How To Create Evergreen Content: An Actionable Guide To Producing Timeless Blog Posts

No matter what anyone tells you, creating high-quality content is hard.

When outsourced, it costs a lot of money.

Being a niche marketer with limited resources, it makes sense for you to invest in content that brings in traffic and leads for years.

Content with a long life.

Content that’s always relevant.

Content that’s evergreen.

Publishing evergreen content means you invest your hard earned money in content creation once, and reap the rewards for years.

It means you won’t have to spend the rest of your life on a content hamster wheel churning out one article after the other trying (hopelessly) to compete with giant publications that invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in content creation, advertising, and traffic generation every month.

Sounds good?

In this post, I’ll tell you exactly what evergreen content is, how are some of the best marketers using it, and how you can replicate their success by creating timeless content for your niche site.

Keep reading!

 

What You’ll Learn In This Post

The difference between short-term and long-term content
The simple way to come up with timeless content ideas
How to get 100x return from your evergreen content
The various formats of evergreen content you can use

 

What is Evergreen Content?

Evergreen content, as the name suggests, is content that remains fresh, relevant, and useful for a long time irrespective of the seasonal trends and events.

It’s the kind of content that your readers will find useful the day you publish it and even if they refer back to it 12 months later.

In short, you can call it content without an expiry date.

For example, what do you think about the post in the screenshot below?

 

evergreen content belly fat

Source: Men’s Health

 

Losing belly fat is a topic people have been reading about for centuries and will keep searching for it even 2 decades from now.

A classic example of an evergreen topic.

But here’s another one in the screenshot below.

Do you think people will be interested in this topic 2 or 3 years from now?

 

Source: TheBestVPN

 

VPNs are useful for browsing the internet safely without compromising your privacy. Because of the recent privacy concerns about leading apps like Facebook, Twitter, and many others, people are increasingly looking for ways and tools to improve their online security.

I don’t think this topic is going out of demand any time soon.

In fact, here’s what a quick search on Google Trends shows, take a look at the graph for this search…

 

Source: Google Trends

 

Apart from the occasional spikes, the demand for this search term has slowly but surely increased over the years and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

These were two pretty good examples of evergreen content.

But here’s an example of content that’s NOT evergreen, study the headline in the image below…

 

Source: SocialMediaToday

 

I wrote this article about increasing Black Friday Sales for Social Media Today back in Nov, 2015.

Is it relevant today?

No.

Was it relevant even 3 months after getting published?

No.

Can you call it evergreen?

No.

Got it?

Here’s a different example to get you thinking.

Do you think the post below qualifies as evergreen content? Think about it carefully.

 

Source: TheDogPeople

 

It doesn’t.

Why? Because it’s a seasonal topic that only picks up during winters every year.

Look at the screenshot below to find more proof of this, see how the searches peak and then drop…

 

Source: Google Trends

 

As you can see, the search trend for the last 5 years for the term “dog sweaters” shows that the search volume picks up only between October and December.

There’s little interest in the topic for the rest of the year.

Hence, it doesn’t qualify as evergreen content.

Okay, so now that I’ve described this part n detail, let me tell you why niche marketers in particular need evergreen content more than anyone else.

 

Why Is Evergreen Content Important for Your Niche Site

Why do people start niche sites?

What’s the dream they want to achieve?

The screenshots below of some of the discussions in NicheHacks Facebook Mastermind will help you understand this. Look what was said below…

 

 

 

 

The theme across all these discussions is pretty simple.

People want freedom.

They want to work less and earn more.

They want passive income (although nothing’s ever 100% passive)

This is the biggest motivation for most wannabe niche marketers.

You can’t achieve this dream if you have to create content all the time. Which is why evergreen content is so important for you.

Every time you publish an evergreen post, it becomes a long-term business asset that keeps on bringing traffic and leads on autopilot (with a little maintenance of course)

Which is precisely what you want.

Here’s how you can create such content.

 

To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…

 

The Process of Creating Evergreen Content for Your Niche Site

Creating evergreen content is more about mindset than the actual structure of your post.

You’ll create high-quality content as usual but with a long-term and set.

Here’s how you’ll do it.

 

1. Finding Evergreen Content Ideas for Your Blog

To create content that lasts for years, you must stay away from following trending news and instead come up with topics that generate consistent interest in your target audience.

Here are the best ways to find them.

 

Think of the Most Basic Questions of Your Audience

Start from the basics.

Think of the most fundamental questions of your audience.

Ask yourself why people come to your site?

What’s the biggest problem they’re facing?

What answers are they looking for?

What’s the situation they dread the most?

What’s their dream situation?

At this stage, I’d strongly recommend you to read our post about audience research since it has all the tips you need to uncover the real needs of your audience.

Needs that won’t change overnight.

Needs that won’t change for years.

But let me quickly share a few tips here.

The fastest way to find the most basic questions of your audience is Google Search

When you search Google for your main topic keyword, here’s what you see in the results. Look at this screenshot below…

 

Source: Google Search

 

“People also ask” appears just under the first two or three results. It’s a goldmine for anyone looking to understand the fundamental needs of their audience.

When you click on any of these questions and scroll down, this is what happens…

 

 

More questions appear.

And they keep appearing as long as you keep expanding them and scrolling down.

This alone should give you tons of ideas.

And remember, these are all high traffic and evergreen queries which is why Google has shortlisted them.

But that’s not all.

When you scroll down the search page, more ideas are waiting for you.

 

 

These are the top queries related to your main topic.

Look at them, “belly fat diet plan”, “foods that burn belly fat”, “how to lose belly fat naturally”

They’re all evergreen search terms that are not dependant on any events or trends.

People will have the same questions 5 years from now.

You can turn each one into an evergreen post.

If you need more ideas, use this amazing resource of unlimited questions on your topic. Look at all these results…

 

Source: AnswerThePublic

 

The snapshot above shows the search results for the term “lose belly fat” and the tool I’ve used is AnswerThePublic.

It gives hundreds of questions extracted from search engines that people are asking about your topic.

In my opinion, these two resources are enough to help you uncover long-term questions of your audience and turn them into evergreen blog topics.

But before you finalize any topics, validate their evergreen potential.

Let me explain how

 

Find Ideas With a Consistent Search Trend

The easiest way to find if a topic is evergreen or not is, once again, Google.

 

Source: Google Trends

 

Simply use Google Trends to see if there’s consistent interest in a topic.

What are you looking for?

Topics with a consistent search trend
Topics with an upward search trend

 

What are you looking to avoid?

Topics with seasonal search trends
Topics with a downward search trend

 

As the screenshot above shows, weight loss is a topic that people are always interested in.

See what this next screenshot shows…

 

Source: Google Trends

 

As you can see, the topic “marathon training plan” has a pretty consistent search interest.

Let’s look at another one. What do you think about this keyword in the screenshot below…

 

Source: Google Trends

 

Predictably, the searches for “valentines day gifts” only pick up once a year.

But weight loss, the first example I shared, is a pretty broad topic.

To create evergreen content around it, you’d need to use angles that drive consistent traffic.

For example, a post like “How To Lose Belly Fat Before Christmas 2019” will only be relevant for a few months. But a different angle, “6 Steps To Have a Flat Belly in 3 Months” will always be relevant and evergreen.

Okay, so once you find a topic with a consistent search interest, you finally need to see if it has enough traffic for you to target.

That’s pretty easy.

 

Analyze Keyword Search Volume

Log in to any free keyword research tool to see the estimated search volume of your topic keyword

For example, here’s the search volume Ubersuggest shows for the topic “exercises to lose belly fat”, study this closely…

 

Source: Ubersuggest

 

That’s a pretty decent search volume and shows that the topic has enough searchers for you to target.

Remember, we’re not doing keyword research here.

The objective is to verify the search demand for a topic that we’ve already seen is

in line with our audience’s core interest
has a regular Google search trend

This one seems to be right in the sweet spot so we’re good to go.

 

Analyze Your Competitors’ Top Performing Content

Last but not least, you can find evergreen topic ideas by simply having a look at the most popular content of your competitors.

There are three good ways to do that.

Run a Google Search for your topic and see the top ranking posts. See which ones are evergreen and try to find different angles that can help you add more value to that topic.

Or you could find the most frequently shared content your topic using this free tool in the screenshot below…

 

Source: BuzzSumo

 

You could also visit your closest competitors’ blog and look for their most popular posts manually, check out this post from SmartBlogger…

 

Source: Smartblogger

 

Many sites have a Popular Posts section like the one in the screenshot above.

If you look closely, three of the most popular posts in this screenshot have the year “2019” mentioned in the title.

Does that mean they’re not evergreen posts?

No.

The actual content of the posts is going to be valid for 2020, 2021 and even 2025.

They’ve only used the year 2019 to make it look more recent.

Next year, they’ll change it to 2020.

It’s a practice most marketing sites use these days.

Okay so now that you know how to find evergreen topics for your blog, I’m going to share some quick tips for writing high-quality evergreen content in the next section.

 

To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…

 

2. Writing Evergreen Content for Your Blog

Once you’ve identified evergreen topics for your blog, writing the posts is not very different from any other content type.

