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onsite evergreen content

What Onsite Evergreen Content Is, What It Isn’t, & How to Create Yours (A Key to Great Rankings)

This post was updated October 2019. 

We know that marketers that focus on content creations are 13X more likely to see dramatic ROI.

That number paints a clear picture. Powerful, engaging content is key if you want to leverage organic traffic and grow your website.

The thing is, there are dozens of options when it comes to content, yet blogging is my first love ♥ and I’m far from alone.

55% of marketers focus most of their inbound efforts in blogging. That’s because the more content you produce, the more love you get from search engines. Google alone drives 70.6% of all traffic on the web, and you definitely want a slice of that action.

The problem is, over 4 million blog posts see the light every single day.

Most of those are what I call ‘firefly’ content. It may shine bright and catch a lot of attention, but it fizzles out rather quickly.

If you focus only on firefly content, you’ll always be a part of the rat race. Working night and day to put out enough content for the next cycle, while your competitors do the same.

Not all content fizzles out in a heartbeat, though.

Sometimes, content keeps compounding traffic as time goes by. Only of every ten blog posts falls under that compounding category, yet those posts bring over 38% of traffic for most blogs on average.

That’s what we call evergreen content, and if you know how to create it, you’ll have a massive advantage when it comes to rankings.

5 Rules on How to Craft Evergreen Content

What Onsite Evergreen Content Is,

  1. Brainstorm (with your team) and pick a topic.
  2. Dig-in and research your topic to the bone.
  3. Outline your evergreen content.
  4. Get your first draft ready, then start editing.
  5. Update and audit your evergreen content periodically.

We’re going to walk you through the entire process of creating evergreen content but first, let’s get semantical.

Marketers surely know the benefits of creating content and how it brings ROI. But with millions of posts out there, how can you make content that constantly brings in traffic? @JuliaEMcCoy shares the rules in crafting evergreen content 🌳 Click To Tweet

What Exactly is Evergreen Content?

At this point, you already have a rough idea of what evergreen content is, but we can do better.

Let’s go over some quick examples to narrow down the concept even further:

  • In-depth analyses or facts: Cold-hard facts don’t change, that’s what’s cool about them. Let’s say, for example, you write an in-depth post about what content marketing is. The types of content you use might change, but the key concept won’t, and people will keep looking for answers for years to come. That’s a perfect example of evergreen content
  • How-to guides, tips, and tricks: People are always going to look for tutorials and guides to help them optimize the way they do things. The more in-depth they are, the longer their shelf life will be. Plus, writing how-to posts is a great way to increase your blog’s credibility.
  • Industry resources: It’s always interesting to read what industry experts have to say. Any insight you can give into an industry, such as guides on who to follow, case studies, and glossaries of key terms will always be in vogue.

Keep in mind – even evergreen content requires a bit of attention now and then. Think about it as the cacti of the content world. A little bit of water now and then (making sure all the content is up to date) will keep it green, happy, and thorny (maybe not the best analogy!).

What Evergreen Content Isn’t

One key factor when it comes to the longevity of content is its relevance. If we turn to Google to look at what people were looking for in 2018, it paints a clear picture:

Right there, you have a lot of great examples of what evergreen content is not. The World Cup, for example, drives a ton of traffic while it’s going on, but once it’s over, those searches peter out drastically.

Now imagine you spent a lot of time and effort writing match analyses, predictions, and discussing the results online.

That content may have brought in a ton of traffic during 2018, but right now, it’s collecting dust.

With that in mind, let’s go over some other examples of what evergreen content is not:

  • Media reviews: If you’re writing about books, TV shows, and movies, you’ll likely see a peak in traffic shortly after they go live. Then, interest will go down over time and slow down to a trickle.
  • Current events: The news cycle never stops nowadays. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the barrage of news from all over the world, so it stands to reason that content tied to current events doesn’t have a long shelf life.
  • Recent studies or statistics: Readers love statistics. They help you paint a picture quickly and increase your authority. The problem is, statistics and studies aren’t static. Numbers that were right in 2015 might have changed now, so readers will naturally flock to more recent content.
  • Anything that has to do with technology: The smartphone market is the perfect example of this. You can write a killer smartphone buying guide that brings in a ton of traffic and gets you conversions. However, as soon as the next generation of phones comes in, that content is dead in the water.

Case in point: Try any generic search for smartphone recommendations right now and you’re only going to find recent results.

No green in sight anywhere.

It’s important to understand, you don’t need to focus only on evergreen content. That’s not viable and it would ward you off from exploring a lot of cool topic ideas.

Remember that 1 in 10 blog post rule I mentioned at the start of this article? That’s a great rule of thumb. For every 10 blog posts you write, try and come up with an evergreen idea and your rankings should improve dramatically.

Evergreen content is content that lasts. Think about in-depth analyses or facts, how-to guides, tips, and tricks, and industry resources. 🎋 It does NOT include media reviews, current events, and recent studies or stats. Click To Tweet

5 Rules on How to Craft and Publish Evergreen Content that Keeps on Giving

The first step to getting evergreen content right is choosing the right topic, so let’s start with that.

1. Brainstorm (with Your Team) and Pick a Topic

So far, we’ve gone over several examples of what is and what isn’t evergreen content. That means you’re ready to start coming up with some topic ideas of your own.

Your goal is to come up with content ideas that have the potential to keep on giving for a long time. Here are two simple questions I ask myself when brainstorming for evergreen content:

  1. Are people still going to be looking for this in a month, a year, and beyond?
  2. Does this topic have enough depth to transform it into long-form content?

That’s it, that’s basically what evergreen content boils down to – it’s in-depth, authoritative content that will remain relevant.

It’s easy enough to say, but coming up with the right ideas takes work.

I’m a bit old-school when it comes to brainstorming, so I like to keep a notebook handy for when ideas come to mind. At some point, I’ll write down those I think have potential on a shared Google Doc, so my team can weigh in.

I’m just one person, there are angles I might miss, but when you brainstorm with a team, ideas flow at a much faster pace.

2. Dig-In and Research Your Topic to the Bone

Research is one of my favorite parts of writing for the web. If you want your content to hit the mark, it needs authority, so you need to dig deep, that means:

  • Finding relevant studies and statistics to back up your assertions (and stick to recent ones, as I mentioned before!)
  • Looking for similar articles published before
  • Coming up with ways you can improve on that previous content if it’s indeed out there

Research is perhaps the most important part of the process when it comes to creating evergreen content. The more in-depth you go, the more likely your content is to remain relevant for longer.

If you find there’s a ton of information out there, don’t be scared.

Google loves long-form content. So much so, the average length for the top 10 spots in most search is around 2,000 words.

That may not sound like a lot, but it is once you factor in online readers tend to have short attention spans (not you, though, you’re great! 😉).

The more data you find during the research process, the more it validates your pick, so kudos to you.

3. Outline Your Evergreen Content

Outlines are a divisive topic when it comes to writing. Some writers swear by them, others would rather fly by the seat of their pants.

I’m more of a swear-by-them kind of person. It’s not about being an organization freak either, but rather about being able to organize all my ideas and making sure the content I write hits the mark.

If you didn’t skip rule 2, then you’ve got a ton of data in your hands. Now, you have to take that and transform it into something people will want to read and share.

Outlines are your friend here.

