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The Benefit of Longer Blog Posts

The Benefit of Longer Blog Posts

Having worked in internet marketing for many years, with most of that time spent studying and practicing the art of search engine optimisation, I’m very familiar with the phrase “content is king”. This was the mantra of every SEO practitioner way back in the early 2000’s, before everyone became obsessed with link building as a result of the dominance of Google. (One of Google’s main criteria for assuming a web page is relevant to a particular search query is the quantity and quality of the inbound hyperlinks that the page has attracted).

In recent years, the focus on content has made something of a comeback – especially following the Armageddon-style devaluing of particular types of links that occurred with the various alterations to Googles algorithm known as the “Panda” updates. So we now see a vast array of “content marketing experts” who recommend the development of quality content that can then be promoted around the internet. (The primary purpose being, of course, to attract more inbound links in order to satisfy Google in this regard).

Indeed, web pages that have attracted a large number of inbound links but don’t appear to have much going on in the way of text content are certainly well represented when it comes to Google rankings. A good example of this is the site – which always appears well ranked for relevant phrases such as “currency exchange”, “currency converter” etc – though there fewer than 100 words of text on their home page.

So you wouldn’t be off the mark in assuming that links are still “where it’s at” when it comes to search engine optimisation for good rankings. However, it is also the case that quality text content is a factor in determining a page’s ranking position, as Google is keen to reward a searcher with something of value when they click on of its search results. Given that searches are performed using words, it is thus only natural that the pages most likely to be recommended by Google are those that feature content that includes and expands upon the words in the search phrase being used.

In the olden days (late 90s, early 2000’s), keyword stuffing of web pages was a prevalent method of achieving good ranking results, with many search engine specialists recommending a particular “keyword density” in a page’s text content in order to convince Google that your web page was a good match for the search phrase or phrases being targeted.

And certainly it is still true that featuring a specific set of words in a particular order is more likely to see your page being featured in the results for a search that uses those same words in the same order. But nowadays there is much more to it than that, with keyword density and keyword stuffing essentially being consigned to the past.

Which all adds up to providing a very good reason to make your blog posts longer in length than what appears to be the de facto standard of around 300 words. Writing about a particular subject in an expanded fashion will definitely assist with your search engine placement efforts, so should certainly be something you consider when putting posts together.

And as an SEO expert myself, I have no problem advising people to write longer blog posts for that reason alone.

There is another very good reason to write longer posts (that just so happens to also assist with good rankings), in that longer posts are much more likely to be read for a longer time period than shorter posts. Not exactly rocket science, this one, as clearly it takes longer to read something of 1000 words than it does to read something of a couple of hundred words. The length of time someone stays on your page having arrived at it via a Google search is one of the known elements for helping a page to climb the rankings, so encouraging people to stay on the page for longer is another beneficial result from an SEO perspective.

But it’s not just good for rankings to encourage people to stay on your site for longer, it’s also good for conversions, as you can get your message across multiple times in the same post. This should help to persuade the people who are reading the post that your message is a worthwhile one, which is obviously the whole point of saying something in a blog post in the first place.

My recommendation is to aim for posts of 800+ words. So a post of 1000 words – such as this one – is not only a good bet, but it also appeals to my liking for rounded figures. (1000 words thus being a more pleasing length than 800!).

Even better still is a post of greater than 1000 words. (The entry level for my ongoing search engine optimisation service actually includes an 800-2000 word blog post each month, alongside Links Outreach, which is outside the scope of this particular article, but is no doubt something I’ll be returning to in the future).

There have been several studies of Google’s top ten rankings (though I’ll be returning to the idea of whether there even is such a thing as a “top ten ranking” at a later stage!) that indicate blog posts of 800-2000 words dominate the results pages. And my own research does back up these findings a little. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is essential to write posts of this length, though, as I have also been responsible for creating many blog posts of 1000 words – and sometimes less – that enjoy similar rankings success.

