Tag Archive | "Piece"

8 Elements that Make Your Next Piece of Content Even Better than Your Last

Moving on to your next piece of content — regardless of how your last one performed — is the mark…

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A Simple Plan for Writing One Powerful Piece of Content Each Week

Good morning, you epic article writer, you. That’s right, I’m talking to you. You publish content to attract new prospects,…

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How a Single Piece of Content Increased Our DA by +7 Points [Case Study]

Posted by sergeystefoglo

Content marketing has been discussed and researched more in the last 5 years than ever before.

Source: Google Trends

There are various kinds of content marketing strategies out there. Blog promotion, infographics, video strategies, and creative content are some. Depending on your goals, some are more effective than others.

At Distilled, we’ve been fortunate enough to work on many creative content pieces with some incredible clients. This article is going to focus on a piece of content that my team and I created for a client. We’ll take a look at both the creation process and the tangible results of the piece we made.

Note: In general, you don’t want to rely on one piece of content for link acquisition. It’s recommended to focus on multiple pieces throughout the year to add link diversity and give your content pieces a good chance to succeed. The following is simply a case study of one piece of content that worked well for my client.


Client backstory: We need links!

Our client is Ginny’s (shoutout to Matt and Cailey). Ginny’s is an ecommerce business based in the beautiful state of Wisconsin.

We knew that regardless of how much optimization was done on the site, their lack of incoming links would be a huge barrier to success. This quickly became a topic of discussion for us.

The general rule of thumb: the more linking root domains (LRDs) your site has, the stronger the domain authority should be. And the stronger the linking root domains are, the better it is for your DA. In other words, it’s better to get 1 strong link (DA 80+) than 10 weak links (DA 20-). Kudos if the links are topically relevant to your website/brand.

So, my team and I sat down and started thinking of different ways we could accomplish the task of increasing LRDs and (hopefully) DA for my client.


The process of creating a link-worthy story

Here are the steps my team and I went through for this particular client.

Note: For an extensive look at creating creative content, please see the following articles:

Ideation

The first step in the creative process is ideation, because without great ideas you can’t a have a great piece of content. It’s important to give yourself enough time for ideation. Don’t rush it, and be sure to include various team members with different backgrounds to get as many ideas as possible. Note: stock up on coffee/Red Bull and snacks for this.

Validation

Typically after an ideation session you’ll have many potential ideas. It’s important to go through and validate them. When I say “validate,” I mean making sure others haven’t already done something similar, or that creating the piece is actually possible (you have access to the right data, etc.)

Note: For more information on researching and validating your creative ideas, read this post titled “Researching Creative Ideas: 10 Dos and Don’ts.”

Pitching

At this point you’ll have a handful of ideas that are not only on-brand and interesting, but have great potential in being picked up by various sources. Put together a nice deck and pitch your ideas to the client. The goal is to get your client to pick one (or a few, depending on the budget).

Note: Here’s an awesome write-up on a framework for pitching creative ideas to your clients.

Gathering the data

Once your client signs off on a piece, it’s time to dive into the data! Depending on the piece you’re creating, this might look like scraping websites and doing a ton of research to get the right data you need. Take your time on this, as you want to make sure your data is accurate and relevant.

Design

During this part of the process, it’s a great idea to start mocking up some potential designs. If your piece is smaller, this might be a quick and simple task. If you have a data visualization, this will be longer. Typically, it’s a good idea to create 2–3 mockups and give your client some options.

Development

Once your client signs off on a particular design, it’s time to dive into development.

Copy

The actual copy for the piece doesn’t have to happen after the development, but it’s usually a good idea to allow the copywriter to see how much space they have to work with. What you don’t want is for your copywriter to write 500 words when the designer has made space for 100. Communication is key in this process.

Testing

Once the piece is built, it’s important to test it out on various browsers and devices. Ask people to give it a run and try to fix as many errors/bugs as possible.

