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How to plan a seasonal keyword marketing plan

The chances are that you’re aware of special days in your calendar when there is a spike in sales or general user interest. But are you missing these predictable peaks as part of your SEO strategy?

Seasonal events are a golden opportunity to make extra sales and improve brand awareness. In order to do that, people need to connect the event with your business and land on your site. 

This is where seasonal keywords come in. Keywords are at the very heart of promoting organic web traffic. It only takes a few simple steps to tailor them to seasonal events.

The process doesn’t start weeks, or even months, in advance – it’s something you should be thinking about a year ahead.

Here is how to plan your seasonal keyword marketing plan effectively:

One year to go

In order to make things run as smoothly as possible, it’s a good idea to define some baseline points. Your checklist for things to establish at the ‘one year mark’ should look something like this:

Setting objectives


What are you trying to achieve through seasonal awareness? Are you after sales or brand awareness? How will you measure your success?

Budget

You may not be spending money to acquire traffic through ads, but producing content still can cost money. Establish how much are you willing to spend to see results, and start thinking about the kinds of offers you can make to entice customers.

Method

Where is your content going to be placed? Are you just using existing content or producing new pages? Will you need extra content producers? 

Making these points clear a year in advance will make it much easier to manage the subsequent stages; it helps clarify what you’re doing and where you stand.

Six months to go


This is when your keyword campaign needs to begin taking shape. To do this effectively, you need to become familiar with Google’s Keyword Planner. This is a free-to-use service designed for advertisers considering Adwords.

Getting to know Google Keyword Planner


In order to use this tool, you’ll need to set up an Adwords account with Google. It’s free to use, and there is no obligation to start a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to familiarise yourself with the interface. For seasonal info, focus on the ‘Get search volume for a list of keywords or group them into ad groups’ feature.



How to get what you need from Keyword Planner


Draw up a list of keywords that are relevant to the event in question. For example, if you sell chocolates, and your objective is Mother’s Day, search for ‘Mother’s Day flowers,’ ‘Mother’s day gifts’ etc. 

It’s not just about hitting the keywords that are directly relevant to your product, but also the most popular keywords for the event in general. These might not be as useful for direct conversions, but they show you the types of content that people search for in that period and the keywords you can target.

Make a list of the keywords that are relevant, and start thinking about the kind of content and promotions you can build around those topics. 

Now that you have keyword content covered, use the ‘time period’ toolbar to see when the frequency of these keyword searches begins to increase. This tells you the exact time when you should stage your campaign launch.

Get seasonal keyword data and trends with Adwords keyword planner
Get seasonal keyword data and trends with Adwords keyword planner

Five months and counting…

You’ve established your list of keywords, and you know when people will start searching for them. At this stage you might have what looks like a three, or even four, month gap between your six-month countdown and when people actually start typing those keywords into a search query, but that’s no reason to get complacent.

The reason these campaigns have to start so early is that getting content to appear in the results of Google and other search engines is like turning sand into stone; it takes a lot of time and a critical amount of pressure which, in this case, is user exposure.

Giving yourself a good five month cushion also allows time to make revisions to your content. It’s often easier to see where things aren’t working once they’re online, and you don’t want that to happen close to launch.



What about time critical content?


You may have spotted a problem here. On the one hand, you’re planning a campaign that targets a specific event with time-critical offers and promotions, while on the other you’re being asked to get content up four to five months in advance, when there is limited interest. How is that supposed to land with customers? The answer is simple. Your early content is there to hold a place in the search engine results page (SERP).

There’s nothing wrong with putting in relevant, useful, placeholder content well in advance, then switching it to the actual promotional content once the event kicks off. That way you get to appear higher up the rankings and make your pitch as fresh as possible.


Two months to go


The time to start the launch on your promotion is either when you see that spike in keyword searches for an event or two months in advance, whichever comes first (you’ll find it’s usually one and the same).

 So what are you doing to promote your content?

