The 5 SEO Tips Bloggers Need to Know Now

Want to find a way to push your blog to perform even better? Drive more traffic and engage with more potential fans and followers? Then it’s time to optimize your blog! SEO is an important element to your on-line success. Here are 5 easy SEO tips to boost your blog.

Choose a keyword or keywords carefully – Google will only rank your site two times for the same keyword. Due to this, it’s important that you keep track of the terms you’re targeting on your blog and choose your keywords carefully. You can use tools such as Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner, Keywordtool.io, or SEMRush to do your keyword research. You’ll want to choose terms that relate to your topic. You’ll want to look at the competitiveness of each targeted word. If it’s a super competitive word, you may have a hard time ranking well, unless you’re a big site with a high domain authority.

Consider Long-tail terms – A long-tail keyword is easier to rank for than a short-tail term. Long-tail terms are keywords such as, “women’s clothing store Phoenix” vs a short-tail, “women’s clothing”. While there will be a lower search volume for long-tail keywords, the customer is further down the sales funnel, and more likely to convert. There is also often less competition for the long-tail term than short-tail keywords, due to this, many companies see long-tail convert better than short.

Review your site’s (and the competition’s) authority when choosing keywords – Once you have a list of potential keywords for your post, run a Google search for that term and see if anyone ranks on page one. If they do, go to Moz’s Open Site Explorer and find out what their domain authority is. It’s unlikely you’ll move into position #1 unless you have a higher DA than the site that’s currently ranking. Review their DA and your own to determine where you have the best potential to rank in a top position. Choose those words or terms to target.

Write for your audience, not the search engine – After you’ve worked to select the right keyword for your blog post, it’s tempting to stuff it in there 100 times to see how well it will work. Don’t do this! Google wants you to write for your audience. They want to deliver great content. Focus on telling a story that your reader cares about. Don’t even think about how many times you want to include a keyword in the post. Once you’ve written your draft, go back and see how many times you included it naturally. Read it to yourself – out loud- and see how it sounds. If it’s well written and the keyword usage is natural, it will sound right. If it’s too much, you’ll be able to tell. Edit as necessary.

Add a unique Title Tag and Meta Description to each post – a title tag is essentially your story’s headline and the meta description is a brief synopsis of what your page or post is about. Together, they’re what will entice the reader to click on the link and visit your blog to read more. They should be engaging and have a call-to-action, if applicable. They also to be less than 56 characters (Title Tag) and 156 characters (Meta Description) so that they don’t truncate. Finally, you should include your brand or blog name and the targeted keyword in both.

If you take a strategic SEO focused approach to your keyword selection and writing, you should be able to rank better in the search engines. And when your rank improves, we normally see traffic increase. Want to learn more ways that blogging is beneficial for your business? Read more about why blogging matters, how long your blog post should be, or what makes a great blog post all from The Etched Blog.

Bonus Tip: If you’re using WordPress, a great SEO plugin is Yoast SEO. Yoast SEO manages your Title Tags and Meta Descriptions and gives you an easy to follow red, yellow, green scoring system for your optimization on every page or post. Yoast will even tell you what to change to improve your SEO. The free version works great.

5 tips for fighting writer’s block

Writer’s block is inevitable. When you’re focused on creating content on a schedule, it’s tough to maintain creativity always. We’ve all faced it – the blank computer screen, the fingers that don’t want to move, and the ideas that are all just…. gone. Writer’s block can be frustrating, especially when you’re on a deadline and need to get something done.

It’s important to allow yourself the breathing room that’s necessary for creativity. When I’m facing a challenging round of writer’s block, I shut the computer off and walk away. I’ve found that allowing myself a chance to reboot even for a few hours, will normally solve the issue for me.

Step away from the computer

Just shut it off and leave your office. It’s OK to take a break, even if you’re not done with what you need to write. The reality is, if you try to force creativity when you’re feeling tapped out, your writing will likely suffer.

Go outside and breathe fresh air

Sometimes just moving to a new location will help. If the weather is nice out, go outside and either work from a patio table or relax for a little while and don’t think about writing. It’s up to you. I’ve had either method work. Somedays, all I need to do is move to my backyard and I suddenly find myself ready to write again. Other days, I need to log off and go for a walk and get away from the office completely.

Work in a different location

Sitting in the same desk, inside the same office, day in and day out can be boring. Moving to a new spot can help. Does your office area have a couch in the waiting room or do you have a den or game room? Moving to one of those spots could help. If you work from home, maybe just moving from your office to the dining room table could help. Sometimes a simple change of scenery can help. If you have a coffee shop nearby, you might even want to load up your laptop and go work from there for a bit.

