What is Thin Content and How Do I Go About Fixing It?

Has someone warned you that your website has thin content? Worried it’s holding you back?

When people talk about thin content, they’re usually thinking of its effect on search engine ranking – but you should also be mindful of how it impacts your clients or customers.

Fix Thin Content

What is Thin Content?

Think of it like this.

You set out to the store, shopping list in hand, to get what you need for your upcoming house party. And you’ve got to do it fast, because the party’s tonight.

As luck would have it, you find everything on your list at the first store you try. You’re satisfied, and you’ll definitely return to that store the next time you’re planning a party.

But what if you struck out? What if you had to make one stop for drinks, another for cake, and a third across town for cups and plates?

Not only are you annoyed, but you probably won’t visit those stores for party supplies again – their selection is just too thin.

That’s also how people use Google’s search engine results page.

When someone makes a search query, they don’t want to have to tap in and out of three different webpages or open three browser tabs to find the answers they’re looking for. They want instant, accurate information the first time.

And since Google and other search engines want to make users happy (more users mean more advertising revenue), search engine algorithms work hard to deliver the most accurate, relevant search results that matches a user’s query.

To that end, a webpage that succeeds in the delivering relevant, quality information people want will be land a higher position in the search engine results; a page that delivers sparse, low-quality, irrelevant, unoriginal content will drop in ranking.

Thin content is content that provides little to no value to the people who find it. If search engine algorithms judge a page as having thin content (based both on the substance of the page itself and the way users interact with it) its ranking can plummet as a result.

Some people think the way to fix thin content is to add more words to a page; this can help in some cases, but there’s almost always more to it than that. The length of the copy on a page is only one of the factors that go into deciding whether a page is worth someone’s time.  A pamphlet can be thin, but so can a novel.

Signs and Examples of Thin Content

So, how do you know if your content is thin?

If a domain contains numerous thin pages across the site, you might log into Google’s Search Console one day and find a manual penalty for thin content. That means your site has been judged as one that, “appears to contain a significant percentage of low-quality or shallow pages which do not provide users with much added value.”

Another thin content warning sign is a page that fails to get good user engagement. Once you’ve ruled out other factors that could turn people away – annoying pop-ups, slow page speed, outdated or plain bad site design – it’s time to point the finger at content.

Google also provides concrete examples of pages that often qualify as being thin content: affiliate pages, automatically-generated content, doorway pages, and unoriginal content. These aren’t prima facie thin content, but they can be.

  • Affiliate pages are designed for the sole or primary purpose of getting people to visit (and purchase products/services from) another site, which earns kickbacks for the owner of the affiliate page. A common example is a list-style blog post that includes multiple links to product pages on Amazon. An affiliate page that offers little in the way of added value or information can be thin content.
  • Auto-generated content is text churned out by an automated tool. When it’s only there to influence search rankings, this type of content falls under the definition of ‘thin’ regardless of length.
  • Doorway pages exist mainly as a gateway to another page, providing minimal value and serving as an unnecessary threshold people must step over to find the information they’re looking for. These pages are often a relic of outdated SEO tactics, like the creation of numerous similar location-based pages that provide no unique insight or information.
  • Unoriginal content is a wide category that encompasses all sorts of lazy tactics: pasting articles from other pages, pulling product descriptions from a manufacturer’s site, multiple pages with all or most of the same copy (like a fill-in-the-blanks) or borrowing images and infographics from other content creators. Unoriginal content isn’t always synonymous with plagiarism – a newly-written page that reiterates existing information without adding new or interesting insight can also fit the label.

Finally, a page can qualify as thin simply for lacking in content. Conventionally, any page containing fewer than 300 words runs the risk of being thin content, but that’s more a guideline than a golden rule (some pages, like a Contact Us page, have no reason to be wordy).

The bottom line is this: if the page is lacking in value, it could be thin content regardless of length. Short pages are often thin, but thin pages are not always short.

How to Fix Thin Content

Fixing thin content is not only about adding more words. It’s about improving your content to provide the value your users are looking for.

It does often require you to put more words on the page – after all, a lengthier page has more room to explore a topic in enough depth. But the substance of your content matters more than its length. Since the Panda update in 2011, Google’s search engine algorithm has become increasingly savvy about distinguishing valuable content from thin content, regardless of length.

As Neil Patel puts it, “creating long form content does not mean cranking out irrelevant and repetitive words. Rather it’s all about Providing Value.”

The key to avoiding and fixing thin content is to understand what your audience wants, what search engine algorithms like to see, and how to cater to both in a way that contributes to achieving your goals.

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5 Common Reasons Google Could Penalize Your Website

Trying to increase your website’s ranking on Google? Heard horror stories of Google’s updates completely wiping sites off the search rankings? It happens, but not at random. Let’s have a look at what exactly a Google penalty is – and the reasons Google may drop your site in its rankings.

Reasons Google could penalize your website

What is a Google Penalty?

Let’s start with Google’s goal: to eliminate poor-quality content to refine the quality of search results.

