Have a Content Strategy

5: You Do Have a Content Strategy Don’t You?

8 Steps to Increase Traffic to Your Website: Part Five

You do have a content strategy don’t you? Because one of the tenets of the website industry is that Content is King.

Bill Gates said this in an essay in 1996 and, all these years later, it still holds true.

Websites such as the BBC, The Guardian and The Daily Mail are all content-driven beasts. Facebook draws you in to see what your friends are up to everyday because of content.

So if your website, the shop window for your products and services, doesn’t have strong content then that is something you need to take a serious look at.

Know Your Own Content

The first step in your content strategy is to know your content.

Do you know how many pages there are on your website? What sort of content do you have? What have you written about? Does it get much traffic? Which pages attract the most attention? Which content gets read the most, keeps users on your website the longest, engages with your audience and makes them share on social media or complete a form, make an enquiry or a sale?

That’s are a lot of questions but you need to answer them all in order to get a picture of the health of your website so that you can make an informed decision going forward…

Use your Google Analytics to see which pages get the most eyeballs, what the bounce rate is and follow that user flow through the website.

See which pages lead to the most goal completions.

Once you have all this knowledge, maybe marked up in an Excel spreadsheet, you can see what works and what doesn’t.

You want to do more of what is good and try to make improvements to the places where you aren’t getting as many successes.

There are many ways to plan content but knowing your own content you can divide up what you have into

  1. More like this.
  2. Improve upon these and…
  3. Less of this sort of content.

Do Your Competitors Have a Content Strategy?

Now you may not be privy to that exact knowledge, unless you’re into corporate espionage, but you can at least go and have a look at your competitor’s website to see what they’re up to.

Do they post regular blogs? How often?

Do they publish news stories? What about?

Does your competitor have webinars and videos, whitepapers, downloadable guides, an email newsletter?

Look at their social media channels – do they have a lot of followers? Do they post a lot? Regularly? Which posts get the most likes?

If you can see that your competitor is doing so much more than you, then that will be why they are so much more successful. That knowledge alone should get you fired up!

Whatever your competition are doing that you are not is to their advantage. At the very least you should be matching this. You should be aiming to beat this!

And, again, being wise and organised, you will have expanded your list, your spreadsheet and you can see what content you have got and what the competition are up to. There is a mountain to climb but you must do it because that’s what you’re in business to do – to succeed and win.

Is There Anything You’re Missing?

You know your own content. You now know your competitor’s content. But is that everything? What if you are BOTH missing a trick?

Are there websites in your industry that you haven’t had a look at? Go see them. Explore and get more intel.

Did you see anything in your keyword research? Are there terms in Google Search Console that you are getting impressions for that you don’t have strong content for? Does Google Analytics show you which terms people are typing in your site’s search box that maybe you don’t have content on?

This is where you get clever with you marketing, by thinking and looking and doing things that you have not previously done. Even if you later dismiss some of them, having a holistic view of your business, the market and your competition will fire up synapses and make connections that will help your future strategy.

Time to Have a Content Strategy

Armed with all this new knowledge you’ve noted down, it’s time to map out your content strategy.

There will be keywords and content that you currently perform well for. You will want to preserve this performance.

In addition to preserving your best performing content you will want to support and boost it. You can do this by creating additional content using secondary and tertiary keywords, those “long tail” keywords that will help web users find what they are looking for.

So for your content strategy you should do the following:

  • Choose your primary content subjects and support these with secondary subjects. This will form the basis of a parent-child relationship with your content and your website’s internal link structure.
  • Define the type of content that you will deliver these subjects: articles, blog posts and cases studies may be your primary HTML content in your website. Support these content types with videos, infographics, eBooks and whitepapers as appropriate.
  • Define goals such as when you will produce and deliver your new content. If you have limited resources you may wish to focus on a content strategy that has a more immediate impact.
  • Back up your content creation strategy with a content delivery strategy. You have all this shiny new content but how are you going to get it in front of your audience?

That should be enough to get you thinking about and formulating a content strategy. It’s essential that you have quality content for your audience to consume.

And remember – Google automatically crawls and indexes your website but occasionally a real person will assess your site – they will use Google’s quality guidelines to see whether your website’s content comes across as Expert, Authoritative and Trustworthy. E-A-T. Remember this and create the very best quality content that you can. Your users will appreciate it and so will the search engines.

Content Strategy - Clever Marketing - Hampshire Digital AgencyNo content strategy? No problem. Our digital agency will work as your strategic marketing partner to craft and execute your content strategy.

If you would like to know more about any of these individual items then please do give us a call on 01276 534 680 or complete our contact form.

Never be afraid to link out - Clever Marketing.

