Tag Archive | "Content"

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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Content accuracy is not a ranking factor

Google’s Danny Sullivan explained that its systems rely on topic relevance and authority to rank content.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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The Content Crossroads: Supernatural Success at the Intersection of Ideas

Do you know what happens down at the crossroads? Legend has it that Robert Johnson — the most famous of…

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Ask MarketingSherpa: Finding and hiring content marketing writers

Read on for factors to consider when hiring a content marketing writer.
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Search Buzz Video Recap: Google Content Indexing Bug, GoogleBot Chrome 76, Favicons, Link Penalties & More

This week I tried to zoom in on sections of the video as I was talking, so you can see the screen better – hope you like it and make sure to subscribe…


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Inbound Marketing: Do you care about the quality of your brand’s content?

An exploration of quantity-driven content marketing approaches and the role that quality should play.
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How to Screen and Recruit the Best SEO Content Writers

Posted by Victor_Ijidola

It’s easy to find writers; they’re everywhere — from a one-second Google search to asking on LinkedIn.

But hiring the best ones? That’s the daunting task marketers and business owners face. And you do not just need writers, you need exceptional SEO content writers.

Mainly because that’s what Google (aka the largest traffic driver of most sites) has clearly been clamoring for since their Panda update in 2011, RankBrain in 2015, and their “Fred” update (and by the way, Gary Illyes from Google coined “Fred’ for every unnamed Google update) in March, 2017.

It’s obvious how each of these major updates communicates Google’s preference for excellent SEO writers:

If you’re a frequent Moz reader, you probably know how they work — but if not: Panda penalizes every webpage with content that adds little to no value to people online, giving more visibility to content pieces that do. On its own, the RankBrain update has made Google almost as smart as humans — when choosing the most relevant and high-quality content to rank on page #1 of search engine result pages (SERPs).

The “Fred” update further tackled sites with low-quality content that aren’t doing anything beyond providing information that’s already available on the internet. It also penalized sites that prioritized revenue above user experience.

After this update, 100+ sites saw their traffic drop by 50 percent to 90 percent.

It is evident that Google has, through these core updates, been requiring brands, publishers, and marketers to work with SEO content writers who know their onions; the ones who know how to write with on-page SEO mastery.

But how do you find these exceptional wordsmiths? Without a plan, you will have to screen tens (or even hundreds) of them to find those who are a good fit.

But let’s make it easier for you. Essentially, your ideal SEO writers should have two key traits:

  1. Good on-page SEO expertise
  2. A great eye for user experience (i.e. adding relevant images, formatting, etc.)

A writer with these two skills is a great SEO writer. But let’s dig a bit deeper into what that means.

(Note: this post is about hiring exceptional SEO content writers — i.e., wordsmiths who don’t need you monitoring them to do great work. So, things can get a bit techie as you read on. I’ll be assuming your ideal writer understands or is responsible for things like formatting, on-page SEO, and correctly uploading content into your CMS.)

1. On-page SEO knowledge

By now, you know what on-page SEO is. But if not, it’s simply the elements you put on a site or web page to let search engines understand that you have content on specific topics people are searching for.

So, how do you know if a writer has good on-page SEO knowledge?

Frankly, “Can you send me your previous writing samples?” is the ideal question to ask any writer you’re considering hiring. Once they show their samples, have them walk you through each one, and ask yourself the following questions:

Question A: Do they have ‘focus keywords’ in their previous samples?

    Several factors come into play when trying to rank any page, but your ideal writer must know how to hold things down on the keyword side of things.

    Look through their samples; see if they have optimized any content piece for a specific keyword in the past so you can know if they’ll be able to do the same for your content.

    Question B: How do they use title tags?

      Search engines use title tags to detect the headings in your content.

      You know how it works: put “SEO strategy” — for example — in a few, relevant headings on a page and search engines will understand the page is teaching SEO strategy.

      Essentially, your ideal SEO writer should understand how to use them to improve your rankings and attract clicks from your potential customers in search results.

