Newsletter #15

Clicks vs. volume, 17 marketing blogs and the true value of expertise

The weekly newsletter for content marketers seeking exponential growth in their work and personal lives.

Links

🔥 Content promotion is about meeting your readers where they live [Gregory Ciotti]

Most marketers think of "content promotion" in terms of discrete post hoc tactics. Here, Shopify's Gregory Ciotti shares his framework for building promotion into the fabric of every article and asset you create - turning content "flow" into content "stock," and vice versa.

"...most of the available advice on promoting your content is either low-impact or it doesn’t lend itself well to scale."

🔥 Why You Should Use Search Clicks Not Search Volume [Siege Media]

Thanks to featured snippets, interactive maps, image packs and even in-page hotel reviews, Google is getting better at answering queries, straight from the SERP. To this backdrop, "search volume" becomes less and less relevant. Instead, we need to worry about search clicks.

"...we built a lot of well ranking content, but at the end of the year, the total traffic was good, but it just wasn’t as crazy as what even Ahrefs showed us, because it was so many of those “What is…” type keywords, where true clicks were not the same as true search volume."

🔥 17 Best Marketing Blogs to Follow in 2019 [Ahrefs]

Is this article shameless linkbait? Yes. Does it feature a stellar round-up of blogs? Also yes. I've been lucky enough to write for three of the featured companies, and in amongst the big names are a couple oft-overlooked gems - like Nick Eubanks' From the Future, AJ Kohn's Blind Five Year Old and Glen Allsopp's Detailed.

"If you want to level up your marketing game, your best bet is to read the blogs the pros are learning from."

🔥 The right amount of perfect [Signal v. Noise]

Striving for perfection is both a content marketer's greatest asset and most insidious weakness. The quality of our work is paramount; and yet no-one will scrutinize our writing as rigorously as we will. This short article from Basecamp is perfect for anyone looking to navigate this fine line between quality and completion.

"My trick is to repeatedly ask myself, “How fancy does this need to be, for right now?” The answer is usually: NOT SO FANCY. This is a helpful gut check that helps you pull back from overdoing something."

🔥 The Ultimate SEO Audit [Backlinko]

Brian Dean walks us through a "non-technical" SEO audit, covering the gamut from content pruning to meta data optimisation. Working on a blog with more than a dozen articles? You owe it to yourself to check out the myriad optimisation tactics covered here.

"...this is the same process that’s helped me grow my organic traffic 30.84% over the last year."

Tools

🔨 JotForm

I ditched WordPress stalwart Contact Form 7 for JotForm over a year ago, and haven't looked back. You can embed your forms in any one of a dozen ways; access as much (or as little) design flexibility as you'd like; manage all your forms for a central dashboard; and integrate with virtually every tool imaginable in a couple of clicks. Oh, and it has a free plan!

Opinions

The value of true expertise
When I started out as a content marketer, interviews were an unwelcome intrusion on a solitary writing process. Today, they're the single best tool in my arsenal, a fast and efficient way to elevate content.

Here's why:

  • Offline information. In virtually any industry, the most interesting and valuable information exists offline, locked-up in the heads of industry veterans that have no inclination to share it through articles and newsletters. Usually, it's the simplest concepts that make their way online - those that are easily parsed by non-experts, like us. Limit your writing to this online data set, and you'll end up recycling the same tired-out material. We have a knowledge blindspot - to unlock the meat of a topic, we need to interview the experts, and funnel their experience onto the web.

  • Context. It's easy to find data points for a given topic - concepts, frameworks, jargon - but much harder to discover how those data points are actually used. In running keyword research for a customer in the HR industry, we discovered the term "purple squirrel" - used to describe a perfect, and hence fictitious, candidate. This concept is easy to define, but harder to contextualise. Do recruiters actually use that terminology? Is it a novel concept, or something so well-worn as to be worthless? Interviewing people allows us to make sense of these concepts in the correct context, discovering how they're used and discussed.

  • Social proof. Nothing de-legitimises advice faster than seeing the author listed as a "content marketer." Even if we're able to uncover bona fide insights and expertise, unless it's visibly associated with a true expert, many readers will ignore it. This is a quirk of how we validate information: we have relatively few data points to assess the quality of advice, so authorship is a powerful heuristic. Interviews make it easy to author content under an expert's name, or else, pepper quotes and attributable insights throughout your writing.

In short: interviewing results in better quality information, more context for that information, and greater credibility.

Best of all, interviewing can be fast. Go to an expert with a handful of questions and a rough article outline, and in twenty minutes, you'll uncover more insights than two hours of Googling would achieve - including information you'd never have found online.

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