Take a break

If I’m battling a particularly tough case of writer’s block, I will stop completely for a few hours and do something unrelated. Have errands you need to run? Go ahead and get them out of the way. Run to the grocery store, stop by Target, prep dinner. Do something that’s completely unrelated to writing and helps get something else off your to-do list. Somedays, I’ll go walk the mall for an hour. I find when I do things like this, I tend to have ideas pop into my head while I’m out. I make sure I keep my phone by my side to take notes.

Eat something

When was the last time you ate? Could it be that you’re hungry or thirsty? Sometimes taking 20-30 minutes to relax and eat lunch is all that’s necessary to rejuvenate. Maybe sneak in a special treat occasionally. I don’t recommend doing this daily but periodically it’s nice. There’s a gourmet grocery store not too far from my house and they have the best bakery section. Occasionally, I’ll head over there, get a decadent treat and a drink and sit outside on their patio and relax. After 30 minutes, I feel relaxed and ready to tackle my project again.

Writing requires creativity and it’s hard to force creativity into an 8-5 M-F type schedule. Somedays you need to take a break, do something else for a while, and come back to your task later. When you’re turning out lots of content each week, it can be a challenge. What have you found helps you combat writer’s block? If you need help keeping up with your content production due to writer’s block or any reason, contact the team at Etched for help.

 

How-to Tuesday: How to Migrate Your Blog

Blog Migration

Just saying the word migration can send the best SEO into a slight panic. Site or blog migrations can be fantastic but they also come with a ton of risk factors you need to mitigate to ensure all your hard work is protected. So, how do you successfully migrate your blog?

Pre-Blog Migration Content Audit

Long before you migrate, you’ll need to start the prep work to determine several things. You’ll want to do a content audit to see if there are any pages you should kill off. If you have old blog posts or content pages that see no traffic, you probably don’t need to worry about moving them to the new site.

When conducting your content audit, you’ll want to look at several data points.

  • Traffic
  • Links
  • Social Shares

You need to look at all three data points to ensure you don’t decide to cut a page due to low traffic and hurt your overall authority in the process. If you have a URL that’s got a high PA (page authority) and some strong incoming links, you’ll want to either keep the page or have the links modified and moved to another URL on the site. Link modification is tricky because you must rely upon the webmaster of the linking site to complete this process. For more detailed information on content audits, check out the posts I wrote for Marketing Land.

Once you’ve completed your content audit, you’ll want to audit your SEO title tags and meta descriptions.

Blog Migration SEO Element Review

You’ll want to run content inventory and audit your site’s performance. Determine which pages are staying and which ones are going. Look at all the title tags and meta descriptions for the pages that you’re going to migrate. Are they all targeted appropriately or should you adjust your targeting now too? An easy way to run a crawl and gather this data is with Screaming Frog. They have free or paid versions available. The size of your site will determine whether you can use the free version or not. Screaming Frog is a great tool because it will crawl your site as Google Bot and let you know exactly what’s being indexed. You can review your title tags and meta descriptions to ensure they abide by current best practices and aren’t truncating.

Take the time now and clean up any title tags or meta descriptions that truncate. If you feel some of the tags could be stronger, re-write them or outsource it to an agency.

Blog Migration URL Mapping

Is your URL structure going to change when you migrate your blog? If so, you’re going to need to redirect ALL the urls you decided to keep. This can be a big task but it’s manageable. The key is staying organized.

Take your Screaming Frog report and copy the URLs you have decided to keep on the new site. I personally find this the easiest to manage in Excel but any spreadsheet tool should work fine. I like to copy/paste all the URLs that I want to keep on the left side and then note the re-direct URL on the right site on the same line. This way I can see what today’s URL is and what the future one will be. It’s important that you use 301 redirects to let Google know this is a permanent move from the old to the new location. A 301 will preserve your page authority (ie. Links).

Link Modification

If you have some links that you want to keep but they’re pointing to pages you’d like to delete, you can try link modification. You will need to email the webmaster of each site individually and ask them to move the link from the old URL to the new. Try hard to limit the number of these as they’re much more labor intensive and the success rate can be low.

Bonus SEO Tips for your Blog Migration

File Names

When you’re building a new site, it’s the perfect time to review things like your file naming conventions. Did you know the name on your image files is read by Google and can be helpful in your search rankings? It is. Use dashes in between the words on your file name and include the most important keywords in the file name. This helps Google understand what your image is about. Also, include ALT text for your file that tells what the image is about but also includes appropriate keywords.

