I just returned from the Copyblogger Authority/Rainmaker Conference in Denver Colorado. With two days of presentations from some of the top social media, content marketing and blogging experts, the message on content creation was clear. To get your online message out in 2015, you need to…
- Create compelling content
- Find a unique niche
- Be consistent
While this is a message that has been around for a few years, there was some additional strategies to help you get heard in the very crowded marketplace of ideas.
- Long form content with infographics, and long tail keywords ranks well.
- Visual and shareable short form content converts well
- Solving unique problems will get you noticed
- Podcasts are hot
There was also a noticeable drop off in some forms of social sharing, while others have picked up…
- Twitter links now should always include a graphic. Overall use seems to be down
- Facebook has moved to a pay to play ad format. Free content no longer works.
- LinkedIn use/promotion was more noticeable. Their blog content was popular.
- Instagram and Pinterest are hot for visual items, specially among women.
Overall, as a blogger, the conference gave me a much better sense of direction moving forward. While the marketplace is getting noisier than ever, and competition is fierce, certain segments are doing well. The secret it seems, is to face reality, test what works, and be very consistent with whatever strategy you choose.
The two most used words that I heard from almost everyone were Consistency and Sustainability.
You have to be consistent in your delivery, and if you are going to put up a blog, serve up a podcast, or put out a video series, you have to be in it for the long haul.
Here are some slides that really hit home.
This slide from Kevin Delaney at Quartz shows that short form, quickly sharable content ranks well as does long form content that includes research, infographics and helpful links. What isn’t working is the standard mid length 500 to 800 word blog post. They don’t get shared, and they don’t get comments. This is huge for bloggers like myself. It’s time to rethink the standard blog post, and how it is formatted and presented.
At the conference, Joe Pulizzi shared this graphic, showing the additional areas that content creators can diversify in, once your blog/website/content starts producing traffic. For me, moving forward, the areas of book production and public speaking/training are very important.
Start With A Goal in Mind
When thinking of ideas for your blog, it’s best to have a goal in mind. Are you blogging to make money? Maybe you just want to communicate with customers, or introducing a new idea or point of view. Whatever the purpose, you’ll want to write down a strategic goal. Then set a time frame and list out outcomes that you want to achieve.
For me, I want to write a new book over the next year. I’ve decided to blog a lot of the book content out along the way. To help set up blog posts, I’ve done a preliminary outline of the book, and created bullet points on the major topics. From there I listed out chapter titles and subheads. These subheads will be the starting point for individual short and shareable blog posts. They can easily be grouped under a specific topic, which will be a great place to create a long form post or two.
Create a Content Calendar
Once you have created a list or an outline with the specific topics laid out, you can arrange them into a blog content calendar. This is where some strategy comes in. You’ll need to ask yourself a few questions…
- What type of content do I want to create? (articles, podcasts, videos etc.)
- How often do I want to post?
- What days and time should I post each type
Doing a little research here into your analytics and social media shares will help you decide the best time frame for posting.
Currently, looking at my stats, and being realistic about my daily schedule, I’ve set the following guidelines for my upcoming calendar for content creation.
- Write a short, sharable post on Monday, complete with graphics
- Share this post at 8am on Tuesday morning
- Record a similar themed interview podcast on Tuesday or Wednesday
- Share this short form post podcast on Thursday morning
- Share a weekly wrap up post on Saturday
- Share a long form cumulative post every five weeks
Initial time allotted 5 hours per week (This may be wishful thinking, depending on the complexity of the interview/podcast). An additional five to ten hours will be needed to compile the long form post and do a rough draft of the book contents that will be used for publication. Podcast interview outtakes will be used for book sidebars in each chapter to add relevance to the material. I’ll have someone transcribe the interviews for me.
Create Powerful Headlines
Once you have the calendar setup, you can create headlines for the individual posts and podcast episodes. According to Copyblogger, 80% of your visitors will read your headline – but only 20% will go on to finish the article. This clearly shows the need for impactful titles. It will probably be a good idea to create multiple headlines for each one, and then test their effectiveness through A/B testing. Following the extensive research done by Neil Patel, it’s good to use specific numbers and data in the headlines and direct the headline specifically at the audience by using the word “you.”
To add emotion to your headlines, you might want to add some power words such as, Breathtaking, Staggering, Uplifting. Adding a few interesting adjectives such as Effortless, Absolute, or Essential will up your game. By searching on BuzzSumo for posts in your niche, you can see what your competition is using. Here is a current list using the words “goal setting.”
This will give you a better idea how to phrase your headline. Searching out your major keywords will give you a better sense of what words and phrases people are actually using to search with on Google and the major search engines.
Create Numerous Long Tail Keywords
Now that you have your post subjects selected and have seen what your competitors are using as titles, you can create a list of long tail keywords (four or more words together) that you can add throughout your content and possibly in your headline itself. To find your main keywords and the ones your closest competitors are using, let’s take a look at your blog, or one of your competitors, on SEMRush.
For this post, I’ll take a look at one of my favorite personal development blogs, PersonalExcellence.Co by Celes. We can see in the graphic below that she rates really high for some popular “two word” keywords.
Two keyword phrases dominate her top ten list. Bucket list appears 3 times, and the word songs also is on the list multiple times. She could easily expand on these phrases by going to Google and doing a search. Let’s take her top keyword, Bucket List and see what Google comes up with.
The main list pulls up ideas, definition and even burgers. I guess people want the ultimate hamburger before they die. Let’s drill down by searching for bucket list ideas. Here is the updated list.
Now we have a list of some long tail keywords that Celes could easily add to future posts. Let’s check summer bucket list ideas.
Now we are truly getting specific. While each of these longer keywords would not have the search traffic of the shorter ones, they would certainly bring more targeted traffic that would be interested in a specific post.
Now that we see how to search out and compile long tail keywords, we can easily spend a half hour and curate a list of 50 or 60 phrases that we can use in future posts. On a standard length post of 500 to 800 words, you might be able to use long tail variations of a basic keyword two or three times. With an authority post of 2,000 words or more, you’ll have a lot more flexibility. The key is to use these long tail phrases as they would appear in natural speech, or you risk a keyword stuffing penalty from Google.
Putting Content Creation Into a Formula
By creating a blog calendar, researching some niche specific subjects, and compiling a list of long tail variants, you’ll have the basics of an easy to create content system that will easily provide you multiple post ideas for months to come. By blogging and sharing on social media on consistent days and at times when your audience is most active, you’ll see your audience engage more frequently. Using specific headlines that grab a reader’s attention will bring more readers in from social media links, email blasts and blog rss feeds.
The bottom line: Instead of trying to manipulate Google, use keyword research to better understand your audience and potential customers. Write posts that will be useful to them and provide helpful research, infographics, and written documentation.
The Future of Fire Up Today
As a long time blogger, I have definitely seen major changes to the blog landscape over the past two years. Traffic is different, comments are down, and mid length posts just don’t get much engagement anymore. Because of that, my outlook going forward is to maximize the writing time that I have to create more consistent content, delivered in a way that is easily sharable, with useful research and helpful tools included. Over the next few weeks, there will be a number of changes here, from the blog design to the type of content and features of the site. My goal is to actually blog a new book over the next year, with a great part of it containing content and feedback from you, my audience.
This will require a new team and a strategy.
It’s a tad scary looking at the changes.
But it is also really exciting.
Stay tuned as we create…
A new manifesto.