tool. It’s made by Google, so I’m a little bit sceptical as to exactly how much data they give you, but it does come up with some good ideas. The other thing to remember is that creating content isn’t just about creating written content. If you’re creating videos, you should really be doing research around your keywords for those videos as well.
Keyword Eye is a really cool tool that presents keyword data visually. If you’re trying to put this in a presentation for a client, that’s a really nice tool for getting a visual representation of what keywords are popular at the moment.
Wordtracker. This tool is really great because the quality of their data is supposed to be a lot stronger than other tools. They actually filter it so that robots and other searches aren’t included within that data. They’ve got a tool called Keyword Questions, which is really handy if you’re doing some kind of content for a guest post or maybe for an FAQ page.
Übersuggest is my favourite tool. It basically searches in Google for all the suggest options that pop up after you type your idea in. It’s the equivalent of typing in your idea, followed by every letter of the alphabet, and scraping all the suggestions that come up.
These tools are really cool because you know those suggestions are being searched for at the moment, whereas with other keyword tools, you might find that the data is a little bit behind. Those are two sets of tools for really honing down and doing your keyword research.
Once you’ve got your idea and you’ve then got an idea of the keywords you want to target within that, you need to check the competition. So type it into Google within speech marks. If it comes up that there are no existing results for that keyword, then you’re onto a winner. If there are existing results, depending on how many there are, you might want to look at finding a long-tail variation to go after or maybe just keep searching through the keyword ideas you’ve come up with until you find one that’s unique.
Now stepping back to the content creation cycle here, we got as far as keyword research. The next step is actually creating the content. These bits, I’m just covering in a really top level way, but some things to remember when you’re writing the content is not to keyword stuff. Don’t try and kind of shoehorn in your anchor text. If it doesn’t work naturally, don’t include it. Don’t be afraid of just having a normal link at the bottom of the page, a branded link say. That’s going to actually hold a lot more value, and it’s not going to seem as forced to the people that are reading your content.
When you’re publishing your content, well, you should already know where you’re going to put that content, but I’d say something really important to remember is to create really strong meta for that content. Even if you’re sending it to a guest blog, so somebody else’s blog that you don’t have control of the meta, send them a snippet that you want to be used in the meta and ask them to use that. They won’t mind. It’s going to save them a job, so I’m sure they won’t worry about it.
Another thing to remember when you’re publishing your content is, if you’re using rel=author markup, you should make sure that’s included. Even if it’s a guest post, you can use rel=author markups still.
The next stage, promoting the content. I think social is probably the strongest way to go about this at the moment. Bookmark it. Use all the different social tools you’ve got access to. The one thing I would say is avoid using automated tools, such as OnlyWire, to do this, because it’s really important to have unique descriptions each time you publish that content. So there’s no point in putting that content out there with loads of links that have got the same description. It doesn’t look natural.
The other thing to do is to remember to promote it over time. Don’t do loads of promotion in one go, because again that won’t look natural.
The next step is evaluating your content. This is going to depend where your content is. If it’s on your site, we’ve got the luxury of analytics. You can look at things like how long users spent on the page. You can look at social shares. Also, things like comments on the page are a really good indication that people are engaging with it.
Social share buttons, if it’s not on your site and the other site has got social sharing buttons, often it will tell you the number of times it’s been shared on there. If the content has been shared on Google+, Google Ripples is a really cool way of looking and seeing who shared it originally and how it’s kind of been passed along.
The most important thing to remember when evaluating your content is to think about whether it achieved what you set out to do. Have you seen an increase in conversions? Have you seen engagement that proves that you’re kind of changing the consumers’ perception of your brand?
That’s the cycle in total. Once you get to that stage and you’re evaluating your content, learn from that and learn from what worked well and maybe what didn’t work so well. Then, obviously, consider it when you kind of start again. Basically, it’s just a continuous cycle, and once you’ve got good ideas of what works, it becomes a lot easier.
You’ve got some tools now. They’ll be listed at the bottom of the post. You’ve got an idea of how to go about your keyword research. So it’s just a case of creating the content.