One of the most valuable assets a company can own in today’s economy is truly great written content on their website!
I know… you may think that sounds a bit over-exaggerated… even crazy, right? You may be one of those people who think that website content is just something you use to "feed Google" the same way you might offer a grizzly bear some food to escape its killer instinct.
After all, written content is not really a tangible thing like the business inventory you may have stored away or that you have drop shipped to your customers, right? Written content is just a bunch of letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs…. right?
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!
Great content can transcend anything tangible you have in your business. When a little magic is applied to words, they can elevate the mind to new heights, motivate people to do things they never would have otherwise, and set emotions on fire!
- Great content can increase your sales conversions into crazy good territory!
- Great content can turn reluctant browsers into enthusiastic buyers!
- Great content can earn you respect and build customer loyalty!
- Great content can keep your best customers coming back for more!
The following guide will explain very specific ways you generate GREAT content ideas for your website, whether it be for blog posts or website articles. You can use these ideas to write the content yourself or have a professional writer write the content for you. Remember, truly great content starts with a truly great idea. If you give a dull or only mediocre idea to a great writer and ask him or her to write something for you, you’ll probably never get content that truly shines because the writing will be limited by the dull or mediocre idea itself!
To get GREAT content, you need to start with a truly GREAT idea!
Feel Your Customers’ Pain
You may consider this a very basic suggestion but it is amazing how few businesses actually put this extremely effective technique into practice when deciding on content for their website! It’s also something that you need to keep in mind as you read through the more advanced tips below.
If you can help your potential customers solve a pressing problem they have, they will often be so thankful to you, they will buy from you, especially if you sell products that are related to their problem in some way. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be directly related!
For example, if you can explain 7 cheap ways to prevent a kitten or cat from urinating on the carpet, you have a much better chance of selling other cat supplies to that person! If you give someone very specific instructions on how to consistently brew the perfect pot of coffee every morning, i.e. not too bitter and the perfect strength, you have a much better shot at selling that person gourmet coffee beans and coffee paraphernalia.
Even if your product(s) specifically address your customers’ pain, such as a natural treatment for acne, you will sell more of that product if your customers sense that you can actually FEEL their pain. Great content can show them that you do indeed understand what they are going through and why it is painful to them.
Tune Into Your Customers’ Passions and Emotions
This is another basic tip that you should keep in mind as you read through the rest of our suggestions below. People make most of their purchasing decisions based on emotion rather than facts. Yes, you can provide detailed product specs and pages of advanced information about every product you sell on your website. However, what really sells a product is how a person FEELS about a particular product or how they THINK that product is going to make them feel!
This is why soda pop commercials often feature people who seem so happy while drinking the beverage. It’s also why greeting card companies feature sentimental situations that make people tear up! They never talk about having the best artwork, best verses, or best quality paper!
This doesn’t mean you should never develop content that deals with factual information. However, it does mean that you should find some way to filter than information through the passions and/or emotions your potential customers might have for your products or services. For example, if you are a personal injury lawyer, it may be great to talk about the specific laws and how you excelled in law school. However, you may want to filter that through the emotion of a person who may be dealing with enormous medical bills or property damage. Good information may get you on the short list. However, understanding the emotional side may help you become the final choice.
Crowdsourcing – The Direct Approach
Crowdsourcing is a relatively new but extremely effective business method. It allows you to tap into the collective wisdom, creativity, and intelligence of many people. Instead of seeking the opinions from only one or a few consultants, you can instead ask for opinions and ideas from hundreds, or even thousands, of people… all at once! Remember too that the sum of the parts is often greater than the whole! Each member of the group feeds off other ideas, thus proposing enhanced versions of them. The best of the best ideas coalesce and they get refined!
There are many free and paid platforms online that allow you to seek the collective ideas of many. However, one site that deserves special recognition in creating website content is MyBlogU. This site allows you to crowdsource your ideas in brainstorming sessions that build on your original idea and catapult it into "epic content" (a borrowed term from the MyBlogU website) that people will love and want to link to from their own websites.
