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!
Google has announced a new change to its webmaster policy – from now on, if your website gets a manual penalty, it may not get a second chance to dominate the listings.
In a change that is designed to hurt black hat SEOs more than the Penguin and Panda updates, Google has stated that it will no longer tolerate those who repeatedly breach Google’s webmaster quality guidelines.
The announcement was made on September 18, 2015, in a blog post on the official Google webmaster central blog: Repeated violations of Webmaster Guidelines. Unlike many of the blog posts that appear on the webmaster central blog, this was written anonymously. Being banned by Google is every webmaster’s worst nightmare and some people take it very personally, so it’s no surprise nobody wished to put their name to the change in policy!
Why the Change Now?
In their blog post, Google says that the change in policy is to further improve the quality of the search results. Google has carried out many major changes over the last five years that have made great progress in improving search quality, but one problem still persists – some people are still gaming the search engine.
Google started cleansing the SERPs with the Panda series of updates. These penalised websites that had low quality, poorly written, duplicate and thin content pages. The old SEO trick of creating a new page for each target keyword and filling it with spammy, keyword stuffed text was over.
Google followed this with a series of updates that tackled the problem of link spam – the now infamous Penguin updates. Suddenly, SEO was no longer about getting more links that the competition. Links now have to be earned, and acquired from very high quality sources. The inner workings of Penguin are still unclear, but it seems that just about every easy-to-get link is now devalued – many are probably totally worthless. Directory links, comment links, blogroll links, forum signatures etc. are now deemed by many to be ineffective for SEO.
However, some SEOs are still doing very well because although Google has improved its search algorithm. With some careful planning and some excellent links, you can still rank well. In short, unnatural links are still working for many people.
Google works hard to identify and manually penalise websites that buy or sell links. Whenever Google has good evidence that somebody has been selling links to pass PageRank, it applies a manual penalty.
However, in these cases, manual penalties are easy to recover from. All you need to do is remove the links (or add a nofollow attribute) and submit a reconsideration request, explaining how very sorry you are and beg to have the penalty lifted. In the past, Google trusted webmasters enough to grant them their wish, and would lift the penalty.
Unfortunately, some webmasters have exploited this and, after having a reconsideration request approved, they would start selling links again or remove the nofollow tags. This is Google’s main bugbear at the moment, and this latest change in policy directly tackles this problem. Google says that it will no longer tolerate webmasters who repeatedly breach its quality guidelines.
Google has not said exactly how harshly it will treat repeat offenders, saying only in its blog that “repeated violations may make a successful reconsideration process more difficult to achieve”. In some cases, Google may still allow a website to recover – but in other cases, there may well be no way back in the SERPs after a repeat offence.
We have already seen some websites, most notably known link sellers, completely drop out of the Google index. We predict that in the future, more sites will suffer a similar fate. If you are not a white hat SEO, take heed – your days may be numbered!
Have you ever missed a client mention or let an SEO project fall through the cracks? We all have, but there are now solutions that make getting organized and staying on top of our complex work lives easier.
While we all know how to set up alerts, receiving them in emails doesn’t make it easy to organize them and share them with clients. Did you know you can pull them all into an All-in-one Cyfe dashboard and track your keyword rankings and backlinks in the same place?
Between that how-to post and the comprehensive instructions Kristi Hines wrote up in this Search Engine Watch managing your SEO clients with Cyfe post, it is possible to monitor everything, pull it into a dashboard, and even export it into good-looking reports for clients.
Monitor Client Brand MentionsKristi wrote that Google no longer allows us to monitor brand mentions using RSS. But she provided a process to do it using Cyfe:
- Use Google blog search
- Search for brand mentions minus the brand site URL. For example, brand name -brand.com
- Scroll to the bottom of the search and copy the search result RSS link
- Use the Cyfe RSS widget to create a latest blog post mentions dashboard
View All Client Gmail Addresses in Cyfe
Do your clients have multiple email addresses (such as info, sales, support, etc.) that you need to monitor? Set up a Cyfe gmail dashboard to review and preview them all in one place.
Running a big promotion? Use Cyfe to count the number of emails coming into an email address set up just for that promotion.
Client SEO Dashboards
Create a dashboard for every client and pull up to 60 metrics from Google Analytics showing traffic sources, audience, conversions, content, ecommerce and events.
Add a Google Webmaster widget and never miss an important notification again. See crawl errors, unread messages, top internal/external keywords and sitemap URLs.
Moz widgets can import a snapshot of domain authority, page authority, MozRank, external links and backlinks, external links for each client website.
Important keyword phrases and URLs can be added as widgets to monitor client SERPs.
Find the Alexa widget and add it, too.
The number of prebuilt widgets available continually grows. If what you want doesn’t already exist (and if it is a major solution it probably does), build a custom widget.
Import BacklinksExport backlinks from your favorite backlink monitor program and import them into Cyfe.
Export One-Off or Regular ReportsNever manually create reports for clients again. Use Cyfe to export any dashboard as a CSV, PDF, JPG or PNG. Set up a regular schedule to automatically email reports, or send them individually at any time manually. Keep your clients, boss or yourself continually up-to-date.
Expand to Social Media Management
Once you’ve automated all your SEO work, why not expand into managing your client’s social media accounts, too. Cyfe makes it easy to stay on top of them.
They provide widgets for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn YouTube, Google+ Search, Pinterest, Instagram, Bit.ly, Klout, AddThis and much more.
Stay on Top of SEO NewsCreate RSS feeds right in Cyfe to aggregate all your favorite SEO blogs in one place. Here are some SEO blogs to add to your list:
- Search Engine Watch (SEW)
- Search Engine Land (SEL)
- Search Engine Roundtable (SER)
Competitor DashboardsOnce you optimize your client dashboards and have them just the way you want them, start adding dashboards for competitors, too. Track their stats, SERPs, and create graphs to compare them to your clients.
Cyfe added 400+ more widgets when they integrated with Zapier. First check to see if there is a pre-built widget. If there isn’t, and you’re not sure how to build your own, it can be easier to “make a zap” than to create one custom.
We all have too much data to keep on top of so why not aggregate it in one place? While it may take some time to get it all pulling correctly, you will be glad when you’re done.