iASP Client Login

Blog

Viewing tag: content | View All

The Secret to Deciphering 'Quality Content'

The Secret to Deciphering 'Quality Content'

The Secret to Deciphering 'Quality Content'

The war between Search Engines (read Google) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) practitioners, which has raged since Google's birth in 2000, shifted focus this year - and not only Google Users, but all website visitors are the winners.

In the early days SEO was much simpler and SEO practitioners had the upper hand: The primary requirements to improve Google performance were simply to focus on the density of relevant keywords and then gather as many inbound links as possible.

Alas, that resulted in websites filled with low quality content - repetitive keywords and phrases - and countless links between unrelated websites that may have improved Google performance, but delivered little value to Google Users or website visitors in general.

Google's evolution, driven by the goal of delivering the most relevant search results possible, led to the release earlier this year of the Quality Update.

This newest weapon in the Google arsenal has forced SEO practitioners down a new path, and the by-products are an overall improvement to the quality of Google search results and the quality of website content generally.


What Is The Quality Update?

Around May of this year, Google started to give more weight to pages that it deemed to have a higher quality of content.

The technical details of how Google determines the quality of content is still being debated, but as one expert has put it: "we do know that it wants to provide users with the best information possible."Source

In a nutshell, it means shifting your focus away from creating content for Google, and towards creating content for your visitors.

Google explicitly states this as the first point in their article Steps to a Google-friendly site - "...give visitors the information they're looking for: Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do...".


What Is Quality Content?

When first hearing the term "quality content", you could be forgiven for thinking that you need to hire the services of Shakespeare to write the content of your website.

There are many, many (many) articles about how to go about writing quality content, but let us save you some pain and share some insight.

The Internet is the world's largest resource of information. You can search for anything, at any time, and get an answer to whatever question you may have.

Having such a vast volume of information available to us at the click of a button, however, has overwhelmed us, and it has changed the way we sort through and process information.

Now, instead of reading through content line for line until we find the answer we're after, we skim across it impatiently; and if we can't find our answer quickly, we move onto the next website to scour through their content instead.

This puts some weight on the amount of time we spend on a single page of a website, because if you've spent more than 30 seconds on a page, clearly there is something of value to you on that page.

And there's the secret to deciphering the term "quality content" - It's actually "valuable content".

Create content that is meaningful to readers, that's valuable to readers.

Readers will come back to content that is valuable to them in some way. Readers will share content they think will be valuable to others.


How to Create Valuable Content

As Google outline in their Webmaster Academy course, the content of your website should be useful and informative, credible, and engaging.

Microsoft's search engine, Bing, have boiled their guidelines down a little further, breaking the aspects of content quality into three pillars - Authority (how trustworthy is the content), Utility (how useful is the content), and Presentation (how well-presented is the content and how easy is it to find it).

The simple fact is, creating content that keeps people reading (or watching) is all you need to do to create valuable content.

And here is where you can think outside of the box. Your content could be informative, or it could be entertaining, or it could be convenient, or a mix of all three.

So while your competitor may have articles fit for a peer-reviewed journal on their website, your content could still be valuable if visitors find it more convenient, or more entertaining.

As an example, think of the numerous Do-It-Yourself related videos on Youtube.

There may thousands of videos that demonstrate exactly the same topic - how to change a tyre for example - but you can find videos that only cover the basics of how to change a tyre with just as many views as a video that shows every single step with detailed explanations.

A video may be just as popular if it is a little more entertaining, or if it covers the steps of the task a little faster (more convenient).

Different audiences will put differing levels of value on different formats and structures of content, which is why you can still create valuable content.

To help you to create valuable / quality content for your website, I've gathered a list of articles that cover the topic in more detail.

They all provide a different angle to decipher and understand the term 'quality content', and how to tackle the task.


Great Articles About Creating Valuable Content:



What's Your Opinion? How do you define 'quality content'? Join the conversation on the iASP Central Facebook Page or Get in Touch.


Should You Re-tweet That Tweet?

Should You Re-tweet That Tweet?

Should You Re-tweet That Tweet?

Social Media is all about sharing. Sharing insights, sharing information, sharing opinions.

Not everyone is using social media at the same time however.

Some people use it throughout the day, others just a couple of days a week.

So how can a business ensure that their clients and followers see the information that is shared by the company on social media?

Is it acceptable to post the same information a number of times, or should the business focus on encouraging their followers to be following at the time the company shares their information?

At some point in time, a choice will need to be made - Should You Re-tweet That Tweet?

If we compare social media practices to real world social interaction practices, re-tweeting something you have already said could be compared to sharing a story with one friend about your children winning first place at the sports festival, then walking over to another friend and sharing the exact same story, and then moving onto another friend...

