Two of the most prolific questions we get asked is, how can I find my web page in Google, and why is my web page not appearing in Google?

Effectively what people are asking is how can I take advantage of SEO and how can I optimise my website for search?

There’s a whole bunch of stuff I want to cover in this video today that dispels some of the thinking that goes on with businesses. They think they can put keywords on their home page and on their services page and they expect to appear in Google for their business name and location, but I’ll tell you right now, that is not the way that we teach SEO in the Content Marketing Academy.

It’s all about creating useful, helpful and valuable content that answers your customers’ questions and solves their problems, and there are a few reasons why that is really important.

The first thing we need to do is get to grips with how Google works. Google is a search engine, and until search engines don’t exist anymore, SEO or search engine optimisation is going to be really, really important, but I want to talk about SEO in the content of content marketing. This is the same thing, effectively!

First thing is, how does Google work, and what is its job? It’s Google’s job to return to you the most accurate result based on the search term you put into the little box on the home page. That’s what its job is, and it’s getting better and better at doing that all the time. It’s really good at understanding what is the most helpful, valuable and accurate information to return to you in that first page on the search results.

What you need to think about is what your search habits are like.

If you search for something and the result you would prefer doesn’t come up on the first three or four results, you’re going to go up into the search bar and change your search term. I also need to point out that when you’re typing your search term into the box, Google starts to predict what you’re going to say, and the reason it knows that is because it’s based on what other people are searching for, and it knows what the most common searches are. With your business hat on, think to yourself how you could take advantage of that resource. If you want to know what people are typing into Google, type into Google and see what comes up.

With your content marketing hat on, you need to think to yourself, well, if Google’s job is to return the most accurate result based on the search term that you put into the box, I need to figure out what my potential customers are typing into Google.

The first thing you need to realise is that they’re not going to search for your brand name, because they don’t know who you are, so you need to create content that’s not associated with your brand. It’s Google’s job to answer questions and solve problems, so what you need to do on your website is create content in the form of blog articles or videos or some sort of rich source of content that answers questions and solves problems. This shouldn’t include your brand name, because otherwise it’s not going to work!

They’re looking for things like, what is, or where can I find, or how can I fix. Look at the questions and figure out the questions that people are asking you. Look at your enquiries, listen to your sales calls, listen to your prospective customers, listen to your customers, listen to the questions they have, listen to the problems they’ve got and start creating content on your website that will be found in search.

That’s how you get your website onto the first page of Google, you don’t do it by keyword stuffing, you don’t do it by putting paragraphs of text on your home page, you do it by creating useful, valuable and helpful content for your prospective customers that they will find in Google.

The number one reason that most people don’t value organic search traffic is because they’ve never had value from organic search traffic. Organic search traffic is just simply when someone clicks on a link in Google after they’ve searched for something, that’s organic search. It’s free, it’s completely relevant and it’s sticky, so what our job as business people is, is to answer questions, solve problems, make sure we do all of that on our website in something like blog articles or videos or something like that.

This is me answering questions right now on a video!

Get that onto your website and make sure people can find it in Google, and that’s SEO, that’s content marketing, and that’s how you do that. You do it consistently over a longer period of time, and I can guarantee you that it’ll work for your business.

I hope that’s been helpful for you. If you’ve got any questions, tweet me @chrismarr101 or email me, chris@cmauk.co.uk.

Don’t forget to be awesome.

Chris.


I’ve got a fantastic question for you today. This was asked yesterday by Ali, and he basically said, Chris, how do you structure your blog articles?

In general I try to keep it quite logical, but there are two things to consider. You have to create blog articles that only people will be able to love and read easily, but you also have to create blog articles that Google will love and search for as well.

How do you create an article that people will like to read?

Ali, I think you mentioned that you were worried a little bit about the length of your articles and that the ones you were writing were quite short, so we’re going to cover that particular question, what length your articles should be, and how to create a good, longer form article in a separate question.

So we’ll talk about writing the articles for people first. It’s not just structure for people, but things like the size of the font, the colour of the background, trying to keep it quite easy to read from a design perspective. You want to have a white background and black font, and make sure that your headings, subheadings, bullet and numbered lists are quite clear and the font’s quite spaced out.

Just simple stuff like a 12 point font on a website looks really small and difficult to read, so make it really easy to read.

More specifically you want to have a nice headline and an image that brings the article to life, but you’ve got to think mobile as well, so big headlines, big subheads, and for someone who’s skim reading an article, subheads and bullet lists will be more important than anything else. If I think an article is going to be of value based on this, I’ll dig deep and I’ll read the whole thing, but the first thing I do is skim.

So you have to write an article for skim readers as well as those who want to read in depth.