This type of crowdsourcing website will work particularly well if you happen to be in any form of business that sells to online marketers or internet entrepreneurs because many members of the "crowd" may be potential customers.
Crowdsourcing – The Indirect Approach
At online crowdsourcing sites like MyBlogU, you directly ask for help. However, there are all sorts of ways to indirectly crowdsource on the internet without anyone even knowing what you are doing! In many ways, this can actually be more effective because people tend to be more open and truthful when they don’t know you are crowdsourcing.
One very good tool for indirectly crowdsourcing are online forums related to what you sell on your website. For example, if you are a tour operator, you may want to check out forums related to travel and the geographic region you promote. If you sell fresh roasted gourmet coffee beans, you may want to join some foodie forums. If you sell solar panels and other solar equipment, it would behoove you to look at do it yourself forms and alternative energy forums. Be sure to look for forums that have many people very actively participating so you get a good crowd of people discussing the topics you are interested in pursuing.
Once you find suitable forum(s), you can first try lurking a while and just see what people talk about and follow any interesting threads. Then, once you have a feel for the type of community the forum is, you can start adding your own comments to threads where you’d like to know more about what people think. Finally, once you establish yourself a bit, you can post a specific question or topic, i.e. start a thread, and then follow along with the responses you get and ask for clarifications and more detail when needed.
Blogs with a high readership and many active commenters are also a great tool for crowdsourcing! Just like with forums, you may want to hang back a bit at first until you get a good feel for the blog and its followers. Then, you can start posting comments and asking questions. Be sure not to do this with the SOLE intention of crowdsourcing your own ideas. You will get much better responses to your own questions and comments if you become part of the community and contribute in meaningful ways.
Reading online reviews are another great way to indirectly crowdsource ideas related to the products or services you sell. If you have a lawyer website, check out the reviews found on Avvo for other lawyers in your specific area of law. Are your products, or similar products, found on Amazon?
The reviews on this site are a treasure trove of crowdsourced comments, with commenters feeding off each other. In fact, you can even ask questions and make comments on other people’s comments! If you sell handcrafted items, check out the reviews on Etsy. Even the reviews at big box stores like WalMart and Target can offer indirect crowdsourced comments on products, or categories of products, you sell.
YouTube has become one of the "go to" spots on the internet to learn how to do things because it is visual in addition to verbal so it’s easier to show people. If you are contemplating a "how to" post or article, do a search for it on YouTube and look at the very active comments section of the videos you find. You can even ask the original poster of the video questions and he or she will often respond. Other commenters will often chime in too!
Feed Off a Popular News Story
Popular news stories are some of the best fodder for getting ideas about blog posts and online articles! Plus, popular news stories often appear on highly authoritative websites. If you link to these in your post, you’ll provide a truly useful and relevant link in Google’s eyes.
Google loves authoritative links and this will help you with your SEO. However, be sure not to overuse this technique. Treat it like cayenne pepper! A little goes a long way and even a little too much can make both your audience and Google gag on your content.
Imagine yourself standing around the water cooler at work or sitting in an old timey barber shop chatting it up about current events. What kinds of news stories would get the most interest? How would the conversation about these news stories evolve?
For inspiration, you only need to turn on BBC or CNN International or read your local newspaper! For more ideas on newsworthy local events, listen to the news breaks on local radio stations. Radio stations are really good at keeping up with the emotional pulse of a broadly defined community.
Here’s another really good trick for news story inspiration. Go to Google’s News page (or simply click on "News" at the top of Google’s homepage)
First, read through the top few pages of recent news stories to see if anything strikes you as being somehow compelling to your business or organization’s target audience. For example, if you run a website on home improvement, auto repair, electronics, technology, or energy efficient products, your potential customers may be very interested in Apple’s announcement of a new electric car to debut in 2019. Just make the story tie into something you sell. If, for example, you run a home improvement website, you can talk about the upgrades that would need to be made to the home to charge an electric car.
