Do you know which topic is the most discussed about your brand or your industry?
Maybe you have a general idea about what they are talking about. But I bet that you want to know more specifically what people talk about.
Because there are questions that you can answer and you can give the solution for a certain problem. But we, marketers, have a common problem: we talk too much instead of listening more.
And how do we know what people are talking about our brand if we don’t take the time to listen to them?
The industry says that social media’s purpose is not only to promote your brand but also to listen what people are talking about you, your industry and even your competitors.
Knowing exactly what are the most used questions can help you with your content marketing strategy. And the best pieces of content created out there are the ones that give solutions to different problems, right? But if you don’t know what the problem is, how can you give a solution?
And this is why I believe that knowing the questions that people ask on different social platforms, forums, and Google search can help you establish your next piece of content.
In this article, I want to give you 3 solutions that can help you find the questions people are talking about.
We used every one of these apps in our content creation strategy for Bannersnack and it helped us a lot, saving time, finding new ideas for new posts that are relevant for the industry and give the right solution for the right problem.
1. MOZ Key Explorer
There are many content marketers out there who are afraid of SEO and they believe that MOZ is only about SEO.
I found myself scared in front of these 3 words, SEO. But then I realized that I can use it for my content strategy. And I landed on MOZ’s tool called Keyword Explorer.
What is KWE (Keyword Explorer)
It’s a tool that can help you get keyword ideas, accurate monthly search volume, SEO competition metrics, SERP Feature data, and you can also save lists with the premium keyword research tool.
But I used KWE to find out what people were asking about my industry using a certain keyword.
Now let’s see how we can use this tool to see what are the questions that can help us with our content.
Go to https://moz.com/explorer and type your keyword in their search bar. Make sure that you have the right location selected. Then click on the search button.
Here are the results based on the keyword you are interested in.
Now click on the Keyword Suggestion, and in the “Display keyword suggestion” select the “are question” option:
Now you can see all the questions people are asking about your industry or your brand. If you want a more in-depth research you can also select the volume and relevance of those questions.
These are the questions that can help you write a piece of content for your blog or website. It can also help you with the text for your landing page. And if you click the “Search” button, this tool will give you other questions related to your question.
This way, you will know what people are interested in and how to create content in order to give them exactly what they need.
Let’s say that you want to create another category on your FAQ page answering the top 100 most asked question in the industry.
Think about KWE as an early research tool that can help you level up your FAQ page.
2. Answer The Public
Another tool that is worth mentioning that can also help you with your question research is called Answer The Public.
The funny thing is that when you go to their homepage you can be easily distracted by the bearded “seeker”.
How do you use Answer The Public?
Go to their homepage and as any keyword tool, write the topic you are interested in and use the drop-down menu to select the area from where you want to get the answers.
The most interesting thing is the visual part — the keyword you chose will be magically created in a “wheel” of questions related to your topic.
I used “social media marketing” and chose the UK location from where I want to get the results. Here are the results represented in an interesting visual graphic.
Their research is organized by common questions that begin with the words where, which, who, what, when, why, how, and are.
But if it’s hard for you to follow this “wheel” you can easily click on the “Data” option and the questions will be arranged on different boxes related to the basic questions.
Answer The Public is not only suggesting the questions provided by Google and Bing. They are also suggesting prepositions like without, with, versus, to, like, or for.
For example, if you are a small social media marketing agency and you want to write an article on your blog for different types of industries, this tool can be a blast for you.
In the preposition category, you will get results for social media marketing like social media marketing for nonprofits, social media marketing for musicians, social media marketing for libraries, social media marketing for healthcare and the list can go on.
And if you are having a hard time creating headlines for your articles, check out these 6 top tools that will save you time and energy.
Answer The Public can be your daily tool for content creation, even if we talk about articles on blogs, guest posts or other types of content.
So far I presented you 2 tools that generate questions based on certain keywords. But what about the real questions that are already engaging? What about the topics that people already talk about on blogs, social platforms or forums?
Here comes BloomBerry, a great tool that is still in the beta version and it’s created by the team behind BuzzSumo.
I love this tool because it’s so simple to use and it gives me other kinds of results.
For example, I typed the word “blogging” and I got more than 40k questions in 352 topics. These results are sorted by their popularity.
Also, the results are grouped into different topics, such as blogger, blog posting, WordPress blogging and others.
And If I want to see where people are talking about this topic I only have to go on their results, click on them and the website will open.
As Steve Rayson said:
In simple terms, we think some of the best content is content that answers questions. It tends to be evergreen, gain links and can even feature in Google snippets if you are the best answer. Thus Bloomberry is designed to help people understand the questions people are asking on any topic.
If you are already familiar with BuzzSumo, this tool will help you find the exact topics you are interested in by using their filter options as Time Range, Excluded Sources, Included Sources and you can also filter the results by country.
You can also export the topics and questions in CSV or Excel format, so you can work on them even if you are not online.
So here you have the 3 tools that can be easily used by any marketer, PR or content creator who wants to write a blog post or create a piece of content that gives the right answer to the right question.
We are using these tools on a daily basis to create the content our audience wants to consume. This is why I believe that they are very helpful.
And to be honest with you, I even used them to write this article!
Now back to you, let me know in the comment section below what kind of tools you use to find the questions people ask in your industry?
We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
What’s funny is that you almost only hear that adage in reference to people: you shouldn’t judge people based off how they look.
Yet, when it comes to books, you can actually tell a lot about them by their covers.
That’s why publishers spend so much money on them.
This principle applies to the headlines of your blog posts, as well. While you can’t learn everything about the post from one simple line, headlines are clearly very important; it will either pull a reader in or keep them scrolling.
