Using the News to help with Content Marketing and SEO

Frustrated blogger

Knowing what to blog about, to create content about every day is a bit of a task. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Of course you need content that works rather than the filler that most other blogs and websites churn out. You need to create content for people rather than the Google bot.

One effective way to keep the content ideas fresh, is to create content around the news.

The news has a few things going for it from a content marketers perspective.

  • It changes every day
  • People talk about it on social media
  • People hunger for more detail about a specific news story
  • Not all news is bad, negative or depressing

There are many examples of succesful content marketers surfing this news wave every day. It’s not exactly newsjacking, that’s another thing, but it is using that jump off point of the news to further the narrative.

Examples of last week include fly tipping in Essex, the latest Kim Kardashian story (remember your content is competing with Kim Kardashian’s Ass), Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Halloween, and lets not forget Star Wars.

Black Friday was interesting, especially in the UK. There were a large number of people in the “megh” camp, who just couldn’t be bothered to get excited about saving money on a bargain. And even in Cornwall the excitement was in the barely bothered camp.

I talked to traders about this, Bakery 46 and Near and Far Nepalese Clothing and Bakery 46 both said it was pretty much like any other Friday and not much difference. You may argue that such small traders cannot climb onto the Black Friday wagon, but there there is news there is content marketing opportunities and small traders can absolutely benefit from a relatively cheap form of marketing.

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Should going Whitehat be an ethical decision or a Business decision?

White hat SEO
First published 2011

To Go White Hat or Black Hat SEO is not an ethical decision it’s a business decision

The aim of the white hat seo is to unnaturally manipulate the Google results page in their favour. The aim of the black hat seo is exactly the same.

Where it differs is the white hat keeps within the Google guidelines and the black hat does not.

Therefore it is inaccurate to call the black hat unethical as it is absurd to allow an American Corporation whose legal obligation is to its share holders to define what is ethical and what is not ethical behaviour.

It is not an ethical decision to employ black hat techniques, or white hat. It is a business decision.

Sometimes I use what is erroneously called black hat techniques, sometimes I use white hat. I use what works.

What works is defined by how Google works.

I would have no problem being 100% whitehat if blackhat made little business sense.

When I realised that many seo agencies who publicly said they were whitehat but were ranking by employing blackhat techniques I realised it wasn’t about slavishly following what Matt Cutts told us to do, in fact in some niches if you follow the Google guidelines you will lose.

When well known newspapers sell links for thousands of pounds with impunity you have to ask, what exactly is going on here?

I don’t do paid links as I have other skills which I can use. But I have to compete against sites which do buy links. I have no problem with that per se, but why doesn’t Google level the playing field.

Unload the dice and make the buying of links in line with the Terms of Service. Because right now it’s the big boys which can get away with buying links whilst the small guy is terrified of getting caught.

Now that is what I call unethical.

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Why we should Create High Quality Content?

Who decides what is quality content?

In a post panda World, low quality content no longer cuts the mustard. It’s the high quality stuff that Google now requires when deciding where to rank your website.

This refers to both the content on your web site and the content on the websites linking to you.

Quality web content can be defined along the following terms:

  • It attracts and persuades a person to link to it for no other reason than to cite the information.
  • It attracts and persuades a person to share it on social media for no other reason than to show the information to others.

It is the intent within these two statements that is fundamental.

It is human action or reaction that defines what is or isn’t quality. Action regardless of any other factor than the content itself.

This is what we would call social proof or more accurately human proof. By it’s very nature it cannot be manipulated in the same way a search engine algorithm can be.

To be able to accurately quantify web content, the content that must be the sole influencer.

The human signal remains pure and is the product of each individual who makes the decision to create each social signal they produce.

It can of course be mimicked by software designed to act like humans, although such software is unable to replicate the nuance and detail which human social signals produce. We see this in software designed to inflate social media accounts such as Twitter, Pinterest etc. Although they aid to give some signal, it is one of very low quality and easily identified.

