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How to Create Better Content in Less Time

One of the problems most individuals and businesses face with content production is the amount of time it takes to create great content. Whether you’re a nutritionist trying to build an incredible blog, or a car dealer that wants to improve your automotive SEO, content takes a lot of time and it can oftentimes feel like there’s never enough of it to do quality work.

In this post, I’ll provide step-by-step details on how you can stop feeling overwhelmed by and start creating better content in less time:

Do Research in Bulk

If there’s one thing that slows down content production, it’s on-the-fly research. You should be gathering resources and taking notes before committing to anything substantial.

Not only will this help you better understand the topic at hand, it will allow you to reference things quickly without getting lost in a sea of resources. You need to have a plan ahead of time in order to efficiently produce content.

In the end, bulk research also helps you better understand the topic. You’re not just reading bits and pieces needed for your content, you’re actually trying to comprehend it.

For example, this would be the difference between reading a textbook and just skimming through for specific details. Sure, you might know dates and names, but you won’t know the deeper significance.

Create an Outline for Every Piece of Content

Content without an outline is like a road trip without a route. You need to know what you want to talk about, what order you’re going to do it in, and how it all flows to create an engaging, informative finished product.

To help you understand exactly what an outline is, here’s a look at the outline I put together for this post:

  • Do Research in Bulk
    • On-the-fly research slows down production
    • You’ll understand the topic better
  • Create an Outline for Every Piece of Content
    • You wouldn’t start a road trip without a route, would you?
    • Provide example outline, explanation
    • Advice on using the outline to write more efficiently
  • Create a Process for Staying on Track
    • Process brings creativity to the surface
    • Breakdown of personal process
    • Be aware of the time
  • Before Writing, Ask Yourself: “How Can I Make This Idea Better?”
    • Your content will never be perfect
    • Visualize and re-read outline
  • Read and Edit on the Fly
    • Good habit to get back on track, catch errors

As you can see, the headings featured on this post are my main talking points. Within those, I add specific notes below so that I know exactly what I want to say before I get begin the actual writing process.

Use the outline as a visualization of what you want to achieve with each individual piece of content. Be as detailed as possible to ensure that you’re able to finish a thought and move right into the next part without getting distracted or lost in thought.

When practiced over the course of a few months, it’s possible to create content in half the time it might have previously taken. And that’s all while improving upon the overall quality as well.

Before Writing, Ask Yourself: “How Can I Make This Idea Better?”

Content is never perfect, and I don’t think it can ever labeled as such. But that doesn’t mean we give up and just write whatever pops into our heads without thinking.

Once you’ve got your outline, take a few minutes to look it over and think about how you can make the idea even better. Sometimes we’re in a rush, sometimes we’re not focused on the work at hand, and adding this element can really ground you in order to help create better content.

Don’t force ideas, but visualize the flow of the content and try to fill any missing blanks with pockets of useful information. You’d be surprised at how often just asking yourself if that’s really the best you can do will spark new and creative ideas.

Create a Process for Staying on Track

While there’s some belief that process hinders creativity, you’ll find you can bring creativity to the surface with less effort when you simply create a process and stick to it.

Here’s a breakdown of how I personally work on content:

  • Starting Research (keywords, related content search, inspiration)
  • Topical Research (links to resources and notes)
  • Create Outline
  • Go Over Research and Finalize Outline
  • Start Writing in the Middle
  • Read Through Content and Create Introduction/Conclusion
  • Brief Final Editing/Formatting
  • Publish

Having this process laid out gives me the structure needed to stay consistent with the quality of my work. I rarely feel like I’m missing anything, and I always know where I’m going with the work.

Additionally, be aware of how much time you’re spending on certain parts of your process. I like to set a timer and give myself 15minutes per 300-word section. This is just enough time to do great work, but will also let me know that I’ve spent too much time on any particular part.

Read and Edit on the Fly

The final editing process should be easy if you make a habit of reading and editing your work on the fly. When I feel stuck, I like to read through the last 300 or so words to help regain my flow. It’s also a great time to catch any errors that may have slipped through.

By the end, all you need to do is briefly re-read the content to ensure it’s good to go.

 

If you’re worried you could be doing more to better your content writing abilities, don’t just keep doing the same thing, hoping to improve. Take action now and identify specific problems with your process!

This post was originally published on the Wikimotive blog on July 13, 2015. 

