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How to Write a Blog Post and Use Social Media to Improve SEO

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Jan, 23, 2015 @ 16:01 PM

share blog posts on social media to improve SEO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've written a lot of blog posts on the importance of blogging and sharing information of value:

 

Why blog, create valuable content and build networks on social media?

Share Information of Value to Accelerate Sales

10 Reasons Every B2B Firm Needs a Blog

 

However, I've never written a blog post on how to write a blog post and I was recently asked several questions about how to optimize a blog post, and other content, for SEO.

 

There are five steps:

  1. Provide unique information of value.

  2. Format your blog, or other content, properly.

  3. Optimize your blog, or content, for search engines.

  4. Use calls-to-action.

  5. Promote your blog using social media.

1. Provide Information of Value

Don't sell, inform. Write about your industry, or something you are passionate about, not yourself.

Identify the persona for whom you are writing your blog.

Answer questions your buyers and prospects have asked. The more specific the question the better. Answer without selling. Answer to educate and build trust.

Focus on one topic per post. Don't cover too much. Don't take too much of the readers time. Today readers want "snackable" content. If it's too long, or a gray wall of type, it won't get read.

Think about the content you, or your firm, produce on a daily basis. All of that is information of value. If a restaurant is changing its menu daily, it's menu can become a blog post and then be reposted on other social media channels.

A retail store may want to feature products that are currently in demand or on sale.

Images, both photographs and videos, make great content. Lowes is doing a great job of producing "how to" videos for do-it-yourselfers and posting them to their website, their YouTube channel and their Facebook page.

Write consistently and frequently -- at least twice a week. The more frequently you share information of value, the more traffic you'll drive to your site.

 

2. Format Your Blog Properly

According to Copyblogger, eight out of 10 people will read your headline but only two out of 10 will read your content.

As such, spend half your time writing your headline and half your time writing the content.

The title should be less than 55 characters and include the keyword of the topic you are discussing.

Include plenty of white space and images. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than words. Make your post inviting and easy to read.

Don't let any paragraph be more than five lines long. This will help your read focus on the content, not the clutter.

 

3. Optimize your Blog Posts for Search Engines

Keep your readers in the front of your mind and the search engines in the back of your mind.

People will share your blog posts if they find the information your share with them sufficiently valuable.

Think about the long-term keywords you want to rank for. Pick one long-tail keyword to focus on.

Place the long-tail keyword in each of the following: title, URL, image alt-tags, body and meta-descriptions. This is what a search engine will scan to understand what you are writing about.

Include anchor text for your posts -- a word or phrase which links to other blog posts. By linking to trustworthy, reliable content you are building trust with the search engines.

Assign topics to each blog post (e.g., I write about customer experience, customer satisfaction and employee engagement).

 

4. Use Calls-To Actions

Consider different offers for each point in the buyers journey or the sales funnel.

I've found eBooks to be good top-of-the-funnel offers, webinars to be good middle-of-the-funnel offers and a free 30-minute consultation to be a good bottom-of-the-funnel offer.

Calls to action are critical. If you don't tell your reader what to do next, it's not likely they're going to engage with you. 

Invite readers to subscribe to your blog and engage in a discussion. Ultimately that's what social media is supposed to be -- a social discussion.

 

5. Promote Your Blog Through Social Media

Include social media links of all of your posts and make it easy for readers to share with their family, friends and colleagues.

Ideally you will share information of value that readers find so compelling they'll want to share it with everyone that's following them, some of whom will want to share on their social networks.

 

This is how content goes "viral."

 

What has worked for you when blogging?

 

How are you getting more readers and more engagement with those readers?

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: earn your customers trust, information of value, content marketing, social media, call to action

10 Places Consumers Look for Information of Value. . .

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Nov, 25, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content resized 600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

. . . Before contacting you.

 

I am frequently asked if content marketing is important even though there's more and more content being posted every day.

 

It is because your customer, or prospect, B2C or B2B, is doing a lot of research on the internet, and other places, prior to contacting you or a sales person.

 

At a recent conference, speakers consistently said that consumers were anywhere between 55 to 75% through the buying cycle before contacting a potential supplier.

 

So where are prospects and customers going to find information of value?