I've been to many a gathering and have seen people repeating their stories, and the crowd seem to clue on pretty quickly about what is going on.

People see this as overemphasising the story, trying to give it more importance than it may actually have, and they react negatively to it.

It doesn't matter if the story is a great tale worthy of being set in stone, more often than not the more times people see or hear it, the less they like it.

It's tempting to categorise re-tweeting a tweet (or re-posting a post) the same as "that guy with only one story", however, that's not the reality.

Unlike a real world social gathering, where everyone is present and with at least some awareness of things going on around them, social media followers are not always present and can be very easily distracted when they are on-line.

Despite the fact that around 10 million Australians are on Facebook every day^, few, if any, are actively there 24 hours a day, and with only a fraction of the followers in your network receiving each individual content item you publish the chances of a social media post being missed is extremely high.

This is why re-posting your social media content is an actually an acceptable thing to do.

Compare the practice to that of a TV or Radio station, who regularly repeat the top stories of the day.

It isn't because they don't have any new stories to cover, it is because not everyone tunes into the 7am broadcast.

If the information you are sharing is valuable enough, people will accept the repetition rather than reject it.

It is very easy to cross the line however, and come out looking like you're desperately trying for everyone in the entire world to know you have a new blog article on your website.

There are best practices and bad practices that you should consider when re-posting your content on social media.


You don't need to re-share every type of content.

The more valuable the content is, the more acceptable it is to re-post it.

While it might seem like a good idea to re-post a photo that received a lot of likes, re-posting the same photo won't be received the same way the second time around.

Generally speaking, the best type of post that can safely be re-posted is a link post  - be it a link to your blog or website, or links to other content you want to share.

Re-posting other content, especially those with the same image can look like you're platform is just stuck on repeat.


Change Up the Message

When re-posting or re-tweeting, don't re-post the exact same post / tweet - and be certain to change the image.

For example, if your typical link post looks like [Article Title] [Link] [Hastag], then try a completely different format when you re-post the link.

The second post could be a question related to the article followed by the link, or you could include a block-quote from the article followed with the link.

The more you change the format, the less your page will look like it is being managed by an automated script.


Get the Scheduling Right

When it comes to timing your re-posts, each social media platform has it's own requirements.

Twitter is very busy. A tweet can get lost among the clutter very quickly. And for this reason, you will want to re-post more frequently than the other platforms.

Re-tweet a tweet 2 hours after the initial post, then once the following day, then once the following week, and once the following month, and one more time 2 months after the first post.

Again, remember to change the content of the message so your feed doesn't look like you're just hitting 'repeat' every few hours.

Facebook and Google+ are much more forgiving. The lifespan of content is longer, and it is easier for people to follow up on what you've posted in the past week/month if they are interested.

It's safe to re-post on Facebook and Google+ a week after your initial post, following up again a month later.

When it comes to getting the balance right with your audience however, it is very much trial and error.

Consider what you deem to be enough, and not too much.

Try one schedule, and measure the results. If your followers mention something, or start to leave en-mass, then you know your current schedule is too much and you need to cut it back.


So there we have it.

Done appropriately, and with some attention to detail, re-posting your link posts is an effective way to ensure that your content has a longer lifespan, remains useful and accessible by your followers, and has the potential to reach a much wider audience than just posting it once and hoping for the best.



^Source: These incredible stats show exactly how huge Facebook is in Australia.



Resources:



Do you repost your content? What are you thoughts on the practice? Start a conversation on the iASP Central Facebook Page or Get in Touch.


Perfect Content Images in 5 Easy Steps

Perfect Content Images in 5 Easy Steps

Perfect Content Images in 5 Easy Steps

From showcasing products, to providing visual support to the text on the page, images can maketh or breaketh a website*. As Andy Warhol famously said - "I never read, I just look at pictures", and we all know "a picture says a thousand words".

When it comes to selling products on-line, there are countless studies proving the benefit of images in relation to conversion rates and as a provider of platforms that have processed millions of on-line transactions dating back to the 1990's, we've learned that quality images are often the difference between making sales and not.

We actively encourage all clients using our iASP™ platform, which provides full control over all content published (text, images, movies, files etc.), to invest in production of quality, original images, which can then be adjusted to suit the layout of the area they are publishing.

Providing your photographer or designer with the final image specifications you require is always the perfect option, but if you have images that still need further manipulation we've put together our simple 5-step process to creating perfect content images.

Before you start you'll need image editing software. You can pay for professional level applications such as Adobe Photoshop (like we do), but there's cheaper and even free options available. Today we're going to use a free image editor that is available on-line called Pixlr Editor. It's similar to Adobe Photoshop, and it is very easy to use.