To do this, Google released their Penguin update in 2012, which wiped some sites out of search rankings altogether. This update downgrades site rankings based on many factors (which we will chat about shortly), forcing companies to change the way they look at SEO and prioritize the quality of their content.

Subsequent updates continue to sharpen the search engine’s ability to judge the quality of a site.

Why Does Google Penalize Websites?

1. Your Website is Outdated

The design of a website plays a large factor in its site ranking. Two main design concerns are whether the site is mobile-friendly or if it is new or up-to-date. According to Forbes, “you could lose anywhere from 5-30% of leads based on this factor alone”.

When you’re building your website design, make sure you also keep meta titles and meta descriptions in mind. They help Google understand what keywords your website wants to rank for; without them, Google may not recognize your site as relevant and penalize you.

2. Poor Link Structure

What makes up link structure? Let’s break it down:

  • External links – these connect your content to other sites. You want to link to other high-ranking websites so that Google will associate your content with other high-quality sources. Additionally, these sites should be relevant – for example, if your website is fashion-themed and only links to sites about food or electronics, Google views this as a problem. Linking to low-quality or irrelevant content sites will put you straight on Google’s radar to drop down in ranking.
  • Internal links – these connect your content to other pages within your website. It gives Google an idea of how your website is mapped out and what your overall site content is like. That being said, it’s important to interlink to relevant If you’re linking your blog post about saving money to your pricey gift shop, for example, you may get penalized.
  • Backlinks – these are links from other sites that direct back to yours. The goal with backlinks is to get high-ranking websites to link back to you. It would be fantastic to have backlinks from CNN or New York Times. This is high-level, but the idea is you want to avoid fake or illegitimate websites to maintain a higher ranking.

When it comes to links, remember – quality over quantity.

3. Buying Links

Yes, some companies still buy links to their website to increase in ranking.

Google sees this as an attempt to deceive PageRank, which calculates where your site should appear in search engine results based on what content Google views as relevant and high-quality.

When you try to manipulate Google, they can catch this – and the bad links you have been buying. Buying links can even drop you off the rankings completely.

4. Your Content Has Little Value

This can be anything from not enough content, shallow content that your readers have already found on many other sites, or content obviously trying to rank for keywords. These are all the wrong way for your content to help rank your website.

Your site must offer significant content to readers. Google judges how users interact with your website. If people visit your site and immediately leave, Google will catch on that users don’t value your content and will penalize your site and it’s ranking.

5. Slow Speeds

How frustrated do you get when a page is taking 10 seconds to load? Do you abandon the page and move on?

A lot of people do – and Google notices. Neil Patel recommends using a caching plugin or a CDN right away to avoid this issue.

If you’re not sure how fast your existing site is, check out Google’s PageSpeed to see if you have room to improve on your desktop or mobile site load time.

Stay Prepared

In the end, you must always put the user experience at top-of-mind.

They’re the ones visiting your websites and, in turn, buying your products or services. The goal is to give them the most seamless experience, so they have no reason to exit your page.

Doing this will help avoid penalties, increase the quality of your traffic and number of conversions, and create a happy relationship between your website and Google.

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Blog Optimization Checklist: 10 Clear-Cut Ways to Boost SEO

When you’ve poured time and energy into a great blog post, you want it to reach as much of your audience as possible. Small changes matter when it comes to boosting blog SEO. Take a run through this blog optimization checklist before you post — it won’t take long, and it’ll help your blog get seen by the right people.

Blog Checklist

1. Keywords

Keywords are words or short phrases that encompass what the blog post is about (see our blog: What Are Keywords and Why Do They Matter?). When you use them well, keywords can help the post rank for search queries that include those words.

Why Blog Keywords Matter for SEO

Search engine algorithms use repeated words and phrases as clues to what a webpage is about. Placing relevant, natural-sounding keywords in the blog content, title, meta description, and URL can contribute to a blog post’s search engine ranking.

How to Optimize for Keywords

Incorporate your chosen keywords into the blog:

  • Title
  • Headings (one or more)
  • First paragraph
  • Meta description
  • URL

2. Length

There’s no perfect word count for SEO, but the length of a blog can factor into its ranking.

Why Blog Length Matters for SEO

Search engine algorithms often deem pages with less than 300 words inadequate to rank in the search engine results. However, longer isn’t necessarily better; a 3,000-word post stuffed with irrelevant content will fare just as poorly as a short one.

Optimizing Length for SEO

Aim to write at least 500 words per blog post. Beyond that, the ideal blog length will depend on your audience. Pay attention to how your blogs perform and look for trends related to page length.

3. Readability

It’s in the writer’s interest to make a blog post as easy to read as possible. Spacing, formatting, and writing style all weigh on a blog’s readability.

Why Readability Matters for SEO

Making your content easy to digest will increase the time people spend reading it and encourage them to share it with others. It can also increase the likelihood the content will rank in Featured Snippets, which is a huge boost to blog SEO.

