Category Archives: Blogging

6 Best Tips for Creating Evergreen Content

At some point during your research to find better ways to improve the performance of your content, whether it is for a blog, company website, or as part of your overall marketing strategy, you have likely encountered the term “evergreen content.” This is not a new term and has been used for over half a decade to describe content that stays relevant over time. The more staying power your content has in terms of relevance to searchers, the more evergreen it is.

To expand the explanation a bit more, evergreen content is engaging, useful, and topically relevant for an extended period of time. If someone uses a search engine to find information about a specific subject today and a year from now and both receive the same result, that content is evergreen. The longer your content can stay visible in search results and relevant to search queries, the more evergreen it is.

As the internet becomes increasingly saturated with a variety of content pertaining to similar topics, it becomes more important for marketers and content creators to produce content that has the most potential for long-term importance to online searchers and surfers.

Create content for beginners. You might be tempted to think that technically advanced, in-depth content would be more appropriate as a candidate for being evergreen. In reality, the opposite is true. Most of the people who use search engines to find information are relatively new to a particular subject and are expanding their knowledge. The individuals who seek out technical content usually have a source location in mind, and they often avoid search engines unless they are performing a cursory search without a specific data acquisition goal in mind. There are also far more people new to a certain subject using search engines on a regular and recurring basis than there are people who want material on advanced subject matter.

Avoid making assumptions with your phrasing and terminology. Because the majority of your readers will be those who are only now familiarizing themselves with a specific topic, you should anticipate their lack of in-depth knowledge and write accordingly. Technical jargon or industry-specific phrasing should be left out unless absolutely necessary and, if it is necessary, make sure the average reader understands what the words or phrases mean.

Use outbound links cautiously. Many writers who provide online content, especially bloggers, are often tempted to include outbound links to reference and source material. This is usually done to give the reader more information about a subject or establish more authority for facts, figures, and other data provided in the content. Problems can arise, however, when you have included links to external web pages that have shuffled off their mortal (internet) coil and been removed or disabled for one reason or another. A “page not found” error is much worse than not including a link at all.

Strive to be the only source of information for your topic. If competition exists for your content that prevents you from being the only source of information about your subject, you need to make sure your content is the definitive source. One of the key factors in creating evergreen content is that you are publishing something that people will want to read today, tomorrow, and years from now (if possible). This means your content should be the most complete, authoritative, and definitive resource for those who want to know more about the subject.

Focus on one specific subject. The more singular your subject, the more definitive your content can be in terms of delivering the most useful information to your readers. When you try to cover several subjects in one piece of content, the end result is usually a disjointed jumble of thoughts that lack a cohesive connection or strong purpose. When choosing your subject, narrow it down to as finite a point as possible. For example, rather than writing about divorce, you could write about divorce and child custody. Rather than writing about divorce and child custody, you could write about how to help children cope with the divorce and custody process. If your topic is as specific as it can be, this gives you a limited range within which you can write, which means your content will have the best opportunity to become a definitive source of material.

Avoid including information that can “date” your content. Dated content automatically creates a shelf life for the material, meaning it will expire when more updated content becomes available. This includes “top ten” lists of any information for a specific year, data relating to current trends (which are called “current” trends because they, too, have a shelf life), breaking news, future speculation that can be proven wrong, or event-specific content. Undated content remains viable and useful when the following year rolls around or the newest batch of trends makes an appearance.

Now that you know several key tips regarding what makes (or breaks) evergreen content, you may be wondering what type of content performs best in the evergreen arena. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules for the type of content that will always find relevance to a significant audience regardless of the passage of time. Some content formats, however, do tend to find themselves staying relevant and useful long after their author has clicked the “publish” button. This includes:

  • Tutorials and how-to content
  • Historical information and “origin” content
  • Curated resource lists (“top ten” content with long-term relevance)
  • Informational posts or encyclopedic content (“ultimate resource” or “complete guide”)
  • Single FAQ industry-specific content (pick one frequently asked question and thoroughly answer it)

Once you have become more adept at creating content that is designed to be evergreen, you will find it easier to adjust attributes of your writing more toward longevity and relevance over time. As you move forward with the creation of evergreen content, you can even go back over old material to see if anything can be re-purposed and turned into content that can stand the test of time.

The development and growth of a portfolio filled with evergreen content only ensures that your material will continue to appear in search results, providing more traffic, visibility, and popularity for your blog or other online content.