Use Header Tags

Ensure each page on the new site has an H1 tag. This tag lets Google know what the page is about. It should be the focus keyword for the page. You can also use H2-H6 where appropriate to expand upon the sub ideas on the page.

Set up Analytics

Check to be sure you’ve got analytics code set up on the new site before you go live so you have tracking information from day one. You’ll also want to establish a Google Search Console account so you can track any migration related errors.

Submit a Sitemap to Google

Submit your XML sitemap through Google Search Console so Google knows where to crawl your site. Check back to see what your indexation percentage is to make sure Google’s finding the information you’ve shared. Your indexation rate is the percent of URLs submitted vs URLs indexed by Google. The closer to 100% the better. You’ll also want to check for any 404 errors – those are URLs Google can’t find. They’re likely ones you had on the old site and didn’t migrate. Google says it doesn’t matter if you have 404 errors but personally, I don’t think it’s a good user experience so I always recommend using a 301 redirect to the most appropriate page. If it’s a blog post that’s 404ed, then 301 redirect it to the blog homepage, etc.

Run a Baseline Report

Take a baseline report – track your traffic, orders, revenue, keyword rank, and number of links the day before the migration. This tells you where you were before you pushed go. You’ll want to track these same items for at least two weeks, if not a month or longer, post migration. You can stop tracking when the numbers return to your pre migration levels.

Final Thoughts

Migrating your blog doesn’t have to be scary. It just needs to be done in an orderly fashion and with plenty of prep work. There will almost always be migration related issues; it’s up to you to find and address them in a timely manner. Most sites will experience a slight decrease in performance right after a migration but you should see performance return to normal within a month in most cases. And never fear, I’ve seen clients with 1 million 404 errors (URLS not found) and they’ve still been OK once the issues were addressed.

How Long Should my Blog Post Be?

How many words should my blog post be?

Ah, it’s one of the most common questions – how many words do I need to write? How long should a blog post be? Sadly, there isn’t a real, definitive answer to this question. Why not? There is no blog post success formula. Wouldn’t it be great if there was?

Tell a good story

When writing a blog post, start by thinking about the story you want to tell, not your desired word count. I always tell my team to do just that and the result is better content. If you tell a story that your audience likes, they’ll read. If you focus solely on the required word count, your product won’t be as good. You’ll either not go in-depth enough to get to the story’s essence. Or you’ll add unnecessary, superfluous words to up your word count.

For example, this is word 150 in this post. If I was focused solely on my word count and going for 300 words, I would be more than halfway done. Is this article halfway done already? Personally, I feel like it’s missing a little something still. So, I’ll write a bit more, to fill out the story.

Focus on your audience

When you’re writing a blog post (or any content for that matter), think about your audience. Who do you hope is going to read the piece you’re writing? What questions might they have? Is there specific information that they’d need to know? Do they have the basic background knowledge to understand everything you’re going to discuss or is there something that would help them catch up?

When you think about your audience and their questions, it’s easier to find the heart of the story. Don’t bore them with things that don’t matter. At the same time, don’t assume they know everything you do about a subject and end up speaking over their heads and confusing them. Need a little guidance on this topic? Check out this post on thinking about all of your audiences when creating content.

What if you don’t know what questions your audience has?

Asking questions is a great way to grow audience engagement. If you’re working on a blog post and trying to figure out what information to include, asking your audience what questions they have can be very helpful. Ask your fans or followers – a quick status update could bring in great information.Or do a little research. Try sites like Answer the Public or Quora to find out what people want to know. Use that information to build your story.

Does a blog post need a beginning, middle, and end?

I think they do. If you’re telling a good story, focus on doing it the right away. I know I’ve annoyed my writing team by sending things back for revisions but the bottom line is it has to be done right. I know some think blogging should take a causal approach but I still believe blog posts should be well thought out, well written, and thorough. Maybe I’m old fashioned. What do you think about the requirements for a blog post? Are they more relaxed or do they need to include beginning, middle, and end?

Blog Post Word Count Basics

Some posts you write will be short and sweet and maybe 350 words. If it’s a simple topic that doesn’t need a lot of research or detailed explanation, that’s OK. Other posts could easily be 1,000 words or more. If you’re writing a how-to guide, they’re often more in-depth and could even be 1,500-2,000 words. Don’t be afraid of writing a longer post if it’s a topic that warrants the time and effort on both your part and the audience.

