WriterAccess Webinar Archive

Content Planning on Steroids

Thursday, September 26, 2013 – 1:00 PM ET

Content planning is required to get the full bang for your content marketing buck. But mapping out the optimization plan, gathering up the stories, and pointing writers in the right direction can be challenging. Until now.

Join Greg Jarboe, speaker and President of SEO-PR and host Byron White introducing new methodology and technology that makes content planning smarter, better, faster, wiser and a lot more fun!

In this webinar, you'll learn how to…

  • Plan in minutes instead of days
  • Find the perfect keywords for SEO
  • Plan with a new-age editorial calendar
  • Put content analytics to work fast
  • Plan it all with an all-in-one system
  • Track performance in seconds

Slidedeck Download

The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.

Video Transcription

Byron: I want to thank everyone for tuning in today, including Greg. Greg, are you there?

Greg: Yep, I’m here.

Byron: Terrific. I was rambling on for about the last five minutes just in case anybody is interested, and didn’t realize no one could hear me! So I’m very excited to be here today. I’ll quickly go over some logistics.

Number 1, Greg and I would love to hear from you via Twitter with any comments you have during or after the presentation. We would really appreciate that, it helps motivate us.

Number 2, the recording will be available to everyone, we will send it out after the presentation. Give us until the end of day and we’ll get a link to you for the presentation.

And of course we have some fun steroids for everybody. I’m not a big steroid fan myself, of course; in fact I’m quite opposed to them. Actually looking back on this title, it’s kind of against the grain of my existence to even use this in the name. But it is some pretty special stuff we’re going to go over, and we wanted people to understand that there is a way to make content planning much easier.

Without further ado, I think I’m going to have Greg begin today’s presentation, and then I’m going to chime in with some really powerful stuff that is part of WriterAccess and understanding. Well you know what? Maybe I’ll just go through my presentation, what the heck. Greg, sit back, relax. First of all, welcome, Greg. How are you?

Greg: I’m fine!

Byron: Good! Good. Let’s change our minds, let’s fast label, it’s much more fun. So let me go through my presentation, Greg, and then I’m going to turn the baton over to you. Sound good to you?

Greg: Fair enough.

Byron: Is there anything you’d like me to set up for you, Greg? Some mysterious wonder you’d like me to hit on for your presentation? Do you want to talk a little bit about what you’re going to talk about?

Greg: Well, maybe publishing and whether it’s still relevant in this new age. That would be fairly relevant to today’s conversation.

Byron: What’s your quick take, Greg, on planning? Is it a nightmare for you like it is for everyone?

Greg: I’ve always loved Dwight Eisenhower’s quote on planning. He said plans are nothing, planning is everything. And the reason he said that was because you can make a plan, but the first time you encounter the beach, guess what, plans change. Planning means you keep getting prepared for the next change and the change after that and the change after that. It’s important to know where you go next, to plan around that in a changing world.

Byron: I couldn’t agree any more, and it’s just a marvelous set-up for probably both of our presentations. Let’s have a look and let me blast through my presentation here and show people where we’re coming from.
Content planning is the starting point for content marketing. It’s good to have a plan, that’s for sure. The steps of the content marketing process tend to look like sort of content planning, at first, content creation, content optimization and naturally content performance measurement. Right? But back in the day, and when I say back in the day I’m really referring to about four or five years ago when IdeaLaunch was a full-service content marketing agency servicing about 100 customers per year, companies like Wal-Mart, the company store Brookstone, FTD, Iron Mountain sales force, companies like that would come to us saying “Hey, I need some help. But before you create any content for us, we need you to create a plan; we need to see what’s going on. So plans tended to answer these questions – how much content do I need, how frequently do I need to publish it, how good does it need to be, how do I optimize all the assets, how much traffic and sales can I expect from this investment. And that last question was really hard.

So Content Plans 1.0 I want to call it for purposes of today’s presentation, offered the answers in a single document – kerplunk, right? Step 1 was to use these magical tools, most of them very SEO focused, to try to do a ton of research. We crunched through lots of keywords, we’d use great tools like Spyproof for example, we’d find 156,000 keywords as you see here and weed out duplicates, then remove keywords with either ridiculous misspellings, or keywords we really didn’t want to focus on for content, leaving us, after dozens of hours of research, down to a keyword universe of maybe 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 keywords that we wanted to focus on.

Then we sort of grouped keywords, that made some sense to us, another 10, 20 hours there, helping organize the mess, and sort of streamline these keywords into some groupings that made some sense. Then we’d bring in the geek squads to crunch some serious data, look at past history performance for all the keywords on a particular client’s domain name. We’d look at picking up on migration trends with surf tracking, and looking at both Google Analytics, which Greg and I were just talking about before this presentation which is now stripped out telling you what keywords you’re driving traffic from, interesting that Google would choose to do that, we’ll talk more about that later. We would try to really find some interesting data, and guess what? Look at some of the tabs on the bottom of this spreadsheet, these are actual examples – keyword universe, all 5,000 viewers, competitors, rating block, these were all the channels we created, the silos we created. They all had these keywords in them, this data. We had 10, 15, 20 different keyword groups with swift data in each group. We were sorting through crunching all the data, trying to develop a strategy here. Back in the day, page rank was the talk of the town, that was the muscle-flexing element, of talking about is your SU firm doing a good job for you? What’s your page rank? Is your content marketing firm, which by the way, no one even knew what a content marketing agency was back in those days. But you get the general idea. Your page was indexed. Wow! IBM has 11 million pages indexed. How cool is that? Is it cool? I don’t know. Is it a bunch of garbage pages they have listed? Do they just have a lot of content created in the last couple of decades that’s getting indexed? What value is that? Link popularity was the big deal and it caused lots of debates, and continues to cause debates, actually. Can we falsify link popularity? Yes. Is that black hat practice? Probably. Is it white hat? Definitely not. But this is America – we want to buy our way to the top. If Google tells us link popularity is important, dammit, we’re going to go out and buy links. This is what we do – what’s wrong with that? So it was really a mess and a bunch of fuss and a difficult problem. We’re looking at content and how much content published mattered. You could look at your quantity of publishing vs. your competitors, the asset portfolio grew like wildfire, we need to catch readers orbiting at high speeds, let’s get out there with every possible asset we can create and just flood the market. Social back them was really how loud and obnoxious are you. Are you just blasting out Tweets and posts at a magnificent pace hoping for some success and hoping to be heard, and what is the strategy behind that?