What I like to do is start with the important sections. Take this article, for example, it has four major sections outside the introduction and wrap-up.

It took me a little while to outline everything, but once that was ready, the writing just flowed because I knew where everything had to go and all the points I wanted to make.

Outlines are almost a hack when it comes to content writing.

4. Get Your First Draft Ready, Then Start Editing

You’ve done your research, you have the data, and you have an outline. Now it’s time to write.

Everyone tackles writing differently, so I won’t tell you what to do. If you’re a sit-down-with-classical-music kind of gal, go for it.

If you like to write in your sweatpants while sipping tea, sure, why not?

Just do it.

I will, however, share two quick pieces of advice (I couldn’t resist!):

  1. Take your time, evergreen content is the gift that keeps on giving, so you can’t rush it.
  2. Leave the editing until you have a first draft.
  3. Pay special attention to the keywords you want to target and optimize your content for them.

That second piece of advice is debatable. Some people like to edit as they go along, but I find it sometimes takes me out of the zone, so I like to leave it until last.

As far as keywords go, the goal of evergreen content is to bring in traffic. With long-form evergreen content, you have a prime opportunity to dig in and take advantage of long-tail keywords.

You know, those keywords that your competitors aren’t paying attention to? That’s where you want to stake your flag at.

5. Update and Audit Your Evergreen Content Periodically

At this stage, you should be good to go. Your content is ready, it’s green, it’s pretty, it’s chock full of keywords, and it’s ready to rumble.

It’s not always going to look pretty, though.

I don’t want to scare you, but you must understand that even evergreen content needs some attention now and then. Here’s what that means:

  • Making sure it doesn’t contain any outdated information.
  • Updating statistics and assertions to make sure you’re citing relevant, recent data.
  • Making sure that formatting is on point and all media files load correctly.

Think about it as spring cleaning. You’re making sure everything is nice and tidy for when visitors come in.

If you remember to do it, your evergreen content will stay relevant, and it’ll keep bringing in that traffic you love. That’s the beauty of a great maintenance routine.

How do you make evergreen content? 5 rules: 🧠 brainstorm for an evergreen-worthy topic, 🔍 research, ✍ outline your content, 📜 get your draft ready and edit after, and 🗞be sure to update your content periodically. Click To Tweet

Hack Your Way to Great Rankings with Evergreen Content

Evergreen content offers you a great way to increase your site’s rankings and bring in a ton of organic traffic over the long term.

However, all that doesn’t come for free. Great evergreen content requires a lot of planning, research, and effort. That’s why a lot of websites stick with run-of-the-mill content.

If you want help from expert web writers to help you create evergreen content, check out some of the services we offer at Express Writers.

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Long-Form Content: Distribution & Promotion Tactics, & Best Examples with Lisa Dougherty

There’s no denying that long-form content is where it’s at when it comes to the world of online content. That’s why we had to host a #ContentWritingChat all about this topic that’s so crucial for content creators. If you’re ready to learn more about the benefits of long-form content, how to create it, and how to promote it, you’re in the right place! Now, let’s dive into the recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Long-Form Content: Distribution & Promotion Tactics, & Best Examples with Lisa Dougherty

Our guest host this week was Lisa Dougherty. Lisa is an entrepreneur and she’s also the Blog & Community Director over at Content Marketing Institute. CMI is one of our favorite resources and we were thrilled to have Lisa join the chat and share her expertise on long-form content.

Q1: Why should you consider long-form content in this age where so many talk about short-form content?

You’ve likely heard that we as human beings tend to have short attention spans. So, if this is true, then why are people pushing brands to create long-form content online? Here’s how longer, valuable content can actually benefit your brand:

Lisa said long-form content typically performs better on social media, plus it also increases website authority and earns you links.

More rankings, more shares, and more reads! Need we say more about why long-form content ROCKS?

Sarah feels long-form content allows you to go deep with your customers and strengthen your relationship with them. After all, when they fall in love with the valuable content you create, they’ll truly appreciate your work and become big fans of your brand.

Darcy knows longer content can provide readers with tremendous value, which they’re sure to love you for. Make sure that you keep your content concise and actionable to ensure they’re engaged.

As Jim mentioned, you’ll have to work in order to keep the attention of your audience when creating longer content. You don’t want them to tune out before finishing your post.

Q2: How do you ensure longer blog posts are captivating and hold attention all the way through?

With longer content, you’re going to have to hook your reader in the very beginning and then hold their attention to get them to read through your entire post. What’s the secret to making that happen? Check out this advice from Tuesday’s chat:

Lisa encourages you to tell your story and infuse it with emotion. Share your personal experiences. It’s this kind of content that will leave people wanting to read more. She also said to write for your reader, not the search engines. While it’s fine to optimize your content for search engines, you need to create with your reader in mind. It’ll help you develop a stronger connection with them and they’ll continue to come back and read more.

Lisa also shared some great advice when it comes to writing your long-form content. As she mentioned, headlines will attract attention. They are what will get people to your content in the first place. What will get them to read is your introduction and the content that follows. Make sure you keep it interesting and drawn them in.

When it comes to editing, Jim suggests letting your drafts sit for a day or two. Then, once you’ve had some time apart, you can come back and edit with fresh eyes. As he said, if your long-form content bores you, you have problems. You need to find a way to change it up before you hit publish.

Elizabeth knows longer blog posts will require strategic formatting in order to keep your reader interested and to lead them through the post. It’s also important to showcase your brand’s captivating voice.

How you structure your blog posts also plays a major role in keeping people hooked on your long-form content. You’ll want to use headings and make sure everything flows. Headings are great for separating individual ideas and it helps to break up big blocks of text. And making sure everything flows is important because you want to have high quality writing on your blog.

Pictures are another great way to break up text and they can also grab attention and keep people interested. You’ll want to add at least one eye-catching visual to each of your blog posts.

Other options to spice up your content include: adding infographics, video and podcast versions of your written content, and great pictures.

Erika knows subheadings and visuals are great, but she also suggested using bulleted lists. Bulleted and numbered lists are an easy way to make text scannable for your reader, which they’ll surely appreciate. And as she said, don’t write just to make your posts long. Only write as much as you feel is necessary to get your point across.

Q3: Once you’ve created an amazing piece of long-form content, how do you promote it to maximize your readership?

Once you have an amazing piece of content published on your website, you can’t just let it sit there to gather virtual dust. Instead, you have to be proactive about promoting the content you’ve written. Here’s how you can promote a piece of content and attract plenty of new readers:

Lisa knows just how beneficial a “popular posts” widget on your website can be. If there are any posts you’d like to showcase, they can be featured in your popular posts section, which is great for keeping people on your site and reading more.

This advice is simple: share it! If you have something new that you’ve created and you’d like to send some more traffic to it, you can absolutely do that. It all starts with knowing who your audience is (and where you’re from) and also knowing what they want.

Julia said you can share a great post by pinning it to your social media pages, repurpose it for social media posts, SlideShare presentations, videos, and more.

Know who your audience is and post the right content to them on the right channels (the ones they’re actively using).

Elizabeth recommends sharing content through social media and your email list. Make sure you’re repurposing content for the platform it’s been shared to so you know it’ll perform its best.

Teasing your content before it goes live is a great way to share a sneak peek and leave people wanting more. They’re sure to be excited about what you have coming up when they find out.

