How to Succeed with Inbound Marketing in 5 Easy Steps!

Do you do inbound marketinging? If so, do you really understanding what inbound is all about?

Indeed, in the recent past incound marketingas a marketing word has become a buzz among internet marketers and, especially bloggers. Corned by the good folks at HubSpot.com the term has become for many, the internet marketing magic wand you need to succeed widely on the net!

Of course, I wouldn’t doubt that. However, it’s rather unfortunate that of those talking, only a few really know what inbound marketing is. On various occasions I have heard many of these self proclaimed ‘ experts’ refer to marketing as one and the same as inbound marketing!

Of course, the two terms can definitely be used interchangeably but, is inbound marketing all about content marketing?

Can simply creating and distributing content online with the mind of selling a product or service be referred to as an inbound marketing?

In this blog article, I aim to clear some of the misconceptions about inbound marketing. If you are considering marketing your online using inbound marketing or you are somehow already doing so, the following information will help you better understand and effectively implement this marketing strategy that is taking the internet by storm!

Understanding the concept of inbound marketing

Now, I must say that ever before HubSpot came about the word “inbound marketing” and many online marketers jumped at the it, I have been working with the concept of inbound marketing. This is because right from my early days on the net I read a book, “The Affiliate Marketing Masters” that laid out this concept despite the fact that it never called it that.

But the foundational knowledge I got from that ebook has always formed the basis of my marketing strategy. The concept is based on the fact that people go online not to be sold to but to get information. As a marketer therefore, all you need to do is to position your brand, product or service as the go-to expert for the needed information. By so doing, you would be attracting the right prospects and instead of chasing them!

This is why inbound marketing is also referred to as “pull marketing” as opposed to the traditional “push marketing”!

With that being said, et’s have a working definition of the term “inbound marketing”.

What Really Is Inbound Marketing?

Here’s what Wikipedia.com has to say about inbound marekting:

“Inbound marketing is the promotion of a company or other organization through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers, , physical products, marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to attract customers through the different stages of the purchase funnel.”

And HubSpot.com, the people generally accepted as corning the term “inbound marketing”, has this to say:

“Inbound marketing is about using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention. Sharing is caring and inbound marketing is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.”

Simply put, inbound marketing is a general term for different marketing techniques that are combined into an overall marketing plan to produce outstanding results.

Now, the key to understanding this definition is the word COMBINED.  You must understand that these techniques are “combined” not “strung” together.

Before now, marketers using what is now referred to as outbound marketing, adopted fragmented techniques like print advertising, internet advertising, PR, cold calling, etc. in an attempt to boost sales.

The intent then was to reach as many prospects as possible. It doesn’t matter to the outbound marketer if the prospect needed that product or service at that very moment. It was simply about pushing out different marketing messages with the mind of seeing which one would stick!

Now, that strategy was nothing but the old “foot-in-the-door sales technique” when you go knocking on doors and ‘forcing’ yourself into the homes of prospective clients, trying to convince them of how wonderful your product is!

Recommended: Top 3 Reasons Why Content Marketing Will Fail You!

Indeed, outbound marketing was nothing but a hit and miss affair!

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, puts the focus on the prospect/customer instead of your product, service or company. Instead of using some clever hard sell tactics to get the sale from the reluctant and indifferent prospects or customers, you position yourself and make the business come to you.

How to Succeed with Inbound Marketing

Steps to inbound marketing success

To succeed with inbound marketing, there are certain fundametnal steps you need to take. If you understand this and follow through with these steps you can be sure of succeeding as an inbound marketer.

Here are the 5 simple steps to creating a successful inbound marekting strategy:

1. Listening

Every successful inbound marketing campaign begins with research. You need to know what the demand is and where it is coming from. Creating your inbound marketing content without any research is nothing but operating with the outbound marketing mindset.

You need to research what you competition is doing, what your prospects and customers need and what they are saying about you, your product or service.

The good thing is that you don’t have to look far as the internet has a lot to offer you about this research. You can use the search engines and keyword tools to know what your target audience are asking or looking for.

Social media sites come handy here also.

Now, whenever I hear anyone, SEO is dead while proclaiming to be an inbound marketer, I immediately know that that person have a wrong understanding of what inbound marketing is.

SEO is simply one of the old techniques that is necessary in inbound marketing. SEO helps you to produce the ‘right’ content that will help you attract the right prospect based on your research.

I do not just recommend understanding the basics of SEO as an inbound marketer because I am an SEO web content writer but because it is really the bedrock of creating the right content for your inbound marketing campaign.

2. Producing

As mentioned above, once you have listened and understood what your existing and prospective customers’ needs are from the conversations they are having online, your next move is to produce content that address those needs.

You should aim to be the go-to-resource by positioning yourself as a voice and authority in your industry. This way, prospective clients or customers will be attracted to you instead of you running after them.

It is important to note that creating quality and useful content that engages the attention of your prospects and customers is actually the most vital part of your inbound marketing strategy. It is what truly drives the inbound marketing wheel. This is why many see content marketing as one and the same as inbound marketing!

