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writer's block

How to Remove Writers Block and Come Up with Awesome Content Ideas

Seth Godin is often quoted as saying Content Marketing is the only marketing left. The real truth is this. Useful marketing is the only marketing people will tolerate and content marketing can be very, very useful.

However, even when you have the time to produce the content, that doesn’t always mean your mind is right there with you. Anybody who produces content has fallen into a writer’s rut or mental block with the direction they want to take (ironically, I had that issue with this post).

So, how do you overcome this? Below I’ve listed some advice on overcoming writer’s block as well as how to develop additional content ideas once you’ve done so.

Removing writer’s block

Take a break and go outside

Seems simple enough, right? Stand up, walk away from your desk, and get away from your computer for a bit. Do this even if you’re on a tight deadline. There’s no point in just staring at your computer if it’s getting you nowhere. Getting some fresh air will help get your creative juices flowing and will make you feel refreshed so that you can return to your desk and conquer a stellar piece of content.

Remove distractions

I get that this may be easier said than done, but it’s imperative that you try.

The easiest way to remove distractions is to know what they are ahead of time and remove them before you try diving into your content (maybe having the TV on for background noise isn’t the best idea).

An easy distraction to eliminate immediately is to turn your email notifications off and close the tab on your computer. It’s so easy to check email consistently throughout the day, but it’s a huge distraction. You’ll find you can get a lot more done if you aren’t constantly looking at it.

Using tools like RescueTime can help you eliminate digital distraction across the board mindlessly.

Mix it up 

This can apply to background noise, location, and so on. I’m all for routine, but when it comes to writing, sometimes it’s helpful to change things up. It may take some trial and error, but once you figure it out, stick with it for future writing endeavors.

Write an outline

Remember in grade school when your teacher would make you turn in an outline before you turned in your paper? At the time it seemed like such a daunting task. As an adult, however, you come to realize how incredibly useful this is. It helps to put structure to your writing.

It gives you a plan that you can follow so that when you sit down to crank it out, you have a clear direction which will help make the time needed to write go a lot faster.

Developing content ideas

Once my creative juices are in working order, I often like to take advantage of this time to come up with ideas for future content as well. Although you may still experience some writer’s block when you actually begin developing the content, having an editorial calendar in place will definitely make the process seem easier.

Have a brainstorming session

You know your audience (or at least you should), so brainstorm the types of content they might like to consume. The ideas you come up with can be a great starting point as you dive into the other tactics below.

Conduct keyword research

Keyword research is a necessity that can be used to drive your content strategy. The power of keyword research is that it gives you the ability to understand the exact phrases people use to search for the products and services you provide.

When you’re aware of what those phrases are, you can address the topics through your content and blog posts.

Great keyword research informs your editorial calendar and that’s why you should never stop doing it.

Look at industry/topic related forums

In forums, people will often say exactly what they are looking for and what they are having a hard time finding. If you spend enough time on these platforms it becomes a great way to pick up on trends.

Rely on tools

The tools below can be extremely beneficial in coming up with topic ideas because they’ll provide you with real data and insight about your target audience.

  • BuzzSumo – BuzzSumo is a search engine that ranks content by how often an article is shared. After I have my list of keyword phrases, I use this tool to see what types of content people are writing and sharing for my list of search terms.
  • Keywordtool.io – I use Keywordtool.io because it turns up actual questions people ask about specific terms. I think this is one of the best ways to find intent in a search phrase.
  • Answer the Public – I should warn you, the homepage is not what you think it’s going to be, but it’s a fantastic tool for discovering content ideas!
  • Quora –  Quora is “a platform to ask questions and connect with people who contribute unique insights and quality answers.”

Look through emails and chat with your team

Go through your email and search for questions your customers have asked, how they talk about their issues, what they like and don’t like, and so on. The information you can gather here is priceless and can give you amazing content ideas.

If you don’t personally answer a lot of external emails, ask your team members who do. Anybody on your team who interacts with your customers, whether in-person or digitally, can be a wealth of information and a great resource for developing impactful content.

What recommendations would you add for overcoming writer’s block and developing content ideas?

If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Content Marketing for Small Business.

content creation

How to Create Effective Content Without Adding More to Your To-Do List

Content influences not only all aspects of our marketing but of our entire business as well.

Content is not something you can take lightly. It needs to be front and center of your strategy and it needs to be done well. The only issue is, it’s time-consuming.

For small business owners, finding the time to create high-quality content on a regular basis can seem impossible. With the ever-growing to-do list that so many business owners face, how can the content giant get taken care of without adding more to their plates?

The answer? Outsourcing.

Outsourcing your content creation efforts is far more common than you probably think, and in my opinion, it’s a necessary tactic if you want to do content marketing well. In today’s virtual world, the sky’s the limit for the talent that you can use to create the content for you.

Not only will it benefit your business, but it will likely save you money by giving you the time back needed to focus on other lucrative areas of your business.

Below are a few tips for outsourcing that will get you on your way to being a successful content creation machine.