Promote your content on social media or to your email list. Ask influencers to help you spread the word or team up for media partnerships. And finally, organic traffic will do you wonders if you’ve optimized correctly.

Sara encourages you to find a way to repurpose your content. You can do so in a visual way, which means you could create a live video, an infographic, a series of graphics, or something else. It’s all about finding what works best for your brand and your audience.

Q4: What are other creative ways to promote long-form content for maximum mileage?

If you really want to increase the readership on a particular piece of long-form content, you’ll want to get creative with how you spread the word. Here are a few great ideas you can try out:

Lisa likes the ideas of sending email previews to those who contributed to a post or those who are mentioned in a post. You can send them the publish date, the URL, and any pre-written tweets to make it easy for them to share. When you take out the hard work for them, they’ll be more likely to spread the word!

Lisa also mentioned using the Click to Tweet feature to create ready-to-share posts for social media. This makes it easy for readers to spread the word about the content you’ve created. You also want to link to older, relevant content to keep people on your site.

With the popularity of live video, Leah is spot on with her suggestion of turning a longer blog post into a Facebook Live. You can also use Instagram Live or Periscope.

Elizabeth is repurposing her content into videos, SlideShares, and podcast episodes. This will really help her reach a wider audience.

Martin suggests breaking up longer content pieces into smaller ones to get the most out of what you’ve created.

Longer blog posts can even be repurposed as PDFs and delivered as a freebie for your audience. You can also use it to create informative SlideShares.

Varun suggests creating memes, filming short-form videos, asking thought-provoking questions, and inviting your audience to share their opinions.

You can even share it in relevant social media groups, on Reddit, various dedicated forums and discussion platforms, create infographics, and promote it via Quora.

Q5: Should you syndicate a great piece of long-form content on another site? If so, where is a great place to start?

To maximize readership, many turn to syndication as a way to repurpose content they’ve created. Is this really worthwhile though? And if so, how do you go about syndicating content the right way? Read these tips:

As Lisa mentioned, Google may not be a fan of content syndication. You’ll want to do some research before trying this out for yourself. To help, she shared a post from Content Marketing Institute so you can learn more about syndication.

If you decide to move forward with syndication, keep Jim’s advice in mind. He suggests building a trusting relationship with the site first. You also want to make sure you’re aware of their syndication terms before getting started.

You’ll also want to make sure the site you syndicate with has a reputation for publishing high-quality content.

Also, make sure your target audience is reading this site so you can actually reach the right people.

On the plus side, syndication is a great way to get your content seen by a wider audience.

Because Google could see it as duplicate content, you may want to consider repurposing the piece instead. Find a way to make it fresh and difference so it isn’t repetitive.

One final piece of advice to remember: don’t overdo it. This can cheapen your content, so do all syndication with care.

Hank agrees that you shouldn’t go overboard when syndicating. Choose wisely which platforms you want to post your content on.

Q6: What are ways you can repurpose written long-form content? At what point in the process should you start planning for repurposing opportunities?

To truly make the most of your content, you’ll want to repurpose it. This will help you breathe new life into older content and you’ll be able to reach a wider audience. So, how can you get started with this strategy? Check it out:

Lisa suggests repurposing your content in the following ways: YouTube videos, SlideShare, infographics, and quote images. All of these ideas are great and are sure to help you get more mileage out of your content.

She also suggests getting started right away when it comes to planning how you’ll repurpose a piece of content. You can do this by finding your evergreen content and determining the best way to repurpose it based on your brand and your audience. Think about what they’d most like to see! It’s also wise to repurpose the posts that are performing the best.

Podcast episodes are another great idea!

You can even compile multiple blog posts on one topic into a single eBook.

Create social media posts, memes, quotes, infographics, and even more blog content.

Erica suggests considering what will work best for the other platforms you want to share your content on. You might choose to create infographics, timelines, videos, pictures, or Moments.

Jim likes to write content with repurposing in mind. This surely helps him to make the most of his content.

Elizabeth begins thinking about repurposing once she has created the original piece.

This is great advice from Martin. Don’t let your long-form content get stale. You can make updates months or a year later to keep the content fresh and accurate.

Q7: What’s an example of long-form content you loved recently? Share the link!

To help you get some inspiration from amazing long-form content, we asked our chat participants to share a link to a post they loved recently. Here’s what they shared with us:

All of these blog posts are worth taking a look at!

Q8: Who does an amazing job at creating long-form content? Tag them!

So, who shines at long-form content? Check out this awesome list:

Lisa is a fan of Buffer’s blog and the content they share. (We are too!) She also enjoys reading iconiContent.

There’s no denying that Neil Patel is a long-form content king!

Neil Patel, Buffer, and Hubspot are all great!

CoSchedule is another amazing place to read content.

The Jeff Bullas blog is also a favorite!

And our own guest host, Lisa, does a pretty fantastic job herself!

Join us every Tuesday at 10 AM CST for #ContentWritingChat! Follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat to stay updated on topics and guests.

#Contentwritingchat

long form content

An Argument for Long-Form Content: Why it Works, What Lengths to Create, & 5 Long-Form Creators That Win

There’s no way around it, if you want to publish content that truly works for your online presence.

Long-form content is more valuable, more exciting, and more relevant to readers than shorter-form content. It’s also less common.

While it might sound insane to start creating long-form content while we’re living in a world of increasingly short attention spans, swimming upstream is sometimes the only way to the goal.

Here’s some real inspiration for you on the subject.

Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute, and a leader in content marketing, wrote this in an exclusive CMI subscriber email this month (read the actual email here via PDF):

“…Nearly every marketer we talk to has run to shorter posts, shorter social media updates, shorter videos, shorter podcasts … thinking that audiences don’t have the desire to invest themselves in content for a longer period of time.

But they absolutely do … if the content is worthwhile.

Those marketers who take a longer­ form approach can immediately position themselves and their stories as differentiated simply because of the length. When all your competition is going small, maybe it’s your time to go big.”

In the same email, Pulizzi points out that:

  • Huffington Post has recently doubled down on its efforts to create long-form content.
  • All-star Youtubers are creating videos that are 10 or 12 minutes long.
  • Tim Ferriss’s recent bestselling book, Tools of Titans, is a whopping 671 pages.

Today, long-form content is the best way to stand out online.

But why, truly, long-form content–why does it work?–and how can you create it for your brand?

Let’s discuss this timely topic.

Why, truly, are we pro long-form content for a strong online presence? Why does it work? And how can you create it for your brand? Read @JuliaEMcCoy's guide 📜 Click To Tweet

argument for long form content

Long-Form Content, by the Numbers

Long-form content isn’t just important because it’s different – it’s important because it works.

By providing more space to include relevant information, and giving audiences a chance to settle in and get comfortable with your brand, voice, and content, long-form material manages to convert at higher rates, provide a higher ROI, and earn more engagement. Here are a few fast stats to prove it:

  • The average length of posts in the top 10 spots of Google is 2,000 words. While it’s possible for short-form content to rank well, long-form content is the winner when it comes to front-page results.
  • Long-form content gets people to stay on pages 40% longer. Kissmetrics reports that, in addition to staying on their long-form pages longer, people exposed to long-form content also viewed 25% more pages than other visitors.
  • Long-form content earns more social shares. When it comes to social media, long-form content earns more shares and engagement than standard blog posts.
  • Longer content helps position you as a leader in your industry. It’s tough to bluff your way through 10,000 words, and readers know that. When you create quality, long-form content, you position yourself as a leader in your industry, standing out even further from your lazy counterparts who would rather get by with 300-word blurbs.