Step #1: Find the recommended image dimensions.
Your images will need to be made a specific width and height, depending on how/where you want to use them. For example, an image used in the banner of your website will need to be a lot wider than an image that is used on an inner page.

For iASP™ Clients:

  • Navigate to the page you plan to use the image on, and edit the record.
  • The image field should have a recommended width and height either under the image label, or in a tool-tip alongside the image picker tool. If not, please just copy the address of the page you want to add the image into and e-mail it to us asking for optimum image dimensions
  • If you are creating a new image for the banner of your website, then you can find the recommended dimensions in the Banner module of the CMS Control Panel.

Step #2: Open the original image.
Next you want to load the image into your image editing application.

  • Open Pixlr Editor in your web browser (or you can use your usual image editing software).
  • Click File in the menu at the top of the application, and then select Open Image
  • Find the image on your computer and select it, press Open.

Step #3: Crop the Image
Now you want to crop out the part of the image that you want to use:

  • Select the Crop tool
  • In the tool options that appear under the menu, select Aspect Ratio from the Constraint options.
  • Enter the recommended image width from Step 1 in the Width box
  • Enter the recommended image height from Step 1 in the Height box.
  • In the image window, drag the mouse to create a crop box over the image. Then use the mouse to drag the edges of the crop box to cover the part of the image you want to keep.
    • This is usually as large as you can make it, or enough to cover the subject of the image.
  • When you are happy with your crop selection, crop the image by hitting enter, or double clicking inside of the crop box. The parts of the original image that were outside of the crop box should disappear.

Step #4: Resize the Image
If you are starting with a high resolution image, in most cases, your newly cropped image will still be larger than the recommended image size in step 1, so you need to resize the image down to the correct width and height.

  • Select Image from the top menu, and then select Image Size
  • Tick the Constrain Proportions box.
  • Enter the recommended image width from Step 1 in the Width box
  • Enter the recommended image height from Step 1 in the Height box.
  • Press Ok.

Step #5: Save the Image

  • Select File from the top menu, and then select Save
  • Select My Computer from the options in the left column
  • Enter a name for the image file
  • Select the Format
    • For photographs, always select JPEG
    • For images that are graphics, or that require transparent areas, select PNG
  • For JPEG, adjust the quality slider until the size is around 100Kb, increase the quality if the image looks pixelated or boxy.
    • The smaller the file size, the faster the image will load.
  • Select the location on your computer to save the image into and press Save.

And Viola (that's her name, don't wear it out), you now have an image perfect for your website.



Pro Tip: Before saving the image, have a look in the Adjustment menu at the top. Experiment with Colour Vibrance or Curves to change the colour balance of your images. You can also apply some automatic filters like Sepia or Old Photo to create different effects.



Resources:



How do you create your images? Got any little tips or tricks that you'd like to share? Let us know on our iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.

*A statement supported by this website: Be Seen In 2015.


Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

In a world where more content is generated every day than in all of history up until just a few years ago, content authors must not only instanty grab attention, but maintain engagement for at least long enough to successfully deliver their message.

At Hub Communications Digital content is a big part of our daily life and we've learned a thing or two about writing engaging content for your website.

  1. Picture Web Readers as Wild Animals

    In the article Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster, Jakob Nielsen at the Nielsen Norman Group likens readers to 'wild animals gathering food' who are looking for the 'maximum benefit for minimum effort' while searching the Web for information.

    Jacob describes the term 'Information Foraging' as the process of hunting for information and 'Information Scent' as the process of tracking or following the trail to the information they are hunting for.

    By considering this analogy, writing with the informavore's navigation behaviour in mind, you will improve the chances of catching the reader.


  2. Spend Time on the Headline

    The headline is the most important part of the article.

    Authors tend to focus more on the body of the article, putting a simple headline or title at the top. However, for the reader, the headline is their first sniff of the information scent.

    Typically on the web links to articles are the headline, which the reader uses to determine the relevance to their search for information.

    Headlines must inform the reader of the subject of the article, arouse their curiosity, encourage them to continue reading and be short and memorable, all in one line.

    While there is no perfect formula, there is evidence that six worded headlines have been found to be the most effective.


  3. Use Simple Language

    Writing for the Internet is very similar to writing for a newspaper or a magazine. The use of abstruse (hard to understand) words that are not part of everyday language will distract the reader (as just demonstrated).

    Even if you include hyperlinks to the definition of words that you have used, the simple act of wondering what a particular word or sentence means can distract the reader and break the flow of their reading.

    Unless your audience are academics looking for peer-reviewed journals, your readers will quickly lose interest and find something easier to read.


  4. Follow the Inverted Pyramid Style of Writing

    A popular technique among journalists is the inverted pyramid writing style - putting the most important information at the top of the article and expanding upon the idea as you move down.

