5 More Questions and Answers on Content Marketing

Last week I put together an article on the top 5 questions from the Content Marketing Survey Report along with my answers. These were all pressing questions marketers had about content marketing.  In this article I’d like to cover 5 more popular questions along with their answers for you.

6. What are the most effective content methods that are currently working?

The best strategy is to create useful content for an audience and learn how to optimize it for the search engines There’s really no reason not to and in my opinion it’s a wasted opportunity if you don’t. There are a lot of searches done everyday on Google alone, something like 1 billion so you want to at least try to get your fair share of that traffic.

Once you’ve got your content created and optimized for keyphrases people search for, promote it by letting other sites know about it. If you’re successful at this you’ll gain some links that bring in direct traffic and give your rankings a boost in the search engines.

Plus if your content is useful then your visitors will be more likely to share it (and that brings in more traffic for you). And visitors will be more likely to sign up for your newsletters and buy stuff from you once they see the value you provide.

7. What is the optimal rate for producing new content?

The people I surveyed wondered how much new content they needed. Is once a week optimal? Is another number better?

I’ve put together sites that had all the content I was ever going to have on the site ready to go when I launched it. From there I never added a new piece of content, the content was just updated. These sites have gotten high rankings, links from other sites, and traffic from all over. So this can be done. You don’t have to have a blog format just because everyone else is doing it.

As far as building a relationship with your subscribers (which is one of the best things you can do with your time) they want and need to hear from you frequently. So producing new content and telling them about it (like on a blog) definitely works. But you can load up an autoresponder and get a pretty similar effect. Just show people around the content you’ve already got on your site at the rate of a new piece each week.

So again, you can create all the content you need for your site, set up an autoresponder, and then walk away from it.  You might have to update the content if it gets outdated. I ran two businesses just like this and they both earned very well from this exact method so I know it works. But in order to do this you will have to be willing to create a lot of content up front.

Which is why most people would rather drip feed it in blog format.

If you are going to keep producing new content then you get to decide what type of schedule you’ll keep. Personally, I think even as little as once a month will work. Once a week will work too. As far as connecting with your readers it’s probably better if you can do it.  Many sites post several new articles a day, but there’s no reason to feel you have to do that.

If you want to keep producing new content for your visitors and your subscribers weekly or bimonthly is a good mix. If you’re doing it all yourself then you need time to do other things (like work on your products and promote your content). And if you’re outsourcing you don’t want to have to spend your entire budget on creating content (you’ll need some money to promote it).

With a weekly or bimonthly publishing schedule your subscribers will still remember who you are and you can help them along their journey pretty well especially if you provide them with great content when you do reach out.

8. How to generate fresh ideas?

I’m able to come up with a lot of ideas by researching the keywords people search for.  Keyword tools are perfect for this. You can use the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool if you don’t want to spend any money (although I highly recommend Wordtracker if you can).

Just type in your main keyword and look at the related phrases that show up.  You’ll get a lot of content ideas from doing just this and these are the exact phrases people in your market are using to search for information.  So if you write content from your keyword research you’ve got a much better chance of writing about what people want to know about.

You can also get ideas by researching your competitors sites. See what types of content they’re providing for their visitors and make sure you’re covering those topics (and try to do an even better job than they did).

If you have any subscribers then ask them what they’d like to know more about. If you don’t have subscribers yet go look at other sites in your niche that allow comments and read those comments.  Find out what people there are interested in learning about and cover those topics on your site.

Another way to generate ideas for content is to review industry magazines. You can gain tons of ideas from print magazines. Even if you just buy one a month that will help you immensely and there seems to be a magazine on virtually every topic.

And finally you can create content related to your products or services. For example, if you’ve got a piece of software that helps make Twitter marketing easier, then create content around using Twitter. It’s that simple and now your content works to generate the right type of visitor and helps you convert visitors into buyers.

If you’re not offering products or services, but instead are an affiliate for them you can use the same exact method. Just write about the products or services you’re promoting.  This will help you attract the right type of visitor to your site (the type who are most likely to need the stuff you’re promoting). It’s really no different.

9. What’s a good average length for a piece of content?

If you ask me my answer is always to write enough to explain the idea.

If you’re trying to help someone fill out a financial aid form for school, then write enough to explain that. Just give them the information they need. Once the content is written edit it and try to cut out the fluff.  Don’t worry about word count at all.  I think that’s the best process.

But I did find a study for you where they tried to figure what amount of words the search engines seem to like best.   It was conducted by serpIQ.

This study looked at the average content length of domains on page one of the search engine results listings. So they’ve basically done the research for us here.

For the non-writers out there, you won’t like their findings. They claim the average length of a piece of content ranking in the top 3 spots in Google is over 2400 words.

Before you get too freaked out for the study, they’re counting pretty much all the text on the page. So that means they counted the text in the sidebars as well as text in the main content area, so it’s not just the body copy.  So that 2400 word count figure might not all be the actual content, but some of the text in other parts of the webpage too.

