by Barney Whistance, Contributing Writer
In the world of content marketing and SEO, there is a growing group of professionals that realize that quality content has become king.
When the internet first revved up and search engines like Google created their algorithmic programs, strategic keyword mentions were enough to get a website high ranked and well-noticed; now all that’s changed. As the filters grow more refined, and social media sharing explodes, we’re learning that it’s not the words we use, but the meaning and value that we create for our others that gets our organization or company noticed.
This means that it’s important to take the time to craft elaborate content webs stretching from printed materials, to guest posts, to featured articles and interviews on high-ranking news websites and blogs, to our own website content, blogs, and social media posts. First and foremost, content needs to tell our organizations’ story – and for that, enter the experienced storytellers.
The next wave of online marketing and writing will become more nuanced, more elaborate, and also, yes, more creative – making it easier for creative writers to find professional well-paid jobs as corporate content writers.
As you set off on this new journey, it’s important to keep a few pointers in mind about creating these new content webs filled with original and provocative content that will keep your readers coming back for more. Here are eight tips for creating valuable and engaging content to your readers:
Read and relate. Make an effort to read books, magazines, quarterlies, and other periodicals on a regular basis. Summarize your readings and document your ideas. When you share your thoughts with others you clarify your own passions, spread your new-gained wisdom around, and introduce your readers to interesting concepts and ideas.
Join a Mastermind group. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that two heads are better than one? Well, try three, four, five, six or more! When you brainstorm with others on a regular basis by forming a team of trusted advisors, you boost your creativity and launch your ideas forward or create a website or an app for your brand. You’ll also get great feedback on new concepts as well (before you share them with the world).
Invest in developing yourself. Conrad Hall, the American cinematographer born in Tahiti, French Polynesia, once said “You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” Developing yourself means that you will have more of yourself and your unique insights to share with others, so if you always invest in yourself you will never stagnate and run out of new ideas.
Question assumptions. Pulling apart your own assumptions, and those of your clients and advisors, will help you gain new insights and formulate new and innovative solutions to existing problems.
Play devil’s advocate. If there is a hot topic to be discussed, don’t jump on the bandwagon too quickly. Discuss both sides of the issue and demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of all points of view. Most of the time we’re here to educate our clients. We should want to help them make reasoned and informed decisions that will help them improve their business - not just tell them what to do.
Use the power of story. Terrance McKenna said “The engineers of the future will be poets." When you use a personal or professional story to illustrate a concept or idea it lends personality to the message and makes the delivery more effective.
Conduct interviews. Interviewing others is a great way to both learn and explore new ideas and also harness the marketing potential of those new connections. It’s also a great way to develop audio and video content for both your website and that of the person you’re interviewing.
Utilize social networking. Join smart and effective online communities to keep a pulse on current trends, gain inside industry knowledge, and be of help to others.
Each piece of content we put out on the web is potentially valuable real estate. However, more than seeing them as their own unique entities it’s important to craft and create value in both the meaning and message of the content we create, as marketers and as writers.
Yes, here I go mentioning SEO again -- that magic three-letter abbreviation we hear often. Using easy techniques can help online article writers significantly. If you haven't heard of SEO or if you haven't heeded the advice, you likely are losing out big time. A large portion of Internet traffic comes via search engines. If you expect search engines to find your content and deliver it in search results, you need to talk their language. Here are some simple techniques you can incorporate right away to help increase traffic and bring in valuable readers that stay around.
Focus, Focus, Focus
Focusing clearly on the subject at hand is a very easy way to draw people in. Not only should online article writers focus in on the subject without rambling, but focus should be in one specific aspect of that topic. For instance, the subject of this article is 'techniques for online article writers.' For focus, it was narrowed down to 'SEO techniques,' and more specifically, 'easy' SEO techniques.
