Answer These Questions to Create Your Content Marketing Plan

How do you create a content marketing plan? Over at Search Engine People, I list 25 questions that will help you get started.

The new year has been here for a while already, but for some of us, the beginning of the Indian financial year in April is when new plans get in place. So if you’re still working on your content marketing plan for the year, these questions might help!

Why 25 questions? I didn’t start out to make 25. My brief was to write about how to create a content marketing plan. My approach to these things is always to start with the information I need, the questions that need to be answered before you can even start planning. I thought about the blog post for two weeks, but once I started writing down the list of questions, it came together very quickly.

I have also found this, in the past, a useful exercise in figuring out what I want to achieve:

Make a ‘dream plan’. What would you accomplish in an ideal world where you have all the resources you want, including an unlimited budget?

Read the post here.

Monday Marketing Mashup: All About Google Hummingbird and SEO

Are you still wondering why everyone is talking about Hummingbird suddenly? Read on and these links will answer all your questions.

What is Hummingbird?

Google Hummingbird and SEOHummingbird is the name of Google’s new search algorithm. Google claims it will provide better search results. Hummingbird is one of the biggest updates ever to how Google interprets user’s search queries and how it evaluates indexed webpages for a better match. Search Engine Land has a nice FAQ post that will give you more details. If you prefer a more visual approach, try this infographic.

Why is this important?

Wired has a good explanation on the impact and importance of Hummingbird, and to give you a glimpse:

“The biggest improvements involve longer search queries. Rather than just examining each individual word in a search, Google is now examining the searcher’s query as a whole and processing the meaning behind it.”

What will be the impact of Hummingbird on my site’s SEO?

Exact details are yet unclear and Google likes to keep people guessing when it comes to search algorithams. But Don Dodds has given a good summary of what is known as of now.

“Site owners that rely on the provision of high-quality content, that steer clear of black hat techniques, and that look to build multiple traffic streams using a universal marketing approach are those that will enjoy better long term results.”

Not much has really changed if you are a small business and are relying on good content, social referrals and customer feedback. HubSpot summarizes important factors nicely in their post.

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Making Cleaning Businesses Successful: Interview with Tom Watson

Tom Watson of Cleaning 4 ProfitTom Watson helps cleaning businesses become successful. That’s right. His books and services are aimed at helping cleaning businesses become more effective, and of course, marketing is a part of this. Let’s ask him about online marketing for cleaning businesses.

My questions and comments are in bold.

So how is marketing for cleaning businesses different? (Or is it?)

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How Promotional Products Companies Blog

A colleague asked me last week about advice for promotional products companies on blogging. Let’s look at how promotional products businesses use their blogs.

A Google search on [promotional products blog] gets us this. Good job, Inkhead! Especially as two of the other top search results are from ASI (a promo products industry association whose page with links to industry blogs shows up) and an industry magazine.

Search Results for Promo Products Blog

I do another quick search for recently updated blogs and we’re good to go.

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Bed and Breakfast Blogs: Innkeepers Boost Marketing by Sharing Stories

One industry that I think is fertile ground for marketing content is Bed and Breakfast inns. These inns provide a more picturesque, intimate experience than bigger hotels, and as far as I know, most of them seem to be run by the owners. So it seems to make perfect sense that innkeepers would blog about their inns. But do they?

Google Search for Bed and Breakfast BlogI searched for [bed and breakfast blog] on Google.

What surprised me is that most of these blogs haven’t been updated recently. If you look at this screenshot, one of these blogs was last updated in April! The blog with the most recent post (not in the screenshot) was on August 24.

I changed the search to pages updated in the last week, and got a wholly different set of results. Even so, one blog listed in the first page was updated 2 days ago; everything else was between 5-7 days.

The Blue Door on Baltimore, for example, has a charming blog with photos and behind-the-scenes info about the running of the inn, as well as tips on what to do in Baltimore. But the blog hasn’t been updated for over a year: there were three posts in the first week of June 2012, and nothing since. Is the inn still running?

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Listening and Responding

Much of the marketing advice you read will be about conversations you should initiate: by writing blog posts, tweeting, or emailing. But what online marketing allows you do most effectively is listen, and you’re not doing your marketing any favors if you don’t take the time to do that.

As Tea Silvestre says:

There’s a LOT of marketing advice out there about how to reach more people. Get more fans. Build your list. And just plain dominate the world with your empire.

But there’s another way to grow your business, and it doesn’t require you to talk to anyone new.

And:

Are you having enough two-way conversations with the folks who are standing right in front of you?

Read the post to learn how you can listen better.

But why should you listen?

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How to Embed Facebook Posts to Your Website or Blog

Facebook just rolled out embedded posts to everyone, so now you can embed Facebook posts in your blog post or web page.

Why embed a post instead of posting a screenshot? Because all the links and other information in the post remain intact. Your website visitor can click on the links in the post to go to the post on Facebook or to your Facebook page.

Go to any Facebook post, or scroll down in your Timeline to find one. Click on the little arrow on the top right of your post. The last item on the dropdown menu should be “Embed Post”.

Click on the arrow on the top right of a Facebook post to get the Embed Post option

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: All You Need to Know for Business Blogging

I recently realized I’ve written a lot about blogging. Here are a few of my posts that might be useful to readers of this blog.

