October Content Marketing Newsletter

October 2017

From the Edge of the Great Plains

Dear Content Marketers:

In October’s Content Marketing Newsletter, Publisher John Heaston and I provide a smorgasbord of topics that ranges from CM trends for 2018 to the use of Structured Data, and from the design of Customer Experience Strategy to how writers can stay relevant in this visual age. As a palette-cleanser, we include two pieces about how to react to negative feedback.

And then, for desert, we toss in Neil Patel’s dissection of how Google’s search engine actually works, which effectively supports the “Real Deal” series about Google by Tamsen Butler, longtime Content Marketer for The Reader. I’ve collected all her pieces in that series. Come November, we’ll spotlight the unified package in this newsletter.

If there’s a topic you think would help you and your colleagues, please let us know. We promise to share the most effective content, links and sources we find.

We hope you’re ready for the upcoming holiday season and, more importantly, for continued growth and effectiveness as content marketers.

All the best.

Thomas Gunning

Content Marketing Editor


Content Marketing Trends to Watch for 2018

About 12 months ago, I covered some content marketing trends to watch for 2017. I recently reread that post and most of the trends are very much in play for 2018 and beyond, says Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute. Most enterprises still work through creation of a true, living content marketing strategy for their organizations. Native advertising is still the gateway drug for many content marketing programs and mobile is, well, it continues to be the flavor of every month as consumer use grows. But some truly interesting events have occurred over the past few months that, I believe, begin to speak to the evolution of the content marketing practice itself.


How to Stay Relevant as a Writer in the Visual Age

Scroll through your Facebook feed, and for every link to a long-form article, you pass a healthy handful of viral videos. According to a report by Cisco, total internet video traffic will be 79 percent of all Internet traffic by 2020, up from 63 percent in 2015. The data points to a shift toward visual storytelling, which includes images. Content with images gets 94 percent more views than content without, cited another study. And according to a Citrix report, nearly two-thirds of the posts on social media are visual content. Yet despite this consistently growing trend toward images and video, writing, in itself, is not dying. In fact, one could say writing is simply becoming more visual.


Why You Must Answer Every Negative Review

A good friend sent me a Facebook message this week. She was distressed. A reader of her most recent book left a hurtful, one-star review on Amazon.com. She’s not gotten many bad reviews, because my friend is thoughtful, wise and a terrific writer. She told me she’s just ignored tepid reviews, but that this one was particularly nasty and hurtful. I read it. She was right. It was nasty. And hurtful, notes Jay Baer, president of Convince & Convert. And then I asked my friend to do what she didn’t want to do: Answer the review and take the high road. When confronted with criticism, our instincts take over. We either pick a fight or turn the other cheek and pretend it didn’t happen, as a defense mechanism.


7 Witty Ways to Respond to Negative Feedback on Your Content

Seven years ago, I worked as a freelance blogger, recalls Brian Appleton, a content specialist and copywriter at Envision Creative. A typical morning involved writing, publishing and scheduling social media content and blog posts for clients. Then someone said they hated my blog post. Even worse, they said I couldn’t write worth a lick. I was stunned. Shocked. Discouraged. I couldn’t even formulate a response. Today I wouldn’t think of ignoring negative feedback. Responding to negative feedback is one of the best ways to showcase your brand’s personality. All you need is a little creativity, honesty and a solid grasp of the facts. It’s known as wit – the ability to think quickly, often associated with humor.


The Beginner’s Guide to Structured Data for SEO: A Two-Part Series

“Structured data” simply refers to any data that’s organized (i.e., given “structure”). For example, if you have a bunch of Post-It notes with messages about meetings, dates, times, people, etc, and you organize them into a table, you’re structuring the data. SEOs have talked about structured data ever since Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex got together in 2011 to create a standardized list of attributes and entities they all agreed to support. It became known as Schema.org, says Bridget Randolph, a SEO and marketing consultant, on Moz.com’s blog. However, there’s still a lot of confusion about what structured data is, what it’s for, and how and when to implement structured data for SEO purposes.

(In part 2, Randolph takes you through a simple process for identifying structured data opportunities and implementing structured data on your own site.)


5 Branding Lessons from Social Media Stars

For every marketer, online branding is a puzzle they must piece together. Let’s face it, the guides you find online can only cover so much. At the end of the day, you still must go through trial and error to devise a strategy to match your brand’s specific needs, says Vikas Agrawal, co-founder of the Infographic design agency Infobrandz. Sure, mistakes will be made. But if you’re willing to learn, they can be turned into stepping stones to inch you closer to your goals. To accelerate your progress, you can also learn from experts who’ve already been in your situation. Here are five branding lessons from social media stars that you should know about.