To sum up, my suggestion is to write 800-2000 word blog posts wherever possible – both for SEO purposes and to drive your message home more forcefully than a shorter post could. But if you can only think of enough to say to fill a 300-400 word post, that’s fine, too. As there’s nothing more likely to make your site visitors bounce straight away from your page than to fill it with padding and waffle. (Another sure way to get Google to downgrade your page in its listings, too).

So to revise the well-known phrase “content is King”, I’d add in an extra word, which is essentially what I’m promoting here – “quality content is King”. If you can write 800-2000 words of high quality content, your blog posts will always achieve their goals.

Facebook Advertising Boom Time

Facebook Advertising Boom Time

If you’re a business owner, you’ve no doubt dabbled in Google AdWords and maybe even old fashioned banner advertising.

And if your experience is like most people’s, you’ve either decided it isn’t for you or slashed the amount you spend on it as you just can’t seem to make it work. (That is, if you aren’t using my PPC services, of course!).

But you may not have come across the concept of Facebook advertising. And if you have, you’ve probably found it a bewildering experience with all the different options involved, so have probably left it to one side for the time being while you concentrate on other ways to promote your business.

Well that would be a shame. As Facebook advertising is “the new gold rush” when it comes to driving quality, targeted visitors to your site – similar to the way Google AdWords operated 10 years or so ago.

With extremely affordable traffic and a fantastic variety of targeting options, you need to be investigating Facebook advertising now, before your competitors catch on to how successful it can be.

Check out my Facebook advertising service for more info and to see how you can benefit from this latest promotional goldmine.


Social Media Customer Feedback

Social Media Customer Feedback

In The Times today (always a good source of blog post material – see this post on Getting Ideas for Blog Posts for more), there was a pullout Raconteur section about “Brand & Reputation”.

As well as many other elements of promoting your brand and your organisation’s reputation online, the main thrust was to ensure you listen to your customers and act on what they’re saying, in order to improve your business and keep customers happy.

Now, in some senses, I agree that there needs to some monitoring of what people are saying about you online. You don’t, for instance, want to ignore a groundswell of opinion that could be damaging to the potential for attracting new customers – eg if people are scathing about your services or disappointed with your products somehow.

However, the idea that you need to be constantly scouring Twitter and Facebook to refute anything you think could be detrimental is something that’s really only come from a group of people calling themselves “online reputation managers” or similar. The facts in the Raconteur pullout speak for themselves – “..less than 10% of brand conversations happen online. The majority of conversations about brands continue to happen in the real world, just as they always have…” Hardly a ringing endorsement for the idea that social media is the be all and end all of promoting your brand – and remember, this is in a pullout aimed at promoting the idea of Brand and Reputation management.

So my own suggestion is that you should certainly pay attention to what people are saying – and definitely you should take the time to respond to direct questions etc on social media within a reasonable time frame (ie not just once a week) – but don’t obsess about it, taking you away from potentially more valuable activities that can help promote your brand through word of mouth – just like in the “olden days”!

Google Mobile Search Algorithm Update

Google Mobile Search Algorithm Update

Google recently announced a change to its mobile search algorithm that affects ALL websites, not just mobile sites:

Essentially, what it means is that, from April 21st this year, Google will be downgrading sites in the search results of mobile devices (ie anyone searching Google on a mobile phone), if they are not “mobile friendly”. And, consequentially, upgrading sites in the search results of mobile devices that are “mobile friendly”.

So if your site isn’t suitable – in Google’s opinion – to be viewed on a mobile device, you will have no chance of your site appearing in Google’s search results on mobile devices. Whilst you may think this isn’t so important for you, as most of your traffic comes from conventional desktop / laptop machines, you should bear in mind that the definition of a “mobile device” will include tablets – something that more and more people are using for their general access to the internet. Plus, accessing the internet on a mobile phone is an increasing share of all internet traffic, so you will be leaving a large proportion of internet users out of your potential market if you don’t have a “mobile friendly site”.