To put his many great points into context, I used BuzzSumo to find Huffington Post’s most-shard article headlines of the past three years. I’m also notating right under the posts what kind of headline category these fall into: Tips & Advice, Opinion/View, Political, Trending, and News.
Let’s talk about why they worked so well. Ready?
A Study of The Top 30 Huffington Post Most Shared Headlines
Throughout this list, you’ll see a number of headlines that mention tips and advice. This headline falls into that category, but it also riles up emotion, something else that is great for getting shares.
People take their faiths very seriously, so referring to any religion in your headline is going to draw eyes to it. However, this one also has the scent of controversy to it. You might agree with the author 100% or you may be clicking on that headline simply because you want to make sure it’s not going to mischaracterize or misinterpret something so important.
The most prevalent audience type on this entire list is parents. This makes sense, of course. Everyone wants to be a good parent, so anything that might help them is going to receive attention.
One thing Rayson found in his research is that alluding to some kind of secret in a headline tends to do particularly well. No one likes to be left in the dark, especially when it comes to being a good parent.
This headline leverages both tactics and has the numbers to prove it…
Trump will continue showing up on this list. Amongst other things, the President triggers all kinds of emotions in people across the political spectrum.
There’s also the fact that Trump has remained a trending topic for well over a year now. Any time you can mention a trending topic in your headline, you’ll automatically set yourself up for more clicks.
We find another emotional subject in this headline. It also hints at the promise of advice. Presumably, the author isn’t going to tell the reader, “It’s too late. There’s nothing you can do.”
Promises are another feature of viral headlines I’m going to bring up numerous times in this piece. Prospective readers should feel a sense of certainty that taking the time to read your post will be worth it. Make this clear in the headline.
Here we have another article about parenting. It’s also our first listicle, which is the most shared format type Rayson found when doing his research.
Listicles work for a couple important reasons.
First, they make clear the format of the post. This example lets you know there are 9 sections to this piece.
Second, that also tells you about how it will be organized; you can rightfully anticipate that it will be pretty easy to scan through and make a decision about whether or not you’re going to commit to reading it.
“Take Me to Church” piqued in December 2014, but it was still very popular just two months later when this article was published. Therefore, at this point, it would have been trendy, but this headline also boasts a new take on it.
As you may remember, in 2010, Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake that made headlines all over the world. The following year, the Red Cross began a multimillion-dollar campaign to help the country recover.
While this wouldn’t have been a “trending” topic at the time, this headline definitely inspires emotions like shock and disgust. Therefore, according to Rayson’s research, it also inspires clicks.
Though it’s definitely a simple headline, the promise of information in this title is probably what made it such an attractive one.
That’s not to say it delivered on some huge promise, but there’s an important lesson here. Your headline doesn’t always need to be about some grandiose secret. It can be as simple as explaining to people why their everyday relationships are so important.
Speaking of emotion, as I mentioned before, the topic of parenting is always going to be near the top of the list. Aside from the fact that everyone wants to be a good parent, most people are also keen to think about the type of job other parents are doing, too.
Bunmi Laditan’s headline definitely grabbed people’s emotions, but it also promises some kind of exclusive information.
Why would a parent actually choose to do the exact opposite of what so many strive for? The only way you can find out is by clicking the headline.
By now, it should be clear that viral headlines usually combine at least two elements from Rayson’s article.
In this piece, we have the ever-popular listicle and the guarantee of some very interesting information.
Most of us don’t associate being sensitive with having a set of habits, much less 16 of them. If you know you’re sensitive, you’re probably also going to be curious about what else that means for your day-to-day life.
While being a listicle would have helped all on its own, this headline took things further. The information being covered is clearly important if you’re a parent.
Not because you might be doing something wrong but because the entire concept is in crisis! You might be doing everything wrong! If you’re not yet a parent, this article might give you some insights to consider before making such a big decision.
Sometimes, the promise is all you need. Everyone wants to watch people fall on the ice. I’m not sure what that says about human nature, but it’s true. You don’t need to add anything else to that headline to get clicks.
The controversy surrounding people saying “all lives matter” was trending in the summer of 2016, something this headline would have benefited from.
Then, there was the “real reason” part. This line has the same effect as claiming you know a secret that others don’t. Whichever side of the controversy you’re on, you’re probably curious to find out what John Halstead thinks the “real reason” is.
As you probably know, Flint, Michigan has been in the news for about a year at this point because their water quality is so abysmal it can’t be consumed.
Therefore, this headline received a big boost for covering a topic that has been in the news so much.
At the same time, there’s obviously an emotional aspect to it, too. Rayson specifically points to “heartwarming” as an emotion that contributes to a headline’s chances of going viral. I think you’ll agree that such a show of support from so many people definitely warms the heart.
Two important elements that should be immediately obvious about this headline right now are that it’s a listicle and it involves a secret: your mom’s been holding out on you! Don’t you want to know what she has been sitting on all these years?
As this piece is directed at new and expecting mothers, though, it also shows signs of potentially very important information. I’ve already talked about how any subject related to parenting is going to involve some hot-button emotions, but you can bet they run especially high when the headline is aimed at new and expecting mothers.
Wouldn’t you like to know how your state’s economy could be one of the best in the country?
Most people would. “How This Governor Made His State’s Economy One of the Best in the Country” probably would have worked really well for that reason, too.
The title for Gibson’s piece caught fire, though, because it also plays on emotion. Many people would be shocked or surprised to learn that higher taxes and minimum wage could actually benefit the economy. They might even want to argue the point, something they can only do after they click and read the article.
This headline definitely hit on a trending topic at the time, but many people would find this heartwarming and inspiring, as well. Again, as Rayson pointed out, grab people by the emotions and they’ll most likely give your piece a look.
Did plenty of people find this inspiring, too? Of course!
Still, let’s take a minute to look at two especially important words in this headline: “First-Ever.”