Your job is to create a useful, actionable, and high-quality piece of content.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

 

Create the Best, Most In-depth Resource on Your Topic

You want your evergreen posts to stay relevant to your audiences for a long time so that they can keep bringing in traffic and leads.

For this, you must ensure that you create the most useful and in-depth resource on your topic.

How do you do that?

First of all, you need to find the top ranking content on your topic.

For example, let’s take the topic “how to run a faster 5k”

Here’s what I found when I searched for this keyword on Google, look at these search results…

 

 

All the articles ranking on the first page for this keyword have a word count of 800 to 1200 words.

To create an evergreen post on this topic that dominates the search results for years, you need to create a post that’s 10x better than anything currently available.

If the longest post on this topic is 1200 words, create an insanely useful guide of 4000 words with much more actionable advice, stats, and expert input.

That’s exactly the strategy Brian Dean has used to dominate the SEO niche which is one of the most competitive on the web.

Look at this resource he published on his blog. The opening line is worth paying attention to…

 

Source: Baclinko

 

There were dozens of high-quality guides about eCommerce SEO before Brian published this.

But he made this post 10x more useful, comprehensive, and actionable than anything published online.

As a result, he dominates most of the searches about eCommerce SEO and already has more than 11,000 social shares for this article.

And he’s likely to stay up there for months (even years)

Keep this example in mind when you’re looking to publish better content than your competitors.

If they’ve written a 2000 word post, you should publish 5000 words of useful content (not fluff)

If they’ve used 2 images, you should use 10

Add more data, more examples, more screenshots, and make it more visually appealing than your competitors’ content.

But there’s something else you need to do as well.

 

Write for a Complete Beginner

Evergreen content can be written for advanced users as well.

But it works the best for complete beginners because they’re the ones who search for such topics the most.

When you start writing a post, think of a complete beginner with basic questions.

Then with every section of your post increase the knowledge level so that by the end of the post your readers graduate to the next level

This HubSpot article is a great example of this, check it out in this screenshot…

 

Source: HubSpot

 

It starts with the very basics of content strategy and takes the readers towards the more advanced practices by the end of the post.

This approach benefits you in a couple of ways.

You’re able to give your readers a complete resource on the topic.
You’re able to rank for a lot of different keywords related to your topic since it covers everything from the basics to the intermediate/advanced concepts.

But there’s one more crucial thing to keep in mind while creating evergreen content.

I explain it in the next section

 

Write on a Narrow Topic for a Specific Audience

The most successful and effective evergreen posts are about very narrow topics that are targeted towards a well-defined audience.

Why?

Because by their very nature, evergreen posts are detailed and in-depth. But you can’t make an article in-depth if it talks vaguely about a dozen unrelated topics.

For example, an article that comprehensively covers one money making method is much better than a post that barely scratches the surface of a dozen monetization methods.

We’re almost done here, but there’s one small thing you need to remember when creating evergreen content.

Let me explain in the next heading.

 

Use Examples and Angles That Are Valid for Years

The language and the examples of your content have a huge impact on its life.

If you frequently use references to short-term events in your content or use angles with a short life, your readers would think your content is outdated.

Using phrases like, “last year” or “this Christmas”, and references to particular events for example “FIFA 2018 World Cup”, “Game of Thrones Finale” etc. can quickly make your content sound outdated even if it has relevant and evergreen information.

For example, see the screenshot below and tell me if this article still looks relevant.

 

Source: Relevance

 

It looks old, right?

The lessons in it might still be valuable, but the moment someone read the title, they’d assume it’s an outdated post.

Compare this with the article in the screenshot below and tell me what you think.

 

Source: YumYumVideos

 

This article is about the best animation companies out there but it doesn’t mention any year.

And even though the language of the title is neutral, the readers would always feel the article is still relevant to them.

So make sure your language isn’t timebound and is valid for years to come.

 

That’s it.

That’s all you need to know to create evergreen content.

But creating content isn’t enough, is it?

This is why in the next section I’ll share some tips on getting the most out of your evergreen content.

 

3. Getting the Most Out of Your Evergreen Content

By definition, evergreen content doesn’t require any maintenance or ongoing work.

But there are a few things you must do to keep driving traffic and leads from it.

Let me explain.

 

Update and Republish Your Content Periodically

Evergreen content doesn’t require any regular updates.

But it is imperative that you review it every few months to see if there’s any potential for improvement.

The topic of your post might be long-term but maybe you could update some of the stats used in it, the examples you’ve cited, the tools you’ve recommended, or the strategies you’ve shared.

It’s not going to be a lot of work, but even small updates can revive your posts and make them much more useful for your audience.

Here at NicheHacks, we regularly review and update our older content for any potential improvements.

And you’d be surprised to know that more often than not, the updated content brings in more traffic than the newer posts.

So don’t underestimate this part.

 

Promote Evergreen Content on Social Media and Q&A Sites

Evergreen content is much easier to promote on social media, Q&A sites, forums, and other relevant platforms.

Why?

Because people keep on asking the same questions again and again on different platforms and you can simply copypaste some of your content in response to their questions and link back to the original post if they’re interested in reading more.

Similarly, you could use a tool like Buffer to automatically share your evergreen content on social media every few days. You will always get engagement on such posts because the interest in those topics never goes away.

For example, a post about “how to start a blog” will get shares even 2-3 years from now.

On the contrary, an article about “Game of Thrones” isn’t likely to draw much interest in a few years because there would be no more hype of that show.

 

Use Internal Links To Keep Content Alive

Internal links can play a key role in not only driving more traffic to your evergreen posts but also in improving their search rankings.

If you notice, we use a lot of internal links in our posts on NicheHacks.

As a result, our older content keeps getting new readers through those internal links.

It keeps our content alive and helps our readers discover useful advice that they might’ve missed if it wasn’t for the internal links in our newer posts.

 

Build Backlinks To Stay on Top of Search

Backlinks play a crucial role in determining a site’s search engine ranking.

In fact, here’s what a study by SEMRush found so spend just a few seconds looking at this graph…

 

Source: SEMRush

 

The study shows that backlinks and the number of referring domains to a URL are among the top 5 ranking factors.

Creating evergreen content is just one part of the equation.

You also need to make sure that your content is fully optimized for search engines and has high authority backlinks pointing to it.

Building backlinks is an ongoing process so you’ll need to keep acquiring links to sustain your rankings.

Thankfully we have a lot of great advice about link building on our site that you’ll really find useful.

 

Create an Evergreen Content Hub on Your Site

And last but not least, a simple way to drive more traffic to your evergreen content is to create “Start Here” page, like we’ve done, that acts as an evergreen content hub.

 

 

It’s a simple resource page that lists all of our evergreen posts organized by topics and categories.

New readers and visitors regularly visit this page to find our best posts listed in an orderly manner.

It’s an easy way to keep your content alive.

You now know more about evergreen content creation than most people.

But have you seen it live on different sites?

Thankfully, there are several ways and formats in which you can create content that lasts for years.

Let me share a few examples in the next section.

 

Examples of Evergreen Content Format

There are dozens of formats marketers across different niches have used to create evergreen content.

The infographic below features some of the most common evergreen content formats. Do any of these content types surprise you?

 

evergreen content formats

Source: Brafton

 

Let me quickly share a few examples of different evergreen content types.

 

List of Tools and Resources

List the most useful tools and resources for your audience.

The Top 10 Marketing Books of All-Time
Enjoy the Best 200+ Internet Marketing Guides on the Web
22 FREE Top-Rated Online Marketing Certifications & Courses To Make You a Better Internet Marketer

 

Ultimate Guides

Write ultimate guides that cover all the fundamentals of your topic

Beginner’s Guide to Juicing – Everything You Need to Get Started
The Ultimate Guide To Running a Marathon

 

How-To Posts and Step by Step Tutorials

Posts that practically guide readers to perform a certain task

How To Easily Make Videos and Start a YouTube Channel
12 Steps to Writing a Well-Researched and High-Quality Blog Post

 

To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…

 

List Posts

Compile timeless tips into one giant list post

9 Easy Ways To Put Your Baby To Sleep Now
23 Little-Known Ways to Impress a Woman
Internet Marketing Glossary – 100+ Concepts Simplified So That Even Your Granny Gets Them

 

History of a Topic

Time travel with your readers and tell them the history of a topic

The Evolution of SEO Trends Over 25 Years
The History of Content Marketing – An Essential Guide

 

Expert Round-Up Posts

People never get tired of expert advice.

10 Retail Experts Share Their #1 Tip for Marketing and Growing Your Store
11 Financial Experts Share The Best Money Advice They’ve Ever Received

 

Case Studies

Case studies are among the most popular content types with the longest lives.

How This Man Lost Almost 400 Pounds in 3 Years
Case Study: How an eCommerce Store Generated 41k Emails From 1 Contest

 

Inspirational Posts

Posts that evoke emotion and motivate people, never get old

How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World
On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas

 

These examples are enough to show you the wide range of formats you can use to create timeless content.

The only thing left now, is for you to take action.

 

Are You Ready To Publish More Evergreen Content?

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be

Evergreen content becomes a business asset every time you publish it.

With every published post, you’ll drive more traffic and more leads with less amount of work.