Here is the checklist for the channels that your campaign should cover in addition to the content that you’ve been building up:

Social media

Ideally when the promotion launches, it will ride a wave of social mentions. To give this the best chance of happening, release a few hints early on, and consider reaching out to loyal customers by tweeting and sharing updates on Facebook so that they’re primed to respond at launch. You could even offer special discounts to this proved converter as a reward.



Subscriber emails

Hopefully you’ve been gathering leads and building a subscriber list. Again, give a hint of what’s on the way in your regular emails, and then release a dedicated newsletter that’s just for the event. This way when the promotion hits, it has the best chance of getting early conversions, which will in turn build awareness and momentum.


Use your connections

All those cultivated relationships with influencers and industry websites can come into play at this point too. Make sure you have some interesting content that’s tailored for each promoter, and then provide a link to your specific event, once you’ve got permission, either in the text itself or in your bio.



End game?


So to round up, in this year-long period, you’ve identified your objectives; gathered your keywords; used them to map your promotion launch date; placed your keyword-relevant content where it gets maximum exposure; and released your offers and promotions either through that content or other tailored release methods.

It seems like you’re at the end of what has hopefully been a successful campaign. However, it’s not over. Getting this kind of seasonal release right is a cycle, not a linear progression. Your content and landing pages may be irrelevant once the event has passed, but they’re still perfectly placed to perform the same role next year.

Salvage as much of this space as possible by changing landing pages to a more generic take on the special day in question and generalising content to make it relevant to the ‘event’ rather than ‘this year’s event.’

By taking this approach, you’ll make sure your content is in a prime position to perform well a year in advance of your next promotion. With that established, you can go back to your checklist and begin the process all over again!

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5 myths about content marketing and SEO

In this post, I’m going to debunk some of the myths surrounding content marketing and SEO.

Let’s start with some definitions:

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.  Content Marketing Institute

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of the traffic that you earn through the organic results in search engines.” Moz

As you can see from this, these are 2 very different disciplines. They do, however, have one thing in common, they are both intended to drive traffic and sales.

The changing landscape of SEO

SEO has changed beyond all recognition in the 8 years I have worked in the industry. When I started out as an SEO copywriter in 2008, SEO (specifically link building) was all about article marketing – creating crappy, keyword-stuffed content and throwing this mud at the wall in the form of article directories. Much of this content had little editorial integrity and was never read by anyone.

Google’s algorithm was not sophisticated enough to detect this rudimentary tactic, and as a result, it was reasonably easy to get a website to rank.

Fast forward to 2016, and it’s a very different story – to get results you need to produce quality content that earns genuine links due to the value and insight it offers. There are no short cuts and no easy answers.

The rise of content marketing

Content marketing has exploded in popularity over the past few years, as demonstrated by the Google Trend graph below.

Meanwhile, many prominent SEO agencies have rebranded, losing any mention of SEO from their names. This reflects both the shift in mindset of those within the industry and the growing demand for more holistic online marketing, which encompasses a range of services, including not just content marketing and SEO, but also CRO and social media.

One of the biggest drivers of this growth and shift in focus from SEO to content marketing has been the diminishing, or in many cases negative impact of traditional SEO link building tactics such as article marketing. These have now been largely replaced by content marketing.

Myth: Content marketing has replaced SEO

This argument is flawed for a number of reasons:

• If there is no consideration of SEO, specifically keyword and link placement in content, there will be no tangible SEO benefit to even the best content marketing.
• The impact of content marketing without any thought to SEO will arguably have much less of an impact than it might with SEO.
• Content marketing cannot fix technical SEO issues with your website.

Myth: Content marketing is the new SEO

SEO as a discipline has been around for less than 30 years, Content marketing has been around for over 100, so how can content marketing be the new SEO?

Content marketing is an important part of the savvy SEO’s playbook, but it is not a silver bullet and is certainly not the new SEO.

Myth: SEO guys should do SEO, content marketing guys should do content marketing

The mistake that many people make when considering SEO activity is to treat it in silo, rather than as a key part of the whole marketing mix. We’ve seen brands historically do this with copywriting, social media and PR.