A lot of people may have been unaware of what this decision was so important. With just two words, this post becomes immediately more eye-catching.
Be careful that you never assume what is important to you about a story will be clear to your readers — even if its’ something in the news. Unless it’s incredibly obvious, use a word or two to tell prospective readers: “This is a big deal!”
Everyone knows “sex sells”, but it’s interesting that such an apparently popular topic is only on this list once.
Obviously, a lot about the subject is still considered taboo, which means it’s less likely to get shared on social sites.
So what did this one do, right?
It’s a listicle, but it also covers an important topic that would interest two different groups of people. If you’re a husband who would like to have sex more often, you’re going to want to click on this article.
On the other hand, if you’re not having sex with your husband every night, you’re probably going to be curious about the five reasons you might be making a big mistake.
Take a look at how well this post did on Twitter: 14.6k shares. That’s the second highest on our entire list.
Rayson pointed out that tips and facts tend to do really well on Twitter. This post is definitely packed full of the former.
Another great thing about this kind of post is that people are going to be naturally curious to see how many of these cities they’ve already seen and share this post if their number is particularly high or they just want to add their own recommendations.
The President makes our list one last time. This particular post received significantly more shares than the others, though.
It’s not because we were any closer to the election, so it’s not that Trump had become more trend-worthy.
Instead, I think it’s because the format of this post is immediately clear: it’s an open letter. As I mentioned earlier, the format of your post is important, but you also want to communicate what it’s going to be in your headline whenever possible (e.g. “X Ways…”, “How to…”, etc.).
Being an open letter, this post also lent itself to shareability because people could simply pass it on to friends of theirs voting for Trump — or just share it.
You most likely chuckled a bit when you read it, which doesn’t hurt.
However, you probably noticed “secret” right away, too. This is no small secret, either. It’s a secret that could help you live more than 100 years and it comes from a reliable source. This is also a secret that applies to everyone. Who doesn’t want to live a long life?
Again, addiction is something that affects almost everyone. If you haven’t experienced addiction first hand, you most likely know someone who has.
Not only does this title not tell you what the cause of addiction is — you’ll have to click it — it also makes clear that your assumptions about the subject are wrong. You may not have been too interested in the topic before, but don’t you kind of want to see if your theory was really wrong now?
Lastly, the Huffington Post Heavyweight Champion for most shared headlines goes to this one from Cris Rowan.
Of course, at this point, it should be no surprise that this headline is so high up on our list.
This piece is clearly aimed at parents, an audience I’ve already mentioned is always going to be a good source for clicks.
It’s a listicle, too.
There’s also some great emotional triggers here. Rowan isn’t saying you shouldn’t buy your child a handheld device. You’re not going to receive tips to learn how to keep your kids from using their devices too much.
No, Rowan is saying they should be banned. This sort of emotionally-charged language always grabs attention, especially when you choose a topic like this one.
There you have it: the 30 most shared Huffington Post headlines from the last three years. While I can’t recommend Steve Rayson’s article to you enough, I also hope you learned something from seeing so much of his advice in action.
Going forward, take notice when you see his research holding true in posts that get shared and you’ll have an easier time creating the types of headlines that help accomplish the same.
A well-designed marketing funnel turns your site’s visitors into customers. The better you can improve that funnel, the better your profits will be.
This type of improvement is only possible, though, if you understand the unique demands of each stage of your funnel. Otherwise, your would-be customers will end up in “funnel purgatory” where they quit progressing toward making a purchase.
One very important aspect of each of these stages is the content you use. Nail this important requirement and you’ll not only enjoy higher conversions; you may also find they happen much faster, too.
Creating Content for Every Stage of Your Marketing Funnel
4 Ways to Win at the Beginning of the Funnel: Attract, Don’t Repel, Early In
At the very beginning of your marketing funnel, you need to engage your prospects. They already have some interest in your product or service, so it’s your content’s job to make sure they don’t go wandering off to learn about it from someone else.
How you don’t do this is by talking about you or your company.
At this stage in your funnel, that information just isn’t helpful to your reader. They’re not even sure they want what you’re selling, so why would they care about the person or company doing the selling?
Right now, your objective is to educate and excite. In simplest terms, you want to tell them, “You are absolutely right to be interested in this product/service. Here’s some proof.”
1. A Landing Page: The Trusty Standby
The king of top-of-the-funnel content is, of course, the landing page. It’s short, sweet and prompts the reader to take a step forward in the funnel.
That being said, you can still provide helpful information to your leads below the fold, so if your lead is slowed by a bit of decision-friction, you have an opportunity to nurture them forward.
However, sometimes, your readers are going to need a bit more information before they decide to take that step.
When it comes to the top of your funnel, use blogs that answer all the questions a novice would have about the topic.
If you’re a CrossFit instructor, you could talk about what this form of fitness is and what kinds of benefits it offers. Now your reader has a better understanding and, with this knowledge, will be more likely to move forward.
One really easy way to come up with this type of content is by thinking about the questions you usually get from customers right away:
“How does it work?”
“What does it do?”
“What’s the difference between that and X?”
You’re going to answer these questions at some point anyway, so why not do so at the very beginning of your funnel when they can help you nurture leads?
It also helps that these types of questions tend to correlate with great longtail keywords, so you have the opportunity to rank and nurture at the same time.
One final word on these blog posts: don’t fall into the trap of answering an easy question with an easy answer.
Going back to my example, “What is CrossFit?” could be answered in about one or two sentences, but is that going to move a lead to the middle of my funnel?
Whatever you do, don’t use more words than you need to, but keep in mind that the better you educate your lead, the more likely they are to become a customer.
3. The Infographic: The Darling of Content Marketing
Everyone loves infographics and it’s not hard to see why. Leads gain important insights in a matter of seconds, which makes them far more likely to continue through your funnel.
