inbound content and seo

Inbound Content & SEO Just Got 10x More Important. (My Thoughts In an Era of No More HuffPost Contributor, FB Business Page Reach Death)

If you’re reading this, you likely already know what a big fan I am of great content in content marketing.

It’s like saying, “Julia likes coffee” (understatement), or, “the sun is shining” (also a drastic understatement 89.9% of the year in Austin, Texas).

And specifically, what a fan I am of the SEO side of it all.

(Just read my piece studying the effects of hitting 1,000 blogs on the Write Blog to find out.)

Why?

Well, to recap, I’ve been blogging on our site for six years. It’s become our primary form of marketing.

And it’s brought qualified leads our way.

They’re so qualified that they’re ready to spend 5 figures without batting an eye – sometimes on the first order. They know what they need, and because they found our highly-relevant content piece high in the SERPs answering their question, they were convinced we were the answer.

We’re an anomaly in our industry because we are what we sell.

We know that what we sell, works. Because we’re a content agency fueled by the high-performing content we create.

Mic drop.

No other writing agency has the organic content focus we have.

We’re 3-5% more visible in Google than all of our competitors.

This organic visibility is how we net 99% of our best customers.

I first started Express Writers on a mission to band together writers that could help me create my own content. The idea for the modern writing force we now have in our agency was born from a need I had.

The rest was all hard work.

That was the starting point: and it’s fired up a major movement we’ve been able to maintain in our industry.

So, I’ve always loved SEO and inbound content.

But…

Did these online marketing fundamentals really just get ten times more important?

Am I blowing smoke because I simply love these techniques?

Not at all. Keep reading for my thoughts.

inbound content and seo

Inbound Content & SEO Just Got 10x More Important. {The Case Study}

Part One: The Death of a Guest Platform Spells Fear and Trouble for Those Focused on Real Estate that Isn’t Yours.

“I write for HuffingtonPost!”

Just became “I wrote for HuffingtonPost,” last week on Thursday.

Ripples on the news of the Contributor network shutdown, a pulling-the-plug act for more than 100,000 “free” authors, ran through social media like giant waves, ebbing and flowing to instantly become old news the next day (let’s face it: that’s the nature of good old social media).

I learned about it when Josh Steimle, founder of MWI, tagged me in a LinkedIn post:
My initial thoughts to the Contributor shutdown:

1.) Honestly, my posts were not getting a ton of traction except for one really good one (my story) that launched over a year ago. Since then I’ve had lackluster exposure on all posts I published.

2.) I heard straight from the amazing Aaron Orendorrf that HuffPost was actually doing some sly no-follow on all their Contributor content so it wouldn’t show up in search. So that’s why I could never find my HuffPost story when I Googled it!

3.) Can’t say I’m not disappointed, though. If this was how they started and exponentially grew their platform, through the free contributor base, this just dissed everyone that helped them grow from nothing. And that’s not cool. You never diss the people that gave you the reason for who you are today.

But let’s go into a wider picture for a moment.

If you were publishing on HuffPost Contributor platform, you were publishing on real estate that wasn’t yours.

And if you can’t lay an ownership claim to the site, you can’t get too upset if the person who actually did manage and own it did what they wanted to do.

Frankly, it’s their site.

Not yours.

The same thinking even applies to Facebook algorithms, social media platform updates… they get to decide because they run it. They own it. You don’t own that platform.

So, this fear factor, the “when-are-they-going-to-change/remove/do & how will that affect my content there,” applies to many platforms. Let’s call it “brand fear” for now.

Think about all the platforms brand fear applies to.

  • Medium.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Every other guest blog and publication on the planet.
  • Every social media platform on the planet.

The only platform brand fear doesn’t apply to?

  • Your site.

You own your site. You get to say when it shuts down, or when it’s online. When you add content, and what content to add. How it looks. Presentation. How your content looks. How well your content gets indexed (how well you optimize it). Etc.

So…

Start publishing to your site, NOW. Focus on it. Don’t have one? Get one.

I teach this heavily in my course – your site is your real estate.

Make sure you’re investing in your own real estate.

That way when a platform goes down and takes your content with it, you won’t be in big trouble.

Part Two: Many Platform Changes for Social Media and the Death of “Fads” Means Tried-and-True Just Got More Certain

If you didn’t know, Facebook algorithms are like a weathercock in high winds these days.

They’re all over the place.

Read more about the massive Facebook algorithm change in my blog here.

One side-effect of all the Facebook algorithm changes is that Facebook business page reach could be at an all-time low.

Research from [email protected] shows that for Pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach could be as low as 2%. This is probably more like 1% for non-video posts these days.