Content about trending topics and important events has its place, but evergreen content is the foundation on which every successful niche blog is built.

Have a question about this article? Feel free to ask in NicheHacks Facebook Mastermind Group.

The post How To Create Evergreen Content: An Actionable Guide To Producing Timeless Blog Posts appeared first on NicheHacks.

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Wow Your Crowd: The Recipe for Creating Exceptional Content Experiences

Expert Tips for Creating Memorable Experiences Through Content Marketing

Expert Tips for Creating Memorable Experiences Through Content Marketing

Have you been to a stadium concert lately? The big ones touring the country tend to pull out all the stops. It’s not just a singer on stage — they are usually supported by a giant jumbotron as backdrop providing flashy visuals, along with fog machines, laser lights, platforms rising out of the ground, special guest cameos… the works. 

Why is this? Because the bar has been raised. When fans plunk down the big bucks for tickets to see Drake or Carrie Underwood or The Rolling Stones, they expect more than seeing their favorite artists performing on stage. They expect an unforgettable experience that stirs all the senses.

via GIPHY

In content marketing, we see a continuing shift toward delivering full-on experiences. This emerging focus is evident in the steady growth of the term “content experience” in Google Trends over the past 10 years, and is now reaching a fever pitch as technology enables unprecedented sparkle and scintillation, while the shortening attention spans of our audience demand it. 

The theme for this year’s Content Marketing World extravaganza, as well as our interactive preview and the series of blog posts wrapping up today, all lead back to this crucial edict: elevating experiences and wowing the crowd. The good news is that there are endless ways to creatively approach this initiative, and today we’ll draw inspiration from CMWorld speakers who will be taking the stage next week in Cleveland to offer up some memorable experiences of their own.

The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth
3 Expert Tips on Stepping Up the Content Experience
#1 – Create Serial Content
It’s tempting to think about high-caliber content experiences in terms of pageantry and spectacle, but there are many simpler elements at play. Your audience wants content that it can contextualize, compartmentalize, and reliably look forward to. There’s a reason that almost every big Hollywood release these days is a spin-off, sequel, or reboot — viewers thrive on familiarity. For this reason, Jay Baer of Convince and Convert says serial content, steeped in quality and consistency, is a must.

“This aids in recognition and findability and taps into the truism that multiple exposures are often needed to drive behavior,” Jay explains. And he says another key is making this serial content as easy as possible for your audience to get to.

[bctt tweet=”Ask yourself how your information and insights can be accessed with a minimum amount of effort or hassle for the consumer. – @jaybaer on minimizing content friction #CMWorld ” username=”toprank”]

There are any number of ways to serialize your content. Maybe it’s breaking a big idea up into a series of blog posts, dissecting various components. Maybe it’s a run of videos mirroring the format of a TV season. And of course, podcasts are gaining fast popularity as an inherently serial form of content. 

At TopRank Marketing, we’re all about serial content. You can reliably find our Digital Marketing News roundups (both blog and video) every Friday. Recently we’ve been running a Trust Factors series, examining the vital topic of trust in marketing from various angles. And in fact, you’re reading the final installment of a four-part series right now! Check out the previous “Wow Your Crowd” entries below: 

Wow Your Crowd: How Content Planning Sets the Stage for Unforgettable Experiences
Wow Your Crowd: How Content Marketers Can Create Powerful Audience Connections
Wow Your Crowd: How Influencers and Media Integrations Can Add Pizzazz to Your Content Act

#2 – Use Tools and Technology Thoughtfully
There are so many eye-catching technologies out there offering new ways to package and deliver content. But don’t be blinded by bells and whistles. Add-ons like interactivity only make sense if they actually serve a meaningful purpose. 

“The key for brands is to not just pursue these programs for the sake of doing it, or to ‘be cool,’ but to have a clear purpose and value-add,” says SAP’s Amisha Gandhi

For example, when scrolling through the Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth experience created by TopRank Marketing and Content Marketing Institute, you’ll be able to play games like shoot-the-duck and bop-the-clown. But these interactive gamification elements weren’t just thrown in for the heck of it; they’re meant to play up the midway/carnival vibes of the asset (and this year’s CMWorld conference).

[bctt tweet=”A memorable experience goes a long way. – @AmishaGandhi on raising the bar for content experiences #CMWorld” username=”toprank”]
#3 – Measure and Optimize
The trouble with all this talk about content experiences is that they can feel difficult to quantify and report on. I mean, how do you measure audience delight? What is the ROI of someone grinning with glee while bopping clowns on their browser?

To some degree, the benefits of a great experience are intangible, at least in the short-term. But we can still measure the impact by connecting consumption metrics with bottom-line results. 

“I think of content marketing metrics in two dimensions: Business outcomes (how content is contributing to the business) and engagement metrics (a proxy for how much the target audience likes the content),” says Chris White of Capital One. 

He breaks them down like this: 

Engagement Metrics: 

Views
Total view time
View-through-rate
Percent of target audience (in relation to total viewers)
Comments
Likes/Reactions
Scroll depth
Pages-per-session
Bounce rate 
Time-on-site

Business Outcomes

Brand awareness/consideration
Remarketing audience size
Web traffic
Conversions
Customer behavior (e.g., retention, adoption rate, referrals, etc.)  

If you’re getting it right with customer experiences, you’ll see growth across all of these metrics over time. From our view at TopRank Marketing, engagement metrics and business outcomes (or proof of ROI) are among the seven essential elements for content marketing performance dashboard. Also included: benchmarks, goals, real-time KPI monitoring, traffic trends, and breakdowns by topic/persona.

[bctt tweet=”Every initiative is paired with a specific business outcome to evaluate performance. Although we keep tabs on engagement metrics, they do not dictate success by themselves. – Chris White of @CapitalOne on measuring content performance   ” username=”toprank”]
Experience Is Your Content Differentiator
Turn content experience into your competitive advantage. Create things that amaze your audience and leave them yearning for more. Utilize new trends and tech when appropriate to elevate your content. And, at all times, validate your efforts by measuring the right things and letting your customers dictate your direction.

Is it silly to think about content marketing on the same terms as stadium concerts? I’d say it’s silly not to. 

We’re counting down the days until the grand experience unfolds at Content Marketing World 2019 on Sept. 3, 2019 in Cleveland. Before then, you can find plenty more guidance on taking your programs to the next level in our interactive experience, The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth.

The post Wow Your Crowd: The Recipe for Creating Exceptional Content Experiences appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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15 Reports Charting the Future of Content Marketing

Office interior with graphs and diagrams - Image.

Office interior with graphs and diagrams - Image.

How can you be as prepared and knowledgeable as possible for the complex and challenging future ahead for content marketing?

Here are 15 insightful reports loaded with B2B data to help you define and chart your optimal content marketing future, and provide the best-answer and trust-building solutions clients expect today.

The reports here, presented in random order, are all excellent sources of information to help you gain a clearer understanding of B2B content marketing, while keeping more than an eye open towards the future as marketers push onward to 2020.
1 — Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study
Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study Image.

The 2019 Edelman-LinkedIn* B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study examines the theme that thought leadership digital content is in high demand, and that it remains hard to find, presenting an opportunity gap.

“Senior decision-makers are willing to pay a premium. B2B buyers are likely to pay more to work with companies who have clearly articulated their vision through thought leadership,” the study notes, pointing to a rising leadership vision trend, as our own CEO Lee Odden has examined in detail in his recent “7 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Trends for 2020.”

[bctt tweet=”“The growth of influence on individual and organizational effectiveness in the B2B marketing world will continue for years to come.”  @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

MarketingProfs’ Ayaz Nanji also digs into some of the Edelman-LinkedIn study’s findings in “What B2B Firms Get Wrong About Thought-Leadership Content.”

Also worth exploring is another fine new report from Edelman, the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust?, which Ethan Jakob Craft recently explored for AdAge.
2 — Content Marketing Institute / MarketingProfs B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends
B2B Content Marketing 2019 Image

Agency content marketing statistics and budgeting trends for 2019 are examined in the fascinating and detailed “B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America” report from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, which is explored in Lisa Murton Beets’ “2019 B2B Content Marketing Research: It Pays to Put Audience First.”
3 — Chief Marketer 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook Survey
Chief Marketer 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook Survey Image

The Chief Marketer 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook Survey offers a wealth of B2B marketing data to learn from and apply to your own campaign strategies. Whether it’s which marketing channels are performing the best for B2B lead generation and nurturing, the increasing demand for higher-quality B2B content, or data to help increase support from the corporate suite, this report offers helpful insight.
4 — Vidyard: Video in Business Benchmark Report
Vidyard Video in Business Benchmark Report Image

The average length of B2B video has decreased by 33 percent to just over four minutes, while the number of viewers watching the entirety of videos has climbed to 52 percent, up from 2017’s 46 percent — just a few of the detailed statistics of interest to digital marketers contained in the newly-released 2019 Video in Business Benchmark Report from Vidyard.