Final Thoughts

When you stop worrying about hitting a certain word count and instead focus on telling a great story, your writing will improve. And when you provide better content, your audience will likely read more. They might even come back because they know you’ll have something they enjoy reading. Take the time to think about what they need out of a piece of content. Write it for them, address their questions, follow basic writing guidelines, and turn out work you’re proud of every time. If you’re not sure what to include in a blog post, check out the Anatomy of a Great Blog Post for more tips. If you’d like to talk to the team at Etched Marketing about creating great content for your blog or website, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

How-to Measure Your Content Marketing Efforts

Have you ever wondered how you should measure content marketing ROI for your business? If you haven’t, I’ll bet your boss has asked you about ROI. In the agency world, we’re asked to both predict and prove ROI on a regular basis. While it’s hard to predict the future impact of a specific piece of content, there are many ways to prove ROI after the fact. There are several ways you can measure your content marketing program’s ROI.

How do you determine content marketing ROI?

To determine your ROI, you’ll need to establish baseline metrics. Your baseline metrics are simply how your site or blog is performing before you begin a new marketing program. This works for SEO, Content Marketing, or Paid Search. Understanding your performance before the new program goes in place is important. It allows you to see the impact of the work that’s been done. You want to go back at least a year on your baseline report, so that you have accurate YoY data to review.

It’s also important to understand if you have seasonality issues that may be impacting your site’s overall performance. If you run a two-year baseline report, then you know your average YoY increase.  And can determine if dips or increases you experience are expected seasonal shifts. If you notice poor performance in February for three years in a row; it’s less likely something you did than just that you normally experience a dip in the month of February. Now, this doesn’t mean the dips don’t matter.  But before worrying, see what happens in March, does performance even out as expected?

What Key Performance Metrics (KPIs) should you be measuring? Read on for more on that.

On-Site KPI Measurement

The first, probably most important measurement tool is good ol’ Google Analytics. If you don’t have GA set up on your website and blog already, it’s time. You need to commit to getting it set up. It’s easy and straightforward to install. You can find the handy Google Analytics installation guide here if you need help. It’s important that you have GA set up on your web properties so you can see how your content is performing.

If you’re not familiar with GA and all that it provides, it’s time to learn. GA provides you with insights into just about everything your customers do on your website. You can learn where they’re from. What language they use. The browser they’re searching with. Their age and other demographic information. But more importantly, we get into the content marketing success metrics – time on site, number of pages read, where you traffic is coming from, what content they’re engaging with, what they’re not, and more.

Let’s talk about a couple of these metrics specifically:

Site Content

From a Content Marketing perspective, this is probably the most critical piece of information. It helps us understand how each page on the site performs. You can review your site’s pages and/or blog posts and see which ones get the most traffic. Find out if there’s a high exit rate or bounce rate. See how long people are spending on each page, etc. This helps better understand what people are engaging with once they arrive on your website.

  • Traffic – Total number of visitors or sessions to your site. You’ll notice these numbers aren’t the same. It’s because some people will return to the site – after all, that’s our goal! We want to see these numbers grow over time.
  • New vs Returning -The percentage of new visitors vs people who have been here before and come back. We want to see the returning visitors increase. It tells us that the content we’re creating is useful and they keep coming back for more.
  • Bounce Rate – The percent of people who come to your site and leave quickly. We want this to decrease over time.
  • Time on Site – The average time people spend on your website. We want this to grow.
  • Average Pages per Visit – Just like it sounds. The number of pages each visitor reads. We want this to grow over time. The more pages they’re reading, the better we’re doing.

Traffic Sources

Not only do we want to know how much traffic is coming to the site, we want to know where it’s coming from. Why is traffic source information important to measure when we’re talking about Content Marketing? Your traffic sources are your 3rd part of your content strategy, the content distribution. It’s critical that you understand where your visitors come from so you can ensure you target them in the future.

This is also really important when it comes to paid distribution or partnerships. You need to be able to determine your ROI for each expenditure. If you can see that you got 1,000 visits from a local community site, you wrote a guest post for and it cost you maybe 3 hours of your time… that’s probably worth doing again. However, if you spent $1,000 on a listing on a local site and only got 2 visits from it, you might want to save that money next time. See why it’s important to understand where the traffic is coming from?

What are the traffic source options and what do they mean?

  • Direct – people know your website, type it in and go there without the help of a search engine.
  • Organic – they find you through a search, likely on Google, and end up on your website.
  • Paid – if you’re running a Google Adwords campaign, this would be the traffic that’s clicking on your ad and going to your site from there.
  • Social – This traffic is coming direct to your site from a link within a post, tweet, update, etc. on Social Media.
  • Referral – another site is sending traffic to you. This could be due to a link you’ve secured, a mention in someone’s blog, a directory listing, etc.

