Newsletter #18

Promotion secrets, rapid expertise and the death of content generalists

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

Links

🔥 Content Promotion: The Secret to Distributing Content Is Hidden in Plain Sight [Animalz]

Promotion remains the most unpredictable and frustrating part of content marketing. I spent time analysing the characteristics of hyper-successful content, and came up with a straightforward process for better promotion: one article, one channel. (Side note: this article even got the Hiten Shah seal of approval.)

"Many great articles languish in the quiet backwaters of the internet because their authors didn’t consider distribution, or labored to promote an article somewhere it didn’t really fit."

🔥 How marketers can develop subject matter expertise quickly [Blake Thorne]

Credible subject matter expertise separates good articles from great. Atlassian's Blake Thorne draws on a decade of journalism experience to share his framework for developing deeper, more relevant expertise in a fraction of the time.

"The more technical your product and market, the bigger the knowledge gap between marketer and audience. But most marketers don’t work hard enough to close that gap, and the ones who do take way too long."

🔥 Advanced Google Chrome Bookmarklets for SEOs: A Detailed Guide [Glen Allsopp]

Glen audited the Animalz website a few months ago, and I was hypnotized by the dozen custom Chrome bookmarks he used to speed-up his analysis. I spent more time than I'd care to admit pausing the video and trying to steal the scripts, but thankfully, he's saved me from myself by sharing the bookmarks publicly. Thanks Glen!

"Today I’m going to share the Google Chrome bookmarks that save me a lot of time in my day to day SEO activities... Some of them are used multiple times per hour while others only come in handy once per week, but they’re all essential in helping me do my job efficiently."

🔥 Google Responds to Uproar Over Unlinked Featured Snippets [Search Engine Journal]

Google is getting better and better at pulling information from pages, article and PDFs into "search features," but more worrying, we're seeing instances where Google isn't crediting the original source of the information. As the web's biggest platforms tighten the noose on traffic, it's time for marketers to diversify their traffic sources before it's too late. To quote InVision's Sean Blanda, always own your platform.

"For Google to use publisher data without a link goes against the essential quality of an ecosystem wherein all parties benefit."

🔥 Could A Study About 912 Million Blog Posts Be Wrong? We Put It to the Test [Content Marketing Institute]

Backlinko's recent mega-study revealed some pretty stunning takeaways - including "94% of all blog posts have zero external links" - each of which were soundly refuted when CMI tried to replicate the findings. While there's often actionable advice buried in these reports, this is a poignant reminder to always view pithy statistics through the unique filtering mechanism of your company and your content.

"No two audiences are alike... Does that mean research or best practices aren’t applicable? Of course not. But when you read research or guidance, check the findings against your audience before acting on it."

Opinions

Say goodbye to the content generalists
As marketers, we're used to thinking of content in different buckets. SEO content to drive traffic. Thought leadership content to build credibility. Lead generation content to, you guessed it, generate leads.

But while these terms give us a common language to speak with peers and customers, they often hide a company's goals, instead of clarifying. Even if two people agree on a single objective - say "drive organic traffic" - there's often a vast gulf between their expectations of the end result, and the best process for achieving it. To be useful, each of these designations, whether SEO or thought leadership, needs to be much, much more granular.

For example, task me with creating "SEO content," and I'll ask you to unpack the precise objective you're setting out to achieve:

  • Are the biggest benefits to be had by content creation, or optimizing your existing content?

  • Are you struggling more for awareness, and top-of-funnel traffic, or for lead generation, and middle- and bottom-of-funnel resources?

  • Are you more concerned with immediate traffic generation or investment in future traffic?

While great articles will often achieve a raft of complementary objectives, the only way to maximize your chance of hitting your primary objective - say ranking for a single lucrative product keyword - is to tailor every nuance of your content to that single goal.

Different goals requires different content:

  • Objective: Ranking for a competitive, high-volume keyword
    Content: Hub and spoke strategy

  • Objective: Ranking for an noncompetitive, low-volume keyword
    Content: "Traditional" standalone SEO article

  • Objective: Ranking for as many related keywords as possible
    Content: Ultra-long article

  • Objective: Generating as many backlinks as possible
    Content: Round-up article

  • Objective: Claiming a search feature
    Content: Content built around structured meta-data

  • Objective: Improving site-wide search performance
    Content: Content refreshes and content pruning

The more precise you can be, the better you can tailor content to serve that single objective, and the better it will perform.

Crucially, this creates a trade-off. For example, ultra-long content is a powerful tool for building backlinks and rankings, but it comes at the expense of the reading experience and, often, engagement with the ideas within the article.

As content marketing becomes more competitive, this trade-off becomes more and more necessary. As time goes on, we'll see fewer high-performing generalists, able to achieve a raft of complementary goals (the content equivalent of catch-all high-street chains like Woolworths), and more ultra-focused specialists, shaped to a single purpose (the equivalent of Dollar Shave Club or Pact Coffee).

The era of the content generalist is behind us. For your content to work in this new world, it needs to be built, root and branch, to serve a single objective (something more specific than "SEO").

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