Anyway, all this data was crunched into the form of recommendations for customers. We would decide “OK, you need 136 articles, you need 890 blog posts next year, you need case studies up the gazoo, you need data sheets.” We’d come up with all of these recommendations, looking of course at all the competitive intelligence going on. These decisions were not subjective; they were rooted in trying to neutralize your position in the market. But most of these were related to quantity, and that really was a guiding point as well as driving performance with quantity and trying to look closely at it. So these recommendations were then magically spun into this budget looking at what we would charge for these assets to be created. Then budgets were served with a pie-in-the-sky value proposition saying, look, if you spend half a million dollars, you’re going to get this much more traffic every month, and you’re going to get the value if you were in the No. 1 listed position for all these phrases we’re going to target will be 2 million dollars. You’re going to spend half a million and you’re going to drive a ton more traffic, and its value proposition is $2.5 million. So wow! Given that it was rolled in this beautiful thick document with a bunch of smart people doing 400 hours of research pointing themselves in the right direction, it makes sense. OK! Let’s go spend half a million dollars!

Then came along Google Panda and Penguin, some algorithms that changed all of that, and content planning with SEO focus was really quickly a thing of the past. Content Marketing 2.0 was born and that’s what we’re here to talk about today, particularly with reference to content planning. SEO tools were quickly replaced by content curation tools. We needed to find out who was writing stories, how well those stories were being received, what hot stories were being produced, that’s the new name of the game. Likes and subscriptions and shares quickly replaced your search engine result positions. Content Marketing 2.0 introduced, believe it or not, some old-school methodology which is kind of interesting, namely gathering ideas, developing stories, making those stories amazing for the readers, which I’ll talk about in a second, and of course increased readership, which really became the name of the game. 2.0 is now really all about content planning to look at just that piece of lawn to focus today in all of these steps we’ve tended to lump into content marketing. Content planning is really all about gathering ideas and turning those ideas into assets, and that’s what really the process looks like. You want to curate, you want to read furiously, see what’s going on, develop your ideas, you want to listen to your customers’ wants and needs, roll those into drafts and rough ideas, and turn those into assets.

The creation process has also changed radically. We can now work with writers on developing particular tones and styles so they can take our drafts and infuse a content asset with the right tone and style that meets your specifications. We also need to look closely at the optimization process, and I like calling this the salt, pepper, spice, and square meal. We need to be very careful with the keywords that we focus on. We do still need to focus on keywords. You can’t justify getting a top listing for a keyword phrase if you’re not using it in your content, right? But the point is to be selective with that, let the English language, the natural language you’re speaking and writing about be the guidance for what Google rates you for. Sure, focus and target a few keywords, make a case for that, and pepper those keywords gracefully and naturally in your content. Spice it up, which is really where optimization is going, spicing things up with internal links that are great for readers, to drive a reader from a page with a link to another page on your web site where they can find great content. That’s what Google wants you to do. That’s really where the optimization marketplace, in my opinion, is going and should be going. And of course this concept of square meals is interesting. You need to feed both the readers and the bots consistently. Google wants to know your publishing frequency, and that’s why we’re seeing a lot more greater success for customers that are publishing a blog post a day or several a day. Or publishing new content assets regularly, which will trigger the algorithms to see those patterns develop, see how you’re rolling out content and how much you’re rolling out using that methodology.

The other thing to know is content performance is now measured in multiple ways. User acquisition costs is a very big deal now, perhaps more of a big deal than anything else going on right now, particularly with online stores or transactions, looking at your PPC spend very crispily vs. your content spend. Hopefully increasing your content spend can decrease your user acquisition costs as you turn more browsers into believers and believers into buyers. All this requires something new, something advanced and that’s why introduced WriterAccess Plus 2.0, which is really like a GPS for content marketing. I want you to understand what’s happening and what’s different out there. You need to be able to find writers and build teams quickly. And they need to have skills ready right at your fingertips so you can understand what they’re good at, if they’re experts in your topic areas, how many orders they’ve completed, and that’s one thing that WriterAccess is doing for you. You also need to place orders quickly. You need really simple forms. We have about a 10-step form here to place an order. You need to save that order as a template, you need to be specific about exactly what customers want and need, and you need to put in special requirements and specs for each order. We’ve created something called a Creative Brief that allows people to define exactly what they want. It has five or six steps in it as well, takes 10-15 minutes to fill out, but it’s providing the writer exactly what they need to know to deliver to your specifications. That’s changed, that’s different. This is now the focus: quality. The workflow needs to go quickly, when you login you can quickly see how many open orders, on hold, in progress, pending, you can get to solving a problem quickly. Auto-publishing has been there for awhile, you can quickly publish from WriterAccess to your platforms, and of course, we are introducing a new Editorial Calendar, which is the focus of this presentation.

I’m a very visual person and I need to see what I’ve published in the past, and I need to see quickly and post an idea and get an idea. I need to do things with that idea quickly. So we’ve created a way for you to populate ideas quickly into this Editorial Calendar and actually see the keywords in the right column that you’re saving, and add those keywords to that order so you can start integrating your SEO strategy into your content strategy and make it one seamlessly integrated process. You can shoot ideas out to writers to make them better, here I can click on a button with my idea and I posted it over to a template that I selected, my blog template, and it’s pre-filled in with who I want it to go to and what the price will be, and I’m shooting that order very quickly out to my writers. If you don’t have time to dream up ideas on your own for your Editorial Calendar, no problem. On your Order Form, Step F, you can have writers pitch you ideas, no additional cost for this. You can conquer SEO in minutes, not days. One of the tools built into the Editorial Calendar is keyword analytics which gives you your performance data, how all your keywords are performing, how many content assets you’ve created around each of those keyword phrases. We’re also scoring the keyword phrase for you based upon a scale of 1 to 10 on what our recommendations are looking at the Pay Per Click price, your search volume and your migration trends in the search engines. So one column called Score, gives you all the data you need to optimize content. That’s exciting and that’s interesting. There’s other data in here as well that you can see that you can turn on and turn off. One of them that Greg and I were just talking about earlier is called SEO Difficulty which is pulled in from SpyFu. By the way, this is all completely integrated with SpyFu. You can get this data free through WriterAccess including the Editorial Calendar, all is part of this new Plus service that we just rolled out which I’ll talk about in a second.

Tracking performance should be easy and enable you to demand a pay raise. This particular report we built into the Editorial Calendar shows how much content you’ve published, how many Tweets and Facebook posts you’ve published, all the integration. Then all the traffic, how much additional new traffic is coming to your web site on a monthly basis, how your listed positions have improved, along with a lot of other data you can see down at the bottom the page as you scroll down. So all of this is at your fingertips and set-up takes like minutes. You go in and add in your keywords, your competitors, you integrate with Google Analytics, SpyFu, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, and all of this is easy, fast to set up. The good news is that it’s all for free. If you’re a client of WriterAccess currently, and you deposit $2,500, you can get everything I just described for free, the Editorial planner and all that fun stuff. We’ve really tried to build it all in one content marketing platform with planning built right in with the Editorial Calendar.
What’s also cool, just for seeing this presentation, and I’m toward the end of the presentation now in case anyone is interested, is you don’t need to deposit $2,500 if you want any or all of these tools. Just send me an email. You’ll need at least a free account set up at WriterAccess, which anybody can get, and then I’ll turn on all these features so you can play with it. Just send me an email byron@writeraces.com saying “Turn on my features, I want to try this out.” And we’ll manually turn on everything that you would normally have to deposit $2,500 for. So thanks for joining us. I want to turn it over to Greg now and let Greg shed some wisdom and some light on us from his vantage point which is really cool. Without further ado, thanks so much for listening to my presentation. We’re going to field some questions hopefully lots of them at the end of the presentation if that’s OK. Greg, take it away.