The Long-Form Guide Revolution 

One great place to see the power of long-form content is in guides. Today, long-form guides are doing incredibly well. While it’s tough to earn great results if you’re not writing specific, targeted, honed guides, ultimate guides are another thing.

Instead of rambling and losing readers, these guides target in on one topic and dominate all facets of it. Covering things like InDesign and landing page lead generation, these guides are killing it in the online world right now.

Because they’re extensive and in-depth, these long-form guides have longer lifespans than other forms of content. This is because they can be reused again and again. After they’re researched and published online, it’s easy to make a large book from them, for example, or break them down into a long-form SlideShare presentation.

Need a real-life example?

Consider Joanna Wiebe, who wrote a guide to copywriting formulas. It’s called “The Ultimate Guide to No-Pain Copywriting (or, Every Copywriting Formula Ever).” The piece sits at 5,000 words and takes more than an hour to read! It also includes a table of contents to follow:

joanna wiebe table of contents

Useful, extensive, and helpful to readers, this piece has earned more than 6,000 shares and 151 comments. It also ranks well at the top for “copywriting formulas” in Google.

5 Examples of Bloggers Rising Above with Long-Form Content

Now that you know why long-form content is so critical, let’s take a close look at a few prominent bloggers who are putting out excellent long-form content today.

1. Tor Refsland

Tor Refsland, the face behind TimeManagementChef.com, has been featured on top sites like Lifehack, JeffBullas.com, Ahrefs, Post Planner, and Blogging Wizard.

On his own blog, he’s famous for consistently publishing 10,000-30,000-word monster blogs. Thanks to the time, energy, and effort these blogs take, he’s been recognized as an award-winning, top blogger who was first invited to speak at key events just 18 months into blogging.

For an example of what Tor Refsland is capable of with a blog, check out this piece, titled “Business Coaching, 20x My Revenue and Being Slapped by Frank Kern.” It clocks in right around 13,000 words and features so many segments and sections you’d think you were reading a novel!

While the piece is long, though, it manages not to be overwhelming. This is because Refsland does a few things beautifully. For one, the entire article is broken into highly digestible segments and short paragraphs, so you’re never faced with a brick wall of text. Example:

refsland

He’s also funny, and his humor feels like a trail of bread crumbs, leading you through the story step by step. He’s a pro at using punctuation, formatting, and headlines to help usher people through these monster blogs, so you never get bored or discouraged.

Try this post: How To Attract the Right Clients By Doing Business Nude. 

how to attract clients

It’s seriously funny.

Tor’s incredible copy is a large reason he was on my podcast last year!

2. Adam Connell

The founder of Blogging Wizard, a site that helps people learn to grow their sites “like magic,” Adam Connell has made a name for himself in the world of long-form content.

For an example of what he and his team create, check out this recent blog, titled “How I Got 8k Followers on Tumblr in 5 Months Without Logging in Once.”

Written by Eli Seekins, this blog is just about 3,000 words long. While this piece isn’t as massive as Refsland’s aforementioned blog, it’s no less important.

blogging wizard

Here are a few things this blog does right:

It visualizes almost every step.

If I had to guess, I’d say this post has an image every 300 words or so. In addition to the custom cover they’ve created for this post, the piece is also littered with in-depth screenshots,

Blogging Wizard Screenshot 2

overviews,

Blogging wizard screenshot 3

and tutorials.

blogging wizard screenshot 4

Without these images, readers would be facing a dense stream of text, which would be intimidating and off-putting. With these images, the long-form content feels like a picture book, which is welcoming and informative.

It uses catchy headers and subheaders. The title itself is a great example of this. “8k followers? On Tumblr? In 5 months? Without logging in once??” You can’t help but click once you’ve gone through that mental process. Beyond the title though, his headline mastery is evident throughout the piece. Each subheader is descriptive, succinct, and compelling for readers. This helps move people through the piece and keep them interested.

It encourages reader engagement. The last subheader in the piece reads “Over to You.” The author uses this segment to ask audiences about their Tumblr blogs, follower numbers, and actions they’ve taken to drive traffic to or from the blog. With 24 comments and more than 700 shares, the approach seems to work!

3. We Live What We Preach at Express Writers

Here at Express Writers, we’ve always been dedicated to long-form content. It’s been the name of our game since I launched the site with a $75 out-of-pocket investment, back in 2011.

Throughout the six years that have elapsed since then, content has always been the #1 source of our revenue, marketing, and leads. We’ve never invested in PPC marketing (that’s right – not once) and we’ve always created our content without a thought to a sales funnel.

As a result, we outrank all of our major competitors on Google by 5%.). We claim more than 4,100 keyword rankings in Google and have organic traffic worth about $13,200. To top it all off, we also serve upwards of 1,000 clients around the globe and write more than 300 pages each week. I broke exactly how in my case study last year:

Of the more than 785 blogs we’ve published on The Write Blog since 2011, the average word count of just one of my posts is 1,500.

Some are longer, at around 3,700, while some are shorter, clocking it at more like 800 words.

Curious about how we use long-form content to drive results? Here’s a breakdown.

Each month, we post about 32 long-form pieces across the web. It takes five people, including myself, to make that happen (myself, three of our writers to assist me with editorial deadlines, our designer, and our Social Media Manager Rachel to social share everything). That doesn’t include the writers that periodically guest blog on our blog, including my staff, like Tara Clapper. These include posts on our own blog and posts on my various guest post columns. Here are the standards that allow us to maintain that level of content:

  • Research. I use Quora, BuzzSumo, and SEMrush for research. I’ve even created a Twitter chat (#ContentWritingChat) to find out what people on that platform are talking about and what they’d like to see in the coming content. Finally, I always pay careful attention to the comments I receive on my blog, and the conversations I have with other people in the comment threads of other blogs, as well as the conversations I have in LinkedIn and Facebook groups. Many times, these serve as the basis of my research or learning for a coming post.
  • Scheduled posting. In recent years, I’ve ramped up our publishing schedule to include a blog each day except for the weekends. That’s five blogs a week. I schedule each to post on WordPress at midnight the day of, and I tend to stay one week ahead. This allows us to stay consistent and high-quality, no matter how busy things gets.
  • Custom images. We create custom visuals, screenshots, and GIFs for each of our pieces. As you saw in the Blogging Wizard example, lots of visuals help readers stay engaged in long-form content, so we use them to help guide people through our posts.
  • Content audits. Every month, I audit our content in SEMrush. If the content there is showing as low-quality or low-engagement, it gets updated and improved immediately.

While this all takes a lot of work, I’ve found that content is the single most valuable source of online traffic, and that paying careful attention to building and maintaining it is a smart way to boost your online business and earn incredible leads.

4. BuzzSumo

The BuzzSumo blog is authored by the team at BuzzSumo, including Susan and Steve Rayson, and others. What this team is great at is specificity. Unlike so many other places on the web, they consistently publish exclusive statistics, which is a fantastic way to win at blogging, as well.