The human social signal can also bought. In large offshore setups, low paid workers toil in Internet factories creating social signals to order for clients to gain advantage in search engine rankings. Similar offshore factories already exist to build links in forums, blog comments etc.

Thus, the human social signal is noisy and contaminated and if Google is not able to identify and isolate the manipulated social signal then Google’s search engine rankings can be manipulated regardless of the quality of the content.

We may be seeing evidence that Google has somehow factored in a way to quantify the veracity of the social signal. I only have anecdotal evidence and is an educated guess, but it is the only way to determine whether the social signal is worth listening to. And also Google does give us clues on the direction of how their search engine is going to work.

It has gone beyond Google simply listening to the social signal, all social signals must now be quantified if they are to be of any use and authorship is one way to do this. If Google knows who wrote the article and who is responding to the article it can in someway more accurately predict the quality of the social signal.

For example, if an SEO agency writes an article and someone else calls it “Awesome”, that is a signal. But if Google then works out that the person works for the SEO agency, or constantly calls the content which the SEO agency produces “Awesome”, then the signal needs to be quantified to be accurate.

I have noticed this behavior on Twitter and it feeds into my study of the tribal psychology that exists on Twitter and social media. A certain website will release an article, its immediate employees respond in an unnaturally hyped up fashion, the approbation cascades down to partner companies and individuals seeking attention and validation from association.

Sometimes the content is excellent, sometimes it is mediocre and yet the same applause emanates from the same individuals creating a never ending stream of hype. It is only when the content is viewed by dispassionate readers that we are able to assess its true quality and quantify it. Therefore if Google were to determine the quality of the content it would have to apply a filter to those who express relentless, sycophantic adoration.

If Google knows who is initiating the social signal it will be able to build an algorithm around the data it knows about the signal. If it knows the author and if they have given their data to the Google database voluntarily or not then the Company can perform a correct quantification of the social signal and even the link signal if it comes from a website or webpage soley in the control of the the author.

Therefore, we may be seeing a way that Google has accurately determined which is quality content and also which are quality links.

It may even determine that if the author is not in their database their signal cannot be correctly quantified and must be treated accordingly.

This may already be happening with the data Google has in its database from its G+ system. It may that this so called “social network” is not a social network at all, but more of a way for Google to acquire an accurate human social signal in relation to web content

In conclusion, it is essential that websites continue to produce high quality content, defined by the viewer who is independent of any benefits which may come to the website which hosts the content.

The content must be judged by the reaction of those outside of the tribe if it is to be regarded as high quality or not.

SEO Content Executive London

Take a job role and add the term “executive” to it and it adds more gravitas to the role.

Or does it?

What is an executive anyway? Probably something dreamed up by recruitment (executives ;)

“Grunt”, would probably be a more accurate term.

SEO Content Grunts wanted

Would that get a better class of application? I don’t know, but it would let people know that the company hiring is different and does not bullshit.

Content grunts are valued at Cornwallseo, they are the bods that make the machine move. Without them there are nothing. Our content grunts are well looked after. I’m getting the feeling that you lot who have executive after your name may feel a tad used and abused. I don’t know.

Do you think the term “executive” really changes anything?

Does the boss feed you free donuts daily?

When we hire for a post we treat it the same way as we would a bit of linkbait or infographic. We need to attract people who are highly creative and want to make a mark, and have a twinkle in their eye.

We are not hiring just yet, in Cornwall or London. But when we do we want to win “The Most Creative Job Advert” award at the next BAFTA’s.

If you are looking to work with one of the most Zarjaz and Froody outfits in online marketing, keep a look out on this blog, sign up to the email, RSS feed, Twitter feed etc.

More about this later.

Using Google+ to Aid Your SEO

Over the last few days Google have launched a potential game changer into the search world. ‘Search plus Your World’ has set up a firm foundation for Google to move into becoming a social search engine in an effort to make its search results more personalised and relevant to the individual user, allowing them to have more access to information and content from people they know or from within their own online sphere.