      Are title tags really that important? They are. Ahrefs, for instance, made their title tag on a page more descriptive and this alone upped their traffic by 37.58%.

      So, look through the titles in your candidate’s samples, especially the h1 title. Here’s what you should look for when examining how a candidate uses HTML tags:

      i. Header tags should, ideally, not be more than 60 characters. This is to avoid results that look like this in SERPs:

      (three dots in front of your titles constitutes bad UX — which Google frowns at)

      ii. The subheadings should be h2 (not necessarily, but it’s a plus)

      iii. Headings under subtopics should be h3 (also not necessary, but it’s a plus)

      Look for these qualities in your candidate’s work and you’ll be able to confirm that they properly implement title tags in their content, and can do the same for you.

      But some writers may not have control over the title tags in their published works — that is, the sites they wrote for probably didn’t give them such access. In this case, request samples they published on their own site, where they actually have control over these tags.

      Question C: What do they know about internal linking?

        Orbit Media once shared how they used internal linking to shoot a blog post from position #29 up to #4.

        So, it’s important that your writers know how to contextually link to your older content pieces while writing new content. And it works for good reason; internal linking helps you:

        • Communicate the relevance and value of your pages to Google (the more links a page gets, the more authority it has in Google’s eyes)
        • Demonstrate to Google that your site contains in-depth content about any specific topic
        • Tell Google your site has easy navigation — which means it has good UX and is well-structured.

        Internal linking is a major key to search ranking, so you need writers who have internal linking in their pocketful of tools. But also ensure they do it using proper anchor texts; in a recent LinkedIn post, expert editor Rennie Sanusi hinted at two key anchor text elements to look for in your candidate’s samples:

        • [Anchor texts] should clearly explain where they’ll take your reader to
        • [Anchor texts] shouldn’t be too long

        Question D: Do they write long-form content?

        The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,800+ words long — according to research from Backlinko.

        Google has been all about in-depth content since its inception; you’re probably familiar with their mission statement:

        Every algorithm change they make is geared toward achieving this mission statement, and ranking long-form content helps them in the process as well.

        Because, to them, writing longer content means you’re putting more information that searchers are looking for into your content.

        So you need writers who can produce long-form content. Check their samples and confirm they know how to write long-form content on a regular basis.

        Question E: Have they ranked for any important keywords?

          Ultimately, you need to see examples of important keywords your ideal content writer has ranked for in the past. This is the utmost test of their ability to actually drive search traffic your way.

          That’s it for finding writers who know on-page SEO. But as you know, that’s only one part of the skills that makes a great SEO content writer.

          The other important bit is their ability to write content that engages humans. In other words, they need to know how to keep people reading a page for several minutes (or even hours), leading them to take actions that are important to your business.

          2. A great eye for user experience

          Keeping readers on a page for long durations also improves your ranking.

          In the aforementioned Backlinko study, researchers analyzed 100,000 sites and found that “websites with low average bounce rates are strongly correlated with higher rankings.”

          And you know what that means; your ideal SEO writer should not only write to rank on search engines, they must also write to attract and keep the attention of your target audience.

          So, look for the following in their samples:

          Headlines and introductions that hook readers

            You need writers who are expert enough to know the types of headlines and opening paragraphs that work.

            It’s not a hard skill to spot; look through their samples. If their titles and introductions don’t hook you, they probably won’t hook your audience. It’s really that simple.

            Explainer images and visuals

              The report also revealed that: “Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images.”

              But of course, they have to be relevant images (or other visual types). And many times (if not most of the time), that means explainer images — so look out for those in their samples. And there are two examples of explainer images:

              Example #1: Explainer images with text and pointers

              This one has elements (an arrow and a text) on it, explaining how the image is relevant to the topic the content is about.

              Example #2: Explainer images without text and pointers

              Why does this image not have any text or arrows on it? It’s a self-explanatory screenshot, that’s why.

              As long as it’s used appropriately — where the “online sales of Nike products” is mentioned in the content — it gets its message across.

              In general, your ideal SEO writers need to know how to use tools like Skitch and Canva to create these images. Remember, you’re on a hunt for the exceptional ones.