How to Optimize Blog Readability

  • Add informative headings and subheadings to make the post easier to skim.
  • Format lists or step-by-step instructions as numbered or bulleted lists.
  • Break large paragraphs into shorter chunks. Single-sentence paragraphs are common in the blog world.

4. Title

The title is your chance to convince the reader to click in 50-60 characters or less. A good title:

  1. Is short (search engines cut off titles longer than 60 characters);
  2. Is compelling (but not clickbait); and
  3. Promises readers something of value if they click.

Why Blog Titles Matter for SEO

A great title will drive more traffic to the blog, which significantly impacts its rankings. As mentioned above, the title should also include relevant keywords.

How to Optimize Blog Titles

Craft your title around keywords and the value readers receive from the blog. Shorten it 50 characters or less and add compelling adjectives to make it pop.

5. Call to Action

The title succeeds in persuading readers to click on your blog post. What do you want them to do once they’re there? Whatever the goal, readers are more likely to do it if you guide them in the right direction with a clear call to action.

Why a Call to Action Matters for SEO

An effective call to action keeps people on your site and discourages them from bouncing back to the search engine results page (see our blog: Understanding Bounce Rate, Long Clicks and Pogo-Sticking).

How to Optimize Call to Action

Place the call to action prominently on the blog post (the best spot will vary audience-to-audience, so consider testing different placements). It should be relevant to the subject matter of the article and the user’s pain points.

6. Internal and External Links

Internal links are links to content that is within the same domain as your content: other blog posts, product pages, contact pages, and so on. External links are the opposite: they point to other websites.

Why Internal and External Linking Matters for SEO

Interlinking helps search engine algorithms to understand the website’s structure. Links to credible, authoritative external sources help build your site’s credibility within the eyes of the all-seeing search algorithm. Both are an important part of boosting blog SEO.

How to Optimize Links

Be picky about the links you include! Credible external sites will bolster your blog’s credibility, but poor sites will do the opposite. Insert internal links should in a logical way that benefits the reader.

7. Anchor Text

Anchor text refers to the clickable text of an internal or external link. On most sites, anchor text is underlined and highlighted in blue.

Why Anchor Text Matters for SEO

Search engine algorithms use anchor text another clue to what a web page is about, both regarding your blog and the page you’re linking to.

How to Optimize Anchor Text

Good anchor text is succinct, informative, and relevant to the target page. Incorporate keywords where it sounds natural to do so.

8. Images

Images are a necessity in any blog post, no matter the length or the topic. Along with their visual appeal, original images can help boost your blog’s SEO.

Why Images Are Good for SEO

Images make the blog easier to read, increasing the chance people will share it and explore the rest of your site. Keywords in image titles and file names can help give the algorithm context on your blog’s topic. Images also allow the site to rank in image searches.

Optimizing Images for SEO

Upload high-quality images with keyword-rich titles and file names. Avoid adding overly-large images, as they can bog down your site’s loading speed (see our blog: Why Page Speed Matters.

9. Meta Description

The meta description is a 160-character summary of the blog that can display below the headline on the search engine results page.

Why Meta Descriptions Matter for SEO

The meta description can be a huge factor in a reader’s decision to click through to your blog from the search engine results page. Like blog titles, meta descriptions are a chance to pique the reader’s curiosity and promise something worth clicking for.

How to Optimize Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions that exceed 160 words will be cut off, so be sure to include the good stuff in the first 160.

10. Proofreading

Spelling and grammar checkers have come a long way, but they’re still not perfect! Take time to proofread your blog before posting it.

Why Spelling and Grammar Matters for SEO

Poor spelling and grammar will stop some readers in their tracks. Few people will share an error-ridden blog with their friends, let alone peruse the rest of the site. Proofreading keeps readers on the page and preserves your credibility.First, give the blog a once-over yourself. Then, pass it to a colleague for a second look. If no one’s available to help, a free proofreading tool like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor beats no proofreading at all.

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7 Universal Content Strategies to Increase Audience Engagement

Content is a contest. Whether you’re writing blog posts or cutting videos, there’s always someone else out there who wants to win over your audience as bad as you do. These content strategies can help increase audience engagement across a variety of mediums to help get your message out there.

Content Strategy

1. Gauge the Competition

Who’s winning the race for your important keywords?

Finding ways to outrank those competitors will help bolster your share of the audience.

One important step in increasing engagement is finding (and fixing) gaps in your current keyword strategy.

You could be falling behind in areas where your competitors already have plenty of content. There could also be high-volume keywords the competition hasn’t covered yet, leaving an opportunity for your site to fill in the gap.

Conducting a keyword gap analysis requires a strong grasp of your site’s current standing and where you want to improve: how people are finding your site now, which keywords are most valuable to you now, and what your competitors are doing better.

Tools like SEMRush’s Keyword Gap Analysis can help, but it’s only useful if you understand what keywords are and which keywords matter to your business.

2. Optimize Metadata

To most people, metadata is an afterthought.

For anyone with a website, it shouldn’t be.

Metadata refers to two types of information: basic descriptions of digital files (file author, date crated, file size, etc.) and descriptions of webpage content. Both types of metadata play a role in your content’s search engine visibility.