27 SEO Strategies to Keep Your Content Competitive

Many things can be measured in terms of days, weeks, months, or even years.  The constantly evolving nature of the Internet, however, demands a more accelerated time frame, where things are measured in seconds, minutes, and hours.  What may be popular, trending, or successful right now could become a distant memory tomorrow.

This continual ebb and flow in the online world requires that online marketers and website designers perform site optimization in a way that ensures as much longevity as possible – despite the fact that all too often, the words “longevity” and “online” generally don’t complement each other very well.

For the most part, SEO has consisted of three primary methods: (1) continuing to use SEO that has worked in the past (“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”), (2) integrating strategies that are overlooked and underutilized in an attempt to create a fresh perspective with content that is rarely seen, and (3) leaping ahead of the herd by employing innovative techniques that have not been time-tested or vetted through other means.

With all that in mind, how do you know which SEO methods to use on your own website to drive traffic, generate interest, and cultivate a base of prospects (readers, visitors, customers, etc.) that will keep coming back?  You really don’t know, and the best way to implement SEO strategies into your website design, online marketing, content writing, or other Internet-based activity is by finding out what’s out there and giving it a try.  What works for someone else may not work for you, and what has failed miserably for another site could propel yours into an unheard of dimension of popularity and success.

Here are 27 SEO strategies and techniques for you to examine, contemplate, and integrate into your website to increase your exposure and attract more interest in what you are offering, whether it’s information, ideas, products, or services:

  1. Be creative.  Never follow someone else’s lead, because you’ll always be in second place, at best.
  2. Include ALT text for every image or graphic that is contained on your site.  Images are part of the site’s content, so a description like “Luftwanstelbadtt, Germany’s oldest castle” is much more search engine pleasing than “001_39023.JPG,” and it also lets visitors know what the image is supposed to be if they have a slower-loading internet connection or the image becomes broken for some reason.
  3. Use long-tail keywords as often as you can.  By using a more specific keyword (long-tail), you are ensuring that visitors with both general and specific search terms can find your site.  (An example of a long-tail keyword would be “living on a budget as a single mother” rather than “living on a budget” or “budget living.”)
  4. Do not use deceptive anchor text with links to your site.  Google deciphers linkage and attempts to determine if the landing page a user reached is actually the one they wanted (based on the link they clicked), and if it was not, the website can be penalized.
  5. Determine your keywords, research them thoroughly, and place them naturally.  Don’t stuff keywords, don’t use keywords that aren’t relevant to the page’s data, and don’t include them in content where they don’t seem to fit.
  6. Stay away from selling links on your site.  If you do, make sure you nofollow them.  And it’s probably just a better idea not to sell them in the first place, because Google will likely change their mind on the nofollow and make it noselling.
  7. Blog often, and promote your posts through your website, social media pages, and other online outlets.  Make sure your blogs are relevant to your industry and link to pages on your site where appropriate.
  8. Do not employ page coding strategies that prevent a user from clicking/using the BACK button.  Google’s Webmaster Central Blog has an article on this and specifically refers to performing this underhanded tactic, where an advertisement-laden page is displayed instead of the previous page the user had been viewing.
  9. Establish a valuable linkfolio (“link portfolio”) by placing links back to your site on popular, reputable, and authoritative online locations.  These can be your social media sites, industry-specific directories (not “free for all” directories), through the use of affiliate marketing, and cataloging sites.
  10. Optimize your above-the-fold content for quick loading and minimal advertising.  Site visitors want their information “right now,” and if they have to wait to see it, they’ll go somewhere else in a hurry.  This tip is especially critical for mobile versions of your website (because Google seems to think that, based on user data, mobile phones can deliver information faster than the speed of NOW).
  11. Provide high quality, in-depth content.  This is straight from the search engine’s mouth.  According to Google, users are turning to search engines more often for information on a much broader scale than before, and they are seeking bigger quantities of data.
  12. Create a sitemap.  Both users and search engines like sitemaps.
  13. Don’t embed links in JavaScript and Flash plug-ins.  Search engine crawlers cannot find these links, and embedding links into a plug-in that a user may have disabled for security reasons may prevent them from finding your content.
  14. Make sure your website’s pages load quickly and accurately.  Nothing is more frustrating than waiting (and waiting and waiting) for a page to load, and when it does – it’s only half there.
  15. Avoid faulty redirects and smartphone-only errors on mobile versions of your site.  Again, from Google, regarding misdirection of links that provide a generic or main page result rather than the intended page when a mobile user clicks a specific link.
  16. Make use of keywords that are phrased in a way that real people would use them.  Don’t use “Denver residential sanitation repurposing facility” if you are a “trash recycling business for homes in Denver.”  People search for things in the way they would be said in a spoken conversation, not in a way that uses technical jargon, buzzwords, and officious-sounding titles.
  17. Make use of page titles and Meta descriptions in ways that emphasize your specific focus (via keyword insertion).  If someone is searching for “rare cat breeds” they won’t find you if your titles and descriptions say “exotic feline genus and species.”  (This is part of the “real world phrasing of keywords” tip.)
  18. Find, read, and use as many free SEO tools and resources as you can.  While a great deal of the “expert” SEO advice out there may not truly be expert, it can still be useful.  Learn all you can about SEO and use what sounds logical.
  19. Avoid duplicate content, period.  Google’s Penguin update targeted sameness in website content, and that could be anything from copying text from another site or even duplicating your own content from page to page.  Don’t do it.  You will be punished.
  20. Develop and publish resource and information-only pages on your website about industry or niche specific data.  Create something that WANTS to be shared and linked to.  Not only can this boost your status as an expert or authority figure, it can also help generate popularity via linking.
  21. Don’t include an internal link (to another page on the site) on any page on your website unless it’s important to do so.  Just because your site has 10,000 pages doesn’t mean links to all of them have to be on every page of your site.
  22. Create content for people.  The ultimate judge, jury, and executioner for your website’s content is the person who visits it, not the search engine that crawls it.  If you hold the #1 spot on Google and your content sucks, people will visit #2 or #10 or #1,000 because they are providing what the USER wants to see.
  23. Observe what your competitors are doing and learn from them.  Whether your competitors are wildly successful or flaming failures, you can learn something from what they are doing.
  24. Develop a unique and creative branding scheme to set yourself apart from the pack.  If your brand, company, content, or site is plain Jane, who is going to remember you five seconds after they leave your site?
  25. Create hyper-local content wherever possible.  If you have a target audience that is geographically restricted, capitalize on that in every way possible.
  26. Create longer content, blog posts, articles, etc.  Longer content is ranking better on Google than shorter content on the same subjects, so write more (and make sure it’s quality stuff).
  27. Make use of social signals within your site’s content.  Google is looking more and more at how users respond to a site and are taking that into consideration when it comes time to rank a site in search results.