1. Own your process and strategy

So here’s the thing. You can, and should, absolutely outsource the creation of your content, but you must still own your process and strategy (it is your business after all).

The only way to outsource effectively is to put systems in place that ensure successful collaboration between you and your outsourced team.

I’d recommend using a project management tool to manage deadlines and provide feedback efficiently. Things can get lost in email and has the potential to get messy. I use Asana, but there are a lot of tools out there that can help you get the job done.

Getting a routine going between you and your outsourced partners can also be extremely beneficial. For example, have blog posts due to you for review every Thursday and podcast show notes due every Wednesday. That way, you know what to expect and when to expect it, and the person creating the content will also know what they need to be doing and when without a lot of back and forth communication.

Develop an editorial calendar that lays out a strategy that your outsourced team can refer to. Planning ahead makes month-to-month operations easier for you, and lets your content creators know what’s to come.

2. Be picky

Anybody can really claim to be a writer, but claiming to be a writer and actually being one are two different things. When searching for somebody to outsource this work to, seek out references and testimonials, and ask them to write a blog post for a title you give them to see how they approach your topics and writing style.

There are numerous sites out there that you can use to find writers, including:

In the beginning, take the time to review the work for specifics, style, tone, and voice. Edit each post to make sure it still represents the brand well, and feel free to tweak a bit to add a personal touch. Provide your content creators with feedback from the beginning, otherwise, they’ll never be able to learn what you’re truly looking for. If they don’t apply the feedback to future posts, you should consider this a red flag.

If you find they are consistently living up to your expectations, bring them on board. The review process will take less time the more they get used to writing for you. In fact, you’ll hopefully get to the point where you don’t have to review their work at all.

It’s important that you do what you can to prevent bottlenecks. There may be times that your content isn’t 100% perfect but, don’t let an endless editing phase prevent you from getting your content out into the world.

Your audience cares more about receiving helpful information than they do about whether or not your author’s tone perfectly aligns with the brand.

3. Remove the guesswork

You must be clear about the instructions you give your writers in terms of tone, style, and formatting. Create a document that outlines these areas for each of your writing needs as well as any background information that is necessary for them to get the job done.

It can be easy to blame remote writers for creating less-than-ideal content, but if you haven’t taken the time to provide the information they need to get the job done, then the blame is on you.

4. Focus on results

When it comes to your content efforts, you must always be paying attention to the results you’re seeing. Even if the content appears to check all the boxes on your list, it doesn’t mean it will perform well once it’s published.

Keep an eye on the metrics to see what resonates with your audience and what does not.

Keep in mind that one piece of content shouldn’t dictate strategy moving forward. You need to look for trends to help you decide what to stick with and what to revise moving forward.

5. Take care of your team

Your outsourced team may be remote, but they’re still a part of your team now and should be treated as such. Don’t forget to give positive feedback when it’s deserved. People want to work for those that appreciate them. The more valued and appreciated they feel, the better the work they produce will be.

By outsourcing content, you are able to focus on areas business of your business that require your attention. If you feel inclined, you can still create one thorough piece of content on your own each week to help keep you on your toes and current with marketing trends, but that’s entirely up to you.

Outsourcing can be extremely valuable for your business, provided you do it the right way and pay special attention to the process.

Remember, although another person is doing the work, it’s your or your brand and reputation that stand behind it, so don’t take the process and development lightly.

If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Content Marketing for Small Business.

content marketing about customers

Content Marketing is About Customers, Not Keywords

If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Content Marketing for Small Business.

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Content Marketing for Small Business

I’ve had content marketing for small business on the brain recently so I thought I’d write about it today. “Boy, there is a topic that hasn’t been covered recently,” said nobody in a long time.

Here’s the thing though, I think it’s one of those topics that is misunderstood and certainly evolving. Content creation has fallen squarely into strategy as far as I’m concerned. In fact I often call content marketing the voice of strategy.

Looking at your website, website’s structure, your SEO plan, and content or editorial plan, overlap significantly in the category of strategy, and while you have to address them in an integrated way, you also have to start thinking differently about content and how you’re going to use it to meet some of your business objectives.

Ever since the major algorithm changes that everybody talks about, the hummingbirds and the pandas, where low-quality content and dubious backlinks really got slapped, a lot of SEO people are really starting to come to realize that content is everything that drives that entire industry.

Then Google comes up with something called RankBrain. This is their artificial intelligence engine that learns not only about what people are searching for, but what they do when they find it, how they engage, how they dwell, and how they share.

In fact, one of the most important metrics or ranking factors in the future is going to be engagement. So creating your content around getting engagement is not only a good thing from an awareness and trust-building standpoint, it’s also a very crucial ingredient in how content is going to be ranked.

Towards the end of 2017 I created a guide for local marketing, because I wanted to create content that was specific to the challenges of getting a local business to rank or to get customers. By local I mean that they are in a community and most, if not all, of their customers, are in that community and interact by coming into their store, or their place of business, or that they go out and have a sales call with that person.