              References and citing resources

                Your ideal writer should link to stats or studies that make their points stronger. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Check the links in their samples and make sure they cite genuine resources.

                Examples

                  Illustrations make understanding easier. Especially if you’re in a technical industry (and most industries have their geeky side), your ideal writer should know how to explain their points with examples.

                  Simply search their samples — using Command + F (or Ctrl F if you’re using Windows) — for “example,” “instance,” or “illustration.” This works, because writers usually mention things like “for example,” or “for instance” when providing illustrations.

                  Excellent SEO content writers = Higher search rankings

                  Getting SEO content writers who have all the skills I’ve mentioned in this article are possible to find. And hiring them means higher search rankings for your content. These writers are, again, everywhere. But here’s the thing — and you’ve probably heard it before: You get what you pay for.

                  Exceptional SEO content writers are your best bet, but they’re not cheap. They can send your search traffic through the roof, but, like you: They want to work for people who can afford the quality they provide. So, if you’re going on a hunt for them, ready your wallet.

                  But ensure you get their samples and ask the questions in this guide as you deem fit. If you’re paying for content that’ll help you rank higher on Google, then you really should get what you pay for.

                  Did you find any of my tips helpful? Let me know in the comments below!

                  Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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                  When It’s Time to Get Serious about Your Content and Copywriting

                  We write a lot about the importance of creativity in content marketing. Generic, flavorless content has very little chance of…

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                  "Study Finds:" How Data-Driven Content Marketing Builds Links and Earns Press Mentions

                  Posted by KristinTynski

                  In 2019, high-authority links remain highly correlated with rankings. However, acquiring great links is becoming increasingly difficult. Those of you who operate publications of any variety, especially those who enjoy high domain authority, have likely received several link building requests or offers like this each day:

                  “Please link to my suspect site that provides little or no value.”

                  “Please engage in my shady link exchange.”

                  “I can acquire 5 links of DA 50+ for $ 250 each.”

                  Or maybe slightly more effectively:

                  “This link is broken, perhaps you would like to link here instead.”

                  “You link to X resource, but my Y resource is actually better.”

                  This glut of SEOs who build links through these techniques above have been consistently eroding the efficacy of this style of little-to-no-value ad outreach link building. In the past, perhaps it was possible to convert 2% of outreach emails of this style to real links. Now, that number is more like 0.2 percent.

                  Link building outreach has become glorified email spam—increasingly ignored and decreasingly effective. And yet, high-authority links remain one of the single most important ranking factors.

                  So where do we go from here?

                  Let’s start with a few axioms.

                  The conclusion: Leveraging data journalism to tell newsworthy stories re-enables effective promotion of content via outreach/pitching. Doing so successfully results in the acquisition of high domain authority links that enjoy the potential for viral syndication. Overall data journalism and outreach represents one of the only remaining scaleable high-authority link building strategies.

                  How can I leverage data journalism techniques to earn coverage?

                  To answer this question, I conducted my own data journalism project about the state of data journalism-driven link building! (Meta, I know.)

                  The primary goal was to understand how major publications (the places worth pitching content) talk about data journalism findings from external sources. By understanding how data journalism is covered, we lay the groundwork for understanding what types of data journalism, themes, and strategies for outreach can be most effective for link building.

                  We pulled 8,400 articles containing the text “study finds.” This keyword was used as a heuristic for finding data-driven news stories created by outside sources (not done internally by the news publication themselves). We then supplemented these articles with additional data, including links built, social shares, and Google’s Machine Learning topic categorization.

                  The categories derived by Google’s classifier can have multiple tiers based on the keywords in the article titles, giving us four ways to show the results within each category: The main topic area (containing all relevant subcategories), just the first subcategory, just the second subcategory, and just the third subcategory.

                  Which outlets most frequently cover data-driven stories from external pitches?

                  Let’s begin by taking a look at which top-tier news outlets cover “study finds” (AKA, any project pitched by an outside source that ran a survey or study that had “findings”).