Never Be Afraid to Link Out

Every so often, I’ll hear a comment or be asked a question about external links in website content.

Once, the comment was

“I was going link out from this article but then I decided not to.”

Another time, the discussion was about some copy that I’d crafted for a client:

“But there’s an external link in that article”

My response is usually a quizzical

“Why do you say that?”

The answer is always less of a statement and more along the lines of another query…

“Oh, I heard that it’s not good to link out?”

So, let’s clear this up for once and for all…

Never be afraid to link out

I have never been one for skimping on external links unless there is a very good reason not to. It may be that you wish to reference a competitor but not give them traffic and help boost their rankings. But we’ll look at that later.

However, here’s a good reason why you should be linking out…

About ten years ago I used to run a news desk for a business information website. The news was initially supplied by a third party vendor and I’d typically receive a document consisting of a heading and about 300 words of copy. I chose to improve and support the simple news story by adding an image to accompany the copy and do some SEO too.

However, reading the articles before publication, as an editor, I’d always be frustrated by the failure of the article to provide relevant and useful external links. A story might be about the latest research on SMEs by the Royal Bank of Scotland and the author would quote a few figures from that report. But that was it.

In 300 words there was little to say of any real depth and I’d be wanting to read the source report for myself. But there was no link to the source of the information. Basically, the writer was saying there was this fantastic new piece of research but if you wanted to read it you’d just have to go and find it for yourself.

So, in order to fulfil the purpose of conveying newsworthy information to the reader, I had to search for the report and provide the link myself. And if there was a convoluted path to get to the report, I’d simplify it.

The aim of the news was to make the items newsworthy and to ensure the web pages were as useful to a visitor as possible. Providing links to external websites was a big part of that.

Another Big Reason is this…

The very nature of the world wide web is to provide information, to share, engage and enlighten.

The language of web pages is HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and the clue is in the name. Hypertext is text that does more than just get read. Text with links to sources of more information are really useful. It’s valuable, it adds richness and depth to the experience of being on a web page.

This was the major concept behind HyperText as dreamt up by the father of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Pages of scientific information at CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research, did more than just sit as static text. Once-boring pages came to life with references to further information, giving greater depth to the user experience.

So, back to the issue of external links: Yes, a visitor will click away from your website, but if you gave them valuable information, then that’s brownie points for you. It enriches your brand as being a provider of useful things.

Never Be Afraid to Link Out? But My Link Juice!

When a page links to another page, it’s supposed to pass on some of its benefits to that other page. So, an extremely popular and high quality website will have earned some “domain authority”. That means with the number and quality of inbound links, that web page is deemed as important and is assigned a certain score or level of credibility by the search engine.

Whichever pages are then linked out to also receive some of the benefits of that domain authority. This used to be measured under the old Google PageRank metric.

As an example, the BBC website has both the highest domain authority (100/100) and therefore some very high page authority (The homepage has 96/100). You can check that using Moz’ Open Site Explorer.

The spam score of the BBC domain and pages is very low so it just goes to show that the BBC usually provides links to high quality sources and references.

The holy grail of many webmasters is to gain links from such high quality sites because they pass on this “link juice”. Site owners used to “sculpt” the link profile of their websites so that they only gained incoming link juice but did not pass it on, usually by the use of “rel=nofollow” attributes on the links.

And What About Losing Visitors?

That’s one way to think about it. If someone clicks out they click away, right? Well, you could always open that link in a new tab. That way your website will stay in the users browser and you’ve provided them a useful link.

If the external link was what was useful to the visitor then so be it. Que sera sera, as the song goes, whatever will be will be.

But think about it this way – if your website was SO GOOD then why would you be afraid of sending visitors to third party sites? You need to make your site and your pages great quality and providing information, on your site or someone else’s, is providing that very service.

Again, kudos to you, my friend.

I’m Not Giving Out THESE External Links

We mentioned earlier that there may be some reasons why you don’t want to link out, and here they are:

Don’t want to link to competitor? That makes sense. If someone comes to your website looking for information or a sale of your products and services then why make it easy for the competition?

Are you using anchor text to link out for things that you want to rank for? Again, if you are a provider of say digital marketing services then maybe you don’t want to be giving out free links to anyone else who offers the same service.

With these two points, one thing to bear in mind is that if your business offering is strong enough you may have no fear of linking out to competitors. It shows your readers that you’re not afraid to link out even if it is at the perceived risk of giving props to someone else. That in itself is a subtle but powerful message.

Take Courage

What we’re saying here at Clever Marketing is don’t be afraid to link out. Links are an integral part of the spirit of the world wide web. Linking out adds depth, richness and credibility to your web pages. Including external links shows you care, it shows you’ve done the research and are willing to pass that on.