Search algorithms use metadata to help determine what a webpage is about. When metadata contains relevant keywords, it gives the page a better shot of ranking for those search queries.

Optimized metadata may not increase audience engagement alone, but it can help give well-crafted content the boost it needs.

3. Increase Page Speed

Slow loading speed is one of the biggest barriers to audience engagement.

Nearly half of all internet users will not wait longer than three seconds for a page to load. It doesn’t matter how great a blog or video is if it’s dragged down by a slow-loading site.

If you’re not sure of your site’s speed (or can’t figure out why it’s slow), Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can give answers. Beyond that, there are lots of big and small fixes to increase page speed.

4. Boost Presentation

Looks matter, at least when it comes to boosting audience engagement.

The nicer the page presentation, the more likely people are to view the content, share it with others, and link back to it — all important ingredients of attracting and engaging an audience

Overall site design plays a big part in this (which is one reason to redesign your site periodically). But there are also many smaller steps you can take to make your content easier and more enjoyable to consume.

  • Break blog posts into short paragraphs with a logical flow, adding bullet points and lists where applicable.
  • Add relevant images. Blog posts with images get an average of 94% more views than those without.
  • Embed a video. Video increases the average time people spend on a site by 105%.

If you do add supplementary videos and images, be sure to optimize them with keyword-rich metadata.

Speaking of different mediums…

5. Use a Variety of Content Mediums

Radio didn’t bring an end to libraries. Film wasn’t the death knell for radio.  And the Internet hasn’t dampened the popularity of video (only changed how we see it).

Why? Because different people like to consume information in different ways.

Some of your audience will always prefer a long-form blog post or whitepaper to a video; others won’t give text the time of day when there’s a visual alternative.

Using a variety of content broadens the appeal of your site to a wider audience. Blogs, eBooks, videos, case studies, infographics, and podcasts can all help to build different segment of an engaged following.

6. Be an Authority

Authority is one of the biggest factors in how search engine algorithms choose which sites make the front page. To increase audience engagement, you’ll have to show that you’re an authority in your industry.

Being an authority doesn’t mean you’re the be-all and end-all for your industry. Rather, it means you have a take on the topic that is more in-depth, more authentic, and more current than the competition.

For future content, focus on quality and relevance over quantity. As for older content that still performs well? Keep it current!

7. Send the Right Content to the Right Audience

Instead of blasting all your content to everyone at once, take a precision approach. Aim for where you know it’ll connect.

There are lots of ways to make sure your content reaches the right people and get them to engage with it:

  • Starting an email list is a great initiative for anyone looking to build an army of loyal followers.
  • A/B testing provides guidance when it comes to making the best possible first impression on visitors.
  • Retargeting visitors with content you know matches their interests brings wayward audiences back into your sights.

The point is, different content will resonate best at different points in the marketing funnel. Once you’ve figured out your funnel, you can begin to weave it into your content strategy.

 Getting Audiences to Engage with Your Content

No content creator can produce a viral masterpiece every time, but these steps will help put it on the screens of audiences that matter.

It all starts with strategy. We’d love to help you find yours.

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Reusing Blog Posts for Social Media: Time-Saving Tips on Remixing Your Best Content

Ever wondered how brands come up with fresh content to post on social media every single day? Their secret is remixing. Instead of creating brand-new content from scratch, many smart brands leverage their existing blog posts into fresh content for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.

There are lots of practical reasons to reuse blog posts for social media content:

  1. Save time. Rather than spending hours writing great blog posts and crafting social media content, you can produce multiple forms of content for your site and social media platforms simultaneously.
  2. Drive traffic to your site. Building content from your blog posts lets you re-share old URLs in a new context, driving more traffic to the original post you so carefully crafted.
  3. Maximize your audience reach. Some people love to hunker down for a good read, while others would rather consume quick bites of content in videos or graphic form. Turning a blog post into different social media content gets your message out to the broadest possible audience.

Which Blog Posts Make for Great Social Media Content?

You know your content better than anyone, so you probably have some idea of which ones would make for great videos or images. But keep in mind that the blog post should be:

  • Relevant to your audience. Some posts age better than others; don’t choose a post that is outdated or no longer interesting.
  • This depends on how you measure blog performance. If your number one goal is site traffic, use Google Analytics to find out which posts have generated the most user sessions; if brand-building is your focus, see which posts incited the most social media engagement.

Ways to Remix and Reuse Blog Posts for Social Media Content

To get you started, here are a few time-saving tips on reusing blog posts for great social media content.

1. Videos

We have written previously about the benefits of using video on social media. People are more likely to view and engage with videos than any other form of content, and there are lots of free tools that can help you make captivating videos out of blog posts. One of our picks is Lumen5, which automatically pulls content from articles and turns it into easily customizable scenes.

