The main idea being issued at the 2011 BlogWorld expo is the focus and creation of good content, because on the web, content is king. Great content normally gets great links, which is the equivalent of being noticed, and because that's the goal of most business owners who try and leverage web traffic, it shows the importance of creating quality content.
During one of the BlogWorld sessions, Chris Crum sat in on Marcus Sheridan's presentation, and in it, he discussed some techniques and strategies to keep in mind when creating content. First and foremost, make sure your company has a blog and is using it to create content that addresses concerns and questions customers may have when researching the field your business targets. In his session, Sheridan used his own personal experience to make his point about how successful blogs are important to web businesses.
Sheridan started a company that sold swimming pools and spas, and after the housing crash, the normal marketing techniques weren't offering much fruit, and so, he started a blog that focused on the long tail instead of competitive keywords. In fact, Sheridan suggests leaving these expensive ventures -- targeting competitive keywords -- to the bigger companies, while focusing on the benefits of content marketing. Sheridan offers this suggestion for those who aren't sure what they should be blogging about:
"Every question you've ever gotten should be a blog article. The question itself should be the title."
To further his point, Sheridan discusses an article he wrote about the prices of fiberglass swimming pools, and after the success of that particular post, he continued to create content concerning that specific subject. Of course, with the ever-present specter of Google's Panda update hanging over a site owner's head, you should be mindful of creating duplicate content because if Google suspects you are simply repeating yourself to reap traffic and ranking benefits, your site will be punished. Don't just focus on title alterations, make each piece you create individual enough to stand up on its own.
Sheridan goes on to offer seven suggestions on creating successful content:
For the first two points, Sheridan mentions cost and price. It is important to have these two things on your site, especially if you are selling something. Granted, these points should be common knowledge, but apparently, some are still struggling with the idea, but as Sheridan points out, there aren't many -- if any -- sales that happened without the price being known, or, as he says it, "nothing happens in business without money."
With his third point, Sheridan suggests using your company blog to solve problems related to the industry you are targeting. This is an important aspect of creating quality content, that is, giving your potential customers content they can use. To facilitate this content creation, Sheridan mentions monitoring Google for problems related to your industry, and creating content around these issues. As Crum mentioned, with Panda still affecting sites with duplicate content, be aware of duplication, even if the problem your focusing on persists within the industry.
Points four and five deal with the Versus/Compare aspect of acquisition. Customers are always comparing products to one another, therefore, create content that does this for them. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by creating comparison articles that focus on your product as opposed to your competitor's. Let people know why your "widget" is better.
For point six, Sheridan mentions awards, because people like to see which company/product is the best. He also offered a personal allegory concerning this, mentioning an article he wrote about fiberglass pool design awards, a post that even his competitors linked to because they appreciated the fact Sheridan's content mentioned their product. These competitors even linked to Sheridan's post, which is always a valuable outcome. He finished this segment by suggesting if there are no awards in the industry you are targeting, "go make up your own. Your opinion is pretty valid in my opinion."
Finally, Sheridan's seventh point mentions breaking news. Be an authority in the field you are targeting and by getting out in front of the breaking news surrounding your industry. This helps build trust with your potential customers, because there's security in the idea of doing business with an entity that knows its field.
In his closing points, Sheridan suggests thinking like a consumer and creating your content with that in mind: "Address every single question, and you will be successful." That being said, if you are going to focus on a content marketing strategy, be aware of duplicate content, or at least, what Google perceives as duplicate content, because there's nothing worse than getting good rankings for your hard work, only to have them ripped away because you didn't vary the text of the content being punished by Panda.
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