So feel free to link out, it doesn’t harm you.

Clever Marketing - Hampshire Digital Agency - Never be afraid to link outSo there you have it. Clever’s Digital Marketing Manager has 19 years professional experience in the industry. If he says don’t be afraid to link out then that’s good advice.

If you need copywritng services, SEO that boosts visibility and organic traffic or PPC campaign management, then call our Hampshire digital agency on 01276 534 680.

Content is king

Content is King – For People or Search Engines?

Content is King, the saying goes. But is that for people or search engines, who do you write for?

Our Digital Marketing Manager had an excellent discussion with a copywriter the other day…

As a copywriter and former Editor himself, he was asked to critique a piece of copy that had crossed his desk and so he went into editorial mode.

Of all the things that an online content editor should do, he assessed the article he’d received against a set of long-held, natural and instinctive criteria.

One particular benchmark was had the piece been written with the search engines in mind? The response from the copywriter was:

“I write for people”

That’s an obvious and perfect answer because, of course, who is all this online content for? People, stupid. Without people, there is no audience, without people there is no traffic, without people, there are no readers, no sharers, no amplifiers of your message.

So, of course, all content is written for people.

Or is it? What about the other option, the other end of the spectrum?

Yes, we can write for search engines and not people. In fact, our Digital Marketing Manager was once approached, a long time ago, by an agent who offered to “spin” his content. He was told to write articles in such a manner that they could be run through some software to produce multiple versions of the same article.

And what, you might ask, was the point in that?

Well, many years ago, Google’s algorithms were a little less sophisticated than they are today and so content was, at one point, quite literally churned out to produce masses of fodder solely for the purpose of ranking in the search engines.

The idea was that if you produced a lot of content around a certain subject matter, particularly niche content with limited competition, you could rank high, vacuum up all the traffic for those terms and dominate the search engines…

…with crappy content!

A whole industry grew up solely around the creation of poor-quality content. People with little or no writing skills would submit, for absolute peanuts, content that served no purpose but to attract search engine rankings.

You see, a niche term, ranking at number one in the Search Engine Rankings Pages (SERPs), might not get a massive amount of traffic but by being at #1 gets disproportionately more traffic volume than the number two, number three slots etc. (See Number 1 position in Google gets 33% of search traffic)

Churning out a lot of content on the same subject, for ranking purposes only, might then gain you authority on the subject and so a website could rank in additional slots other than the first position, thereby getting all the top traffic.

Now, ranking and gaining traffic for a low-volume niche term may not make yours the most popular website on the planet but, when you do this on an industrial scale, just think about mopping up traffic for nearly ALL the niche terms.

This is exactly what happened way back in the late 2000s. Those low-paid people churned out tons of low-grade content, enslaved for their pittance of a wage, to these content farms. Websites once existed that were stuffed full of this content, cornered all the traffic for the low volume niches and sold display ads to then generate revenue.

This, from the Wikipedia entry for Content Farm”, sums it up nicely:

In the context of the World Wide Web, a content farm (or content mill) is a company that employs large numbers of freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines. Their main goal is to generate advertising revenue through attracting reader page views, as first exposed in the context of social spam.

And, for a time, it worked.

I remember well the days of eHow and the public IPO of Demand Media. Content farms were a huge business back in the late 2000s and Demand Media, the epitome of the commoditised content farm, peaked at something like $2 billion if I recall correctly.

But then you had Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, make the statement that the Internet was a cesspoolof misinformation and low-grade websites, long before Donald Trump came along banging on about “fake news.

And so the purge began.

Google worked hard on its algorithms and still does, to eliminate poor quality content from the world wide web. When I say eliminate, I mean to remove it visibly from the SERPs.

Google Panda was the name given to the set of algorithm changes that started to see the slide of machine-focused content. All the thin content that barely scraped by at 300 words, all the spun content, the sites with 10 different articles all about how to boil an egg, they started to become irrelevant. They lost their rankings, their traffic and firms like Demand Media, much to the delight of real, passionate professional copywriters, started to nose dive.

And today, that is why we write for people.

Or do we?

I’ve been told by some people that more than 300 words is boring, befitting of that Too Long, Didn’t Read (TLDR;) moniker.

But isn’t that more a symptom of modern-day reading habits, of Generation Z being brought up on a diet of 2-minute YouTube videos and listening to 3-minute pop songs? Isn’t it because we’re living in a world of attention deficit and no time to read anything in any great detail?

When I were a lad we used to read whole stories, whole books! My own copy of The Lord of the Rings tome was a whopping 1069 pages! I read that book at least twice in the first year I had it.

So, back to the original point…

Do we write for humans or do we write for the search engines?

