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Up Close @ SMX Advanced: Creating Blockbuster Content
Over the years, it seems that practically every site out there that wanted to be serious about search engine optimization (SEO) had to develop a ton of content. However, that content was often stale; it was a quantity thing, not a quality thing. “One of these posts will eventually stick” has been the mindset.
At SMX Advanced last week, I had the privilege of attending a session on Creating Blockbuster Content where panelists Brent Csutoras of Kairay Media and Arnie Kuenn from Vertical Measures shared their philosophies and tips.
How Did We Get So Sucky At It? What Changed?
Brent Csutoras pointed out that the “quantity over quality” mindset was formed because we felt that more content equals more success, and it did We saw more traffic, more links, more ranking and other signals. But the most important part of this story is that the industry mentality was that “Just Good Enough” is standard.
“Most people are looking at it as a way to go through a checklist.” he stated, “but now… there has been a shift towards real quality”
So what were the key drivers of that shift to quality content?
- Google’s Panda update, which looked at content from a quality standpoint, was released.
- Facebook changed their Timeline system when they started realizing that too much content convoluted the experience. By changing their timeline feed to focus on what represents quality, that made it a better and more relevant experience for its users.
Facebook and Google basically both said, “we don’t want the tricks and the crap anymore, we want quality.”
So What Is Quality Blockbuster Content?
It’s something that is resourceful, helpful and interesting. Examples can range beyond just blog posts to infographics, how-to guides, long-form rich content and many other forms. Quality is in the eye of the reader; quality varies from person to person. Another factor is the quality of your business and brand, which reflects on your content.
Quality content can be identified by seeing positive reactions with social signals i.e., tweets, comments, likes, shares, etc. Another way is understanding how influential the author is and how the readers engage with that author.
So Where Do You Start When Building Blockbuster Content?
Start your strategy with this: figure out what sells. What is profitable? Then start to look at related popular topics.
Once you determine your popular topics, you can utilize Keyword Research tools to help find additional terms you would like to rank for. You can also look up Tags — Twitter hashtags, Facebook, Google+, Blogs, etc., to see what people are sharing and talking about.
Search engines can help, too; search for “The Best [Your Topic Here],” greatest, top-10 top-25, etc. Learn what others are writing about by scouring Reddit, Care2 and Google+ or invite everyone in the office to meet and spend a whole Friday talking about ideas.
Once you have your terms, start to determine what works by looking at your competitors in similar markets. Learn what content is providing their social signals, the most engagement — Facebook fan page discussions, their Google+ and Twitter feeds — and review the content that they are putting out there.
Then continue to test the effectiveness of your content and these topics. Analyze if you are getting conversions and social traction, and then continue to do this at least every three months.
Creating Blockbuster Content Is All About
Finding That Perfect Balance
You don’t want to be too commercial, nor do you want to create content that’s unrelated to your product/brand/offering. For example, Brent uses this cool spreadsheet in order to get a good balance of the different types of goals you are setting for yourself.
Being A Resource
Solve a problem, answer a question or satisfy curiosity… you can find questions waiting to be answered in support forums, customer reviews and obvious gaps in the industry.
Understanding The Buyer & The Influencer. The buyer’s journey looks a lot more like the below illustration rather than the linear models — like the funnel — that we usually use as a graphical representation.
You need to focus not just on the buyer but also the influencer as most people forget and discredit reaching influencers. People need to push the influencers. If you could be a resource, you can get ahead of the curve.
Expanding Your Concept
Know that it can always be better. Ask yourself, is there more to this story?
Has it happened before? How does it relate to current events? Are there unanswered questions that you can elaborate on? Link out to related information as people want to share the best stuff that they see.
Provide quotable, shareable, linkable text excerpts. The layout of your content is often forgotten and can be boring. You need to deliver content that people want to read because it’s easy on the eyes to read. For example, when you provide a quote, it gets people interested in the content.
Break up your paragraphs for easy skimming; the general rule here is one idea per paragraph.
Use images on your page to summarize the concepts of written content, it helps break up paragraphs and allows people a better way to share. Images are meant to serve a purpose, not just to fill space. Use images properly by making sure they’re relevant to the content.
Also, don’t forget to check mobile, and make sure it can be read on multiple devices. It also needs to be fast to download even with constrained bandwidth.
Remove The Roadblocks
Avoid, when possible:
- anything audible,
- commercial elements like shopping carts;
- navigational elements like categories
- large contact numbers, which can look too commercial
Do add popups for:
- “follow us,”
- and ads.
How Any Business Can Discover 100’s Of Powerful Content Ideas
Arnie Kuenn’s presentation focused around ideation — coming up with good ideas to create Blockbuster content. He pointed out that buyers are searching for information that helps them make an informed decision. Businesses that provide that are the ones that are going to win.
Step 1 Content Ideation Starts With Asking
- Ask your Staff: What is it that your clients are asking on a daily basis?
- Ask Your Customers : What made you trust us? What info do you wish we had provided upon first contact?
Step 2 Coming Up With New Ideas
- Use your Research Tools: Google keyword suggest, for example, is a great way to start. Putting in a term related to your business or product and look at the suggestions Google is coming up with. Also look at Google’s “Related Searches” section — these items alone can give you 12 blog posts titles.
- Use YouTube: Do the same thing — look at the related searches to see what they say.
- Visit Question and Answer sites: Quite often, they are a goldmine of what people are asking questions about most often, and you can use these to create content. By looking at the number of responses, you could determine popularity.
- Utilize Ubersuggest: For example, if you were to enter “visit the grand canyon” you can get some great ideas on how to decide upon the subject and title of your content.
- When it comes to building B2B Content, you can use groups on Linkedin to see what is being discussed.
- Quora is another one to search and look at popular questions people are asking about your subject.
- OpensiteExplorer.org: Put in a competitor’s URL and then click top pages to find out what are their most popular content ideas are.
Step 3 Create Your Editorial Calendar
Once you are done, put all your content ideas in a spreadsheet, then put together an Editorial Calendar. Always have a 12-month view that includes events in the industry, holidays, etc. Drop content ideas into a monthly view. You can use: Vertical Measures Editorial Calendar for an Excel template, Arnie shared.
I really enjoyed Arnie’s analogy that compared content marketing to baseball. It’s not being about hitting Grand Slams, but it’s about Moneyball, about base hits.
“The key is not to hit grand slams all the time,” he said, “which will happen occasionally; it’s about continuing to keep going to the plate.” Having that mindset will surely set you up for success when it comes to creating blockbuster content.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.