Improved Content = Improved Search Ranking

Whether you’re relatively new to search engine optimization and search marking or an old pro, you’ve probably heard someone say “ Content Is King,” more times than you can count. It’s not just apples and oranges anymore, because someone (or in content’s case, something) won’t like either. So, allow me to reiterate the point one more time – just in case you weren’t paying attention.

Content is king when it comes to search engine optimization.

fruit

Bottom line, if you have strong, engaging web copy, you’ll see increases in search engine rankings and traffic because there is a greater likelihood you’ll be linked by other sites and be fodder for discussion. While human beings might love your content talking about apples and oranges, SEO content has to target search engines as well, which loves Kiwi.

As Erik Cisler of Wpromote Search Engine Marketing points out, SEO content must ultimately target human beings.

“Good content means targeting not just keywords, but key ideas that appeal to people. A lot of SEO content is written under the guise of being a ‘How To’ guide or an FAQ on a company’s site. That’s cool, great idea – but what if, I dunno, you actually approached those articles as legitimate sources of information,” Cisler says. (Unfortunately I lost the link tot he blog entry he posted this on!)

The point he’s really making here is that while writing optimized content that search engines will understand is all fine and good, there is absolutely no reason not to try to sell the readers while targeting a particular search engine’s algorithms. That’s where great copywriting enters the equation.

Let’s just face it. The copy on your Web site has to be able to persuade leads or consumers that your firm has what they need after the eyeballs hit the page. Sure, you may have copy jammed with keywords that will bring in the masses, but it’s just as important to have that copy persuade them that you’re better than your competition, who very well could be offering your same services at a considerable value. In order to land that consumer’s time and pocketbook, your site has to prove why someone should by from YOU.

And yet, brands seem to have a particularly difficult time grasping this idea. Many companies are depending too heavily on the popularity of their brand to drive traffic, as opposed to providing engaging content that happens to be laced with the right keywords. It’s truly a balancing act, and unless you can say your company happens to be a computer and software giant named after a piece of fruit and has a rabid consumer base that will buy anything and everything you offer, you need great copywriting and great content strategy.

Only an overarching content strategy, based on your business’ marketing goals as well as the needs and habits of consumers, will provide you with SEO friendly copy that will engage consumers.

In other words, avoid single pages that only use keywords that make the search engines go ga, ga. Provide content and product descriptions that do the same thing for your customers. Give them the facts to make an informed decision and a reason to come back. If that copy is sharable, something your customer would feel comfortable passing along to a friend, even better. Make your engaging SEO content sharable, embeddable. Most of all, it should inspire a reaction.

Chances are, you’ve received this type of copy for years in direct mail pieces and still see it everywhere you look.

“Don’t miss out on this exclusive, special, once-in-a-lifetime offer…”

You can laugh, but this form of content can and does work. It works even better if you have a product that consumers actually want.

Whether you’re doing it yourself or working with an agency, remember that SEO content is not about writing to make the search engine happy. Your SEO focused content should never undermine the legitimacy of your product or service. Yes, weave in the key phrases, have solid code and lots of title tags, but remember, the search engine isn’t going to buy anything from you and it won’t go out and share your site and product with its friends on Facebook.

Persuasive writing creates engagement. Engagement means more comments, pass along value, and assures that your content is being tweeted, posted, dug, stumbled upon and indexed by spiders that aren’t just from search engines.

Engagement plus persuasive writing, plus SEO friendly will ultimately yield a better page rank and get your site higher in those all too important organic search rankings.

So, embrace the fact that SEO content is more than just apples and oranges and stuffing pages full of keywords. Eighty percent of your battle is selling your customer once they get there. When you have better content, you’ll have a better ROI.

Photo: Meliha Gojak

‘Transformation’ Was A Necessity For Detroit Papers

A little over a week ago the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News made major changes to their product offerings and moved to a limited home delivery.

And while the The Detroit Media Partnership changes are not even a month old, I’m of the opinion that the bold and forward thinking moves that leadership has made are among the most important (if not the most) experiments with journalism going today.

What the Detroit papers have done is revolutionary. It’s a real roll of the dice when it comes to their business models. Where every other newspaper going defunct is moving to an entirely digital approach, slashing its staff and reducing coverage areas, David Hunke and the Media Partnership are staying the course, committed to keeping two newspapers in Detroit, keeping their staffs as robust as possible and continuing the tradition of thorough, deep reporting – and they’re doing it and still PRINTING, 7 days a week.