Second, depending on your business select one or more of the Google News subcategories such as Business, Sports, Technology, Science, and Health and then peruse the top few pages of news stories related to these categories. For example, if you run an alternative health website, you may want to make a habit of checking out the latest "Health" news stories on Google News. Today (9-21-15), there’s a story in the New York Times about a new report from the CDC (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention) on how much junk food teenagers eat and the ill effects this has on their health. You could use the stats from this story to write your own and then link to the news article and to the original report at the CDC, two authoritative links for the price of one!
There’s also a hilarious USA Today story in the "Health" subcategory, complete with a video, showing a rat carrying an entire slice of pizza into a New York City subway terminal! You could write a tongue and cheek blog post on, "Why Do People Like Rat Food So Much?" and include a link to the industrious rat… you might even want to joke about how even though the rat eats junk food, he at leasts gets enough exercise… and you could then tie this into how important exercise is in addition to diet.
If you do add your musings on this comical story to your blog, be sure to tweet the URL of your blog post and include the now popular hashtag, #pizzarat. Because this news video has gone viral, your post inspired by it may end up being seen by thousands of people! In essence, you are piggybacking on a very popular news story.
By the way, here’s the famous pizza rat.
As you can see, there are all sorts of ways to turn news stories into blog posts or articles.
Third, use the search feature of these Google News pages to look for news stories that will very specifically interest your readers. For example, if you have a website about a senior living facility or provide content for older adults, you could search for "scams on older people" and find all sorts of news stories on common frauds perpetuated on older adults and how to prevent these scams.
If you sell bicycles or bicycle parts, a simple search on "bicycles" turns up a story on how Litespeed Bicycles, the company that builds one of the world’s lightest bicycles, was called upon by NASA to build the legs on the Mars rover! You could use this news story as a lead in to talk about lightweight bicycle parts, and perhaps lightweight bicycles, you sell…. and your subliminal message by linking to this news story would be how cool lightweight bicycles are because even NASA thinks so… and if you buy one, you would be cool too!
Hopefully, you are beginning to understand the value in using news stories for inspiration in your website content. News stories, both serious and light hearted, can lead to blog posts that will draw in your potential customers like moths to a flame!
Eavesdrop On Your Customers’ Social Media Channels
One of the best ways to really tune into your customers’ pain and passions is to "play voyeur" on their social media channels! First, you need to encourage to "friend you" on Facebook and become a "follower" on Twitter or "join your circle" on Google Plus, etc!
Once your customers have become integrated into your favorite social medial sites, you can begin watching and listening to what they talk about and how they talk about it. This will help you tune into what they truly care about and why. By turning into your current customers this way, it will allow you to develop some truly GREAT content ideas that will attract new customers and keep old customers coming back.
Eavesdrop On Your Competitors’ Social Media Channels
Identify your top ten competitors and make it a point to monitor their social media channels. Click through into the social media accounts of their customers and see what they are passionate about and why. In this way, you may be able to expand your business to cater to a different type of customer that you have been overlooking before.
Inspiration From Random Thoughts
Things that happen to you in your everyday life can be an inspirational goldmine for website content, especially once you open yourself up to this possibility! These everyday occurrences are generally things that many people can relate to, because if they are happening to you, they are probably happening to your customers as sell.
You can use examples from everyday life to create the perfect "hook" to draw people into your blog posts and articles.