It is important therefore that as a business if you are hard up on time or you simply lack the in-house resources to create valuable web content, you mustn’t hesitate in hiring professional content writers since this will pay handsome dividend in the long run.

3. Engage

Inbound marketing is not a one-way traffic. It is not just about listening and producing quality content. That is nothing but ‘old school’ outbound marketing.

Working with what you know about your target audience in your research and using your content as a launching pad, you should move beyond that and aim to know them more ‘intimately’. Engage with them in order to gain their trust.

One effective way to do this is through social media. With social media you can spark a two-way conversation with your prospects/customers. Facebook is big right now. Take advantage of it.

There are tools that will help you set up keyword alerts to notify you of discussions about you and your product or service. One such service is Google alerts.

Email marketing is another old technique that you can use. Initiate the conversation on social media and then find a way of also getting them on your email list where you work on developing the relationship.

Recommended: The 3 Scientific Steps to Using Social Media for Online Selling!

You may also want to download my Facebook marketing guide. Click here to download!

4. Transform

The ultimate aim of marketing is actually the resultant sale. Prospects and website visitors need to be converted into leads while leads must be converted to customers.

Through your engagement and lead nurturing, you expertly move every prospect through the buying cycle and ensure that when they are ready to buy, you will definitely be the ultimate choice!

This demands creating more and different types of content focused on the different stages of the buying cycle. Work with your insights and interactions and create the right type of content required.

At this stage you definitely need an email management system to drive your engagement and lead nurturing. There’s no better way to do this than through and autoresponder like GetResponse.com.

5. Grooming

Effectively engage with your prospects

If you have been online for some time By now, you already know that things change easily and quickly online. This calls for a constant improvement of your inbound marketing strategy. You should continuously analyze, track and ensure your content is updated to keep leads, not only engaged but also to remain loyal to your brand.
Continuously improve on your offerings to stay on top of what is working.

Simply put, rinse and repeat!

Conclusion

From the above you will understand that content is the bedrock of inbound marketing. This accounts for why many see content marketing as one and the same with inbound marketing. But as you have seen, inbound marketing is actually more than content marketing.

Nevertheless, for you to TRULY succeed with your inbound marketing strategy, you need not just content but high quality content. If, as a business, you lack in house expertise on content creation the better route to take is to get quality professional SEO content writers to help you with your web content.

Over to you: Let’s have your thoughts on how to succeed with inbound marketing in your comments below.

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Top 4 Factors That Should Drive Your Content Marketing Strategy in 2017!

What to consider for content marketing in 2017

In the past few years has grown to become a buzz word in the online circle! This can be attributed to the fact that marketers are moving away very fast from the traditional push marketing tactics to “pull” marketing strategies.

For example, a survey conducted in 2011 by Curata uncovered the fact that “twice as many marketers now implement Content Marketing as do print, tv and radio advertising!”

But that was 2011…today, content marketing has so grown that if you are not engaging it to build your small then you are not only leaving money on the table but you’re definitely sabotaging your business success.

Here are some…

Benefits of Content Marketing

1. Builds your site’s authority, drive traffic, and generate leads.

2. Naturally attracts backlinks that enhances your efforts.

3. It helps drive new prospects through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc as it encourages your online connections to share your site socially.

4. Helps pull new prospects into your sphere of influence (when they join your email list, etc.)

5. Deliver value up-front and showcase your expertise to prospective clients

Given the benefits of content marketing it is not surprising therefore that every marketer is pushing for it no matter the market they are targeting.

Indeed, content marketing is here to stay and the challenge for small businesses is not whether to use it or not but how make a success of it. 

And so, one of the questions being asked by many is, what content marketing strategy should we really focus on?

And so, knowing that many businesses are right now preparing and planning their strategies for 2017, I want to present you with some ideas on what should form your content marketing strategy for today and going forward!

So, let’s begin…

Related Reading: How NOT to Create Marketing Content that Sucks!

1. Create More Visual Content
Use images in your content

Before 2013 content marketing was mostly associated with blog posts. The written text was mainly the focus. But with the growing popularity of images and video content on online platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc, integrating images and/or video into your marketing content is becoming the de facto standard for content across all formats.

Here are some interesting stats about images and visuals that should piqué your interest:

  • Posts with visuals receive 94% more page visits and engagement than those without. This is because people are naturally more attracted to images than they are to links or text.
  • Facebook posts with an image receive, on average, more than twice as many comments as those without.
  • Facebook Photo albums receive 180% more engagement than a normal post.
  • Businesses using infographics in their marketing grow in traffic on average of 12% more than those who don’t.

The fact that social engagement is becoming a very important factor when it comes to SEO, incorporating visual content in your marketing mix is something to consider. This is because images are social-media-ready and social-media-friendly. On platforms they drive more engagement and on your sites/blogs they have a higher chance of being shared than anything else.