One of the things I learned is to talk to people like they’re six years old, so keep it simple, short paragraphs and sentences, simple words, lots of subheads, lists, and generally just making it really short, snappy and easy to read. I think that’s how I would structure an article for people to try and break it down and make it easy to consume.

Have a nice opening paragraph that explains what it is and kind of sets it up, so if it’s a question you’re answering, start off by saying something like, one of the most popular questions we get asked is how to structure a blog article. Then go on to explain what the problem is. A lot of people ask it if it’s a valid question to be asked, and maybe highlight some of the problems with it as well, like a lot of people feel like they can’t write or they don’t know what to do, and just recognise this by putting a little bit empathy in there too.

Maybe the article has ten tips you need to do to structure an effective blog article, so that would be the body of it, the ten tips, and they would all be subheads with explanations in short paragraphs. Someone skimming it could then see the ten things that they need to consider when writing a blog article.

Finish off with some concluding remarks to set them off with some motivation or inspiration, and then at the bottom of your article you can do something like a call to action. We always use ‘your turn’ in our articles where we feel it’s appropriate, and we’ll ask maybe three questions.

  1. What challenges do you have currently with writing blog articles?
  2. What else would you add to this list to help other people structure their blog articles?

Let us know by joining the conversation in the comments section below.

We’re not trying to sell, we’re trying to help and educate, and that’s how we would structure an article for people, but you also have to consider how Google will know that this article is what it’s all about, so think about the main factors Google would take into consideration as well.

Google will look at the URL, the headline, the opening paragraphs and the subheadings, so put extra weight on all of those. If it’s a new article you’re publishing, try and make sure that the keyword and keyword phrases are in all of those areas and you’re peppering that throughout your article.

If you want people to love your article I would say first of all, write for people, then you have to think about search and how Google will know what that article’s all about.

  • Think people, think search and how you can tick both of those boxes.
  • Think about the skim readers.
  • Think about keeping it simple, well-structured and logical.
  • Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them what you told them.
  • Use subheadings, short paragraphs and short sentences, bullet lists, big font, keep it nice and clean and simple.

That’s it, it’s not complicated. It’s also about being conscious of what’s good for you when you’re reading articles online as well. Think about when you’re reading blog articles and be conscious about the sort of experience you’re having online as well, and I think that’ll help you a lot.

If you’ve got any questions, please drop into the comments section wherever this video happens to be, and I’ll pop a few articles into the description section which will help you with structuring your blog articles for search engines, and also to structure your articles to make sure people love them too.

Please tweet any questions to me @chrismarr101 or email me, chris@cmauk.co.uk.

Don’t forget to be awesome.

Chris.


I’ve got two questions for today’s video and they’re both linked to each other.

The first question is, how long should a blog article be? There are a few key things I want to cover in that, and the second question which is linked is, my articles seem to be quite short…how can I make them longer? Underpinning that is how can I make them longer with them being needlessly longer?

How long should a blog article be?

In general, I would say as short as it needs to be. One of the things we have to appreciate when we’re writing blogs is our readers’ time. We want a bit of brevity there, you don’t want to be filling it up with filler content to make it as long as possible, but you also have to consider Google as well. Google suggests that something like 300 words on a page is considered to be a decent piece of content.

At a very basic level, let’s keep it as short as it needs to be for our readers, but also let’s make sure it’s more than 300 words for Google.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that we have to figure out how long is too long and all the rest of it. Look at stories from Neil Patel, who’s written 5000 plus word articles and resources, and what we know to be true is that longer form content tends to outperform the shorter form content. I think the sweet spot is somewhere between 1000 and 1200 words, something like that, and the articles we write are somewhere between 800 and 12 or 1400 words.

I think again we want to make sure that the brevity is there, that we’re not wasting people’s time by just filling it with as much as content as possible, so a really good blog is usually focused on one topic or one question or one problem, and then that makes sure it can be contained at least in some capacity.

I guess there’s all of that, and trying to think to ourselves, well, how do we create a longer form piece of content?

I think one of the biggest mistakes people make – for example they’re taking a question they’ve been asked before and they want to answer it in their blogs – they simply just answer that question without really explaining how that problem might crop up, and I think from one question you can create quite a nice piece of content for your blog article.

It’s about not just scratching the surface, but actually digging a little bit deeper, so you can take what on the surface might seem like quite a short piece of content, and make it much longer by doing into more depth.

That’s what we try to do, to try to keep our content quite long, but not any longer than it needs to be, so I’m going to give you an example. We published an article for one of our clients about how to choose a removals company. I think you could potentially keep that quite short and just say something like, if you’re planning on moving, these are the things you need to look out for, include a bullet list and maybe a small conclusion, keeping it quite short.