Instead of just “posting” average content in a typical fashion to your Facebook page, try:

  • Don’t schedule Facebook page posts from a tool: Directly post yourself, and get creative about what you want to tell people. Don’t schedule from a tool unless you have to.
  • Tag a feeling: When I tagged “feeling happy” from my Facebook page, that post had the most reach of all my page posts out of that week.
  • Try saving your Instagram or Snapchat stories and uploading them to your Facebook page as a post: Again, another creative option if you want to avoid just scheduling content from a tool, without too much time involved.
  • Live stream: This by far is the best way to get more reach from your Facebook page these days.

Here’s another “fad” at risk: text messaging alerts from brands.

Email Marketing > Text Alerts

Did you know that email marketing is 41 years old?

The first ever marketing email was sent almost 41 years ago by a marketer named Gary Thuerk, from Digital Equipment Corporation. Thuerk sent a promotional email about his company to 400 people, using an ARPANET address. (Read the story on Entrepreneur.)

On the other hand, sending marketing messages through “text messages” only got hot around 2005, according to Mobile Marketing Engine. That means text message marketing is barely 13 years old.

Text message marketing could be dying. GAP, a huge clothing retailer, recently shared a text alert indicating it’s “giving up” on text alerts and suggesting their end users continue with email.

Courtesy Bill Skowronski, founder at Sharing the Good.org

What will be next? Is my brand or content at risk?

I guess that’s the big question echoing in all of our minds, as we see feature after feature change since the beginning of 2018, the HuffPost Contributor section go bye bye forever, and Facebook’s business page reach decline severely.

Are you wondering how to secure your content against platform changes = avoid the danger of losing your content or platform reach (reminder, my term for this: “brand fear”)?

Here’s my shortlist.

3 KEY Ways to Secure Your Content & Guard Against the “Brand Fear” Factor When Publishing Content Online

A.k.a, Why Inbound Content Just Got More Important.

1. Know Your SEO

Don’t know how to find high-opportunity keywords that you can create great content for your ideal readers/buyers to find in Google?

You should learn.

You need to find low-competition, long-tail keywords, using an SEO research tool. I recommend using KWFinder or SEMrush. Then, you need to verify that you can create content better than the 3-5 spots in Google that exist for that keyword.

Once you’ve passed both of those research barriers and have keywords ready to use, then it’s time to create SEO optimized content – and you’ve got to work harder than ever to be the best result for that keyword now, so that part’s not easy.

It’s a tough, long game to get familiar with the “how” of great SEO content (that really works), and this is one of the favorite modules I teach in my all-access course.

2. Focus Your First and Foremost Content Efforts on Your Castle, & You’ll Have a Stronghold Online

We focus on expresswriters.com for the majority of all of our created content. Also in priority is my course site, contentstrategycourses.com.

I save my frequent and focused content efforts for my platform – the site I own.

We’re talking more than 1,046 published blogs to date.

Other than this primary focus, I have 3-5 guest blog platforms I contribute content to, either monthly or quarterly.

It’s important to know your SEO, along with your content.

Why?

Because SEO + content = POWERFUL content marketing.

If you don’t know your SEO, your content isn’t going to get found in Google.

Add in a great keyword and optimization to a piece of content, and BAM – your onsite content just got far more valuable.

Need a resource for SEO optimization principles to improve the search optimization of your content? Check out my go-to Cheat Sheet: The Basics of Creating High-Ranking SEO Content

When your content is found organically in Google by a lead, OptinMonster says the chances of purchase are high.

This high:

  • 50% of everyone who did a local search on their phone went and visited that store within a day
  • 18% of all local mobile searches led straight to a purchase in 24 hours
  • 78% of all local mobile searches led directly to offline purchases

Now, listen to the stat we personally can claim (100% truth):

  • My agency (Express Writers) closes an average of 85% of organic SEO leads at an average order value of $500-1,000 sale value.

When it comes to the content published on our site right here at expresswriters.com, the results are phenomenal.

This phenomenal:

  • Today, we have over 12,200 keywords ranking organically in Google from the blogs we’ve posted.

semrush rankings 2018

  • We have over 500 talk to sales that have come in, over the last 5 years, from our organic content found in the rankings. In the last few months, these leads have risen in quality by 10x. We see purchase-ready leads that are at a very high level these days.

Do I need to say more here?

Your site is your castle – build your content there, and you’ll have a stronghold.

castle

Just remember to build right. 

Don’t be cheap.

Be strategic and high quality about whatever you do.

Be about adding value to your readers’ lives.

Work on becoming a content stronghold with your site, niche foothold, content strategy, and content output.

Nothing less.

And you’ll succeed, long-term.

Wondering how to put together high-performing content? I mentor students on this very strategic skillset: visit www.contentstrategycourses.com.