 

  1. Attending events -- tradeshows, invitation only, open houses, educational events, luncheons with speakers.

  2. Searching the web -- Google currently has 66% U.S. market share.

  3. Scanning social media to see what others are saying about a product or service.

  4. Asking colleagues -- I find LinkedIn Groups particularly effective for this.

  5. FAQs -- answer prospects' questions in FAQs before they ask it to save them time and make their life simpler.

  6. Downloading a SlideShare presentation, eBook or white paper.

  7. Visits discussion forums or groups and monitors or asks for input.

  8. Reads about the company online.

  9. Calls one of your employees and is not entered into the CRM.

  10. Attends a webinar

 

Have you asked your customers how they found you?

 

Do you know which websites propsect are visiting before visiting yours?

 

Is your site optimized for search engines and for mobile search?

 

Are you and your firm providing information of value in all of the places your prospects are looking?

 

Click Here for an Evaluation of Your Website

Tags: information of value, consistent messaging, customer journey, content marketing

10 Ways CPG Benefits From Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Nov, 24, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content marketing for CPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Content marketing gives small consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers the opportunity to compete with large CPG manufacturers.

 

If you have a product that's different and better than the competition or makes a consumer's life simpler and easier, content marketing is a great way to disseminate your message for not a lot of money.

 

Following are 10 ways CPG firms can benefit from content marketing:

 

  1. Awareness. You have tremendous opportunities to reaching your target audience via the ever-growing channels of social media -- Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube are great places to build awareness of your product.

  2. Trust. By telling your brand's story in an honest and compelling way and answering questions in a straightforward and transparent manner, you build trust among prospective buyers. As first-time buyers become satisfied customers, they begin sharing the benefits of your product with their friends and followers on social media.

  3. Simplify. If you can save the consumer time or provide a product that simplifies their life, you will have customers. How much does your product simplify the target audience's life? Can you show them in a compelling way? If so, people will want to share your benefits with others.

  4. Thought leader. What does your product do "different and better" than what's currently in the market? This is your strategic positioning and the one message you want to reiterate in all your communications.

  5. Traffic. The more content you share about the problem your product solves, the more traffic you'll generate to your website. 

  6. Leads. The more traffic you get to your website, the more leads you'll get. Know the difference between a marketing qualified lead, someone who's not ready to buy and needs more nurturing, and a sales qualified lead who is ready to buy.

  7. Relationships. Sharing content gives you the opportunity to begin a dialogue, and a relationship, with your prospects and enhance relationships with your customers.

  8. Nurture. By looking at analytics and talking with your customers, you'll be able to map their buying process and determine what content, or information of value, a marketing qualified lead needs to become a sales qualified lead.

  9. SEO. Every piece of content you generate and place on your website or link back to your site on social media, improves your SEO performance. While more a more content is being produced and making organic SEO more difficult to achieve, it can still be done. My content marketing is driving 80% of my traffic via SEO.

  10. Sales. More traffic, more leads, nurturing marketing qualified leads into sales qualified leads results in more sales and more informed buyers. Don't forget to engage the first-time buyer to ensure they're happy with their purchase and realizing the value they anticipated when they purchased your product. It's much easier to get a current customer to make additional purchases than it is to get new customers. In addition, satisfied customers can turn into "raving fans" that will share their positive experience with your product via social media.

What CPG firms are doing an exceptional job of using content marketing to drive awareness, traffic, leads and sales?

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 

Tags: information of value, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, customer journey, content marketing

Use Content Calendars to Improve Your Content Marketing Efforts

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Nov, 20, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content marketing

 

 

 

 

 

Great presentation by Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures, at Internet Summit 2014 (#isum14).

 

Arnie conducted a content marketing workshop in which he shared a couple of keys to improving your content marketing.

 

Content calendars -- by year and by month.

 

If you have not put together your plan for 2015 yet, get your marketing, sales and customer service teams together before the end of the year and go through the following process.

 

For the annual calendar identify by month:

  • Business quarter focus or goal
  • Selling cycles
  • Seasons
  • Holidays
  • Events -- national, industry specific, company specific
  • Product launches
  • Deadlines
  • Company goals
  • Metrics -- what are the definitions of success of your content marketing efforts?