Greg: Thank you Byron. I too am not crazy about the steroid notion; it sounds like cheating, doing something to artificially pump up your performance, but it turns out, whatever you want to do. If you want to take your game to the next level, don’t cheat. A whole lot of what we’re going to talk about today is working smarter, not necessarily working harder.

One of the places I want to start here is what’s keeping content marketers up at night, what are the real issues they’re wrestling with. What’s interesting is that there was a study done almost a year ago, hopefully they’re going to update with the new data next month. But it was done about a year ago by the Content Marketing Institute; they basically asked B2B content marketers “What’s the problem that you’re facing?” The No. 1 problem that came back was producing enough content. What’s really fascinating is that if went down the list there are actually variations of this theme in second and third place, like content that engages. So it’s not just enough content, it’s also content that engages, and producing a variety of content. Well OK – pull all that together, and it turns out that one of the challenges, even for people who have basically decided, ‘I’m a content marketer, I’m going to do this stuff, I’ve been doing a story a month and I call that content marketing.’ It turns out that a story a month doesn’t get you where you want to go anymore. How the heck do I produce more? I mean, I’ve run out of ideas. I couldn’t come up with another story idea let alone go out and commission the content.

What’s fascinating is that a month after this survey is that they went out and surveyed B2C marketers, and although they had a No. 1 problem that was slightly different, which was ‘I don’t have a budget,’ the No. 2 problem on their list and the No. 3 problem on their list and the No. 4 problem on their list are the same things that are keeping B2B marketers up at night. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I don’t have enough budget but at the end of the day part of the reason I don’t have a budget is that I’ve got to produce more content.”

So how do we solve this problem for both B2B and B2C? What can we do to basically say, look, OK, you understand that to produce more content is actually the new success formula in this new era. Whether you call it WriterAccess 2.0 or Google Post-Panda, Penguin, or the Rise of Content Marketing Out of Left Field, it doesn’t matter what you call it, the net net is that all of us are basically trying to figure out the solution to this issue.

I have a long checkered background, there’s no other way to put it. One of the things I did 25 years ago, which is hard to believe that the world even existed 25 years ago, I was the Director of Marketing for a brand-new magazine called PC Computing, it was published by Ziff-Davis. I guess this is a case study or success story or something like that, because when we launched the magazine in August of 1988, we had to make some promises to our advertisers. How many readers are you going to have, that was one reason they wanted to buy an ad – how many people are going to see it. We did all of our research, said, um, 150,000, don’t worry we’re definitely going to hit 150,000. If you buy an ad, that’s the least number of people that are going to see it. But ironically, we overperformed, and when the first issue hit the newsstands, because we rarely had any subscribership – you don’t have subscribers for a magazine, that’s just an oxymoron. But we had more than 400,000 people pick up the first issue. The advertisers, who were very happy, because they only paid for 150,000 but they got 400,000, went nuts. This is great! They saw their phones ring off the hook. The problem for us was we only had about 100 of them because who wants to advertise in a brand-new magazine when you don’t know how many readers it’s going to have? So my job as Director of Marketing was to round up some more advertisers, so I decided, you know what, we’re going to take the story and retell it, and we’re going to create a big two-page ad, and we’re going to run it in AdWeek and AdAge. The headline of this big ad was, ‘We’re not the first ones to underestimate the size of an audience’ and it featured a big photo from 1969 of Woodstock. Ironically, the organizers of Woodstock also thought they were going to get about 150,000 people for their concert, and about 400,000 people turned up, and let’s just say that history was made.

A couple of months later, we started getting more advertisers. Why? Because our rate base was still 150,000 and advertisers were getting 400,000 readers, and everyone understood that that was a bargain. All of a sudden, advertisers started coming in hand over fist, and this created a different problem. This problem was one for our editors. Now when you got a lot more ads in the magazine, for every page of advertising, you get a page of editorial and you really don’t want to go too far off that formula. Otherwise you’ve got what people in this industry call a catalog – all advertising, no editorial. All of a sudden our editors had this problem that was called producing enough content. Wow – does that sound like déjà vu all over again? So we had to skin a different cat at this point so we did a couple of things. The first thing was we sat down and analyzed our most successful competitors. In this case, it was maybe like PCWorld and a couple of other publications that were out there including a sister publication of ours called PC Magazine, also published by Ziff Davis. Trust me, even sister publications can be considered competitors in certain circumstances.

What we tried to do was figure out what they were doing that worked and what they not doing that could work. In other words, what were our content opportunities. Then, we also realized that we needed to start producing a greater variety of content. We had launched with a number of feature articles, we also had columnists, and had a small section that sort of recapped the news for the month. We started looking around saying are there other content types that we haven’t written yet, particularly for the back of the magazine, what they would call the back of the book in magazine speak. One of the things we came up with is that one of the gaping holes in everyone else’s editorial content is how-to articles, just practical advice, here’s how to do X. Here’s how to upgrade your computer. Here’s how to solve a problem. Again, did we do anything illicit? I don’t think so. But we decided to take that whole planning process, whether you want to call it put it on steroids or want to call it something else. What we actually did was we twisted the arms of our editors who said ‘Ok, it’s really nice that you have all of these ideas and we appreciate that you’re diversifying your content. Now can you make some commitments of which issue of the upcoming year’s magazines you’re going to feature them?” Because then I, as Director of Marketing, will have an Editorial Calendar, and I can turn around and show that to advertisers and say you really, really, really can’t miss the April issue. Or the September issue, because that’s where we’re going to put this category that’s near and dear to your heart. Oh trust me, that’s not an easy conversation to have with editors. “Oh I don’t know, maybe the story will slip.” Or “maybe the idea is still a little rough.” The answer is no, we’ve got to make commitments.