How to Design a Customer Experience Strategy

Your boss wants you to retain more. Your co-workers want you to do more. Your customers want you to care more. So what’s your game plan? If you don’t have one, don’t panic. While being able to deliver more of everything might not sound feasible given you current workload — you have customers to support, after all — it’s much easier to do when you have a clear customer experience strategy in place, says Carly Stec is Senior Content Strategist @HubSpot. At its core, a customer experience strategy serves as a framework you can lean on to ensure quality when the demand for quantity doesn’t seem to be letting up.


Finding the Best Search Terms for Your Business: 10 Tools and Tips

Despite the widespread belief long-tail keywords are king, many businesses still struggle to strategically use them to get content to the top of organic and paid search results. Tackling these long-tail keywords feels hard when you know you’re up against the giants. I know. I worked with many startups before I joined HubSpot, and scouring Google Keyword Planner every day for keywords to fuel my blog posts drove me close to insanity, says Andrea Francis, senior marketing manager @relayr_cloud. But — it worked. When I skipped the keyword research, convinced my blog post was THAT epic, THAT viral … I was wrong. I was chasing an immeasurable goal (virality) with an unaccountable metric (my gut).


How Google’s Search Engine Really Works (A Peek Under The Hood)

Google’s search engine is technically complex. There are hundreds (some say thousands) of different factors taken into account so that the search engine can figure out what should go where. It’s like a mysterious black box, and very few people know exactly what’s inside. However, the good news is that search engines are actually pretty easy to understand. We may not know every single factor (out of a hundred or thousand), but we also don’t need to. I’ll bring it down to the basics with a simple method to please Google, rank higher, and bring in more website traffic. I’m also going to introduce you to some of the latest developments, like RankBrain, that help Google guess what you’re actually looking for.


September Content Marketing Newsletter

September 2017
From the Edge of the Great Plains

Dear Content Marketers:

Publisher John Heaston and I decided in September’s Content Marketing Newsletter to spotlight two emerging trends – the surge in Artificial Intelligence (AI) as applied to marketing and the related and growing impact of imagery.

We‘ll also touch on Google Analytics, social media marketing, local competitive audits and, as an encore, an explanation by Jay Baer, president of Convince & Convert, on why content marketing remains a job, not an art form.

If there’s a topic you think would help you and your colleagues, please let us know. We promise to share the most effective content we find.

All the best to you as autumn returns to the eastern edge of the Great Plains.

Thomas Gunning
Content Marketing Editor
1. 10 Google Analytics Event Goals You Need To Set

There is arguably no free resource that’s more valuable to today’s online business than the Google Analytics platform. It’s a tool that would normally cost thousands of dollars per year, but is Google’s gift to you. Having said that, are you making the most out of the platform by tapping into the “goals” feature? Tracking page views is certainly interesting, but isn’t that helpful to understanding your business. If you want to know how your website performs and how customers respond, you need to set goals. In Google Analytics, says Larry Alton at Searchenginepeople.com, there are four primary ways to track goals: destination, duration, pages per session and events.
2. AI Applications That Are Changing the Face of Content Marketing

It’s been a subtle shift, but artificial intelligence (AI) has begun to permeate our everyday lives, automating more and more of the world around us, says Anastasia Dyakovskaya, a NewsCred Contributor. AI now powers Google Maps, Siri, smart cars, internet radio, and your favorite online shops. And now that AI is coming to content marketing, the industry is poised for disruption. AI has the power to optimize nearly all our projects and processes, augmenting human skill and creativity to generate ever more relevant, appealing, and effective content for any audience. By 2025, the artificial intelligence market is set to surpass $100 billion.
3. How AI & Image Recognition Transform Social Media Marketing

If a picture is worth a thousand words, social media users are speaking volumes. People now share more than 3.25 billion photos a day on the world’s biggest social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. In 2012, that number was less than 500 million, says Marketing Land contributor Rob Begg. Data also shows that social media users gravitate toward visual content: Facebook users are 2.3 times more likely to engage with posts that have images than with those that don’t, and tweets with images receive 150 percent more retweets than those that are pure text. It’s safe to say that social media is now primarily a visual medium, and marketers can’t afford to look the other way.
4. Is Your Social Content Picture-Perfect or Merely Taking Stock?