 

For the montly calendar by day list:

  • Title or description of the content to be produced
  • Status
  • Due date
  • Publish date
  • Type of content (blog post, ebook, white paper, infographic, FAQ, video, testimonial, case study)
  • Producer/designer
  • Editor
  • Target audience/persona
  • Distribution channels for the content produced
  • Promotion
  • Metadata tags
  • Metrics to be measured daily, weekly and monthly

 

By getting everyone in the room you will accomplish a couple of things:

  1. You'll generate enough ideas for content that will last you an entire year.
  2. You'll be inculcating and content marketing and generation mindset among others in the company who will begin to see content opportunities where they had not seen them before.

If you need a facilitator for your content calendar meetings, let me know. I'm happy to help.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 

Tags: trust, information of value, consistent messaging, content marketing, content

7 Ways to Create Better Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Nov, 19, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content marketing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am frequently asked by those who are pursuing a content marketing strategy what they can do to make the process easier and provide higher quality information of value for their customers and prospects.

 

Following are seven steps to take to create better content:

 

  1. Be strategic and identify how your content marketing integrates with the rest of your marketing communications strategy:
    - Who are your target personas -- who are you trying to reach?
    - What are your goals -- awareness, traffic, leads, dialog, SEO?
    - When do you want to reach your target in their journey -- top of the funnel (awareness, research), middle of the funnel (RFI, short list, competitive evaluation), bottom of the funnel (meeting with vendors, purchase decision)?
    - Where do you want to reach your target -- where will they be most receptive to your message, where are they going to be looking for information of value?
    - Why does what you are sharing matter -- is it really information of value or all you doing a brand dump, or selling?

  2. Create one big piece of content and then break it down into different content types that can be shared across many channels -- blog posts, white papers, videos, ebooks, infographics, testimonials, FAQs, case studies, webinars, newsletters.

  3. Tell a story that is different and unique to you and your business. What business problem have you solved with a creative solution?

  4. Be useful. Answer questions before people asked them based on the questions you've been asked many times before. The more time you save your customers and prospects, the more you make it sinple and easier for them, the more likely they will become long-term customers.

  5. Have a content generation mindset and inculcate that mindset into your employees. Content is everywhere. One of the best sources I heard lately are the emails members of the sales team are sending to clients or prospects. These emails are likely answering questions or objections.

  6. Do more. The more you do, the better you'll get and the more analytics you'll have to let you know what is, and is not, working. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than companies that do not blog (Hubspot).

  7. Be a better writer. Tell better stories. The more you write, the more you share, the more you have a chance of stirking a chord with a prospect or a customer. Write emotionally compelling content to increase the likelihood that your content will be share with others.  

Tags: dialog, earn your customers trust, information of value, customer journey, content marketing, emotional connection, trusted advisor, social media

Answer These Questions to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Nov, 18, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content marketing institute

 

 

 

 

Most B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy — but only 35% have documented it -- Content Marketing Institute

Here are the questions the Content Marketing Institute suggest you answer to get your content marketing strategy in order:

Business Plan for Innovation:


❑ What challenges are we trying to solve?
❑ What is our dream outcome with this process?
❑ What is the risk if we fail?
❑ Whose unique perspectives do we want to involve? If internal, what permissions do we need from their managers to participate?
❑ What is our budget?
❑ How often do we want to produce deliverables?
❑ If life or business issues get in the way, how can we push a “big red button” without
disbanding the idea of the business plan?
❑ How will we execute each experimental idea, and how long will we give it to work?

 

Business Case for Content Marketing:


❑ What is the need? What do we hope to accomplish with our content marketing?
❑ How big of a need is it? Do we have a big enough audience to justify a plan?
❑ What is the business model? How does it work? What do we have to do?
❑ What is our differentiating value? Why is this more important than other things we are
spending time on?
❑ What are the risks? What’s in our way of success – or what happens if we fail?

 

Persona Development and Content Mapping:


❑ What are the details of each of our personas?
❑ What does our sales funnel look like?
❑ What does the customer’s buying cycle look like?
❑ What content do we need to create based on the engagement cycle?

❑ What is the customer context?

