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STRYDE | Driving Quality Leads From Your Blog Content

Driving Quality Leads From Your Blog Content

By | Blogging | No Comments

As a content marketer, one of your main focuses when creating content needs to be on lead generation. When deciding what the goals of your content marketing strategy are, lead generation should be toward the top of your list. Your blog content should be generating quality leads into your marketing funnel, as well as building trust with your customers, increasing brand awareness and driving engagement to your site.

Content should be the foundation of your lead generation efforts. Content is what fuels all your marketing campaigns, from email to social and everything in between. But according to a recent IDG study, 61% of marketers claimed generating leads was a problem for their company. A big reason behind this is that companies generate leads, but they’re generating leads that aren’t ready to purchase and they end up losing those leads. To prevent your leads from being lost, you must invest in lead nurturing and other middle of the funnel methods to help build strong relationships and trust.

But first, you must grab and keep the attention of potential leads at the top of the marketing funnel with your blog content. Companies that blog produce about 67% more leads per month than companies that don’t. Capturing a reader’s attention during the awareness stage provides you with a great opportunity to turn this reader into a quality lead who you can better engage with later on.

Below are ways you can effectively drive quality leads from your blog content.

Select Your Content Topics

Confused about what blog topics you should write about? Don’t make it so hard. Write about topics your customers are interested in! It’s as simple as that. To better know what topics to cover:

  • Ask you customers what they want to know.
  • Check your web analytics to see what past topics have been successful.
  • Keep up to date with your industry’s news so you know what and when things are happening.
  • Follow other industry experts on social media to learn what they’re writing about.

When it boils down to it, write useful, informative and unique content. This type of content allows you to build credibility and trust with your customers over time.

To stay organized and on track with your blog’s mission, have a handful of categories you write about so your blog content stays structured within your blog and so your reads know what topics you typically cover. When your readers know what content they can expect from you, it helps you get more interaction between them and your content, which also means they learn more about your business.

Connect Your Prime Content With Your Blog Content

Your blog posts are uploaded as a method of engagement for those at the top of the marketing funnel, as well as a way to reengage your current audience. For the most part, these readers are in the awareness stage, which means your content needs to secure them as a business lead so you then can start building a richer, more meaningful relationship with them through your other various channels.

The way to do that is adding a call-to-action (CTA) somewhere in your post that encourages readers to view a more prime piece of content you’ve created, i.e. whitepaper, infographic, video, etc. But before a reader can view this content, have them provide their name and email address — which you collect and save — so you are able to reach out to them in the near future.

Construct An Email List Using Forms And Pop-Ups

Prime content is a great way to produce email subscribers, as well as one of the lead generation forms of your business. To continue to grow and get more people on your email subscriber list, include an email form on your site that’s easy for visitors to find and quick and easy for them to fill out. There are two simple things this form can ask visitors to do:

  • Fill out their basic information, i.e. name and email address.
  • Ask them to subscribe by RSS.

When determining where to place this form on your site, you not only want to make it easy to find, but you also want to make sure it doesn’t seem out of place or disrupt the flow of content on your site.

You may think we’re crazy for saying to use pop-ups since most readers, probably including yourself, find pop-ups quite annoying. But when pop-ups are used correctly, they can work very much in your favor and lead to sign ups.

The first thing to remember is not being aggressive with your pop-ups. Program them so they appear in a noninvasive way when a visitor is about to leave your site or a certain page on your site, depending on how long they’ve been active. You must also remember that the point of a pop-up isn’t to disrupt what a site visitor is doing just to attain their attention. Think about it. When you’re browsing a site or reading a blog post and out of nowhere a giant, flashing pop-up appears, basically yelling in your face, you have zero desire to read it. You immediately close the pop-up and/or leave the site.

So when you use pop-ups on your site, provide a compelling offer to obtain a visitor’s email address, encourage them to view or download another helpful resource of yours or simply remind them just how valuable and informative your blog always is. And don’t be annoying about it.

Nurture Your Leads Through Strategic Email Drip Campaigns

Email is a quick and direct way to reach customers. There were 3.9 billion email accounts worldwide in 2013, a number expected to rise to 4.9 billion by 2017, and approximately 182.9 billion emails were sent and receive each day throughout the world during that same year. But emails aren’t just a way for you to talk to leads. They’re your way to nurture them and give them a reason and opportunity to respond. And nurtured leads are the kind of leads you want. When compared to non-nurtured leads, nurtured leads make roughly 47% larger purchases and produce about a 20% increase in sales opportunities.

Ever heard of the “batch and blast” campaigns? Well, don’t use those if you have! No one wants to be blasted. Today’s consumers want to receive personalized and relevant communications from businesses.

In order for you to provide that kind of communication through your email drip campaigns, you need to know:

  • How to talk to your customers as individuals, not as a group.
  • How to tailor each email to the customers you’re sending them to.
  • How to make your emails conversational, not sales pitchy.
  • How to make each email engaging, relevant and informational.
  • What’s going to make readers trust you through these emails.
  • How to coordinate them with your other channels.

Emails in this campaign should be geared toward answering your leads’ questions and fulfilling their needs through informative content that educates and entices them and moves them closer to spending their money with your business. Don’t forget to include CTAs and links in your emails that send your leads to your blog, pages on your site, etc., to get them interacting more with your brand.

Drive Quality Leads From Previous Posts

As you’re writing a blog post, include links to other relevant posts that have been published on your company’s blog. Readers know to click on links within a post they’re reading to receive more information about a certain topic, additional resources, industry news relating to the topic, etc. Adding additional links also makes readers see you as more of an expert who’s really done his or her research with this topic.