Search engine optimization is not some mythical concept that gets bandied about by attendees at technology conventions.  It is a method of making your website as attractive to potential visitors as possible, getting them interested in what you have to offer, engaged in your content, and coming back for more.  The secondary goal of SEO is to make Google happy.  No website will likely ever reach THAT goal.

33 Top-Notch Content Writing Tips

When it comes to writing, the content itself can span the bridge from paper to digital without much modification.  A writer is really no different than a content writer, copywriter, online writer, or any other person who puts the proverbial pen to page and creates something with words.

That being said, here are 33 content writing tips to help improve the quality or quantity of your written work:

  1. Know what you are writing about and the key points you want to make before you actually start writing.
  2. Avoid using technical jargon, industry buzzwords, and other “catchy” lingo that most people don’t really understand.  It may sound cool, but if your reader doesn’t get it, you might as well be speaking an alien language.
  3. Determine what response you want from the reader and write with achieving that response in mind.
  4. Begin your content with your conclusion first.  (“Here’s the point!”  And all the other writing is just showing how that point was reached.)
  5. KNOW how people read internet-based content.  It’s much different than reading a book; online readers skim and scan content more than they actually read it.
  6. People make decisions more on emotion than logic, so evoke emotional responses with your writing.
  7. Keep sentences and paragraphs short, and don’t include more than one central concept in each paragraph.
  8. All your writing should be directed at people – your audience.  (Google’s crawlers are NOT your audience.)  You can handle the SEO tasks separately.
  9. Add wit and humor to your writing (where appropriate).  If you can engage your readers by eliciting a response from them (i.e., a chuckle or a laugh), they are more likely to remember you.
  10. Write longer, higher quality pieces rather than short-and-sweet summaries.  Try to aim for 600 to 1,000 words for articles and up to 600 words for blog posts.
  11. Include graphics, embedded videos, and images in your content.
  12. The purpose of most content writing is to answer a question – so make sure your writing is informative and responds to a particular (unspoken) inquiry.
  13. Don’t string together sentences and paragraphs that take up half a page without a break.  Many people speed-skim and they need some kind of visual cue to pull their attention like bullets, lists, sub-headings, etc.
  14. Find YOUR voice and put it into what you’re writing.  No one remembers the writers who had the same, tired tone as a dozen others.  Be as original with your writing as you are in real life.
  15. If you are offering information that is allegedly factual, make sure it is before publishing it.  Include source links where appropriate.
  16. If it isn’t meaningful, don’t write it.  Site visitors dislike fluff as much as marketers, search engines, and analysts do.
  17. Avoid using multimedia at all unless it completely enhances your content and does not detract or distract whatsoever.
  18. Know who your competition is with regard to what you’re writing, and make sure your content is unique from theirs.
  19. Create a headline that screams “read me!”
  20. PROOFREAD YOUR WRITING!  Nothing, seriously, is more annoying to a person searching for authoritative information to come to a site and try to read through content that is littered with spelling, syntax, formatting, and grammatical errors.  How can you be recognized as an “expert” on anything if you don’t even comprehend or communicate with basic English?
  21. Never copy and paste other content, even if it is your own.  If you are borrowing from someone else’s ideas, at least have the decency to rephrase the subject matter so it isn’t an overt piece of plagiarism.
  22. Stay on topic with each piece of content.  Nothing is more frustrating than to try to read something about a particular topic only to have the writing jump all over the board (and be largely useless).
  23. Your content should deliver value and information that is relevant to your readers’ interests.  Don’t create an online brochure…create an online experience.