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Periodic Table of SEO: In-Depth Content Guide

Periodic Table

While SEO is a simple practice once you learn the basics (and begin implementing strategies and techniques), it's often intimidating to beginners and those who don't specialize in digital marketing.

In order to help more and more people learn about SEO in a simple and organized fashion, Search Engine Land created the "Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors." At a glance, it provides a fundamental guide to the practice, but lacks the detail necessary to go from crawling to walking.

Below, we'll take a look at the content section of the table and dig deeper into the world of content for SEO to shape how you think about content and help you jumpstart your SEO.

Periodic Table of SEO - Content

Cq - QUALITY

You've probably heard the term "quality content" more times than you care to remember.

To cut out the confusion once and for all, there is no real definition to let someone know what separates good quality content from bad quality content.It's mostly a feeling.

  • Did you write enough to properly cover your topic?
  • Did you add too much content? (Fluff, irrelevant points, etc.)
  • How was your grammar?
  • Did the piece flow from one part to another?
  • What about relevant images, videos, links?


All of these questions need to be answered confidently before you can truly call your content "quality."

Cr - RESEARCH

Even if your piece is a simple 500-word blurb on a topic, knowing the type of phrases and language people will use when searching this content is extremely important. Break out the Keyword Planner Tool found in Adwords and really take a few minutes to discover keywords related to your target topic.

The most basic optimization may not take a post from zero to hero on its own, but it can give it the extra boost in needs to bring in a good flow of regular traffic.

Cw - WORDS

Did you integrate the phrases and keywords you discovered? How did you add them in? Did it affect your content's quality? (The way it reads and flows naturally.)

While inserting keywords for the SEO benefit is something most SEOs practice on a daily basis, you can't ruin the reading experience for the end user just to satisfy search engines.

Cf - FRESH

Covering topics that are "in" or "trending" is not a new phenomenon, but Google rewards this with what they call "Query Deserved Freshness." The update itself is not new, and has been in action since 2007, but knowing that a certain type of content is treated differently in the SERPs may change how you create content, especially if you're in an industry where there's plenty of news.

For example, I love to take trending topics and turn them into longform content that goes beyond what other sites are reporting at the time.

Because not all readers are able to follow stories that update several times, so answering all of the questions they could have in one epic post is an extra way to add value while attaching your site to the QDF Train.

Cv - VERTICAL

While I mentioned images and video in the quality section, the "vertical" Search Engine Land lists in their Periodic Table of SEO has to do with search engines that are dedicated to a single vertical. For example, Google Images is all about images, while Google News focuses on timely news related to pre-set categories or topics you search for on the site.

In order to have a balanced assortment of content, it's a good idea to try creating content for these different verticals. Whether that means utilizing custom photography or other imagery, shooting videos, or publishing regular news articles, it's possible to gain traction in multiple areas of content beyond just the written word.

Ca - DIRECT ANSWERS

Most sites might think they don't have a lot to provide Google with in regard to its Knowledge Graph, Direct Answers, and other useful information you see when you directly embedded in the SERPs nowadays.

Using on-page markup and structured data, such as Schema, you can optimize your pages to increase the likelihood that your content will be picked up by the Knowledge Graph and used in quick answers.

Many SEOs are against the idea of Google embedding information directly on the SERPs, while others see it as an easy way to stand out from the crowd. If picked up as a source of information, it's also another source of traffic to your site when users click on the source link Google often provides when pulling information from third-parties.

Vt - THIN

While your definition of quality may be different than mine, I like to think most digital marketers truly know the difference between quality content and thin content. It's often something you can spot within a few seconds of landing on a particular page, but some pages disguise thin content with well-designed pages and content templates.

Other terms used to describe thin content include "lacking substance," "useless," and "vague." This doesn't necessarily mean the content was too short, as many confuse thin content with anything under a certain word count.

Unfortunately, content can be thin even at 4,000 words. This is because Google's algorithm can't effectively rate your content based on its merit just yet. The search engine relies mostly on data from users to tell if content is supplying users with answers or not. If the data shows people bouncing from your site at an extremely high rate, it's likely your content sucks and isn't what search users are looking for.

While more words on the page can contribute to higher time on site, it can't prevent high bounce rates. Whether that means you work on increasing the quality of your content, or begin implementing a more hyper-focused approach to your topics, do your best to think of your target audience and what they want first and then worry about optimizing for Google and other search engines.

 

As you expand your knowledge of content and how to utilize it for SEO, you should naturally be mindful of ways you can improve your content. If necessary, create a checklist that you can use to go through each element mentioned in the content section of the Periodic Table of SEO. This will help you identify errors in your content, and will bring better content rankings and reader engagement. Good luck!