    Try to imagine your average reader as someone who is late for work in the morning, but really wants to know what is in your article, and write your copy accordingly.

    Include the most important information in your opening paragraphs instead of having the reader go through an entire page.


  5. Pick Your Key Words

    Writing for the Internet is not just about writing interesting copy. You must also make sure that your content is search engine friendly.

    As an author, you need to consider the keywords of the topic you are writing about, and incorporate them into your writing to give your content the greatest visibility on the web.

    Some forethought is important however, as some search engines penalise the misuse of keywords, such as using unqualified or unrelated keywords, or using them too frequently.


  6. Write for Easy Flow Reading

    Write content that can be skimmed through quickly whilst still delivering the important details easily.

    Readers want the answer to their question immediately, so give it to them and make it clear, but reward those that take the time to read deeper by expanding upon what the reader would otherwise take away just from skim-reading.

    Stick to a single idea per paragraph or use bullet points to separate out the ideas in long paragraphs.


  7. Write Accurate Information

    One of the most important aims for any author must be the use of accurate information.

    Don't underestimate the ability of your readers to independently verify claims made by you in your article. Only provide them with well researched and factual content.

    If you learn that information in an old article has become incorrect, add a correction into the article or write a new article with up-to-date information.


  8. Make Sharing the Article Easy

    While following the steps above will make a tasty article for the 'informavore', making the article easy to share will add the cherry on top.

    Add tools to allow readers to easily quote paragraphs of text from your article and post to their social media platform of choice. Provide the means for the reader to easily create a link to your article, or e-Mail the link to a friend.


In Summary

While writing for the web might be different from writing a book, or an essay; with continuous practice, authoring web content can become as easy as catching fish in a tank.

Keep the above points in mind when writing your next article and you are on your way to creating quality content for your website.



Further Information:



Got Your Own Writing Tips? Share them with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


5 Steps to Better Link Building

5 Steps to Better Link Building

5 Steps to Better Link Building

We have been covering the shift in web content and SEO practices recently, and now we get to the practice of link building.

Links are not the beginning or the end of Search Engine Optimisation, but they do hold a large portion of weight in the algorithms employed by Google/Bing to rank websites on their Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).

It is worth spending some time to understand link building, to incorporate link building into your content creation processes, so that you can reap the rewards from the effort in the future.

A Short History of Link Building

In their simplest form, links are like map locations for search engines to navigate between on their endless quest for information. Another way to look at them, is to consider a link as a vote from one website for another. Links help search engines calculate the popularity of websites and specific pages based on the number of other websites that carry links pointing to them.

Rand Fishkin of Moz, in 2009, summarised the history of link building and described it as follows: Between 2000 and 2002, direct link buys, email requests for links and link exchanges were popular. In 2003 and 2004, link networks, blog commenting and paid text links became popular. 2005 saw the advent of social media links, linkbait and quizbait and in 2008-09 came content licensing and editorial content for links.

After 2009, Google started introducing software like Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda which fished out websites that were aimed at fooling search engines. These complicated software algorithms were created to penalise such websites and to stop them from appearing at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).

The Better Way to Link Build

Nowadays, the best practice for link building is to consider the bigger picture, and focus on building your link profile. QuickSprout has a great article - What is a "Good Link Profile" and How Do You Get One - that is worth reading if you have not heard of the term before.

Step One: Focus on Content

The first step is to produce quality content which is relevant, meaningful, and will gain popularity on the Internet in its own merit. Unless you create content which readers would want to share, you aren't going to create reason for other websites to link to your website.

As mentioned earlier, links are like votes. So if a website posts a link to your content, it is like the owner of the website voted for you. If a website which is considered an 'authority' links to your content, the value of the 'vote' increases. All of this affects where your website shows up on a Search Engine Results Page.

There are several ways in which you can structure content on your website to make it more appealing. Articles which list the '10 best' or '10 worst' of a topic are very popular with readers. Infographics or white papers providing insight into specific areas of your industry are also very popular and make the content easier to share as well.

Step Two: Only Aim for Natural Links

According to Google, their algorithms are configured to use only natural links for indexing and ranking websites. Search engine algorithms are able to distinguish between genuine links to your site posted by people who think the information would be helpful to others, and links which are posted specifically to "boost votes". The latter are referred to as spammy backlinks, which hurt your link profile.

Step Three: Promote, Promote, Promote

The content that you have created needs to be promoted aggressively by you. Do not wait for people to notice your content first and then start sharing. Instead, reach out to authority websites and "influencers" in your industry and share your content with them. If they find it useful and share it with their followers, your reach will increase exponentially.

Use paid options offered by social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to promote posts. You can also buy ad space in online journals using content syndication networks like Taboola and Zemanta to promote your content.