  24. Don’t make your writing about you, your company, your products, etc.  You are writing FOR your audience so the content should be ABOUT your audience.
  25. Put keywords out of your mind.  If you are actually writing quality content about specific subjects, the keywords will create themselves and get added where they need to be without making a job out of it.
  26. Don’t sit down and start writing unless you are ready to write.  If you are feeling lackluster about writing, it will show through in the quality (or lack thereof) of your content.
  27. If you are planning to be a niche writer, make sure you choose a niche that isn’t already over-saturated with writers of every type imaginable.
  28. Make sure your content is presented in a professional way.  This includes your blog site, website, or other online location where you publish your work.  Keep it clean and crisp, and make sure it looks like something done by someone who knows what they are doing.
  29. Don’t make people’s minds up for them with your content (i.e., telling them what is best for them).  Give examples of why something would be beneficial and let people make up their own minds if they “have” to have it or not.
  30. Write something that “needs” to be shared.
  31. Don’t use “big words” when little ones work just fine.  (This falls in line with the tip to avoid technical jargon, buzzwords, and other vague phrasing.)
  32. Avoid writing about things that you are not very knowledgeable about.  People want information from experts, not random thoughts from the Average Joe.
  33. Make it personal by including a question, scenario, or situation where your reader could insert themselves.

Writing quality web content is so much more than reading a Wikipedia page to familiarize yourself with a topic and then rephrasing it to avoid duplication.  Too many people tout themselves as “professional writers” when they actually are not, and just because someone has a blog doesn’t mean they know what they are talking about (myself included!).

Creating Ideal Blog Content – Is That Possible?

When it comes to publishing great content online, there are no hard and fast rules that need to be followed.  Instead, you can find a variety of guides that offer suggestions for creating content that is optimized to achieve the best search engine positioning and retain the attention of your readers as much as possible.

There are a few key qualities of ‘ideal content’ that do, however, tend to be – as much as anything can be – written in stone when it comes to what you should or should not do to churn out appealing (to search engines and searchers) content.  This article is specifically tailored toward blog content rather than online articles, white papers, reviews, or other information because blogs offer their author more latitude in terms of what, when, why, and how they can be written and published.

Some of the semi-immutable qualities of good (or great) blog posts follow commonly accepted ‘rules’ for characteristics such as:

  • content length
  • subject line
  • call to action
  • salesmanship
  • originality
  • singular subject matter

Content Length

When blogging first became popular on the internet, most blog posts were 200 to 500 words.  Anything over 500 words was considered by experts and amateurs alike to be too wordy to hold the attention of site visitors and blog readers.  Beyond that, there was no guidance provided on whether or not a ‘too short’ blog could equally detract from the appeal of your personal or professional blog content.  There still remains scant definitive information but you can put together a reasonable facsimile of what is considered ‘ideal’ based on historical content performance statistics.

Over the years, the ‘desirable length’ of blog posts increased to 500 to 800 words, and then later to 1,000 words or more.  Some content analysts and SEO experts have even recommended that the ideal blog length exceed 2,000 words.

Longer articles are typically well-researched with plenty of data to back them up. They serve as credible sources to journalists and bloggers that link back to the article as a source. Rather than a quick summary with one statistic, a long article takes the time to explain why and flesh out ideas. The credibility of the website that publishes the article mixed with the link juice given from other sites referencing it brings the post to the top of search engines.