Again, call it what you will, the Editorial Calendar was basically the output of this whole process. Then, just to make sure we weren’t merely creating more content, because heaven forbid the more content we created was sub-par and we started losing readers at record rates, that wasn’t going to be healthy, I did something totally radical. We commissioned a whole series of editorial research to find out what the readers were reading and what they liked, what they didn’t like, and whether they would read the next issue of the magazine, pass it along to a friend, subscribe to the magazine so we can build our subscription base. The net net was that the magazine grew to more than 1 million paid circulation and became the fastest growing magazine to hit the million mark. All of this worked and again, it took sort of a combined approach that included looking over your shoulder at your competitors, keeping an open mind as far as what content types you want to produce, committing ahead of time to when you’re going to publish what, and making sure that it worked.

Here we are 25 years later, and the situation may seem different and certainly a lot of the tools that are available to content marketers today are radically different than they were 25 years ago. I would argue that the process is the same. It is a process that you can follow and it is a process you can use. You’ll want to analyze your successful competitors and figure out if there are any opportunities you can act on. You should consider producing greater variety of content, not just more content but different kinds of content. I would strongly urge you to reconsider whether or not you have how-to articles. If you do, that’s great and you probably need more. If you don’t, you need to start creating some. Next, I would say that if you haven’t got an Editorial Calendar, you need to create one. If you have one, you need to fill it out, beef it up. Last but not least, and this is the secret part, because most of us content creators figure it’s our job to create the content and when we’re done creating it, we’re done. Look at me, ma! I created an article! The answer here is it’s not good enough. It’s not going to get you the budget, the raise, the promotions, that you keep on going forward. It’s not going to be the measure of success the boss is going to be happy with, or the client is going to be happy with if you’re with an agency.
You need to figure out how do I measure content that engages my readers in a successful way. Let me tell you some of the tools we’re using today to skin this cat.

First of all we use SpyFu. SpyFu is a great tool. And I don’t just say this because they have a partnership with WriterAccess. I say it because SpyFu is a great tool. One of the things it enables us to do is say I’m not only going to look at myself but I’m going to look at some of my key competitors, and what I want to know is what search terms are they being found for vs. the search terms I’m being found for, and by the way where’s the overlap and where are the unique spots? SpyFu will also allow you to download that to a spreadsheet if you want to play with spreadsheets. By the way, we play with them a lot. Again, you can take a look at keywords we have in common, show me the keywords I have that they don’t, show me the ones they have and I don’t. These all become a part of the analysis that you need to do. What’s fascinating about SpyFu is that it will also show you historic data; most tools don’t do that. Most tools will give you a snapshot and say God bless you, good luck, figure out where the trends are headed. SpyFu will actually take a look all the way going back to July of 2006 and show you how all those organic rankings evolved over time. You can actually say “Oh my God, look, it seems like PRWeb was bubbling along here, and then all of a sudden, somewhere around November of 2010, something kicked in and they took off.” They just marched right past their two competitors, PRNewsWire and BusinessWire. What the heck were they doing? Last but not least, SpyFu gives you, I’m going to call it a magic translation device, because it turns data, which all of us data geeks love, oh look, here’s a data point, into something that a CEO or a CMO or even a small business client will readily understand. Because you know what? A whole lot of them still don’t get this new metric we’re throwing around, and fill that in. It can be engagements, that’s one of the hot ones today. How many engagements do you need before I sell a car? What SpyFu enables us to do is translate that into dollars. If I got this traffic, what is that traffic worth? Well it turns out if I were to have gotten that traffic using a Pay Per Click campaign, that traffic would have cost me X, let’s say $10 a click. If I can get that traffic for less than $10 a click, it’s, pardon me, still worth about $10 a click, because that was the alternative. If you didn’t launch a content marketing campaign, that’s cool, you just saved some money. But if you want the traffic, and the alternative is far more expensive, guess what? This is a way you can have that debate or discussion over the marketing mix and win. Trust me, the cost of Pay Per Click ads is through the roof and selling against it is a smart thing for any content marketer.

Another tool that I like to use is Google Trends, and by the way I just decided to show you why I would argue that you want to add how-tos to your mix of content types. Going back to 2006, how-to has always been more popular than news, but over the last three or four years, how-to has taken off while news has remained flat. There is something about the people who are using search engines where they recognize that there’s a heck of a lot of useful how-to information available and I’m going to go find it. I can give you lots of anecdotes but I’m not going to need to because I think this is just painfully obvious. So if that’s what people are searching for, one of the ways that you can start creating content to tap into what they’re searching for.

Now, there are other content types that need to be at the top of your list. One, and this is going to sound odd, your books. If you have written a book, that is killer content. That’s the No. 1 thing people are looking for. If you haven’t written a book, let me tell you, as the author of several books, it’s a pain. It takes a while to write these things. But it’s also a reason why people value them so much – they recognize that if you’ve taken the pain and effort to put your thoughts into a book, and it has gone through that whole gestation process – it took me at least nine months to write the first one and it took me almost a year to write the second one, and there are about 500 pages long each. Trust me, it was hard, because I hold my day job Monday through Friday, and I had to write book evenings and weekends. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t written a third one, because my wife would tell me I’d have to get a second wife if I wanted a third one because all of the time came out of family time. Books are valuable, and if you don’t have one in your content marketing repertoire, think about it. If people are interested in books, are there ways to not write a book but still tap into it? One of the things I’d suggest is adding a book review piece of content to your mix. Guess what? People are looking for this too, and if you can find new books in your industry, your field, your category, your genre, your area, you can provide the definitive reviews of what’s useful to you. You not only tap into what people are finding, but you get a chance to put a spin on it and say “this is why it’s important to my customers, and why this is useful to my prospects.” That can become a really interesting kind of content.

There are other sets of content that you might want to use Google Trends to check out. It turns out that speeches and presentations are surprisingly popular, and again, we’re all thinking of content marketing, we’re thinking like we have articles, blog posts, and I’ve got to believe that someone somewhere in your organization, particularly a large organization, that might need some speeches and presentations. Maybe not so much a small business but even a presentation like the local chamber of commerce is a presentation. Guess what? People are looking for that stuff too. So yeah, continue doing the articles. Articles are popular, you want to continue writing articles, don’t stop adding to your content marketing mix.

There’s other stuff that you might not have thought about that’s also pretty popular. Facebook posts have come out of left field over the last couple of years, and are now one of the most popular things people are searching for. If you’re already are doing Facebook posts, that’s great, keep it up. If you haven’t considered it part of your content marketing program, because you don’t understand, it’s down the hall, in the social media marketing department, the answer is, pardon me, it’s all content. So have that brown bag lunch at work with the social media folks. You don’t have to take their jobs over, but you can basically coordinate with them and say ‘hey, what are you doing, when are you doing it, is there something we can actually build into our marketing plan together?’ Interestingly enough, while Facebook posts have gone up, Web pages have come down. This is probably not a happy trend for any of the SEOs who may be in the audience today, but think about this – when people think of content in the old days, it was a page on a web site. You should still put your articles on your web site. You can also put your articles on other sites and drive traffic to your web site. Optimization is one tactic, absolutely, but content marketing is another tactic, and I think this is something people are beginning to realize and act on.