Step Four: Diversify your Back Links

Mix things up by requesting backlinks in different formats and on different platforms. Aim for some backlinks to be through social media, and some to be contained within content.

Another popular way to diversify link building is through guest blogging. However, today, guest blogging has become vastly more complicated than before. To establish your own set of followers, it is imperative that you contribute high quality content regularly. You must also promote the content you contribute and respond to queries / feedback.

Step Five: Backlink Management

Keep a constant watch out for any websites which feature your name or that of your brand. Check these websites regularly and request backlinks to your website if you have been mentioned, but not linked to. Another popular way of tracking mentions is through Google Alerts. You can enroll for competitions and also submit reviews of products to websites in return for a backlink.

In Summary

We have provided a very basic introduction into the practice of link building for today's content writers and provide a list of articles that should provide you with some more in-depth information. If you would like to discuss how you can improve your link building strategy or your overall content strategy, feel free to Get in Touch.

Further Reading:

Want to discuss this some more? If you would like to know more about content marketing or about anything in this article please let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


The Relevance of Traditional SEO in 2014

The Relevance of Traditional SEO in 2014

The Relevance of Traditional SEO in 2014

It seems like only yesterday the "experts" were advising that to achieve the best search engine performance you needed a properly optimised website layout along with the use of hand-picked keywords in the important areas of the pages.

The way Google ranks search results has changed the SEO game dramatically, however, and the tactics and strategies for Search Engine Optimisation have shifted to be almost totally content focused.

It would seem content marketing has replaced "traditional" methods of search engine optimisation (SEO), so we ask, how relevant are these   traditional SEO practices and is there any use in still following them?

Let's begin with a quick look at the history of traditional SEO.

Traditional SEO

Keywords and inbound links are the two broad philosophies directing the SEO industry. The goal: to have your website at the top of the results pages whenever a specific keyword is typed into a search engine.

This gave rise to strategies that aimed to deceive search engines using techniques such as "keyword stuffing" (using keywords or phrases numerous times on a page without any context or providing meaningful content for the reader), creating link farms and other practices that took advantage of the simplicity of search indexing algorithms to gain a higher ranking.

Legitimate websites found it difficult to rank highly in Search Engine Results Pages against these tactics, and it ultimately led to search engines changing the way they index and rank websites to ensure that the end user was being given high quality search results that gave them the information they were searching for.

New Age SEO

In response to deceitful SEO tactics, Google introduced a new algorithm that uses latent semantic indexing, which follows the idea that words used in the same context tend to have similar meanings. For example, the phrase "complete guide" is given the same ranking as "definitive guide" when either phrase is used in a search query.

Suddenly, the websites that had a stronghold on certain keywords and key phrases, and that were reliant on being at the top by pushing the competition out of the circle, found themselves now having to compete with websites using similar phrases. The distinguishing factor was now the content that was being provided to the user, not just the keywords in the search query.

Enter Content marketing. Content marketing, which involves the creation of high quality content to get ahead in website rankings is being touted as the new SEO.

Content marketing strategy also provides a greater return on investment by boosting a website's ranking through content being shared on a variety of social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and others.

A case study by Kissmetrics, presented by Neil Patel, studied the number of visits and back-links to 47 info-graphics which cost $28,200 to produce. These info-graphics received 2,512,596 page views and 41,142 back-links from 3741 unique domains. The social media contributions were 41359 tweets and 20,859 likes.

Patel estimates that the costs of trying to manipulate Google by buying Tweets, Likes, visitors and links would be $1,072,905.80 as compared to the $28,200 spent on producing the infographics. 

That is quite a difference.

Apart from the cost factor, another major advantage for content marketing as an SEO strategy is the fact that good quality content will remain unaffected by future changes that search engines might make to their algorithms.

The Conclusion

The positive practices of traditional SEO that helped search engines to deliver high quality search results to their users have remained a part of the New Age SEO practices, while the practices that worked against helping search engines have been dropped.

The answer to our question - how relevant are the traditional SEO practices today and is there any use in still following them? - is that since the positive traditional practices are part of the new age practices, it is worth focusing on a content marketing strategy to provide and boost SEO rather than trying to implement and manage two strategies in parallel.

As Aaron Agius from Louder Online told Huffington Post recently, "Content is the foundation of any successful online marketing campaign. A great strategy is needed in order to fuel social media activity, to create high converting landing pages for pay per click marketing and to power increases in search engine rankings for target keywords."

Further Reading:

What is your current SEO strategy? Have you shifted your focus, or are you still following the same practices? Let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


If you Post It, Will They Come?

If you Post It, Will They Come?

If you Post It, Will They Come?

5 Content Marketing Fundamentals

A well planned and executed content marketing strategy is no longer optional in order to stand out in the crowded digital landscape.