The report is explored by Chief Marketer in “B2B Video Length Drops, but Engagement Increases,” and additional bonus video insight comes from a separate recent study, with MediaRadar’s “Research Insight: Video Ads Are Getting Longer.”
5 — Cision 2019 Global State of the Media Report
Cision 2019 Global State of the Media Report Image

For 2019, the tenth-annual Cision Global State of the Media Report surveyed some 2,000 journalists to find out what matters the most in the push towards 2020, including insights into social media, trust and distrust in the media, and how big data will inform the future of content marketing.
6 — Shutterstock: State of Content Marketing
Shutterstock: State of Content Marketing Image

A different take on the future of content comes from the Shutterstock: State of Content Marketing report, examining the changing roles of micro-influencers, data privacy and blockchain, micro-moments, social segmentation and personalization, plus other trends to follow.
7 — Mary Meeker 2019 Internet Trends Report
Mary Meeker 2019 Internet Trends Report Image

Since 1995, one of the most anticipated reports containing B2B trend data is the “Mary Meeker Internet Trends Report,” and for 2019 it comes in packing a whopping 333 pages of information.

Mary Meeker is founder of venture capital firm Bond Capital and former Kleiner Perkins general partner, and I recently took a close look at many of the B2B elements contained in her new report in “Key B2B Takeaways From the 2019 Internet Trends Report.”

[bctt tweet=”“Mary Meeker’s 2019 report paints a picture of a world where it’s more challenging than ever to find new growth in certain areas, but one that also shows very real opportunities in others.” @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]
8 — LinkedIn: The Enlightened Tech Buyer: Powering Customer Decisions from Acquisition to Renewal
LinkedIn The Enlightened Tech Buyer Image

LinkedIn’s 2019 global report “The Enlightened Tech Buyer: Powering Customer Decisions from Acquisition to Renewal” includes many insights for B2B marketers, taken from a survey of over 5,200 global professionals with roles centered around adopting new technology solutions.

Our Senior Content Strategist Nick Nelson examines the report in detail in “Top Takeaways from LinkedIn’s New ‘Enlightened Tech Buyer’ Report,” a great way to quickly dig in to how B2B technology brands can market and sell more effectively.

[bctt tweet=”“Effective marketing now goes beyond the scope of traditional functions. Brands need to be readily available, with the right content at the right time.” @NickNelsonMN ” username=”toprank”]
9 — Buffer: 2019 State of Social
Buffer 2019 State of Social Image

Buffer’s detailed 2019 State of Social report offers an in-depth look at what digital marketers are focusing on, along with an examination of many new and ongoing trends, and how the industry is changing.

In conjunction with Social Chain, the newest Buffer report utilizes survey data gathered from over 1,800 marketers at firms of all sizes, and looks at issues such as how businesses are investing in influencer marketing and which social platforms businesses are having the most success with.
10 — Edison Research and Triton Digital: The Social Habit
Edison Research and Triton Digital The Social Habit Image

The latest Edison Research and Triton Digital The Social Habit 2019 study includes many B2B marketing insights, leaning towards the social media side, showing how we’ve entered a new era now that social media usage has remained largely unchanged over the past four years, while Instagram has seen newfound success especially among young Americans.

Jay Baer, Founder of Convince and Convert, takes a look at the study in “Social Media Usage Statistics for 2019 Reveal Surprising Shifts.”
11 — Pew Research Center: Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019
Pew Research Center Mobile Technology Image

How the mobile landscape is changing in 2019 will have an impact on B2B marketers, and the Pew Research Center offers up a selection of related insights in its Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019 report.
12 — Sprout Social: Sprout Social Index: Edition XV: Empower & Elevate (2019)
Sprout Social Index Image

Sprout Social’s most recent Sprout Social Index: Edition XV: Empower & Elevate (2019) surveyed more than 1,000 social media marketers to find out where their biggest successes are coming from, and where they plan to place their focus moving ahead.

The report shows that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook Messenger, and LinkedIn are the most-used social media platforms among social marketers, and includes data relevant to B2B marketers well worth researching.

Nathan Mendenhall took a look at some of the study results in “8 Social Media Marketing Stats You Shouldn’t Ignore.”

Sprout Social has also recently updated its study of the optimal times for publishing content on various social media platforms.

13 — Hootsuite / We Are Social: Digital 2019 Q2 Global Digital Statshot
Hootsuite / We Are Social Digital 2019 Image

Hootsuite and We Are Social have produced another report filled with helpful information for B2B marketers, with their latest Digital 2019 Q2 Global Digital Statshot. The report utilized numerous sources and offers plenty of insight into where social media marketing currently stands and where it appears likely to be heading.
14 — Pew Research Center: January 2019 Core Trends Survey (2019)
Pew Research Center: January 2019 Core Trends Image

The Pew Research Center has also taken a close look at how U.S. adults are using social media, in its recent “Share of U.S. adults using social media, including Facebook, is mostly unchanged since 2018,” offering additional data to help B2B marketers prepare for the social world of 2020 and beyond.
15 — Social Media Examiner: 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report
Social Media Examiner 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report Image

The final of our 15 reports is Social Media Examiner’s eleventh-annual social media marketing industry report, the 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Company founder Michael Stelzner shares 46 pages of various statistical data pulled in from surveying over 4,800 marketers, and the report offers interpretation on how various aspects of social media are working for marketers today.
Fly High & Implement What You’ve Learned From 15 Reports

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The 15 insightful and data-packed reports we’ve explored here from the Pew Research Center, Edelman, Edison Research, Cision, Shutterstock, Mary Meeker, Buffer, LinkedIn, Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, Chief Marketer, Vidyard, Triton Digital, Sprout Social, Social Media Examiner, Hootsuite, and We Are Social will help you be as prepared and up-to-date as possible for whatever the future of content marketing may hold.

Because it takes considerable time, top skills, and plenty of effort to create best-answer content marketing, it’s often wise to partner with a top-tier marketing agency, such as TopRank Marketing. We’ve had the honor of being named by Forrester as the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in its latest “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America, Q1 2019” report.”

*LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

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FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A: Using New Schema Types to Create Interactive Rich Results

Posted by LilyRayNYC

Structured data (Schema markup) is a powerful tool SEOs can use to efficiently deliver the most important information on our webpages to search engines. When applied effectively across all relevant entities, Schema markup provides significant opportunities to improve a website’s SEO performance by helping search engines to better understand its content.

While Schema.org is continuously expanding and refining its documentation, Google updates its list of supported features that are eligible to be displayed as rich organic results far less frequently. When they happen, these updates are exciting because they give marketers new ways to affect how their organic listings appear in Google’s search results. To make things even more interesting, some of this year’s new Schema types offer the unique opportunity for marketers to use Schema to drive clicks to more than one page on their site through just one organic listing.

Three new Schema types worth focusing on are FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A Schema, all of which present great opportunities to improve organic search traffic with eye-catching, real estate-grabbing listing features. By strategically implementing these Schema types across eligible page content, marketers can dramatically increase their pages’ visibility in the search results for targeted keywords — especially on mobile devices.

Pro tip: When rolling out new Schema, use the Rich Results Testing Tool to see how your Schema can appear in Google’s search results. Google Search Console also offers reporting on FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A Schema along with other Schema types in its Rich Results Status Report.

FAQ Schema

According to Google, FAQ Schema can be used on any page that contains a list of questions and answers on any particular topic. That means FAQ Schema doesn’t have to be reserved only for company FAQ pages; you can create a “frequently asked questions” resource on any topic and use the Schema to indicate that the content is structured as an FAQ.

FAQ Schema is a particularly exciting new Schema type due to how much real estate it can capture in the organic listings. Marking up your FAQ content can create rich results that absolutely dominate the SERP, with the potential to take up a huge amount of vertical space compared to other listings. See the below example on mobile:

Like all Schema, the FAQ content must be a 100 percent match to the content displayed on the page, and displaying different content in your Schema than what is displayed on the page can result in a manual action. Google also requires that the content marked up with FAQ Schema is not used for advertising purposes.

Impacts on click-through rate

There is some risk involved with implementing this Schema: if the content is too informational in nature, it can create a situation where users to get the answers they need entirely within the search results. This is exactly what happened when we first rolled out FAQ Schema for one of our clients at Path Interactive — impressions to the page surged, but clicks fell just as quickly.

This conundrum led to us discover the single most exciting feature of FAQ Schema: The fact that Google supports links and other HTML within the answers. Look for opportunities within your FAQ answers to link to other relevant pages on your site, and you can use FAQ Schema to drive organic users to more than one page on your website. This is a great way to use informational content to drive users to your product or service pages.

Note that this tactic should be done within reason: The links to other pages should actually provide value to the user, and they must also be added to the page content so the Schema code is a 100 percent match with the content on the page. Check out my other detailed article on implementing FAQ Schema, which includes recommendations around tagging links in FAQ answers so you can monitor how the links are performing, and for distinguishing clicks to the FAQ links from your other organic listings.

HowTo Schema

HowTo Schema is another new Schema type that can be used to enhance articles containing instructions on “how to” do something. Like FAQ Schema, Google lays out certain content requirements about what can and can’t be marked up with HowTo Schema, including:

Not marking up offensive, violent or explicit contentThe entire content of each “step” must be marked upNot using HowTo markup to advertise a productIncluding relevant images, as well as materials and tools used to complete the taskHowTo should not be used for Recipes, which have their own Schema

Unfortunately, unlike FAQ Schema, the text included within each HowTo step is not linkable. However, the individual steps themselves can become links to an anchor on your page that corresponds to each step in the process, if you include anchored links and images in your HowTo markup.