2. Quotes

One of the quickest ways to turn blog posts into social content is this: pull the juiciest bites of information from the article and share it in the form of a brief text post or image. It can be an authoritative statement, an inspirational quote, an impressive statistic, or a compelling question. Choose something that will stop users in their tracks and entice them to click through.

reuse blog post

3. Graphics

Bold, colourful visuals boast universal appeal across social platforms. Social posts that include images always grab more attention than text alone. You can condense the main points of the blog into one image or break them into a series of images that each highlight a point.

blogs for social media

4. Infographics

Turn an information-heavy blog post into an easily digestible infographic. While they do take longer to create than one-off graphics, the potential return on investment is high; an eye-catching infographic can catch on and spread to all corners of the web. Be sure to include your brand’s logo and a link to the original blog post somewhere on the graphic.

If you haven’t got a knack for graphic design, use a free template available with tools like Canva or Piktochart.

5. Live Video

Have more to say about a particular post? That’s a great opportunity delve deeper into the topic or host an audience Q&A in a live video broadcast. Live videos on Facebook are most likely to appear at the top of the news feed, and your followers will get a notification letting them know you are on-air. It’s free, simple, and gives your audience a chance to connect with you and your company on a more human level.

 

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SEO Writing Tips: 5 Blog Writing Do’s and Don’t’s

Writing for SEO is not all that different from writing well in general. You want to make it clear, compelling, and as concise as possible. But there are a few essential SEO writing tips you should know if you’re new to the world of blogging.

Blogging Tips

We’ll start with keywords, word count, and a few notes on style.

1. Keywords

Writing for SEO means choosing your words carefully. If a word or phrase reoccurs throughout a web page, the search engine algorithms are more likely to dig up that page when someone searches for that phrase. Those are your keywords: words and phrases that help to define what your blog post is about.

Do: Use Keywords Them Strategically in Each Blog Post.

An effective keyword is one that:

    1. Accurately reflects what the blog post is about.
    2. Is something your customers are searching for.
    3. Does not have steep competition for the keyword.

We visit the topic of how to use effective keywords in greater depth here.

Don’t: Stuff Blog Posts Full of Keywords.

Search engine algorithms look at more than the number of times a keyword reoccurs in a blog post; they also consider its semantic value. Algorithms penalize sites that engage in ‘keyword-stuffing’, which means cramming a dense volume of keywords into a post to try and game the system. While the ideal keyword density is up for debate, writing for SEO means integrating strategically-chosen keywords into natural-sounding prose.

2. Post Length

Ironically, it often takes longer to write a concise piece than a lengthy one. But there is such a thing as being too concise when it comes to writing for SEO.

Do: Write At Least 500 Words.

Like your high school English teacher, search engine algorithms may take points off if your work is too short. There’s no strict word count for blog writing, but any page with fewer than 300 words may come under scrutiny for having thin content. We generally aim for 500 words at minimum.

Don’t: Pad It Out With Fluff.

Most readers are looking for fast, clear answers. Don’t bury key information beneath a lengthy introduction or sprinkle it among irrelevant tangents. If you are stretching to reach 500 words, consider broadening your chosen topic.

3. Active vs. Passive Voice

There are two ways to write action. One approach puts the force driving the action first; the second focuses on the person (or place, thing, etc.) at which the action is directed. That’s the simplest way to explain active and passive voice, a choice which can have a big effect on a blog post’s readability.

What does this have to do with SEO writing tips? It’s simple: the more people enjoy reading your post, the more likely they are to consume it in full, explore the rest of your site, and share it with others. Search engine algorithms take these as signals of a high-quality post that should rank well in the search engine results.

Do: Use Active Voice Whenever Possible.

With few exceptions active voice makes for clearer, more effective writing. Active voice is generally more concise and transparent than passive voice, and it flows naturally. Try reading some examples of examples of active and passive voice out loud: you’ll notice how active voice is smoother.

Don’t: Use Passive Voice Unless You Have To.

Passive voice, on the other hand, is often stiffer and less exciting compared to active writing. While most readers won’t nit-pick your post for passive voice, it will affect their reading experience. Switching from passive to active voice is a small change that has a big impact on the quality of your work.

4. Grade Level

Grade level is a way of measuring how easy a post is to read. The higher a post’s grade level, the more work it takes to read and comprehend its content. You can assess your post’s grade level using Microsoft Word’s built-in writing tools or a free tool like Hemingway Editor.

Do: Write for An Accessible Grade Level.

Don’t shut out potential readers by using long, complex paragraphs and unnecessary jargon. For a general audience, we recommend aiming for a grade level of six to eight. This limitation also has the benefit of encouraging you to write clearly and concisely.

Don’t: Make Errors.

Writing at a sixth-grade level doesn’t mean you should make sixth-grade spelling and grammar mistakes. The occasional typo is fine, but readers are unlikely to read through a post that is rifled with errors.

5. Be Connected

Your blog is not an island. There are many reasons to incorporate outbound links to other sites into your post. Chief among them is the fact that high-quality links gives your readers more value when they visit.

Do: Vet Your Sources.

Emphasis on high-quality. Search engine algorithms judge you by the company you keep, penalizing sites that link out to sub-par pages. If you wouldn’t put something on your own blog, don’t link to it, either!