Promotion

Depending on your timeline, you might want to start promotion sooner than this. The important thing to note is to consider pre-pitching and reaching out to contacts to gauge their interest in the piece as soon as possible. Keep your contacts updated and be sure to give them everything they need for their stories.

Note: For further reference on pitching journalists, please see this post titled, “Beyond the Media List: Pro-Active Prospecting for Pitching Creative Content.”

Launch

It’s time to launch!

Push

On the day the piece launches, be sure that you are reminding journalists, reaching out to contacts, sharing the piece on social media, and making your social campaigns live.

Celebrate

There are a lot of steps to building a creative piece, so don’t underestimate the work that goes into it! After you launch the piece be sure to have a beer, give yourself a pat on the back, or do whatever it is you need to do to celebrate.


Post-ideation: What we came up with

After the process outlined above, our team came up with 50 States of Bacon.

The idea was simple: Everyone likes bacon, but who likes it the most? Ginny’s caters to a lot of people who love deep frying, so this was on-brand. We decided to use Instagram’s (now difficult to access) API to extract 33,742 photos that were tagged with #bacon and located within the USA. To normalize for population distribution and Instagram usage, we also collected 64,640 photos with the tags #food, #breakfast, #lunch, and #dinner.

To make this data more visual, we made it interactive and included some fun facts for each state.


What happened after we launched the piece?

So, what happened after we launched the piece? Let’s dive in.

Here are some of the larger websites 50 States of Bacon got picked up on.

Website

Domain Authority

Other

US News

94

Tweeted from account (115K+)

Mashable

96

Tweeted from account (6.95M+)

AOL Lifestyle

98

Referred 1,200+ visitors

Eater

85

N/A

Daily Dot

85

Tweeted from account (274K+)

Here is what the LRDs and DA looked like before we launched the piece, and then after 4 months of it being live:

Before Launch

4 Months Later

Linking Root Domains

450

600

Domain Authority

29

36

Let’s break this down by metric. Here’s a graph of the LRDs over time (we launched the piece at about the start of the uplift).

The domain authority didn’t budge until about 4 months after we launched the piece. We weren’t actively pursuing any other link-based campaigns during this time, so it’s safe to say the creative piece had a lot to do with this boost in DA.

Note: Since DA is refreshed with new pools of data, this observation wouldn’t have been as valid if the DA only moved one or two positions. But, since it moved 7 positions so close to the launch of this piece, I feel like it’s safe to assume the piece contributed greatly.

Does this mean if you do a similar piece that your DA will also increase? No. Does it give us a good example on what can happen? Absolutely.


A note on LRDs, DA, and setting expectations

Setting expectations with clients is hard. That’s even more true when you both know that links may be even more important than user engagement with your campaign. To make sure expectations are reasonable, you may want to encourage them to see this campaign as one of many over a long period of time. Then there’s less pressure on any individual piece.

So, it’s important to set expectations upfront. I would never tell a client that we can guarantee a certain number of links, or that we guarantee an increase in domain authority.

Instead, we can guarantee a piece of content that is well-built, well-researched, and interesting to their target audience. You can go one step further and guarantee reaching out to X amount of contacts, and you can estimate how many of those contacts will respond with a “yes” or “no.”

In fact, you should set goals. How much traffic would you like the piece to bring? What about social shares? What seems like a reasonable amount of LRD’s you could gain from a piece like this? Benchmark where you currently are, and make some reasonable goals.

The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t promise your client a certain amount of links because, frankly, you’d be lying to them. Be upfront about what this looks like and show examples of work you’ve done before, but make sure to set their expectations correctly up front to avoid any conflicts down the road.


Conclusion

There’s a lot to be learned from the results of creative campaigns. The goal of this article is to share one piece that I’ve worked on with a client while highlighting some things that I learned/observed along the way. If you’d like to see more campaigns we’ve worked on at Distilled, take a look at our creative roundup for last year.