They’re also great at ultimate guides.

In fact, their guides are frequently my go-to sources of research for material I publish on The Write Blog, and virtually any piece you click on has dozens of comments, and hundreds of shares. Take this piece, for example: “Ask the expert: Mari Smith Answers 56 Questions About Facebook Marketing,”where author Susan Moeller asks the so-called “Queen of Facebook” about how to increase Facebook reach and improve presence. Exhaustive, exciting, and interesting, this piece hits it home on many levels. Or, one of my frequently quoted pieces, “The Future is More Content.

buzzsumo future of content

BuzzSumo levels up continually and gets hundreds to thousands of shares per post, because they’re able to add exclusive research to their content performed using their insightful software.

5. Neil Patel

Ask virtually any expert content marketer for an example of a long-form king or queen, and they’ll mention Neil Patel. His company, QuickSprout, is the online leader for super in-depth guides and his blog on this topic, why long-form content matters, is a go-to for content in general.

Within this blog, Patel breaks down why he thinks long-form content is valuable. He quotes this powerful serpIQ study:

serp iq content length

He also breaks down how his about page is 2,000 words long, and how values like substance, style, frequency, purpose, and format all help inform his company’s long-form content strategy.

When you visit QuickSprout, here’s what you can expect from their long-form blogs:

  • Organization. His posts make any Type A personality happy. They’re organized, well laid out, meticulously formatted, and incredibly easy to navigate. Between his relevant headers and subheaders, and his use of bolding, italics, and bullets, you never have to worry about getting lost in one of his posts.
  • Information. Like BuzzSumo, Neil Patel is a great source for original information. He publishes his own research, his own statistics, and his own findings. All this contributes to a truly unique content experience readers can’t expect to find anywhere else.
  • Personal voice. Neil Patel is great at making people want to work through these long blogs with him because he’s so conversational and approachable. He addresses the reader as “you” and calls out their personal struggles and difficulties. He also shares many of his own!
  • Visuals. Patel’s blogs are highly visual-dense, featuring screenshots, overviews, and charts and graphs to help readers grasp his points and synthesize the information he’s offering.

Because of these things, Patel has consistently stood out as a leader of long-form content, and he continues to dominate the web. A great person to look toward for an example of why long-form works, or how much it matters, Neil Patel promises to continue his charge as a leader in long-form.

How to Create Long-Form Content

So, long-form content matters.

It converts better, differentiates you from the competition, and puts you in the ranks of some of the best bloggers out there. But how do you create it for your site? While the task may seem daunting, long-form content isn’t as tough as it might seem. You simply need to have a plan of attack.

Here’s a detailed outline to help you create your own long-form content in the coming year.

Step 1: Define your mission

Think of long-form content like a long, long sailboat trip. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to wind up somewhere you don’t want to be. More specifically, you’re going to wind up wasting time, money, and lots of effort, without anything to show for it. With this in mind, you must define your purpose first.

To do that, answer this simple question: Why are you writing the long-form content?

Got an answer? Good – now get more granular. Who is it for? What will “success” look like? What goal does this material need to achieve?

Once you’ve hammered these things out, you’ll have a functional roadmap with which to begin the long-form journey.

Step 2: To gate or not to gate? That is the question.

Long-form content basically comes in two varieties: gated and ungated. Gated content requires readers to give you something in return for the content, like an email address. Ungated content comes for free, on your website or in the form of a download.

Gated content helps you learn about your readers by collecting relevant information, like their names, ages, job positions, and email addresses. It also helps you build your email list and introduce people into your sales funnel.

Ungated content, on the other hand, may encourage more engagement since it comes with less commitment. Both approaches have their benefits and drawbacks, and the next step in deciding whether to gate your content is simply evaluating rather its smart for you.

Different influencers have different opinions about this. CrazyEgg, for example, advocates for un-gated guides, since they can help you build relationships without a “catch.” The final decision, however, depends on your business, goals, and outlook.

Step 3: Create a topic and reinforce it with keywords

The biggest battle in the process of creating long-form content (aside from the actual writing) is deciding on a topic and keyword strategy. Remember that long-form guides can be 5,000, 8,000, or 10,000 words, so it’s critical to pick a topic that leaves you plenty of room to run.

Having trouble with this step? Here are a few tips:

  • Pick a topic that allows for simple keyword optimization. You want to be able to align your long-form content with keywords people are searching for. Bear this in mind as you research and develop your topic.
  • Check out your Q & A section. If there’s a certain question customers ask repeatedly, consider expanding it into a long-form guide or post. This can kill two birds with one stone: providing an in-depth answer to the question and giving readers a place to turn before they ask it.
  • Do your research. As I mentioned before, I use sites like Quora and BuzzSumo to do the research for The Write Blog, and these are great resources to tap into. Look for trending content, questions your readers are asking on Quora, or any unmet needs your target audience may have.

Step 4: Write it out

Next comes the biggest part of the entire process: writing. Writing a long-form guide can take weeks or even months, depending on your purpose and channel, so it’s essential to leave yourself enough time to execute this properly. If you rush it, you’re going to wind up with unsatisfactory material that doesn’t fulfill its purpose.

If you don’t feel up to the task of writing the guide yourself, consider hiring someone to do it for you. A freelancer or content agency like our own here at Express Writers can manage the entire process, taking your material from outline to final draft in a reasonable timeframe.

Once you’ve gotten the guide written, you’ll also want to invest in design services to make it visually appealing, no matter how you intend to distribute it.

Long-Form Content: The Most Important Type of Content to Create in 2017

As 2017 wears on, long-form content becomes more and more critical. In addition to helping brands stand out from the content sea, long-form ranks better, earns higher ROIs, and gives you a chance to solidly position yourself as an authority in your niche.

While it may seem counterintuitive to create long-form content in a time when attention spans are shorter than ever and mobile is king, readers are hungry for something that provides them with real value, real passion, and real effort.

Long-form content is one of the only things on the web that provides all of this, all at once.

Do yourself and your readers a favor, and commit to long-form content in 2017.

cta expert content

death of the fold

Death of the Fold: Why Content Writers Don’t Have to Worry About Scroll Time

You’ve likely heard of the phrase “above the fold,” if you’re even slightly into internet marketing and copywriting.

According to collective wisdom, we’re supposed to top-load the content that appears “above the fold” if we want to succeed.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “fold,” it essentially means the place that a reader would have to scroll to see more content or the bottom of the visible page.

For years, this has been a battle cry in the world of SEO, and it’s one that’s rung loudly with writers, web designers, and others. But what if that call is wrong? What if “the fold” has fallen out of vogue and, today, it’s nothing more than a myth that you don’t need to worry about quite so much. Today, we’re going to dig into this, and help you understand why “above the fold” could be a dead term.

Read on.

death of the fold and scroll time

What “Above the Fold” Content Looks Like

Whether you know it or not, you’ve seen above the fold content. You can find it on virtually any small software company’s website.

It looks like this:

freshbooks

On the FreshBooks website, which sells small business accounting software, the viewer gets a visual, a headline, a few sentences of text, and a call-to-action button – all without having even to touch their mouse.

That’s it. You can’t scroll down.

Let me take this moment to say that there’s not anything wrong with this layout. The website is visually appealing, uncluttered, and compelling. That said, though, there is something wrong with the intense declaration that every call to action on every web page in every industry must exist above the fold.