This post originally appeared on the Wikimotive blog on June 22, 2015. 

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For many SEOs, content marketers, and writers, generating ideas for content is one of the most difficult tasks to perform, especially as a beginner.

But whether you’re just getting started or simply struggling with a business SEO strategy, this five-step guide will help you shape how you generate ideas and help you focus on your goal of creating the absolute best content on the web.

Step 1: Do Your Keyword Research

Like many SEOs and content managers, I believe the first step in any content idea generation process should be keyword research.

Do I think it’s an absolute necessity to drive organic traffic? No.

Do I think it’s better than not doing any research? Yes!

The reason I do keyword research for most of my idea generation is simple: I want to know what people are searching so I can help answer simple questions, solve complex problems, and entertain readers.

If I decide one day to write a post about the best pens hotels leave in guests’ rooms, how do I know this is topic worth covering if I don’t have any data to back it up? Well, I don’t. So by moving forward and writing that post, I’m essentially walking into this topic blind.

You wouldn’t drive your car blind, would you? Of course not. You want to know where you’re going. Content and SEO are no different, which is why we do keyword research.

Step 2: Mind Map from Keyword to Topic

Once you’ve got your main, generic keyword on the topic you want to cover, put that keyword through Google’s Keyword Planner Tool and make a list of high-volume keywords that are directly related to your main keyword.

For instance, if my main keyword was “Batman,” here’s what a list of my related keywords would look like:

  • Batman Movies
  • Batman Games
  • Batman Costume
  • Batman Toys
  • Batman Quotes

From here, you want to create a mind map (I use Bubbl.us), starting with your original keyword “Batman” and add your related keywords  to start the map.

Step 3: Go One Level Deeper

Head back to the Keyword Planner and toss your related keywords in one at a time. Take a careful look at the results.

What pops out at you? Don’t just immediately run with the keyword that has the highest volume. Choose something with a good amount of traffic, great potential, and fun factor.

While the ultimate goal is to rank for a specific keyword, as well as those semantically similar, you also want your content to be shareable. Social media acts as a huge discovery platform, and can lead to plenty of links if your content is great and promoted properly.

Step 4: Think About Intent

Intent is one of the single most important lessons you need to learn in order to produce great content. You need to put yourself in the shoes of the person searching for “Best Batman Toys” and think about what they would want to click on after searching that query on Google or any other search engine.

The search “Batman Toys” doesn’t tell us much about intent. More than likely it’s half inquires for information on various Batman toys on the market, and half shoppers looking to buy Batman toys.

“Best Batman Toys,” on the other hand, is not too vague. If someone submits that query, they’re looking for the best Batman toys. To be fair, though,they could be looking for the best of all time, or simply the best available now.

You can choose one, the other, or just try to tackle everything in one incredible piece of content.

Step 5: Provide Value to the Searcher

From here on in, keywords don’t matter. You’ve done your research, picked your topic, and now it’s time to take action.

The ultimate goal here is to provide value to the searcher. Whether that be a group of college kids looking for a list of Batman drinking games or a diehard Batman fan in need of motivational quotes from their favorite character, your content should go above and beyond to satisfy them.

Don’t think about how well you can optimize this page; just think about how the search user will react when they land on your page. Will they be dumbfounded by the amount of detail you went into on the topic, or will they simply be turned off by your failure to understand exactly what they were looking for?

 

There’s no secret formula to this process. It all depends on how badly you want to succeed. So don’t give up if you fail to rank for the first few months. Simply take notes on how each piece of content performed, how you can improve, and follow through to grow as a writer and marketer.

This post originally appeared on Wikimotive's blog on June 8, 2015. 

 

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How to Create Compelling Content for ANY Topic

When it comes to content marketing, there are topics that are thought of as easy to promote and others that are harder to promote. Smartphones are an example of a topic that might be thought of as easy to promote while pest control is on the harder end of the spectrum.

So if you're forced to work on a topic deemed difficult, or one where there aren't many examples to build upon or inspiration to be had, how do you deal with it?

Well, you have to get creative. Those who can take a "tough" or "boring" topic and make it interesting will be able to take that experience and be even better at creating content for popular and easy topics down the road.

To get started, you just have to ask yourself one simple question:

How Can I Make This Fun and Interesting?