There’s a lot of content on local marketing. It’s a really hot topic right now, and with that guide, I was able to rank number one in Google for various search terms around local marketing in about two week’s time.

I have a lot of pages that are on page one, about 1700 last time I looked. So obviously I’ve got a tremendous amount of momentum, and so I’m not going to suggest that just anybody can do this.

There are a lot of terms I don’t rank for in this approach. Identifying a term, a problem and a challenge that a prospective client has, and then putting all of my energy into getting that content to rank, is what took me from, maybe page two or three to the actual number-one spot, and this now is generating significant traffic,links, and opportunities.

Understanding intent

The key to anything we talk about with regard to content strategy is intent. What problems, questions, or goals does your client have?

Keep in mind that they’ll probably change along the way when they’re trying to find a product or a service like yours. To discover your customer’s intent, look at emails that you’ve sent. Talk to your sales or service reps. What questions are they answering?

It’s important to do keyword research, and SEO folks will still tell you that that’s step number one. I’ve certainly done a lot of education around this idea of how to do keyword research, and it’s important, but it’s a starting point only. If you stop there, you’re only going to get one piece. You’re going to optimize your content for keywords.

People aren’t keywords and their problems aren’t necessarily keywords. People may express problems in ways that turn into key phrases, but the content today has to be customer-focused. Go out and talk to your customers. Look at reviews. Look at your competitors. What are people saying?

Those are oftentimes some of the best markers, or clues, to find the real problems that people want to be solved. Many times what we find isn’t the stuff that we want to put on our website. It’s the little things.

Do you show up on time? Do you return my calls? Do you clean up the job site? Those are things that are real problems that you or your competitors are actually solving for their customers because they are turning up and voluntarily writing those words as though they are talking to another prospective client.

It’s some of the best content you can get, but don’t forget to talk to your customers and ask them a lot of questions as well.

Helpful tools for content marketing efforts

There are a couple of tools out there that we use all the time. Answer The Public is a relatively new tool where you can put in a search term and you’ll get all kinds of variations, ideas, and questions that people ask.

Questions are so great and so valuable because there’s a lot of intent. If somebody just types in a couple of words, “referral marketing,” for example, it’s not often easy to tell what their intent is, but if somebody types in “how to set up a referral marketing program,” it gives you a pretty good idea of what they’re looking to do.

We also use BuzzSumo which is another great tool that shows the most shared content related to your phrases. A lot of times the fact that people are sharing content means that it hit the nail on the head. It addressed a problem or answered a question.

I wish I could tell you that you’ll magically get five themes that will just be the perfect thing that you need to write about, but it’s not that simple. There’s a bit of art in this. I can’t always tell clients exactly what I’m going to find, but I always find it.

Choosing content

The last piece of this is that a lot of times people make the mistake of saying, “Well, we’re this kind of company, but the most popular content people want is X, Y, and Z.”

There are a couple problems with just choosing content that you think will be popular. It’s very hard to be customer-focused.

If you’re a business that serves a certain type of customer, but you’re choosing content because it’s popular but you aren’t an expert on the topic, or you don’t have a unique point of view about that content, you’re probably not going to produce something that is customer-focused.

After you do keyword research and talk to your customers, you’ve got to take your unique twist, approach, and expertise, and bring those to it so that it will be completely relevant for your customers.

Once you’ve done your keyword research, the next step is to create themes for your content. To come up with your themes, you must think in terms of a body of work, almost like chapters in a book, that you’re going to put your emphasis on, maybe for an entire month, and create content that will allow you to outrank competitors for key search terms.

You must stay very focused to do this.

Creating content packages

The best way to rank for any search terms is to know your customer better than anyone else and create, what I call, a content package to address your known client problems and challenges.

So what’s a content package? I’m going to go back to the local marketing guide example. I create a page, like The Ultimate Guide to Local Marketing, that becomes an actual core page on my site (not a blog post). I turn that page into a table of contents of sorts that includes all the major elements of local marketing.

From there, I create numerous posts that point directly back to that page, and I link them all together with categories, anchor text, and a little bit of theme magic in WordPress that allows me to display related content.

All of these pages, along with some useful curated content from some very high-domain authority sites, really create this depth of content that allows you to then rank for, in this case, key local marketing problems.

It’s like I’ve built this little wing on my website where the major jumping-off point is almost like a table of contents. You go to that page and there’s audio, video, and a whole list of links to other content that is related to a sub-category.

I’ve taken local marketing, I’ve broken it up into five sub-categories, and then those sub-categories blast out to all kinds of other content on my site.

The beauty of this is that I’ve now got a lot of content that I’d written in the past that I was able to bring to this, but going forward, I’ve got a lot of content that I will continue to write into the future, and I will link it to this page, so this page will continue to get updated and freshened up. If I do a webinar, maybe on local marketing, I’ll go ahead and put the archived video on the page.

While I targeted the key phrase “local marketing guide,” it is starting to rank for dozens of related terms because of the depth of that content. As a bonus, one of the posts for using Ad Words for local business, which is one of the categories, has also jumped to the number-one spot for related search terms.