OK, you only do one annual report a year, and there are not big margins on that, and what you say in an annual report can be considered content if it’s on your web page. Instead of just printing it out and handing it out, you may want to repurpose some of that content somewhere on your site. Data sheets are still popular. Believe it or not the press release is not dead, despite all the rumors contrary-wise. Press releases are content. What kind of content are you creating and where does it sit in your content marketing plan? And white papers – they’re still big. News stories, absolutely. Keep doing that. Webinars. Blog posts. Those are all types of content that can be built into your editorial calendar. Guess what else has come out of left field? Twitter posts. Video scripts. Local content. And although radio spots are sort of flat, there’s all this content out there that you should consider. Open your mind up, diversify. The kind of content you should be thinking about putting in your editorial calendar. All of a sudden, producing more content, may be creating more ideas or stories to write about. But if you’ve got something like SpyFu giving you tons of new story topics you might want to tackle. Every time you tackle that topic you now have multiple ways to turn it into a piece of useful content, and it’s not just “writing articles” anymore.

Next, and this sort of taps into what Byron was talking about today, it really helps to have an editorial calendar. Calendars help what could be a pretty random process where some weeks you’ve got lots of content, other weeks you’ve got bupkis. It puts it out there for you to plan. I understand, and this goes back to my earlier comment, plans can change. Yes, that happens. Guess what? Your prospects for readers or whoever you’re trying to address understand that. New issues pop up, old issues go away. Things get delayed. The unexpected drops in your lap. Got it. But plan, plan, plan, and at least use it internally. Sometimes you can use it externally, perhaps a month at a time. But having a plan is a useful thing. Now having a plan means, “OK, I’m just a small business, do I really need a plan?” The answer is yeah, even a small business can use a plan. You may only want to plan for a quarter instead of a year because that’s as far as it goes. But we’re coming into the fourth quarter of the year, and by the way, you already know that there’s going to be a Halloween and a Thanksgiving and a Christmas and a Hanukkah. Excuse me? We already have some things that we can plan around. Even if you’re a small business, think about the ideas that you might want to tackle and create content around. Write those pieces of content, make sure someone to edit them. I know that writing and editing are two different steps, but guess what? That’s where a lot of times the quality control is added. Then publish the content.

If you work in a larger organization, sometimes planning for a quarter isn’t sufficient, you need to plan for a year. Why? You need the budget. You need the resources. In order to get that, unless you’re in an organization that is now budgeting from quarter to quarter, and by the way, we’ve actually run into some of those, more often than not, in a lot of organizations, you’re still budgeting from year to year and then adjusting as necessity dictates from quarter to quarter. Fine, plan for the year, as this is how you get the resources, and your plan will have to have a lot more detail. It has to get buy-in from people, you’ve got to figure out if this money is going to be worth it.

Now, whether you’re a small business or a big business, whether your content planning is simple or complex, keep it in writing. Plans change, understand that, keep moving on. But here are the things you might want to track, keep tabs on. Because these are the things that will get you where you want to go. What’s the story title – even if it’s the working title and you may adjust it later on close to publication, what is the working title. Who is the author that you’ve assigned it to. When do you expect to publish this. Where is it going to be? A blog post? Is it going to be in the company magazine? Your email newsletter? What is it designed for? Does it follow some kind of theme or is it going to fit in a section? Is it a how-to article? Is it breaking news? What’s the priority, and by the way, what’s the status? Has it gone back for a revision or is this on track?

All of this taps into some of the things that were a little lower on the B2B list but were right up at the top of the B2C list of what’s keeping content marketers up at night. You need budget and it’s really hard to do more with less. Trust me, I’ve tried. You’ve got a lot of people who have asked me to do more with less. It’s hard. So how do you cost-justify this? What I will tell you is that there are a lot of content marketers running out there who just say ‘trust,’ or ‘have faith.’ ‘believe.’ And that doesn’t get you very far. There’s another group out there that are actually trying to play around with some new metrics. Why? I don’t know. Somehow or another it’s a new world so we need new metrics. New metrics need to get sold to management first before you can begin to create your program. One of the new metrics du jour is electronic gross rating points. And why are electronic gross rating points so popular? Gross rating points is really an old advertising term. Actually my father was using them when he was director of marketing at Oldsmobile. So if you throw the word ‘electronic’ in front of gross rating points, it makes it sound really, really cool.

Let me just tell you about my father, who was director of marketing at Oldsmobile, and yes, ironically, it was my father’s Oldsmobile, and his last ad campaign before he retired was “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” One of the things they don’t tell you about in the history books is that this was an incredibly memorable campaign. Sales of Oldsmobile went down every year for three years running, until by the third year of the campaign, my dad had to pull the plug on the campaign because he was then selling half as many cars a year as he had been selling three years earlier before the campaign started. He turned to his ad agency and said, “Excuse me, how are we measuring success?” They said “gross rating points.” He said “That’s great, how many gross rating points do I need to sell a car?” By the way his ad agency was Leo Burnett, which was a real big agency out there, didn’t have a good answer. Again, be very, very careful. Even if this new snake oil is built on old snake oil. If it’s ephemeral and squishy and hard to measure, pardon me, did that pay the bills? Did that move the needle? Did it actually generate something that was useful?

Part of the reason measurement is hard these days is what we are trying to measure has shifted. This is one of the reasons why gross rating points are bogus. They were invented in what was called the exposure model. How many people did we reach? We’re going to call the mythical number of people we’re going to reach the gross rating point. Today, reaching them isn’t the issue, it’s engaging them. I reach them and actually get them to go do something, and that’s a different type of metric. In fact, CMOs are lying awake at night wondering how I measure this stuff. What I would tell you is, if you go back to some of your tools, they’ll give you answers. SpyFu will tell you what this stuff is worth. Well, it can generate 126,000 visits. That’s measurable. That’s traffic to your web site. That’s something you can take to the boss and they can say, ‘OK, I get that. That has a value.’ Particularly because the replacement value, if you don’t do this content marketing, and you did Pay Per Click advertising, those 126,000 visits might cost you $105,000 with Google Ad Words. All of a sudden, you’re talking the language the CMOs talk in, and they get that. Or you take a look at WriterAccess 2.0, and it’s got a lot of metrics, one of which is traffic. That’s important. But it also looks at if you triggered any kind of conversations in social media. Did your ranking in search engines change?