Attention span in social media can be measured in split seconds, not minutes. While your update hopes to entice me to interact with your content, there are hundreds of other posts right below yours crying for my attention, notes Jonathan Crossfield, chief content officer – magazine for the Content Marketing Institute. This fleeting first impression, like the cover art of a magazine, may be the only chance people have to discover your content. And if you waste that opportunity, it won’t matter how wonderful your content is. When our social media feeds are choked with content begging for attention, you better hope your choice of imagery causes people to stop and take notice.
5. 10 Incredibly Useful Video Tools for Content Marketers

If you’ve tried to convince your boss it’s time to produce video content within your marketing plan, consider mentioning that even psychologists say people are 39 percent more likely to share content distributed via video. Plus, videos make it easier for people to form emotional connections with their content versus text, and the brain processes it 60,000 times faster. But you don’t just need impressive stats to win your argument, says Kayla Matthews, a contributing blogger to Convince & Convert. Tools are essential, tool. You can come armed with arguments for why it’s crucial to create video-based content, and also what tools you’d use to do it.

6. How to Build a Smart Yet Simple Social Media Marketing Plan

One of the core tasks involved in documenting your content marketing strategy is to develop your social media marketing plan, also known as your channel plan. This details where you will distribute your content and what you expect achieve by doing so. Many brands assume they must post their content anywhere and everywhere. But plastering your brand’s content across every social network, trendy news site and video platform is not a channel plan — it’s more like a channel pipe bomb, says Jodi Harris, director of editorial content & curation at the Content Marketing Institute.
7. How to Perform a Basic Local Business Competitive Audit

“Why are those folks outranking me in Google’s local pack?” If you or a client asks this question, the answer lies in competitive analysis. You’ve got to stack Business A against Business B to identify the strengths and weaknesses of both. Then you can make an educated guess as to which factors Google is weights most in the results for a specific search term, says Miriam Ellis of Moz. She shares a real-world example of a competitive audit, including a chart that depicts which factors she investigated, as well as explanatory tips and tools for how she arrived at the numbers and facts.
8. Content Marketing Is a Job, Not an Art Form

Storytelling is the concept du jour in content marketing. Make sure you have a hero, and a journey, and a harrowing tale, and a surprise twist. It’s not bad advice. Infusing your content with a story makes it emotionally resonant, creating memorability and impact it might otherwise lack , says Jay Baer president of Convince & Convert. So I’m absolutely on board with storytelling as a content marketing device. But just because you understand story arcs and can riff on Joseph Campbell doesn’t mean you’re now Francis Ford Coppola or William Faulkner. Content marketing is a job, not an art form. You’re not competing for accolades and critics praise. You’re competing for consumer attention, period.


August Content Marketing Newsletter

August 2017

From the Edge of the Great Plains

Dear Content Marketers:

In August’s Content Marketing Newsletter, Publisher John Heaston and I offer eight online posts we think will help you improve your skills as Content Marketers. We focus on some fundamentals of the writing process, as well as issues like social media and review fraud.

The stories we share with you this month include:

·         Social Media: These Are the Trends You Need to Know
·         Paint by Numbers: Using Data to Produce Great Content
·         6 High Impact Ways to Enhance Local Business Visibility Online
·         Fight Review Spam: The Complete Guide for the Local Enterprise
·         How To Use Visual Content To Drive Results
·         How to Explain Content Marketing to Anyone
·         The Content Marketer’s Guide to Story Structure
·         Why You Need Both Personalization and Humanization

If there’s a topic you want us to address in the future, let us know. We promise to share the best content we find. And if you have suggestions, bring ‘em on!

And I apologize for sending this so late in the month. I allowed family issues to overwhelm me.

All the best to you and yours.

Thomas Gunning

Content Marketing Editor


Social Media: These Are the Trends You Need to Know

It’s time we talked about how you use social media. That’s right, this is an intervention. We’re concerned about what you do, and more importantly what you don’t. Your lack of adoption of new channels. Your total disrespect of mobile first users. Your reluctance to try video. Your fear of spending money on social ads. Your results. We’re concerned. We bring up these concerns out of love for you and modern marketing. You see, social media marketing has changed, but most social media marketers haven’t, says Marcus Andrews, a HubSpot product marketing manager


Paint by Numbers: Using Data to Produce Great Content

Prior to joining Moz, I was a consultant at an agency like many of you. More often than not, one of the key concerns of my clients was what to write about, says Russ Jones, search scientist at Moz. It seems that webmasters and business owners alike can easily acquire writer’s block after trudging through the uninspiring task of turning a list of keywords into website copy. So where do you look when you have run out of words? Numbers. What I hope to show you is how data can be an incredible source of inspiration in writing, especially if you can hit a few key principles: expose, relate, surprise, and share.


