Content has rightly taken a far more prominent role in SEO in recent months. Given the fairly new but oddly familiar status, we are currently somewhat in a state of flux; brilliant content is a necessity, but many of us are unsure about how to create it.
Creating fabulous content is easy – if you know where to look. You don’t have to have a team of Shakespeares in order to create something mind-blowing, though a certain amount of experience outside of SEO is always helpful.
The important thing to remember before creating any content is that this is the element of the site that is customer facing. Imagine your website or blog like a shop: the retail assistants may have a relatively small role in the overall running of the shop, but they’re the people you remember, the people with whom you directly deal.
There are numerous resources you can use to create content that people will remember – these are just a few of them.
Social Media: The World’s Greatest Online Resource
We’ve all come to realise that social media is not just a fad – it’s an incredibly important part of many online business strategies. While the actual websites we use may change periodically (remember Bebo anyone?), the way we use it has to be consistent from platform to platform.
At this moment in time, Facebook and Twitter are the greatest resources for content in terms of clarity, honesty and variety from potential customers. Trending topics on Twitter can change almost instantly, meaning you know exactly what your potential customers want, as soon as they want it.
It’s evident to a lot of people that the two biggest social media platforms out there are absolute gold mines for content ideas, but it’s not entirely clear that enough people exploit them on a regular basis for inspiration.
At the time of writing, #MoviesThatNeverGetOld is trending in the UK. The tweets including this hashtag were updating pretty much every second. So if you’re writing for a film site and you’re looking to talk about films people actually enjoy (not the films we’re told people enjoy by the film buffs at IMDB, etc.), you have a hugely rich resource in what is nigh on real time.
#moviesthatnevergetold-Forrest Gump-The Lion King-Harry Potter Series-Titanic-Peter Pan-Back to the Future Series
— Carrie-Anne Phillips (@carriebklover) June 13, 2013
Fairly predictable list here…
— Tweet Like A Girl (@TweetLikeAGirI) June 12, 2013
…But this tweet hailing White Chicks as a modern classic was retweeted nearly 6000 times
Despite being a pretty massive film fanatic, I’d never think to use White Chicks as an example of the kind of film thousands of people would want to read about – but they do, and thanks to Twitter, I now have about three different content ideas just from one trending topic and one odd yet popular film suggestion.
The Keyword Tool
We may also hail the Google Keywords Tool as a fantastic source for judging what people are searching for (and we hail as such because it is), but it doesn’t give us much feedback as to what potential customers really think. Using Twitter to search for terms or products allows us to see first-hand just what kind of content works and what fails miserably.
For example, we’d automatically assume that people looking to read about mortgages are both expecting and desiring dry content. However, there may be a huge audience of people who need to know about mortgages, but are avoiding these pieces of content because they think they’re boring. Social media helps us stop assuming what people want to read and make us realise what people actually do want.
For something similar, this visual highlighting Google’s trends can work as a much faster version of Twitter’s trending topics. If you ever have a spare five minutes, sit and watch this, take notes and allow Google to kick-start the flow of creative juices for you.
Do Feed the Trolls
Authority sites, such as The Guardian, The Times and the BBC, have always been known as great sources for creating content. They announce new developments at a far quicker rate than an SEO content team is able to, whilst simultaneously creating brilliant culture, comment, lifestyle and business features.
As these sites are already known as great sources of content, I’m not going to rehash the same old argument for them. I am, however, suggesting you start reading the comments that linger underneath them.
Comment strings are a fantastic source of inspiration for truly creative content, as you are being given completely honest feedback from those who probably don’t have an output elsewhere. With just five minutes spent on a comment board, you can tell exactly what the majority of the reaction is to news and opinions, as well as how potential customers are thinking and what their desires are.
Of course, many of these comments are created from a heat-of-the-moment reaction, but it’s your job to develop these seeds of ideas and nurture them into fruition.
Harness the Power of Your Imagination
Good content writers are good because they are able to use their imagination thoroughly, which is really something anyone can do. We are all customers, so rather than think ‘what do they want?’, instead think ‘what do I want?’