To be successful, you need all departments to work together, as Copyblogger’s Brian Clark explains:

At Copyblogger, we don’t have sales, social, marketing, media, or SEO departments. We have an editorial department, and editorial makes all of those things happen (and more) as part of one seamless process.

Myth: I should spend my entire budget on content marketing

As great as content marketing is, it can’t be denied that the ROI from it can be difficult to measure. You should spend a decent chunk of your marketing budget on content marketing, but don’t neglect other areas that can also drive traffic and sales.

Myth: SEO is dead

Google processes over 1 trillion search queries every year and 15% of these are queries it has never seen before. SEO is definitely not dead!

Conclusion

If done correctly, content marketing and SEO can be complimentary, but they are not one and the same, you need to do both. Content marketing has not replaced SEO, SEO is, and will continue to be as important as it has ever been.

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6 awesome content writing tools you should be using

When it comes down to it, writing content can be painstaking. Even the most accomplished writers and those buzzing with fresh and exciting ideas struggle. They’ll find themselves staring at that poster on the wall, twiddling their thumbs and wondering where their next 400 words are coming from. The good news is this: there are lots of helpful and creative people out there, and they’ve come up with many handy content writing tools.

Here are 6 tools that we found particularly useful for all stages of the content writing process.

Quora

Use this tool for: Research, generating ideas and adding bulk to content

Get inspiration for content by visiting Quora, a social networking site that operates on a question and answer discussion basis. Sign up, pose your question and have it answered by experts in your industry, or identify trends from grouped topics. The likes of Stephen Fry, Rand Fishkin and Ashton Kutcher are all present and active on the site.

Quora is particularly useful for gathering quotes to add colour to your content, although of course you should always be aware of provenance. This article by SEMRush outlines the benefits of Quora for marketers.

InboundWriter

Use this tool for: Informing your content creation plan

How often have you and your team sat down to discuss content formulation, only to find yourselves doodling on scraps of paper and making outlandish suggestions that you know are never going to work?

Available as a web app or a WordPress plug-in, InboundWriter is invaluable when you’re forming your content creation plan. It provides marketers with an idea of how well content will perform prior to it even being written, using research data from across the web to analyse how that topic or area of interest is resonating with web users.

The tool can also recommend keywords for you to use; the only downside is that, unlike the other resources detailed in this article, it isn’t free.

We entered “6 awesome content writing tools you should be using” into the Emotional Marketing Headline Analyser. This received an EMV of 66.7%. According to the site, professional headlines have an EMV of between 30% and 40%, while gifted writers rank around 60 or 70%. In other words, it appears that ours is a great title!

Hemingway

Use this tool for: Cutting initial drafts and fine-tuning copy

Ernest Hemingway was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and he almost never wasted a word. His unique and tight writing style substituted lengthy, flowery prose for short, minimalist sentences. He also used plenty of repetition and relied on punctuation to convey meaning to the reader.

Nobody expects you to write like a Nobel Prize-winning novelist. Yet this handy little editing tool can give you suggestions on where to improve. Hemingway highlights sentences and words for clarity and readability and flags up use of the passive voice.

Don’t get caught up in trying to impress your readership. As content marketing whiz kid Neil Patel suggests: “you want to write as simply as possible to reach the biggest audience.” Paste your copy into the editor when finished and tweak where necessary.

Yes, we did check this paragraph in Hemingway. Here’s the original copy for an idea of how it works.

AtomicWriter

Use this tool for: Tailoring the voice of your content to your target audience

When you’re marketing a business or topic that you know like the back of your hand, it can be hard to look at it ‘from the outside’, as your readers would.

This brilliant tool, created by Toronto-based Atomic Reach and available as a WordPress plugin, is designed to help you stay on track with your blogging. It syncs with Google Analytics and your social media accounts, using this data to accurately inform how you can tailor your blog content to your target audience.

