Content Marketing World 2018 recently wrapped up in Cleveland, and as usual, it did not disappoint. From the SEO master class to intriguing breakout sessions, the focus was on connecting content to the audience by demonstrating empathy and arousing curiosity. And hey, having Tina Fey as the concluding keynote speaker was not hard to take! But more on her later.
Mastering Relevance AND Authority
I was going to title this subhead, “Relevance OR Authority,” but that would do a disservice to the session. Why? They both matter. Yet many of us are singularly focused on relevance (keywords). We do our keyword research to ensure we are using terms that will help our content rank in that all-important top 10 search terms results. That’s essential, but we sometimes forget that SEO authority (links) directly impacts ranking strength.
During the SEO Master Class, presenter Andy Crestodina reminded us that authority is a critical factor that search engines use when deciding which content to rank in search results. Links from a site with high domain authority result in much greater authority for you. To evaluate your current SEO authority efforts, ask yourself:
- How effectively are you promoting your content to industry experts so that you get quality backlinks?
- Are reputable media sites mentioning your company and linking to your website?
- Do you ever include a contributor quote from an industry expert in your content? Doing so can boost authority.
- What are you doing to build relationships with those you want to link to your content (bloggers, journalists, authors, academia)?
There are tools that can help—for example, Moz Link Explorer lets you find out how many links the most highly ranked sites have for a particular topic. Buzzsumo can help you determine influencer information, such as who is getting the most social shares. At a minimum, use Twitter and Google to identify the top industry influencers.
As Andy put it: “Google is like the mean girl in high school. To get her to like you, you have to show her that other popular kids (influencers) like you first.” (Disclaimer: NOT a good lesson for kids!)
“Livin’ on a Prayer”
What in the world does Bon Jovi have to do with content marketing? As it turns out, plenty! I attended a session, “Writing Secrets of Hit-Making Songwriters,” just for fun, but it proved to be quite relevant. You see, most songs are arranged to present a conflict and end with a resolution. The session opened without introduction by the presenter—she simply blasted Bon Jovi’s well-known anthem. In this excerpt, note how the conflict is presented first:
…Tommy used to work on the docks, union’s been on strike.
He’s down on his luck, it’s tough, so tough. [CONFLICT]
Gina works the diner all day, working for her man.
She brings home her pay. [PARTIAL RESOLUTION]
For love, for love.
She says, “We’ve gotta hold on to what we’ve got.
It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot.
For love we’ll give it a shot.”
Whoa, we’re half-way there. [PARTIAL RESOLUTION]
Whoa, livin’ on a prayer.
Take my hand, we’ll make it. I swear. [RESOLUTION]
When writing about your product or service, resist the urge to go immediately to the resolution. Why should your prospects care about the financial services your firm offers or the specialized cleaning tool you sell if you haven’t first identified a conflict (challenge) they have?
As writers, we are often so focused on exclaiming why our prospect should choose our company that we never make that human connection. Where is the empathy in doing that? As in the example above, it’s perfectly fine to hint at the resolution, but don’t give it away until your audience is hooked. Create curiosity!
Tips for Building Curiosity
How else do we “slow the scroll” in our content? Google prefers longer content…IF it’s adding value. It has to make sense for the topic, audience and the delivery. If your topic warrants long content, here are a few tips that can keep the viewer engaged:
- If you’re using video, put it closer to the top of the page. People tend to watch the entire video, and that will improve “time on page.”
- Use images, bullets, subheads and numbering, as I’m doing in this blog.
- Bust a myth—it will stir controversy and create social media shares and comments.
- Focus on the reader’s needs, not wants. Needs motivate action while wants usually entertain or educate. When your content speaks to needs, you will slow the scroll and get better results.
By now, this blog is approaching 800 words—were you curious enough about Tina to read through it? Sure, you might have scrolled to the bottom, but I’m hoping some of my conference takeaways were relatable to your needs.
Tina was delightful, as expected. During the Q&A session, she was asked about the pressure of creating content. She showed empathy for all content marketers in our need to constantly create content:
“Content is hard work—many times it feels like a bottomless pit that has to be filled,” she said. “Episodic TV is very similar. As soon as you make an episode and say, ‘Wow, I’m so proud of that!’ The read-through for the next one is in half an hour.” Notice how she related to her audience?
She also answered a question about technology and being open to nontraditional distribution channels. Upon completing 13 episodes of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” for broadcast television, NBC liked it but, as Tina put it, was open to having her “see other people.” The show, which was successfully launched by Netflix, will complete its fourth season in 2019, and a film is in the works.
Do you need help fine-tuning your content strategy to meet the needs of your readers? We welcome the opportunity to speak with you. Please contact Cindy Spitz at 440-449-6800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.