You may not be interested in the particular topic at hand, but if you can create a piece of content for a brand you wouldn’t consider to be relevant to yourself that you actually want to write and read, then you’re onto a winner.
Drawing upon past experiences also helps on many levels. Remember a time when you were particularly impressed by an experience in a shop – were they overtly professional and formal? Did they crack jokes? Did they seem genuinely passionate about the brand? Use these positive experiences to shape the tone of the content as well as the subject matter itself, because, as I said earlier, content is the only customer facing part of the entire process.
The intention of the page is incredibly important, so you must use your judgement to decide how your content should appear page-by-page. If you’re reading through a blog, ask yourself if it is actually entertaining, or is it just full of links back to your main page? Likewise, for a page on an ecommerce site, is it reassuring? Would you put your credit card details into this page? Is there a nugget of content there that is pretty pointless?
Ask yourself these kinds of questions and utilise these kinds of resources about every piece of content you create and you’ll rarely go wrong.
Are there any other resources you’d recommend over social media, comment threads and your imagination? Where do you think resources for truly fantastic content lay?
We’re big fans of BuzzFeed here at Branded3 (who doesn’t love random lists of why the North is better than the South?!) and we especially loved the Desk Safari post today, so we thought we’d do our own B3 version.
So here goes, Desk Safari at B3 Towers!
Head of Creative & Social Andy as a kangaroo.
Insights Analyst Emma as every SEO’s best friend.
Marketing Manager Felicity doing her best Meerkat impression.
Chilling out on a rock, Content Writer Gina.
Digital PR Executive David, Me (Laura) and Project Manager Rosanne as some purrfect kittens.
Project Manager Rosanne couldn’t resist being in twice so here she is as a chicken.
Outreach Executive Rob showing his stripes.
Senior Developer Doug decided on being a playful kitten.
Our London office also decided to join in…
Account Director Mike starring in Lion King.
Account Manager Joe choosing a sideways look as a camel.
And finally, Search Strategist Jenhao as an SEO’s other best friend, the panda.
So there you have it, our best Desk Safaris, we’d love to see yours too so get involved and post them in the comments below!
There’s one story that’s dominated the social media scene this week, but there may be a few others that have passed you by! Take a look at what we’ve been reading about:
Facebook introduces clickable hashtags
- Details – May as well get the big story out of the way first! Yes, Facebook has announced the use of ‘clickable’ hashtags which means you can not only click on a hashtag used in a post to reveal all posts using that term, you can use the native Facebook search bar for the same function.
- What does this mean? – The introduction of hashtags on Facebook means brands can finally get relevant content in front of target Facebook users who are not existing fans of their page, for free. Before this, the only methods would have been through paid advertising. But I’m sure Facebook will find a way to monetise this new system and I don’t think it will be too long before we see promoted (paid for) hashtags, the likes of which already exist on Twitter.
Branded3 sent me, a Social Media Strategist, and Tom Armenante, an SEO Strategist, to day two of SAScon2013. We both took some interesting points away – especially me, with regards to tracking and attribution of social media activity, so we thought we’d give you a summary of what we learned. Oh, and an extra special shout out to Jeff Coghlan and his company – mobile, social, gaming and digital production, Matmi – his augmented reality and gamification talk really blew us away – and thoroughly entertained us!
Keynote Interview – Mike Little, co-founder of WordPress
- The number of WordPress sites is approaching 67 million: Over 377 million people view more than 4.1 billion pages each month. Impressive!
- Born by chance: WordPress was born when, in 2002, a group of bloggers were using B2 but the man who created it disappeared and became uncontactable. The security issues that arose spurred a member of the community to take the software and develop it, with the first release of WordPress emerging in 2003.
- Success due to ease of use: Mike believes that WordPress became such a success because of its user-friendliness, the large, supportive, self-moderating international community that’s built up around it, and the fact that the open source GPL means that anyone can create services, plugins, themes etc.
- Promotes freedom of speech: WordPress.com is effectively banned in countries with an oppressive government regime because it gives citizens easy access to a voice that can be heard globally.