Infographics are not only awesome for brand awareness and social-media sharing, they’re also referenced more frequently than any other pieces of content – increasing their reach exponentially.

2. Use High-Quality Text Content

The fact that images and other virtual content are becoming more popular by the day does not mean that the written word has become irrelevant. However, your written content must be valuable and of high quality.

To get the attention of people to engage with your brand through your content you will need to focus on relevant up-to-date content. This demands keeping a finger on the pulse of the news, staying in the know of your industry trends and creating sharable content based on what is important now.

Besides, you will need to offer a perspective and share a philosophy that makes your content helpful, unique, genuine and emotionally engaging. Do extensive research to uncover the words that resonate with your target audience and use these in your content.

Focusing on the user and not just your products and services will help make your content to be appealing enough that the user will be more willing to share it socially.

Related Reading: Top 3 Reasons Why Content Marketing Will Fail You!

3. Mobile-First Content

Mobile usage statistics

In our today’s mobile-ized world, people prefer surfing the Web using their mobile devices. In their Mobile Marketing Statistics 2013 compilation, Mobile Talent Management firm, Snaphop reported some mind-boggling mobile usage statistics:

  • Mobile web browsing accounted for 30% of all web traffic in 2012 and is expected to account for 50% by 2014. (Nucleus Research via SourceCon)
  • By 2016, the number of mobile devices is expected to surpass the world’s population–an 18-fold increase between 2011 and 2016. (Cisco)
  • Mobile phones accounted for more than 13% of all web traffic in August 2012. (Cisco)
  • Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, and Wikimedia are the top 5 media properties accessed on mobile devices (comScore 2013)

With such stats you definitely want to create mobile friendly content that will help you engage these users.

The mobile-first mindset begins with your site design. But beyond that your content should also be created taking into cognizance the mobile users. You will need to know your audience’s mobile habits so as to create the type of content that truly connects with them.

4.

Your content marketing is nothing if it does not drive lead generation for your business. You must therefore include lead capture and trust building through content marketing across the different channels.

Simply creating content that people are willing to share is not enough. Always ensure that you have a squeeze page to effectively capture their email addresses. This should be followed by a long sequence of relevant and well monetized emails!

To succeed with this you will need to map your marketing content to the buying cycle. This means therefore that whether your content is virtual, textual or optimized for mobile, it should target one of the following categories:

Research: 75% of leads fall into this category. Here the lead knows there is a problem and is looking for solutions.

Evaluation: Marketing research has shown that 20% of leads fall into this category. Here the lead has some insight that your product would meet her need and but then evaluates it to be more sure.

Purchase: This is really the good point. Here the lead is ready to buy. 5% of leads fall into this category.

Develop your marketing content with these statistics in mind. Create valuable content with corresponding squeeze pages targeted at these different categories.

Conclusion

Creating marketing content for 2014 and beyond and succeeding in it demands having a clear knowledge of your target audience. Know their behavior online and then package your content to meet their needs. Whether you are using virtual content like images, videos, infographics, slideshare, etc. or the written word, ensure that your content is optimized for the mobile user. Also having a system that helps you to capture the contact details of your targeted audience to further develop the type of relationship that will help you gain and their trust and business is definitely important.

Over to you: What are the essential factors of your content marketing strategy in 2017? Share with us in your comments below.

Blog Marketing: What Every Small Business Owner Should Know!

Over the years blogging has become an essential tool for business online promotion. Unfortunately, many small business owners, till this day, still look at blogs as personal journals. Worst still, many others simply consider blogs as some social networking tool that is popular among young people out there in cyber space!

If you have that opinion back in 1995 you would be correct but not today!

One thing you can be sure of today is, Blogging Has Evolved!

The question is no longer, should you blog? Rather it is, do you have a blog?

Let me say it categorically that if as at this day you’re not blogging, as a small business entrepreneur, then you’re missing out BIG! And so, you must move from defining blogs as personal journals. They are presently powerful marketing tools. Savvy business owners are using blogs for brand recognition, connecting with clients/customers and of course, create more opportunities for their businesses.

But in this blog article we are talking about blog marketing.

Small business blog marketing tips

So,

What Is Blog Marketing?

It is important that we have a clear understanding of what blog marketing is for us to better appreciate its benefits. Over the years I have to tried to really get a grasp of this. I want to say that of all the definitions of blog marketing that I have come across, I think this clearly captures the true meaning:

Blog marketing is any process that publicizes or advertises a website, business, brand or service via the medium of blogs. This includes, but is not limited to marketing via ads placed on blogs, recommendations and reviews by the blogger, promotion via entries on third party blogs and cross-syndication of information across multiple blogs.

As you can see blog marketing involve a whole lot of things. But for this article I will restrict myself to the aspect that is concerned with using your business blog to directly market your business online. This consists of creating blog articles and using same to drive traffic to your business website.

Why Blog Marketing?

There are various benefits your business can get from blog marketing. Please read this article to understand some of the reasons why you should add a blog to your business website.