Well, ultimately it has to be for humans but, if you write for this reason alone and ignore the demands of the search engines then you risk losing the opportunity to be crawled, indexed, ranked and amplified.

So please do write for humans but ignore considering SEO, when you’re writing, at your peril.

Clever Marketing - Hampshire Digital AgencyYou can probably tell that, as a Hampshire SEO agency, we’re not just highly experienced in copywriting but truly passionate too. Just think about what that means if we write copy for you…

If you’d like to discuss how we can inform your readers, inspire thought and encourage debate, just pick up the phone and call us now on 01276 534 680 or fill in our easy contact form.

How to Produce Good Content: The 9 Golden Rules of Content Marketing

Although content marketing is still a relatively new idea, the message that good content equals more sales is filtering down from the niche to the masses. According to a recent study from, the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 90% of B2C marketers said they were using content marketing in 2014, compared with 84% the previous year.

[We’ve updated the report to the latest 2020, version for you: Ed] However, the study also revealed that only 34% consider themselves to be effective at content marketing. We think that’s due to confusion about what the term actually means, and a lack of commitment or strategy from the outset (less than half of those said to be using content marketing actually had a dedicated plan in place).

In this post, we’re going to look at a tangible definition of content marketing and why it’s important for every business, before letting you in on the 9 golden rules of producing good content. Let’s start with the basics.

So…what is content marketing?

We turned to the Content Marketing Institute again for a clear definition:

“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 consumer action.”

There are a few key things to take away from this summary: firstly, “content” is what it says on the tin: information in a range of forms – nothing more complicated than that. Copywriting, brochures, social media, flyers, emails… it’s all content. Many businesses get too caught up in trying to work out whether or not what they’re producing can be deemed as content when actually, the term refers to all collateral you produce for marketing purposes.

Secondly, content marketing should be strategic, with the end goal of driving a customer to take action, whether that be to walk into your shop, visit your website or buy your product. More importantly though, is the term “clearly-defined audience”. Producing content is one thing, producing it with a specific audience and consequence in mind is content marketing.

The 9 Golden Rules of Content Marketing

As we’ve already mentioned, it isn’t enough to randomly churn out emails and brochures with the hope of converting customers. Here are our hard-and-fast rules for making your content marketing a success.

1. Plan, plan plan

A strong editorial plan or calendar will help keep you on track when other business priorities tempt you away from content production.

2. Set goals

Like any other marketing activity, if you don’t set goals for your content you won’t know whether you’re over or under-performing.

3. Be realistic

We get it, it’s easy to become excited about content. It’s fun to produce and once you start seeing results, you don’t want to stop. But before you commit to producing 5 e-books and 30 emails a month, consider your resource. Content marketing is very much a “quality over quantity” scenario, so don’t stretch yourself.

4. Get creative

As a marketing agency, we’re used to hearing “but we can’t produce interesting content – we’re a plumbing/HR outsourcing/carpentry business”. It’s easy to think that if you aren’t Virgin Atlantic or Coca Cola, then your business is boring and you have nothing to say.

That’s when it’s time to start thinking outside the box. Look to brands like Charmin and B&Q – toilet paper and DIY probably aren’t the most exciting topics in the world, but creativity and storytelling help to bring them to life for a customer.

5. Go evergreen

The term “evergreen” applies to content that will not grow out of date quickly, if at all. This means it will stay relevant and interesting to your customer long after you’ve produced it, making it more valuable to you as a business.

6. Google is your friend

If you’re writing something which will appear online, it’s best to get to grips with SEO to make sure your content has a good chance of ranking in search engines and actually being found by customers.

7. Put your audience first

A big mistake that a lot of companies make is assuming that their customers will want to read whatever they produce.

Instead of pushing out the first thing that comes to mind, ask yourself: what is the audience looking for? Can I answer a question or provide a solution?

8. Find your voice

Tone of voice is a lot more important than many people think. Nailing the right tone of voice for your brand can make your communications more authentic and effective, as well as giving you stand-out in the marketing place. Identify the tone of voice that works best for you, and keep it consistent across your communications to build up a brand identity.

9. Stay fresh

Two tweets per day, one email a week, one direct mail piece every month… sound familiar? It’s easy to get stuck in repetitive patterns with content, especially when your budget can’t stretch to much more. But it’s important to try and keep your ideas fresh in order to keep consumers engaged. Try different things, different outlets, different tactics – but most importantly, learn from your mistakes.

Clever Marketing - Hampshire Digital AgencyIf you’re looking for assistance with your content marketing then do give us a call, we’re happy to assist with your digital marketing strategy.

Call us on 01276 534 680 or complete the contact form.