                  For companies conducting studies, they hope to win press coverage for, these top sites are prime targets, with editorial guidelines that clearly see outside pitches of study findings as attractive.

                  It’s not surprising to see science-based sites ranking at the top, as they’re inherently more likely to talk about studies than other publications. But sites like The Independent, Daily Mail, The Guardian, CNN, Washington Post, and NBC News all ranked highly as well, providing great insight into which established, trusted news sources are willing to publish external research.

                  Which topic areas do these publishers write about most?

                  Diving a little deeper, we can explore which topics are covered in these publications that are associated with these external studies, providing us insight into which verticals might be the best targets for this strategy.

                  There are many unique insights to be gleaned from the following charts depending on your niche/topical focus. This data can easily be used as a pitching guide, showing you which publishers are the most likely to pick up and cover your pitches for the findings of your study or survey.

                  Here is a view of the overall category and subcategory distribution for the top publishers.

                  As you can see, it’s…a lot. To get more actionable breakdowns, we can look at different views of the topical categories. The categories derived by Google’s classifier can have multiple tiers based on the keywords in the article titles, giving us several ways to show the results within each category.

                  You can explore the Tableau sheets to get into the nitty-gritty, but even with these views, a few more specialized publications, like InsideHigherEd.com and blogs.edweek.org, emerge.

                  Which topic areas drive the most links?

                  Press mentions are great, but syndication is where data journalism and content-based outreach strategy really shines. I also wanted to understand which topic areas drive link acquisition. As it turns out, some topics are significantly better at driving links than others.

                  Note that the color of the bar charts is associated with volume of sharing by topic—the darker the bar on the chart, the higher it was shared. With this additional sharing data, it’s plain to see that while links and social shares are highly correlated, there are some categories that are top link builders but do not perform as well on social and vice versa.

                  This next set of data visualizations again explore these topic areas in detail. In each batch, we see the median number of links built as an overall category aggregate and then by each category.

                  Which domains generate the most links when they pick up a data-driven story?

                  Another interesting question is which domains overall result in the largest number of links generated for “study finds” stories. Below is that ranking, colored by the median number of total shares for that domain.

                  Notice that while The Independent ranked supreme in the earlier graph about including the most “study finds” pieces, they don’t appear at all on this graph. Sites like The Guardian, CNN, The Washington Post, and NBC News, however, score highly on both, meaning they’re probably more likely to publish your research (relatively speaking, since all high-authority sites are tough to get coverage on), and if you’re successful, you’re probably more likely to get more syndicated links as a result.

                  Which topic areas are the most evergreen?

                  Now, let’s look at each category by BuzzSumo’s “evergreen score” to see what kind of content will get you the most bang for your buck.

                  The evergreen score was developed by BuzzSumo to measure the number of backlinks and social shares an article receives more than a month after it’s published.

                  When you’re considering doing a study and you want it to have lasting power, brainstorm whether any of these topics tie to your product or service offering, because it appears their impact lingers for longer than a month:

                  What this all means

                  Link building through data-driven content marketing and PR is a predictable and scalable way to massively impact domain authority, page authority, and organic visibility.

                  Always consider:

                  1. Which publishers make sense to pitch to?

                  • Do they often cover external studies?
                  • Do they cover topics that I write about?
                  • Does their coverage lead to a high volume of syndicated links?

                  2. Does my topic have lasting power?

                  To really make the most of your content and outreach strategy, you’ll need to incorporate these tips and more into your content development and pitching.

                  In previous articles on Moz I’ve covered:

                  These ideas and methodologies are at the heart of the work we do at Fractl and have been instrumental in helping us develop best practices for ideation, content creation, and successful outreach to press. Pulling on each of these levers (and many others), testing, and accumulating data that can then be used to refine processes is what begins to make a real impact on success rates and allows you to break through the noise.

                  If you want to discuss the major takeaways for your industry, feel free to email me at kristin@frac.tl.

                  Did anything surprise you in the data? Share your thoughts below!

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                  How to Beat the Boring Content Blues in 30 Days

                  Have you ever reached a plateau with your content? You come to a point where you have a predictable amount…

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