How do I Know if my Site is Mobile Friendly?

Google have provided an online tool for checking your site to determine how mobile friendly it is:

They have also produced a set of guidelines that you should understand in order to make sure your site passes their test:

As well as providing for different screen sizes, it should be noted that their guidelines include such issues as ensuring the clickable links are not too close together.

Mobile Version of Site or Responsive Design?

There are currently 2 options for ensuring your site is mobile friendly:

1) Set up a separate mobile version of the site, with device recognition capability so the correct version of the site is sent to the correct device. (ie people viewing on a desktop PC will see the “normal” version of the site, people viewing on a tablet or a mobile phone will see the “mobile” version of the site).

2) Make the site “responsive”, such that it changes design and layout based on the device being used to view it. (The page you’re currently reading now is “responsive”, as it adjusts itself to fit the screen size you’re using, rather than sending you to a separate mobile version).

My Recommendation

Whilst Google is currently saying it is fine to have 2 versions of your site aimed at different devices, my recommendation is that you aim for your site being responsive, rather than having different versions.

My reasoning is based on years of experience with Google and the fact that they are generally opposed to having different versions of the same site in their index.

Certainly, if you don’t wish to make your site fully responsive just yet – for reasons of eg budget, future redesign schedule – then you should be OK in the short term to simply have a mobile version of the site that works alongside the main site.

However, for long term peace of mind, I’d definitely recommend making your site responsive, in order to pre-empt the likely negative effect on all  rankings (mobile and non-mobile) that I predict for the future for non-responsive sites.

One thing to bear in mind here is that, not only will your site need to adjust its layout to fit the smaller device screens, it should also make sense from a marketing design point of view – ie you should ensure your name, contact details, main sales message etc are visible on the home screen for anyone viewing your site, rather than being shunted away as a result of the responsive design parameters.

Get in touch to see how I can help optimise your website in line with the updated algorithm – Contact

Update your Blog Frequently

Update your Blog Frequently

One of the key issues with generating interest from your content is to ensure you write frequently. I’m not suggesting you need to post a new article everyday – though this would be a great thing to be doing, depending on quality of course – but at least once a week and preferably 2-3 times a week is a great foundation for building up content on your site. (And yes, I’m aware I don’t always follow this rule on my own blog!).

Check out my earlier series of posts on generating blog content ideas for where to get the inspiration for your frequent posts.

There are 3 main reasons you should update your blog frequently:

1) It makes the blog – and thus the company – look active and dynamic, thus helping site visitors warm to you and your services.

2) It helps Google to identify your blog as being active and dynamic, so encouraging them to visit more often and potentially give your site better rankings for multiple phrases.

3) It gives you more content that can be promoted to others through link outreach – generating more inbound links and more interest from around the internet in what you have to say.

As mentioned above, the quality of the content is obviously very important. But the simple rule for content development is quality + frequency = provides a firm foundation for content marketing success.

Write with One Person in Mind

Write with One Person in Mind

When you’re writing your blog posts or things like email newsletters, a great little tip is to “write with one person in mind”.

You can approach this 2 ways:

1) Write with a specific person in mind

This could be someone you know – your mum, sister, friend, boss etc – or someone you simply know of – the industry leading CEO, local supermarket manager, George Clooney etc. Just make sure you picture them reacting to what you’re saying, and keep the blog personal and interesting as a result.

2) Write as though to a single person who represents a type

This is generally a more common approach, with companies having determined who their target audience is likely to be, then devising a persona that they can try to talk to as a result. If you adopt this method, make sure you put yourself in their shoes and try to come up with questions that they’d be asking if you were chatting to them in the bar after work.

The idea behind writing to one person is that you come across as more personable and approachable, thus creating more engaging and readable posts that don’t put people off for being too corporate.