Off-Site Measurement

A more advanced way to measure your Content Marketing program’s success (or lack thereof) is by reviewing the number of links your site has secured (a measure of your site’s authority).

If you’re creating content that people find useful, they’ll often link to you and share it with their audiences. This helps establish your website as an authority with Google and in turn, you’ll often see your own Domain Authority or Page Authority increase, which in turn, can help your keyword rank improve in the Search Engines.

Authority

If you’re not sure how to check the links, domain or page authority on your site, check out Moz’s Open Site Explorer, it’s a great free tool that provides the data. Create a baseline authority report in addition to your other KPIs so you can track your efforts.

Keyword Rank 

As you focus on content marketing and optimizing your site for SEO, you should see your keyword rank improve. KW Rank is based upon many factors. Google wants to deliver the best results for their customers, so they try to rank those sites that are the most helpful. How are you viewed as helpful? Ranking factors such as: links, social sharing, site traffic, even your site’s load speed can impact your ranking. Google wants to make sure they send their customers to great sites with the right content, so they come back to them next time too.

Distribution

Social Sharing – finally, the last item on the list – It’s good to know how your content is performing in social media when it’s being shared. You know that you’ve got referring traffic insights in your GA report but if you want even more data you have a few options you can try.

LinkedIn Publishing – if you’re writing for a B2B business or about topics that would be of use to business people, then publishing on LinkedIn could be a great option for you. And you get all sorts of data and insights from their dashboard.

Pro Tip: Tools

Bit.ly – the URL shortening tool – yeah, it can help you measure your content’s success as well because it lets you see how many people clicked on a unique link, when, and where.

Buffer – Like Bit.ly, Buffer provides analytics on the links you share. However, Buffer allows you to easily schedule and distribute content. As you’re creating your go-forward strategy, consider using one of these tools to help track your content ROI.

What is Content Marketing ROI?

We’ve talked a lot about what goes into a ROI measurement but if you’re not sure how to determine it, here’s a pretty easy way.

ROI is your return on investment. To calculate it, you’ll need to assign dollar amounts to certain activities on your website. If you find that a lead form that’s filled out has a 10% chance of turning into a customer and the average customer is worth $5,000, then you might want to assign $500 value to each lead form. Heck, you can assign the full $5,000 value if you want. It’s up to you. If you have an e-com site, it’s easier because you can track your traffic from the blog or content pieces straight through to the purchase page and know exactly how much you’re making off each post. For clients, I break down which type posts drive the most revenue.  Then we streamline the process, eliminating those posts which are labor intensive but drive little revenue, and significantly increase the ones that drive a better ROI. That’s why benchmarking and reporting are so important.

How to Calculate ROI

So, to determine the ROI on your program – take the dollar amount invested and divide it by the revenue earned or lead value you’ve assigned. If you invested $5,000 per month and got 10 leads from your content and each lead was worth $500, you broke even. However, if you got 100 new leads, you had a 10:1 ROI, which is great. Early on, you will likely see smaller gains because it takes a while for organic growth to happen but the wonderful thing is, if you continue and are consistent in your efforts, and pay attention to your audience… you should see continued YoY growth. You want to continue to invest each year and we’ll talk about that more in a future post. If you stop working on it, your traffic will drop. When you take a break, your competitor doesn’t. That’s the bottom line.

I know this was a long post and thank you for reading to the end. Hopefully, you better understand how to measure your content marketing efforts after reading through this. If you have questions or review your data and find that things aren’t working as well as you’d hoped, please visit the Contact Us page and send a note. We’d love to help you drive more traffic and convert more customers through content.

How to Tuesday: How to make your content planning more efficient & effective

 

How-to Tuesday

Making content planning more efficient and effective.

Most people want to be more effective in their business and if we can be both more effective and more efficient, wouldn’t that be the ideal? I believe you can and it’s pretty easy. Are you consistently using a content planning calendar? If not, hear me out. I believe this one item will make you both more efficient and more effective in your content marketing efforts.

Why is a content calendar a critical element for your content marketing program? Have you ever missed a deadline or not had a blog post go live when expected or sat down to write and found no inspiration and had no idea what to write about? Maybe you wrote a post that you knew pretty much sucked but was the best you could come up with in your limited time? I think a lot of content marketers have. We are in a quickly growing, rapidly changing field without a lot of great, ready-to-use, affordable tools and that impacts many content marketers. You don’t need the fanciest of tools to streamline your processes.

