Will LinkedIn’s Repositioning Work?

linkedin-linkedin

It used to be that when someone mentioned that they had an account on LinkedIn, people’s response was ‘so you’re looking for another job then?’

LinkedIn has moved on from just being a recruitment website, but this repositioning has not been without its challenges. It has developed into a website which is still heavily used by recruiters (as it should be, it is a great platform for identifying talent), but also used by prospectors.

If you are a regular LinkedIn user, you will be familiar with receiving a LinkedIn invitation from a contact who seems to have an industry / interest in common, only to receive a pitch email within minutes of connecting. In a lot of cases, this makes LinkedIn more beneficial for the prospector than the (potential) customer. If regular users start to disengage with LinkedIn, the network will disappear. Not only that, but the pressure is already on with the rate of revenue growth slowing at the end of 2015 / start of 2016. So what have LinkedIn done to rectify this?

They have realised that they have a large number of accounts on the network, many of which on a daily basis are sharing content from all around the internet. So LinkedIn is acting as a powerful referrer. Also, while they have been encouraging users to upload their own content (through the write an article feature that was introduced a couple of years ago), visibility of that content is fairly low.

So, LinkedIn has introduced a feature to allow people to search through the huge amount of content that is published from within LinkedIn. Previously, using the search function to search for, say, ‘content marketing’ would firstly show you people who work in content marketing. However, you can now search ‘Posts’, so your search will show all posts about content marketing. A nice addition to the network I think.

So, will it work? Regular users of LinkedIn will still share their content on LinkedIn, particularly if they can see the benefits of posting to their connections and having their article indexed by search engines (all LinkedIn articles are public). Access to this content will need to outweigh any of the perceived disadvantages of spending time on LinkedIn, e.g. being sold to by an irrelevant product.

I fear it may be too late. If you are looking for an article on content marketing, where are you likely to start? Twitter already has thousands of communities which share content on all sorts of subjects from all over the internet. And of course there is also the small matter of Google which is the go-to resource for search (in the UK anyway).

If LinkedIn’s articles can rank well in Google’s search results (from a straw poll, this seems like an opportunity to improve), it can pick up traffic from this source, but I don’t think LinkedIn will develop into a go-to website for content. Which means that while LinkedIn has added a nice feature, I think it will take more to reposition such a large social network.

How Content Marketing and SEO Work

The internet has been seen as a great leveller in the world of business. In theory, and certainly in the early days, the playing field was fairly flat – if you had a website and someone who knew how to market it, you could take the fight to the bigger players. And with the rise in popularity of social media in the 2000s, the playing field levelled again – in theory, it might even be easier for a smaller business to start tweeting than a larger one: it doesn’t have to worry about complicated social media policies, tone of voice guidance and permissions, it can just get started.

Content has also been a great leveller. An excellent piece of content can be shared multiple times on social media and appear in a strong search engine page rank position. You don’t need huge budgets to make this happen, just excellent content marketing – and here is how.

How are they linked?

Content marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) are very closely linked – let me take you through why. Back in the early days of the internet, the need for content became very clear very quickly – we know that need to create web pages, but what the hell are we going to put on them?! Then social media arrives and now we really need to create some content – we can’t get away with tweeting about the weather again!

So, lots and lots of content is created. And a lot of it is really crappy. Most of it in fact. So, search engines work really hard to find out ways of quantifying the quality of the content – they start to move on from looking at the frequency of keywords and start trying to actually understand an article. Another metric that search engines start to use is social media shares: what better an endorsement of good quality content than sharing it? Hence, content marketing and SEO are inextricably linked.

What do I write about?

Successful content strategy has a clear link between your content with the needs of your audience. That doesn’t mean writing yet another boring product description for the golf clubs that you sell – it means answering questions that the audience has: how to hit a particularly tricky shot from the rough, how golf clubs are made, tips for golf etiquette, articles on golf’s more unusual rules.

Your content should be based on the keyword research that you have already carried out and then shaped around your audience:

  • What are their interests beyond your product? We know they are into golf, but what else are they into?
  • What are their hopes and aspirations? What else do they want from life?
  • What are their problems? Practical issues which are golf related, but also wider concerns and fears?

This is all great, but what about the payback, what’s in it for the content provider? Well, if someone has found your content but they are not yet a customer, when they come to buy a product similar to yours (they are finding your content so they may be close to buying a related product), your business will be at the top of their mind.

Isn’t content marketing about selling?

I appreciate that the last section may have made some people a little nervous. If this activity isn’t directly selling our product, what is the point in doing it? Well, selling has changed and subtlety is a very effective way of driving revenue – if someone has a question and they find your content and it answers that question, this is a means of not only getting your company name in front of that prospective customer, it has prevented them from seeing a competitor. It works, believe me!

Content marketing is here to stay. When done well, it is a great way of driving traffic to your website through social media referrals and SEO. It can get you in front of potential customers by helping them out or entertaining them, not just by shouting about your product. The sooner you start making content work for you, the sooner you will see the positive effect on your bottom line.

Do you use a content strategy? Is it working for you and do you have any tips that you would like to share? Please leave a comment and share your experience.

How Content Marketing and SEO Work Together

Content Marketing and SEO

There has never been a greater requirement for content in marketing than right now. With the internet being in millions of cases the only ‘shop window’ that a business has, it is imperative to make the website as visible and as engaging as possible.