But to really understand the importance of business blogging, here are some stats that will interest you:

  • B2B marketers that blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
  • Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI.
  • Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.
  • Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information.
  • By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human.

As a small business owner it is sure you wouldn’t ignore such stats, or do you?

 5 Tips for Effective Blog Marketing

Here are some ways you can ensure good results from your blog marketing efforts:

1. Link Your Business Blog to Your Website

If you have a website for your business, link your blog to it. This is a good way letting your customers/prospects know you do blog. This could create an immediate surge of traffic to your small business blog thereby making it popular in a short time.

2. SEO Optimized Content

When you are marketing a blog, you pretty much do it the same way that you would market a website. It is going to need keywords, and content. You can write the content yourself, or pay someone else to write it for you. That part is totally up to you. However, you will want to be sure that the content is decent and something that your readers will want to read. This will keep them coming back.

Make sure that the content is written from special keywords that you choose. You will also want to become familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO will help you to optimize your blog to get a better ranking with the search engines.

3. Exchange links with relevant sites

Once your blog is up and running with the right keywords and some content published, you will need to get it out there some more. Link exchanges are wonderful for marketing your small business blog. You want to try and exchange links with sites that are relevant to yours, but not in direct competition. If you try to exchange links with sites in competition with yours, you are going to find that many of them will turn you down in fear of losing business to you.

4. Submit To Blog Directories

While this may not really make much impact today but it is not a bad idea to do this. There are many online directories that caters specifically to blogs. Submitting your business blog to these directories is a big part of small business blog marketing. You can pay some directories to list your blog URL in their directory under the specific category that it falls under. However, some of these even have specific qualifications that you must have to get in. Follow all of the application steps, and you should be ok. Just do not try to submit your blog to a directory that it does not qualify for, or fit in.

5. Make Your Business Blog Truly Interactive

This is important for small business blog marketing. For example, if someone leaves a comment on your blog, acknowledging and responding to it make your blog a truly interactive platform.

You can also comment on other blogs that are relevant to yours, and leave a link to your blog as well. This will help bring in visitors to your blog, and you will begin to see more and more traffic.

Conclusion

Small business blog marketing is something that anyone can do. It’s not rocket science. Having a blog and keeping it up to date with the latest information is not hard. All you need to have is a plan and you will be set to market any type of business from your blog. Whether you are selling a product or a service, it does not matter. A blog that is marketed the right way will be beneficial to any business whatever it might be.

Get Your Web Content Read With These 5 Brilliant Content Writing Tips!

Get more people to read your content

So, content is king, right?

But how many times have you written that really powerful piece of web content but no one cared to read it talk less of sharing it!

Yes, content MAY be king, but the truth is, no one wants to labor on a piece of content and all it achieves is a few visits now and then. Such a situation is not only frustrating but demoralizing.

But, not to worry, there is help.

There are some very exciting findings about website reading patterns and usability which, if used well, can help you create content that people will be eager to read and share. In this article I want to draw your attention to these findings and how you can use them to up your game.

So, let’s begin by looking at…

How People Read Content Online

Back in 1997 Jakob Nielsen and John Morkes discovered through a study that 79% of people online will scan your web site while only 16% will care to read it word for word!

“They don’t. People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences.”

Now, you say, that was 1997! But the truth is, that has not changed today. In fact, with more and more people using mobile devices to access the internet and with so much more taking people’s time, you can be sure that more and more people NOW scan rather than read your content.

And of course, the W3School agrees with this finding. In an article titled: “Web Site Design” they affirmed the fact that users scan rather than read through a web page:

“A typical visitor will NOT read the entire content of your Web page!

No matter how much useful information you put into a Web page, a visitor will only spend a few seconds scanning it before he/she decide whether to leave or to stay.

Be sure to make your point in the very first sentence of the page! After that, try to keep the user occupied with short paragraphs, and new headers down the page.”

From these and many other findings it is clear that that writing content is not enough of itself. Getting people to read that content must form a BIGGER part of your content writing plan.

Here are some suggestions on…

How to Get More People to Read Your Content

1.    Improve Your Website Load Speed

It is interesting to know that while websites’ load speed has increased significantly in recent times at about 7.72 seconds on average, website users on the other hand expects your website to load within the first 2 seconds!

To prove how important this is, Amazon and Walmart did separate tests and the results were instructive. While Amazon reportedly increased revenue by 1% for every 100 milliseconds improvement to their site speed Walmart increased conversion by 2% for every 1 second of improvement on their site!

It doesn’t matter whether you are blogger or ecommerce site you need to take a cue from these two online giants. Use the suggestions on Yahoo! Yslow and Google Page Speed to improve your site load speed if you want more people to read your content.

Also hosting your website on a CDN webhosting platform can also be of great help when it comes to improving site load speed.

Besides, you should use a small number of quality, optimized graphics, and keep your page content down to two, or at the most three MS Word pages.