If you've already been sitting at your computer asking yourself, "How can I create fun and interesting content that promotes pest control?" and come up with nothing, you may not be digging deep enough for ideas.

Oftentimes, we get stuck doing things a certain way, which prevents us from seeing the answers right in front of us. For content writers, this generally means getting out of your comfort zone of simple ideas and looking for ways to make something completely different.

Here are three simple steps to making that happen:

  • Find a way to connect people to your topic
  • Use current events/popular culture to create a fun angle
  • Utilize images and video

Finding Ways to Connect People to Your Topic


The success of your content boils down to how you're able to connect your audience with the topic at hand. It doesn't matter how big your budget is or how popular the topic; if you can't bridge a connection that compels your audience to share or any kind of action, you've failed.

Thinking about pest control, it's actually not hard to get people to connect to it. It's likely everyone has dealt with some kind of bug or rodent problem in their home in the past, so we can all relate to the need for pest control.

But our content doesn't need to actually promote pest control directly, it simply has to relate to it. With that in mind, you could create a list called The 10 Scariest Bugs You Wouldn't Want to Find in Your Home.

With pictures, detailed descriptions, origins, and other information, you can create something people will want to share.

When trying to connect your audience with your topic, think long and hard about this example and how you can apply it to your own work.

Using Current Events or Popular Culture to Create Fun Angles

Current events and popular culture always strike a cord with people. If you can utilize them to get your message across, you'll have a better shot at drawing people in with your content.

Sticking with our pest control example, what would be a simple way to connect something from popular culture with our "boring" topic?

Well, superheroes are now ingrained in our popular culture, so  that's a good place to start. You could have fun with an article called How Batman Deals With Rodents in Wayne Manor.

As an exercise, try to come up with a similar example and then execute it. Share it on as many sites as possible, reach out to blogs that link to offbeat content, and put some promotional dollars behind it on sites like Facebook and StumbleUpon.

Use Images and Video to Make Your Content More Compelling


Images and video are extremely powerful tools in your fight for compelling content. They keep people engaged, supplement your written content, and help increase a visitor's time on your site.

When creating content like how-tos and lists, be sure each item has a dedicated image. These not only help break up content for better reading, but will make your content more enjoyable overall.

Videos also help break up content, but their main purpose is to help you explain something in a more visual and interesting way than just written text.

For instance, The 10 Scariest Bugs You Wouldn't Want to Find in Your Home post we talked about in the first section could become even better with videos to supplement your pictures, descriptions, and other information.

Take a look at how you're creating content today and look for ways to better incorporate images and video.

Final Note: Work on Improving Quality, Not Producing More and More Content


One of the biggest problems with content today is that there's just so much of it out there. In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to stop thinking about producing more content and think about improving the quality instead.

This has been said time and time again, so I realize you might think that statement is worthless. Hear me out with this one simple tip: Put more time into your content. If you're just producing content to see what sticks, how are you supposed to add value to your users' experience?

Instead of thinking about ways you can cut corners to do more, start thinking about ways you can add more value to your content. If this means talking with your boss or client about a revised strategy, create a proposal and schedule a meeting to discuss it.

With as much competition as there is online, the only way you're going to stand out is by constantly out doing them with high quality content.

This post was originally published on Wikimotive's company blog.

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How to Build a Blog Audience from the Ground Up

While a blog is a great place to talk about your business and build valuable search engine authority, it can also help you gain a loyal following of customers and admirers that will help you see steady growth for a long time to come.

A blog builds trust with customers, allowing people to better connect with your business. That does not come overnight, and may not come at all, but there's a formula for successful blogging that can help you tackle this new, powerful type of marketing.

One example of a business that embraces blogging and content marketing is Moz (formerly SEOMoz). The software company has no sales staff, puts an extreme emphasis on content and community, and provides truly in-depth industry reports for free. Through all of that, they've built a huge following and have been able to consistently grow Moz as a business because of it.

Sure, Moz has always been a unique company, but there's nothing stopping your business from following in their footsteps.

Want in on their secret formula? Keep reading.

Be Honest and Helpful

When a lot of businesses start blogging, they seem to think that means they need to literally blog about their business. The problem there? Nobody cares about what's going on with your business unless you're one of the world's largest companies or you give them good reason to care. I don't say that to be mean, but it's an absolute truth.

So how do you get people to care about your business? Be selfless.

Give out information like candy on Halloween. But instead of giving out crap from an assorted bag like all of the other houses, give out full-size candy. I bet you'd remember who gave you that and immediately forget about the crap givers, right?