Of course, that’s why marketers are also so enthusiastic about using infographics.
As with blogs, use them to educate your leads so they have the information they need to continue through your funnel.
4. Your Homepage: As Top-of-the-Funnel as It Gets
Lastly, your website is an important part of the funnel that often doesn’t get the content it deserves.
As I mentioned before, the top of the funnel isn’t the time to introduce yourself or explain your company, yet this is exactly what most homepages do.
While blogs and landing pages can serve other stages, your homepage’s one and only purpose is to generate enough interest from your visitors that they move to the middle of the funnel.
Your homepage’s content needs to reward the visitor for making the right decision in their quest to learn more about the type of product/service you offer — specifically, its benefits.
If your homepage has a high bounce rate, it’s probably because you’re using it to sell your company and not the benefits of what it does.
Now that your prospect has become a lead, it’s time for the transition stage that stands between them and the sale.
4 Tactics for the Middle of the Funnel: The Middle Child of Your Marketing Funnel
Just like middle children, the middle of the funnel usually doesn’t get a lot of attention (kidding!).
The beginning and the end are easy to prioritize.
You’ll know right away if you lack solid content to attract readers and gain their interest because your funnel will be covered in dust.
However, a closer look at your analytics might tell you that the middle of your funnel is dropping the ball.
On the other hand, your analytics might show that the middle portion successfully chauffeurs people to the last stage — YAY! — but the truth is that they’re doing it with all the emotion of an “eh” — BOOOOO!!!
Knowing which type of content works best here will solve this problem.
1. Blogs That Deliver Solutions
Earlier, we outlined blogs as a powerful way to educate your leads. You can also use blogs in the middle of your funnel, but it’s important you understand the difference between these two stages where this type of content is concerned.
In short, middle-stage blogs are for solving problems.
So think about the types of problems your leads face that are relevant to your product/service and then produce blogs that will help them.
The better you solve these problems for your readers, the more likely they’ll be to see you as a reliable authority and, thus, continue to the final stage of your funnel.
“This person was suffering from [popular problem] but then I helped them and now they enjoy [enviable solution].”
At this point in the sales funnel, it’s too early for the pitch.
Instead, the purpose of your case study should be to show readers how to solve a problem in a way that leaves them without any doubt about the solution.
After all, they’re looking at a real-world example of what actually worked.
4. Whitepapers and eBooks for When You Need to Go Long
Sometimes, the aforementioned forms of content just aren’t going to cut it. Your leads have a problem that is a bit more in-depth. Maybe they want to design custom IT infrastructures for their small businesses. Perhaps, they want to get started down a completely new career path.
eBooks and whitepapers may be the only realistic way to address this problem. We’ve all seen blog posts that have bitten off more than they can chew. The title promises that the next 1,000 words or so will show the reader how to start a small business.
That kind of complicated topic is going to take pages and pages.
These two forms of content can sometimes be used at the top of your funnel, too, especially if you’re looking to trade them for email addresses.
3 Ways to Win at the Bottom of Your Funnel: “Don’t screw up. Don’t screw up. Don’t screw up…”
We’re finally at the bottom of your marketing funnel: the point that will make or break your entire campaign.
One wrong decision with your content here and all that other work was for nothing.
The goal of this content is obvious: get the sale/subscription. But another helpful way of viewing this goal is that you want your lead to think, “This product/service is definitely going to help me.”
How do you do this?
1. Reviews, Ratings, and Testimonials Show Your Reader the Future
Of course, these types of content are much shorter than case studies, but you don’t have to limit them to just a line or two.
You want to use this type of content so the reader identifies with the person being quoted and can then see themselves benefiting the same way they did — a glimpse into the future — so long as they become a customer/subscriber.
There’s also nothing wrong with using a sales page. Much like a landing page, its goal is clear and its approach is streamlined.
At this point in your marketing funnel, your lead should be not just ready for this content but excited:
“Finally, I can start enjoying [XYZ benefits] by purchasing this product/service!”
Still, don’t rush things. Some of your leads may still be on the fence, so you’ll want to remind them about the benefits they’re going to enjoy as soon as they click “buy.” If there’s any scarcity involved in your approach, make sure they know about that, too.
Arm Your Marketing Funnel with Effective Content
A lot of marketing funnels out there aren’t suffering from bad writing; they’re suffering from the wrong type of content.
As you’ve probably heard before, “For every job, there is a tool.”
The same goes for the content in your funnel. Use the above information to give your funnel the best possible chance of succeeding by outfitting it with the most powerful content for every stage.
Last year, I wrote a piece reflecting on our first year as content marketers at GetApp. As an editorial team writing about tips and trends in the software market, we’re part of a larger marketplace that helps business find software. The team started in 2015 as a group of writers suspicious of content marketing. After a year full of trials and tribulations, we were able to take away some key content marketing lessons. Here’s a quick recap:
Define your purpose: We couldn’t compete with the big news sites on breaking news, and learned to stick to what we do best– industry trends and insights that, while still timely, don’t necessarily need to be published at the break-neck speed of breaking news.
Amplification is key: Without the right (or any) contributors, our content was lacking exposure. We learned that it’s important to find relevant contributors to amplify a piece of content before the writing process begins.
Think about your audience: Writing a piece of content without defining an audience is like trying to cook dinner without knowing how many people are coming to the table. We learned to have a target audience, or even better, a target reader, for every piece of content we produce.
One year later, and we’re still learning.
As much, if not more than ever before, the definitive formula for content marketing is still undefinable. Tips gets thrown around with reckless abandon only to be completely negated the following week.
Much like our first year, our second year as content marketers was full of challenges. Some were rewarding; others were lessons learned. Over the past year, however, we’ve made some real strides in our content marketing efforts.