Longer blog content does perform better in search results, especially now that search engines have become more intuitive in interpreting what the blog is about and whether or not it will be helpful to the searcher based on their input query.  Despite search engine performance, however, long content does not necessarily fare well with your audience – mostly because they lose attention quickly.

Ultimately, your readers should be the ones to whom you are writing your content, not Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Dogpile, or some other search engine.  Content that is popular among readers will eventually rise to the top based on clicks, referrals, sharing, and back links.  This means that your content should be exactly how long it needs to be in order for you to get your point across and conclude your message effectively.  If you do so in 200 words, that’s your ‘ideal’ length.  If it takes you 20,000 words, perhaps you should write a book.  Just kidding!  Write for your audience and give them everything they need to know – in 200 or 2,000 (or 20,000) words.

Subject Line

According to many experts, the subject line is the single most important piece of your blog post.  If you don’t attract attention with the subject line, you won’t draw in the readers needed to examine your useful and engaging content and then share it with others (thus adding to your popularity and appeal factor with search engines).

An important factor in creating subject lines is that they be accurate in describing what your visitors will find within the blog’s content itself.  False and misleading titles simply to get clicks will quickly find themselves lost the internet shuffle, even if the content itself might have been otherwise useful or applicable (despite the improper title).

You can find some good advice on creating blog titles that catch your audience’s attention and motivate them to click their way into your content to find out more.

Call To Action

Should a blog simply be an informational piece of content or should it also pitch a service or product?  This section ties in with the Salesmanship section below. Most blogging analysts recommend that you avoid peppering your blog with CTAs because that isn’t the purpose or point of your blog.

A blog is an informal and more personal way to educate and inform your audience.  It gives you a platform upon which you can introduce your brand, business, or personality without the stuffy ‘rules’ required of more professional means of communication.  You can develop a unique style and tone that appeals to your readers, and it helps you establish authority in your market, niche, or industry.

For those reasons (and more), you should avoid CTAs in your blog unless they are necessary or if you are using them in a way that does not employ salesmanship (other than in a very subtle way).  If the blog is a longer write-up or review of a product or service you offer, feel free to add a CTA encouraging readers to learn more on the product’s page.  Don’t, however, make your blog post look like a carnival of advertising just to try to get people to click income-producing links on your website.

Salesmanship

Salesmanship should be left out of blog posts.  Blogs are primarily to educate and inform your audience, and they won’t be educated if your blog consists of sales language and links to buy, buy, buy whatever it is you are selling.  Use your blog platform to establish yourself as an authority in your industry so people will want to buy from you.

Provide in-depth information about products or services, as well as tips or tricks for making them more effective or efficient, and entice consumers to seek you out for information and offerings.  Provide a face, voice, and style in your content that appeals to your audience and encourages them to spend more time with your blogs learning more about you and your company.  Don’t sell to them.  Online consumers are already bombarded with advertising no matter where they go on the internet – so leave it out of your blogs.

Originality

Original content is appealing content, simply because of the fact that no one has seen it yet.  The more original your content, the more appealing it will be to your target audience.  Provide them with new insights on a topic, new ways to do things, more efficient ways to think about problems or solutions to those problems.  Give them something they haven’t seen yet, and they will come back again and again to see more of your content.

If you are rehashing an old idea or modifying content that has already made the internet rounds, make sure you present it in a fresh and interesting way.  Don’t simply copy and paste other content and hope that it will impress your site visitors.  Even if you are offering a curated list of information, make sure you add your own style and unique voice to your writing.  There are many blogs online today that draw a crowd simply because the writer is appealing – not the content itself.

Singular Subject Matter

Practically all experts on blogging recommend that your blog posts focus on one specific subject (per post), rather than bouncing around from topic to topic within the content.  By writing about one topic at a time, you will be better able to provide rich and informative content to your readers that keeps their attention, keeps them reading, and brings them back to your blog in the future.

If you are struggling to come up with a subject for your content, check out a Blog Title Generator by IMPACT Branding & Design.  The top of the generator page has a ‘blog about’ line that can be refreshed to provide you with a subject for your content, then you can use the title generator to find simple and focused titles for your blog posts.  (ShoutMeLoud also offers a list of title generators and blog analyzers that you may find helpful, as well.)

When you provide blog content that does get a lot of attention and finds itself passed around quite a bit, capitalize on that and create more content around that subject.  If you have a specific audience for your blogs, spend some time finding out what they want from you – and give it to them.  One of the best ways to attract and keep your audience is to know who they are.