What we did was we said, here are eight questions that you need to ask yourself when hiring a removals company, and there’s quite a nice opening section in there, just to explain why you should ask these questions, then we go to list each of the questions, but also taking the time to explain why you would want to ask this question.

You could take quite a short answer, but actually go really deep into it and make it a valuable, useful and helpful piece of content. That comes back to my first point, how long should a blog article be; it needs to be long enough to be helpful and valuable and useful to people. A 300 word article I can’t imagine being hugely helpful in general, although I’m sure there are really short pieces of content out there that are massively helpful, but my point is this. Google are going to reward you for a really useful, valuable piece of content, and it’ll perform better over time.

I think that if it’s a thousand words, if it’s 1200 words and it’s a really useful piece of content that people are going to read, bookmark, share, get utility from, then Google’s going to be far more likely to reward you for that piece of content.

I’ve talked before about getting a piece of content that people and the search engines love as well, and it’s about getting that balance without annoying your readers and filling it up with content.

Another piece of information that’s worthwhile sharing as well is that there’s no point putting the answer to a question right at the bottom of an article to force people to read it. I think it needs to be written in a way that really adds value to the reader, I think that is the number one goal, isn’t it?

I hope that helps you. In summary I guess it really is about finding that sweet spot in the length, that it’s not too long, not too short, it ticks the boxes, it’s useful and helpful and a valuable piece of content for your readers.

Please tweet any questions to me @chrismar101 or email me, chris@cmauk.co.uk.

Don’t forget to be awesome.

Chris.


Related content

Today I’ve got a question from Irene. Irene has been through our content marketing crash course which consists of ten daily emails on content marketing. If you’re interested in that course, then check it out at www.contentcrashcourse.co.uk.

Irene says there’s a number of things she’s still having to get her head around, but a lot of the questions that need answered will be answered by taking action like starting a blog or at least starting to publish some stuff. Irene says it’s still really early days for her and she has extremely limited time on her hands, but aims to do one post each week and has started doing that on LinkedIn.

One thing she’s uncertain about is the etiquette of sharing other people’s content in her posts. She put a post on which she reproduced from an online article and included the source, but does the content have to be original or can it be adaptations of things she has read?

So this part of the question is about content curation. Over time we’ve done a lot of this, and it’s a really good question because there are ways to do this. For example, say you have read three or four different articles about a specific topic that’s happening in your industry, you could take those three or four articles and create an excerpt from each one, putting a link to those articles and following up with your opinion on them. You could take a blog article that someone else has written or a video that someone else has produced, and you could create your own summary around that.

The one thing I wouldn’t do is copy and paste someone else’s content, I would try and create my own summary from it. I also probably wouldn’t transcribe someone else’s video, I would watch it instead. One of the things we’ve done before in the past is if it’s a long video, we’ve taken it and said, these are the six things we learned from this video, or, we’ve expressed an opinion based on that content, or, we’ve said this is the reason why you need to watch this video.

Another curation idea is we took ten blog articles from someone else’s blog and wrote a little summary about each one and why they were the best, and linked to each one as well.

That’s all curation, so in other words, we’re not the original creators of the content, but we’re taking that content and we’re creating a new, unique piece of content from content that someone else has created.

The best analogy I can give you is to imagine the room we’re in right now is a museum. In order to get people to come and visit our museum and to sell tickets at the door, we need to put someone else’s art on our walls. We didn’t create the art and the sculptures aren’t ours, but people are paying money to see someone else’s content.

The idea is that you are a museum curator and you curate the content that you think is appropriate for your audience before putting it in your place and making it unique. Content curation is creating a unique piece of content from content that has already been created by someone else.

The etiquette is that you don’t rip them off and you don’t steal it, but you actually signpost your audience to it through your own content and create something unique from it. A lot of people think that content curation is a way to cheat the game, a way to create content quickly, but it’s actually not. It’s about the same amount of time that it takes to curate and in fact it sometimes can take longer to curate content than to create a unique single piece of content.

I think content curation is a great idea. I think it’s good to have other people’s opinions in your content and show that you’re an expert by curating the best content from around in your industry.

Irene asks, this is probably a really daft question, but when people like your post, do you content them to connect on LinkedIn or acknowledge in any way other than respond to people who make a comment?

I probably wouldn’t be contacting people directly that like it, but I might leave a comment in there that tags them in a group or something like that and say, thanks very much for reading and liking this article, I really appreciate it. I wouldn’t go and contact them individually, but if someone makes a comment, then yes, absolutely reply to their comment and acknowledge them, you’ve done the right thing there.

She also asks about giving out free ebooks, as she’s not sure how she’d use this herself. I think the free ebook stuff is a really good idea if you want to build your email list on your website. Generally speaking, Irene, across all of the things you’re saying here, you really need to develop your own website platform if you want to go ahead and do this.