Content marketing is now a mandatory component of any Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy and a powerful way to give your audience a great experience of your brand.

Content marketing helps attract new visitors and build a loyal audience, which generally leads to increased conversions. Content marketing as defined by the Content Marketing Association is the discipline of creating quality branded editorial content across all media channels and platforms to deliver engaging relationships, consumer value and measurable success for brands.

For most of small businesses, all media channels and platforms typically means a corporate website, some Social Media engagement and hopefully some level of pro-active marketing in the form of promotional e-mail campaigns or other digital or traditional media advertising.

To point you in the right direction, we've listed 5 Content Marketing Fundamentals to help you plan and develop a content strategy that delivers on your investment.

1. Plan: Know your Audience and Objectives

Before you start chalk out a plan.

You may not have all the questions to begin with, let alone the answers, but beginning with why, who, when and how is a good place to start.

Who are you talking to and what areas of your business is of interest to them? How will you communicate and engage your audience?

Remember - it's all about building a community interacting with your brand!

2. Be Prepared to Spend

Ongoing creation of high quality content is neither easy nor cheap.

As a professional in your industry you are well placed to set the content agenda, but if you're talents (and time availability) don't allow you to be hands on in the entire process you might consider outsourcing as an option.

Here at Hub Com Digital, our management team develops an editorial calendar containing the topics we want to focus on for the coming weeks.

We then internally work up an overview for each individual content piece.

In the case of an article that will be published on our company Blog as well as our Social Media platforms, we would first develop the overall premise of the article and give it a working title. We then attach a couple of suggestions for a headline and send all that information to our graphic designer to create a suitable image for the article.

The articles themselves are either entirely written by our internal staff, or outsourced to external professional content developers, who write the actual article based on the premise / title and headline suggestions we provide.

3. Content for Brand Building

Gaining respect for your brand is not easy. It's the outcome of a process containing many steps over time.

Relating information about the evolution of your brand and your journey to the present gives credibility and builds empathy.

When planning your content marketing strategy, be sure to include reference to your origins, what motivates you to succeed and what motivates your customers to keep coming back.

The aim here is to create personal connections with your audience and reinforce what your brand represents.

According to Robert Rose, Chief Strategist at the Content Marketing Institute, telling the story of your brand can be likened to conventional story telling at a level. In a post on CMI, Rose lists out ten steps divided into three broad categories which will help you understand how to create content that captivates and enthrals.

4. Content for Reputation

On-line reputation management, which involves the maintaining of your digital reputation as well as dealing with negative public feedback, has become a thriving business today. Many of us have Googled the names of companies along with keywords like 'negative', 'bad' to check the reputation of companies (and people) we are planning to deal with.

While most reputable organisations are unlikely to be subject to an attack like the infamous case where a large number of websites attached the keywords 'miserable failure' with a link to George W Bush's official biography page hosted by the White House, the reality is that social media networks have given customers a powerful platform and dealing with negative feedback - whether it is true or not - is an increasingly important part of modern business operations.

A pro-active content marketing strategy distributing positive content on-line is a powerful way to mitigate the damage of an attack. It also pays to have a solid policy for dealing with negative feedback in place. Refer to our Blog article: Five tactics to address negative customer feedback.

5. Content for Search Performance

Search Engines like Google are making it increasing difficult to manipulate their search rankings artificially. Google's documentation clearly states they reward "high-quality" sites, and by this they mean websites that give "great user experience" and "fulfill information needs".

Just as Google rewards "high-quality" sites, it penalises sites for "low-quality content". Before embarking on your content marketing journey have a look at this important article on building high quality websites in the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

Summary

A content marketing strategy requires a significant commitment of resources. The impact is not usually instant and mistakes can be very costly.

On the other hand, the long term benefits from building and nurturing a community centred on your business are coveted by many for good reason.

Want to discuss this some more? If you would like to know more about content marketing or about anything in this article please let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


3 Hassle Free Tactics To Keep Your Website Content Fresh

3 Hassle Free Tactics To Keep Your Website Content Fresh

3 Hassle Free Tactics To Keep Your Website Content Fresh

In our recent article - Google Panda Goes Kung Fu On Your Website - we pointed out that Google is giving website owners a nudge to update and refresh their published content. With that in mind here's our top 3 hassle free tactics for keeping your content fresher for longer.

1: Regularly update the key message on your homepage.
It does not have to be a major re-write every time, but regularly (at least once a month) edit the primary message on your home page.
Remember, it's all about engagement, so consider including a topical or seasonal message of relevance to your audience. You might mention the season and how it relates to your business e.g. "Winter is a great time for one of our famous Irish Coffees sitting by the fire" or "With Easter fast approaching it's the perfect time to book our free vehicle safety check" or "Don't forget, your next BAS Statement is due on June 21st".