HowTo has two visual layouts:

Image source: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/how-to

One layout includes image thumbnails for each step in the process. With this layout, users can click on each step and be taken directly to that step on your page. Anchored (#) links also appear separately in Google Search Console, so you can track impressions and clicks to each step in your HowTo process.

Image source: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/how-to

The second HowTo layout uses accordions to display the steps.

One added benefit of HowTo Schema is its voice search potential: properly marked up HowTo content is eligible to be read aloud by Google Assistant devices. When voice searchers ask their Google Assistants for help with a task that is best answered with a “how to” guide, content marked up with HowTo Schema will be more likely to be read aloud as the answer.

Like FAQ Schema, HowTo markup presents pros and cons for marketers. Given that the rich result takes up so much space in the SERP, it’s a great way to make your listing stand out compared to competing results. However, if users can get all the information they need from your marked-up content within the search results, it may result in fewer clicks going to your website, which coincides with Google’s rise in no-click searches.

In rolling out HowTo markup, it’s important to monitor the impact the Schema has on your impressions, clicks, and rankings for the page, to make sure the Schema is producing positive results for your business. For publishers whose sites rely on ad revenue, the potential loss in click-through-rate might not be worth the enhanced appearance of HowTo markup in the search results.

Does HowTo markup earn featured snippets for “how to” queries?

Given that virtually every “How To” query generates a Featured Snippet result, I wanted to see whether there was any correlation between implementing HowTo Schema and earning Featured Snippets. I conducted an analysis of 420 URLs currently ranking in Featured Snippets for common “how to” queries, and only 3 these pages are currently using HowTo markup. While this Schema type is still relatively new, it doesn’t appear to be the case that using HowTo markup is a prerequisite for earning the Featured Snippet for “how to” queries.

Q&A Schema

Q&A Schema is another new Schema type used for pages that contain a question and a way for users to submit answers to that question. The Q&A Schema should be applied only on pages that have one question as the main focus on the page — not a variety of different questions. In its documentation, Google also distinguishes between Q&A and FAQ markup: If users are not able to add their own answers to the question, FAQ markup should be used instead.

Q&A Schema is great for forums or other online message boards where users can ask a question and the community can submit answers, such as the Moz Q&A Forum.

Google strongly recommends that Q&A Schema include a URL that links directly to each individual answer to improve user experience. As with HowTo Schema, this can be done using anchor (#) links, which can then be monitored individually in Google Search Console.

Image source: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/qapage

Blending Schema types

Another exciting new development with these new Schema types is the opportunity to blend multiple types of Schema that generate rich results on the same page. FAQ Schema in particular works as a great supplement to other Schema types, such as Product or Professional Service, which can generate stars, review counts, or other attributes in the SERP. Below is an example of how these combined Schema types can look on mobile:

If it makes sense for your content, it may be worth testing adding FAQ or HowTo markup to pages that already have other Schema types that generate rich results. It’s possible that Google will display multiple rich result types at once for certain queries, or it could change the rich appearance of your listing depending on the query. This could potentially lead to a big increase in the click-through-rate given how much space these mixed results take up in the SERP.

Note: there is no guarantee Google will always display blended Schema types the way it currently does for websites who have already done this implementation. Google is always changing how it displays rich results, so it’s important to test this on your own pages and see what Google chooses to display.

Risks involved with implementing Schema

It would be irresponsible to write about using Schema without including a warning about the potential risks involved. For one, Google maintains specific criteria about how Schema should be used, and misusing the markup (whether intentionally or not) can result in a structured data manual action. A common way this occurs is when the JSON-LD code includes information that is not visible for users on the page.

Secondly, it can be tempting to implement Schema markup without thoroughly thinking through the impact it can have on the click-through-rate of the page. It is possible that Schema markup can result in such a positive user experience within the SERP, that it can actually cause a decline in click-through-rate and less traffic to your site (as users get all the information they need within the search results). These considerations require that marketers think strategically about whether and how to implement Schema to ensure they are not only complying with Google’s guidelines but also using Schema in a way that will provide meaningful results for their websites.

Lastly, it is possible that Google will update its quality guidelines around how rich results are displayed if they find that these new Schema types are leading to spam or low-quality results.

Avoid misusing Schema, or it’s possible Google might take away these fantastic opportunities to enhance our organic listings in the future.

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How to Create a Custom WordPress Theme (without Code)


Are you looking to create a custom WordPress theme from scratch? Previously, you had to follow the WordPress codex and have coding knowledge to build a custom theme for yourself. Luckily things have improved and now anyone can create a completely custom WordPress theme within an hour without coding knowledge. In this video, we will show you how to easily create a custom theme without writing any code using Beaver Themer.

To start this guide you will need to purchase Beaver builder with their Beaver Themer addon. You can go to the Beaver Builder site here:

https://www.wpbeaverbuilder.com/

Once you have that purchased you would want to go to your WordPress site and upload the plugin under Plugins, Add New, and click the Upload Plugin button on the top left of the page with the plugin active, we will install the theme we will be using on the site, for this tutorial we will be using the Astra theme:

https://wpastra.com

With the Astra theme we will set up the basic layout we’re wanting for the page such as showing no sidebar for the default and any custom page setup you would prefer. Next, go under Beaver Builder, Add New, title your design, and set it to themer layout and choose the section you want to modify.

You will now have the option to customize the design and style of your theme from a sticky header to changing the header to a specific location or adding a rule for how it is displayed. With that set up you can click the Launch Beaver Builder button to bring up the drag and drop interface of Beaver builder to customize the theme to what you’re wanting.

Beaver Builder included header and footer options as well as content areas for different types of posts. Singular being the default for post and page content so to edit the content you would edit your singular template. This template is where you would modify your content display, post title, and comments area, while the archive template is where you would modify the posts page.

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https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-themes/how-to-easily-create-a-custom-wordpress-theme/

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How to Get Started Building Links for SEO

Posted by KameronJenkins

Search for information about SEO, and you’ll quickly discover three big themes: content, user experience, and links. If you’re just getting started with SEO, that last theme will likely seem a lot more confusing and challenging than the others. That’s because, while content and user experience are under the realm of our control, links aren’t… at least not completely.

Think of this post as a quick-and-dirty version of The Beginner’s Guide to SEO’s chapter on link building. We definitely recommend you read through that as well, but if you’re short on time, this condensed version gives you a quick overview of the basics as well as actionable tips that can help you get started.

Let’s get to it!

What does “building links” mean?

Link building is a term used in SEO to describe the process of increasing the quantity of good links from other websites to your own.

Why are links so important? They’re one of the main (although not the only!) criteria Google uses to determine the quality and trustworthiness of a page. You want links from reputable, relevant websites to bolster your own site’s authority in search engines.

For more information on different types of links, check out Cyrus Shepard’s post All Links are Not Created Equal: 20 New Graphics on Google’s Valuation of Links.

“Building links” is common SEO vernacular, but it deserves unpacking or else you may get the wrong idea about this practice. Google wants people to link to pages out of their own volition, because they value the content on that page. Google does not want people to link to pages because they were paid or incentivized to do so, or create links to their websites themselves — those types of links should use the “nofollow” attribute. You can read more about what Google thinks about links in their webmaster guidelines.

The main thing to remember is that links to your pages are an important part of SEO, but Google doesn’t want you paying or self-creating them, so the practice of “building links” is really more a process of “earning links” — let’s dive in.

How do I build links?

If Google doesn’t want you creating links yourself or paying for them, how do you go about getting them? There are a lot of different methods, but we’ll explore some of the basics.

Link gap analysis

One popular method for getting started with link building is to look at the links your competitors have but you don’t. This is often referred to as a competitor backlink analysis or a link gap analysis. You can perform one of these using Moz Link Explorer’s Link Intersect tool.

Link Intersect gives you a glimpse into your competitor’s link strategy. My pal Miriam and I wrote a guide that explains how to use Link Explorer and what to do with the links you find. It’s specifically geared toward local businesses, but it’s helpful for anyone just getting started with link building.

Email outreach

A skill you’ll definitely need for link building is email outreach. Remember, links to your site should be created by others, so to get them to link to your content, you need to tell them about it! Cold outreach is always going to be hit-or-miss, but here are a few things that can help:

Make a genuine connection: People are much more inclined to help you out if they know you. Consider connecting with them on social media and building a relationship before you ask them for a link. Offer something of value: Don’t just ask someone to link to you — tell them how they’ll benefit! Example: offering a guest post to a content-desperate publisher. Be someone people would want to link to: Before you ask anyone to link to your content, ask yourself questions like, “Would I find this valuable enough to link to?” and “Is this the type of content this person likes to link to?”

There are tons more articles on the Moz Blog you can check out if you’re looking to learn more about making your email outreach effective:

Supercharge Your Link Building Outreach! 5 Tips for Success – Whiteboard FridayLink Building in 2019: Get by With a Little Help From Your FriendsHow We Increased Our Email Response Rate from ~8% to 34%Why You Should Steal My Daughter’s Playbook for Effective Email Outreach
Contribute your expertise using services like HARO

When you’re just getting started, services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) are great. When you sign up as a source, you’ll start getting requests from journalists who need quotes for their articles. Not all requests will be relevant to you, but be on the lookout for those that are. If the journalist likes your pitch, they may feature your quote in their article with a link back to your website.

