Yes, it’s back again! The Content Marketing Know-It-All is here to answer your questions.
This time, we’ve taken a few questions from recent comments here on the blog, a few from the comments on the earlier post, and one from the forums inside Authority, our brand-new education and networking community for content professionals.
As always, all answers reflect my own biases, strong opinions, personal pet peeves, and individual business experience.
Since this is not paint-by-numbers, the answers for your business will always come from you. But these questions may point you in a useful direction.
We’ll kick off with a question from Amandah.
Is there a formula for going viral?
I’d like to know the Number One way to make your content go viral besides writing awesome content. Is it guest blogging? Is it commenting on blog posts? PPC marketing? Local networking? Social media? Other?
There are a lot of elements that come together in a piece of content that goes genuinely viral. Awesome content is a big one, but it isn’t the only piece of the puzzle.
One of the most important is getting into a juicy, emotionally-driven conversation that’s already building up steam. For example, late last year I wrote a post about whether or not content marketers should give up on Facebook. Businesses were furious with Facebook and there was lots of heat being generated. And I was able to use that heat to create some good traffic for the post (and deliver a relevant business message while I was at it).
As always, you need to have a headline that’s going to capture reader attention. You need to have enough traffic to get some momentum, which is where PPC, guest posting, and social media can help. And for your content to serve a business purpose (and not just make fun of the latest train wreck) you’ll want to include some useful advice as well.
Maybe most important — a truly “viral” post may not do you as much good as a well-shared post that speaks directly to your prospects.
Thoughts on cornerstone content
Alexis of Troublesome Tots asked:
How do you maximize the value of your cornerstone content in terms of engaging new readers, subscribers, etc? Or do you simply treat it like any page on your site with the standard sidebar signup form, comments, etc.
The great thing about a flexible publishing system like WordPress is that you can tailor every page or post to serve a specific purpose.
We’ve had cornerstone landing pages that led to product information or to calls to action to subscribe to the blog. These days, we’re using all of our cornerstone pages to build participation in MyCopyblogger, where we can give new readers the highest quality experience (for free). It takes everything we’ve published over the past seven years and distills it in a more reader-friendly format.
So your answer today doesn’t need to be your answer forever. For many of us, the best use of cornerstone content is to build your email list, at least in the beginning. But as your business evolves, stay open to creative new ways to use these valuable pages.
Email newsletter or blog?
Yesterday, Chase of Chase Canyon Copywriting asked,
I’ve asked this question to a number of marketers and gotten a variety of answers: Which is better, e-newsletter, blog or both? With the combos of linking blog posts in emails and whatnot, the purpose of each gets a little muddled. What do you think?
Email marketing and a blog serve different purposes, and a smart content marketing program will usually include both.
A blog serves to attract the attention of new prospects, as well as building your reputation in your topic. A blog is a place to be publicly seen — to show your expertise and your passion for your subject. They’re ideal for meeting new people, and giving those people an easy way to find out more about you and what you do.
An email newsletter is about deepening the relationship. It’s about moving from the Attention phase of the marketing relationship and on through Interest, Desire for the product, and Action — a purchase.
Without getting the attention of potential customers, you have no marketing program. But if you never do anything with that attention, you have no business. They work together.
Should we write headlines for humans or search engine bots?
On May 21, Eddy at the Ignite Spot blog asked,
I try to write for my audience instead of SEO, but I want to be found as well so I use Scribe and Yoast’s SEO tools to help me out. Yoast tells me to put my keyword in the blog title, which often kills the pow. How necessary is it to have the keyword in the title? What do you guys do?
If your keyword phrase is killing your headline, think carefully about why. Your keyword phrases are the expressions people are using to find what they want on the web, so they shouldn’t be “unnatural.” Sometimes when it’s hard to get your keywords in the headline, it’s because you’re being “clever” instead of straightforward.
Other times, though, it just doesn’t quite work. If that’s the case, put them in the title tag, not the headline, as part of a clear, reader-friendly title. (They should be in the title tag either way.)
We have lots of headline advice for you in our Copywriting 101 ebook, and it’s free.
Duplicate content for your cornerstone?
Recently in our member forums, Jordan from Authority asked us:
When creating Cornerstone Content, is duplicate content bad? On my site, we create a lot of educational content, both in the form of permanent guides on the site and as blog posts. As explained in this post, it is important to turn key blog posts or series into cornerstone content, and I completely agree. Can it hurt your SEO, however, if you are duplicating the content from your blog to a permanent page? Is it better to have original content on both, possibly a brief synopsis on the blog that links to a longer article on your site?
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to explain a bit of the tactics behind the cornerstone page strategy.
There are a number of ways you can handle these pages. One of the simplest is to corral some of your most valuable posts onto a single page, with links (and interesting descriptions) back to the original posts on your blog. You’ll often also want to include a few introductory words about why this topic matters to your readers. This lets new readers easily find the material you’re most proud of.
In this case, there’s no duplicate content penalty because the cornerstone page has links and descriptions, not duplicated articles.
If you do want to aggregate your “best of” posts together, you can handle that nicely by turning them into valuable ebooks, which we’ve done with MyCopyblogger. That allowed us to edit and update the material and make it available in an easier-to-read format.
By the way, if for any reason you do find it useful to publish information in two places on your site, that’s not a problem. You can use a “canonical” tag to let Google know which page you’re considering the primary one, and which are simply quotes of the original.
Over to you …
Got a question for the next edition of Content Marketing Know-It-All? Leave it in the comments, and you just may get chosen for the next round.
Editor’s Note: Yes, I know this is a complete bastardization of the Chemistry Cat meme. Forget it, Jake, it’s the Internet.