6 High Impact Ways to Enhance Local Business Visibility Online

Although potential customers already look for local businesses online – and there are billions of Google searches each month – they’re unlikely to discover those nearby stores that don’t have a solid local presence management strategy in place, says Bernadette Coleman, CEO of Advice Interactive Group. So what’s a local business to do? To begin, start taking local presence management more seriously. Today I want to share six simple yet clever ways a business can optimize its local presence online. These actions will drive more traffic to the website – and more customers through the front door.


Fighting Review Spam: The Complete Guide for Local Enterprise

It’s 105 degrees outside my office right now, and the only thing hotter in this summer of 2017 is the local SEO industry’s discussion of review spam, says Miriam Ellis at Moz. It’s become increasingly clear that major review sites represent an irresistible temptation to spammers, highlighting systemic platform weaknesses and the critical need for review monitoring that scales. Just as every local brand, large and small, has had to adjust to the reality of reviews’ substantial impact on modern consumer behavior, competitive businesses must now prepare themselves to manage the facts of fraudulent sentiment.


How To Use Visual Content To Drive Results

If you are a content marketer, you probably realize a picture is worth a thousand words. Quality writing is crucial to your content success, but to really stand, visual content must become part of your marketing arsena, says Lucia Wang of VisMe. Effective use of visuals goes beyond just pleasing the eye. The value of visual content is literally a cascade effect: people find visual content irresistible because it is engaging, easy to understand and fun. Marketers love visual content because it makes it easier for them to reach their target audiences. And major search engines love visual content because people do.


How to Explain Content Marketing to Anyone

The concept of content marketing has been around for hundreds of years (see this example from 1672), and the discipline has gained incredible popularity since 2007, according to Google Trends. But, when we recently launched a new e-book that answers common content marketing questions, we learned many readers are just starting, says Michele Linn, vice president of content at the Content Marketing Institute. We want to continually cover the basics. Whether you are new to the practice, need a new way to look at what you’ve been doing or need help explaining this to your relatives, this post is for you.


The Content Marketer’s Guide to Story Structure

Content is everywhere, most of it free and most of it utterly buried by other content. As content marketers, we struggle and fight to be heard. Meanwhile, author James Patterson earned $95 million in 2016. People pay to read his content. If you haven’t thought about that before – that people will pay a lot of money for great storytelling – then I hope you do now, says Pratik Dholakiya, co-founder of E2M, a full service digital marketing agency. Best-selling fiction authors know something. It’s something you ought to know too if you want to be heard.


Why You Need Both Personalization and Humanization

Last week, a student in my Content Marketing Master Class asked about the difference between personalization and humanization. Personalization and humanization are both foundational elements of modern marketing success, says Jay Baer, president of Convinceandconvert.com. Both are valuable to companies and organizations, but for very different reasons. Personalization increases message relevancy, which boosts behavior rates (the likelihood a consumer will open, click, share, buy). Humanization increases kinship, which boosts trust (impacting behavior rates, advocacy, and retention).



July PioneerMedia Content Marketing Newsletter

July 2017

From the Edge of the Great Plains

Dear Content Marketers:

In July’s PionerMedia Content Marketing Newsletter, Publisher John Heaston and I suggest a feast of eight online posts we think will grow your effectiveness in Content Marketing.

The topics we hope you ponder this month include:

  •  10 Types of Content that Work Best for SEO
  • An A-to-Z Guide to Google Analytics for Content Marketers
  • The Value of Mission-Driven Content Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing Hacks on a Shoestring Budget
  • 8 Things Any Good Marketer Should Know About Email
  • Mid-Year Content Marketing Checkup
  • How Long Should Your Blog Articles Be?
  • The Ultimate Guide to Small Business SEO

Please note only two of our eight recommended links start with numbers.

If there’s a topic you want us to address in future newsletters, please let us know. We’ll make sure to share the best content we find.

We hope your summer is productive and profitable.

Thomas Gunning

Content Marketing Editor


10 Types of Content That Work Best for SEO

In a comprehensive piece, Rand Fishkin, self-proclaimed “Wizard of Moz” at Moz.com, identifies the 10 distinct content types that work best for SEO. He classifies what formats are suited for which type of queries. In this Whiteboard Friday from last December, he explains those content types and how to use them to satisfy searcher intent, match them to the right projects, and enhance your overall strategy. Fishkin talks specifically about content rather than content for e-commerce product pages, a contact pages and similar kinds of products.


An A-to-Z Guide to Google Analytics for Content Marketers

Analytics makes the world go around, says Payman Taei, designer and founder of Maryland’s HindSite Interactive, particularly in this data-driven environment. According to Forbes, more data was created during the last two years than in all of human history combined. As a result of this massive influx, analytics services, particularly Google Analytics, are now an invaluable tool for content marketers. Analytics lets you go beneath the numbers to the heart of the story that hides in plain sight. If your data give you the “what,” analytics gives you the “where, why, and how.”