 

Our Brand Story:


❑ What does our marketing look like? Where are our competitors situated? What is the reality for our customers? Why do they currently identify with our brand?
❑ What would the world look like if we could realize the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) that we set out for our brand? What is the “call to adventure” for our product?
❑ Why hasn’t this been done?
❑ Who will provide guidance for our brand as it makes this journey?
❑ What is our new idea? How will we lead our audience into this unknown with us?
❑ Who will our brand align with to help us move forward? Who will be the naysayers? What
challenges can we plan for?
❑ What will our brand ultimately achieve?
❑ Once our brand has changed, how will we show that differentiation?
❑ What ambush could – or will – our brand face now that it is different? How will we continue
to move on?

 

Channel Plan:


❑ What do we already have that helps us tell this story (e.g., an existing Web page, blog, etc.)?
❑ What must change for us to tell this story (e.g., do we need to add a blog; do we need to
create or revisit our social Web strategy?)
❑ What must stop (if anything) for us to tell this story (e.g., do we need to stop using Facebook and divert our energy to a blog?)
❑ What are the objectives for each channel as they relate to the engagement cycle?
❑ How will we map each channel to our story?
❑ What are our specific goals for each channel?
❑ Which channels apply to which persona(s)? (Note: You may want multiple accounts on the
same social network to address different personas.)
❑ How/who will manage the content and conversation on each channel?
❑ What is the velocity, tone, desired action and structure for the content on each channel?

 

Please let me know if I can help you and your firm develop a content marketing strategy.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: information of value, alignment, consistent messaging, content marketing, content

Why blog, create valuable content and build networks on social media?

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Nov, 14, 2014 @ 13:11 PM

why blog?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Bullas recently asked the question, in the title of this blog, in his post "44 Reasons Why You Should Use Social Media for Your Personal and Business Brand."

The biggest reason for me is to "leave a legacy." I don't have any kids. I've helped more than 100 people become successful marketing professionals.

I felt like my blog was a place where I could capture and share everything I've learned, and continue to learn, over the course of my career.

Hopefully providing information of value to business owners and marketing professionals will help them:

  1. Grow their business.
  2. Engage and empower their employees.
  3. Understand the value of customers versus revenue.
  4. Commit to providing an outstanding customer experience.
  5. Learn from some of the mistakes I've made.

Building a network, and making connections, on social media has been invaluable. It's given me an opportunity to connect with people I would have never met -- with them adding value to my life, and hopefully, me adding value to their's.

I love what Guy Kawasaki says, "The Internet rewards those who share information, and penalizes those who hoard it."

Blogging consistently is a great way to capture, and share, your thoughts and information of value.

It's also a great way to build awareness, traffic and leads. The key is consistency of message and presence. Most people who start a blog stop blogging after two to three months.

I know from experience, and data shared by HubSpot and other companies, that it takes six months to build a following that will help to double website traffic and improve SEO. Although I also know that by publishing at least twice a week, I've doubled traffic and leads for clients and employers in less than three months.

Do you share information of value to create awareness of your brand and to build your business? If not, and you'd like some help getting started, let me know. I'd be happy to help.

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 

 

Don't have a website or need a refresh? Website are becoming easier to build as well with free resources like Squarespace and Wix and information of value from companies like http://firstsiteguide.com. That's on my "to do" list.

Tags: be reliable, be real, information of value, be relevant, content, social media

3 Keys to Lead Generation

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Nov, 03, 2014 @ 10:11 AM

3 keys to lead generation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

 

There are three keys communication that will help you generate more leads:

 

  1. Provide information of value
     
  2. Be consistent

  3. Be relevant

 

Providing information of value, not selling, builds awareness and trust of your products, services and company, as well as establishing you as a trusted-advisor on the subject about which you are sharing.

 

Start by answering all of your customers' and prospects' questions openly and in a transparent manner. Doing so will help establish you and your firm as someone who want to help solve a problem rather than just sell something.

 

What problem do you solve? How do you do it? How much does it cost? What are the benefits? What are the downsides?

 

By answering someone's question before they even ask you the question, you are saving them time and making their life easier. If you save someone time, or make their life easier, they're more likely to be a loyal, and long-term, customer.

 

Consistency is key. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency confuses people which leads to distrust.

 

Ensure all of your communications, across all channels, are consistent -- the same information, the same tone.

 

I strive to be genuinely helpful by sharing information I think will be of value to business owners and marketing professionals.