Based on our experiences at GetApp over the past year, I’ll go through three of the most useful lessons we’ve learned. These lessons have helped us not only when it comes to creating content, but also when it comes to defining our content marketing strategy.
Full disclosure: We were acquired by IT research firm Gartner in late 2015, which gave us access to a few more resources, including a bigger team.
Lesson #1: Keyword optimization works (sometimes), but SEO is not (and never will be) an exact science
The constant battle between too much and not enough optimization made us weary about focusing our content too heavily on keywords. We always believed in the merit of our own, amazing content to get picked up by important people and publications and spread like wildfire across the internet. When we realized that this wasn’t happening, we turned to the all-seeing oracle (Google) to guide our content.
Using tools like Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest, we started doing some research in order to find keywords that would help us target certain topics. Our aim was to target long-tail keywords (3 or more words), with low competition and high search volume (defined as roughly 100 searches per month). Each of our writers covers a certain set of topics (I cover marketing and customer service), and we set out to find keywords that would bring in the big numbers.
Our first problem was knowing what to look for. Random searches like “marketing automation for” with high search volume and low competition either didn’t exist, or would bring back really strange results. After some trial and error, I found a topic that had high potential and that would suite our target audience. The target keyword was “iOS business card scanner”, and with multiple variations of the term, had a total of about 210 monthly searches with low competition. I did the same search for Android, and found that variations of the term “Android business card scanner” had 250 monthly searches with low competition.
I decided to write both articles.
The Android apps version of the article, with higher potential search volume, didn’t do very well. You can see its performance from the time of publication in November until now.
With just over 200 sessions, the article performed below average for us.
Now compare that to a similar article, published a few weeks earlier and with presumably less search volume, but for iOS apps.
The results are jarring. The iOS article outperformed the Android piece 22x with almost 4500 sessions and counting, the majority of that traffic coming from Google.
What we learned:
In the past it was challenging for us to have any of our new editorial content rank in Google. Although our efforts seem to have paid off here, there is still some inconsistency, and we learned a few things about SEO through this example.
Keywords can work…
As a writer, I inherently hate keywords and their potential to destroy my textual masterpiece. Sadly, I have to admit that having a keyword not only helps me focus my writing, but also provides the all-important element of “giving people what they’re looking for.” Of course, getting it into the text in a subtle way is a whole different artform. But as Google becomes more contextual, it’ll be less important to have a specific keyword rather than it is to provide an answer to user questions. Try thinking about the future of Google and how it will be better able to interpret exactly what a user is looking for.
… but don’t trust SEO tools blindly…
Despite our keyword research tools showing the Android opportunity with greater potential than the iOS one, we actually saw much more organic traffic from the iOS piece, and much more organic traffic than indicated by the monthly search volume of either of these tools. We’ve even found discrepancies in the predicted search volume between different tools.
The key takeaway is to not trust these tools blindly. We’ve seen low competition and high search volume for terms we thought would be highly competitive, but these “killer” opportunities have yielded little or no results. It’s important to look at other things too, like the SERP for the keyword that you’re targeting. By looking at what’s already there, you can gauge whether or not you can compete with pages already ranked for those terms.
… and give it time.
One of the biggest wild cards when it comes to SEO is knowing when something will rank. The iOS article didn’t see a huge spike in traffic until March, a solid four months after it was published. If we look at traffic to all of our new content produced last year, we can see that despite not adding new content to this segment since December, traffic to this content is on a general upwards increase.
We’ve had some articles take weeks to gain momentum, and others take almost a year. Heck, maybe my Android apps article still has a chance. The point is to not write something off if it doesn’t rank immediately; give it a bit of time to simmer.
Food for thought:
The biggest problem with many SEO tools is that they show what’s trending now; they don’t show future keyword opportunities. There may be an SEO opportunity in something that doesn’t show search volume because not enough people are looking for it… yet. If you feel like a trend is on the brink of blowing up, follow your gut and write about it. Resources like Google Trends, Twitter, or social media monitoring tools can help you pinpoint trends.
Lesson #2: It’s worth investing in resources for promotion
We’re no strangers to paid promotion, but dedicating our own time to content promotion wasn’t something we were familiar with at GetApp. It wasn’t so much for lack of want as for lack of resources. We made use of amplification techniques by getting the right contributors to our articles (as per our lessons learned in year one), but after hitting publish, we’d mostly just tweet it out a few times, wipe our hands clean, and move on to the next one.
The results were (sometimes) okay when it came to traffic, but in terms of backlinks, we saw few rolling in off the back of our content.
We saw a huge change when we got access to a promotion team.
Once we were acquired, we suddenly had a bigger team (albeit dispersed across the globe) via our sister sites to help us promote our content. One piece in particular was a 2016 Sales Trends Report that we wrote, complete with expert contributions and our own unique research. With our promotion team actively pursuing link-building opportunities, we were able to secure 19 backlinks for this one piece alone.
What we learned:
Aside from the fact that having someone actively promote your content to media outlets actually works, the success is highly dependent on the content that you’re producing.
Have at least one dedicated person for promotion
We were lucky enough to have a promotion team bestowed upon us, but I know that not all marketing teams have the budget or resources for a full blown team of content promoters. Having at least one experienced person actively pitching content, however, can make a huge difference. It’s been said time and again that there should be as much effort put into promoting a piece of content as was put into writing it. Having seen the direct results of dedicated promoters (not just the writers) to do that, I agree.
Find out which content is best for promotion
Just because we have a team dedicated to promoting our content, doesn’t mean that every piece of content we write gets promoted (nor should it be). We write a lot of “top app” lists showcasing the best of breed for various product categories. While they’re useful pieces, they’re not exactly backlink fodder. Where we have found success, as demonstrated above, is through research reports.