Don’t: Forget to Give Credit.

There are times when backlinking is mandatory. Borrowing content from other sites without attribution is plagiarism, which can tank your search engine ranking as much as your reputation. Always take notes on the origin of your information while you’re researching your blog post.

Video Marketing Tips: How to Use Your Video Assets on Social Media in 2018

We live in a time when all it takes to make videos is a smartphone and an idea. It’s incredible. Imagine how different our view of history might be today if our great-great-grandparents had been filming their daily lives a hundred years ago.

For businesses, the proliferation of online video presents unprecedented opportunities to connect with customers anywhere in the world. Video stands as one of the top ways people consume content online. By the year 2020, it will account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic.

Along with dedicated video sites like YouTube, all the major social media sites now serve as native video platforms (LinkedIn was late to the game when it joined in 2017.) Videos can also be embedded directly on a company website.

With so many ways to leverage video, it can be hard even to know where to start. Here, we focus on the major social media platforms. These video marketing tips will help you learn how to use your video assets to their fullest potential in 2018.

how to use video assets

The Importance of Video Marketing in 2018

Gone are the days when you needed a script, a camera crew, and a budget to make high-quality, engaging videos. But don’t be fooled by the lucky few that go viral. It takes a lot of planning and behind-the-scenes work to make your video content succeed.

Small businesses often question whether video marketing is worth the time and effort. If you are looking to connect with customers online, the answer is a resounding yes. Studies show that most consumers would rather watch a video about a product or service than read about it. People are more likely to consume and engage with video than any other kind of content, and on Facebook, video content reaches an average of 135% more people than photos.

From an SEO perspective, video can be an enormously powerful tool. Well-optimized YouTube videos can rank at the top of Google search results, especially for instructional content like How-To’s. Videos that perform well on social media can be a generous source of social signals. And if you do happen to go viral, you can expect to get a torrent of backlinks to your site (look at what happened to the Dollar Shave Club when their launch video struck gold.)

How to Use Your Video Assets

If you know how to use your video assets, they can significantly boost the reach of your marketing efforts online. Implementing the following video marketing tips is a great way to get started.

1. Optimize Your Videos for Mobile Browsing

Social media is primarily a mobile activity. People between the age of 18 and 34 use mobile devices for social 78% of the time. To reach these users, make sure your video content translates to the tiny screens and fast pace of mobile browsing. Bold visuals and a clear message are essential.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube have all introduced vertical video formats so users can watch without rotating their screens. If mobile users are your target, craft content that fits this taller frame.

2. Use Custom Thumbnails

Thumbnails are an art in and of themselves. A compelling thumbnail image can make the difference between another ordinary video and a huge hit.

Look at popular videos in your niche and note the kind of thumbnails that generate the most clicks. Is it big text and bright colours? Tantalizing product photos? An influencer’s head shot? Spot the trends and borrow them for your videos.

3. Have a Strong Start

According to Facebook, 47% of the value in a video campaign comes in the first three seconds, and the first 10 seconds amount to 74%. It is in those crucial moments that viewers decide whether your content is worth watching.

Most videos on social media AutoPlay by default. You can use this to your advantage. Start the video with a hook: a compelling question, an exciting scene, or an offer they can’t refuse. Just be sure to deliver on the promise in the rest of the video!

4. Show, Don’t Tell

This is one point where social media best practice diverges from that of a video-based platform like YouTube. On social media sites, most videos AutoPlay without sound; as much as 85% of all video views on Facebook occur on mute.

Whereas YouTube is both an aural and visual medium, social media video marketing weighs heavily towards the visual. Your video’s story must unfold primarily via images and on-screen text. It’s not that the sound is irrelevant, but when it comes to social media, you should assume your viewers will not hear it.

5. Know Your Platform

The above tips will help you understand how to use video assets across various platforms. However, when it comes to a broader video marketing strategy, each platform will call for a different approach. Facebook has a different tone and audience than Twitter, for example. Optimizing videos for YouTube requires exploring the platform’s search engine algorithm.

Keep in mind the purpose of each platform when deciding how to use your video assets. If you plan to invest heavily in one site over others, tailor your content to match it.

In Short: How to Use Your Video Assets

  1. Optimize for mobile browsing. Chances are, your audience will be watching on a 2×4’’ screen.
  2. Use custom thumbnails. Learn from successful competitors in your niche.
  3. Hook viewers in the first three seconds. That is where most of your value is.
  4. Assume your viewers are not Create content that resonates on mute.
  5. Tailor video to your platform of choice. Understand how different sites have different audiences and a unique tone.

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The Gutenberg Update: What You Should Know About the WordPress Overhaul Coming in 2018

The world’s largest website management system is about to change. How will the Gutenberg update impact the 60 million websites that run on WordPress?

Gutenberg update

WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) on the web. The platform powers over 29% of the top 10 million websites, including heavyweight publishers like The New York Times, Reuters, and The Wall Street Journal.