The power of interlinking and building a table of contents or chapters-in-a-book approach is the most potent way to rank for content today as far as I’m concerned.

Now this may feel like a lot of work and that’s because it is, but the bar’s been raised, and those that jump high enough are rewarded.

These pages are generating significant traffic, links, and opportunities. When people come to the main page, there’s a lot to consume, so they stay on the page. Bounce rate is almost nothing because they click and dwell on those links, and they visit more links because it’s all woven together, so Google sees high engagement in this form of content.

In addition, these pages become tools for all of our advertising and lead generation efforts.

So what next? Simply choose more themes and repeat the process every month. After a few months, you’ve created a massive content machine that is focused on your ideal customers, expertise, and unique point of view, not keywords, which will assist in driving business and leads, not just spammy clicks.

content creation

How to Use Content to Create Customers

I know this isn’t the first time you’ve been told that you need to develop content to be competitive in the marketing world today, but the fact of the matter is, it’s so important that it’s worth repeating over and over again. The use of high quality, education-based content has become an essential ingredient in creating awareness, building trust, converting leads, and creating customers (hopefully leading to referrals and repeat business as well).

With that being said, content doesn’t need to be nearly as overwhelming as it once was. Gone are the days where you have to pump out content consistently in order to gain traction online. The name of the game today is quality, not quantity, and Google is getting really good at recognizing that.

I’ve developed a system for turning content into leads. Once the leads are in your hand, it’s up to you to close the deal and turn them into customers.

1. Decide what content you should create

For a while now, I’ve been promoting something I call the Total Content SystemTM, which is an approach that allows you to plan, delegate, curate, create, collaborate, repurpose and get far more out of every piece of content you produce.

Through your knowledge and by using keyword tools, you can develop a list of core content topics and assign one to each month for the next six months. Each theme should be a substantial topic related to your business or industry and represent an important keyword search term.

2. Invest time in content upgrades

Marketers today have tapped the insatiable hunger for useful, actionable, educational content and are employing highly targeted “content upgrades” to convert traffic to lead funnels.

Knowing that you’ll be creating less, but more valuable, content, be sure to marry this content with content upgrades. Since the reader is already engaged with your content, providing value with these upgrades will increase the odds of a conversion because they will already be a warm lead.

An important factor to the content upgrade is that it helps you segment visitor interest. People are very interested in how to do that one specific thing they searched for. If they land on your article, you have the ability to know what they are looking for and which content upgrade to provide when they need it.

One of the quickest ways to identify candidates for immediate content upgrade opportunities is to look through your analytics and find your most popular content and consider ways to personalize a content upgrade for those posts.

You can also use a tool like BuzzSumo to identify some of the most shared content online based on the keyword phrases related to your ideal client.

You don’t have to overthink the package for a content upgrade. In many cases what you’re looking to do is simplify information not make it more complex.

Providing these upgrades will increase your number of leads, and in turn, customers.

3. Ensure your audience sees your content

Keep in mind that no matter how good your content is, nobody will see it if you don’t promote it. You must ensure you promote it to relevant social channels, email lists, and so on to ensure it targeting the right people. Also, be sure to employ on-page SEO best practices within your content to help you get found by your audience organically.

Matching your content to the customer journey

To take your content creation even further, you must ensure that it is incorporated into every stage of the customer journey in order to solidify the close. I believe the customer journey consists of seven stages (what I refer to as the Marketing Hourglass): Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, and Refer.

As a person moves through the customer journey, you must hit them with content throughout the process to keep them engaged with your business, and the best way to do this is to match the content you’d like to develop with the various phases of the Marketing Hourglass.

You must be aware of what your customer’s journey looks like in order to develop content for each stage of it. To help you do so, I’ve described the stages below to help you brainstorm what content would work best for you.

Know

The Know stage is the phase where people first become aware of your business, and it’s your job to put a piece of content out there that get’s their attention.

Like

At this stage, give your prospects reasons to keep wanting more and move towards gaining permission to continue the conversation.

Trust

I believe this is the most important step but arguably the most tedious and time-consuming. The more a person trusts you and your company, the more likely they’ll be to buy from you. Create content that helps build that trust.

Try

I think this the easiest phase to move people to the purchase. The content here needs to represent a sample of the end result. Demonstrate how much better your product or service is than the competition, to differentiate your business.

Buy

The focus here is to maintain a good experience for the prospect. In order to continue to deliver a remarkable customer experience, you’ve got to continue to educate through content.

Repeat

In the Repeat phase, you need to consider adding a results review process as well as additional upsell and cross-sell touchpoints.

Refer

Build processes and content campaigns that make it easy for your brand champions to refer your business.

Content marketing is here to stay. Put time and energy into creating quality content with associated content upgrades throughout each stage of the customer journey, and you’ll be sure to increase your number of customers moving forward.

If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Content Marketing for Small Business.

podcasting marketing tactic

10 Reasons Podcast Guesting is the #1 Killer Content Marketing Tactic of All Time

Whoa. This is a bold statement, but hear me out.