As part of a larger research organization, we’re pretty keen on providing unique data to our readers. As it turns out, they’re pretty keen on hearing it too. Once we were able to gauge what type of content was getting picked up and linked to more often, we were able to tailor part of our content agenda to that type of content.
Social media advocacy works
If and where you can’t promote content via a dedicated promoter, social media advocacy is a good option. We’ve invested in social advocacy tools to help extend our reach on social media, and we’ve seen great participation from staff and big results from social traffic.
Lesson #3: Different pieces of content can have different purposes
From being SEO friendly and shareable, to having powerful contributors and high conversion rates, we always seem to have a million and one “must-haves” for each of our articles. In the beginning, we tried to check all these boxes in one go.
One example was a piece I wrote about Voice of the Customer, which is a way to utilize what people are saying about your brand to your company’s benefit. The piece had a target keyword (with little search volume), real-world examples with contributors (that didn’t have huge networks), and a shareable headline (that as it turns out, wasn’t very shareable). The results were less than stellar.
When we tried to produce a piece that covered all bases, we ended up falling short on most accounts. The result was an article that loosely ticked all of these boxes, but without enough commitment to any of them to really take off.
What we learned:
Not every piece of content needs to fit every criteria, and it’s easier to decide which criteria to target when you have a proper strategy in place.
Have a content strategy
Having a content strategy is the single most important factor to consider before creating any type of content. It’s the big “why” question whose answer will decide what type of content you produce. Whether you’re trying to get engagement, conversion, or boost your SEO value via backlinks, you can create different types of content that’s more suited to hit those targets. Having a content marketing tool like CoSchedule, NewsCred, or Contently to plan, schedule, and track content helps too.
Pick a focus for each article
Once you have a goal in place, it’s much easier to create a piece of content that’ll target that goal. Where one piece of content might focus on getting traffic from SEO, another might be better for pulling in shares via social media. Some content can pick up the slack where others fell flat.
It did great things for SEO, but performed poorly on social. And we’re okay with that– we have other articles that performed much better on social that, while didn’t pull in as much traffic from Google, were able to spread the word in the social media world.
This also doesn’t meant that one article can’t satisfy more than one “goal”. If it’s possible to satisfy two or more in one piece, pursue that– just make sure that you commit to each goal.
Experiment with different content types
We’re constantly experimenting with different types of formats to see what works. While it may feel like a shot in the dark, trying different things makes it easier to determine what type of content resonates more with your audience. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than trial and error to figure out what type of content your readers crave the most.
Content marketing is a continuous learning process
At the end of 2015, I reflected on everything that we’d learned in our first year as content marketers. Reflecting upon 2016, it’s clear that learning is a never-ending process. It’s a discipline that, given its reliance on Google, is prone to constant changes.
Having said that, I feel much more knowledgeable about the inner workings of content marketing, and two years in, I think we have a pretty good grasp of content marketing at GetApp.
To summarize what we’ve learned this past year:
SEO is a valuable skill to have in your toolkit. It may not be an exact science, but it can help direct content and answer audience questions. Don’t forget that SEO often means playing the long game– just become somethings fails right now, doesn’t mean that it’s a failure.
Putting resources behind promotion is a worthwhile investment. If you’re looking for backlinks, make sure to provide content that people actually want to link to. If you’re looking for social amplification, investing in an advocacy tool can help your content get more traction on social media.
Not every piece of content has to satisfy every need. Having a content strategy helps define the purpose of your content marketing. From there, you can decide on the type of content that you need to produce to achieve that. Having a content mix is healthy, and there is nothing wrong with trialing different types of content in order to see what works best.
As we continue our content marketing journey in 2017, we’re sure to learn even more lessons throughout the coming year.
It’s tempting to love our blog posts so much that we expect others to find and share them automatically. We produce blog posts and display them for the world to see, without thinking about the content amplification strategy . But how often are those posts seen? Your content is competing for attention with millions of others published every day.
Publishing quality content, even beautiful content, is not enough. You need to have an amplification strategy to ensure your content reaches your audience.
We recently asked Barry Feldman, consultant, copywriter, and author of The Road To Recognition, to deliver a lesson on amplification on a BuzzSumo webinar. Below I’ve set out the amplification strategies he shared, along with a series of questions from the marketers who attended the webinar and answers from Barry and Steve Rayson.
Content amplification is the process and practice of drawing attention to your content so more people visit your site, read your posts, share your content and link to it.
Marketers must amplify their content because the web is crowded with information and articles. More than 70 million blog posts are published every month on WordPress alone. And, even seemingly arcane topics, like “ferrets” have a tremendous number of posts about them. Getting attention from an audience in this landscape requires diligent attention to content distribution, as well as creation.
There’s no one-size-fits-all formula, Barry says. But, there are processes and practices that have proven useful. Individual marketers can begin their amplification with these ideas, and adjust as they determine what works best with their individual audiences.
“Amplification is an endless experiment in what works for you in your market,” Barry Feldman Click To Tweet
The media used to amplify content can be grouped into three categories–paid, earned and owned — each with their own subgroups, downsides, and benefits.
Paid media includes advertising, promotions and sponsorships. Using paid media allows for high levels of control and targeting. With paid media you are also likely to see results very quickly. And, this method allows you to scale your campaigns.
Paid amplification on social
On Facebook, the algorithm that controls content display doesn’t always serve your posts to the audience you’ve gathered there. To guarantee your posts have an audience, you need to pay for advertising. Pricing begins at $5.00 and goes up from there. But, even a small investment can go a long way toward increasing exposure to your content, Barry says.
Paid media is also an option on Twitter and on LinkedIn, as well as on Pinterest and YouTube, StumbleUpon and Reddit.
Paid content amplification platforms like Outbrain, Taboola, or Adblade serve your content to audiences that they predict will be interested in it.