Here are a dozen examples of everyday occurrences that may inspire you:
- The song lyrics to a song that gets stuck in your head
- Silly dreams you remember vividly or dreams told to you by friends and family
- Funny commercials that you can poke fun at
- Getting a surprisingly great tasting gourmet meal from a food truck or discovering a great new restaurant in the "bad part" of town
- The exquisite taste of a really sweet strawberry picked at the peak of the season
- Something your child says that gives you new perspective
- A "private" conversation you overhear in a bar. Something amusing your dog or cat does that makes you laugh
- A problem you have with another business such as not honoring their return policy
- A frustrating home improvement project that you finally finish
- A visit with your parents or in-laws
- A difficult family crisis such as a sick cousin
Whether you are philosophical or practical in your approach to using these everyday occurrences as the foundation to a blog post, the hook is the same. It is a hook that will have mass appeal. For example, if you sell anti-aging creams and you overhear two women talking privately about how they think their wrinkles are affecting their job promotions, you can use this "private conversation" as the lead in to a great blog post!
If you have a frustrating time returning a flawed product, you can use this personal experience to tell how this made you re-evaluate your own return policy and then make an announcement on your blog for your new and improved return policy!
Truly GREAT content can be your most valuable business asset because it can help you achieve all of your most significant goals, including significantly increasing your bottom line! If you find one or more of the ideas we present above to be helpful in creating GREAT content for your website, feel free to post a link back to our website to help others create GREAT content too!
We have gone through a period where the internet almost became a sea of mediocre to dull content due to people trying to game the search engines. It’s time for us all to say something more meaningful to our potential customers and clients!
Debunking CDN SEO MythsLet’s start with eliminating some common SEO myths. None of these are true:
- Many sites on a single IP are bad for SEO; in this Google Webmasters official forum discussion the official Google rep stated “We generally do not treat sites hosted on CDNs any differently”.
- CDNs create duplicate content; each copy of your content has exactly the same URL, so Google’s crawlers will not see multiple copies regardless of which location presents the content when they crawl it.
- Bot blocking will stop Google’s crawlers; bot blockers only block bad bots; they never block crawlers from recognized search engines.
- CDNs will hurt my ability to rank for my geographic location; the IP address is not the primary signal Google users to determine the location of the server that hosts your site; Google first looks at your Webmasters Tools setting and TLD country code. CDNs also whitelist their server locations to prevent any localization errors.
CDN Affect on Page SpeedWe all know the importance of reducing page load times and increasing page speed. Moz has been very clear about how webite speed impacts search ranking. What many do not realize is that what really matters is “Time to First Byte” (TTFB). Using a CDN will not improve your SEO unless you optimize not only how long it takes to load the first byte, but also what you load. Ilya Grigorik, developer advocate on Google’s “Make the Web Fast” team rejected a study claiming TTFB does not matter, explaining:
“It’s not only the time that matters, but also what’s in those first few bytes… Of course it doesn’t matter if you flush your ‘200 OK’ after 1ms vs 1s…. But if you know what you’re doing and craft the response right, then it can make a huge difference”.The primary cause of slow TTFB is processor time required to dynamically generate html pages. Sites using any database driven CMS (WordPress for example) dynamically generate your home page for every new visitor. An excellent solution would be to classify the HTML components as static and have them delivered directly from a CDN, with no processing and from the nearest possible location. Some CDNs are using advanced caching algorithms to identify and cache more html to store statically, thereby reducing the time and amount of html that must be dynamically generated.For example, Incapsula wrote in CDN SEO Benefits and Advantages:
At Incapsula we see a double (and event triple) digit site speed improvement among the websites using our service. This improvement is achieved not only by CDN content Caching and Geo Distribution capabilities, but also by clever uses of existing assets. Namely, we will automatically Minify your source code, GZip your files and even Cache your “Un-Cacheable” dynamically generated content (especially useful for websites with dynamic catalogs, on-site search features and etc). As a result your website will load faster, achieve higher SERP rankings and provide better overall User Experience, thus also improving Bounce and Conversion rates.
More advanced CDNs use various methods of compression to automatically Minify your source code and GZip your files for additional reductions in load time. CDNs can be used to improve on-page SEO and search rankings, but only if you choose the right CDN and take advantage of faster TTFB, reduced dynamic html, and increased compression.