I have been earning a living from search engine optimization for over 12 years and I’ve tried every tactic at one time or another.

Ever since Google started dropping algorithmic bombs around 2011 (think Panda, Penguin, and so on), SEO industry behavior has changed. Most SEO services have moved back onshore and “real” SEO is now an integrated part of holistic marketing.

That means legit SEO companies have become web designers, social media strategists, reputation managers and yes, content marketers.

In order to succeed, we as marketers and business owners must build our own audiences, strive for niche authority and become influencers. As such, I just recently started getting booked on podcasts and have been stunned by the benefits.

So Much Value in So Little Time

Pound-for-pound, I have never seen a tactic that has produced so many wins, with so little effort:

  1. Unbelievable access to a highly engaged audience. In one 20 to 40-minute interview, with little preparation, you can access hundreds to thousands of highly targeted listeners. If this top ten list stopped here at #1, this by itself is all the reason you need to consider a podcast guesting campaign.
  2. Easier than guest blogging. Guest blog posting is one of the most popular forms of content marketing. But it’s a grind because it takes a lot of time to write really good educational content (like I am doing right now on a Saturday morning), and there is a lot of spam and outreach noise that website owners have to deal with. Sure there are a lot of professional blog outreach services you can outsource to, but they can be pricey.   The beauty of podcast guesting is that you get to be published on the host’s blog with valuable organic links via a show notes page (example).
  3. Real personal connections. One of the big surprises to me was the feeling of friendship that develops during an interview. The fact that two people (the guest and the host) have each other’s undivided attention for an involved discussion creates a bond that can turn into collaboration. For example, in my own experience, hosts have offered to make personal introductions to other influential podcast hosts. Huge. Huge. Benefit.
  4. High content production value. Most established podcasts, and even newer ones, put a lot of effort into production, including professional sound, editing, creating custom web graphics, and writing a custom show notes page that includes guest bio information, key takeaways, and resource and contact links.
  5. Cross-amplification on steroids. When a podcast goes lives, there’s this cool feeling of a mini-launch that results in a highly shareable piece of content. Hosts are happy to have interesting guests, and guests are excited to be interviewed. The nature of the way podcasts are produced and distributed (audio, web page and often video) makes them much more shareable than typical blog posts – resulting in more likes, shares, tweets, backlinks and traffic.
  6. Free long-form blog posts. I have found that some podcasts hosts will provide full interview transcripts on their show notes pages, but most don’t. When they don’t plan to publish the transcripts, I have asked hosts if I can transcribe the show at my own expense and post on my own site as a blog post. No one has ever said no! This is a great way to get really good, unique content on your site with no effort (and very little expense if you use a transcription service).
  7. Increased dwell time. Dwell time has been a hot SEO topic for the last year or so. While Google does not directly acknowledge website dwell time as a ranking factor, most SEO experts believe there is a direct correlation between a page’s rankings and the amount of time users spend on the page. Podcasts, when embedded on a website, are unique because listeners are much more likely to listen for longer periods. A two-minute video seems really long because it commands all of your senses. But a podcast of 20 minutes goes by really fast because you can be doing other things while listening. Thus, embedding a podcast audio file on your site (as part of #6 above) may help your SEO efforts.
  8. New trust badges and bragging rights. As you are interviewed on more podcasts, your reach in terms of the caliber of shows begins to snowball. In the 30 or so I have done this year, each one is better than the last. For example, next month I will be on John Lee Dumas’ highly popular podcast Entrepreneur on Fire – and plan to use this as an “as seen on” eye candy for my websites.
  9. Online reviews. One of the things I’ve done, that most guests don’t, is send a request for review feedback right after the show. This allows me to not only get reviews on important review sites, but I also repurpose these into testimonials for my websites. Again, just the review equity from this alone make podcast guesting worth it.
  10. Oh yeah, Sales! You can get lots of leads by being a guest on podcasts, but you can’t sell during the interview – this is a big no-no. Your job as a guest expert is to share your story and educate. If listeners like and learn from what you say, you will get leads by nature of being an informative guest. I have probably had at least $100,000 in new business (annualized) for my agency in a few short months, and it has definitely boosted book sales.

Putting My Money Where My Podcasting Mouth Is

Podcast guesting is so valuable, in fact, that I partnered with John Jantsch to create a podcast booking service called Podcast Bookers. We did this for a couple reasons:

  • John’s been podcasting since 2005 and gets pitched daily by folks that want to be on his popular podcast. He knows what makes for a compelling pitch to hosts and where the gaps are with respect to podcast booking service providers.
  • After interviewing podcast booking services and using a few of them, I saw how the service is executed in a one-dimensional way. Yet, I see so many more SEO benefits to podcast booking that no one is taking advantage of, so I just had to start my own service with a brand new approach.

Whether you use our specialized service, another podcasting booking service, or even your own direct outreach, I promise that if you are prepared, have an angle and a story to tell, you and your clients can use podcast guesting to skyrocket your influence and authority.