Because of that, they claim 1500 words is a good target to try to reach.

That’s a far cry from the standard 500 word article many people are putting together. Worse, so many folks turn to article writing factories that just ask for a keyphrase and spit out a 500 word fluff-filled article for less than $10.

You really don’t have much chance for getting high rankings (or any traffic outside of high rankings) with that strategy at this point. The only way is to manufacture links back to those pages (and you’ll have to be very careful how you do that in order to avoid an algorithmic or manual penalty) along with crossing your fingers that those rankings last. It’s just not a good long-term business model.

I don’t suggest just moving the bar here and going from 500 word articles to 1500 word articles. You’re going to see better results if you try to give value in your content and forget about word count altogether.

10. Best places to put content other than your blog?

You want to keep your unique content unique to your site. Especially the text-based content.

I cannot stress this enough.  If you start allowing other people to publish identical content to yours on their site you’re diluting the impact it has.  Content is like currency online.  It’s very valuable and you don’t just want to hand it out.

Regardless of whether the search engines are OK if you put it on your site first for x amount of days, if you allow another site to publish it, now they’re getting links that could have been yours.  Those links could have resulted in traffic for you, but now someone else is getting that traffic.  And someone else is also getting all the visitor referrals you could have had.

Plus I don’t think it’s as cut and dry with regards to SEO as many people would have you believe. If the exact same piece of content is on your site and someone else’s, even if you put it on your site first, I’m not so sure you’re guaranteed to get the credit for it.  Why take that chance?

If you’re going to work in a medium other than text, like audio or video then it makes sense to publish that content on iTunes or YouTube.  Those are basically publishing platforms where you set up your own account and have a page that’s all yours.  You’ve got control over it. And you can remove your content from iTunes or YouTube at any time.  You can also publish this audio or video content on your site too (and if so publish a transcript along with it and only allow that on your site).

A lot of people visit YouTube and iTunes so it’s a given that your target market probably hangs out there too.  You can get a lot of traffic from those two sources and again you’re in control as it’s your publishing platform.

The same with social media sites like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. You can publish short snippets of your content on those platforms, with the end goal being to get people to your website and hopefully sign up to your newsletter there.

If you want to look outside the major platforms like these then with a little research you can find industry-related websites with a lot of traffic where your target market also hangs out.

Once you’ve uncovered where your audience hangs out, then use content to reach them.

For example, many site owners will link out to a piece of content on your site if it helps their visitors.  So you can get pretty far by putting the right type of content on your site and promoting it by telling the right site owners. That way you’re leveraging your time because you only have to create the content one time and it works for you in a number of ways.

In some cases you may need to give away a unique article to get a link from a popular site. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth it or not.  If you’re going to get targeted traffic from it, then it probably is. But in that case I’d suggest creating a unique article. Most sites looking for guest contributors will require that article to be unique to their site, so you’ll usually have no say in this anyway.

That wraps up the top 10 questions marketers have on content along with my answers.

If you missed them, please check out the first half of this article where I revealed the top 5 content marketing questions and answers.  I hope this article has been helpful for you and if you’ve got any other questions to add or want to share what’s working with you please leave a comment below.

If you have comments, advice, or feedback please leave them below.

Comments

  1. jonthan says:

    Thanks for a very useful and important article on this subject.

  2. Mary says:

    Thanks Lisa
    I see what you are saying about having at least 1500words to stand a chance of ranking.
    But some people would argue that some customers who read your article would not like to read the article if it is too long?
    And for those who write their own articles like me,1500 words is a lot to think of ideas for I find.

    • Lisa Parmley says:

      Hi Mary, I agree. My advice is to write whatever it takes to explain the topic of the article. The 1500 words is a suggestion made by the folks at the serpIQ study that I quote in the article. They say that the average word count of the top 3 articles ranking in Google is about 1500 words. So it is based on some facts, but I don’t know all the exact details of their study (like how many sites they looked at).

      It’s a good idea to make sure you’re writing enough for people to feel like you explained the topic. Sometimes 500 words is not enough, but depending on what your topic is 1500 words could be too much. So I don’t really have a definitive answer for you with that question. There is no right number of words.

  3. Owen says:

    Thanks for this, Lisa. Item 7 was particularly useful for me. I’m halfway through creating my authority site using Xsite pro. I’d rather build an authority site with good content and update regularly not not once a day or week.

  4. Thanks Lisa, It is a great article on how to create good content and updating it regularly.

  5. Jane says:

    I sometimes find that my articles get too long. If you go over 1,500 I tend to split it into 2 articles. Also I don’t think text is the only way to provide value. I like to include images and video, some that I make myself.

  6. Chris M says:

    The details you offer are wonderful! It seems like the old rule, content is king still applies. It amazes me how many sites are still out there with really sparse content, and even glaring spelling errors. Nothing beats High Quality and Uniqueness! Keep up the informative content!

  7. Anwan says:

    Thanks Lisa, It is a great article on how to create good content

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