 

Be relevant. This can be difficult if you're inwardly focused. It's much easier if you are customer-centric.

 

Find out what your customers and prospects have questions about and answer those questions.

 

Ask your sales force and your customer service reps what the objections, issues and questions they hear most frequently.

 

Map the customer journey identifying the questions received and the information needed at each step of the journey. Once you've done this, don't forget to share your journey maps and questions with customers for validation. 

 

By providing information of value that's consistent and relevant, you will drive greater awareness, traffic and leads while establishing you, and your brand, as trustworthy.

 

What questions can I answer for you about sharing information of value?

 

Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook

 

Tags: transparency, trust, be real, information of value, alignment, consistent messaging, be relevant

Empower Advocates to Build Your Brand via Social Media

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Oct, 20, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

raving fans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great presentation by Jason Hibbets (@jhibbets), Red Hat's community manager of Opensource.com.

 

Jason, his team at Red Hat and 10 non-Red Hat "moderators" are generating 600+ articles per year consistent with their goal of building the world's premier open source story telling platform.

 

They do this by following the same principles of open source:

 

  1. Transparency -- in participation and passion

  2. Collaboration -- enables rapid prototyping and meritocracy

  3. Methodology -- lean, get stuff done

  4. Strategy -- daily heartbeat, content is king, 50% user generated content, SEO while writing naturally

 

Opensource.com monitors its writers and gives them awards and badges creating a win-win for Red Hat, opensource.com and its supporters.

 

It holds voluntary meetings with moderators every Monday to discuss potential topics of interests for the coming week.

 

According to Jason, the magic, and the success of opensource.com, is in the community.

 

As such, it makes sense to invest in, promote and facilitate your community of advocates.

 

I have been a raving fan of Chipotle for seven years and have written a number of blog posts promoting their products, service and personnel.

 

I believe Chipotle, and every other major brand, is missing a tremendous opportunity by failing to engage their promoters to share information of value in their social media channels of influence.

 

If you have loyal customers who are willing and able to sing your praises, do everything you can to facilitate and encourage them.

 

As a matter of fact, here's a great infographic from Matt Banner that will help you and your advocates know everythingy you need to know to master a particular social channel.

 

Why would you not want free marketing and to recognize, and reward, your best customers?

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book   

Tags: information of value, raving fans, content, social media, advocates

10 Ways IT Companies Benefit from Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Oct, 15, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

content marketing accelerates sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've been using inbound/content marketing for the past few years in conjunction with outbound, traditional and digital marketing.

 

IT, both hardware and software, companies were one of the first to see the benefits of sharing information of value and continue to do so today because:

 

  1. The more information of value you share, the more you build awareness of the problem companies are facing and the solution your product or service provides.
     
  2. By sharing information of value, answering people's questions before they even ask them, you are gaining trust and establishing you, and your firm, as a trusted advisor on the topic.

  3. Answering questions when, or before, they are asked is providing a service. You are making those who are researching the topic lives easier, saving them time and enhancing their knowledge.

  4. The more information of value you share the more you are establishing yourself, and your firm as a thought-leader, and problem-solver.

  5. Sharing information via blog posts and social media drives more traffic to your website.

  6. Driving more traffic to your website generates more leads assuming that your website is offering the prospect something of value for which they're willing to give you a "real" name and email address. You don't need to ask for more than that.

  7. The more information of value you share, the more you are able to establish a dialogue with those interested in the topic you are addressing. People like to do business with those they know, like and trust. Sharing information of value is a great way to start a dialogue.

  8. Content marketing gives you the opportunity to nuruture marketing qualified leads (MQLs), those who aren't yet ready to buy, into sales qualified leads (SQLs), those who are ready to engage with a sales person.

  9. The more information of value you publish on your website, the more your grassroots SEO improves. The more frequently you add information of value to your site, the more frequently the search engines will crawl it to see what you've added.

  10. Ultimately, more awareness, more traffic, more leads and nurturing MQLs to SQLs will lead to fewer lost leads and more sales all because you and your firm were willing to share information of value and provide a solution to a problem.

Is your firm using content marketing to drive awarness, traffic, leads and sales?

 

Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook 

Tags: information of value, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, content, trusted advisor, MQL, SQL