All of you are going to want to take a look at a new tool that Google has created, a section called Think, and it’s the journey to online purchase. It’s a fun tool to play with, I encourage you to play with it. But one of the things that you’ve got be wary of is something is missing from this tool. This particular model, if you look around, where is organic search? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand pay it search plays a role, and yeah, I know social media plays a role, and so does referrals and e-mail marketing plays a role, and sometimes people just come to your web site directly by typing in the url. But where is organic search? So watch out – believe it or not there are blind spots in Google’s model, and by the way, it tends to coincide with the fact that they just erased all the keyword data from organic searches in Google Analytics. It’s kind of like ‘what are you trying to do, guys? What’s the deal here?’

If you actually take a deeper look at their model, you will see that organic search is far closer to driving people to make a purchase decision than paid searches. Aha! Interesting! Fascinating! And they have this in their model, something called Paid Referrals they’re in there as. Well pardon me, what’s an unpaid referral? You mean if I get an article placed in a web site and traffic comes to my site, that’s an unpaid referral, that’s actually pretty valuable. Where’s that on the chart? Be careful – the tool is a powerful concept, it’s something that Google is rolling out, but all I want to warn you about is that it’s missing some of the key things that us content marketers are doing. By the way, some of the stuff that we’re doing is a lot closer to where the sales happen than higher up in the funnel where the assist of the sale happens.

Here’s how we’re solving that problem, particularly because we deal with a lot of skeptical clients or customers. You probably have a skeptical boss. There is a free tool out there that Google Analytics gives you called the URL Builder. You take the link where you’re going to drive the traffic, you drop into this, you add a couple of components, and you say ‘well, what’s the source.’ Let’s say if I’m part of this I’m going to put this into a press release, I’m going to say the source is going to be BusinessWire. What’s the medium? Well, it’s a press release, duh! You don’t need to use the term because that’s something that all the advertising people would care about, unless you want to tag it for which search term, am I trained to drive this traffic. You might want to use the content particularly if you have two links both to the same landing page and you might want to know if it’s the first link you’re going to release or the second link you release, striking traffic. Then you might want to give the campaign a name. You dropped it in five other parameters and it spits out a tracking link that’s unique. Pardon me, when people say ‘so where did this traffic come from?’ and you track it back to a unique point that only appeared in one of your pieces of content, there’s no debate. What that enables you to do is to say ‘look, so where’s my content marketing generating these results? There they are. There are a lot of referrals and I can track them.

We did that in a couple of press releases recently. We not only know how many people read the release – that’s nice – but how many people clicked on the links – that’s a whole lot nicer. We also know that those press releases triggered social media mentions – that’s terrific. We also know that eight of those mentions were some of the top influencers that we’re trying to get, that’s a lot more significant. We know that we got blog coverage – that’s what it’s about, good PR. We know that when we brought people to the landing page, that the landing page was worth, based on its conversion rate, that every visitor I got there was about $41.81. We brought 287 people there, so it was worth $11,200. In other words, when you can translate what you have done in content marketing, even from the lowly press release which is supposed to be dead, you can say, well, we just generated $11,200 for you, sir. Oh by the way, you didn’t spend anything near that to create that press release or to distribute it. Then you get where you want to go. At the end of the day most clients say that’s fine, how many converted. What was the actual conversion ratio? Because you tagged the links, you can measure it and I can actually say ‘see these two people, those are the two people who signed up for $5,000 each for the course that you’re offering.’ That’s $10 grand, not just an estimate. We can tell you who they are.

All of this, believe it or not, is going to be rolled up over at another place, called Market Motive, and we’re going to talk about SpyFu and we’re going to talk about WriterAccess, and starting October 10, Todd Malicoat is going to talk about if I have a simple problem to solve. All I want to know is figure out what to write about this week to reach my marketing objectives. How do you use SpyFu and WriterAccess to take care of that? A couple of days later I’m going to do a workshop over there at Market Motive and we’re going to talk about what we call the organizational point of view: what should we write about this year to achieve our organization’s goals. Again, we’re going to use SpyFu and WriterAccess in both of these cases. We’ve got Mike Roberts and Byron White doing sort of a guest gig at Market Motive, so we’re going to talk about how to write and produce enough content and still get a bigger budget. All of those issues are coming forward, and with that, I guess I’ve reached my end.

Byron: Great. Thank you so much, Greg. Great presentation today. Why don’t you switch the baton over for a second and I just want to dive into a couple of things that I thought people might find interesting. We want to field some questions so please have at that, and I was just going to give people a live feel if we don’t get any questions firing quickly, I do have a few questions for Greg as well, but we’ll look for a few people to fire some questions off on the right side. But a few things I wanted to mention. First of all, really cool distinctions between styles in Greg’s presentation and mine. I’m like the fast-talking, super-energized entrepreneur and Greg is the calm, cool, collected professor that you always dreamed of. I remember now, it’s all coming back to me in speaking with you a couple of times now, it’s just a pleasure to chat with you. We offer diversity with our styles, that’s for sure, and it makes it fun.

I was really super psyched to see some of Greg’s understandings back to those days in publishing and I really think that forward-thinking companies are now gathering ideas, developing stories, putting together plans, and publishing they way they used to. Basically I see companies becoming old-school publishers, armed with these new tools like this stuff we launched at WriterAccess. Greg, in your mind, do you think that is going to make content better? Are we going to be able to produce better content with all these 2.0s? Are we going to call it Publishing 2.0 if you wanted to? Better optimized, better engagement metrics, better instant reaction to how an asset performed. Understanding the wants and needs of our customers – is that getting better in your mind, Greg?

Greg: It certainly can, and of course the opposite of that is that sometimes it doesn’t. But here’s the difference. If you are merely creating content and throwing it over the fence, then you may more content and never have a clue as to whether it’s better. The key is when you harness that content to some kind of meaningful measurement. When you measure its performance, trust me, the first time you create a bad piece of content and it bombs, everyone is going to do the diagnostic and say how we can we make it better. By the way, we had that same problem at PC Computing. Not everything new we threw into the magazine necessarily worked. But within a month we knew that it hadn’t worked, and we weren’t doing that anymore.

Byron: I want to invite the readers – the questions aren’t firing yet – so I want to continue on with another quick show-and-tell. Back at the Editorial Calendar now, I want to invite people listening in to throw some ideas at me as I quickly show you a couple of features. The first thing to note on this is that we built this Editorial Calendar with an Enterprise version automatically built in so you can manage multiple domain names and quickly shift from one domain to the other, which instantly pops up your newer Editorial Calendar. When you look at this you can quickly plan content, you can open up an asset to see what it was. Or if you want, you can click a button to open this template to turn this into an order quickly and just launch this with one click of a button, it just goes out to the writers you’ve already pre-selected this is eligible for. We built in speed, and we built in enterprise-level solutions. We have agencies on the line that use this system. We’re trying to color-code stuff. I want Greg’s thoughts on this as well. Is this on steroids? These are just my ideas. I have one idea queued up; it looks like it was a “Content Planning Steroid” blog post that didn’t get done today because I didn’t send the order out. Maybe I just want to look at the stuff that’s published. This is an actual live host out on WordPress right now. With the API integration, we can see everything we’ve basically ever published quickly and succinctly. Let’s play over here – “my boss is all over me, let me quickly look at performance here. I’ve got to make a case to keep spending money.” Here’s how much content we’ve published, here are blog posts, here are social media posts per month, the Facebook posts, here’s how our traffic is increasing. What are my top winners, my top losers, where do I need help, how I can bring more data to the table to make decisions.