About the Author

phil singleton

Phil Singleton is a Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant and co-author of the Amazon best-seller SEO for Growth: The Ultimate Guide for Marketers, Web Designers & Entrepreneurs.  He owns and operates a boutique web design firm, Kansas City Web Design, and markets and sells Internet marketing services under the brand Kansas City SEO.

why websites fail

Why the Majority of Websites Fail

Gone are the days where businesses can rely solely on “pretty” websites. In today’s digital marketing landscape, a website must be an optimized, revenue-generating platform.

I’ll just get right to it: The reason so many websites fail is because businesses take a design-driven approach from the beginning as opposed to developing a website from the ground up with SEO in mind. Without SEO your coding and design efforts will all be for nothing.

A brief look at the web design industry

I hear the same complaint from entrepreneurs time and time again: They’ll get a referral, hire a friend, or search online to find a web designer based on style and price. Sound familiar?

When this happens, more often than not, businesses realize upon site completion that their brand new fancy website isn’t optimized for search. The new site launches and search rankings don’t change at all (some even plummet). But hey, at least the website looks good.

It’s never a fun day when you have to tell an entrepreneur that they likely need a complete site redesign in order to achieve their SEO and business goals.

Because I’ve heard this story so many times, it is now my mission to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-web designer, and I do think first impressions and a good-looking site are important, I just want the web design industry to embrace SEO as well and make it a natural part of the web development process. It’s a win-win for everybody!

Why web design is like building a house

A web designer or design agency are often chosen because of the look of their portfolio. It can be easy to judge a book by its cover when it comes to hiring a designer, as they are digital artists with distinct tastes that either don’t match or do match the direction you’d like to take your brand aesthetically. While web designers are generally very good at their craft, the majority of them are not marketers or SEO consultants.

The issue lies with business owners searching “web design” when looking to hire somebody to do their website, so it’s no wonder a design team would pop up. Rarely do people search “inbound marketing platforms” (which is what they should be typing in) when looking to build their website as the phrase isn’t as commonly used as “web design.”

So, where does the whole “building a house” analogy come into play? If a house were built by an interior designer, it would likely collapse, right? Most people wouldn’t allow an interior designer to build their house, and the same can be said for the website development process. To attract and convert visitors into sales, you need an entirely different skillset than design.

In order to disrupt this traditional way of thinking, web designers need to embrace marketing and SEO, and business owners need to treat the website as a true investment that will help them reach their business goals.

Where content and SEO come in

As we established in the previous sections, when it comes to building a website, looks matter but not nearly as much as the marketing strategy that goes into your website. Your website needs to make a good first impression, but it has to do so much more than that. A good website helps you to sell time and time again. I like to call this the SEO-content balance – SEO brings people to the site, and content converts them.

If a website has a great SEO structure, but terrible content, your process will likely breakdown. The same is true the other way around. If you have great content, but a terrible SEO strategy, people will never see it! You need to have a perfect balance between the two to have optimal success.

Your website’s ranking potential

To be competitive online, you need to invest in a custom website built with SEO in mind as it’s being developed. Your website should not be built with a templated theme (like so many of them are). It should be developed around your business’s needs and marketing goals.

Your website is an investment, not an expense. It takes time, effort, and talent to build it right, but trust me, it’ll all be worth it in the end.

If I haven’t made it clear by now, let me reiterate that your website is one of your company’s most important assets. All of your sales, marketing, and advertising efforts lead back to your website (or at least they should), so you need to make sure it’s modern, updated, and functions properly. There’s nothing worse than driving people to your site only for them to be disappointed that the site is clearly dated. It shows you don’t care enough about your company to leave a lasting impression on your audience.

At the end of the day, your website needs to get your phone ringing, not just serve as a piece of eye-candy, so make sure you’re spending the time and money to get it right.

Need more tips on how to grow your business? Check out our entire Guide to Marketing Professional Services. For more tips on website design, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

The Enduring Power of Content in Marketing

I know, I know, if somebody writes one more thing about content you’re going to lose it, but hear me out, I actually think I can make you change your mind about content.

Inbound marketing is a powerful approach that businesses need to be using today, and if you aren’t implementing the tactics and strategies involved, you’ll find yourself at a serious disadvantage.

Inbound marketing attracts, educates, and converts new customers using various online touchpoints that are part of a brand’s total online presence. Inbound marketing helps you publish the right content, at the right time, in the right place, and for the right people. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interest, you can attract the right people who are most likely to buy from your company. The keyword I’d like to point out here is content.

Content marketing is still the future

Within the inbound marketing world, content marketing has replaced antiquated forms of link building as it relates to SEO. As opposed to previous, spammy ways of link building, a well-executed content marketing strategy will naturally attract the best quality of backlinks, and ones that Google won’t frown upon.

Content marketing can be defined as “a strategic marketing approach that focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience who, in turn, will drive profitable customer action.”

Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It can influence customer behavior over time as you effectively communicate with your audience. This will not only help you sell products, it will help you better forecast the growth of your business.