2. Back Up Your Content – Now. Here Are a Few Ways:

  • Export your Facebook Live videos to YouTube. This is a great way to make sure your Facebook Lives never disappear. Upload them to YouTube and take that to your site. Make blogs for your site out of YouTube and transcribe your videos for even more content you can publish on your site.
  • Syndicate existing content on your site to LinkedIn Pulse and Medium, after waiting 1-2 weeks for Google to register that you’re the first publisher (that way no content penalization happens). Save time and don’t write original content for these platforms, unless you absolutely feel you must.
  • If you guest blog, work to get an agreement from an editor for an ongoing column, or if not, don’t contribute ongoing content. You never know when the next guest blog you write for will close submissions and start taking down your pieces – you truly don’t. If you create killer content for them, the chances of that happening are slim. So for one, create amazing content and guest blog editors will never want to take yours down. Problem solved! For two, work to get an agreement from an editor for ongoing column contributions. I’ve got a couple of these secured with some platforms where we earn great leads. If you can’t get that ongoing column in written agreement from an editor, don’t focus all your efforts there. Contribute offhand as you can. Still, make sure you’re always contributing your best.

No more Brand Fear Factor: Focus on the Tried-and-True

Don’t get distracted and misled by shiny objects.

Focus on the 40-year-old veteran fundamentals: email marketing. Website optimization. SEO.

Great content, published on a site you own.

Optimized for your people to find it in Google.

And you’ll win.

I promise.

If you need help getting there, don’t hesitate to reach out.

I run a course to teach the real-world skills of this very principle, the tried-and-true of content marketing – maybe you’d be a perfect fit for the training. Click below to find out more about it.

– Julia

content marketing course cta

14 replies
  1. Roshni
    Roshni says:

    Hey Julia! This was a bang-on piece. I loved every bit of it. Could you please list out tools or resources to get stats? You have mentioned a lot of factual data. I would love to know a dedicated resource or tool that generates stats based on topic keywords. Thank you for such an informative piece.

    Reply
    • Julia McCoy
      Julia McCoy says:

      Thank you so much, Roshni! I’m really glad you enjoyed this.

      Generating stats on topic keywords? Hmmmm… I use KWFinder for all my keyword research, but that’s hard to answer in a nutshell. You can read tons of blogs on the topic, but I teach the methodology behind topic research both for trends/brand awareness and SEO in my course and my book. If you really want to know all the nuts and bolts of methodology and the “how”, I’d recommend going for an intensive, hands-on resource.

      Reply
  2. Nida Sea
    Nida Sea says:

    Awesome post, Julia! I saw the upset caused by HuffPo ending their contributor platform. It was funny, to me, because I had applied to become a HuffPo contributor, but I never did publish anything on that site. Instead, I worked on pitching other places/companies and secured ‘paid’ blogging jobs. Odd how that works. I won’t miss the platform since I never contributed, but I do feel for the writers who spent hours and days posting content there.

    Carol Tice made an interesting point on her blog about how unpaid content platforms may be going belly up. This is mostly due to the fact that they rely on free content from writers, and not all contributions will be the best. It falls on several factors including good writing, engaging content, fact checking, and trust. Readers enjoy content from writers they can trust, and they avoid content based only on personal views or opinions.

    I definitely believe publishing on your own platform is the only free content you should do. Provided you incorporate the necessary SEO and keyword research, your content will pay you back.

    Reply
    • Julia McCoy
      Julia McCoy says:

      Carol Tice could be 100% right on unpaid platforms going belly up. I think you were super smart sticking to paid content posts! I have heard so many people get hurt – even way back to the old (2011 and prior) Yahoo! Top Contributor days, and Examiner sites – luckily I was never a part of those. And luckily, I never invested too much time in my free HuffingtonPost content.

      I think you summed it up very well… “Readers enjoy content from writers they can trust, and they avoid content based only on personal views or opinions.”

      I only guest blog on a few sites, and these sites are extremely niche, high-quality and relevant to what I do. I know the editors by name and speak to them regularly. My spot isn’t going away as an author, and it definitely earns us some clients. But my heaviest focus is on my own site content, for sure.

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment, Nida!

      Reply
  3. Eric Manten
    Eric Manten says:

    Hello Julia,
    Great insightfull article!
    When you say “a web site you own” would that be restricted to a WordPress site? What are your thoughts regarding sites on “3rd party” platforms like Wix, SmugMug, Zenfolio?
    Appreciate your input.
    Kind regards

    Reply
    • Julia McCoy
      Julia McCoy says:

      Hi Eric – I’d say always do WordPress when you can. It’s much more SEO and user friendly than most of the other platforms. I would avoid anything lesser known. Wix is fairly established, you’d probably be safe using that one. But try to use WordPress, you’re definitely staying with the safest (and best) provider if you use them.

      Reply
  4. Rose Merry
    Rose Merry says:

    Hello Julia,
    Thanku for this post. I have learned a lot from your post and many of my questions about inbound content are now solved. I am very happy after reading this post. Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Kristel
      Kristel says:

      You’re welcome, Azizi! We’re glad that we could help you get more information on this subject. – Kristel, Content Specialist at Express Writers

      Reply

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