A good way to narrow your focus is to search your topic on the site you're writing for, as well as your favorite search engine (mine is Yahoo), to see what already exists. Go for an angle that focuses on something useful or interesting, but focus on an aspect either not covered enough or not covered in the manner you intend on covering it. When I searched on this topic, I found many SEO articles, but none that were as specific or as simple to understand as I'm hoping this is.
Remove Modifiers and Fluff
Ever tried to read an article where the use of words such as "and, at, that, to, but" etc. is excessive? Not only is this bad for readability, but it takes up space and lowers the importance of the relevant words. Obviously, you need these words in some areas, but remove them where possible. For instance, instead of saying "She thought that it would have helped her, but it didn't help, " you might say "She thought it would help, but it didn't." See how much easier that is to read?
Being too descriptive or using too much storytelling can also take away from the SEO and the valuable info. Creativity is good, but don't be excessive. This is useful info to remember when writing the article, as well as during proofreading. Remember that web writing differs from other writing. Instead of saying something like "Jenny hurried across the green, grassy lawn to take a potted flower to her grandmother's house and enjoy a well-done steak dinner, " you might say something like "Jenny rushed home to her grandmother's with a potted flower, to enjoy a steak dinner with her." It still gets the point across, but is not so drawn out.
Latentic Semantic Indexing (LSI)
Latentic Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a technique that can easily be implemented with others. It shouldn't be the only method used, but when used in conjunction with the techniques above (and more as you learn), it's a great technique. Here's a simple way to remember LSI. It's basically the action of using words related to your key topic. There is a more complex explanation. However, we're keeping things simple here.
To find related words, simply use a word cloud generator. Type up a phrase or word that best represents your topic. That will give you results with some related terms. You can do this with various words and phrases. You also can use keyword tools, such as the Google Keyword Planner. Once you have all your related terms, sprinkle those throughout your content. These do not need to be used often and should be natural and not forced or overly used. Ignore the ones that actually are not related and do not make sense within your content. You still need to make sense and provide something functional to your readers.
For some time, I decided to give up on SEO. Tired of worrying about keyword search volume and competition, I would focus on searcher intent, not the search engines themselves. It often seems that trying to write for a moving target like an ever-evolving search algorithm is really counterproductive. Sure, there are people out there making a lot of money trying to "crack the code" and get "instant results." But, true sustained success doesn't work that way.
What I would come to find is that you still need SEO. But your potential audience’s questions must always come first. SEO should be a tool to capture your audience, not be what drives your overall content. Instead, it makes the most sense to find what your audience is searching for and how they are searching for it. It's not just about finding the trending topics and keyword phrases. There's a lot more to it than that.
Once you know your audience’s burning questions, it’s simple as answering them. But, it’s sometimes difficult figuring out exactly what those questions to answer actually are. So, how do you find these questions?
Can Chasing Long Tail Keyword Phrases Help You Discover the Right Questions to Ask?
Many SEO services claim to help you chase the "long-tail" keyword phrases that deliver valuable search traffic. Some of these services are quite reputable and they do fantastic research in finding golden opportunities to take advantage of in search. But you’ll be happy to learn you can actually save a bit of money; you can do a lot of this work on your own with just a bit of critical thinking.
Think about the questions that your audience have asked you or might ask you. Those are the questions you base your writing around. Then, if you do find something trending, there's no hurt in writing about it. But, try to spin it in a way where that information will still be useful down the road. That’s what’s known as evergreen content - information that will be good for years down the road. Then, after you’ve done the writing, then work on finding keyword phrases that will get it found and integrate them naturally throughout your content.
There are many different perspectives on how to create content in an organized and systematic way. Particularly in business blogging, the most predominant method is understanding "buyer personas." By this method, popularized by marketing giant Hubspot, a business would go through an entire process of researching where these fictional characters are on the "buyer's journey" and what they are asking search engines at various points on that journey. The common interests and habits of these people are often also considered as supplemental content to lure in people not even realizing they're being led to a landing page to a sell a product that's actually unrelated. While I’ve never been terribly fond of creating hundreds or even thousands of landing pages, understanding the buyer's journey is actually a good idea.