- Continuing improvements to mobile: While WordPress can be used on all of the major mobile operating systems quite easily, developers are working on improvements in this area.
There’ve been some really exciting updates for casual networkers and social geeks alike this week, so cast your eyes over our list and feel free to add your own in the comments box below.
Taking place at the home stadium of Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, the two teams – one playing for HM Forces and the other for Scotty’s – kicked off at 11am Friday morning and finished at 12pm on Saturday, in what was an astonishing display of stamina and determination.
Branded3 was at the helm of all the action live from the stadium, utilising Twitter, Facebook and a live blog to encourage people to come down to Welford Road to support the players, or make a donation to the charity if they couldn’t make it.
With a target of £22k to reach, organisers were ecstatic to realise this goal was quickly surpassed with latest figures suggesting the amount raised actually stands at nearer £60k.
Earlier this month the Guardian claimed that Google “has tired of its old friend SEO and is instead cosying-up to the new kid on the block, content marketing.” SEO is still a friend to Google and one it can’t live without, no matter how much it thinks it can…and content marketing is no “new kid on the block” – it’s just new on the search engine circuit.
Despite the author of the Guardian article (Jonathan Piggins of DBD Media) suggesting that “SEO now requires a much more varied skill set…something more akin to high quality writing and PR,” this is not necessarily the truth. Search engines still want to rank sound websites and plenty of massive brands would benefit more from some canonical tags on their website than a content marketing strategy that amounts to the same bill.
The social scene was busy across the board this week with buyouts, upgrades, new functions and even a chance for a little social media flutter. Here’s our round-up of the social highlights from the last 7 days:
Yahoo! buys Tumblr
- Details – Interactive blog platform Tumblr has been bought out by multi-faceted web giant Yahoo!
- What does this mean? – There is a lot behind the move in terms of revenue for Yahooo! You can read more about the acquisition in our full blog post from Tuesday.
Ladbrokes gives odds on the next Yahoo! buy out
- Details – In a tongue in cheek entry, UK betting giant Ladbrokes have issued odds for the next company Yahoo! are expected to buy out.
In case you hadn’t heard, multi-national internet corporation Yahoo! has acquired content creation platform Tumblr in a billion dollar deal yesterday that not only sent any other start-up owner into an envious dither over the 26-year-old billionaire’s new fortune, but left the rest of us pondering Yahoo!’s long-term strategy.
This is mainly a revenue generating exercise for Yahoo!, since being over taken by Google in terms of the online advertising go-to site, CEO Marissa Mayer has been searching for a sturdy foundation to strengthen Yahoo!’s otherwise crumbling content bastion in a constantly changing digital climate.
By tying down Tumblr’s giant audience; a collective monthly page view number of 17.5 billion; Yahoo! had this to say,
“The two companies will work together to create advertising opportunities that are seamless and enhance the user experience.”
We love our comedy here at Branded3, which is why we’re very excited today about the launch of YouTube’s first ever comedy week this weekend.
The online event kicks off with a global YouTube livestream, The Big Live Comedy Show, at 1am on Monday morning (5pm Pacific Time) and will continue for entire week, right up until Sat 25 May. You can also catch a pre-show an hour before the official launch.
Here’s a little word about the event from The Governor himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger!:
On Friday 31st May, armed forces charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers will be attempting to break the world record for the longest game of rugby union at Leicester Tigers stadium, lasting a staggering 25 hours.
Two squads of 22 players – the armed forces Tri Services team and Scotty’s team – will be taking to the home ground of Premiership rugby team, Leicester Tigers, on Friday 31st May to battle it out on the pitch until the next day; and Branded3 will be right behind them!
Latest from B3Labs
- Another milestone reached for Branded3 as it’s acquired by the
St Ives Group
- The latest media consumer findings & what they mean for digital marketers
- Talk to Branded3 at @BuyYorkshire in Leeds next week!
Latest from Blogstorm
- Watch @Tim_Grice talk all things Penguin 2.0 in June’s #B3Brunch
- Content can kill your site: How to fix it
- Search expert @Tim_Grice talks Penguin 2.0 in a G+ Hangout this Thursday