WordPress is also the CMS of choice for millions of bloggers and small businesses worldwide — including yours truly.

The key to its popularity can be summed up in one word: flexibility. As an open-source platform, WordPress is open to extensive customization.

If you look under the hood of a well-crafted WordPress site, you’ll find an assortment of custom WordPress plugins, themes, and HTML codes. In fact, while WordPress itself is free to use, there’s an entire industry around developing premium WordPress themes and plugins for businesses.

But that’s all about to change in 2018.

Last year, the development team behind WordPress announced Gutenberg, a project in WordPress 5.0 that will transform how we build and manage WordPress sites.

While there’s no release date for Gutenberg yet, it’s time for bloggers and businesses who use WordPress to start thinking about how to adapt to Gutenberg.

What is Gutenberg for WordPress?

Gutenberg is a coming update to the WordPress post and page editing interface that replaces many of the plugins and widgets we use today with elements called Blocks. As of March 2018, the project is still in the beta phase. There is an optional Gutenberg plugin available to any WordPress developers who want to give feedback before the big launch.

Eventually, the Gutenberg editor will replace the editing interface WordPress users have come to know. The WordPress team has yet to say when this will occur, but the plan is to merge Gutenberg into WordPress 5.0 and launch by the end of 2018.

And that’s just phase one. According to the Gutenberg project page, the team also has its sights set on simplifying custom page templates and, ultimately, full WordPress site customization.

About Gutenberg’s Block System

Blocks will enable users to insert rich content like forms, social media posts, and multimedia within the WordPress post editor itself. The system resembles the editing interface on sites like Medium, which uses a similar drag-and-drop system for inserting rich content into posts.

The idea behind Gutenberg blocks is an ambitious one. Blocks are meant to simplify the patchwork of formatting elements used to build custom WordPress posts today, like plugins, widgets, and custom shortcodes.

Say you’re building a site for your business on WordPress. You want to create an ‘About Us’ page with employee bio’s. Rather than searching for a theme with a fitting template, or installing an ‘About Us’ plugin, you could ideally insert an ‘Employee Block’ that automatically embeds a photo, name, and biography.

Or, if you’re a food blogger, you could drag and drop a ‘Recipe Block’ that generates fields for ingredients, instructions, and photos into your posts.

There’s lots of potential in Gutenberg Blocks. But it also raises a big question: what will happen to all the custom WordPress sites out there today?

How Gutenberg Will Effect Your WordPress Site

 “Will Gutenberg break my website?”

That’s what many developers are asking ahead of the coming change. And it’s fair for them to worry. After all, many of the custom elements they rely on are set to become obsolete.

The good news is, Gutenberg will not break the part of your website users see when they visit. The update won’t change the WordPress front-end.  In other words, it should not impact your customers’ experience on your site.

The back-end is a different story. If your site relies on custom meta boxes and plugins, you may encounter issues the next time you edit a post. It will be up to the developers of your chosen plugins to bring their product up-to-speed with the changes, and if they don’t, you will have to find another solution.

One alternative is the Classic Editor plugin, which restores the classic editing interface and enables any WordPress plugins that extend it. The plugin can entirely replace the Gutenberg editor or add alternate “Edit” links that let you open a single post or page in the Classic editor, acting as a failsafe to keep the back-end of your site working as it should Gutenberg update drops.

Preparing for the Gutenberg Update

While the change has some developers wary, others are embracing the opportunity to modernize. The devs behind the incredibly popular Yoast SEO plugin are already talking about how to use Gutenberg to improve the user experience.

We’re still waiting on an official launch date, but there are things you can do in the meantime to prepare for Gutenberg: 

  1. Download the Gutenberg plugin and test it on your site. This is the best way to see how the Gutenberg update will effect your site. The project isn’t ready for production, but it will help you predict whether you will encounter problems when it’s
  2. Review the Gutenberg FAQ and documentation. The official documentation answers many of the common questions people have about the Gutenberg update.
  3. If your site relies on plugins, follow the development process. Popular plugins with a large user base are likely to be brought up to speed by their developers, but smaller ones could go obsolete. Now is a good time to review your plugins and make sure they’re up to speed.

We’re big fans of WordPress over here at TS, so we’re keeping a close eye on Gutenberg as it develops. We’ll be sharing our ongoing insights on this through our newsletter.

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How to Make the Most of Your White Paper Marketing

Type a query into Google and you get millions of different answers. How many are reliable?

A good percentage are perfectly valid, while others are poorly researched or intentionally misleading.

The internet is a vast resource of information, but not all sources are credible. The world of business is no different. Some companies will just tell you what you want to hear, while others have so little grasp of what they do, they may even accidentally deceive you. So, how do you know whether to partner with another firm?

A great way to demonstrate credibility is to position your company as an industry authority.

White papers achieve this by presenting facts on a particular issue in an efficient and persuasive manner. The Content Marketing Institute reports that white papers remain one of the five most important marketing strategies for B2B businesses.