Pay-per-click services, available through Google AdWords, offer instant rewards. Barry recommends investing early in PPC campaigns to help build your audience.
Retargeting is another form of paid advertising. This format feels like the “ghost in the machine,” Barry says, because it serves ads based on your browsing activity. Visits to your site are tracked via cookies, then visitors see ads for your product or service after they leave your site. Adroll, Retargeter, Fetchback and Chango all provide retargeting.
Content Amplification with Earned Media
With earned media, your customers become the channel to distribute your message,” @FeldmanCreative. Click To Tweet
Earned media isn’t paid for or controlled by a brand. Instead, it’s bestowed on brands by customers or advocates. Word-of-mouth style endorsements, posts syndicated or curated by other brands and guest posts are all forms of earned media.
This type of media also has a long lifespan. And it’s free!
Influencer marketing — Persuading people with an audience to share your content or mention your brand falls into the category of earned media. This works best when you build relationships with influencers over time, and they trust you and respect your content. Some post types such as round-up posts are also designed to be shared by those who helped create the post. There is also a separate opportunity for paid influencer marketing.
Building a social following is key to earning media mentions, Barry says. Facilitate the process by responding to comments on your blog. Also, make social sharing of your content easy and attractive by using images and twitter cards.
When thinking about your search engine ranking, remember it’s really only the top 10 or so spots that matter. Out of the millions of results returned for any topic in search, the vast majority will be ignored.
To rank well, you need high quality content that is optimized with SEO best practices, and you need to promote the content.
The most trusted form of any advertising in media is the all powerful word of mouth, Barry says. Although, today the term “word of mouse” seems especially apt. Word of mouth media can include recommendations, opinions posted online and mentions in other brands’ editorial content.
Content Amplification with Owned Media
Owned media include your:
Social marketing channels
Email subscriber lists
Owned media offers the most control, Barry says. Your company decides what is displayed (in most cases) and when it’s displayed. You control how often content is posted and how long it remains public. Owned media is versatile and has a long life span.
Email marketing is the most pervasive medium in business today, @FeldmanCreative Click To Tweet
Keep email top of mind, as it’s a powerful form of owned media. People who are doing business and buying things skip breakfast more often than they skip reading their email, Barry says.
To build this platform for your business, offer lead magnets like checklists, templates, or courses. And make it easy for people to opt in to your email subscriber list.
Social marketing channels
Social media marketing, via posts that land in the feeds of the audience you’ve built, are another form of owned media. An argument can be made that social media channels aren’t entirely owned media, but Barry prefers to include social in the “owned” category.
The key to marketing well on social is to avoid a constant stream of sales pitches in your social posts.
In addition to standard social posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, consider groups and communities and make use of hashtags and @messages. Quote experts and don’t be afraid to ask for shares, Barry says.
Optimize your blog for sharing by making it easy for people to share your posts with like and share buttons.
Once you have the most prominent social networks covered, or even while building your following, expand your digital footprint with free platforms like Slideshare and YouTube.
Develop social strength by fostering employee advocacy, Barry says. Train your employees to share your message effectively on social media channels.
Stretch your assets
To maximize the ROI on your owned content assets, repurpose content regularly.
For example, an ebook can also be used as the foundation of a webinar, a series of blog posts, or a full slate of social posts.
Amplification strategies require commitment and should be tested to determine their value. Before you start a strategy consider how you will measure its ROI. When something works, practice it, and you will get better, Barry says.
Over time, you will make people crave your content.
Question and Answer
People who attended Barry’s session on amplification asked several questions. You can see the questions, and their answers below
Q1. What do you think about syndicating with Medium?
Syndication usually implies some form of automation, with posts displayed via some technological link. So Medium.com doesn’t technically fit the definition of syndication. It is, however, a place where you can copy and paste things you have published elsewhere. Try it, Barry says. More pages can result in more exposure. But, measure your results and if it’s not helping you build an audience, stop.
Q2. If you’re blogging once week and creating content that is 800 to a 1,000 words, and the posts hit long tail keywords and perform well, should your promotion include every blog you write? Should you write less and focus on topics that might be better for content promotion? The blogs I am writing are for clients on the topics of real estate, healthcare and technology. Traffic has continued to increase, but we are not getting links. We are not doing a lot of link promotion. A lot of our topics are good, but the posts don’t seem to be the types to promote long-term.
Great job on getting traffic! So much content fails to get shares and links, so we recommend focusing on the types of content that research has shown will get shares and links.
Buzzsumo research indicates there are five content types with the potential to achieve both high numbers of shares and links:
Authoritative content that answers popular questions, such as ‘what is ..?’
Strong opinion posts and political posts
Content that provides original research and insights
Content that leverages a trending topic but that also provides practical insights
Authoritative news content on new products or developments
Q3. Based on your experience, how effective are share buttons and comment boxes for your blog?
Barry strongly recommends using them.
Q4. Can you rank the social platforms in terms of cost (ROI if possible) for B2B?
We can only answer from our own experience at BuzzSumo. We have found good results on Facebook, even though it’s not often seen as a B2B platform. We have had less success on Twitter. LinkedIn can be good, but we have found it to be the most expensive.
Q5. What type of post do you think will work best to boost on Facebook?
You can use your Facebook stats to see which of your posts are doing best, then boost those. Facebook also has a free targeting option that you can use to get your posts in front of your audience. You can target posts even when you don’t pay to promote them.
Q6. Any tips on how to decide which posts you should boost on Facebook, when you don’t have the budget to boost them all?
I think the golden rule is to boost the posts that do best organically. Mari Smith recommends waiting for up to 24 hours after posting to allow some organic reach to build up. Then, boost with part, but not all of your budget for that campaign. Allow shares to build again; then add to the budget.
Q7. Do you have tools or templates to organize your paid media budget?
