What’s Different about Your Content

Does just any old content work?

Kind of.

But you get limited results from that content.

Because, as you know, now you can read a blog post about any problem you have.

Don’t know how to fix your water heater?

How do you prepare your house for the winter?

Can you get rid of a cold faster?

Got ants in your pants and need a quick solution?

No matter how small, large, or absurd your problem, someone else has written or recorded the solution.

And usually, dozens of people have.

Having a solution available, whether by blog, email, or social media, gives customers a reason to keep listening to you.

Creating a unique solution gives customers and prospects a powerfully persuasive reason to listen to you.

What if you don’t have a unique solution?

How can you stand out with your content?

You can actually do quite a bit to differentiate your content so you get more links, followers, and customers than your competitors:

  1. Get to the Point Already 

Internet searchers want a quick answer to their question. They may need help with just a step or two to solve their problem.

Don’t blabber on about the entire history of the problem.

Get to the point.

Identify the problem. Explain why it happens. Show the fixes.

Don’t make your reader endure even one more sentence than they have to.

  1. Entertain

Erin Williamson at Design Crisis knows how to entertain while discussing various interior design topics.

Giving just the facts bores most audiences. It may be appropriate for audiences who like facts, like lawyers or doctors.

 

Here’s an example of a facetious comment she makes:

“I took trig, calculus and physics, and none of that equipped me to figure out how to specify the length and width of a panel with pinch pleats and rods and rings.”

If you crack jokes in person, do it online too. You get the same response, even though you don’t necessarily experience it.

  1. Go Meticulously In-Depth…Farther Than Anyone Else

Again, don’t tell your readers about the history of a problem. That bores.

But do offer details that only an experienced professional like yourself would know.

 

Give your readers everything. And don’t hold back.

Will some take your secrets and do their project for themselves?

Perhaps.

But even more will realize you know what in the heck you’re doing. And they’ll want to hire someone with a sharp mind like yours.

Consider writing a single blog post and going all out on the solution to a problem.

 

Brian Dean of Backlinko uses this approach in the SEO/internet marketing niche, which leads the innovation of content.

He goes way further in-depth and delivers more value than anyone else, which makes it no surprise he’s one of the top minds in his niche.

And don’t be afraid to constantly share stories of personal experiences. Nothing is more credible or convincing to your readers. Plus, the human mind is wired to remember stories far better than lists of boring facts.

How can you make your content stand out?

It should be no problem now!

How Machine Learning Affects Your Search Rankings (And What You Should Do in Response)

Google’s algorithm learns on its own, without human intervention. Yes, programmers need to alter how its algorithm learns with updates from time-to-time.

But Google’s algorithm can absolutely do much of its learning on its own. That’s artificial intelligence.

Google’s RankBrain update does this with new search queries it’s never encountered before. When evaluating the search terms entered, it compares them to similar words and keyphrases which have been searched before. Then, based on its understanding, it delivers the most relevant results for the new search term you enter.

The big deal about this is that Google can understand the actual intent of your search. For searchers, that means they get results more in line with what they want.

Maybe Google isn’t always perfect. But it’s far more accurate than any other search engine.

Big Deal! What Does This Mean for Your Business?

Well, it dramatically shifts your approach to SEO. For around a decade, it’s been all about optimizing your page using the right techniques and keyphrases. And many SEOs still swear adamantly to this approach. For example, you should:

  • Include your most important keyphrase in your page’s URL
  • Make sure it appears in the H1 title at the top of your page
  • Include it in a H2 sub-header, or maybe even a couple of them
  • Keep it in the regular body text of your page a few times
  • Make sure each of the pages on your website is at least 500 words
  • Keep your page load times at less than 3 seconds

Now don’t get us wrong. That stuff’s still important. But almost everyone understands to do it now.

So, you can’t sneak ahead of the competition when you use these techniques. It’s simply a standard of practice you have to do to keep pace.

Today, ranking’s all about content quality.

What Makes content Amazing?

Let’s take a typical small business niche: DIY home repair. You’ll have no problem finding thousands of articles on nearly any DIY subject online.

So what makes one so much better than another?

Take a look at industry expert Bob Vila’s website. It’s loaded with dozens of “how-to” guides. They’re filled with:

  • Detailed info which explains all steps and concepts so anyone can understand them
  • Image examples to clarify ideas
  • Product recommendations

Once you’re done reading the article, you really don’t have any questions left.

But Won’t That Cause Most Customers to Simply Do Everything Themselves and Not Use Your Business?

No. Of course, some readers will go the DIY route. But, remember you’re not going to change what they want to do.

Some readers will always want to DIY. Your goal isn’t to change their minds so you can do it for them and charge them a fee.