Content Planning Challenges

Per the 2017 B2C Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends- North America from Content Marketing Institute 49% of marketers say strategy issues (lack of strategy, developing/adjusting strategy) contributed to stagnant success last year. 37% cite content-creation challenges as a factor. If you’re like many content marketers content strategy and creation are challenges for your organization. So, how do you combat that and make your efforts produce better results? Here’s where a content calendar can help. It may seem obvious but the use of a planning calendar will help the team stay focused and on track. And when they’re on track and focused, they’re likely more efficient.

In the agency, I use multiple content planning calendars. Each client has their own calendar for both content production and distribution. It’s critical to know what’s being created for each client, who we’re going to partner with, how it’s going to be distributed as well as when it went live. A planning calendar may differ slightly from a distribution calendar but in the end, both let you easily see where things stand and stay on track. This keeps all team members accountable and should improve your content’s effectiveness by ensuring all initial goals are met during the development and distribution process.

Content Planning Calendar 

This is where you keep track of everything that’s in production, who’s working on what step, when items are due, etc. I’ve found when creating a planning calendar, I need the following information:

  • Content Strategy
  • Topic Idea
  • Persona to Target
  • Influencer Partner
  • Distribution Plan

You’ll want to have deadlines associated with the necessary steps and note if they’re concurrent or dependent upon each other. How you manage this calendar is up to you. Some use shared Google Docs or spreadsheets, others use subscription based software programs. I’ve used both options and honestly, either can work, though the subscription based software programs are better if you’re going to deploy content through them and want to be able to project manage everything in one place. But they come with a price tag that can be limiting for brands with smaller budgets. You can effectively manage the content planning process without the big software tools. They’re nice to have but not a requirement.

I do highly recommend using a shared document that everyone on the team has read-only rights with one member (Editor, Manager, Etc. whoever is ultimately responsible for the project) being the only one with editing rights. It’s up to you what tool you use but in my experience, limiting the editing capabilities to one person keeps things more honest and on time.

content planning calendar sample from Etched Marketing

A sample content planning calendar used by the team.

Similar to a content planning calendar, a content distribution calendar lets you keep track of each piece of content that’s been developed and ensure it’s deployed at the right time. Using a distribution calendar is key to ensuing your distribution and amplification plans are followed through by the greater team.

Content Distribution Calendar

Each client should have a unique content distribution calendar. I track the following items on my client’s calendars:

  • Content Topic
  • Distribution Date
  • Go Live Time
  • Live URL
  • Social Channels for Distribution
  • Influencer Share(s) (if applicable)

I also track baseline analytical data on the distribution calendar so it’s easy to review and see trends. I’ll look at the 1 day and 30-day metrics. How popular was the post, did it get shares? If so, where? How many, etc.

Analyzing the results and adjusting strategy is the final piece to content marketing but it’s one that seems to be missed frequently. Including basic performance metrics in our distribution calendars helps us determine if there’s a day of the week or time of day that’s better for a client. For instance, I’ve found that The Etched Blog and Website have better engagement on Tuesdays, which is why we’re introducing a new series, today… “How to Tuesday”. Each week, we’ll discuss a content marketing strategy or tactic and break it down in simple, easy to digest steps.

content distribution calendar etched marketing

A sample content distribution calendar that can be customized.

Do you regularly use a content planning or distribution calendar? If so, have you found it helps your team run more efficiently? If you have questions about establishing a content planning process or need help creating or distributing content, the team at Etched Marketing would love to help. Visit our Contact page, give us a little bit of info (you know, how to get back to you) and we’ll be in touch to start the conversation. We’d love to help your team too.

 

 

 

The Anatomy of a Great Blog Post

Have you ever wondered what makes a blog post great? There are several elements that go into a great blog post. Sometimes you read a post and learn a lot and other times, you read one and wish you had the time back because, you got nothing new. Right?

What Makes a Great Blog Post?

Let’s get right to the point, what makes some blog posts great? It starts with an idea, followed by research, solid writing, good information, and images that help tell the story.

It Starts with an Idea

A good blog post needs to have a good foundational idea. If you don’t have a strong topic, you’re going to struggle to write a great post. Strong topics may vary by field but the general concept is that they are topics that your audience is interested in. You want to focus on an idea that matters to your audience. If you’re not sure where great ideas come from, check out this post for insights on content ideation.

Do Your Research

Once you have your topic determined, then it’s important to do some research. See what’s been shared before; a great blog post doesn’t just reiterate what someone else has said, it brings new information to the consumer. The research phase should include keyword research because if you’re not doing a bit of SEO on your blog post, you’re missing a critical element.

Yoast-SEO-great-blog-post

The Yoast SEO report for the first draft of the great blog post article.

