Few things get the creative mind going like throwing several hundred digital experts and content writers into a tiny music hall for a few days and letting them talk shop.
Last week’s Detroit version of the growing Digital Summit event series was a two-day blitz of all things digital, including some real expertise in content strategy for the modern Web.
If you didn’t take the time to go to the Motor City for this event, that’s OK. Here are five big strategy takeaways that can help any business make better content.
1. The Best Place to Hide a Dead Body is Page 2 of Google Search Results
Learned from: Quinn Whissen (@QuinnCW), Vertical Measures
This isn’t just a good line, it’s also the truth. When was the last time you clicked on content in the second page of the search results?
Quinn dove into great details on how companies simply don’t understand SEO – often to their detriment. In fact, efforts to game Google and its smaller search engine competitors often put companies into the penalty box for years. But even common mistakes can confuse search engines and cause you to drop into that page-two dead zone.
From her experience at Vertical Measures, here are the 10 most common SEO mistakes companies make in their content:
- Unintentional duplicate content
- Bad backlinks
- Over optimization and cannibalization of target keywords
- Bad and duplicate title tags
- Bad and duplicate meta descriptions
- Poorly optimized images and videos
- Slow page-load time
- Poorly written or thin content
- Keyword misfocus (not aligned on the same page)
- Blocked pages or entire site (indexability issues)
2. Your Content is Being Read on the Toilet – Adjust Accordingly
Learned from: Michael Barber (@michaeljbarber), barber&hewitt
This is simplifying a fast-paced presentation that blew everyone in the room away, but, seriously, 87 percent of Droid users and 77 percent of iPhone users admit to using their phone in the bathroom. Imagine how many people weren’t brave enough to fess up. Of those who admitted to bathroom multi-tasking, 42 percent read emails and 32 percent send emails. So, yeah, that email content you put together…A good chunk of it is being read on the can.
But here was another simple takeaway: Most of us are terrible at email marketing for mobile, failing at everything from design to content strategy. The much-ballyhooed demise of the inbox has been greatly overportrayed, as it’s still the leading driver of ROI for marketers. So what’s your strategy to adjust your email content for a world that has taken mobile content all the way to the bathroom?
(Since I shortchanged Michael, a wonderful presenter and nice guy, I thought the least I could do was link to a full presentation he’s done on making email suck less.)
3. Google is Always Changing to Find Better Content
Learned from: Matthew Capala (@SearchDecoder), Alphametic
Matthew shared stats that might alarm companies putting money into content strategy: Google updates its algorithm 300-500 times per year – and each year there are more updates than the previous year. This causes fluctuations on so many search results that roughly 8.5 of the top 10 results can change ranking position each month.
So how is it possible to keep up? It’s actually not that complicated. Google’s Hummingbird algorithm has a focus on helping find answers to searcher queries. Unlike previous updates to the algorithm that started to target link building and SEO spam, Hummingbird was built from the bottom up to reward sites that satisfy a searcher’s query with relevant, timely content.
So while the algorithm will change, the changes will only further reflect the need to create good, contextual content for your audience.
Side note: Matthew is a search engine mastermind. If you want to see all of Matthew’s thoughts, you can download his full presentation.
4. Be a Content DJ
Learned from: Geoffrey Colon (@djgeoffe), Microsoft
Geoffrey came all the way to Detroit from Seattle, but he brought his DJ manners with him. What does a DJ bring to an event? For one, a DJ understands the context of the audience — he wouldn’t warm up the crowd in Detroit with talk about the Seattle Seahawks, for example.
Another thing a good DJ does is understand that s/he may be at the party, but the whole party isn’t about the music. In terms of content, that means understanding that the branded posts we share are interjected into places (like Twitter and Facebook) where people are having online conversations about family, sports, politics and work. Does your content butt in and try to take over that conversation or does it play a nice, upbeat and entertaining note that fits right into the conversation?
The idea is to think less like a marketer and more like part of the party. You don’t want to force yourself in front of them, you want to join their context.
How will you know if you’re a good content DJ? You won’t find it in vanity metrics such as likes and views. Instead, focus on engagement – this is done by measuring time on page, bounce rate and responses. These metrics mean that your audience likes what you’re playing, so you’re on the right track.
5. Effective Content is Relevant, Timely and Authentic
Learned from: Beverly Jackson (@BevJack), MGM Resorts International
OK, so technically Beverly, who runs MGM’s content and social, said effectivesocial is relevant, timely and authentic. But that insight fits the broader goal of good content. To tell a good story and engage both customers and leads, content must be relevant to their lives. To make that story resonate, it needs to be timely and authentic.