That’s where the power is, that’s where the magic is, build your list, build your audience and build your content hub. I would recommend 100 per cent looking towards having all your content on your own website.

I hope that helps, and if you’ve got any questions, email me at chris@cmauk.co.uk and if you’ve got any comments, tweet me @chrismarr101.

Don’t forget to be awesome.

Chris.


I’ve got another question for you today which is all about how to find your content in Google.

Linda asked a question recently after a video I did about headline writing and structuring blog articles, and what Linda said is, when you are typing possible headlines into Google, should you go for the title that shows fewer results – i.e.  less competitive keyword search, but still in the millions – or one with the most results because more people are searching for that?

Basically what’s she’s saying is that when she was doing some research to find out which titles are working in Google and what people would typically be searching for, what are the best titles to go for?

I guess there are a lot of different answers, so let’s start from the top.

For example, if I was doing this exercise and I typed the title I was thinking about using into Google to see what else would appear for that, and it seemed like it was quite competitive, I could look at those and do a couple of different things.

I could say, it’s been over served, there’s enough content there, I don’t need to write about that.

Or I could dig a bit deeper and what I might find is there are lots of articles there, but they’re really bad. We’ve done this before as well where we’ve looked at them and thought, we could actually write a better article, a much more helpful article, a much more useful article or a much more resourceful piece of content.

What we’ve done is we’ve tried to write the better piece of content with the intention that over time, our piece will be found above the rest in Google.

One thing is seeing what competition is there. Obviously you’re savvy in thinking that perhaps maybe if there’s a lot of content there, then it’s meeting demand, as in people are searching for this and people want to know about this. So there are more gaps to be found in that space.

The alternative is if you type your title or a version of your title you’re looking to rank for into Google and a really great piece of content comes up and it’s a very, very well resourced area, then maybe you shouldn’t write that piece of content. If there’s a best of breed type content there, like a piece of content that’s totally unscaleable, that someone has produced that would be the ultimate resource and it’s number one, it’s coming up in Google search for a lot of different keywords in that space, then maybe you don’t want to write that piece of content or do that to that level.

However, there’s the argument that perhaps some of the content you’re creating has to come from you, even if it’s coming from other sources. It depends how you’re using your content; if you’re using your content as part of your sales process, so you’re answering top level questions or really specific questions about the product or service that you provide and it has been served other places and you can get that resource online. If you’re using it in your emails or you’re using it as part of your content to nurture leads or get leads, then perhaps you have to write it anyway.

There’s an argument that even though it has been served or even though there’s content there that does the same purpose or serves the same purpose, that maybe you need to write it anyway.

It’s not just search that you should be concerned about with your articles, although it’s very important!

The next aspect of this whole thing is if you’re looking to niche and you can get very specific about the content you’re writing, so instead of writing at a general level, get very specific and look at the gaps in the marketplace there that’s underserved content. If it was graphic design or branding that you’re looking at, instead of writing articles in general about branding, go into specific elements of branding that are typically underserved and get really specific, go really deep.

The other thing you could do is niche by geography, so the company that you’re writing articles for could be for one county or one town or one area and that’s where you’re getting most of your business from. Instead of trying to compete on a global level, you could actually just be competing for audience in a locality. You could niche down and own a geographical area, and that’s another aspect of it as well, so you can serve a specific audience in a specific geography.

The question being, which article headline should you go for if you’re finding that one headline or one keyword phrase is bringing up little results and one is bringing up a lot of results already, it’s not as straightforward as just that. I think there are reasons for writing content even if there is a lot of competition, and I think there are reasons for writing content if there’s no competition.

I also think there are reasons for not writing that piece of content if there’s no competition either. It might be that that’s just not something that people are looking for, or it might be that your search term is incorrect as well. Either way, it’s worth doing that little bit of research when you’re using your titles to write down your titles, maybe a dozen titles, try and see which one’s best and try and hit the best you can with what you’ve got, knowing what you know at the time.

I hope that helps, it’s a great question and it’s just worth finding the gaps. I think there’s a higher level challenge there, and that’s just identifying key gaps where you can serve an audience or create content that fits into the marketplace where you could maybe stand out. I think that’s probably what you’re asking; if I’m going to write content, how do I know I’m writing content that’s going to work and how do I know that it’s going to be found?

It is about finding these gaps, so niching down into specific areas or being a specialist, or thinking geography or thinking about what areas are underserved at the moment, and where best of breed content doesn’t exist. Those are places where you could potentially excel, differentiate, make a big difference and drive new traffic to your content and your website and get new leads.

I hope that helps you.

Don’t forget to be awesome.

Chris.