Where do I go from here?

I hope this was a helpful crash-course into the world of link building! If you want to keep learning, we recommend checking out this free video course from HubSpot Academy that walks you through finding the right SEO strategy, including how to use Moz Link Explorer for link building.

Watch the video

Remember, link building certainly isn’t easy, but it is worth it!

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Wow Your Crowd: How Content Marketers Can Create Powerful Audience Connections

“Perhaps more than any other art form, comedy cannot exist for its own sake,” according to comedian Andrew Orvedahl in an essay published a few years back. “Comedy requires a bond between performer and audience. And if either ingredient sucks, comedy doesn’t happen.”

He’s right, but we could swap in content marketing for comedy and the statement would still hold plenty of weight. If your content isn’t connecting and resonating with your audience, it may as well not exist. This is one of the most critical skills of the discipline, and also one of the most difficult to harness.

While a standup comic can read the room, scanning faces in the crowd for signs of reception and gauging the volume of laughter and applause, content marketers face a greater challenge. We can’t typically interpret reactions in such a direct manner, meaning we must lean on our intuition, research, and analytics to assess whether our efforts are hitting home. 

To help you master this essential capability, we enlisted some of the best in the biz when it comes to understanding and relating to their audiences in an authentic way. Their guidance for show-stopping performances are featured in our new interactive experience, Witness the Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth, courtesy of TopRank Marketing, Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and a lineup of awesome CMWorld speakers. 

The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth

Today we’ll explore their (and our) specific insights around the vital art of audience connections. 
Three Keys to Creating Powerful Audience Connections
#1 – Learn About Your Audience 
MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley is basically a comedian and content marketer wrapped up into one package (her contribution to the CMWorld preview literally opens with a joke, which is the least surprising thing ever). As such, her advice on this particular topic is especially pertinent.

“Delighting your audience includes understanding your customers, and understanding how your prospects or customers interact with your brand,” she says. One of her suggestions for doing so is to “Undercover Boss your own brand,” referring to the television show in which corporate executives step into a low-level roles at their companies — incognito style — to gain a more accurate understanding of what’s really happening in the trenches.

[bctt tweet=”Sign up for your own service. Opt-in to your own email list. Place a call to your support center. Interact on your social channels. Ask a customer care rep what patterns they see day in, day out. — @MarketingProfs” username=”toprank”]

At TopRank Marketing, completing due diligence around the people we hope to reach — their aspirations, pains, and needs — is an integral component of launching a new content program. As Ann suggests, it’s important to adopt your customer’s point of view and gain a truly empathetic perspective. 

Sometimes this means simply asking ourselves questions in a different way. Instead of “How can we raise brand awareness?” ask “Why would people want to be aware of our brand?” Instead of “How do we define success for our marketing efforts?” ask “How do we define success for our audience?”

As any comedian knows, just because a joke is funny in our head doesn’t mean it’ll be funny to a room full of strangers. 
#2 – Confront the Personalization Conundrum
One of the most pervasive hurdles in modern content marketing is personalization at scale. It’s written about often, here and elsewhere, because it’s a pivotal objective and also a paradoxical dilemma. As Marketing Insider Group CEO Michael Brenner astutely (and humorously) puts it, the phrase itself seems to be a contradiction:

[bctt tweet=”Personalization at scale is kind of an oxymoron like ‘jumbo shrimp.’ I love shrimp. And content marketing. So if you love shrimp and content marketing, we have a lot in common. See what I did there? — @BrennerMichael” username=”toprank”]

He goes on to note that the ways to overcome this discrepancy are to “know something about your audience” and “be able to deliver a tailored piece of content to those unique characteristics.” 

“It doesn’t have to be individualized,” he adds, “just tailored.”

Content marketers can accomplish this by creating more defined and descriptive audience segments (or personas). This is fundamental to our approach at TopRank Marketing, and it can take many forms. Sometimes it’s about whittling down your target audience to the most valuable prospective customers and tightly orienting your content to their role and professional context — even if that means turning away readers who don’t fall into the category. Other times, it might mean leveraging an account-based marketing approach, and refining your focus on the companies you’d really like to land.  

As I’ve written here before, effective personalization is instrumental to trust:

Personalization is the surest way to build a rapport in the digital space. When we fail to connect, it sets off immediate alarms. Personalization comes in many forms. It can be as sophisticated as using adaptive AI, or as simple as narrowing the scope and voice of your content to resonate with very specific audiences. Whatever the approach, customers clearly want it. And the potential revenue benefits are undeniable.
#3 – Invite Feedback, and Take It Seriously
Jerry Seinfeld’s elite penchant for generating laughs is rare among standup comedians, but his process for vetting jokes is not. He’s very attentive to the crowd’s reactions to each of his quips. This excerpt from a New York Times profile, describing his period of reflection after a set, says it all:

Seinfeld retired to a dressing room, plopping down beside a bucket of bottled water. I congratulated him on the performance. “I’d say two-thirds of that set was garbage,” he said, matter-of-factly. “Whether it was lines coming out wrong or the rhythm being off.” He said he’d counted “probably eight” jokes that failed to get the kinds of laughs he desired. “There’s different kinds of laughs,” he explained. “It’s like a baseball lineup: this guy’s your power hitter, this guy gets on base, this guy works out walks. If everybody does their job, we’re gonna win.”

I liken the unsatisfactory laughs to vanity metrics in content marketing. Sure, you might’ve gotten the requisite impressions and clicks, but were they meaningful? Are they moving the needle? Are they indicative of audience delight?

To reach these important conclusions, we need to facilitate the feedback loop. We need to create dialogues instead of one-way conversations. And as Tameka Vasquez of Genpact points out, “In a dialogue, you cannot truly listen if you’re just impatiently waiting for your turn to speak.”

[bctt tweet=”We pump out content and then wait until it’s our turn to speak again and pump out some more per our content calendars. What use is it if neither side is listening? — @tameka_vasquez” username=”toprank”]

With this in mind, it’s important to craft your content strategy and editorial calendar with the audience’s voice in mind. One method for doing this, as our Josh Nite suggests in his rundown of content planning tips, is by leaning on user-generated content: “Still stuck with a few blank spaces in your calendar? Let your audience fill them in for you. User-generated content helps foster community, builds enthusiasm for your offering, lets customers see real-world examples of what your company can do, and a host of other benefits.” 

Other methods for eliciting this type of feedback include chatbots, conversations with your sales team, in-depth analysis of website user behavior, and more.
Delivering Great Experiences is No Laughing Matter
Comedians might make a living by telling jokes, but they take their work as seriously as anyone. Their careers depend on forging connections with audiences, and they know the best way to retain and grow those audiences is by delivering an enjoyable, memorable experience that leaves fans walking away smiling. Sound familiar?

You’ll experience plenty of laughs and learnings at Content Marketing World 2019 when the curtains open on Sept. 3 in Cleveland. Before then, you can find plenty more guidance on dazzling your audience in our interactive experience, The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth.

The post Wow Your Crowd: How Content Marketers Can Create Powerful Audience Connections appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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"Study Finds:" How Data-Driven Content Marketing Builds Links and Earns Press Mentions

Posted by KristinTynski

In 2019, high-authority links remain highly correlated with rankings. However, acquiring great links is becoming increasingly difficult. Those of you who operate publications of any variety, especially those who enjoy high domain authority, have likely received several link building requests or offers like this each day:

“Please link to my suspect site that provides little or no value.”
“Please engage in my shady link exchange.”
“I can acquire 5 links of DA 50+ for $250 each.”

Or maybe slightly more effectively:

“This link is broken, perhaps you would like to link here instead.”
“You link to X resource, but my Y resource is actually better.”

This glut of SEOs who build links through these techniques above have been consistently eroding the efficacy of this style of little-to-no-value ad outreach link building. In the past, perhaps it was possible to convert 2% of outreach emails of this style to real links. Now, that number is more like 0.2 percent.

Link building outreach has become glorified email spam—increasingly ignored and decreasingly effective. And yet, high-authority links remain one of the single most important ranking factors.

So where do we go from here?

Let’s start with a few axioms.

The conclusion: Leveraging data journalism to tell newsworthy stories re-enables effective promotion of content via outreach/pitching. Doing so successfully results in the acquisition of high domain authority links that enjoy the potential for viral syndication. Overall data journalism and outreach represents one of the only remaining scaleable high-authority link building strategies.

How can I leverage data journalism techniques to earn coverage?

To answer this question, I conducted my own data journalism project about the state of data journalism-driven link building! (Meta, I know.)

The primary goal was to understand how major publications (the places worth pitching content) talk about data journalism findings from external sources. By understanding how data journalism is covered, we lay the groundwork for understanding what types of data journalism, themes, and strategies for outreach can be most effective for link building.

We pulled 8,400 articles containing the text “study finds.” This keyword was used as a heuristic for finding data-driven news stories created by outside sources (not done internally by the news publication themselves). We then supplemented these articles with additional data, including links built, social shares, and Google’s Machine Learning topic categorization.