Note, however, while it helps you sell your products and services, it does not do so directly. Instead, you market through entertainment, education, and information surrounding your business. You become a teacher and believe me, it’s effective.

If you blend your brand’s content with your brand’s story and create an emotional connection with your audience by being transparent with what you believe in, and why, they will likely choose you over your competition. The more people establish an emotional connection, the more likely they’ll be to trust you, and in turn, buy from you.

A strong piece of content has the ability to make someone stop, review, think, and take your business’ desired action.

Creating value

Content marketing aligns well with Google’s algorithm because of the value it provides. The two work hand-in-hand to provides the best possible experience for your customers.

Becoming an authority within your field

Content marketing is now the best way to gain authority within your field. With SEO in mind, a strong strategy, and the ability to frequently and consistently create high-quality content, you can indirectly sell effectively to your targeted audience. If you can establish yourself as a recognized thought leader in your industry, people will be more likely to trust your brand and become customers.

The importance of content distribution channels

A content distribution channel is a platform your brand uses to consistently publish content online. Your various channels should all work together to drive people to your website. While social platforms are great for promoting content, I highly recommend that you host the content on your website, where you know you can control it. Plus, it’s much better from an SEO standpoint to have the content on your own platform.

You need to select content distribution channels based on where your customers are. For example, of you’re an interior designer, it may make sense for you to have a presence on the visual platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Consider using a niche site, such as Houzz in this case, to distribute content as well, because that is where customers will be looking for services like yours. You don’t need to be on every social channel “just because.” Should your platforms based on your overall strategy and bandwidth. Select what works for you, and do it well.

Why blogging is a must

When it comes to SEO, blogging is a must! I can’t stress this enough. Google likes when your website becomes a publishing platform, and I say, if it makes Google happy, do it. Not only does it help with search, blogging establishes you as a subject matter expert. People like to choose companies that clearly know what they’re talking about, so show them that you’re the expert in your niche.

Types of content

Any form of content can be a part of your content marketing campaign. New mediums continue to be developed, but a few types to consider include:

  • Blog posts
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts
  • Web pages
  • Videos
  • Books (both print and digital)
  • Social media posts
  • Webinars
  • Guides and user manuals
  • Speaking engagements

The list goes on. You don’t need to use all forms of content. Test a few and see what works best with your audience. It’s better to create a small amount of content but make it really good, as opposed to a bunch of content at lower quality.

Content marketing is here to stay and it’s never too late to get started. If you haven’t started your content marketing efforts yet, what is holding you back? If you are implementing content marketing in your business, what tips do you have for people getting started?

If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Content Marketing for Small Business.

Worn out content

Nine Ways to Get New Mileage From Worn Out Content

People don’t have enough time to continue to create the amount of content they need to attract visitors and convert them into leads. I get it. Creating content can be challenging and time-consuming, and coming up with new material regularly can seem impossible.

I’m here to tell you it’s doable, and you don’t even have to start from scratch. You can gain tremendous value just from reusing old content. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers said it well: “You don’t have to create content day in and day out. You just have to work on getting the content you already have in the hands of more people.” Here’s how.

Re-optimize old content

A few years ago, HubSpot wrote a blog post titled, “The Blogging Tactic No One Is Talking About: Optimizing the Past” and it was a keeper. In a nutshell, this post discusses that the company tested updating and re-publishing old blog posts to see if they could get more leverage out of them. The results were hard to ignore. By simply re-optimizing old content, HubSpot was able to increase organic traffic by 106%. 

Reoptimize content

The best news? Theses results aren’t unique to HubSpot. Many businesses are taking this approach and are reaping the benefits of it. My friend Brian Dean, of Backlinko, is one of them. In fact, after testing this theory for just two weeks, Brian saw a 260.7% increase in organic search traffic. Not bad for just optimizing and re-publishing content he already had.

reuse content

Interested in taking advantage of this? There are just a few simple steps you need to follow:

1. Review your analytics and identify your underperforming content

It isn’t necessary to optimize all material from the past. If you have blog posts or other content that is performing well, let them be (or repurpose them as I’ll outline below). There are two key components you should consider when finding the right content to re-optimize:

  1. Find posts with high traffic but low conversion and figure out how to increase leads on those posts
  2. Find posts with low traffic but high conversion and figure out how to get more visits to those posts

2. Optimize and update that content

Once you determine which posts you’re going to re-optimize, consider updating the following:

  • Update old images and screenshots to ensure the visuals are still relevant
  • Update any dated content or hyperlinks within the posts with new information and recent URLs
  • Add relevant CTAs to the posts to increase conversion
  • Focus on adding relevant keywords to the content naturally
  • Consider a content upgrade that might make sense on those pages

3. Republish your content

Once the content is updated, republish it and promote to your network via email and social media channels.

Re-optimization works because Google rewards relevancy and freshness. New visits will come out of sharing content within your network, and those new promotions will lead to new inbound links, also boosting SEO.

Repurpose old content

Optimizing old content may be an excellent way to bring new life to underperforming content, but what can you do to get new mileage out of content that is performing well? You can re-purpose it. By repurposing content, you can continue to gain value from previous content without having to completely reinvent the wheel.