One of the main changes brought in through this update is the way that Google+ accounts, pages and information have become even more deeply intertwined with search results. Information shared on Google+ is becoming even more prominent in today’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page), out ranking rival social networks in search rankings and set to play a deeper role in personal searches. This is why any current SEO Training should include information about the way we currently use Google+ and guidelines about using it as a tool to help get your content, and message, across.

Circles

Keeping organised groups of experts, pages and enthusiasts of different subjects is a great way to filter and view new content and comments around one topic. Building your own directory of large circles not only opens up your network to a wider audience it also helps to build internal links.

When your content appears on other users’ streams it is indexed by the web crawlers and the more a piece of content is crawled the more importance search engines place upon it.

So the more people you share your content with the better chance you have of achieving a high search ranking, as well as improving your odds of receiving more shares, +1’s and comments.

Google + Circles

We have put together a few Google+ circles for you to add to your own profiles, so you can get a start on growing your network:

  • SEO: Here is a circle of SEO experts profiles and pages which will give you the latest and up-to-date information from the world of SEO
  • Social Media: A circle of the movers and shakers in Social Media
  • Project Management: Includes experienced project managers, project management methodologies and pages offering project management tips
  • Software Testing: Pages and profiles offering insight and tips on software testing
  • Photoshop: Adobe Photoshop enthusiasts and professionals who share their knowledge of how to best use the photo editing software.

Make sure you add more profiles and pages to these circles expand your reach.

Google+ Authorship

Authorship

Google have been including author information into their search results for a while now, displaying a thumbnail photo and link to the author’s Google+ account within search results. However, now they have made it easier for Google+ users to lay claim to their online content without having to link your content to your profile using HTML author tags.

By adding the sites you contribute content to in your profile’s ‘Contributor to’ box and by making sure your email address is added to the ‘Work’ box all on your profile, Google will include your image and G+ account details to its indexed links; as long as the original post includes your name and ideally your email address.

This is a great tool to allow you to stake claim to your work and direct readers to your own account, as well as being potentially a great way of cracking down on people copying your work rather than sharing it.

Take a look at Google’s content guidelines to find out more about including your author information in search results.

The Profile

Google+ Authorship

Your profile is your online you. Google+ has set itself apart from other social media sites such as Facebook by making public profile pages far more searchable to search engines by default, indexing information such as:

  • Your Biography
  • All text from any publicly shared posts
  • Anything you have +1’d, be it on Google+ or on an external site
  • All of your photos
  • Links to anyone who has added you in one of their own circles

A lot of information can be extracted from this, which is why you can use your profile as a tool to connect everything you have done online, making it searchable in personal searches and Search Plus Your World queries. Luckily, Google do make it easy for you to manage what information you do and don’t want shared and indexed, so spending that extra bit of time sorting out your privacy settings is a must.

Sharing

Sharing on G+

Due to its keyword rich and easily web bot readable set up, shared content on Google+ has a tendency to do very well in search results. While some say this is due to Google favouring its own products a lot of it is due to the way they optimise their pages, which include long and descriptive title tags which hold more valuable information for crawlers to use in order to accurately index the page.

Also, using your circles you can easily specify who you share your content with, so you can easily target your audience with relevant content they would be interested in. This will mark the post as “Limited” on your shared post, which when clicked will show who you have selected to be privy to the post. Combine this with tagging people using a “+” or “@” before typing their name to really give a sense of personalisation, thus highly increasing the odds of your content being viewed by the people you really want to see it.

We have recently published a post giving the low-down on ‘Search plus Your World’ and its potential threat to SEO and online marketing, so be sure to give it a read to find out more about how the new development could affect your SEO efforts.

From what we’ve seen personal search is here to stay, so the time is now to adopt techniques to get your content found or risk falling off of the search map forever.

Written for Cornwall SEO by Silicon Beach Training providers of SEO Training, PRINCE2 Training, Business, Management, Programming and Mobile Development Workshops.