In my many years working as a web content specialist, no year has started better than this one. There’s a palpable buzz in the content community, akin to the flap of wings (a hummingbird’s, perhaps?), about the fact that we writers and our words are no longer beholden to that which some have built spam-filled careers on: keyword stuffing (and the like)-- creating bad content that is as effective to read as talking to a llama.
Since Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update in September 2013, the talk has validly (finally) turned to quality content. Google is more powerful than us mere mortals at steering the conversation. May the search engine results page speak our minds.
Google’s goal, as highlighted by the Forbes' article “Meet Hummingbird: Google just revamped search to handle your long questions” is ultimately to provide more relevant responses to more complex queries. In short, this means that Google is ranking not just the content relevance, but also tone relevance: is the way the content’s written aligned with its intended audience.
Copyblogger recently emphasised that Google is aiming to achieve more conversational search queries, dealing in the language of humans, not machines: a decision that possibly prompted College Humour’s video, “What if Google Was a Guy”.
So, here I am buzzing or flapping or humming on this content vibe last week, and then I’m sent an invitation to join a BrightTALK webinar hosted by the pretty cool-in-the-content world, Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs about some New Year, New You content marketing “sheds” and “shares” (you know, like: “shed your Robo DM” and “share your business personality on social media”).
Yesterday, for 45 minutes of my time, I got to hang out with the cool content kids, webinar style, to ponder the predictions for content this year.
Be more active and vigilant with your content strategy
You do have a content strategy, right? This, like content marketing, is one of those terms that raises untold silences at family gatherings and dinner parties in the presence of virtually anyone who isn’t a content person. My lovelies, it’s just about having a plan. What do you have to say, and when and in what ways can you say it? While there’s no magic number for the amount of content tactics you choose (big B2B companies have on average 18; small companies, 11, as indicated by MarketingProfs’ research), at least become familiar with what tactics you can use. Get loose, unleash your video camera, and tell your story like no one else can.
Imagine you’re a teenager and Google is your mum, and mum is currently in your doorway saying, “Don’t take that tone with me, young lady”. Your audience will like you a lot more if you work through your business identity crisis and start aligning what you say with what you believe as a company and what people want from you.
Be assured that what people don’t want from you is figurative projectile content vomit. By all means, watch what’s being said within your relevant industry, but don’t just spit it back out and expect to be seen as an authoritative source. Good quality curation is key -- analyse, synthesise, "distributise" -- have an opinion and articulate.
Be socially savvy
Remember those days of yore when employers blocked social sites from work computers. Oh wait, they still do. Are you one of them? While I’m sure that there are still arguments for and against, I agree with Ann and Corey's point in this webinar when they say that the voices within a business make up that personality, and that they are your eyes and advocates in that space. Why not ensure that staff are part of the conversation? For example, ask them to "like" and "follow" the company social channels, and let them know that you are open to their suggestions of things worth sharing for the company.
And don’t just rely on the kids to keep an eye on things for you. You have tools at your disposal to help you keep an eye on what’s being said within your industry (Google Alerts, anyone?) and to help you say what you need across different channels (Hootsuite, you say?).
Be at one with the data
That’s right, folks. Content writers and marketers might not be naturally inclined towards analytics, but it’s time to stop being so damn scared of data. Data is your friend. MarketingProfs recommended reading Belle Beth Cooper’s article for Fast Company: The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics and start holding yourself accountable for the quality of content you produce.
There are many more insights, tips and tools that the MarketingProfs crew included in their webinar. I highly recommend you take a look, and let me know what you think.