But, wait… What if I’m not a business and I’m not selling anything? It turns out that everyone out there is a buyer of some sort, even if they’re just seeking information. So, what is the buyer’s journey?
How Can Understanding the Buyer’s Journey Help Me Ask the Right Questions with My Content?
The buyer's journey consists of three stages: identifying a problem, researching solutions for that problem, and making a decision on purchasing or otherwise acquiring that solution. Obviously, depending on which of those three stages a potential reader or client may be in that journey, different questions are asked.
Many companies come to a better understanding of their audiences through market research. But you don’t need to hire market research experts to do this. You don’t need to worry about marketing funnels or lead capturing - except maybe for email subscribers. For purposes of web writing, you’re not really looking to build landing pages or anything. You should be most interested about the topics themselves, and why people ask certain questions about them.
The psychology has always been more fascinating to me than the attempt to create a perfect "persona" that defines your target audience. You're not writing for personas, after all. You're writing for real life people. Yes, well-researched personas can lead to a lot of successful content being created. But you don't need a big marketing company and a huge staff to be successful in knowing what your audience wants. You just have to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Imagine what questions they may be asking, and seek out how to create the most valuable answers for them.
Answering people's questions successfully and thoughtfully positions your as a thought leader on a given topic. Not every piece of content has to be a sales pitch, after all. You should always focus on the best answers you can give, then soft-sell a solution if you have one.
But, What If I Don’t Have the Answers to My Audience’s Burning Questions?
If you can't answer the questions, it's possible there are other expert sources out there that can. This is where curating content comes in handy. Whether the answers come from your competitors or non-competitors it doesn’t matter. The trick is to combine information and ideas that answer questions into a resource that people will find.
Basically, the best way to do it begins with simply typing a question into a search engine. If it's not clearly answered without some work, you can do the legwork, and create content that brings answers to searchers quickly. The search engines smile on well-researched content that clearly shows effort to answer questions. People will remember that you were the one who answered their questions, not where you got the information from, even if a source was actually a competitor!
Creating personas for your audience is cool and may help you better understand where your audience is coming from. But the real trick to knowing the right questions to answer is to naturally provide timely and useful answers for everyday questions. You may find that while your "hits" may not be as high as some marketing gurus may promise you, your interaction and organic traffic will be a lot better than you might expect.
Quit obsessing over SEO. Just answer your audience’s questions. Once you know what those are, you’ll find your content being a lot more valuable and successful. Stay on top of answering your audience’s questions the best that you can, and eventually you’ll profit!
by Phoenix A. Desertsong, Staff Writer, Healer & Advocate
Google Auto Complete IS A VALUABLE free long tail keyword research tool.
A lot of people like to ask Google questions. Many are rather simple questions, such as: "What is the best scientific calculator?" or “What is the best way to remodel a kitchen?" If you begin to type a question into Google, the search engine's auto complete feature will often help you complete your thought. This means that other people have inputted this query into Google before. There are also other related queries based on what you’ve typed in so far.
Google Auto Complete is very useful for seeing what other questions searchers have asked Google related to certain keywords. You can use this information not only as a way to speed up your own searches, but also as a way to find useful long tail keywords to target in your content, as well. In this way, Auto Complete is a valuable free long tail keyword research tool.
Google Searchers Have Questions. Do You Have Answers?
You may not always find quite exactly the answer to your question. Google is certainly getting better at answering certain questions on its own, without users even having to choose a search result. This is especially true when it comes to products such as the aforementioned scientific calculators. But for the more general things like the kitchen remodeling question, you get sites that Google finds relevant to your question but not necessarily giving you quite the answer you desire. You'll get articles related to what you're looking for, but nothing that directly answers said question.
At one time, the phrase "best way to remodel a kitchen" averaged about 50 monthly searches in the United State alone. Yet, no one has yet built around this phrase in an article. It naturally fits into how someone would ask that question, so why hasn't anyone done it? Content marketing experts always talk about the "long tail" keyword strategy all of the time. But some still overlook the simplest thing: answering people’s questions.