This has been going on for a few years – this insistence that everything should be above the fold. In fact, Kissmetrics explored it in a 2012 article:

why the fold is a myth

Kissmetrics question to their audience is:

“What if the premise is wrong? What if calls to action below the precise work better?”

Let’s explore why that may or may not be true, by today’s standards.

Death of the Fold: The Real Benefit of a Below-the-Fold CTA

CTAs tucked into the bottom of pages may perform as well if not better than their above-the-fold counterparts. In fact, a page with a CTA tucked into the bottom footer of the page out-converted (by 20%) a page with a prominent CTA positioned above-the-fold (Unbounce).

While it may seem contradictory that a CTA tucked down low on a page (where presumably nobody would see) it could out-perform a CTA placed in the most prominent portion of a page, it’s true. I know, it seems even more unbelievable when you consider that the majority (80%) of people read headlines, while only 20% click through to read body content. So, what’s this fascination with below-the-fold content?

The answer comes down to a few things and, surprisingly, the fold isn’t one of them.

At the end of the day, the all-powerful fold is just a technicality in the content conversion process.

Here’s why: users are happy to keep scrolling to reach your CTA, if the material they see above the fold interests them enough.

In other words, the conversion rates of above- versus below-the-fold content has less to do with the actual position of the CTA than it does the quality of the content on the page. In other words, readers will keep going if they feel motivated to do so, and this has nothing to do with the position of the CTA. Instead, it has to do with how motivational your content is and how much it drives your reader toward your CTA.

According to the aforementioned Kissmetrics article:

“Higher conversion rates have nothing to do with whether the button is above the fold, and everything to do with whether the button is below the right amount of good copy.”

How Much Copy is Enough Copy?

Now that you know why the fold is a myth let’s talk about how much copy you need to provide your readers with “good copy.” Of course, there’s no one-size-fits all rule for this, and the answer depends on your various audience segments. Assuming you’re dealing with calls-to-action on landing pages or websites, here’s how you should arrange your content to appeal to each different audience segment:

1. Leads who are ready to buy.

These people get it. They know what you’re offering, and they know why. They also know they want it. They’ve read enough of your content to feel compelled by it and convert at the highest rate if you stick your CTA at the top of the page.

2. Information-gathering prospects.

These leads are relatively familiar with your company, and they just need a bit of a nudge to hop in and convert. For best results, give them a bit of educational text and a prominent CTA. This isn’t so much about positioning your CTA above the fold as it is ensuring that the content you offer them is prominent and educational enough to convince them to dive in with your company.

3. New leads.

If you have someone who is brand-new to your landing page or product, you’re going to need to do more legwork. This will mean that your CTA coincidentally falls below the fold, although, again, this has less to do with placement than it does the amount of content you’re offering before the CTA. To hook these readers, give them a solid value proposition, well-written educational copy, and a precise definition of benefits, costs, etc. A compelling CTA at the end of all of this will help seal the deal.

Why Scrolling Isn’t so Bad After All

Today, people scroll almost intuitively.

Think about it: we scroll in everything we do. We scroll through the contacts on our phones, our text messages, our music libraries. We scroll through books and magazines on our Kindles and scroll down product pages to locate what we’re looking for online. Scrolling is second-nature, and people aren’t nearly as afraid of it as they once were.

Because of this, people aren’t automatically turned off if they need to scroll to locate your CTA. In fact, they may be more automatically turned-off if they navigate to a top-heavy landing page that’s apparently been designed to cram everything into the top six inches of a page!

Still not convinced that people don’t mind scrolling? Here are some stats to help you get your head around it:

  • According to Chartbeat, 66% of people’s attention on webpages is dedicated to the content below the fold.
  • 76% of people scroll on web pages, and 22% of people scroll to the bottom of a page, regardless of how long it is.
  • 50% of mobile users begin scrolling through a page within 10 second of landing on it
  • Apple removed their visual scrollbar from their Mac OS X software in 2011, proving that people of today are scrolling natives, and don’t need to be reminded to do it.

The Death of Above-the-Fold Content is Upon Us

While it used to make sense to position content above-the-fold, the rise of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets has changed the way that people interact with web content. It’s also changed the way they think about scrolling. Today, scrolling is natural, and most people don’t bat an eyelash at the thought of doing it.

As such, it doesn’t matter where a CTA lives (as long as you’re taking your various audience segments into consideration as you lay out the page) or how long the page is. Instead of seeing a CTA crammed into the top of a page, people only want to see some valuable content they can interact with. By delivering this, you can easily grab your readers’ interest and keep it, regardless of where you put your CTA.

That said, don’t discount space above the fold. It still matters! It just doesn’t matter as much as people once thought it did. Instead of seeing all your content crammed into the top few pixels of your site, readers want to land on a site that is laid out according to their stage in the buyer’s journey. They also want to feel as if a page is dedicated to featuring valuable and informative content, rather than just focusing on stacking all of a its content into the top few inches.

Death of the Fold: Let us Know what You Think!

So, there you have it: while above-the-fold content served a purpose once, it’s less important today.

Right now, readers are looking for value and relevance rather than SEO tricks. If you create great long-form content, it will still get read. If you put your CTA at the bottom of the page, it will still get clicked.

With that in mind, ditch your concerns about staying above the fold and focus on being informational and valuable through your content, instead. Readers will thank you and your conversion rates likely won’t suffer! 

What do you think of this not-so-new-trend? Let me know in the comments!

express writers cta

short vs. long content

Short vs. Long Content: What's Better For Rankings, Engagements & More (CASE STUDY)

At Express Writers, we serve nearly a thousand international clients monthly by providing content pages that are 99% web-based (utilized on blogs, as landing pages, website articles, etc.). This means that we have to keep up on the latest and greatest know-how to provide our clients with the best, highest quality content possible—closely tied in to how well the content will perform on Google and search results.

If you’re an Internet Marketer, you most likely know very well by now that the Internet is ever-changing, and Google’s guidelines for ranking web content have significantly re-formed in the past 12 to 24 months. Big names in algorithm updates were Google Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.

Since these algorithm updates, we’ve seen some solid trends favoring specific attributes of content that were previously overlooked in rankings. Specific attributes now being favored by the SERPs include:

  • Long content is given preference above shorter content
  • Less focus on keyword-optimization in the content and more of a real-world, researched, and reader-friendly oriented focus
  • Well-formatted and visual-oriented blogs that get shared

Let’s delve into the first attribute. Why and how, exactly, is longer content preferred and given a front row seat by the SERPs versus the previous standard of short, 1-page content?

 

What Is Longer Content?

Before we can successfully make an educated comparison of long versus short content, we need to fully comprehend just what long content is. Copyblogger first put a finger on it by writing a blog, “How to Write the In-Depth Articles that Google Loves,” in mid-2013. They called it “cornerstone content.”

Cornerstone, or longer content, is the kind of content that is both thoughtful and in-depth. It is well researched and presents a battery of proven facts, much like an essay. Long content comes in different styles, strongly dependent on the company or brand creating the content. It is primarily conversational, educational, and informative. Some of the most SEO successful long content pieces range from 2,000 to 2,500 words, which is approximately a 5-page piece of writing. Let’s see what some experts think about long vs. short content.