HCD Tactic: If your website allows inclusion of some sort of main image such as a banner on your homepage it is highly recommended you invest in updating this image regularly - at least several times each year. If you have a scrolling banner function you will get away with the same images in rotation for longer, and you might further extend the shelf life by swapping around the default starting image and the rotation order of the images.

2: Should you include the Date Published / Updated in your website content?
When it comes to newspapers, topical content that was news yesterday is old news today. When it comes to some areas of corporate website content there's a longer shelf life - for example your "About Us" page might only change when you have staff or other significant organisational changes and your "Product Descriptions" may also remain relevant indefinitely. In these cases you should never include the date published. Alternatively, if you publish news or a blog and write regular articles (at least one per month), then you should always include the publish date. 


HCD Tactic:
If you are not writing at least one news / blog article per month you should consider removing the news / blog altogether or at least removing the date published from articles (which is not ideal) - better still, increase the frequency you publish articles to at least one per month.

3: Recycle your content.
You can save time by publishing / archiving / re-publishing content. Be sure to give the content the once over before re-publishing to be certain it is still relevant and accurate. Re-writing the headline and the opening lines will be enough to attract a new audience.

HCD Tactic: Publishing a new image with recycled content is a great way to refresh it.

If you've got anything further to add we welcome your comments, or if you are struggling with your website content, HCD may be able to help. Please feel free to get in touch.


Google Panda Goes Kung-Fu On Your Website

Google Panda Goes Kung-Fu On Your Website

Google Panda Goes Kung-Fu On Your Website

The big news in the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) world is the recent release of Google Panda 4.0. If you're looking for this new app in your Google+ account, don't bother, Google Panda is one of Google's many algorithms that determine their search result rankings.

While done in the name of fairness, Panda 4.0, like many of Google's modifications, has resulted in wide-ranging change to positioning within Google search results. It even caught some of our clients in the net.

For the uninitiated, Google is now targeting websites publishing copied content or poor quality content more aggressively than ever. Panda 4.0 encourages publication of fresh, unique, user-friendly content.

The primary target: websites that 'scrape' content from other websites for publication on their own. 

This will challenge operators engaging in questionable content practices, however, it seems at the same time legitimate operators are also being penalised.

For example, consider accommodation portals such as Wotif and Expedia. Individual Accommodation providers using these platforms provide the content themselves, which in our experience is typically fed directly from their own website.

Should parties engaging in this type of practice be penalised by Google? Does Google expect the Accommodation provider to write a unique description for every Accommodation portal it advertises with?  

Only Google can answer these questions.

So what do the new changes mean for your website, and what can you do if you've been "hit"?

Google's own suggestion is "If you believe you've been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content."

HCD Tactic: Go through your content and give it a good spring clean. Rewrite your old content, remove duplicate content, and add new content that brings life back to your website.

Considering that SEO tactics at the moment consider the entire user experience, such as website navigation and having an intuitive website structure, mobile optimisation, and user-friendly content and metadata, it might also be time for a redesign or rebuild of your website.

No doubt, Google is being inundated with enquiries from businesses and website owners who have been penalised over the last fortnight, asking why they have dropped down the search results and what they can do to fix it.

If you think your website has been penalised unfairly, you can contact Google and ask them to restore your rankings.

We've compiled 5 useful sources for more information about the latest Google Panda release, and advice about what you can do to recover:

  1. Google Panda Update
  2. Google Panda Tips
  3. Google Panda Update Survival Guide
  4. High Quality Web Sites - The New Google Ranking Factor
  5. How to run blogs that inspire

Our 8 Point Guide to Your Website T's & C's

Our 8 Point Guide to Your Website T's & C's

Our 8 Point Guide to Your Website T's & C's

When it comes to producing your website Terms and Conditions the best (and some would say only) approach is to seek professional legal assistance.

However, providing your lawyer with a draft for proofing should be more economical than having them prepare the contents from scratch. But then we are dealing with Lawyers.

HCD Tactic: When dealing with any service provider - Lawyers included - always get a clear indication of time / cost estimates before approving any engagement.
Lawlive.com.au is an Australian website that sells personalised templates of legal contracts and documents, including many relating to website terms and conditions for around $100.00 per document.

If your website is published in Australia you need to comply with current Australian Consumer Laws, and there may also be other industry specific requirements that could cause serious problems if overlooked.

If you're selling products or services online and accepting credit card payments, your merchant facility provider may also have specific requirements relating to the legal information you publish.

So if you're ready to tackle composition of your T's & C's, here's our 8 Point Guide outlining some of the key areas you need to cover...remembering of course that we're not lawyers, and the following is not in any way intended to be legal advice.