Chasing the Long Tail Keywords
If you're struggling to find something to write about, think about what your target audience might be asking. If you're writing about yarn, for example, you don't necessarily want to just build a list of three or four word phrases concerning yarn without first thinking about what sort of questions yarn enthusiasts may ask.
This is where Google Auto Complete is especially useful. Type something like "What type of yarn is used for A" and see what sort of suggestions come up. Then try "What type of yarn is used for B" and note those suggestions. If you take note of enough of these, it will uncover keywords you may not have thought of before.
Granted, answer sites like Askville on Amazon, Yahoo Answers, and others have many of these questions covered. They can actually provide you a great research tool for additional content. So if you feel that those answers that Google provides in the search results are lacking, it's perfectly okay to go ahead and produce some content with the headline that includes the very question that one would type into Google. You would proceed with a keyword strategy like normal, but you would build your content around that question. The more specific your phrase, the more likely it is you will have highly targeted traffic.
A Tool to Help Speed Up Checking Google Auto Complete for Search Phrases
One useful free tool that you can use to help chase long-tail keyword phrases is Keywordtool.io. Their free version scrapes Google Auto-Complete for you, and while it will only give you the top few results, it can save you a bit of time manually checking auto complete. It doesn’t give you the search traffic for free, either. At the very least, it will give you a few ideas to start with when researching long-tail queries. It also allows you to scrape the auto-complete features of YouTube and Bing, as well, for additional ideas.
There’s a paid version that gives you search volume and other information. I’d recommend only paying for the Pro version if you’re looking to scrape for potential good phrases to cover with pay-per-click advertising. For the typical article writer, the free version should suffice. The time it can save you is definitely significant.
There’s another Auto Complete tool called ubersuggest.io (which is now owned by neilpatel.com) that serves a similar purpose and is completely free. Ubersuggest also has Google Keyword Planner suggestions, as well, so this is one extra advantage to using the Ubersuggest tool. Another advantage is that you can draw from the Auto Complete features of YouTube, as well as Google News, Google Images, and Google News - which can give you additional keyword phrases to consider.
So, whenever you're stuck for some content, never fear, Google Auto Complete will make the questions people are asking appear! Then you can go about answering them and get lots of new and qualified traffic to your site!
By finding the phrases that other people aren’t targeting, you get some easy, cheap traffic that’s also qualified. There’s nothing better than qualified traffic. Using Google Autocomplete as a free long tail keyword tool is a great way to get started with any keyword research project.
~ Phoenix <3
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Writing articles online has quickly become a popular way to earn money. This is in part due to the loss of income from layoffs and other job loss. However, many find out the hard way that the ability to maximize earning potential in online writing actually takes some thought. Online article writing is indeed a legitimate way to make money. Anyone can earn a few dollars at it here and there, but to turn it into a business, you'll first need to discover things that will help maximize the earning potential of each article.
Spelling, Grammar, and Proper English
Accurate spelling, grammar, and English can maximize your earning potential on every article you write. Potential clients look at writing for those strengths. If you spell and write so poorly that even spell check and grammar check can't save you, it's time to get back to the basics. That's right. You're going to have to study. Can't afford classes? Grab a book and teach yourself. Find free online resources. Study with a friend. Practice, practice, practice! Every good writer starts somewhere - the sooner you learn the basic skills, the better.
If no one can find your article, no matter how good it is, no one is going to read it either. Take the time to learn to SEO skills, including LSI. SEO will greatly maximize your earning potential in online article writing. Many online writers get paid for their content per page view either solely or in addition to other payments. This is why it is so important to learn SEO to draw traffic to articles. This is one method that is always changing and doing the wrong thing could give you the opposite results you intended. So be sure your knowledge stays up-to-date.