2.    Write In Inverted Pyramid Style

What is the inverted pyramid style of writing? It is simply a turning around of the usual writing style where you start with an introduction, background information, findings and then finally presenting your conclusion or recommendations last.

When you write your web content with such a style it means your website visitors will need to read a lot of information before they reach your conclusion and recommendations – a BIG reason for them to abandon your content in a matter of seconds!

It is advisable however, to turn this around and write your summary first, and then add the details. Doing this will help in getting their attention quite early and will be able to convince them to scroll for more of your content.

3.    Write Scannable Text

This is the suggestion of both Jakob Nielsen and John Morkes and the W3School. If 79% of online users will only scan your web content then that is what you should give them.  A simple way to do this to write in short sentences and paragraphs, and break up excess information into different pages.

Here’s what Jakob Nielsen and John Morkes recommends:

•    Highlighted words
•    Meaningful sub-headings
•    Bulleted lists
•    One idea per paragraph

4.    Be Less Promotional And Subjective

The tone and style of your writing has a lot of influence on how people will read and use the content. When Nielsen and Morkes measured the effect of different styles of writing on five versions of the same website the following versions had the following improvement in per cent according to their test readers:
.
•    Concise version with about half the word count as the control: 58%
•    Scannable layout with the same text as the control but easily scanned: 47%
•    Objective language using neutral rather than subjective, boastful or exaggerated language: 27%
•    Combined version using all three: 124%

From the above it is clear that planning your content and approaching it from the angle of a “helper” rather than someone peddling some goods will greatly improve the readership.

5.    The Eyes Have It!

Another finding that should interest you here is the findings of a study called Eyetrack III carried out in 2003 and 2004 by Eyetrack. Though the study was for news-type sites, but the findings are also applicable to bloggers and small business web site.

From the study it was discovered that online users followed our left-to-right Western Culture writing style. The study found that the eye pauses and reads the first few words of a dominant headline first, especially when that headline is in the upper left and sometimes the upper right.

Readers will usually stop reading at five headlines regardless of the number used, but an unusual keyword will often get people to pause.  Curiously, they also found that smaller type encourages reading while larger type encourages scanning.

All of these points to the fact that you should put your most important content (graphics, logo, company name, texts images, etc.) at the top left quadrant.

Besides, a headline in the top left quadrant could be of great help in keeping your reader on your page for longer than a minute.  You should also know that the first three words of your opening headline are the most important therefore, put them to the best of use.

6.    How Credible Are You?

Another thing that Nielsen and Morkes uncovered in their study is the fact that people are looking for credibility when they browse through web content. Some of the things that will raise your credibility are high-quality graphics, good writing and using outbound links.

Your website visitors want to get straight facts and not some exaggerated claims. Please if you are not a good writer the best route to take is getting a professional web content writer to write your web pages for you.

Conclusion

Getting more people to read your content is more about writing concise content that is scannable. Your content should be written in an objective style that is straightforward and friendly. Beyond being useful your content should be accurate and should be heavy on both breadth and depth.  Aim to be a voice indeed instead of another noise on the net.

Over to you: How are you getting more people to read your web content? Share with us in the comments below.

What, So Google REALLY Killed Guest Blogging, Right?

Google on guest blogging

Since 2011 when Google launched its new battle against webspam through the release of its algorithmic animals, so much has changed – whether you are talking about content marketing generally or search engine marketing in particular.

As much as some of us applauded Google’s move to “sanitize” the web, one of Google’s moves was however really “controversial.” It was actually earlier this year that Google’s head of spam, Matt Cutts came out with his, “Stick a Fork in It, Guest Blogging Is Done” blog post. Since then a whole lot of theories and insinuations about guest blogging has taken over the web.

But Is Guest Blogging Really Dead?

Since the fear of Google has become the beginning of wisdom for internet marketers, Matt Cutts’ post has since become the reference point for those who want you to run for your dear live when guest blogging is mentioned.

A closer look however will reveal one common link among those who have continued to ramp up this rhyme: they are sleek internet marketers who have some “alternative” product to sell to you!

It’s true that when Matt published the above post on guest blogging, he was dead angry at what guest blogging has grown to be – an internet marketing monster!

Hear him:

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.”

And then, to show how angry he was about this issue, he warned:

“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.”

However, following the outcry that followed that post, Matt was quick to make some clarifications. He even went as far as editing the title of the post to read:

“The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.”

By adding, “for SEO” to the title Matt has shown that Google was not totally against guest blogging. This is clear with his additions to the blog post:

“I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

I’m also not talking about multi-author blogs. High-quality multi-author blogs like Boing Boing have been around since the beginning of the web, and they can be compelling, wonderful, and useful.

I just want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to “guest blogging” as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I’d recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.”

Unfortunately, despite these clarifications, many of these sleek internet marketing practitioners have continued to trumpet the “guest blogging is dead” tune.

Should Google Be Blamed For This Guest Blogging Is Dead Song?

I must say that I have always been a fan of Google when it comes to its stand against webspam. There is no doubt that their efforts have helped, in no small measure, in weeding out the bad and not too good.