This month sees another Google Panda update – the first in over 10 months. But version 4.2 is no ordinary Panda, because Google has once again changed the way it updates the search algorithm.
The first Google Panda update was rolled out over a period of a week or two in February 2011, and those that followed were updated in a similar fashion. This all changed in March 2013, when Google announced that the Panda algorithm was to be integrated into the main search algorithm and therefore updates would be effective almost immediately.
This was good news for website owners, as once again it was possible to make positive changes to the content of a website and see quick results. However, the latest Panda update will roll out over a period of several months, according to Google.
So far, few people have reported any Panda-related changes to their Google search referrals, which is as expected for such a slow change.
2%–3% of English language queries
Google has suggested that this update will affect around 2% to 3% of English language queries, which has the potential to be a massive change. What do we know about Panda 4.2? Why has Google needed to make such a big update now? This is the 28th Panda update – surely Google must have optimized this feature of the search engine by now?
What is new?
Google Panda is still a site-wide penalty that examines all of a website’s pages to determine the overall quality of a site. A few thin pages will do no harm, but a website that has hundreds or thousands of empty, thin or duplicate pages will very likely experience a drop in search engine referrals.
When the first Google Panda updates were released, many websites experienced dramatic falls in search referrals, often losing as much as 90% of all search engine traffic. In most cases, the problem was an abundance of thin pages – usually user generated profile pages and empty product pages. Deleting such pages would often lead to a Panda recovery.
For a while Panda took a back seat while Google focussed largely on Penguin, the web-spam algorithm. Now that Penguin has also been integrated into the main algorithm it seems Google is returning refocusing on on-site quality factors.
Google has made several specific updates in the last year, all of which point to quality. Google has been promoted secure sites, mobile friendly sites and has recently taking a stance against sites that display aggressive pop-ups.
The latest Panda update may simply be incorporating some of these newer quality signals into the main Panda algorithm.
How does this affect your site?
To protect your website from Google Panda you need to focus on building a quality site. This means ensuring that website code and architecture is clean to prevent thin and duplicate content pages, and also ensuring that the quality of content is high. To prevent Panda impacting your search positions, or to recover from being hit by Panda, you need to tackle these three areas:
Good web design
In this context, good web design refers to the structure and code of a website. Poorly built websites can cause duplicate and thin content issues that are interpreted by Google as being deliberately spammy.
For example, some content management systems create dynamic pages using parameters, which can be crawled and indexed by Google. Although there are ways to patch problems using Search Console, it is always best to resolve the problems by cleaning up website code and architecture.
Removal of thin content pages
Any pages that serve no real purpose should be removed. Empty pages are common in many older eCommerce websites – a product line is removed, or just out of stock, and the result is a content page with little more than a title.
Another common problem are profile pages, which are created by website members but contain no unique information. A good CMS will ensure that all of these pages are set to noindex, but unfortunately, many are not. This problem is made worse when members are allowed to add a link back to their own website in profiles – some Drupal community websites have over 100,000 profile pages that have been created by drive-by-spammers – and sites like these are affected by Panda.
Addition of quality content
Creating content-rich pages, with excellent copy and images, is a great way to ward off the dreaded Panda. Some people believe that Panda not only identifies low quality content, but also identifies when there is a lack of engagement on a page. Panda 4.0 was thought to factor user engagement – and Glenn Gabe reported on Search Engine Watch that improving user engagement can reduce the effect of Panda on a website.
A website that experiences a drop in search referrals following a Panda update can often be recovered by technical SEO experts and content managers, who together will improve site architecture and site quality. This is also why so many people are now using WordPress to run their business websites – WordPress provides a clean platform that allows owners to share quality content with ease.
If your website has been affected by the recent Panda update, contact FSE Online today to discuss your recovery package.