One of the means to achieving that is content marketing which really started to become popular in the early 2000s. The rise of the internet as a commercial platform and the rise of the pioneer social networks meant that there was the need to create interesting web pages and interesting content to share on these social media networks.

However, the way that people use the web has changed a lot in the last 10-15 years. People are asking more questions from search engines, particularly with the introduction of voice-activated search: we are using search engines to solve our problems.

As such, search engines need to find the good quality content – not an easy job when most of the content out there is pretty rubbish! And from that moment, content marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) were linked. Users searching for solutions to their problems offer a good opportunity for businesses to create content which solves that problem.

So how do you know what to write about?

Well, if your content is all about your products and how utterly amazing they are, you haven’t quite got it right yet. Content marketing is about more than just saying how great your product is. It needs to be broader than that because product demonstrations are great when someone is searching for that, but how do they know that your product is the best solution to the problem that they have?

Your content should be based on the keyword research that you have already carried out for your SEO strategy and then shaped around your audience:

  • What are their interests beyond your product? We know they are into your product, but what else are they into?
  • What are their hopes and aspirations? What else do they want from life?
  • What are their problems? Practical issues which are product related, but also wider concerns and fears?

And the payback? The theory is if someone finds your content to solve a problem of theirs, assuming that it is in some way related to your product or marketplace, then when they are in the market for your product, you will be at the top of their mind. And the theory works. Why else would Coke’s VP of Global Advertising Strategy, Jonathan Mildenhall, say “all advertisers need a lot more content so that they can keep the engagement with consumers fresh and relevant”?

Today’s consumers are more and more sophisticated, and are rejecting traditional forms of marketing and even traditional forms of digital marketing (e.g. super-irritating pop-up ads), so marketing needs to become more sophisticated. And content marketing is a great way of getting your content and business in front of potential customers and ahead of competitors.

5 Tips for Compelling Content

content word in letterpress type

Content has become a huge part of marketing over the last few years. The rise of social, and the importance of search engines as referrals have both pointed towards content as being key to your marketing efforts. Good quality content can open your organisation up to new audiences through social sharing and it can convince your audience that your product is the one for them. 

But with content being so important, how do you write compelling content? Here are my 5 tips:

  1. Tell a story: One of the (many!) challenges of content writing is that there is a lot of content out there – a LOT! So, standing out is trickier than it was 5 years ago. But content which tells an interesting story is always engaging. If it describes the situation of someone who is in a similar situation to the audience, this is extra compelling because it prompts the user to say ‘hey, that could be me’!
  2. Bounce your ideas: I am lucky enough to have friends from all walks of life, and the broader the people I ask, the more interesting the content ideas become. However, you should also bear in mind the needs of your audience. By all means take a risk with your content, just don’t go too mad!
  3. Share your story: I write predominantly about digital marketing, and as I do it for a living, often my blogs are inspired by a challenge or opportunity that I have experienced over the week. Sharing this story and why it is important is a really good way of engaging people in your content, because if you’re facing a challenge, it’s likely that someone else is too – and think how cool it would be to find a blog which helps you with your challenge.
  4. Take a break: Changing your scenery can have a really positive effect on your creativity. Go for a 5 minute walk outside the office, turn the radio on, check out a different website to the one you work on – all of these are handy to get creative juices flowing and for stimulating new ideas. I use all of these methods and seriously, they work!
  5. Number it: I have come to use this a lot, and I normally look for this in other blog posts too. If, like I have for this blog post, you let people know how many tips / examples / points you are going to give them, they know how long a post will be and whether they have the time to read the whole post, or just skim read it.

There are countless tips for compelling content, but do you have a particular favourite that you would like to share? Leave a comment and let me know!

Image via marketingsavant.com

Pillar One: On-Page Content

Three Pillars of SEO

Three Pillars of SEO

Last week I introduced the concept of the Three Pillars of Search Engine Optimisation – on-page m content; off-page networking; under the bonnet.

This week, I am going to summarise the first column, on-page content.

As with all areas of SEO, on-page best practice has developed dramatically over the last few years.  Keyword stuffing was the previous order of the day, but search engines have become savvy over the years – they are now able to understand the context of the page (kind of!), and the unnatural frequency of keywords will count against you.

So, what actually are your keywords?!  The identification of your keywords is an area that is worth researching in more depth, but broadly speaking, you want to find keywords that are popular enough to have people searching for them, but not so popular that there is a lot of competition from websites with huge budgets: not an easy brief!  But you can test the quality of keywords with a PPC account fairly quickly and at a relatively low cost before you commit any SEO resource to them.

Once you’ve got your keywords, the content on page should be written about the keyword – it should be easy to read, be written naturally, interesting and helping the user out with a problem, e.g. to provide information.  It also needs to be shareable, as this will help our second pillar (but more on that next week!).  Depending on the content that you are providing, you should have social sharing buttons on your site so that your internet user can become an advocate of your website – this is a huge contributor to SEO success.

One of the most important things to remember with SEO is that it is a means to satisfying your internet users.  SEO is just a means of getting the users to come to your site.  So on-page, your focus should be on satisfying the user – giving the user something that they will find interesting, would like to share, and can help them solve the issue that they are looking to solve.