AtomicWriter is simple to use; just enter your copy into WordPress as usual and the plug-in will give you suggestions on how you can alter your post to make it clearer for the readership you had in mind. Articles are scored with a numerical Atomic Score (the higher the better) and you’ll be given an indication of Audience Match, which determines whether or not you should tweak further.

Quora - one of the best content writing tools
Quora – great for content research

Grammarly

Use this tool for: The final proofreading and editing stage

Not everyone is a naturally talented writer and most of us don’t have the time to be combing through finished drafts looking for errors. However, content rife with errors screams of a business that is unprofessional, so what do you do?

Grammarly is a plug-in that checks and corrects any spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes it finds in your text. Grammarly works with all major browsers, as well as Microsoft Office, and will appear in any text editors or dialog boxes you open, in the form of a small, green, clickable circle. You have to sign up to Grammarly, but it isn’t intrusive, and doesn’t take much effort to use. The alternative could include simple mistakes such as this, so using this tool is a no brainer.

Emotional Marketing Headline Analyser

Use this tool for: Finding effective headlines

Choosing an effective headline is notoriously difficult. It can often be tempting just to summarise the basics of the article or adopt a lazy, clichéd pun and move on to the next item on your to-do list. However, as Jodi Harris highlights for Content Marketing Institute, there are a number of aspects you need to conform to, all of which seemingly contradict each other.

Advanced Marketing Institute’s free, web-based tool is handy as it gives you an idea of the emotional response your headline will garner with your audience.

We entered “6 awesome content writing tools you should be using” which received an EMV of 66.7%. According to the site, professional headlines have an EMV of between 30% and 40%, while gifted writers rank around 60 or 70%. In other words, it appears that ours is a great title!

The analyser isn’t perfect and it doesn’t really give you an idea of the keywords you need to use, but it’s useful for helping you understand what your readership looks out for.

These six content writing tools alone won’t provide a magic solution, but have a play with them and see what you think. You might learn something new!

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SEM-Tool.com Review

There are hundreds of SEO tools out there, each with different features and pros and cons.

One of the most in-demand features right now is keyword research and ideation. As Google continues to refine its algorithm, and reward those who are regularly publishing quality, relevant content, SEOs are increasingly looking to create this content on a regular basis.

Finding the phrases that people are commonly searching for when creating this content is a constant challenge, and a new platform, SEM Tool, has been designed specifically to help with this. In this review, I’ll look at the product in more detail.

SEM-Tool.com homepage
SEM-Tool.com homepage

First impressions

The site has a clean design and a clear user interface with a box to enter your desired head search term, as well as check boxes for various different search engines and other sites. Users can search for results on the following sites:

Google
Bing
YouTube
Amazon
DuckDuckGo
eBay
Google Play
Qwant
Wikipedia
WolframAlpha
Yahoo
Yandex

Users can also filter results by country. To test out the tool I entered the term blog writers.

Free vs. paid features

For free, users can search for keyword ideas based on data from the sites above. For an additional fee, they can see search volume, estimated cost per click and view their domain’s position for the terms listed in the results.

Shortly after signing up, I received an email from an account manager informing me that I had received some complimentary free credits to use some of the paid features on the site, which was a nice touch and enabled me to try out some of the paid-for features.

SEM Tools results page
SEM Tools results page

Accessing and using the data

Once you have performed a search, you can view the results in a series of columns, which can be toggled to view data in ascending/descending order. You can also download the results in a .xls/csv spreadsheet, which enables you to manipulate the data further.

Summary

As I started out by saying, there are hundreds of SEO tools on the market, many of which contain the features of SEM-Tool.com and more. Whether or not this product will be able to compete given its fairly limited functionality remains to be seen – the addition of a more detailed Rankings Tracker and ‘Potential Analysis’ features listed on the site as ‘coming soon’ may broaden its appeal.

This is a simple, useful tool, which will be a great help to those in need of keyword ideation for content marketing. It won’t, however, replace your chosen suite of SEO tools just yet.

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