Besides, Google’s stand is not different from what I have always believed in and preached on this blog. Having published a good number of guest posts on this blog I know the pains I go through in my bid to ensure that only the very best guest posts were published here.

Unfortunately, not many guest bloggers really appreciate this stand since many of them were “commercial” guest bloggers, paid to build links through those posts.

After trying to bring in some form of sanity by re-working my guest blogging terms a number of times, I took the initiative back in 2012 to do a series on guest blogging which, in every sense clearly outlined the stand of Google even though it was published almost a year before Matt Cutts came out with his “stick a fork in it” death blow on guest blogging!

So, Is Guest Blogging Really Dead?

My Verdict? No!

It is apparent that Google does not have an automatic bad guest post algorithm that is designed to place a spam penalty on you because you do guest posts. It is however, clear from Matt’s explanations after that Google, as usual, has an eye for quality and valuable content. It doesn’t matter whether you are writing a guest post or doing a post on your own blog.

The rational is, if you are thinking of doing guest blogging as a marketing strategy you must do it well. Seek to please Google by doing it right and you can be sure that guest blogging can become a great tool in your online marketing arsenal.

In closing this post let me reference the guest blogging series which I know is still very relevant today even with Google trying to “stick a fork in it” 🙂

Ensure you read these posts for you will definitely thank me for them;

  1. Strategic Guest Blogging Tactics That Gets Results!
    Let’s get the party on track. Read this to get thrust of the series.
  2. The Secret to Getting Hordes of Endless Free Traffic as a Guest Blogger!
    Do you want to craft monumental guest posts empowered to generate endless traffic for your business? Then start from here…
  3. Ignore This Essential Element and You’ll Fail Woefully as a Guest Blogger!
    Do you really want to know the secret recipe for creating guest posts that will guarantee your success? You have it right here..
  4. How to Guarantee a Continuous Flow of Traffic with Your Guest Posts!
    Finally, here is how to optimize your your guest post to ensure a continuous flow of traffic for years to come. It’s what you have always thought…

If you want to download the series as an ebook there’s no problem. I have published it as a pdf download available on my content writing site. Click here to download it for free.

Over to you: So, what is your stand on this “guest blogging is dead” mantra?

How to Make Content Marketing Work for Your Brand in 2014!

How to be an entrepreneur and not an opportunity seeker

Is content marketing a culture in your company right now? Do you have a specific model for your marketing content?

Now, if your business is not using content marketing, you’re light years behind your competition!

Though using content for marketing by businesses is as old as marketing itself, in the recent past, the term “content marketing” has gained traction among online marketers. It is unfortunate however; that many businesses are not getting the commensurate returns from their investments as far as content marketing is concerned.

In this article I want to draw your attention to the different content marketing models that are helping many brands today. I hope that when you know these different models will help you better plan your strategy based on what you want to achieve.

The 4 Content Marketing Models

Model #1: Brand Awareness

Brand awareness has always been one of the objectives of marketing. Billboard and television ads fall into this category of marketing. With the popularity of content marketing in recent times, many brands now use their marketing content to drive brand awareness. Using different types of content, these brands are not concerned with lead generation but how much traffic they are generating and also the quality of links from other sites.

Recommended: Your Killer Content Might Be Sabotaging Your Content Marketing!

Model #2: Projecting Thought Leadership

Another model being used by many brands is using their marketing content to project thought leadership. For these brands it is not about generating traffic but generating the right type of traffic. And the way they do this is by influencing their target audience through presenting their company ideas on issues that has to do with the industry.

Unfortunately, not many brands wants to use this model because of the expertise and in-depth research involved.

Model #3: Industry News

This is yet another model being used by some brands. In this model the brand publishes industry news with the intention of getting the attention of mainstream journalists or other online publications.

For these brands it’s not just about boosting traffic nor is it about generating leads. Most times, they simply look forward to influencing other websites, blogs and journalists with their stories as these are picked up and used these people. When this happens, there is a boost in visibility for these businesses.

One classic example of a brand using this model of content marketing is Microsoft with its Stories blog. Microsoft has been able to use this blog to greatly impact the industry.

Model #4: Lead Generation

This is the content marketing model that is common to many brands right now. The primary purpose of this model is to generate leads which are then passed on to sales with the mind of converting them into customers.

One typical example of a brand using this model is HubSpot – a software company that pioneered the concept of inbound marketing. Preaching the “superiority” of inbound content-based marketing over traditional outbound marketing techniques, HubSpot creates every piece of content with the mind of generating leads. To achieve this, HubSpot implements different type of call-to-action on every content published.

With the success of HubSpot in this area, many businesses are now focusing more on this model.

Recommended: Inbound Marketing Misconceptions Uveiled!

So, Which Should You Use?

If you are familiar with the concept of inbound marketing you will agree that the above classification is not in any way fixed. Many brands are actually using a combination of two or more of these models. Depending on what your needs or objectives are therefore, you can either use one or more of these models.