Why You Should Blog

This post compares blogging to other social media channels and tells you whether it’s right for you. Here’s what I think is most important:

Blog posts last better than most other social media posts: your older posts will continue to get you visits long after your tweets and Facebook posts have faded into oblivion.

Starting Your Blog

If you’re just starting out, this post explains six tips that I’ve found useful, including being regular and frequent, using relevant keywords, and improving usability on your blog.

Finding Blog Topics

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How to Pick Your Target Customer Segment

Over on Search Engine People, I explain how to pick a target customer segment that’s right for you. I answer questions like:

  • How do you start with a basic customer profile?
  • How should your target customer segment affect your marketing?
  • How do you learn enough about your audience to target your marketing better?

This post was inspired by several questions at recent workshops I’ve conducted, and I know this is a common challenge that all businesses have to deal with.

Read the post here, and tell me how you like it!

Why Interviews Are a Great Form of Content

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know we regularly interview successful marketers and entrepreneurs. Over on the Spin Sucks blog, I write about why I like interview-style blog posts.

I’m a big fan of everyone I’ve interviewed, and I wouldn’t have dared to approach Rand Fishkin or Anita Campbell to say “Hey, you’re so cool! Can I talk to you?” But – while it’s more or less the same thing – it seems more acceptable to ask if I can interview them for my blog and then ask them what makes them so cool. I’m amazed at the wonderful people I’ve been able to “meet” because of this.

Do read the post and tell me what you think.

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Weekend Reads for Better Marketing: Let’s Say Goodbye to Google Reader

A sprained ankle, and then food poisoning. The last three weeks have not been good to me. And then I resurface this morning, only to be hit by the news that Google Reader is dying.

Yeah, yeah, it’s been on life support for a while, but still. It’s much too soon, Google. I’m not ready to say goodbye.

Mourning Google Reader

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5 Reasons I Like Buffer (the Company)

Buffer is one of my favorite tools, but it’s not just the application itself I like, it’s the company. So well, let me count the ways.

Simple App That Focuses on One Benefit

I love how simple and easy Buffer is to use (in fact, I liked the earlier interface even better, because it was more simple). I’ve tried a few social media scheduling tools, but this is the only one I stuck with.

Tweets scheduled on Buffer

One click on the text box, type in or paste your tweet, and you’re done.

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The Content Marketing Pro: Interview with Ann Handley of Marketing Profs

Ann Handley, Marketing ProfsAnn Handley is the Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs, one of the most popular sites for marketing advice (and responsible for some of my marketing education!). She has been cited in Forbes as the most influential woman in Social Media and recognized by ForbesWoman as one of the top 20 women bloggers. She is also the co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules.

Ann talks to us about marketing and content. My questions and comments are in bold.

Tell us about how you got involved with Marketing Profs.

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Quick Readability Check of Your Web Pages

We talk about content a lot here on this blog. And content’s important, believe me. But no amount of great content is going to do it for you unless that content is displayed well — that is, you have good design.

I’m not talking about awesome, impressive design. Just a clean and modern setting for your awesome, impressive content. Enough to make it easy for users to read and navigate.

In my latest blog post at Search Engine People, I’ve outlined a checklist of 7 items you should look for to make sure your web content is readable. (The post says “blog posts,” but this applies to any web page with a lot of text.)

All of these tips are pretty elementary, but many websites and blogs still make these mistakes. Make sure you’re not one of them!

Career Blogger: Interview with Alison Green, Blogger of Ask A Manager

Alison Green, blogger at Ask A ManagerAlison Green is the blogger at Ask A Manager, a popular site that answers questions related to work and careers. I have read Alison’s blog for a couple of years now, and am amazed not only at how she manages to be insightful day in and day out for so many people who write in with questions, but also at how she has nurtured her community — read any of the comments sections to see how much helpful advice commenters usually offer on the blog.

Alison doesn’t have a background in HR — as one comment on her blog from an employee she had managed attested, she is just an exceptionally good manager who is sharing her perspective to help others navigate tricky issues of politics and performance at work.

She talks to us about how her part-time blog turned into her full-time career! Read on.

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The Only Five Essential Elements of Website Content for A Small Services Business

In the last six months, I’ve reviewed over 30 business websites with a view to helping these businesses figure out how they can make their marketing more effective. Especially if you are a small services business — you provide software development services, or you’re a trainer or consultant or plumber — it can be difficult to figure out what goes on your website. Especially if you’re a consultant or freelancer, where does your personality end and your business begin?

Today I’m gonna help you figure out the five most essential pieces of information you need to provide on your website.

Promote your business on your website

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Marketing for Tech Products: Interview with Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz

Rand FishkinRand Fishkin is the CEO and Co-founder of SEOmoz, one of the most well-known and respected internet marketing companies. He’s been in Businessweek’s 30 under 30, and has got tons of press coverage for himself and SEOmoz.

He talked to us about community-building, products vs. services, and more! Read on.

SEOmoz got started after you joined your mom’s (Gillian Muessig, Co-founder of SEOmoz) marketing business… How did you decide to focus on SEO?

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13 Marketing and Small-Business Blogs for 2013

Lights

Instead of our regular Weekend Reading post, today we have for you a round-up of the marketing sites and blogs you should read, recommended by the marketing experts and entrepreneurs we have interviewed in 2012.

Read on for the 13 blogs you should follow in 2013.

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