Newsletter #4

Internet powerhouses, scale-up SEO and knowledge blind spots

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


🔥 The Powerhouses of the Internet Are Turning Hostile to Websites [SparkToro]

Google, Facebook, Reddit, Amazon... the web's biggest entities are getting better and better at hoarding traffic to themselves. It's time to stop viewing these monopolies as unbiased distribution channels, and start treating them as active players that we can work with... or against.

"In the last five years, there has not been a single major website or dominant web property that has embraced, rewarded, or significantly grown their outlinking. We’ve reached an era of a less-connected web, a web focused on retaining users rather than sharing content."

🔥 How to do Scale-up SEO [Kieran Flanagan]

I had three big takeaways from this podcast interview (and transcript if you prefer reading): flatten site structures; shift your thinking from keywords to topics to intent; and scale SEO slowly to avoid "spooking" the search algorithms.

"So, keywords, I think, are too granular and too specific... it’s important, not just to have a page that ranks, but to have a page that matches that intent and then can convert people."

🔥 What a Real-Life Social Media Style Guide Looks Like [Buffer]

Buffer doing what Buffer does best: offering a clear, actionable look at something that's often shrouded in needless mysticism and complexity. This no BS look at the company's social media style guide is a perfect no-frills template for consistent social media marketing.

"No matter your team size, a social media style guide is a must — even if you’re the only person posting on your brand’s social media accounts, you need a style guide."

🔥 How-to Guide to Persuasive Writing [ConversionXL]

Smart copywriters offering smart tips for persuasive writing. The "Why? > What? > How? > What if?" framework is something Animalz editors hammer home all the time: instead of opening a section with an explanation, pique your reader's interest and explain why they should care. My personal heuristic is the "so what?" test: for every point you write, ask (and answer) the question "so what?"

"Persuasive writing skills are among the few things in life that can give you massive returns."


🔨 Zapier Paths

I use Zapier to make this newsletter. I use Zapier to run my social media accounts. I use Zapier to manage the submissions process for my post apocalyptic magazine. Now, with the addition of Paths - Zapier's take on conditional logic statements - I can finally use Zapier to take over the freaking world.


How to avoid knowledge blind spots.

Research is a staple of content marketing, whether we're writing on an unknown topic or deepening our knowledge in an existing area.

Often times, we approach this research as an aggregation exercise. We scour the web, find information from a dozen disparate sources, and pull it together into an article or guide.

But many topics, and nuances of many more topics, leave no breadcrumbs for us to follow.

Take the example of moisture-resistant adhesive for commercial flooring projects. (😎)

This is a multi-million dollar industry that has very little online footprint.

Sub-floor moisture is a problem many companies overlook. Almost all purchases happen within a small network of old fashioned manufacturing companies. It's a complicated topic, requiring a working knowledge of concrete preparation procedures, the chemical makeup of a dozen different flooring types, groundwater fluctuations...

Few people write about it, and fewer still talk about it on social media. You won't find any pithy blog posts on the topic. But that knowledge still exists... it just exists offline. 

This creates false confidence in our research: for any topic, we assume that the sum total of indexed information is the sum total of information available. That is never the case.

In some industries, this isn't problematic. Rely on Google as your sole source of content marketing information, and you'll have a relatively complete understanding of the topic. But treat niche or complex topics in the same way, and you'll end up with huge blind spots in your understanding.

The solution is simple: rely on more than just Google searches for your research:

  • Read a book. This sounds laborious, but a few hours spent skimming a book can deepen your understanding of a topic more than a hundred blog posts.

  • Subscribe to industry resources. Industry-specific newsletters and magazines will surface relevant information better than Google, and provide an insight into the interests and knowledge of your target audience.

  • Interview people. Every industry, no matter how weird or niche or boring, contains passionate people that have spent decades thinking about the question you're trying to answer. A half-hour on the phone is the best crash course in any topic.

...and as an added bonus, you get to bust out your weird niche expertise at parties: "Hey nice LVT flooring man, what kind of adhesive did you use? I bet that bad boy protects your kitchen from groundwater fluctuations, no mildew for you!"


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