The purpose of this classification as already pointed out is to help you understand these different models so that you can easily determine which to focus on based on your desired results.

Over to you:  Which content marketing model are you presently using? Share your views on the different models in your comments below.

[ALERT] Guest Blogging Set For A BIG Surprise From Google!

Google ready to penalze guest posts links

From all indication it does appear that it is time to braze up for another big surprise from the almighty Google! And when I say “big” that might just be an understatement!

A few days ago, Matt Cutt, the head of Google’s webspam team, again shook the SEO world when he wrote on his personal blog that he “expect Google’s webspam team to take a pretty dim view of guest blogging going forward.”

Of course, that assertion drew the ire of the SEO community and Matt had to quickly add an update some clarifications. But that notwithstanding, it is clear from the tone of Matt’s post that Google is definitely up to something!

Stick A Fork In It: Guest Blogging Is Done!

I personally want to look beyond the clarifications.  His message is clear enough. Hear him:

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.”

Going further, he said,

“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.”

I’m sure the warning signals are clear enough.

Will Google Really Go On With Such A Threat?

Considering the fact that Google had issued some form of warning in the past (like the warning against content farms before the Panda update, we just need to take this one real serious.

For sometime now Google has being giving some form of warning against guest blogging. For example, take a look at these ones issued through Matt:

I’m sure you can clearly see the handwriting on the wall!

This simply reminds me of a saying among my people that when the hen repeatedly pecks the head of the cockroach, it would definitely swallow the cockroach! 🙂 So, if Google has repeatedly warned against guest blogging, we cannot expect anything less.

We must also recall that Google issued this type of warning against content farms before releasing the Panda update.

How Will This Affect The Blogging Community?

Though we cannot clearly say for now what the outcome would be if Google made good its threats (Google has always been unpredictable), one thing I can say for now is that like the Panda update that affected both the “good and the ugly”, any harmer on guest blogging will definitely affect many blogs.

My reasoning here is the fact that nearly every blog that accepts guest posts usually rewards the guest blogger with a dofollow link. It’s kind of expected. And thus far there is no indication if Google has the tools to differentiate between guest posts that were done “purely” for SEO purposes and those that were not. If this is not in place, any penalty targeted at guest blogging would definitely have wide sweeping effects!

Is There Anything We Can Do About This?

For now, I think we need to carefully study Matt’s post especially the update he was forced to add after the many reactions from the SEO community.

Here’s the addition:

“It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

I’m also not talking about multi-author blogs. High-quality multi-author blogs like Boing Boing have been around since the beginning of the web, and they can be compelling, wonderful, and useful.

I just want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to “guest blogging” as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I’d recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.”

If you it reading carefully, it is clear that multi-author blogs might just escape the harmer if it ever fell! But for the rest of us, the recommendation is, be skeptical and cautious!

Very elusive you might say!

Final Thoughts

In the recent past Google has shown that it’s indeed the almighty when it comes to search engine marketing. They set the rules and they enforce them. Internet marketers and content marketing practitioners have always been at Google’s mercy. I think what we just need to do right now is to prepare our blogs for this update. Trying to fight or live in denial mood will not help.

Over to you: What is your take on this new move? Do you think Google would be doing the blogging community good if they hit at blogs that accept guest posts just because those posts have dofollow links?

How To Craft B2B Marketing Content for Extra-Ordinary Results!

B2B Content Marketing Strategies

Is B2B content marketing boring to you? You may not be alone on this! Many B2B content marketers have a feeling of frustration as push out content upon content each day and nobody seems to read that content!

But it doesn’t have to be so. No matter the niche you are serving, you can put some punch into your b2b marketing content and drive results beyond your imagination. In this article we will look at some ways you can craft your marketing content to achieve great results.

First,

What Really Is Business To Business (B2B) Marketing?

Business-to-business (B2B) firms are companies that deal on products and services that are focused on other businesses. Usually, the selling is done to a client of another company, who might put the product into some intermediate purpose or use. Considering the target audience, promotional content relating to B2B companies should not only generate interest but it should also be out-standing.

It is very clear that many b2b firms produce almost the same stuff and they reach out to almost the same clients. So finding the right client isn’t a big deal, but actually acquiring that client and holding on to her is the big deal. This is one of the reasons why b2b marketers should be creative enough to stay in the game.

Some Proven Tactics to Creating B2b Marketing Content

1. Show Your Uniqueness

How are you different from others in the market? In what ways can you help your client achieve better results? And, how can you deliver that message in the shortest possible time?

You must understand that time is short and for the b2b customer that means a whole lot of things. To help your clients make good use of the little time available to them you should be able to deliver your message concisely when you write your b2b marketing content. A brief introduction about your company is enough. Concentrate more time to what your company does and how it is unique from others. Pose questions before creating your content. Make use of catchy adjectives that will help the client relate to your content.

