From here on out, a marketing plan that consists of (and even more importantly, relies on) “rank well in Google” is a bullshit plan. Because Google doesn’t care about you, or your website or your business. They care about theirs.
Wondering about your marketing strategies for 2014? Many small businesses earnestly create marketing plans, but our strategies last as long as New Year’s resolutions.
Invariably, Murphy’s Law applies. We want to try the latest big new thing (content marketing, perhaps) but whatever we try turns out to be more complicated than we expect. Or it needs more resources that we have. So we pull back and focus whatever’s familiar, even if it’s expensive, and no longer works as well as it once did.
Let’s look at four tearless and fearless marketing strategies. Tearless because they’re free. They just take time. Fearless because they’re easy.
1. Do more of whatever worked for you in 2013.
What worked for you in 2013? If you’ve got an ad that’s been running in your local paper for three years, keep it up. Your customers are used to your ad. They expect to see you there. However, consider experimenting a little. Could you run special offerings for new customers?
If you’re using Twitter to manage customer service, keep doing that. Consider creating a Twitter-specific page on your website to welcome new customers, and tell them who you are.
Improve search engine rankings – The more content you produce, the more likely you will be found by your prospects when they are researching your industry online. As long as you have a content marketing strategy in place, optimizing for specific long-tail keywords, you should see a significant increase in search engines rankings.
Here’s the easiest and laziest way to answer the “blog or not?” question. Check your competitors’ websites. If they’re blogging, your customers will expect you to do the same.
If you hate writing, post images of your products, your customers, or your town. Blog whatever YOU like. Treat your blog and your Twitter account as your customer service department: help your customers, and your prospective customers, and you can’t go wrong.
3. Forget about the “shares.” Think: “conversions”.
The main thing that we expect to see in the New Year is for marketers to shy away from the cheap, clickbait content that inflates “vanity metrics,” and move more towards creating niche-specific, high quality content that provides value to their followers.
When you provide valuable content, your visitors will stay on your website longer. This gives you more opportunities for conversions (sales.)
Getting on Google+ will help Google’s Web crawlers index your site, leading to higher placement during a Web search. It will also ensure that customers get the right information when they search for your business on Google.
2013 has been a big year on Google+; the network is becoming more useful by the month. Google’s sinking money into it. Studies suggest that Google+ has over 500 million users, and that almost 70 per cent of marketers want to learn more about the network.
What marketing strategies are you thinking about for 2014? For me, the mix is much as before. I’ll be blogging, and will remain active on social media. Wherever you are in the world, I wish you much success in 2014. :-)
When you create Web content, you’re writing for RESULTS. You want your content to be found, so you get a return on the time and energy you’ve spent in creating it.
There’s no guarantee of course, but creating metadata helps the search engines to index your content, so it’s worthwhile. I’m mildly obsessive about webpage metadata. Basically, metadata is just data about your data. In webpage terms, mostly we’re talking about page titles, page descriptions, keywords, and author meta tags. If you’re a total obsessive, you can push the boat out with schema.org, of course – go wild. :-)
Before Hummingbird, using meta tags gave you some sense of control of your search engine rankings. A few Google updates revealed how spurious that sense was. Nevertheless, meta tags are still important.
A tip: your meta tag page title can be different from your page headline. This is often useful, because you can grab attention with your page headline, and write a page title which makes sense to the search engines.
Let’s see how this works in practice.
I searched Google for my name and “headline copywriting” to find an article I wrote a few days ago. You can see it in the results, below.
The page description is the post’s first sentence. I could have created a totally different page description, if I had a reason to do that.
In some cases, depending what your goal for the content happens to be, you could do that. I’ve always considered the page description to be a mini-ad for your content, because it shows up in the SERPS (search engine results for a query.)
Should you write special descriptions for all your pages?
If you’re using WordPress, there are endless SEO plugins you can use. I’m used to All In One SEO Pack, so I use that. However, Yoast is also popular.
