20 Ideas to Optimize Content Marketing from Andy Crestodina

August 21, 2016

This B2B Beat guest post was contributed by George Stenitzer, who is the Founder and Chief Content Officer of Crystal Clear Communications. 

The recent Content Jam conference in Chicago brought together hundreds of marketers to learn about content marketing. Here are 20 things I learned about optimizing websites and social media from Andy Crestodina, who is the force behind Content Jam, co-founder of Orbit Media, and a keynote speaker at Content Marketing World 2016 next month.

1. Search rank matters. “There’s a massive difference between good and great in content marketing,” Andy says. Almost two out of three website visits (64%) start with search, he points out. The top-ranking site gets up to 60% of results. Sites 2 and 3 get about 20%, while sites 4 through 10 only get 10%. Few people go to page two of a search.

2. Keywords matter. To optimize for search, focus on keywords. More specific keyword phrases gain higher ranks. But don’t confuse search rankings with usage. Use a tool like Klipfolio to see whether your keywords rank better or worse than expected.

3. Name webpages carefully. When you title tag web pages:

  • Don’t call your home page home, since that’s like titling your book book, Andy says.
  • Don’t make pages called products or services. For better search rankings, make a unique page for each product or service.
  • Don’t name pages for media types such as white papers or articles. Make content easy to find by topic.
  • Don’t make an about page with everyone on it. Build a unique page for each person.

4. Host your blog on your site. If you want your blog to help your website’s search rankings, put it at website.com/blog, not on a subdomain like blog.website.com, and not on a different domain like wordpress.com.

5. Build authority with links back to your site. You can’t create your own authority, just as you can’t make yourself credible or popular, Andy says. One link from a high-authority site is worth as much as many links from lower-authority sites. Size up your authority with a tool like Moz.com and tackle topics that you have a chance with, given your authority.

6. Borrow authority from others. Authority comes from what happens on other sites, while relevance comes from the webpages you create. Build links to your site by guest-blogging and writing for other websites. Get backlinks, not only to your homepage, but also to deeper pages on your site.

7. To attract links, do original research. Original research and strong opinions attract the most links. Generate research by observations, aggregation or surveys. If you’re hunting for research topics, ask:

  • What is the one question that no one in my industry will answer? Answer it.
  • What is the one accepted idea in my industry that lacks evidence? Find the missing stat.

8. To attract links, lead with strong opinions. Make a list of your strongest opinions. What do you think will happen in the future? State it. What is the one question in your industry that people are afraid to answer? Answer it.

9. A website is a mousetrap. Content is the cheese. All the world’s webpages boil down to two types: sales pages and content marketing. “Without content marketing, your site is an online brochure,” as Barry Feldman says. Get clear about which pages are sales pages and which are content. Don’t confuse the two.

10. Use tools to identify the best keywords. Before you write, Google Keyword Planner, Google Suggest and keyword.io can help you decide which keywords to go for. Look for keywords where you have enough authority to have a chance at ranking high. Build keywords into headlines, subheads, metatags, descriptions, image file names and body text.

11. Give people the prescriptive advice they crave. “They ask, you answer,” as Marcus Sheridan says. When buyers search for specific information, they want to be told what to do. Tell them!

12. Pass authority from your best webpages to your new webpages. Link new blog posts to older blog posts. Remove the dates from your blogs so they never look old.

13.  Target topics, not just search phrases. Since search algorithms examine meaning, not just keywords, use a tool like SEM Rush to list words related to your topic. Check a site like answerthepublic.com to see related questions that people are asking. Then make a checklist and cross off the words you use as you write a post.

14. Make the best page on the Internet for your topic. To create the best answer to your customer’s questions on a webpage, plan to make long-form content. Break up pages by putting an image at the scroll depth of each page. Look for opportunities to improve search results – pages where you rank on page two or just below the top 3 search terms. Focus on improving your “almost-high” rankings. Here’s Andy’s video on the topic: How to Rank Higher in 5 Minutes.

15. Use your website search tool to listen to your audience. Searches tell you what they’re looking for that was hard to find on your website. “Search is an act of empathy,” Andy says. Optimize your site based on what you learn from your website’s search tool. Ask yourself:

  • People who are looking for me are searching for what?
  • Which page on the website is most relevant to that phrase?
  • Is this the best webpage on the Internet for that topic?
  • Will people who found that page be happy with its content?

16.  Create “ego bait.” Mention influencers in your content. Get quotes from them. Include them in a roundup story. Collaborate with other content creators. “An ally in creation is an ally in promotion. How many people are waiting for your blog post to go live?” Andy asks. Build friendships by phone, in Mastermind groups, with handwritten thank you notes and in person.

17. To optimize social media, focus on people. Only about 1% of people create content. Social media has become the world’s greatest phone book to find them. Set up Feedly to follow blogs, write comments on blogs and reduce email traffic. Tag people as bloggers or influencers. Want attention? “100% of people read the comments on their blog,” Andy notes. Use Buzzsumo to research everyone who shared your content on Twitter; then thank them publicly on another platform like LinkedIn.

18.  Don’t divide attention needlessly. Remove distractions. Create white space. When it comes to conversation, pay attention to how many things you’re asking people to choose from. To keep their attention, ask them to do one thing, not 7 things.

19.  Watch the exits: Find the search terms that people used just before they exited your website. Figure out what content you could create that would keep them aboard.

20.  Be patient. “Don’t compare your beginning to others’ middle.” Start where you are.

That’s a great list of good advice for content marketers, whether you’re just starting out, tweaking or rebooting your content marketing.

For more useful advice about content marketing, download The Sophisticated Marketer's Guide to Content Marketing today!