The content you repurpose needs to be high-quality content from your past that will always be relevant to your audience. It’s difficult to repurpose content around fads that may go away as quickly as they appeared.

The key to making this work going forward is to think about this concept ahead of time. What posts would make great presentations? What presentations would make great ebooks? What video would make for a series of blog posts?

It’s also important that you review your analytics to see which content is generating the most interest. The more popular the original content is, the more likely the repurposed content will be popular as well. Essentially, high-quality content can create even more high-quality content.

Once you’ve identified the content that you’d like to repurpose, it’s time to develop the new content. Keep in mind that the goal is to make the content fresh and appealing enough to expand your audience.

How to repurpose content

I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to repurpose content is to start with video and create new content by working backwards from there. It’s amazing how many blogs, infographics, or premium content can spin off from there. I realize, however, that not everybody has video content, so I’ve provided other ways to refresh the content below.

1. Create new blog posts

Turn points discussed in listicles or numbered summary posts into posts of their own. Do the opposite as well by combining a bunch of posts on the same topic and turning them into listicles or summary-based posts.

2. Design an infographic

Take your written content and transform it into a visual infographic. Infographics are a great way to break up data, or take difficult concepts and make them more digestible for the reader.

3. Implement an email series

Emails shouldn’t be long in order to keep your readers’ attention. Take pieces of your content and turn them into a an email campaign that is easy for your readers to consume. You can then promote this series on your blog as a lead conversion opportunity.

4. Develop premium content

Consider gathering related blog posts and turning them into a comprehensive ebook or white paper. You can then use that content as a conversion tool to increase your leads.

5. Create a podcast 

People have busy lives and it can be hard to find time to sit down and read an article. Listening to a podcast on their way to work, however, is much more manageable. By repurposing content into podcasts, you create a whole new way to connect with your audience.

6. Create a video series

People love video, and because of this, businesses want to produce as much video content as possible. Instead of brainstorming a new script for each video, use blog posts as the material for your script. This will allow you to produce new videos at a more rapid rate.

Every business should create a series of videos based on the most frequently asked questions.

The list above contains a few of the many ways you can reformat your content into another great piece that will attract your audience. By optimizing and repurposing content from the past, you’ll be able to boost your SEO, reach new audiences, and gain additional credibility and authority within your space. Who wouldn’t want that?

Bottom line, don’t let content just sit there when you can still receive a ton of value from it.

Have you been able to get new mileage from worn out content? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

1 When Thought Leadership Turns to Do Leadership

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Marketing Podcast with Nicole Crozier and Kelly Weppler-Hernandez

Everyone is a thought leader today, right? Or at least it seems that is one of the primary aspirations around building a brand – to be seen as a thought leader in your industry.

But as most anyone who is seen as a thought leader will tell you, it’s not about appointing yourself as such, it’s about doing the things day in and day out that lead people to apply the thought leader tag to someone – again, the key word being doing!

There is a quote attributed to Emerson that I think sums thought leadership up about as succinctly as possible – “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

My guests for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast are Marketing Consultants, Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultants and two of the four co-authors of the upcoming book Do Leadership: A Step by Step Guide to Doing Thought Leadership. We discuss how creating unique and relevant content can make you a thought leader, helping you to stand out from your competition.

As founders of their own independent consulting businesses, Nicole Croizier and Kelly Weppler-Hernandez both live and breathe marketing daily.

Questions I ask Nicole and Kelly:

  • Is the thought of “am I going to stand out” nearly impossible today?
  • What are the business tangible benefits of thought leadership?
  • Where do people get ‘bogged down’ in this process?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why thought leadership is important for small business owners.
  • How to leverage evergreen content to make yourself unique and relevant.
  • The three essential steps to building a thought leadership system.

Learn more about Nicole Croizier and Kelly Weppler-Hernandez. Click here to find out more about their upcoming book Do Leadership: A Step by Step Guide to Doing Thought LeadershipFor a very limited time, the authors are offering our readers exclusive bonus material. Take advantage of guides, templates and worksheets that will have you on the road to becoming the next big thought leader in your industry. These free tools will only be available for a short time, so check them out today.

Interested in joining Nicole and Kelly as a Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant? Find out more about the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network and attend a Discovery Call here.

1 How to Build Your Business on Content

 

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Marketing Podcast with Joe Pulizzi

Content is no longer a nice form of marketing, it’s the air that guides the customer journey, or, in some cases, it’s a business model.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Joe Pulizzi, founder and CEO of the Content Marketing Institute and the author of the new book Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses. We discuss content marketing strategy and what it can mean for you and your business. 

Questions I ask Joe:

  • Is there still an opportunity to be successful in content marketing?
  • How do you make money in the initial stages of a content campaign?
  • What is the “Content Tilt?”

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why some businesses that try content marketing fail.
  • How email strategy is the key to a successful content marketing campaign.
  • Why you should build a following before developing a product.
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