A plugin makes creating meta tags easy. Want a different page description from the one which the search engines will grab from the page automatically? Easy. Write your own.
In the image below, you can see All In One SEO Pack’s options when you’re writing a blog post.
Just fill in the meta data, crafting your own page description, and a better page title for the search engines, and you’re done.
I tend to fill in the meta tags whenever I write a blog post. A student asked whether it was always essential to create a page description. My response was that since it was easy, you might as well.
Now Google engineer Matt Cutts has created a video which answers the question authoritatively as far as Google’s concerned, so it’s worth watching. Your questions about page descriptions answered. :-)
FWIW, here’s the page description meta tag I created for this blog post:
Creating Web content? Page metadata can help your content to be found. Create a page description meta tag; WordPress SEO plugins can help.
Creating your own page descriptions depends on your goals for your content, and it may help your results, so think about a description for your page either before, or after you’ve written it.
Curses! Google’s turned off the free keyword tool, which means you need to log in to AdWords and use the Keyword Planner if you want Google’s data. But what if you want to use keywords to inspire your content creation, rather than to buy ads?
A little digression. Please be aware that since Hummingbird flew out of its cage, it’s vital to consider your audience, and its needs, rather than create content to any keyword formula. So these days, Google’s free keyword tool would be much less useful anyway. (We all feel better now, right?)
Let’s look at five keyword tips which ensure that you will NEVER run out of content ideas again.
1. Consider user intent, and focus on “themes”
I love this insight from Aaron Wahlstrom. He discusses how to find content ideas without using Google’s free keyword tool, and in the age of Hummingbird:
This is why keyword “themes” and specific theme landing pages will become more important. For instance, if a user historically was using the queries “A great SEO company for a B2B industrial company” versus “B2B SEO”, you may have received vastly different results. However with Hummingbird, the intent behind this search is largely the same. In this case, it is important to now have a page which targets a theme of Industrial B2B SEO, with good content, which will capture both of these queries.
Here’s how this could work for you in practice. Let’s say that you own a garden center, and you’ve been targeting specific keywords for fertilizers in your content. You’ve been writing about fertilizer brands, when and where to use fertilizer etc.
Corral all the “fertilizer” content you have, to see what you’ve got. Next, create an “everything you always wanted to know about fertilizer but didn’t know who to ask” page. Interview your own fertilizer expert, and the rest of your staff too. You want your new page to be as comprehensive as you can make it. Link out to the fertilizer content you already have.
As Aaron suggests in his article, this is your “theme landing page.”
As you corral the content you have, and create your page, 1001 new content ideas will emerge.
2. What’s in the news? Create alerts for your favorite keywords
Go to Google News, and enter your favorite keywords, one by one. Create alerts for them all.
I just entered “fertilizer” into Google News, and got the result you can see in the image below.
Depending on your keywords, you may get a lot of results, or very few. Either way, you’ll get some inspiration for content ideas.
3. Use Google Suggest: go through the alphabet
This is my favorite easy, keyword content idea inspiration-getter. All you do is go to Google.com, and enter your keyword, plus a letter of the alphabet.
In the image below, I entered “fertilizer”, and the letter “a.”
Just meander through the alphabet, and see what ideas you get. You’re sure to find several ideas which inspire content.
4. Hello Amazon: enter your keyword, and browse books on your topic
Depending on your keywords, you can get some great inspiration here, especially for your “theme” landing pages.
Just enter your keyword into Amazon Book Search, as in the image below. Then check out the Tables of Contents of any books which appeal to you, using Look Inside/ Table of Contents.
5. Use Soovle, for inspiration-at-a-glance content ideas
Wedded to Google? Google isn’t the only search engine. There are lots more, but don’t worry, you don’t have to click your way through them all. Let Soovle do it for you.
As you can see in the image above, Soovle pulls from several search engines, including Wikipedia, Amazon, and YouTube, to give you lots of content ideas.
So there you have it. Five ways to get ideas for content, using keywords, and without using Google’s free keyword tool.