The categories derived by Google’s classifier can have multiple tiers based on the keywords in the article titles, giving us four ways to show the results within each category: The main topic area (containing all relevant subcategories), just the first subcategory, just the second subcategory, and just the third subcategory.

Which outlets most frequently cover data-driven stories from external pitches?

Let’s begin by taking a look at which top-tier news outlets cover “study finds” (AKA, any project pitched by an outside source that ran a survey or study that had “findings”). For companies conducting studies, they hope to win press coverage for, these top sites are prime targets, with editorial guidelines that clearly see outside pitches of study findings as attractive.

It’s not surprising to see science-based sites ranking at the top, as they’re inherently more likely to talk about studies than other publications. But sites like The Independent, Daily Mail, The Guardian, CNN, Washington Post, and NBC News all ranked highly as well, providing great insight into which established, trusted news sources are willing to publish external research.

Which topic areas do these publishers write about most?

Diving a little deeper, we can explore which topics are covered in these publications that are associated with these external studies, providing us insight into which verticals might be the best targets for this strategy.

There are many unique insights to be gleaned from the following charts depending on your niche/topical focus. This data can easily be used as a pitching guide, showing you which publishers are the most likely to pick up and cover your pitches for the findings of your study or survey.

Here is a view of the overall category and subcategory distribution for the top publishers.

As you can see, it’s…a lot. To get more actionable breakdowns, we can look at different views of the topical categories. The categories derived by Google’s classifier can have multiple tiers based on the keywords in the article titles, giving us several ways to show the results within each category.


You can explore the Tableau sheets to get into the nitty-gritty, but even with these views, a few more specialized publications, like InsideHigherEd.com and blogs.edweek.org, emerge.

Which topic areas drive the most links?

Press mentions are great, but syndication is where data journalism and content-based outreach strategy really shines. I also wanted to understand which topic areas drive link acquisition. As it turns out, some topics are significantly better at driving links than others.

Note that the color of the bar charts is associated with volume of sharing by topic—the darker the bar on the chart, the higher it was shared. With this additional sharing data, it’s plain to see that while links and social shares are highly correlated, there are some categories that are top link builders but do not perform as well on social and vice versa.

This next set of data visualizations again explore these topic areas in detail. In each batch, we see the median number of links built as an overall category aggregate and then by each category.





Which domains generate the most links when they pick up a data-driven story?

Another interesting question is which domains overall result in the largest number of links generated for “study finds” stories. Below is that ranking, colored by the median number of total shares for that domain.

Notice that while The Independent ranked supreme in the earlier graph about including the most “study finds” pieces, they don’t appear at all on this graph. Sites like The Guardian, CNN, The Washington Post, and NBC News, however, score highly on both, meaning they’re probably more likely to publish your research (relatively speaking, since all high-authority sites are tough to get coverage on), and if you’re successful, you’re probably more likely to get more syndicated links as a result.

Which topic areas are the most evergreen?

Now, let’s look at each category by BuzzSumo’s “evergreen score” to see what kind of content will get you the most bang for your buck.

The evergreen score was developed by BuzzSumo to measure the number of backlinks and social shares an article receives more than a month after it’s published.

When you’re considering doing a study and you want it to have lasting power, brainstorm whether any of these topics tie to your product or service offering, because it appears their impact lingers for longer than a month:


What this all means

Link building through data-driven content marketing and PR is a predictable and scalable way to massively impact domain authority, page authority, and organic visibility.

Always consider:

1. Which publishers make sense to pitch to?

Do they often cover external studies?Do they cover topics that I write about?Does their coverage lead to a high volume of syndicated links?

2. Does my topic have lasting power?

To really make the most of your content and outreach strategy, you’ll need to incorporate these tips and more into your content development and pitching.

In previous articles on Moz I’ve covered:

The emotional factors that influence press pickup and virality.The news syndication networks that impact pickup and distribution.How to find the absolute best people and media outlets to pitch.Which topic areas result in the highest success rates for press coverage, social sharing, and link building as well as the outlets that have are most likely to cover data-journalism pitches.

These ideas and methodologies are at the heart of the work we do at Fractl and have been instrumental in helping us develop best practices for ideation, content creation, and successful outreach to press. Pulling on each of these levers (and many others), testing, and accumulating data that can then be used to refine processes is what begins to make a real impact on success rates and allows you to break through the noise.

If you want to discuss the major takeaways for your industry, feel free to email me at kristin@frac.tl.

Did anything surprise you in the data? Share your thoughts below!

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The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary

Social media marketing and search engine optimization are often viewed as two disparate components of a holistic digital strategy. In some ways, they are distinct, but there is far more convergence and crossover than we’re often led to believe.

I find that looking at one side through the lens of the other invariably helps me better understand the more ambiguous aspects of each. So today I thought I’d share this perspective, with a focus on how these tactical areas can work cohesively to strengthen your brand’s visibility and impact on the web.
Similarities Between Social and Search
Let’s begin by exploring some commonalities between social media networks and social engines.

Both are massively popular internet entry points. Google processes 3.5 billion searches every day. Nearly the same number of people (3.48 billion) are active social media users. That’s roughly half the planet’s population. These numbers, in a nutshell, illustrate why digital marketers everywhere need to account for both search and social. They’re the first places most people go when they hop online.

People use both to answer questions. We all know this is the primary purpose of search engines. Whether users are typing in a literal semantic question, or simply inputting keywords in hopes of finding information, they are trying to find answers and solve problems. Social media doesn’t necessarily present the same direct question-and-answer format, but we usually log on to satisfy some type of curiosity. (What are people talking about right now? What do my friends and connections have to say about recent events? Is this dress white and gold, or black and blue?)

Both are critical brand touchpoints. Two of the easiest ways for any customer to vet a company are by: A) Pulling them up in a Google search, or B) Checking out their social media accounts. It’s pretty easy to tell based on a brand’s search rankings, SERP display, and site structure whether they have a sound digital strategy. The same is true of a quick glance at their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. If it’s difficult to find your company through search or social — or if you give off a poor first impression on either front — that’s an immediate credibility-crusher.
Where Search and Social Can Work Together Strategically
SEO and social media marketing are fundamentally different. There are job titles, and entire companies, dedicated specifically to each. But in an integrated digital marketing strategy, it’s important to recognize where these two facets intersect and complement one another.

#1: Keyword Research and Application

Keywords (and extensions thereof) form the backbone of a best-answer content strategy. The intel derived from these efforts can also be applied to social media marketing. As mentioned above, people use both these channels to answer questions.

With a defined understanding of which search phrases and queries are pertinent to our audiences, we can better align the content we provide. This is true on social as well. When you use the right keywords (and, in this case, hashtags) more frequently in your posts, driving conversations and engagement around them, your brand will be more likely to show up on the feeds of people interested in them.

In either instance, it comes down to the same foundational crux of almost any content strategy: What do your customers want to know, and how can you deliver it?

#2: Social Content Can Show Up in Search

Try entering your company’s name into a Google search. What’s the first result? Hopefully your website’s homepage. The second and third might also be pages from your own domain. But very frequently, the first third-party link will be your LinkedIn Page. (See the SERP for TopRank Marketing below as a typical example.)

LinkedIn* is a particularly impactful platform in this regard; search engines crawl it, so incorporating savvy SEO tactics on your company’s LinkedIn Page can actually benefit your rankings. This hasn’t been quite as true for other networks, which were once almost invisible to Google, but research from HootSuite did find a dramatic increase in the appearance of Facebook and Twitter content in SERPS starting in late 2015:

“Admittedly, the majority of social links within the SERPs appear for branded search terms, but this should not be discounted,” writes Simon Ensor at Search Engine Watch. “If we are in fact looking at marketing as a more holistic practice in the digital age, then we have to ensure that your branded search terms result in high click-through rates from search.”

#3: Social Signals (Indirectly) Affect Search

It’s been a hotly debated topic in the digital marketing world. Google has claimed for years that social signals are not a ranking factor. Yet, HootSuite’s experimentation found that “there appears to be a strong correlation between social activity and rankings.” Another study last year from Searchmetrics reached the same conclusion.

We still don’t have complete clarity around this relationship, which would earn a Facebook status of “It’s complicated.” Although we don’t believe social signals directly impact search rankings, there is definitely a correlation, which is widely attributed to the byproducts of highly successful social content. As Sharon Hurley Hall puts it, “Social media may not be a ranking factor for Google, but it can amplify the ranking factors that Google DOES consider.”

In other words, when a link to your content gains traction on social media, it tends to gain more general prominence: pageviews, backlinks, brand authority, etc. This, in turn, helps the page earn more visibility in the eyes of Google.

The key is simply getting people to click through on those links, which brings us to the final point of convergence.

#4: Compelling Clicks is Crucial

Search engine optimization today isn’t so much about keyword-stuffing; Google is too smart to be gamed by it. The engine’s sole mission is to deliver the most satisfactory results for a given query, meaning it will weigh click-throughs and time on page more heavily than text arrangement. That’s why an irresistible headline and meta description are so vital to SERP success.