2. Press the Right Psychological Buttons!

Play with the customer’s psychology. Understand the difficulties faced by them and then show them how your company or your product can solve it. Make your call to action very clear. The action should be simple but immediate. It should be more than just a helpline.

3. Clear Any Doubt about Your Product/Service

The B2B client is more intelligent and educated than the average shopper. She needs just enough information to make the right buying decision. And so, after the initial brief introduction about your company and what you do, write in detail about the product or service you provide. This should be in-depth information about your company’s product. Point out the advantages of using them. Write them in a hierarchical form using numbers or bullets. While writing, short paragraphs and strong sub-titles can be used as headings of individual paragraphs. Again, using adjectives will be a good bet!

4. Put in the Entertainment Factor

A good amount of entertainment should be added. The aim of this is to retain the interest of the customer. But care should be taken because if this gets too much it could become shabby. It’s a nice idea to use product noun as a verb along with other adjectives.

5. Optimize For the Search Engines

Make good use of the search engines by optimizing your b2b content for the search engines. Millions of people still use them every day to find what they need. If your website is search engine optimized, it will surely get lots of traffic. One thing you must understand however is that the search engines have changed greatly in the last few months. Use industry best practices when writing the content to ensure that you get the best results. Ensure you optimize for your company’s name and the right product keywords. This way whenever someone searches using your company name or the product’s keyword, they can always find you.

6. Work to Retain the Customer

Attracting the customer is just one bit of the equation. Retaining her attention is another. Your content may help lure the customer into your marketing funnel but how do you work to maintain that attention? Like mentioned earlier the b2b client is more educated than the average shopper. Continuously pushing promotional content to the b2b prospect will not do any good. You must be able to sustain their interest with information that is relevant to what they want to know. Beyond this going over board to deliver products right on time and maintaining quality will help build trust. Once they start trusting the company they will become your brand ambassadors spreading the word your company.

B2b content marketing may indeed be a challenging one but like every other online marketing activity putting in a little more effort everyday will ensure you get the results that you desire.

Are you a b2b content marketer? Do you care to share experiences with us?

4 Useful Tips In Dealing With Content Blog Scraping

Have you recently been a victim of content theft from someone who scrapes blogs for their own benefit? If you have, you’re definitely not alone.

Everyday great content is created and uploaded to the internet, and everyday someone steals that great content to try and profit from it. Ever since the dawn of content, people have tried to find shortcuts to success, and it’s sad to say, but some of them have been able to profit a lot from stealing.

So, in this article we are going to check out some ways you can prevent content theft, how to find stolen content, and how to get it removed.

Protecting your Blog Content

Don’t Get Angry

Before we get into all of the tips and tricks, you should be advised never to get angry in these situations. While you might not like someone using your content, getting mad and yelling at people will get you nowhere. It could end up actually making you work more than you need to. So with that being said, let’s start out by finding your stolen content.

Where is the Duplicate Content?

This process is quite easy. All you really need to do is use a tool, for example: CopyScape, and then have them scan your websites and look for other duplicate copies out there. You will get a report of where any duplicate content might be located. Not only that but you will get % statistics and other useful information that you might need to use later on. Using these types of programs will come with a cost, but it usually isn’t too much at all. A small price is definitely worth your content being unique and profitable, but if you don’t want to pay anything, you have another option. Checking the links that are pointing towards your website.

How to protect your blog contentIf you decide to set up a lot of internal links, then when an automated blog scraper program comes and swoops up your content, it will usually be posted with the links. Once it posts the content with your links, you can easily just pull a link profile report and see exactly where it is. It’s pretty simple, but the only bad part is if someone doesn’t use an automated program, they might actually remove your links before they post it. In situations like these, it’s best to just use a content protector tool, like I mentioned before.

Preventing Future Thefts

There is no 100% way of stopping thieves from taking what’s yours, but there are ways to help ward them off. If you make it very clear on your website that it is protected by a program, then that will encourage them to just go to the next website. They usually don’t want to be caught, so instead of stealing from a protected site, they can just as easily go to a site that isn’t protected.

Time to Get The Duplicates Removed

Before you want to take action against the website owner directly through Google, you should first just contact them and ask nicely. Like I stated previously, getting mad will never help you in these situations, so just be nice and politely ask for the removal. Usually they will. A lot of the times the website owners use services that connect him with content writers, and those content writers are the ones who actually stole the content. So the site owner might not even realize everything they are posting is stolen.

So, once you have found your content, get the contact information for the website owner, and then send them an email. In the Email you will want to include that you have found your content being duplicated on their site, that you want them to remove it, and that you appreciate any help they can provide. After a day or two, an active website will usually respond saying that it has been removed.

If you never receive a response, or the website owner is not going to remove it, it’s time to go to plan B. You are going to submit a DMCA takedown request with Google. Google will verify everything and then they will end up having the duplicate content removed from the index, so you are no longer being punished for someone else’s doing.

This is a guest post from Ness on behalf of MakeAWebsite – an independent hosting review site. They currently favor http://webhostinghub.com. Click on the link to find out why.