To wrap things up, here are the key takeaways:

  • Creative pieces take a lot of thought, work, and time. Don’t underestimate the task at hand.
  • Don’t frame the project as only focused on gaining links. Instead, aim for creating a compelling piece of content that is on-brand and has the potential to gain traction.
  • Oftentimes it’s best not to put all your eggs in one basket. Plan multiple pieces throughout the year.
  • If your research is right and you pitch the piece to the correct people, this is a strategy that can gain your domain some very strong LRDs. In this particular case, 110 linking root domains (and counting).
  • …But those links won’t come easy. You need to pre-pitch, remind, and re-pitch your contacts. There are many great pieces of content being published daily; you need to be proactive about ensuring your spots online.
  • There are other benefits to doing pieces like this aside from links. Social shares, brand awareness, and referral traffic are some other metrics to look at.
  • It is possible to increase your DA by doing a piece like this, but it takes time. Be patient, and continue doing great work in the meantime.

Other thoughts

  • There are some arguments to be made that a piece of content like this only has spikes and doesn’t do any good for a brand. I don’t believe this to be true. The way I see it, if a piece is too evergreen, it might not gain as many strong links. At the same time, if a piece is completely left-field and doesn’t fit with the brand, the links might not be as impactful. I think there’s a fine line here; it should be up to your best judgment on the pieces you should create.
  • This piece could potentially be updated every year to gain more links or traction (although it would be a lot more difficult with Instagram drastically limiting their API).
  • It’s possible that this piece didn’t have a direct impact on DA, but because there were no other link acquisition strategies during the 4 months, we can safely assume the two are correlated.
  • There’s an argument to be made that jumping from the 20s to the 30s is much easier than from 40s to 50s when you’re speaking of DA. We know that it gets more difficult to increase DA as it gets higher, so do keep that in mind.

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The 3-Step Journey of a Remarkable Piece of Content

Image of a person hiking in Norway

You know it when you’ve read it.

It’s that blog post, article, video, or speech that changes you.

It touches you. You are so affected by its message you can’t help but share it.

We’ve all experienced content like this. But do we know how to create it? That’s the question. Because consistently creating remarkable content over time is what it’s all about.

You’re aiming to create content that makes people pay attention, think, and feel.

I believe that remarkable content takes a three-step journey.

And as content creators, if we keep this journey in mind, we can craft an experience that will have a profound effect on our readers.

1. It starts with the eyes

The content journey starts with the eyes. By this, I don’t mean it starts with your audience reading your words.

“Starting with the eyes” means starting with design.

Your reader sees the overall presentation of your information before they read a single word.

This means using colors, fonts, formatting, and visual hierarchy to entice them to begin consuming your content.

Good design makes a promise. It says “I’m on your side, and I’ve got your best interests in mind. The information here is easy to read, and it can be trusted. Proceed with confidence.”

If you get your design right, your readers will move on to the next step in the journey, and they’ll begin to read.

If you get it wrong, the journey will end right there. They’ll click away, or turn the page.

So start with the eyes.

Use high-quality design to invite your readers in, and to convince them to spend time with your pages.

2. Then it goes directly to the mind

The second step of the journey involves the content itself: the information you’re presenting.

At this point in the journey, everything you’ve learned about crafting compelling content here at Copyblogger should come into play.

Demian Farnworth’s post, A 52-Installment Content Marketing Course (Free, and Right Here), is a great place to start reviewing what you need to know. It gathers together 52 rock-solid resources on coming up with ideas, forming a content strategy, and successfully writing, promoting, and driving traffic to your content.

For best results, your content should be engaging and presented in a way that’s easy to absorb.

Spend time working on a headline that draws your reader in. Write subheads that guide them through your text like signposts. Break up your copy with bulleted lists.

Pull out important parts of your information and use block quotes to emphasize them. Incorporate images that engage the viewer and add to the meaning of your words.

Attention to both your content and the way you break it down, polish it up, and present it will help your words take a direct path to your readers’ minds.