One thing a white paper should never be, however, is an obvious sales pitch. Your mission is to instruct and inform, not sell. That said, white papers can still effectively market a company and its capabilities if you remember the following:

Optimize Your Title

Keyword optimization is a crucial aspect of digital marketing. You need to choose words that will attract your intended audience in the most efficient way possible.

If you were looking for a white paper on this topic, what title would prompt you to download it? Create an eye-catching title that conveys what the paper is about and includes at least one keyword. Limit it to 70 characters as this is all that displays in search results.

Do the Work

A white paper will not fulfil its purpose unless it is well-crafted on all levels. Research the subject thoroughly and back up all claims with credible sources. The document should help readers solve a problem, not make them wonder why they don’t understand your information.

Craft the text with care. Remember that this document is meant primarily to inform, not serve as an advertisement for your services. The lure instead presents itself to the reader through the quality of the work on offer. Be clear and don’t waste words, but avoid being too casual.

Decide on keywords or key phrases and make sure to include them. However, do not stuff the text with these words or you run the risk of search engines penalties that defeat the purpose.

Carefully spellcheck and copy-edit your final draft. All your hard work is lost if you don’t demonstrate such basic care and craft. Include footnotes and a references section for both sources you cite and ones not mentioned by name in the text.

Provide Compelling Visuals

A sea of unbroken text is off-putting for many people and will cause them to stop reading. Visuals help to prevent this, while also reinforcing your main points (charts and graphs are effective in moderation.) For example, a list of statistics is easier to process and remember when presented this way instead of a block of text:

Sales 63%
Marketing 40%
Audience Outreach 7.2%
Financial Growth 54%
Product Management 17%

This makes the document more appealing to read, and makes readers more likely to share it with others.

Relevant images are also good at reinforcing your points. However, be careful when using stock images. Overused or irrelevant images suggest a lack of work on your part. If you can create new, high-resolution pictures, do so.

Should you choose a stock image, remember to buy it and include that version. A big watermark on a temporary image from a provider like iStock demonstrates an embarrassing lack of care.

Finish with a Strong Call to Action

A white paper that is compelling 95% of the way through can still fail from a marketing perspective without a strong finish. Encourage the reader to learn more by contacting you for more information, visiting your website, signing up for your newsletter, or following you on social media.

Create a Proper Landing Page

A white paper is something to be proud of, so don’t tuck the link away in a corner. Create a dedicated page that includes a few brief sentences about its contents, some interesting graphics, and a prominent download button.

Make It Easily Shareable

Don’t promote a white paper on a landing page with a dead download link. Be sure to test the link before making it live.

Choose a resolution that looks good, but does not take a long time to download. High-resolution graphics are great, but most people are only willing to wait so long for a document to become available to them.

Some companies provide a contact form the reader must fill out before the white paper download commences. This is an effective way to get contact information but will cause some to skip the white paper altogether. As mentioned in the Call to Action section above, there are other ways to find out who your customers are and how to contact them.

TrafficSoda is here to help with your White Paper Strategy

5 Steps to Getting a Journalist’s Attention

 

Media relations refers to the relationship a brand develops with journalists or influencers. Although the media landscape continues to shift, media relations remains an important aspect of any public relations strategy. Traditionally, media outlets consisted of TV, radio, and print, but now, media has expanded to include more digital channels.

Digital media channels

When executed properly, media relations can influence every aspect of your digital marketing strategy. It plays a complementary role to content marketing efforts, helping to increase brand awareness and educate the public. Media relations can also have a significant effect on your SEO strategy, driving traffic to your website and maintaining authority. Finally, third-party articles make for perfect social media content and help to amplify your messaging.

Let’s be honest, getting media coverage is hard – but necessary. So, we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks that can help you garner more attention.

What’s Your Angle?

You only have a matter of seconds to grab a journalist’s attention before you’re ignored, spammed, or deleted. Off the top, it’s important to highlight what’s newsworthy or unique about your story.

Do your research to identify and present the right media angle for each outlet. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to prepare several angles – if your first approach doesn’t resonate, try a different story angle.

E-mail, Call Only If You Must

Trust us, there’s a reason why the ‘Contact Us’ page is so hard to find on a media site. Journalists and influencers would much rather be contacted by e-mail. So, unless you’ve been invited to have a phone conversation, call only if you must.

Short & To the Point

Keep it simple. The optimal length of a pitch is anywhere from 100-150 words, or three short paragraphs. You don’t want to give away too much information at once — pique their interest and have them come back for more.

Personalize Your Pitch

Do your research. Target journalists who have covered similar stories and ensure that their beat hasn’t changed. Familiarize yourself with their news coverage, follow them on social media and align your story with their interests. Use your findings to give your pitch a personal note, which shows you’ve taken the time to get to know them as a person.

At the end of the day, a significant part of public relations is creating and maintaining relationships that add value to all involved.

Follow-Up

There’s a fine line between being politely persistent and pushy. We like to wait about a week before we reach back out to the media following a pitch. Your follow-up is a good opportunity to provide a bit more information and attach a press release.

 

Let Traffic Soda Help Your Company Get The Press’s Attention!