 

The Conundrum: Long vs. Short

According to the Rank Correlation 2013 Study on ranking factors in 2013, published by SearchMetrics.com, “Content factors correlate almost entirely positively with good rankings and were apparently – when compared with the previous year – partially upgraded.” This fact proves that Google’s updates did indeed change, or upgrade, the system for ranking web content.

A good percentage of ranking factors in 2013 went to quality content. According to SearchMetrics.com, the average number of words in the text was 576, which was up from 2012. The trend of rising word count in content has continued into 2014.

A QuickSprout.com contributor, Neil Patel, decided to test out the new waters favoring long content. He swam to the newly popular deep end of the pool and created a test homepage of 1,292 words versus a second homepage of a mere 488 words. Both pages had a fill out form at the bottom. Although he initially thought the longer content would decrease his conversion rate, the results of his test were intriguing:

  • The long content converted 7.6 percent better than the shorter.
  • The leads resulting from the long content proved to be of better quality.
  • The long content boosted conversions and SERPs.

Patel concluded, through his research and case study, that longer content is indeed better for rankings, engagement and more versus short content. He also concluded that in 2014, content truly is king and if we’re wise, we’ll invest in the creation of well-written, authoritative, and engaging content.

 

The Express Writer’s Long Content Case Study

After identifying the trend to longer content and seeing what the experts had to say, we decided it was our turn to join the deep end of the pool. We put this trend to a wheel-grinding test just before Christmas 2013, by writing 2,000-word, highly researched, niche topic content blogs, and posting them on our blog. The results were phenomenal: Google loved our content and we gained significant keyword rankings that grew steadily.

 

Screenshot of our rankings Dec 2013:

December 2013 rankings

 

Screenshot Jan 2014:

January 2014 rankings

The rankings were closely tied to the actual blogs we posted, for example this blog on how to deliver compelling content, that was ranking for the keyword web content writing tips:

blog rankings

Lastly the Feb 2014 Rankings:

Feb 2014 rankings

 

How Can You Jump Into The Deep End?

Now that the experts have waded into the deep end and shared proven results, the rest of us can jump right in. But how? Where’s the diving board?

One of the most common questions we hear businesses asking is how do I write long content without overdoing it (being wordy, boring, etc.)? If you’ve asked this question, you’ve pinpointed the biggest obstacle to long content: HOW THE HECK do we come up it? Even Internet Marketers are asking this question.

SearchEngineLand.com published eight means of creating what they refer to as long tail content for SEO. The article drives home the point that while SEO isn’t dying, it is evolving. You cannot create content merely for the sake of keyword searches and traffic. You have to “shift toward a more user-content-centric view of the world.” You can accomplish this feat and generate great long content by:

  • Gathering your best people and brainstorming. You know whom we’re talking about. Those elite few within your fold who have a talent for brainstorming fresh, cutting-edge ideas. Pull these folks together and start brainstorming content ideas. Let creativity get a foothold, and then move to the research phase.
  • Become familiar with the needs of your audience. Pinpoint the top 5 to 10 needs of your audience. Then, brainstorm topic ideas that allow you to cover each need and the solutions you offer in a lengthy, well-researched piece of content. When you delve deeply into the needs of your audience, you’d be amazed at how quickly you’ll compile pieces that exceed 2,000 or so words and need to be trimmed back or split into two distinct pieces of content.
  • Give your audience more than just your solution. Once you’ve pinpointed the needs of your audience and derived how you can provide a solution, research complementary products and services. At first, this might seem counterproductive. But remember that content needs to be “user-content-centric.” By introducing them to the part you solve, and pointing them toward complimentary avenues of solving an aspect to the problem you don’t, you build credibility and authority. The user will be impressed and see you as a business looking out for their needs over your profit margin. As a result, you’ll begin building trust and loyalty alongside sales conversion.
  • Check out the competition. It’s a good idea to research your competition. Your goal is to do better than they do. Avoid copying their content strategies. Instead, plan your own geared toward excellence.
  • Test the waters. Once you’ve brainstormed, researched, and planned, it’s time to test the water. Create a few pieces of content and an initial design. Test them with your audience. Use the feedback to improve before initiating your final content strategies.

 

Is Short Content Still Valuable?

We hear this question a lot; it isn’t, is short content still valuable, it’s where is short content still valuable? No lie—it still has its value. Not only will you still find short content all over the World Wide Web, but you’ll still be creating it in 2014. Here are some examples of where shorter is still better:

  1. Specific marketing content, such as e-mails
  2. Product descriptions
  3. Social media posts
  4. Video presentations
  5. Podcasts
  6. Webinars
  7. Infographics

Today’s audience is pressed for time, which is why short content is still very much valuable. Yet, our audience also knows when to spend a little extra time reading content that presents value. And that is really what the long versus short content conundrum is all about. For years, we’ve stuck to publishing short articles and content, thinking it was the best way to blast a message to our audience and see results. It worked, for a time. However, today our audience is demanding more.

Case study after case study is proving that our time-strapped audience will not only take the time to read lengthy, well-written content, but they also demand it. As a result, Google is pushing the primary use of long content in 2014. There’s no doubt that we will continue to see the evolution of search engine optimization and content as the year progresses and the next 2 to 3 unfold.

Yet, based on the information we’ve just covered, we can state one thing with certainty: the ultimate trick to staying ahead is to always keep your audience at the center of every piece of content you create and publish. If you’ve done this from day one, adapting to the trending change of long tail, cornerstone content will be as simple as expanding word counts to offer even more user value. Continue to keep your audience as your true focal point, and you’ll easily transition as the Internet world keeps on evolving.

 

 

2014 The Year of the Informer

2014 Web Content and Google: The Year of the Informer

The year 2013 certainly marked some historical changes in content marketing. Thanks to all of the notorious algorithm changes, Google has made web content marketers wake up and smell the rankings. It’s no longer about who has the best keyword usage or who knows how to trick the search engines — it’s all about who can offer the most unique information to readers. At Express Writers, we think 2014 will be the year of the Informer.

 

So basically if you’re not informing, you won’t be ranking.

 

2013: The Game Changer

Google’s Hummingbird release really hit hard for most websites. If Google Panda and Penguin didn’t make it clear enough, Hummingbird has made it obvious that Google wants readers informed and not filled with useless Internet dribble.

We all know it’s always been about content, but now it’s time to take that content seriously. We know more changes are coming and if you’re not a step ahead, you’re going to take a hit to your precious ranking. That is why we’ve devised a few content forecasts we see coming for 2014 and we’re going to share them with you.

 

Content Will Be About Quality — Not Quantity

Google values quality above all else and Hummingbird sealed the deal for content marketers. In 2014, we see Google putting their statements into action and taking websites with quality, not quantity. Hummingbird uses a more in-depth search approach that looks for answers to Internet user’s questions. It won’t matter so much about the keywords you use in your content; instead, Google wants to deliver an accurate, relevant answer to its user.

It’s no longer about producing mass amounts of content just to rank. It’s all about the quality of that content. Google isn’t going to look to see if you post daily, they’re going to look to see what you’re posting and if it’s worth the time.