And that’s the midway point.

Next stop? The heart.

3. Finally, it lands on the heart

The most remarkable content presents information in a way that touches emotions, too.

It incorporates stories, like On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas, by Jon Morrow; Sonia Simone’s The Astronaut, the Rock Star, and Your Content Strategy; and (if I may) my very first post for Copyblogger, The Bobby McFerrin Plan for Creating a Remarkable Business.

Stories that emphasize our common human experiences and emotions are the ones we remember.

We all know what it feels like to be bullied or looked down on. We’ve all felt insecure from time to time. And we’ve all had the experience of working hard and achieving a long-term goal.

When you incorporate stories that knit together experiences we’ve all had, your content will go straight from the eyes, to the mind, to the heart. And it will stay there, and be remembered.

Content that lands on the heart is content that gets shared. It gets people talking. It’s the definition of remarkable.

Remarkable content takes your readers on a journey

Let’s review the three-step journey.

  1. Start with their eyes. Use everything you know about design to invite your reader to interact with your content.
  2. Engage their minds. Use the principles taught here on Copyblogger to keep your reader interested. Strong headlines, subheads, and solid content will hold their interest.
  3. Enlist their hearts. For truly remarkable content, incorporate common human experiences that will touch your reader and make them remember what they’ve read, and want to share it.

Let’s talk about your remarkable content journey. Join me on Google+ to continue the conversation.

View this article as a SlideShare presentation

Just as Brian Clark did here, I’ve adapted this article to SlideShare. Follow me on SlideShare, and follow the Copyblogger account too.

If you enjoyed this article …

Then consider reading this oldie (but a goodie) next: How to Write Remarkably Creative Content

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Chris Zielecki.

About the Author: Pamela Wilson founded Big Brand System to help business owners combine the power of design and marketing to build recognizable brands. To learn more about using the power of design in your marketing, get her free Marketing Toolkit, which includes the 10-part Design 101 series.

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Content Marketing: 7 copy editing tips to improve any content piece

Creating intriguing and relevant content is key to successful content marketing, yet improving your content through copy editing is often an afterthought with grave consequences as critics look to make your mistakes viral and readers begin to look elsewhere for polished information. Read on for seven copy editing tips you can use to cut down on errors that will help you deliver high-quality content to your audience.
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Open Social Collaboration: The Missing Piece of Your SEO and Content Marketing Strategy

Posted by prsarahevans

At Tracky, we are all about open social collaboration, all the time. We constantly strive to find ways to work better, not more, and to empower our customers to do the same. And, just like you and any online-focused business, we plan search engine optimization (SEO) and content engagement (CE) strategies.

Through working for a startup, I know these strategies can take a significant amount of time and effort to plan and execute. So, I set out to find a better way to manage our SEO and CE planning process and provide better content (i.e. becoming authoritative by sharing what we're getting done) while optimizing the potential search and social reach for our content..

I’m going to share a few of my secrets on how integrating open social collaboration helps you produce better work and, in true SEOmoz fashion, improve your organic search results.

Open collaboration

It’s important that we first make a distinction between the two ways to use open social collaboration; that’s the “open” component. Let’s look at open social collaboration in two parts: the front end and the back end.

  1. Back end: includes everything that happens before you hit “publish.”
  2. Front end: includes everything that happens after you hit “publish.”

Open only comes into play when it’s time and/or necessary. There’s an entire “private” social collaboration component that’s meant for you or you and your team. You can use open social collaboration to plan your SEO and CE efforts, and then extend your reach privately. Before doing so, it's important to find a collaboration platform that can handle both private and public sharing to truly optimize your SEO and CE strategies.

But back to our content engagement workflow. The back end process includes things like:

  • Editorial planning for your website, blog, and social networks
  • Keyword list creation
  • Content creation for your website, blog, and social networks
  • Editing and review of content
  • Delegation of tasks to socially promote each piece of content

Let’s break these steps down even further. As you plan the promotion for the content you create, think strategically about the social networks you use and how they complement your SEO efforts. At Tracky, we plan our content engagement strategy and tactics out weekly (see below).