We’ve tried to design this to make it really interesting and to look at the particular performance and sort of analyze content analytics, bring analytics to assets. Which keywords did I use in this blog post, do I want to add those to a new list. I was speaking over at Webino earlier this week so I did this whole demo. So let’s place an order. Let’s go down, pop in some keyword requirements, grab this keyword and drop it in.

So the net of it is, we’re trying to make planning easier, smarter, faster, wiser. In your mind, Greg, does this help? Does this bring a new set of tools to the table, where your writers are in one pool in front of you, your calendar is in another. I don’t believe there’s anything like this out there so I want to get your thoughts on this from your perspective. Would this help a small business owner or a medium or an enterprise-level company publish content, look to the future, look behind, optimize faster, place orders, approve content?

Greg: The answer, and you may not want to hear this, is it’s going to help someone who understands the value of keywords. It will certainly help your current customers manage what they need to do. To me, the next step, the next challenge, is I got to take this upstairs to the people who don’t understand keywords but do understand revenue. How do I then aggregate the ‘hey look, we did a lot of stuff last month, last quarter, last year, pick your time. By the way, here’s the value of that. Whether that data is using the SpyFu data you already have, which is what these terms were worth, this is what this page was worth, this is what this article brought in, oh by the way, here’s what my entire content marketing program brought in, in dollars. Then you get a whole lot closer to talking in a language that they talk in. The next step after the value is to the extent that you can take some of the tricks that I was trying to share there and say ‘Ok, we think we know this was an $11,000 value of what I drove to your page, but guess what, it also converted to two leads, to sales. Each sale was worth $5,000, so that $11,000 estimate actually turned out to be $10,000 in hard revenue that “you saw.”’ That then is a slam dunk where even the CFO will stand up and say you know what, this guy needs more budget.

Byron: Deadly has done some really interesting things, Greg, you should take a look at it.
When you’re over at WriterAccess, and want to go publish your content, this is where the pedal hits the metal to your point right here. I want to publish these two blog posts to WordPress. It’s going to ask me some questions. What we really need right here, and we’ve heard this from customers, is a way to insert a trackable link inside that content asset right from within WriterAccess using our proprietary code that’s actually a spin-off bitly link that will then start tracking the conversion metrics you’re getting from that asset that you’re publishing out. That’s where we’re headed. It’s basically a referral but it’s not run through Google, it’s run through bitly.

Greg: bitly is fine.

Byron: Well…

Greg: Seriously.

Byron: Yeah, yeah. What I like about bitly is that it filters out. One of the problems with having a content asset out there is the bots hit it. When the bots hit it, it looks like a human being clicked on it and went to the asset. Bitly is doing a real good job of filtering that noise and that garbage out. I’m sure that Google is doing perhaps the same thing, although I need to go study that site that you had mentioned.

Greg: By the way, I tend to use both. After I spit out the tracking links, it’s generally an incredibly long link. It has all those parameters on it. I will take that really long link and go to bitly to make a shorter version of it, and all the tracking is still embedded in there, which I can then begin using in Google Analytics. Now I’ve got a short link. The reason why I do that is that the long link still works in something like a press release. But I can take the short link and pitch it to a reporter, and if I gave them the long link, they’ll say, ‘excuse me, what is this, a tracking code? I’m not going to put that in my article.’ You give them a short bitly link and boom. Even in a telephone conversation with a reporter, I might get the short bitly link into their story. Again, trackability is not what they asked PR people to do 25 years ago, but trust me, if you can’t measure what you’re doing today, and can’t demonstrate the value of what you’ve accomplished, it’s hard to get budget.

Byron: Alison asked this very question: “Can you include referenced links,” so we answered that, thanks for the question, Alison. How do you keep the creativity element while you dissect it down with keywords and SEO? It seems like creativity is being put on the back-burner when it comes to content management, almost over-planned. I somewhat agree with that, what we’re preaching, what I’m preaching today, less with keyword stuffing and more with idea generation, hence the birth of this Editorial Calendar. What I’ve learned is that the “creativity” of a content asset comes ensculpting a creative brief to nailing exactly what your tone and style looks like from a branding perspective, then on-boarding that to that writer’s mentality, to that writer’s project description. That’s where the art is. We call it on-boarding writers. I hope we have more discussions moving forward about topics like that. Even content planning – to me, I get the ROI measurement, but it’s in black and white now. How many reTweets did I get? How many Facebook fans do I have? How many followers do I have? Let’s not make this too hard. I worry about that, Greg, that experts like us are geeking out still too much. I want Content Marketing 2.0 to be about attribution by amazing writers, which by the way is where we’re going as a company.

Greg: Which is why you can have your cake and eat it too.

Byron: Yes.

Greg: Let me share a real quick anecdote, one of our most successful pieces of content was for Southwest Airlines. Our keyword research said ‘discount airfare’ was a key search term. Actually it was ‘cheap airfare’ but Southwest didn’t want us to use cheap. So ‘discount airfare’ is a search term we’re allowed to use. When we got around to writing a headline for the press release that we were optimizing, yeah, yeah, yeah, the phrase “discount airfare” was in the headline. But then we put some words in there that “the keyword research never would have surfaced.” We said “as low as $29 one way.”$29 one way was not a search term but because the keyword research gave us the topic, and we knew we were writing on the topic of discount airfare, we wrote a headline and a press release around something that went beyond what the keyword research was telling us. I think that’s where the creativity then plays in to keyword research. All it does is give you a topic. It doesn’t tell you to stop there, use a two-word or three-word headline and call it a day. You should have 7-10 words in your headline, and by the way, it can include the headline and a whole lot more. Now all of a sudden you’re creative and still driving sales. By the way, that press release generated $1 million in ticket sales, and trust me, you walk into that room and say, by the way, last week we put out a press release and we generated $1 million in ticket sales, and they call that creative.

Byron: Again, amazing story, right? And you have to have those victories, but my point is it’s very difficult, Greg, to engineer those victories, right? You stumbled upon something. You went outside the box a little bit. There was no way to predict $1 million was going to be come from that press release.

Greg: I didn’t know we were going to have $1 million, but we did know what the topic was. Keyword research, people forget this, is market research. This is what people are looking for. Once you have the right topic, you create content.