It's the same way with content. We visit sites like Moz, QuickSprout, Buffer, and CopyBlogger because we can count on their content being honest and helpful. In case you weren't following the analogy, those sites give out full-size candy.

Create a Schedule and Stick to It

If you're going to blog, you need to do it regularly. If you let your audience know when you'll have new content (whether directly or indirectly), there's a greater chance that they'll become return visitors.

The only thing you have to do is hold up your end of the bargain and more and more readers will return each time you create new content.

And you don't have to post every single day to be successful, but you do need to deliver great content. When creating your posting schedule, think of how long you need to craft those great posts so you don't feel rushed or overworked.

Create Regular Features/Columns

An easy way to start your blog off on the right foot is to create regular features or columns to encourage readers to come back for similar stories. Moz's Whiteboard Friday is a great example of this, and provides Moz with tons of consistent traffic, links (like the one here), and general buzz about their digital marketing knowledge.

Think of a way you could implement a regular feature into your blog while providing entertainment for your readers. You can always change it up as you and your business evolve; the key is to get started!

Be Extremely Active on Social Media

On both your personal and business accounts, it's important to be extremely active when you're trying to grow your blog's audience. Follow and connect with influential bloggers, be a cool source for industry news, and give people a reason to follow your business.

It's also important to note that you can buy exposure on social media to help throw these efforts into overdrive. With ads that can target only the type of consumer you want to attract, allocating some of your online ad spend to social media is an extremely effective method to grow your business's blog.

Conclusion

The goal for your business's blog is to attract people that will allow you to market to them. By providing them with something of value for their clicks and time, they'll give you permission to be a business without running for the hills.

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Don’t you feel like the Internet disrupted a perfectly good way of doing business?

If not, you’re one of the lucky ones. There are so many dealerships that are struggling to find the best approach to building their business online and dominating the market.

On top of that, the internet appears to have caused everyone to suffer from attention deficit. When online users want something, they want it fast and concise. They don’t want to search a million and one different sources to find the information that they’re looking for.

But amidst the clutter, there is a simple business principle that has stood the test of time and transferred online. In fact, the dealerships that utilize this business principle are enjoying incredible success doing business on the web.

The principle is perfectly described in the acronym B.R.T.

Any ideas?

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS OF TRUST

Doing things that will help facilitate the building of trusting relationships between you and your audience has always made the difference in any type of business. When you consider that marketing is about conveying the right message, to the right audience at the right time and in the right tone, the whole objective is to build a relationship of trust - a relationship that lasts.

Taking steps to BRT online will compel your online visitors to take action and visit you in person or pick up the phone and call you.

So what are some things you can do to BRT online?

 

1. You will never go wrong with content

Automotive consumers are thirsting for information. Everyday there are millions of them that go online to research your products and services. Google has indicated that 70% of people that research vehicles online involve heavy cross-shopping.

Alas, most dealer websites do not include enough content to help shape the consumers purchase decision. BUT taking the time to build a content strategy for you dealership including the topics that your consumers are interested in is a surefire way to earn their loyalty and trust.

 

2. Behind the scenes video

Video provides a massive opportunity to show your audience the aspects of your business that they wouldn’t normally get to see. Most of the time when we talk about video in the industry, it usually has to do with showing off the inventory, but imagine how powerful a virtual tour video of your dealership could be in helping your online visitors break the ice and feel comfortable with your dealership before they even come to visit in person.

Another great video to create would be on your staff page. Wouldn’t it be cool for your entire team to create a short 30 second to 1 minute video introducing themselves and inviting you to visit the dealership with a smile? When your visitors feel familiar with the faces that they will see inside the dealership, it helps alleviate any pressure that they may feel walking onto the lot.

 

3. Make sure your vehicle information is complete

It’s surprising just how many dealer websites I visit to this day that still have missing or incomplete vehicle information. If you want to build trust with your online visitors, provide them the information about your vehicles that they came to see. Make sure each vehicle has the right pricing and incentive information. Make sure there are enough photos and videos.

Certainly there are many more things that you can do to BRT online, but these three are simple solutions that you can start doing right now. If you checked out Subi’s last post, you’ll notice that she emphasizes the importance of application. You’re going to hear about this topic as well on an upcoming episode of The Dealer Playbook podcast, because it’s so true. Start BRT-ing online by applying the principles that I’ve mentioned in this article.

You’re turn. What are you doing online that has helped build relationships of trust? Chime in using the comments below.

 

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