Email – the Internet’s Poor Relation?

Email – the Internet’s Poor Relation?

With all the fuss about social media over the last few years, you’d think the original posterboy for the internet – email – would be languishing in poverty somewhere, cradling a bottle of gin and bleating about how good everything used to be for it in the old days.

However, far from it. Email is still one of the most useful and effective means of communicating with your customers and potential customers that you can use – despite what the Social Media Marketers might want to have you believe!

Certainly people spend more time on Facebook and the like nowadays, with inboxes often being regarded as only attracting viagra spam and the like. But actually, there is more business done and more effective communications made via email than there ever could be via social media. Sure, social media is great for instant communication and building up an audience, but my experience suggests that 90%+ of people who become clients will contact you first by email, with quite a few still even using the phone.

So don’t be too quick to write off the value of the internet’s forgotten marketing tool – email is here to stay.

Limit your Social Media Presence for Best Results

Limit your Social Media Presence for Best Results

We’ve all heard the mantra that you have to be on as many social media channels as possible and must be continually updating them and engaging with your potential audience, or you’re leaving loads of potential business on the table.

But is it actually true?

Simple answer – no.

There are certainly multiple benefits to be had from implementing an effective social media strategy, but for myself I’ve never been in favour of the “headless chicken” approach to marketing, which generates lots of activity but very little return.

What you should really do is focus on the social media outlets that will provide you the best return from any activity you engage with on them.

I always recommend businesses use Twitter, as I believe it to be a very useful method of promoting your website content and finding new Followers in a process of continuous expansion of your audience (more on social media marketing here). But beyond that, I’m not convinced that Facebook works very well for those not in a business to consumer industry – so for business to business firms I recommend LinkedIn, Facebook being more aimed at the retail market or those who wish to target and engage with potential customers to develop a personal relationship (eg musicians, writers).

As for the other social media sites, do you really need an Instagram account? Or Pinterest? Or Vine? Sure, these are well-populated media with plenty of activity, but you should really think about where you want to focus your attention before you get involved with throwing everything at the wall in the hope it will stick – there’s nothing that says “we don’t care about you” more than a ghost town social media account.

Google Update Chatter

Google Update Chatter

There’s often a lot of talk amongst SEO professionals about Google updates and potential updates, with many of them seemingly spending their whole working day analysing the tiniest variations in the data they see to determine whether “the big G” has made an update or not.

Indeed, when Google first became the dominant force in the world of SEO, there were multiple websites and forums dedicated to trying to detect what used to be known as the “Google Dance” – a regular revising of the Search Engine Results Pages that saw a site rise or fall in the rankings.

Things have definitely changed in some respects – the Google Dance being a thing of the past due to ongoing change and non-universal SERPs rankings – but not in others, as there are still lots of people determined to pick up on a Google algorithm change and post about it first.

Each to their own, but with Google making almost continual changes, I prefer to stick to the tried and tested principle that has worked throughout the history of search engines:

Content is King

– a statement that will attract derision from those who are obsessed with minute data variations, but will see the most successful internet marketers nodding their heads in agreement.

New Year New Content

New Year New Content

As we move into another new year (2015 already!), you’re probably thinking the same as I am:

My site needs some new content!

One of the things I’ve come up against repeatedly over the last few years is business owners telling me they know they should be updating their site, but they just don’t get the time. So, with that in mind, I’ve revised my own offering on this site to focus solely on the type of content marketing solutions that businesses and organisations are most in need of:

1) Blog Updating – keeping your site fresh and interesting with unique and engaging posts through my blog writing service.

2) Marketing Strategy – devising the best method for you to pursue your goals over the year with my internet marketing strategy service.

3) Content Repurposing – the one people often get most confused about, I’ll revise and refresh your existing or ongoing blog posts, pdf downloads etc with my service – Contact me for more details.

Here’s looking forward to filling the internet with “contentment” throughout the year!