This is also at the heart of social media marketing. In a sea of competing ephemeral content, you’ve really gotta stand out to capture someone’s attention and compel a click. (Especially since social media networks, unlike search engines, aren’t all that interested in sending users over to your website, so the algorithms will often work against you for outbound links.)  

If you find a particular angle or message is especially resonant on social platforms (even if just for driving engagement, not clicks), you might consider adopting it for your meta descriptions to see if it improves CTRs, and vice versa.
Social and SEO: Two Keys to the Content Kingdom
These are separate tactical areas of digital marketing, but to treat them as completely independent would be a mistake. At TopRank Marketing, we view SEO and social media marketing as two complementary aspects of a fully integrated content marketing strategy, with numerous functional similarities and intersectional opportunities. Understanding how to maximize both in unison is instrumental to unleashing your brand’s full potential.

Want to learn more about how different tactics can work together harmoniously in today’s digital strategies? Check out our recent post from Caitlin on The Intersection of SEO & Influencer Marketing: What B2B Marketers Need to Know.

* Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client

The post The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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How to Screen and Recruit the Best SEO Content Writers

Posted by Victor_Ijidola

It’s easy to find writers; they’re everywhere — from a one-second Google search to asking on LinkedIn.

But hiring the best ones? That’s the daunting task marketers and business owners face. And you do not just need writers, you need exceptional SEO content writers.

Mainly because that’s what Google (aka the largest traffic driver of most sites) has clearly been clamoring for since their Panda update in 2011, RankBrain in 2015, and their “Fred” update (and by the way, Gary Illyes from Google coined “Fred’ for every unnamed Google update) in March, 2017.

It’s obvious how each of these major updates communicates Google’s preference for excellent SEO writers:

If you’re a frequent Moz reader, you probably know how they work — but if not: Panda penalizes every webpage with content that adds little to no value to people online, giving more visibility to content pieces that do. On its own, the RankBrain update has made Google almost as smart as humans — when choosing the most relevant and high-quality content to rank on page #1 of search engine result pages (SERPs).

The “Fred” update further tackled sites with low-quality content that aren’t doing anything beyond providing information that’s already available on the internet. It also penalized sites that prioritized revenue above user experience.

After this update, 100+ sites saw their traffic drop by 50 percent to 90 percent.

It is evident that Google has, through these core updates, been requiring brands, publishers, and marketers to work with SEO content writers who know their onions; the ones who know how to write with on-page SEO mastery.

But how do you find these exceptional wordsmiths? Without a plan, you will have to screen tens (or even hundreds) of them to find those who are a good fit.

But let’s make it easier for you. Essentially, your ideal SEO writers should have two key traits:

Good on-page SEO expertiseA great eye for user experience (i.e. adding relevant images, formatting, etc.)

A writer with these two skills is a great SEO writer. But let’s dig a bit deeper into what that means.

(Note: this post is about hiring exceptional SEO content writers — i.e., wordsmiths who don’t need you monitoring them to do great work. So, things can get a bit techie as you read on. I’ll be assuming your ideal writer understands or is responsible for things like formatting, on-page SEO, and correctly uploading content into your CMS.)

1. On-page SEO knowledge

By now, you know what on-page SEO is. But if not, it’s simply the elements you put on a site or web page to let search engines understand that you have content on specific topics people are searching for.

So, how do you know if a writer has good on-page SEO knowledge?

Frankly, “Can you send me your previous writing samples?” is the ideal question to ask any writer you’re considering hiring. Once they show their samples, have them walk you through each one, and ask yourself the following questions:

Question A: Do they have ‘focus keywords’ in their previous samples?

Several factors come into play when trying to rank any page, but your ideal writer must know how to hold things down on the keyword side of things.

Look through their samples; see if they have optimized any content piece for a specific keyword in the past so you can know if they’ll be able to do the same for your content.

Question B: How do they use title tags?

Search engines use title tags to detect the headings in your content.

You know how it works: put “SEO strategy” — for example — in a few, relevant headings on a page and search engines will understand the page is teaching SEO strategy.

Essentially, your ideal SEO writer should understand how to use them to improve your rankings and attract clicks from your potential customers in search results.

Are title tags really that important? They are. Ahrefs, for instance, made their title tag on a page more descriptive and this alone upped their traffic by 37.58%.

So, look through the titles in your candidate’s samples, especially the h1 title. Here’s what you should look for when examining how a candidate uses HTML tags:

i. Header tags should, ideally, not be more than 60 characters. This is to avoid results that look like this in SERPs:

(three dots in front of your titles constitutes bad UX — which Google frowns at)

ii. The subheadings should be h2 (not necessarily, but it’s a plus)

iii. Headings under subtopics should be h3 (also not necessary, but it’s a plus)

Look for these qualities in your candidate’s work and you’ll be able to confirm that they properly implement title tags in their content, and can do the same for you.

But some writers may not have control over the title tags in their published works — that is, the sites they wrote for probably didn’t give them such access. In this case, request samples they published on their own site, where they actually have control over these tags.

Question C: What do they know about internal linking?

Orbit Media once shared how they used internal linking to shoot a blog post from position #29 up to #4.

So, it’s important that your writers know how to contextually link to your older content pieces while writing new content. And it works for good reason; internal linking helps you:

Communicate the relevance and value of your pages to Google (the more links a page gets, the more authority it has in Google’s eyes)
Demonstrate to Google that your site contains in-depth content about any specific topic
Tell Google your site has easy navigation — which means it has good UX and is well-structured.

Internal linking is a major key to search ranking, so you need writers who have internal linking in their pocketful of tools. But also ensure they do it using proper anchor texts; in a recent LinkedIn post, expert editor Rennie Sanusi hinted at two key anchor text elements to look for in your candidate’s samples:

[Anchor texts] should clearly explain where they’ll take your reader to[Anchor texts] shouldn’t be too long
Question D: Do they write long-form content?

The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,800+ words long — according to research from Backlinko.

Google has been all about in-depth content since its inception; you’re probably familiar with their mission statement:

Every algorithm change they make is geared toward achieving this mission statement, and ranking long-form content helps them in the process as well.

Because, to them, writing longer content means you’re putting more information that searchers are looking for into your content.

So you need writers who can produce long-form content. Check their samples and confirm they know how to write long-form content on a regular basis.

Question E: Have they ranked for any important keywords?

Ultimately, you need to see examples of important keywords your ideal content writer has ranked for in the past. This is the utmost test of their ability to actually drive search traffic your way.

That’s it for finding writers who know on-page SEO. But as you know, that’s only one part of the skills that makes a great SEO content writer.

The other important bit is their ability to write content that engages humans. In other words, they need to know how to keep people reading a page for several minutes (or even hours), leading them to take actions that are important to your business.

2. A great eye for user experience

Keeping readers on a page for long durations also improves your ranking.

In the aforementioned Backlinko study, researchers analyzed 100,000 sites and found that “websites with low average bounce rates are strongly correlated with higher rankings.”

And you know what that means; your ideal SEO writer should not only write to rank on search engines, they must also write to attract and keep the attention of your target audience.

So, look for the following in their samples:

Headlines and introductions that hook readers

You need writers who are expert enough to know the types of headlines and opening paragraphs that work.

It’s not a hard skill to spot; look through their samples. If their titles and introductions don’t hook you, they probably won’t hook your audience. It’s really that simple.

Explainer images and visuals

The report also revealed that: “Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images.”

But of course, they have to be relevant images (or other visual types). And many times (if not most of the time), that means explainer images — so look out for those in their samples. And there are two examples of explainer images:

Example #1: Explainer images with text and pointers

This one has elements (an arrow and a text) on it, explaining how the image is relevant to the topic the content is about.

Example #2: Explainer images without text and pointers

Why does this image not have any text or arrows on it? It’s a self-explanatory screenshot, that’s why.

As long as it’s used appropriately — where the “online sales of Nike products” is mentioned in the content — it gets its message across.

In general, your ideal SEO writers need to know how to use tools like Skitch and Canva to create these images. Remember, you’re on a hunt for the exceptional ones.

References and citing resources

Your ideal writer should link to stats or studies that make their points stronger. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Check the links in their samples and make sure they cite genuine resources.

Examples

Illustrations make understanding easier. Especially if you’re in a technical industry (and most industries have their geeky side), your ideal writer should know how to explain their points with examples.

Simply search their samples — using Command + F (or Ctrl F if you’re using Windows) — for “example,” “instance,” or “illustration.” This works, because writers usually mention things like “for example,” or “for instance” when providing illustrations.

Excellent SEO content writers = Higher search rankings

Getting SEO content writers who have all the skills I’ve mentioned in this article are possible to find. And hiring them means higher search rankings for your content. These writers are, again, everywhere. But here’s the thing — and you’ve probably heard it before: You get what you pay for.

Exceptional SEO content writers are your best bet, but they’re not cheap. They can send your search traffic through the roof, but, like you: They want to work for people who can afford the quality they provide. So, if you’re going on a hunt for them, ready your wallet.

But ensure you get their samples and ask the questions in this guide as you deem fit. If you’re paying for content that’ll help you rank higher on Google, then you really should get what you pay for.

Did you find any of my tips helpful? Let me know in the comments below!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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