Your goal is to provide such amazing value in your content that readers bookmark you, share your content on social media, and otherwise never forget you. Then, when they do have a need for your services (and of course many customers will want to pay for them because they have no desire to DIY), they remember you, and not your competition.

Content is a long-term game in this regard. And those shares and links you earn only come with amazing-quality content. But it creates consistency and predictability you can’t win using any other marketing technique.

3 Best Practices to Make Your Internal Links Your SEO Secret Weapon

Think of “SEO” for a second.

What comes to mind?

Keywords. Backlinks. Content…

Those are all extremely important. But the humble internal link, one from your own site to another page on your site, often gets overlooked.

Why?

Honestly, I don’t know.

But internal links undoubtedly have a huge effect on your search rankings too. Once they get juice from external links, their owner power is amplified to a massive degree.

How do you get the most from your internal links? That I do have the answers to. And they go like this: 

(1) Internal Links Always Focus on User Experience (UX) First

The best SEO gets your visitors to what they want fast. They want to learn more about a topic, or research your product or service for potential purchase.

Whatever your search listing’s title happens to be, the resource visitors arrive at must deliver on what your title promises.

Internal links can be used to answer further questions users have. They can also drive users to product or service pages that try to sell (if users originally land on a blog post or report, for example).

When users have good experiences on your website, they stay longer, come back, and link to you.

Internal links indirectly drive SEO value this way.

Compare that to an internal link that’s just present for SEO purposes. It shows up in the first paragraph of a blog post where users aren’t yet ready to buy or learn more.

They’re confused. Or annoyed. They don’t click on it.

Yeah, you get SEO value. But not as much as you would if you waited until the end of the post to promote your service.

(2) Use Internal Links to Drive SEO Value to Pages You Want to Rank Most

While user experience is your first concern, you can more directly drive SEO value by linking to pages you want to rank most.

You can do this easily, and naturally, from your blog.

Focus on that word “naturally.”

Why?

Because, say you link to your service page from every single blog post. That looks “unnatural” to your users and search engines.

You won’t get as many clicks or as much love from the search engines. But, link to your service pages from a few posts, where it makes sense, and you have a natural fit.

Users don’t notice anything unusual. And neither do search engines.

By controlling the SEO value flow in this way, you give exact website pages greater opportunity to rank high.

(3) Optimize Internal Links for Your Keywords

With external links, you should only optimize the anchor text on 1 in 100 links. And it’s fine if you do it 0 times.

Google just does not like it much at all.

But with internal links, Google doesn’t mind you doing this. So go ahead and do it to get a little more out of your internal links.

Internal links may not get the attention they deserve. But that’s no problem for you.

And now that you have this information…you’re a big problem for your competitors.

How to Turn Your 404 Page Into a Marketing Secret Weapon

 

You know what a 404 page is, right?

Just in case you need a refresher: it’s the error page your visitor reaches when they look for a page on your website that no longer exists.

Most businesses leave these as the standard template included with their host.

Big mistake.

Because, you can transform your 404 page from one that only reinforces a disappointing experience into an opportunity that builds a strong relationship with someone who could become a customer in the future.

How you ultimately do that is up to you. But here’s a simple process, with some examples, on what you might do:

  1. First, Acknowledge Your Mistake with a Unique Message

The standard 404 page says something like “404 Page Not Found.” That’s a tad cryptic. It’s computer speak to people who may not be tech geeks.

So, change that message into something else. It works doubly better if you can be humorous. Here’s some ideas:

  • “Whoops! Our Bad. We Don’t Have that Page.”
  • “Shit. We Lost It.”
  • “Uh-oh. Big Mistake On Our Part. We Kinda Sorta Don’t Have The Page You Want.”

Anyway, you get the idea. Some fancier websites will even take you through an animation that allows you to punish their web developer. No need to install that functionality on your website, but it shows you what’s possible.

The important thing is you clearly admit your own mistake. You may also want to include a sentence or two below clarifying the message a tad further.

  1. Give Your Visitors Options for What to Do Instead

If you have the standard 404 page template, it doesn’t give your visitors any recommendation on what action to take next. Sure, they could go up to your main navigation and choose something. But they’re much more likely to take action if you suggest a few ideas on what to do next.

One idea is to go to your analytics, find your top 3 visited pages or product categories, and offer these links. You could also give them the option to do an on-site search to find what they were looking for.

There’s not necessarily a “right” strategy. Anything you do to keep your visitor engaged is a win. You’ve done the hard work attracting them to your site in the first place, so keep the relationship going.

  1. Offer a 10% Discount in Exchange for Their Email Address

This may be a better fit for e-commerce sites that sell many products. But if you’re a service provider, you might include it too.

A 10% discount to make up for your mistake would go over quite well, and especially so because your visitor didn’t expect to get it.