Each team member knows exactly what they’re responsible for and can easily get a snapshot view of the week’s content plan. We integrate tools from SEOmoz, like the Keyword Difficulty & SERP Analysis, to make sure we’re focused on the most important keywords in our efforts. We tend to break down our promotional tasks by network and typically have at least five tactics per piece of content created.

DID YOU KNOW? On average, it takes five (5) separate tactics to drive people to your website or blog. (tweet this)

The retweet opportunity and the Rule of 60

You may know that getting retweets is the best way to amplify your Twitter reach. But, did you know that many miss out on the complete retweet opportunity? Here’s our tried and true magic mix:

When you search for something on Google, the result titles only display about 70-80 characters (or less). That means the first 60 to 70 characters in your tweet, title tag, and other indexed social postings are the most important. If you include your keywords after that point, it doesn’t do much to help your SEO. I like to call this the Rule of 60.

The Rule of 60 is also important for your title tag. As Ruth Burr wrote in a recent case study, “When your title tag is too long, instead of simply truncating it and adding an ellipsis to the end the way they used to, Google is trying to algorithmically determine a better title for the post.”

A few great tactics for planning out Twitter content (and a variation of this for other social networks) includes:

  • Creating great content you think will resonate with your customers
  • Creating SEO-friendly headlines with 70 characters or less title tags
  • Keywords included in first 60 words of your tweets
  • Include the link to the post after the keywords (they have the highest likelihood of being retweeted)
  • Post tweets during times your community are most likely to engage (we personally use Tweriod)

Although this may seem like a lengthy process, over time it becomes second nature – a habit is formed. I keep the checklist around for sustainability (i.e. if someone new had to jump in and do it) reasons. The final tweet recommendation goes to the entire team to share, if they feel so inclined.  Publishing versions of posts to Twitter and Facebook (or with Buffer) is a great next step, which adds more SEO value since it’s spiderable and makes social sharing even easier (this is part of the “front end” strategy). When your team is in the loop and your content is shared across multiple platforms, everyone wins!

That’s my perfect example of how open social collaboration and SEO come together to boost your online efforts. How do you use open social collaboration with your team? I'd love to hear you suggestions in the comments below.

For more information on the awesomeness that is open social collaboration, feel free to contact me at @PRsarahevans or sarah@tracky.com. Thanks to the SEOmoz team for the opportunity!

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A Simple Plan for Writing One Powerful Piece of Online Content per Week

image of architectural plan

Good morning, you epic article writer, you.

That’s right, I’m talking to you. You wield your WordPress editor as a valuable tool. You use it to attract new prospects, to build trust with them — word-by-word — so you can get down to business.

And you do it in your slippers. Because shoes are optional in our world, right?

Your shoes might be fuzzy, but your words need to be consistently remarkable.

Consistently good content creation is the backbone of online business.

But how can you make that happen? Well, one option is to drink lots of coffee and stay up late the night before you publish your post, stifling yawns and squinting to see your screen.

But the better option is to spread the writing and editing process over a few leisurely days, and write your post in stages without ever getting out of your slippers. Sound good?

Quality over quantity

If you believe Jon Morrow (and who doesn’t?), you know that writing one epic post per week is a better long-term strategy than writing mediocre content every day.

That’s what you’re aiming for in your start here: one weekly post that will attract attention, establish your authority, and encourage people to share your information.

And keep in mind, Brian Clark built Copyblogger.com by writing two posts per week in the beginning.

It all starts on morning one.

Morning 1: Start with a mind mapping tool

Slippers on? Favorite beverage at your side? It’s time to begin.

Start by thinking about your topic, and what angle you’ll approach it from. Fire up a mind mapping program — or a piece of paper and your favorite pen — and get ready to start writing.