 

Finally, if you want to partner with an influencer, this would be a good time to identify them and build the relationship. Are you wondering why you’d want to partner with an influencer? We’ll talk about that in-depth in the future but the bottom line is, if you include them in your blog post, they’ll help share your information with their audience, growing your overall reach.

Start Writing Now

Great writing takes time and effort. If you sit down at your laptop and develop your blog post in 15 minutes, it’s probably going to show. Once you’ve done your homework and you have a solid idea, targeted keywords, and influencers identified, it’s time to get to work. Think of your blog post as a story, you need to include a beginning, middle, and end. There should be a hook to get the reader interested and engaged. You need to make sure the blog post provides useful information and it’s in an easy to read and understand.

If you’re not sure if your post is reader friendly, you can use a WordPress plug in called Yoast SEO, which includes readability information in addition to the SEO elements. Yoast will provide a Fleisch Kincaid readability score, along with other tips and provides an easy red, yellow, green rating system so you know how you’re doing.

Yoast-SEO-Report-Great-Blog-Post

The Yoast SEO Readability report for this post’s first draft.

How Many Words?

The #1 question I get about blog writing is, “How long should my blog post be” and while you’ll hear different answers, the bottom line is it needs to tell a great story. I’ve always told my writers to focus on telling the story, not the word count. A simple, one subject, straight forward blog post normally runs around 500 words. An in-depth piece will run 1,000-1,500 words and we’re starting to see some 1,500 word and up pieces too. When you start writing, you may not know how many words you’ll end up with and that’s OK. Outline your story and tell it completely – beginning, middle, and end and it will come together.

Don’t use filler words because you want to have more words on the page. Don’t be like my little brother circa 1987 who used of the word very 27 times to fill the page in elementary school English – true story! It was very, very, very, very, very…. You get the point. Don’t do it.

Include Useful Information 

Be sure your blog post provides helpful information, don’t just scratch the surface, dig deep. If there are tools or resources you use when working on X subject, share them. Link to the websites that might be useful to your readers, tell them why it might help. By providing actionable information, you’ll help cement yourself as a resource in the field and hopefully, the next time they have a question, they’ll go directly to your blog or website. Even better, they might tell a friend about your site or share your blog post because it’s got such great information.

Choose Images that Help Tell the Story

Pictures tell stories better than words in many cases. And in content, the photo is what your audience will see first on social media. It may even be what grabs their attention on your blog. The pictures you choose need to help tell the story. A good rule of thumb is one image for every 500 words of copy. If you are explaining something and screen shots would help tell the story, absolutely include them where applicable. You’ll also want to use images when you distribute your blog post on social media. Make sure you note the correct sizes and have images that won’t lose their impact because they’ve been cropped.

a social media image for a great blog post

A social media image for a great blog post.

 

Pro Tips:

If you follow the guidelines above and write blog posts that are well thought out, researched, written, and have images that align and help tell the story, you will be writing great blog posts. And great blog posts are what your readers want and will respond to. Provide helpful information, dig deep, and become a resource. That’s how content marketing is supposed to work.

The Top 5 Big Game Ads from a Storytelling Perspective

Approximately 70% of the US population watched Super Bowl LI on Sunday night and while it’s hard to know if the game or the commercials are a bigger draw, the two go hand-in-hand. The game’s story was a fantastic one, the New England Patriots broke Big Game records, coming back from a bigger deficit than anyone had in the history of the game. Whether you were a Patriots fan or not; the game told a great story.

So, which of the evening’s commercials told the best stories? This isn’t which were the best traditional Super Bowl ads but rather, which ones connected the most with the audience and told a compelling story.  Understandably, many of the stories told had political undertones as that’s where we are in America today. However, even with that in mind, there were amazing stories being told.

The five most compelling stories told in Big Game ads

84 Lumber’s “The Entire Journey”. 3.6 million views.

This commercial beautifully tells the story of a mother and daughter’s journey through Mexico. They’re trying to make their way to a better life in America. However, when they finally arrive, they find the proposed wall has been built…but there’s a door and it’s open. The spot ends with a simple statement, “The will to succeed is always welcome here.”

Contnet-Marketing-84-Lumber_big-game-ad

Click the image above to view the commercial in its entirety on YouTube.

 

Air B&B #WeAccept. 1.9 million views.

Air B&B’s Super Bowl commercial simply states that we all belong. No matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept. And shouldn’t that be the belief?

air-b&b-big-game-content

Click the image above to view the commercial in its entirety on YouTube.

 

Audi’s #DriveProgress Big Game Commercial – Daughter. 8.3 million views.