  1. Copyright - Australian Law automatically applies copyright to your website and content, but adding a copyright notice confirms this. Apply the statement to everything from the website design, your products, your images and your text content.
  2. Use of Information - Include a disclaimer that protects you against the use (or misuse) of the information or advice that you provide on your website. What you say may not work for everyone, and you can't predict how people may use it.
  3. Customer Returns - If you sell products or services on-line, it is essential that your Terms and Conditions comply with the latest consumer laws. You must include the following:
    • A statement that you comply with the latest Australian Consumer Law
    • The terms under which you will provide a refund, repair or replacement on faulty items or undelivered service.
    • Details of your guarantees.
    • Details of your warranties (if you provide any).
  4. Shipping Policy - If you sell products, and send them to customers by courier or mail, provide a clear outline of the terms of sending goods. Include expected costs and delivery times, your policy for late or undelivered goods, and any responsibilities of the customer.
  5. Industry/Product Specialist Risks - If you are in certain industries, or sell products that have a higher set of risks (like health advise or products for example), you should seek professional legal advice in relation to inclusion of special terms and conditions, such as for example disclaimers that limit claims for possible injuries or losses that may be caused by using any of your products or services.
  6. Amount of Liability - Most importantly, include a clause that limits the amount of your liability from any claims made against you or your business, including a maximum claim amount for damages (the amount paid for the product or service for example).
  7. Terms for International Customers - If you sell your products or services to customers overseas, include separate terms that cover international customers and their consumer laws.
  8. Privacy - Australian Privacy Laws changed in March 2014. Australian Private Sector Organisations are required to have a "clearly expressed and up-to-date privacy policy describing how they manage personal information". While not every Australian website is legally obligated to publish a privacy policy, if you are engaging your audience via interactive functions such as newsletter subscriptions, online shopping systems or even just simple online forms such as a contact form, you'll need to disclose how you manage the personal information you're collecting.

Publishing current, clear, business specific Terms and Conditions that have been approved by professional legal counsel provides peace of mind for your customers while serving to mitigate the risk of legal action and costly penalties and fines for non compliance with your obligations.

For the latest consumer law information, visit the Australian Consumer Law website and for more information about the new Australian Privacy Laws visit the Privacy section of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, or select the link below to download the plain English factsheet.


4 Essentials for Planning Videos

4 Essentials for Planning Videos

4 Essentials for Planning Videos

Last month we explained that half of all online customers had more confidence in products after watching a video, and a third bought the product after being influenced by the video. Pretty good reasons to incorporate video into your online shop!

Everyone with a Smartphone or Tablet has a video camera, but like all online content, if it isn't engaging it will just be ignored.

Here's our 4 essential tips to plan videos that will engage and inform your customers effectively...
  1. Know your purpose - Why are you making this video? Are you showcasing your products? Providing instructions to help customers? Maybe something more creative?
  2. Know your audience - Tailor your language and content to your audience. Will they understand technical terms? Do they expect/need to see a full product demonstration? Do they want to hear about the manufacturing process?
  3. Where will you publish? - Youtube is King, but there are other video platforms. Will you publish your videos exclusively on your website? Will you broadcast over many different websites?
  4. Measuring your Results - How will you measure success? The total number of views? How many times your video is shared? Sales generated by your video? What tools will you use?

Consider our 4 essentials when planning videos to enhance your online store...and who knows, you just might create the next viral video sensation!

(Image by NewsbiePix.)


The Relevance of a Keyphrase

The Relevance of a Keyphrase

The Relevance of a Keyphrase
Google is constantly updating the way it indexes websites, so maintaining good Google rankings is an ongoing task...and you've got to keep up with the times.

Google is now looking closer than ever at the visitor searches. It's fair to say that Google is becoming more "human" in its approach to understanding what people are searching for.

Google now considers factors like the credibility and popularity of the website, the level of user engagement and the context of the content - so the days of treating Google like a machine and stuffing in as many relevant key words and key phrases as possible are long gone.

SEO Tactic: Develop meaningful content around your primary search terms - those that visitors are most likely to use to find you.

Google now understands website content far more deeply than just analysing the keywords, so with appropriate terms and clear language you can make it much easier for Google to include your website in the relevant search results.

How to Plan Meaningful Content

How to Plan Meaningful Content

How to Plan Meaningful Content

The most difficult part of any social media continuous marketing strategy is to generate meaningful content. It can be daunting, but a content calendar is a great way to start.

Choose topics relevant to your business and plan the days that you'll write about each topic. Schedule staff to contribute because, ultimately, their skills and relationships with clients comprise the knowledge and capabilities of your business. It's also great to periodically reference industry related news, but be sure that you choose reliable sources.

Remember that it's important to keep your company's voice consistent, so all content should pass through your Community Manager before it's shared with the world.