Over the past 10 years of blogging, TopRank Online Marketing’s Lee Odden (@leeodden) has learned a lot. In his New Media Expo 2014 keynote address to full room with standing room only, Lee talked about the 10 lessons he learned in 10 years and over 3,500 blog posts.
1. Stand For Something Specific
If you’re trying to be all things to all people, you’re competing with all companies in all spaces and yourself. That’s a lot to try to outrank! Ask yourself: what is the one thing I want to be known for? Be specific and make it easy for others to understand what you’re all about.
Each of the things you want to be known for can have it’s own spoke, own content plans, and each their own channels for distribution. After all, specificity rules when it comes to search and social!
2. Know Your Customer: Empathy Drives Relevance
Make an effort to know your customer and reader. What are their preferences for consumption? What do they like? Do they like news content, short or long posts, mobile content? Do they prefer videos, images, or blocks of text? It’s essential to know what your audience likes and how they consume it in order to optimize the experience to be fantastic for them.
Empathizing with the experience of your target audience can help you create more relevant content, in the best format, in the most looked-to places.
3. No Plan Is A Plan To Fail
Experimenting is cool (and can sometimes work), but you should have a plan to get you where you want to be. Align the topics you want to be known for with tangible goals when creating a plan. Managing a content creation schedule/plan can help you stay on topic and consistent with your content creation and measure your progress towards those goals.
By including things like keywords, titles, customer segment, and position in the buying cycle you can create more compelling content. You can download TopRank’s free editorial schedule here: http://tprk.us/keyedcal
4. Social Drives Discovery Search Validates
It used to be that there were was so much searching that you could focus just on search. But now, social gets so much of users’ attention and people get their recommendations there that you have to split your attention between search and social. People tend to get suggestions from social and then validate them with search. Be active on social. Listen to what your audience is saying, produce and promote relevant, meaningful content. Then back that up with a website or a blog post that can validate what they learned on your social network.
5. Go Holistic With SEO: “Be The Best Answer” Wherever Your Audience Is Looking
Some people believe that if they create good content, the traffic will come. Odden says good luck with that. Content isn’t enough. You have to bake in promotion with it too. Customers don’t care that you have an email marketing campaign or are running ads, they just want to solve a problem. You have to be the best answer for where they go to solve those problems.
While you’re creating content it’s important to create the signals of credibility that translate into you being the best answer for your audience. Make sure your pages are optimized, and that you provide the information they’re looking for where they happen to be searching.
6. Co-Created Content Is Social Networking
Content is also a great place for social networking. It connects you with others, becomes a source of ideas, and can help increase links to your content. Whoever your target audience is, find out what they need and then fulfill that need. Co-create content is the stuff that you’ll both care about!
7. Look Beyond Yourself
Almost every blogger has run out of ideas once or twice, or struggled to think of a creative, compelling one. When that happens, ask for help from your team and connect with your community. People will always have an idea, a problem you could help them solve, a question you could answer or a new perspective you haven’t explored before.
Some potential ways to engage your community? Do polls, ask questions about trending topics or tools, or ask for advice they’ve found useful in the past.
8. Whatever Can Be Found In Search Can Be Optimized
Pay attention to what actually shows up in search for the things you actually want to be known for. Go search those terms and phrases. Are there a significant number of video posts? Are PDFs hanging towards the top of the SERPs? Are images showing up? Each of the items that rank become a potential entry point into rankings and consumer’s minds.
Looking at who shows up, along with what type of content shows up, can provide valuable insight into how you can optimize your content to rank on the first page. It can also be a source of ideas for content creation. Maybe you really should make that video you’ve been thinking about after all.
9. A Blog Is Only As Interesting As The Interest Shown In Others
If all you do is talk about what you want to talk about, people aren’t going to be that interested. The solution? Ask and recognize. See what your followers want. Ask for interviews, ask for books to review, ask, ask. Then compile those answers into a blog post. Afterwards, don’t forget to recognize them for their contributions and efforts. People will work for money but die for recognition.
10. Optimize for Customers Attract – Engage – Convert
While creating your content make sure you’re optimizing for your customers. While in the conceptualizing phase, ask yourself three questions:
- How is this going to attract attention?
- What messages will be included to promote engagement?
- What key messages will be included to motivate conversion?
This notion of creating demand is giving people information where and when they need it. In order to be there when your customers are looking, be sure to make your content accountable by posting regularly (and consistently), and optimizing for their experience.
Bonus: Key Takeaways
Closing out his keynote, Lee Odden offered fa few key takeaways to help bloggers be successful in the years to come:
- If you start blogging, finish it – there are so many big companies that aren’t blogging much anymore. They aren’t inspired to do it anymore. This opens up the arena for other blogs to be heard. Don’t give up!
- Focus on meaningful vs. mechanical – don’t just populate your social channels with automated messages. Create unique content that matters to your audience and motivates them to engage
- Create value, brand and demand
- Don’t go at it alone – ask for help! Ask your team, your employees and your customers and you’re bound to never run out of ideas.