Q8. Should I turn on the social share counters for my blog?
Yes, counters provide powerful social proof. Popular content tends to become more popular. Just don’t allow them to have zeros beside them.
Q9. Should you encourage your employees to share company content?
Yes. If you create a social culture in your company, you will build an army of advocates. But, creating that culture may require more steps than you initially perceive. For example, sometimes people don’t share your content because they think they aren’t supposed to be on social at work. You can provide the training that will help employees advance your company’s goals.
Q10. How do you connect with influencers in the first place?
Start by being helpful. Share their content. Follow them. Comment on their blog. Offer them data or the use of your tool. Start with what can you do to help them. Attend conferences where they are speaking and introduce yourself at the end if only to say how much you appreciate what they are doing.
Q11. Do you know the average demographic that uses Twitter opposed to Facebook?
Pew Research has some great demographic information for the US market. You can find it here.
Q12. What about Quora? Should we consider it as a content medium?
It is a great platform for engaging with audiences and getting awareness if you are seen as an expert.
Q13. How many posts are there online about ferrets?
Content creation is growing at an incredible rate.
Every day, approximately 2 million blog posts are created, along with hundreds of millions of status updates, photos, and videos. Many businesses assume they can grow by creating fresh content, but with the amount being churned out every day, it takes much more than that.
You must generate content that stands out from the crowd. That grabs attention. That wows people. And more than anything, that is incredibly shareable. Shareable content generates traffic, which generates more shares, which ultimately boosts the bottom line.
In this post, you’re going to discover 10 ways to create incredibly shareable content.
#1 — Find Out What’s Trending
Trending content — topics that everyone is talking about — is much more likely to be shared due to its relevance. For example, during the 2016 presidential election, everyone wanted to share political videos and posts.
By creating content related to current trends, you can quickly generate more shares.
How do you find out what’s trending?
BuzzSumo allows you to select particular topics, such as Apple, Kate Hudson, or the Orlando Magic, and then receive a notification every time something important happens around that subject. The Trending section of the site will also let you know which content is being shared the fastest on a daily or hourly basis. And, Most Shared can keep you up to date on high performing content from any industry or domain.
Tools like these allow you to find high performing content around any subject and then create even better content that will generate more shares.
Twitter / Facebook Trending
Both Twitter and Facebook have a “trending” section in the sidebar, allowing you to see the current hot topics. These topics are a natural jumping off point for content creation and are more likely to create a buzz.
#2 — Engage With Your Community
Engaging with your online community allows you to discover what matters to them and what burning questions they might have. There are numerous ways to interact, including blog comments, a particular Reddit thread, Quora, emails you’ve received, and social media conversations.
“If you have an active community on your blog or on one of the social networks, read the comments! You will get story ideas just from what people say — things you hadn’t yet considered or different perspectives. If no one is commenting on the content you create, read the comments on other blogs within the industry.”
#3 — Tie In Pop Culture
Whether you like it or not, pop culture and memes drive massive amounts of shares. If you can tactfully use culture or memes in your content, it will drive up the number of shares it receives. Obviously, you have to be careful about this. Unless you’re writing for BuzzFeed, you don’t want your entire post to be about the Kardashians.
#4 — Use Lists
Lists are hugely popular due to how skimmable they are. Studies have also shown that lists tend to generate more social shares than most other forms of content. A study by BuzzSumo showed the following breakdown of shares by content.
#5 — Write Long-Form Content
You might think that shorter articles are shared more, but the opposite is true. BuzzSumo discovered that longer content between 3,000–10,000 words got far more shares. That’s one reason my long-form, 5,000+ word article on how to make a website received more than 10,000 shares.
#6 — Interviews With Influencers
Creating interviews and roundups with experts and influencers is a fantastic way to drum up shares. Why? These influencers are more than likely to pass the post to their own audience, which can be a huge social booster. Plus, people trust these experts, which in turn means they trust the content of the post. I’d even argue that trust is the new marketing currency
#7 — Include Images
Social media, now more than ever, is image driven. Hubspot learned that Facebook posts that include images receive nearly 3x more engagement than plain-text content. If you’re feeling ambitious, create images that directly tie into the content. As Brian Sutter says:
“Level two for marketers is to convert part of their content into an image that works as standalone content. For example, if you have educational content, put together an image of the basic steps to follow, then bundle those steps into one image.”
#8 — Include Social Sharing Buttons
This should be obvious, but must be included. On all of your content, include social sharing buttons for one-click sharing to social media. People don’t want to copy and paste a link into Facebook. Without social buttons, you are shooting yourself in the foot in terms of shares.
#9 — Write Killer Headlines
Few things generate more shares than a killer headline. Your headline is your first impression, the way you reel readers in. A boring headline generates few clicks and fewer shares, while a killer headline immediately sucks the reader in. Don’t be content with a vanilla headline when you could have something compelling.
Last, but certainly not least, you must produce out of this world content. With so much garbage being made, the one way to stand out is to create something amazing. Making weak, tepid, boring content will hurt your brand, not help it.
People will check out your content if you promote it enough, but that’s where the hard part begins. You need to consistently deliver a memorable experience with your readers, where they’re delighted by the value you offered. Valuable content is not only your key to unlocking and increasing web traffic, it’s how people learn to trust you and your brand implicitly over time.
Otherwise, you’ve wasted your chance to leave a positive impression, and your audience will tune you out and move on. Don’t train your audience to ignore you. Make something great.
In a world filled with “Which Harry Potter Character Are You?” quizzes, quality, shareable content is a breath of fresh air. And, if you take the time to craft brilliant, viral, insightful comment, you can establish yourself as something of an expert.
It’s not enough to create a blog post. Remember, 2 million are getting created per day. Create something outstanding, and people will take notice.