Focused Headline and Topic
Readers need a clear picture. They need to know from the start what your article is about. Focus your headline directly on the topic at hand, not just part of it. The headline (or title) "Maximize Earning Potential in Online Article Writing" tells me this article offers advice on how to earn more money with articles written for the web. If the title instead was "Pay Attention to Grammar, Titles, and More" that could refer to a book, a lesson at school, or any number of things. It does not tell me it's about article writing on the internet or how I can earn more money. When writing headlines for articles, maximize the earning potential by fully focusing on the topic at hand.
Focusing on the topic, as well as the SEO in the abstract is one more great way to maximize earning potential in online writing. Just as the headline needs focus, so does the abstract (or first few sentences). This is what search engines show with your article link. Therefore, it should clearly represent the complete focus of the article. Take out all the fluff and just get straight to the point.
Focus and Readability
Web readers want to find their info fast. That's why they search for it online - instant gratification. This means that content needs to not only be discoverable, but straight to the point and in simple language. If a reader can't understand the language and focus right away, they likely won't read the rest of the article.
Online article writers also can maximize earning potential by using clean formatting. There is no exact format o recommend because it will be different depending on the venue. However, if your article looks like one long paragraph, readers may stray away. Generally you need to break up articles into sections. Subtitles can also be used if desired. Whatever formatting you choose, be consistent throughout the article for the best readability results.
In line with the SEO skills mentioned above, promotion is another great way to draw readership. To be the most effective, they should go hand-in-hand. Article writers can maximize earning potential with promotion in many different ways. Post links in forums (where permitted), on your blog, in other articles, on social networks, and more. If you have a website, share your work there as well. There should also be a way for readers to subscribe through both RSS and email. If you have an RSS feed of your articles, it can be submitted to online article directories. There are many, many ways to be promote. The main thing to remember with promotion is to be consistent and to do it only where allowed and by the rules. You don't want to be known as a spammer. The goal instead is to be a source of interesting and informative content.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Online article writers serious about their writing must remember the purpose of our content is to provide someone else with the information they need. Even when the writing goes to a client that will not return any page view or click revenue, remember that their audience still needs accurate and relevant info as well. Ultimately, someone will be reading the finished content. Here are five ways online article writers can get and keep clients.
Get and Keep Clients by Learning SEO
I know I must sound like a broken record to regular readers, I mention SEO so often. There's a reason for that. SEO skills are an absolute must if you are serious about making money as an online article writer. The main purpose clients purchase web content is to draw traffic where it's placed. If your articles do not have proper SEO, clients will look elsewhere to meet their content needs. If you often lose out on higher paying clients, gigs, and assignments, SEO skills may be to blame. If so, get and keep clients by reading up on SEO and implementing it into your work.
Get and Keep Clients by Providing Consistent Effort
Some online article writers make the mistake of putting less effort into lower-paying gigs than they would with others. This makes no sense. First, this shows a lack of pride in one's own work. Secondly, your name or pen name will be attached to everything you write. Do you really want potential clients to read one of those lesser-effort articles? Would someone want to hire you after reading them? Online article writers are lucky in that many of us enjoy doing this for a living. Plus, we can make money writing articles from anywhere we prefer - even at the beach. However, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't maintain consistency and professionalism. Putting effort into each and every piece of content you produce gives you better odds of being noticed and appreciated by clients.
Get and Keep Clients by Making Assignments Unique
When a client gives out an assignment, there are times where you may feel the topic is too broad for their audience. To solve this, write on the topic the client has assigned you, but choose a unique slant. Most will likely appreciate the extra effort. For instance, if the client asks you to write about bathrooms for seniors, you could write about eco-friendly bathrooms for seniors. Go for an angle that isn't saturated all over the web. Some clients might need reasoning behind your changes, but in my experience, most understood when I explained about topic saturation. I rarely receive rejections on my work. Sometimes clients will reward the extra effort with extra money or be appreciative enough to buy more content. Even so, don't get upset with those who don't seem appreciative. Just make any revisions and move on. That's another way to keep clients.
