Friday, January 3, 2014

Content Drives Traffic


Pundits dubbed 2013 the year of content, but really, shouldn’t it be quality content? It’s not enough just to have something on your website, in your e-blasts, in your digital ads, or any of your marketing. What’s there needs to be quality, original content.

The duplicate content dilemma is one that has been floating around the web world nearly since inception, and it’s made only murkier by SEO and the frequent metric and algorithm changes by Google. Understanding it all takes time, patience and more than a little perseverance, so we’ll tackle some of the most common questions and let you reach out if you want more.

What exactly does duplicate vs original content mean?

First, effective content isn’t just cutting and pasting print copywriting to the web. As far back as 1996, Bill Gates recognized that in his now-famous “Content Is King” article, saying, “There isn’t enough depth or interactivity in print content to overcome the drawbacks of the online medium… [People] need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to-the-editor pages of print magazines.”

But doesn’t successful marketing involve consistent messaging?

Absolutely, but that doesn’t have to mean duplication. The message should be tailored to the medium. Print, for example, may have a simple “Call today” call to action, while digital (e-news, web, etc) can be much more forwardly engaging, involving clicking, surveying, video, audio and other techniques.

Take, for example, a marketing strategy incorporating a trifold brochure, a direct mailer, a web page and an e-blast. Should the content be similar? Yes, that goes toward consistent messaging. Should it be identical? No, that goes toward knowing your media. With direct mail you have a split second to engage and draw before it goes into the pile. Your point should be up front, in your face and easy to process. A brochure gives you more latitude for explanations and detail, with more information packed in with the assumption that the audience will spend more time with the piece. Think of an e-blast like a billboard, with a drive-by quality and seconds to engage via subject and graphics. A web page, while offering seemingly endless room for content, requires a different style of writing, with briefer sentences, more breaks and more opportunities to engage. Here you have the opportunity to incorporate links to other pages, video, article and other media, making it easier for the reader to expand beyond. And you need to incorporate important keywords so that search engines can index the page so more people can find and read your helpful content. Q&A format for the web is also king.

Increasing your ranking: Start with a cluster of solid keywords (the words or phrases your audience would most often enter into Google to find you and your product), and build your copy out from there.

So I can’t have anything duplicate on my site?

Today, duplicate content extends to literally having the same thing on your site more than once and how Google interprets that in its search rankings. Which then leads to the question of whether pages like terms and conditions and disclaimers negatively impact your rating? The short answer is no, it’s not going to be counted.

To rank high with Google, your site needs to add value. That means having information on your site that no one else has, and having more of it. “…25 or 30% of all the web’s content is duplicate content,” says Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam. Further, most of it isn’t spam, so rather than being eliminated, it’s grouped together.

It could be content within your own site, content cited by blogs or picked up by news outlets. Great original content takes time, ingenuity and creativity. Your content should be actionable. It should excite or pique interest. It provides answers or equips the audience to discern the answer. Whatever the source, the key is to make your content stand out and provide value beyond the rest of the clutter.

Keys to Great Original Content

  • Make it actionable
  • Get to the point
  • Provide answers
  • Start with strong headlines
  • Keep it fresh

How can we help? Contact Cheryl Neumann, cneumann@mcdmarketing.com or 309.346.2512.