Audi tackles women’s rights and equality in a beautifully told story. The father’s voice over questions what he’s supposed to tell his daughter. Is he supposed to tell her that despite everything she does – “her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets?” It ends with the daughter winning her race and the father saying, “or maybe I’ll be able to tell her something different.” Audi is committed to progress for everyone per the final seconds of the commercial.

 

Audi-Daughter-Commercial-Content

Click the image above to view the commercial in its entirety on YouTube.

 

Budweiser’s Born the Hard Way Commercial. 21.5 million views.

This spot tells the story of the meeting of Anheuser and Busch which lead to the founding of the brewery in St. Louis. It follows a young German immigrant Busch, who makes his way to a new land, and is not welcomed initially. He’s greeted by chants of, “You’re not wanted here” and “Go back home” upon arriving in the States.  When he arrives in St. Louis, he’s greeted more warmly and Mr. Anheuser orders, “A beer for my friend”. It closes with, “When nothing stops your dream. This is the beer we drink.”

Budweiser-Big-Game-Commercial

Click the image above to view the commercial in its entirety on YouTube.

 

Alfa Romeo’s Riding Dragons. 620,000 views.

This spot captures the story of childhood, imagination, drive and determination all in a minute. It reminds us of all we had to learn and overcome to get to where we are today and that staying true to who you are is all that matters. It’s a great reminder that hard work and determination pay off in the end.

Alfa-Romeo-Riding-Dragons-Commercial-Content

Click the image above to view the commercial in its entirety on YouTube.

 

Again, many of the ads had political undertones because as a society we’re split and advertisers are trying to connect with an audience that’s politically charged. Some may love certain commercials while others hate the same one, both due to the message. This list isn’t about whether the message is right or wrong but rather which ones tell the best stories. Storytelling helps brands connect with their audiences and last night, a handful of brands connected in a big way. There were many great ads during the Big Game Sunday however, these stood out from a content or storytelling perspective.
What did you think? Did you have a favorite story? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Can’t wait to see what the ad giants come up with next year.

 

Why Alternative Facts and Content Marketing Should not Mix

There’s a new term and it’s a dangerous one…. alternative facts. Um, alternative facts are not facts, they’re lies and we need to not use them in our content marketing programs. We’ve worked hard to connect with our clients and build relationships.

Read more about alternative facts, content marketing, and customer relationships in Rachel’s column on Marketing Land today.

Don’t risk your business and consumer relationship over ‘alternative facts’

A new term popped up recently, and it’s a dangerous one for marketers. Kellyanne Conway, counselor to our new president, introduced us to the term “alternative facts” just days after his inauguration. And because I’m a child of the ’80s and ’90s, I’ve learned things from presidents and first ladies of the past: I’ll always “Just say no” as Nancy Reagan taught us in elementary school.

My concern with the term “alternative facts” is not a political one, but rather one of good conscience for marketers.

As content marketers, we have a duty to ensure what we’re sharing with our customers is true information that’s fully representative of our brand or product. We’ve all seen marketing claims that we felt were seriously overstated, and it’s important that we don’t allow those types of practices to thrive in today’s content marketing era. It’s our duty to be honest about what the products or services we represent do for a customer.  Click here to read the rest of the article on Marketing Land. 

Etched Marketing Founder Rachel Lindteigen Named One of the Top 100 Content Marketing Influencers

rachel-lindteigen-top-100-content-marketing-influencersYour mom talks you up all the time– hopefully, she tells everyone she knows about how awesome she thinks you are. Your teenager on the other hand, probably rolls their eyes and thinks you’re an idiot who knows nothing. #Life. When someone you don’t know takes a look at what you’re doing and says, you’re doing something great… it feels good.

Top 100 Content Marketing Influencers

The team at KPS Digital Marketing created a list of the100 Content Marketing influencers for 2016. Etched Marketing’s founder, Rachel Lindteigen is named on the list. A new influencer identification tool called Lumanu was used to identify the top influencers in content marketing.

How was the list calculated?

Authority: The weighted average MOZ domain authority of sites this influencer has access to.

Reach: The average monthly visitors across domains this influencer has access to.

Impact: The average social engagement per piece of content created by this influencer within this topi

What’s Next in Content Marketing?

It’s an honor to be listed with Content Marketing greats such as Joe Pulizzi and Jay Baer. As we look at the Content Marketing strategy for Etched Marketing in 2017, we’re focused on bringing great though leadership pieces, along with tips, tricks, and hacks that will help you be a more effective content marketer. We hope you’ll follow along with us on Twitter, Facebook, or right here on The Etched Blog this year.