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 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, says Bridget Randolph, a SEO and marketing consultant, on’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.