So why is that such a great thing? The former journalist in me thinks this is the best option, because it provides two different sides to every story, allows Detroit to be one of the few cities in America to provide printed newspapers 7-days a week and keeps the integrity of news intact.

I’m ecstatic there’s still a print edition and two full editorial staffs, because while I’m definitely more of a digital guy, most blogs don’t have the same standards for reporting the news, or industries that journalists do.

Sure, I’ll read Jalopnik for car reviews, some rumor about the auto industry, etc., but those guys just don’t have the connections of the Freep or the News. I want the analysis, journalistic integrity and the experience that those papers bring to the table. Trained journalists are irreplaceable in my humble opinion, and it’s nice to know I can still pick up my copy at a newsstand and hop a plane with it. For me, I still pick up a newstand copy of the paper and use the mobile versions and web sites to consume my news, but there are options for just about EVERY delivery method.

The five major keys to that made this move a good one:

1. Both the Freep and The News are still printing 7 days a week

2. Home delivery still occurs every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday

3. Subscribers have access to an E-Edition, an exact replica of the daily printed edition that features interactive ads and various visual formats

4. Both papers were able to continue their normal publishing cycle and plan with minimal impact to newsroom staff. (Journalists keep their jobs, Detroit continues to be a two newspaper town and journalistic integrity remains intact)

5. Plans were announced to begin delivering the newspaper to the Kindle and a new E-reader device being developed by Plastic Logic. Freep.com, Detnews.com and both newspapers mobile sites remain free of charge.

What remains to be seen is how the papers will react to suggestions of its readers, or if the digital editions will be as consumed as the print editions, but based on some of the commentary I’ve seen, the defectors are more few and far between. I’ll be curious to see if any other major cities follow Detroit’s lead, because I believe the moves are really smart, albeit a bit risky. I’m just glad to know the papers I love didn’t lay down and die a slow and painful death.

Photo: Sanja Gjenero

In the interest of intellectual honesty and integrity, I’ll go ahead and disclaimer here that the Detroit Media Partnership is one of the clients that my employer represents and that I do work on the account. My opinion and any opinion you see on this blog are certainly not to be considered to be the same of the clients I work with.

Big media and the need for content sharing

When I was still a wet nosed reporter (which was only in 2003 mind you), I would have told you that you were insane if you were claiming that traditional media would die out before I did. Then again, this was before iPods had video and WiFi capabilities, before Facebook and Twitter and before Google News.

Fast forward a few years and it’s a whole new ballgame. Newspapers are cutting staffs, magazines are calling it a day and headlines are being broken by Twitter users and bloggers far faster than the traditional media and it’s so-called 24-hour newscycle. The rise of the blogosphere, social networking and changing consumer attitudes have turned content production on its head. And if newspapers and magazines don’t make adjustments, pool their resources and begin listening as much as their shouting, the death rattle will be coming sooner than later.

Content sharing isn’t a new idea by any means. I grew up in Detroit, and remember when the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press published a single joint weekend edition between 1998 and May of 2006. Prior to that, the News and Freep entered into a Joint Operating Agreement on the business operations side of the shops to cut cost as part of the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970. They are one of the few sets of papers in joint operating agreements that ever shared content.

But the current economic atmosphere, rising newsprint costs and increases in online readership are forcing papers to look at these sharing partnerships yet again.

Last December, The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun announced that they would enter a content-sharing arrangement, and just two weeks ago, The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram announced plans share sports coverage.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say we’ll continue to see this trend in newspaper publishing. The question we need to start answering is, when will this begin occurring in the magazine, tabloid or even digital industries?

I think the overwhelming answer is probably sooner than later.

As this PR Week media analysis points out, magazines like AdWeek, BrandWeek and MediaWeek (all Nielsen Media titles), began sharing content in October of 2008. The company points out in the news release that less than 2% of subscribers for the publications, which cover overlapping industries, receive all three titles.

Still, the unfortunate reality is that magazines need to begin examining sharing content with rival publishers, as some of the aforementioned newspapers have done. But there is a particular challenge in that experiment because newspaper content sharing (usually) has the advantage of regional play, or, as we see in the Star-Telegram/Morning News arrangement, the advantage of only sharing sections. Magazines are much more topic-focused, making cannibalizing of issues a given. And where do you make the call on which writers to keep, what sort of voice to carry forward?

Unfortunately, as the PR Week article points out, it’s a “murky” proposition, but one that I believe will be absolutely necessary for the survival of even the most storied titles in the annuls of media history. What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you ever see major media magazines or blogs sharing their content? Could Newsweek and Time one day share stories? I’m curious as to your thoughts.

Photo by : Sanja Gjenero