Get and Keep Clients by Setting Up and Maintaining an Updated Website
Setting up and maintaining an updated and professional website is an absolute must for online article writers for hire. A website will give you a place to share writing samples and a background on yourself and your writing skills. Have a contact form on your website as well as an alternate email in case the form experiences a glitch. Potential clients may like something they see on your site and bookmark it for later if they aren't yet ready to purchase content. Keep the website updated with current information so that people will want to continue visiting. Maintain a blog with writing tips and business updates. Get and keep clients by referring them to your website for business, rather than an email address. This is an important way to establish your personal brand as a freelance writer.
Network With Fellow Writers
Learning and growing is a big part of being successful in an online writing career. Things change so rapidly that it's important to stay connected with other writers to learn and grow together from each other. Just because you've been writing for years does not mean you know everything there is to know. While you may have expertise on one aspect of writing, another writer may be an expert in a different area. Get and keep clients by networking with other writers to share and discuss knowledge. This will keep you up to date in the online writing field. Plus, it can be a great deal of fun.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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There was one point in time where I would have recommended to absolutely focus mostly on search engine rankings in terms of traffic. However, that may be coming to a close soon. By the way, that doesn't mean you shouldn't still strive to rank well. But you may discover (like I did) that more recently Facebook is now the highest referrer of incoming traffic.
Where is your traffic coming from?
Up until recently, without a doubt, one of the larger search engines had always been my biggest referrer. Another large search engine was always close behind. Most people found me organically through search. Facebook was bobbing back and forth between second and fourth place among search engines and content sites. But this past month, I noticed a huge change. The major search engine fell a couple slots as the main referrer, my traffic grew overall, and Facebook became the main referrer. Did I fall in rankings? No. Upon further research, I discovered I was still getting generally the same amount of traffic from the major search engines and in some cases more. However, I was getting much more from Facebook than ever before.
Focus on your strong points
Take a look at your data to see where the bulk of your traffic is coming from. Is it Facebook or is it a search engine? You may be as surprised as I was at the answer. Wherever your strength lies, that is where the most focus should be. However, don't completely abandon the other traffic sources because you never know when things will change again. Since Facebook looks to be a very strong point for me right now, I will focus more on that aspect of my promotion. In digging deeper, it appears that the traffic is coming from my niche pages on Facebook as well as my personal profile and other people's profiles. Will I change what I am doing on Facebook? No. Whatever I am already doing is working. So the only change I should make is to be more consistent with it. Simply put, I need more focus.
What if Facebook is your weak point?
Once you have discovered and utilized your strong points, set aside a little time for the weaker ones. You don't have to be on Facebook all day to use it to your advantage. Create a few niche pages that fit your writing style. Link them to relevant pages on your site or blog. You can set up RSS feeds to automatically post to your facebook pages and profile. That way, you can focus on answering questions and posting other interesting things for your audience. This helps to make the most of the small amounts of time you may have to spend on this. This was my strategy in the beginning and apparently it has paid off. Never underestimate what a few minutes per day can do over time.
Has your Facebook traffic grown recently? Share your tips in the comments section.
Lyn Lomasi & Richard Rowell are life & business partners. Owners of Brand Shamans & the Write W.A.V.E. Media network, we are your brand healing, soul healing, & content superheroes to the rescue!
Running our network of websites, tackling deadlines single-handedly, and coaching fellow writers, brands, & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is our top priority.
While rescuing civilians from boring content and brands, we conquer the world, living the RV life and managing our Intent-sive Nature with our awesomely crazy family while recounting The Nova Skye Story, along with Kymani’s Travels.
We also strive to one day cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, we’ll settle for furry rescue kitties and doggies.
We support many causes via our business ventures, such as homelessness, support for trans youth, equality, helping starving artists, and more! A portion of all proceeds from Intent-sive Nature goes toward helping homeless pets in local shelters.
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