The quality theory also applies to keyword usage. Google doesn’t want to see you use your keywords in a specific percentage. The day of meeting three to five percent will be gone in 2014 — or so we think. Sure, keep your keywords and targeted phrases in mind as you produce your website’s content, but don’t go crazy trying to fit them in. Your content should flow naturally and your keywords too. The SEO will handle itself, so you should just focus on quality first.

Guest blogging was the “it” thing to do in 2013, but we see that taking a drastic decline in 2014. Matt Cutts already stated in his latest video that guest blogging should be “used in moderation.” Google is all about a site’s reputation, and guest blogging shouldn’t be your primary way to boost your reputation. Sure, use guest blogs here and there, but don’t make them the core of your content strategy for 2014.

Lastly, in the quality category is relevance. If you were one of those website owners that used high-ranking keywords and backed it with irrelevant content, it’s time to change your ways. The future of content is all about relevancy. The new search engine algorithms know how to analyze a site for relevancy. So pop out the irrelevant keywords and start focusing on how your content can deliver useful, targeted information to Internet users.

 

Authority Will Take Priority

In 2013, it was made clear Google wants authority, but we see that statement really taking hold in 2014. Google and Internet users want stuff written by people who really know what they’re talking about. They don’t want someone guessing or filling their heads with factually incorrect garbage.

To help boost credibility of the world’s countless number of Internet authors, Google is putting more emphasis on Google Authorship — as should you. You’ll want to link back high-quality articles to your Google+ page as much as possible, according to Copypress.com. Building a solid reputation for quality will increase traffic to your site and help you establish your virtual cred.

Most of the competition out there is already working on building up their reputation. So instead of waiting for January 1st to roll around, start working on quality articles you can link to your Google+ page.

 

Personality Will Matter

Let’s face it; if you wanted a lecture you’d go back to school. Right?

We predict more personality and branding in content for 2014 and for good reason: it is what people want to read!

The average Internet reader is easily bored. Can you blame them? After spending hours sifting through Internet trash to find something interesting – that’s what they really want – something interesting.

You need to leverage your own personal style and write some unique content that really showcases what makes your brand different from the rest. Now we aren’t saying use street lingo — unless you’re selling street clothes and that would be killer — but you need to speak to your target audience.

Add the personality and conversational tone that your target customer would expect from your brand. There’s no need to take it too far. After all, you’re an industry expert so you know the people you’re speaking to and how they want to be spoken to. Think of it as if you were talking to that customer in person. How would you approach them? Discuss your products? If you were teaching them something, how would you talk?

No matter what, avoid the snooze fest. It’s okay to add a little personality here and there, even on a very serious topic. Don’t force it, just be yourself, and be natural. The more natural and conversational your content is, the more likely it is to be shared on social media — which brings us to our next prediction for 2014…

 

Your Social Status Could Come Into Play

Social media is highly influential. Think about it. When you think of today’s top trends, where do you see those trends most? On social media, of course.

Google has already stated that social status and good content go hand in hand. If you write something that is quality and useful, a user will ultimately share it on social media. Think of the stuff you share. It’s obviously good enough and worth the time to forward it to others, right? That’s what your content needs to be.

Start sharing your own content on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Make it engaging, resourceful, and share-worthy.

According to SearchMetrics.com’s 2013 Ranking Factor study, social signals that were high correlated with higher search engine rankings. The more +1’s you have on your Google+ might actually increase your rank better than Facebook in 2014.

Twitter has already proved itself as a valuable asset to every business and website owner out there. If you don’t have a Twitter account, it’s time to sign up for one.

Use the social media networks that your target customers are likely to use. Twitter, for example, attracts a younger crowd who can keep up with the ever-so-quick feeds of posts. Facebook, on the other hand, is attracted by all ages and Google+ is user-friendly for most too. Work your magic on the social networks your target audience is likely to be on so that you can remain visible at all times.

 

Your Content Will Go Mobile — Whether You’re Ready or Not

Mobile is a new trend that is going to gain momentum in 2014. Mobile users are growing and after Christmas 2013 we expect more mobile users than ever (let’s face it; everyone wants a tablet for Christmas).

We cannot emphasize it enough: mobile is coming. Your content needs to be mobile-ready today so it’s ready for the mobile users of tomorrow.

Mobile SEO will also be important in 2014. As the number of mobile users grows, so will the demand. Mobile users aren’t that much different from those using standard web browsers. They still want information. That means you need to provide content that is valuable and answers on-the-go users questions.

Your average mobile user isn’t going to sift through countless pages to find their answers — they’re going to pick from those first pages of results. Some of the first pictures shown in the Hummingbird presentation were of mobile phones — isn’t that hint enough?

Webpages must also be optimized for mobile users. They should be simplified, easy to navigate and relevant. If your website is too clunky or difficult for a mobile user to find what they’re looking for, they’ll move on to the website owner who took the time to prepare for mobile. So for 2014, go mobile.

 

Content Gets Longer

The days of writing a cute 250-word post are dead. Long form content is the wave of the future and we see that being the only wave of 2014. Sure, there are times users want a quick, easy read, but some topics really require more in-depth information.

Google is featuring those articles that are in-depth. To be in-depth, you need to go well over 250, 500 and even 1,000 words. The longer your content is, the more effort you’ve put into it; therefore, Google will reward you with a better rank.

Long content can drag down your rank if you don’t do it right. Google doesn’t just want to see 1,000 words of nothing — they want substance. Do some real research, put some thought into it, and create posts that give your readers some knowledge. Think of yourself as a professor and you have just 15 to 20 minutes to teach someone about your topic. Break it down for the reader, avoid the fluff, and teach them something useable.

 

Some tips for success:

  1. Always have a purpose.
  2. Make your content digestible. Don’t give them a wall of 1500 words and expect them to read it. Break it up in easily read sections.
  3. Write it only as long as it needs to be to serve the purpose you defined in Step #1.
  4. Make the content searchable using keywords naturally.
  5. Make the content share-worthy — would you share it?
  6. Add some images or videos to help break up the content.

 

What You Should Take Away From All of This

2014 is going to have a few notable changes — perhaps some that are bigger than what we’ve seen in 2013. As you plan your strategy for 2014, it would be rather dumb of you not to at least integrate one of the things we’ve mentioned here — after all, we took the time to tell you what to expect for 2014, so you cannot say you weren’t warned.
So what have we learned?

  • Content will be about quality — high quality at that. No more writing just to write, it’s time to actually share some useful information.
  • There will be more emphasis on the author’s authority. You’re an industry expert so embrace this! Write about what you know, share your expertise and the authority rank will come naturally.
  • The days of boring content are over (thank goodness). It’s time to actually converse with the people and not act like you’re talking to a cyborg.
  • Social media will influence your rank rather heavily. So, it’s time to stop being a wallflower and be a social media butterfly.
  • Content is going to go mobile, so you had better prepare your site and content for the mobile users of 2014.
  • Content needs to be in-depth, which means it needs to be longer — a lot longer.

 

The changes of 2013 have taught us a lot. Content marketers can’t just throw up slabs of text and call them “content” anymore. It’s about really speaking to the readers and if anything, you should be excited for these changes. That means as you browse the web in the future you’ll actually find good content, worthy content and stuff you can learn from. Think of what the future holds with these new and exciting changes? 2014 is certainly going to be the year of the Informer and if you’re not informing the readers, you’re not going to do so well in 2014.

That’s our prediction at least.