Make sure to get something from them in return…like their email address. Then, you can turn them into a long-term customer through email marketing. Your best customers who buy the most stay on your email list. So, you can transform a minor mistake into thousands in revenue for years to come with this strategy!

Now, Your 404 Page is a Great Marketing Asset

See how something simple, like a 404 page, changes from just another event into a marketing machine?

Think creatively online. Think win-win. And you’ll get more customers and stay ahead of your competition.

4 Business Essentials You Should Outsource

As a small or medium business owner, you’re aware of the value of outsourcing to vendors. Without your vendors, growth is nearly impossible. That’s okay if you want to stay small and keep your business manageable.

But if you want to grow, you need a lot of help from people you can trust. That allows you to focus on creating the strategies and implementing the processes that lead to rapid growth.

Today, outsourcing can work much differently than it used to. Are you aware you can find an independent contractor, with ease, who does the grunt work for you so you don’t have to?

It’s simple, if you’re willing to work remotely. Here are some of the essential processes to strongly consider outsourcing in 2017:

  1. Cybersecurity

You hear about big corporations who get nailed all the time, and the millions of customers who lose their data as a result. Those stories make headlines and grab people’s attention.

But you don’t hear about the SMBs cybercrooks love to attack. Why? Because they know SMBs aren’t nearly as sophisticated as corporations are with cybersecurity. So, it takes much less effort to take control of your PCs or entire network, demand a ransom, and make a clean getaway.

Cybersecurity changes so fast it makes sense to outsource to a company who keeps up with it.

  1. Web Design

Since your website is your new storefront, you need to pay constant attention to it. You can’t do what businesses used to do: make a new website, forget about it for 3-5 years, and then make a new one.

Web design changes constantly. Google’s algorithm rewards websites whose designs allow for the best user experience.

Today, it makes good business sense to have an experienced web design firm (or independent professional) on retainer.

  1. The Creative Aspects of Marketing

This can mean messaging, visual design, and more. Marketing is a huge trend now because of how difficult it is to stand out online. And, the discipline’s not old, so it takes time and effort to understand how to differentiate.

The analytical work, however, can be kept in-house. This allows you to focus on strategy.

  1. Marketing for Recruits

Today’s job search process has changed a lot also. Job seekers can research your company online and learn a lot about you before even applying. At sites like Glassdoor, for example, they can learn what your own employees think it’s like to work at your company.

So, marketing during the job search process works both ways. Your market has to put their best foot forward for you, and you have to do the same. Outsourcing recruiting allows you to make hires that fit your company better and last longer.

In 2017 and beyond, you can easily outsource these business essentials so you can focus on core activities and accelerate growth.

Why The SEO Data You See is Wrong

Data-driven?

Everyone is.

…But what data are you looking at?

That determines how well you do going forward.

And unfortunately, another problem is that even when you have a super-smart SEO on your side, they’re still working from flawed, imprecise data. Because, it’s impossible to pull accurate data in many cases.

For example, Google used to show you the exact keywords that referred traffic to your website. Today, over 90% of that data gets hidden behind a phrase called “(not provided).”

Smart SEOs know how to get around this. But only to a degree. You simply can’t get all the data that Google formerly provided for free.

Groupon Conducted a Test to See What “Direct Traffic” Means

Google has a traffic source in Google Analytics called “Direct” traffic. Theoretically, this was supposed to mean people who typed your URL into their browser and hit “enter.”

However, Groupon wasn’t convinced by this explanation from Google. So they did something rather shocking and de-indexed themselves from Google.

Of course, traffic sank. But surprisingly, they also noticed a big dip in traffic going to their Deal pages.

Why is that such a big deal?

Those pages had long URLs…the kind you wouldn’t remember off the top of your head and type in. They found up to 60% of “Direct” traffic actually originated from organic optimized search.

And for example, email open rates are difficult to figure out too. Yes, every email service provider gives you open rate data.

But it’s far from precise. Because, it relies on a small tracking image, called a “pixel.” If you send plain-text emails, which many marketers do to give a personal feel, you can’t insert a pixel to track opens. Or, if an email app blocks images by default, which many do, the pixel isn’t shown, and the open isn’t tracked.

So what in the heck is your email open rate anyway?

With Google Adwords, say one campaign drives twice the leads of the next. Is that the better campaign?

…Maybe not.

How many purchases did you get from each campaign? Which customers led to the highest lifetime value?

Have you tracked either?

Don’t Fret – Your SEO Has the Answers

The point with data is you must have experience in knowing what it really means. What you get on the surface, even from leading companies like Google, doesn’t necessarily give you the full picture.

So, when your SEO presents you data, ask them why they trust what their delivering to you.

Why one metric…and not another?

At the end of the day, go with the SEO you trust most. The one who has your best interests. Because even the best SEOs have a difficult time getting you the most accurate data.