Your headline is the most important group of words in your post, so spend plenty of time crafting one that will get your post the attention you’re looking for. Put that at the center of your mind map.

Your subheads can branch out from there. Subheads form the backbone of your content: get these right, and everything else will flow.

Your subheads should be informative enough that someone scanning your post will understand the gist of it.

They should be intriguing enough that your scanner is left wanting to dig deeper and learn more.

And that’s enough for day one.

The first step is the most difficult, and you’re off to a good start. Move on to the rest of your day, and prepare for tomorrow — it’s going to be a heavy one.

Morning 2: Time to fill in the details

You might need an extra helping of your favorite beverage for today’s task. You’re going to be fleshing out the details of the outline you created yesterday, and writing the rest of your post.

Still, keep those slippers on. You need to be comfortable so you can get the job done.

The first thing to tackle today is to look over the headline and subheads you wrote yesterday. Do they still make sense? Are they still intriguing? Are you looking forward to filling in what’s missing?

If not, take some time to tweak. Reinforce the basic structure of your post so you’ve got something to hang the rest of your words on.

Once you’re satisfied, it’s time to fill in the details. Ready? Set? Go!

I know what you’re saying right now. “It’s not a race.” Actually at this stage, it is.

The fastest way to get the rest of your post written is to write it as fast as you can. Write your first paragraph. Write the rest of your introduction. Fill in the details under your subheads. Wrap it up at the end, and include some kind of call to action.

As. Fast. As. You. Can.

Why so fast?

Because at this stage, you shouldn’t be sweating every word. You need to register your thoughts, not edit. Editing is for tomorrow.

Finally, before you wrap up working on your post for the day, look for an image. There are lots of resources for finding good images: spend some time finding one that will complement your words and draw attention to your concepts.

Then, walk away. Focus on something else, get a good night’s sleep, and plan to take a last look at your post with fresh eyes in the morning.

Morning 3: Edit, massage and tweak

On day three, you’ll wake up refreshed, slip on your slippers, and pour one more cup of that favorite beverage. Sidle up to your keyboard, and fire up that draft post one more time.

Do a read-through to see how it looks today. Better yet, read it out loud in a monotone voice to be sure it still makes sense and sounds good, even with no inflection.

Edit, re-write and move copy around as needed. Keep reading and tweaking until it’s just right.

Next, spend some time formatting your post for readability. Add bulleted lists where you can. Add excerpts using block quotes. Break up long paragraphs into smaller chunks to make them easier to read on screen.

Before you queue it up for publishing, go down this checklist and make sure you can answer “yes” to everything:

  • Does the headline stop them in their tracks?
  • Is the image intriguing on its own?
  • Do the subheads tell your story all by themselves?
  • Have you asked an engaging question at the end to encourage comments and conversation?
  • Did you add a call to action for a product, service, or your email list?

Morning 4: Publication and Promotion day

Back in your slippers on morning four, you can enjoy the fruits of your labors. But your work isn’t over, so don’t relax just yet.

Publication day is promotion day. This post you spent three days crafting deserves attention, and it’s your job to ensure it gets it. How can you do that? Try:

  • Making yourself available to respond to comments, answer questions and converse with your readers
  • Promoting your post across the social media channels you use
  • Sharing it on sites like Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon

Did you write an especially epic post? If so, add this one task:

  • Email other blog owners and tell them about it. Ask them to share it with their followers.

It’s not easy to write epic posts week after week, but dividing the work up over several days will make it manageable.

Building time into your schedule to get away from your post will make you a better editor.

And doing it all in your slippers will make you feel like the king of your world.

What’s your writing schedule?

This is one way to write epic posts, but there are many others.

Do you have a favorite technique?

Let’s talk about it in the comments.

About the Author: Pamela Wilson believes your WordPress website should be easy to create, write for, and maintain. To find out how to do it right, sign up for her free easy website course here.

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