The Value of Mission-Driven Content Marketing

To make our content marketing efforts stand out is increasingly tough. The sheer amount of content creation and consumption staggers the imagination, says Anastasia Dyakovskaya, a NewsCred Contributor. Last year, business management software platform Domo released data that showed YouTube users upload 300 hours of new video, Twitter users send almost 350,000 tweets and Instagrammers “like” nearly 250,000 posts – each minute. It seems an insurmountable task to make your voice heard. But quality content rises to the top, and content with a mission goes further. Mission-driven content marketing not only creates customer loyalty. It also leads to increased revenue.


Mobile Marketing Hacks on a Shoestring Budget

One of the most powerful digital marketing tools is literally in your hands, or at least within reach, right now. Mobile Internet usage overtook PCs and laptops in 2016 and has continued to climb, notes David Schneider, co-founder of NinjaOutreach, a blogger software company. More than half of the world’s population uses the Internet, 90% of which is through a mobile device. In 2021, the number of mobile devices may well reach 11.6 billion, pointing to the fact that your business needs to keep up, adapt or slowly wither away. It can be done, even on a shoestring budget.


8 Things Any Good Marketer Should Know About Email

Email is the most valuable tool for any content marketer, says Ann Gynn, editor the Content Marketing Institute blog. She notes 93% of B2B marketers use email to distribute content. And of those, 91% consider email to be critical. Email can help you build better relationships with your audience, understand behaviors and maximize your paid social content’s reach. That’s the advice from Mathew Sweezey, principal of marketing insights at Salesforce. His tips include how to leverage email in today’s world to why it’s more important than ever to obtain people’s email addresses.


Mid-Year Content Marketing Checkup

In a piece primarily aimed at corporate decision-makers, Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute’s founder, says it’s the perfect time to reflect on content marketing strategy. What works? What doesn’t? What needs to change? Here are some suggestions he makes to those decision-makers. And to us:

  • Get rid of the wannabes. If your internal experts can’t write, use a professional.
  • Partner with non-competitive businesses on content marketing projects.
  • Kill your current e-newsletter. It’s more important than ever, so create real value from its ashes.


How Long Should Your Blog Articles Be? (With Word Counts for Every Industry)

Word count. It’s a topic that gets a lot of notice. Bloggers and content marketers always wonder what the ideal word count to shoot for is, Neil Patel says. Should each single piece be long form, or is it better to opt for shorter pieces? One thing Patel makes clear about word count is it only matters if the content is good. Word count is not a standalone ranking factor. Word count only has merit if the content quality is high. You can produce a 10,000-word article. But if the content and quality suck, then the article doesn’t deserve to get ranked. You lose.


The Ultimate Guide to Small Business SEO

SEO isn’t just for large companies, notes Michiel Heljmans, COO at Yoast.com.  As a small business, there’s a lot properly structured SEO can do for you. Many relate to focus. In his “Ultimate Guide” to small SEO, Heljmans discusses how to find your niche, optimize the pages of your website and strengthen your social media efforts. So long as Google’s local search result pages continue to grow and improve, any small, local business that wants to succeed must keep pace. So here is Heljmans’ ultimate guide to local and small business SEO.


GMB Tests, Duplicates, Streetview Schedule, Website Optimization and more

GMB Testing on a Tear, Especially with Restaurants

Blumenthals reports daily testing — “a testament to Google’s continual effort to gain audience and more importantly, keep that audience at Google long enough to complete a transaction” — especially with restaurants, including a reservation answer box and visual attributes. [Blumenthals]

How GMB Menu Listings Can Change Restaurant Search

With the new GMB feature to publish your entire menu with images, consumers are more likely to search by menu item, and see different restaurant results. [GeoMarketing]

What You Need to Know About Duplicate GMB Listings

With MapMaker dead, here’s the steps from expert Joy Hawkins on how to address. [Moz]

When Will Google Fix My Streetview Image?

There’s a schedule for Streetview updates here. [Blumenthals]

17 Killer Link Building Ideas

Lots of things change in SEO, but one thing hasn’t — links matter. [Search Engine Journal]

Easy Ways to Create Local Content to Boost Local Rankings

From NAP in the footers, a reviews/testimonials page and multiple location pages to FAQs and About Us pages. [BrightLocal]

How to Optimize a Small Website: On-Page & Mobile Factors

Great checklist covering coding, navigation and content. [Search Engine Journal]

What Is A Local Citation for Local SEO

The definition, the different types and why it’s important. [Whitespark]