Byron: Maybe.

Greg: You create content that addresses what you’re looking for.

Byron: I hear you, man. No one preached SEO more than me from 2007-2008 when we first built a product called WordVision that was out with hundreds of people using it. No one was more geeked out with trying to drive and forge content strategies. Those were actually plans we generated. I got to tell you, Greg, those 400 hours we spent for some customers, for tens of thousands of dollars, waste of money, waste of time. At the time, we thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread and so did the customers. At the time we could actually engineer success for customers because Google wasn’t all about quality content. The times have changed. Period. The end. It’s about attribution, about authorities, status and the writers, that’s where we need to go.

Greg: I agree with you but you make it work backwards. I have a really good piece of content that hasn’t seen a search term, isn’t anywhere close to a search term, that’s terrific, but it’s out there and nobody discovers it to react to it. Guess what? You need both.

Byron: Yep. You do, but you still need quality content. Let’s take the statement, ‘I had a big, big beef with Greg yesterday.’ We don’t know if big beef means steak, or burger or argument or debate or whatever it was. ‘Big beef’ probably has huge high popularity, if you’re McDonald’s, you probably want to get a top listing for big beef. Words and optimization and forging success with wordsmithing is just gone. I think it’s now about engagement, it’s about socialization of content, about looking at things differently. I think it starts, I’m hoping that all of this goes to attribution, really putting the name of the writer. We’re a ghostwriting company at WriterAccess right now, but we’re launching something very big, very huge, soon, and it has to do with this discussion. I’m all for attribution, I’m all for paying writers for what they deserve to be paid if they have big fans and big followers, are experts in topic areas that hold value, particularly with off-pub and all the amazing things happening with Google wanting to know who wrote this content. If a celebrity or someone who has these followers wrote it, it should be more popular and more interesting perhaps, more so than something that’s been ghostwritten in India by someone that forges keywords and falsifies backlink popularity. I think we both agree upon that.

Greg: I agree, I agree, but, guess what? A key part of the Google algorithm that didn’t go away and hasn’t been lobotomized is relevance. If I do a search for pick a term, any term, low airfare, then, pardon me, as brilliant as Google may be, it’s going to look for who’s got the most authority, who has written something about low airfare on this topic. It’s the combination.

Byron: Yeah. This is so much fun, Greg, I can talk to you all afternoon, it’s always such a pleasure to chat with you. It’s lively and fun.

A couple logistical things, someone said when you switched domain names in the Editorial Calendar, does it switch all the reporting capabilities in the keyword groups that you’ve built up and stored, and your list? Yes it does. Agencies can run 200 domain names in this if they want to, with separate keywords with each individual customer. For us, the brains are not the analytics – we like the analytics, we think you need the analytics. Mike is powering the analytics, I love Mike, it’s amazing this data that’s right at your fingertips. But I just want to see the data used quickly and efficiently to sift through keywords to find my winners, my losers, find what you’re performing on, look at Google Trends reports, highest search volume keywords, and find uh-oh, content on the Web, we only have two assets we’ve created. Remember, all my assets are loaded into this Editorial Calendar, so I can see everything I've published in the past, crunch all the data in the assets I’ve used. I’m with you, this data is important, it’s key. We need some forging, but the forging needs to be 20 percent of the emphasis, or 10 percent of the emphasis. The quality needs to be 80-90 percent of the emphasis. That’s where I’m hoping the whole world shifts with great writers that can create engaging content and paid fairly to do that.

Greg: Let me take one quick analysis of your keywords here because it’s a secret trick we learned a long time ago. You have a couple of one-word terms and two-word terms. Five to 10 years ago, the average search term was one to two words long. The average search term today is three words or longer. If you are now optimizing for a short term, it may be incredibly popular because a lot of people are still looking for one or two terms, it’s that they generally come up with garbage for search results, and you’re probably going to get blown away by places like Wikipedia. What we have found is that the new sweet spot is finding the right three-word term, and that’s counter-intuitive because, wait, the two-word term is more popular. The answer is yeah, go do a search for those two-word terms, and people with lots of authority are kicking sand in your face if you’re going to try to compete for it. There’s a degree of difficulty here that also needs to get factored in.

Byron: Absolutely. Mike has a great tool that fits right in, it’s called SEO Difficulty, that’s fed right in from SpyFu. It’s fully integrated into WriterAccess for any SpyFu subscribers out there. You get to bring in 200 keywords which is what SpyFu does as part of its packaging into WriterAccess or more if you need them. The difficulty is looking at search volume and Pay Per Click prices, and you start seeing some of that correlation. I’m with you with longer-tail keywords. What’s so funny, and this goes back to my days of crafting all this SEO strategy, I’m so glad those days are over. It’s essential, it’s necessary, I get it, but it’s also the domain name, right? Greg, some clients have killer listings. Others have very few keywords in the top 10, or even the top 50. Look at us right here, we’re all over the place. My point being is when we are strategically working with customers, we’re saying, look, right now you have no listing position in the top 100 for any of your keywords you want to go after. We have to get some longer-tail keyword phrases. We can’t go after things that aren’t realistic for you to go after. Out with engineering, and in with quality, that’s my message. Let planning be all about a quick place to store ideas. That’s what gets lost. Like this concept of waking up in the morning and having a good idea for a blog post, get it down. Read an article, post it, post the idea. Sure, grab your keywords, I’m not saying don’t use your keywords, quickly add them to an order. I’m not saying don’t do that, but what I am saying is get the idea down. Let your team develop ideas, and let professional writers execute those ideas. That’s what we’re trying to do.

Greg: If you have the ability to do this, and it would be a fun test to run, what I would do is say ‘I’m going to create five articles.’ Let’s say Monday through Friday. Monday through Thursday is going to be optimized, and we’d find a search term. On Friday, I’m going to throw the keyword term away and just write. And then, after a couple of months, go back and take a look. Are the articles we’re producing on Friday kicking butt and the other four days of the week not performing, or, conversely, on anything can happen day, nothing happens, but on the other four days of the week, you know what? It’s paying the bills.

Byron: Love it. Bring on the challenges to us all, Greg. I want to thank everybody for tuning in today. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m sorry it went so long. Everyone will be getting a recording of this, hopefully we answered lots of questions. There’s another one on Tumblr integration. We’re working on lots of new integrations, and we want to hear your ideas from all of our users on how to make this new feature great. Clients are super excited about it, be sure to send me an email if you want us to turn on all of these features we’ll be happy to do that. You can certainly get ahold of me, here’s my contact information.

Greg, thank you so much for being on the presentation today.

Greg: Thank you, Byron.

Byron: Right on. Until next week, everybody, hope your life is a little smarter, better, faster and wiser when it comes to content planning. Thanks everyone.