Relevant links to other posts on your site get visitors reading and interacting more with your blog and other site pages, which means they spend more time on your site. When you encourage more interaction within your site, your amount of leads from your blog increases, or at least it will if you have amazing, useful content.

Include A Free Sample Or Trial Of Your Product

If you can, incorporate a CTA that offers your readers a sample of your product or even a free trial of it. One, people love free stuff, and two, being able to review your product for free instead of having to review more and more content gets a reader moving more swiftly through the sales funnel.

Be sure to choose whichever option works bests with your business and what you’re selling or offering. These options can sometimes get a tad expensive for businesses, but if you can afford it, do it. It’s a good way to drive leads straight from your blog content.

Implement Social Media

Last but certainly not least, use social media. Several, if not all, consumers research various channels online, including most often social media, to find educational resources that help them make purchasing decisions.

What does this mean for you? It means you need to share your blog content on social media platforms to generate more leads. You want and need to be where you customers and prospects are, creating trust, informing them and providing useful content, all of which can be done when you’re on and continuously involved with social media.

A great social media site for B2B companies is LinkedIn. LinkedIn generates more leads for companies than Facebook and Twitter, but only about 47% of B2B marketers actively use this platform. So to stay on top of the game and drive the amount of leads you want, get and stay actively involved with the major social media sites.

In closing, follow these do’s of effective lead generation to drive the quality leads you desire:

  • DO develop content for the different stages of the buying process.
  • DO use a blog and create great, unique content that provides the information your leads are looking for.
  • DO take advantage of direct marketing, i.e. email drip campaigns.

Storytelling & Content Marketing

By | Blogging, Content Marketing | No Comments

Last week at a marketing event, one of the presenters showed a BMW commercial and a line from that commercial really stuck out to me. It was something I already knew, but for some reason the reminder really hit me and has stayed with me. That line, paraphrased a little bit by me, said, “What you make consumers feel is even more important than what you actually make.”

stryde

This line rings true with storytelling.

Storytelling is an essential part of content marketing. Its main focus isn’t on the language you use, but on how you craft and tell your stories to your audience in a compelling way. So storytelling isn’t so much what you say, it’s how you say it.

Determining how you craft and tell your stories depends on your target audience. Your story must align with your customers. You need to know their needs, what they’d want to hear and share with others and what their emotional triggers are. If you craft your stories around the personalities of your target audiences, you’re thinking strategically about your storytelling and therefore are in sync with your customers. When you’re in sync with your customers, you’re able to make an emotional connection through your story that also allows them to connect with your brand. You make them feel something, and that emotional feeling is what causes them to change their views on a particular topic or change their behavior and makes them want to talk about and share your story with their family, friends and coworkers.

What makes a good story?

Word count isn’t what makes a good story. Just because a piece of written content is 1,000+ words doesn’t mean it’s a good story or that it even tells a story at all. Facts and features are two other things that don’t make a good story. While sometimes those things need to be told to let your audience know about your product, they don’t provide an emotional connection. Like Bryan Eisenberg has said, “Facts tell, but stories sell.”

stryde1

Good stories take consumers on an enjoyable narrative journey. They have a beginning, middle and end, while subtly revealing your brand’s message somewhere along the way, creating a more powerful, memorable and shareable piece of content. They have relatable characters, a setting, a structured storyline and inspiration from a personal experience of yours or someone you know to help make the story more applicable and personable to your readers.

Good stories also need to have accompanying images and/or videos to help show rather than just tell your story. Images and videos are needed allies with written stories simply because they’re moving and help create and reinforce that emotional connection with your target audience.

And lastly, your stories need to identify and answer the Five W’s: who, what, where, when and why. The why is especially important. Your story needs to show why you’re telling the story and why your audience needs to care.

When it comes to good storytelling, here are some things your story can and should be:

  • Entertaining
  • Creative
  • Genuine
  • Engaging
  • Valuable
  • Relatable
  • Inspiring
  • Informational
  • Authentic
  • Funny
  • Consistent with your brand and others stories you tell
  • Paced correctly so your target audience doesn’t lose interest or get overwhelmed

In order to be successful, your content marketing efforts need good storytelling. Good storytelling is the content marketing tool that entertains consumers while solving their problems, encourages consumers to use their critical thinking skills and sparks discussions amongst consumers online and offline.

STRYDE | How To Structure Writing To Evoke Emotion 3

How To Structure Writing To Evoke Emotion

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We recently caught the redecorating bug around the Stryde office. Bare white walls are now covered with scores of decals. Including our mission statement and a collection of our favorite quotes. Inspiration should be all around you, right?

One of my favorite quotes we’ve stuck on the wall is this:

“Good stories and storytelling last forever.”

So, I got to thinking about storytelling as I was munching on my Friday morning donut. A search for “storytelling 101” on Google turns up a whole host of content marketing blog posts about the topic. But, not in the sense I was expecting. All of the articles surrounded basically the same theme: evoke emotions, make people feel something.

I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. The greatest stories ever told have stood the test of time because they conjure real emotions.

Photo via Giphy

Photo via Giphy

Kinda easier said than done. Evoking an emotion is tough, no matter what that emotion may be. But, a simple revisit to English class will shed some light on how you can achieve just that. And hopefully give you some insights on how you can take the tried-and-true writing methods and apply them to your next blog post.

The Common Thread

99.9% of the books you read, movies, and TV shows you watch follow the essentially same basic format. This will most likely look familiar to you, depending on your recollection of your Junior High English class. It’s the good old Plot Diagram.

plotstructure

While there are mild deviations to this structure, you’ll find that most stories have this basic format.

The 7 Pieces of the Plot Diagram

First, we’ll go into the explanations of each of the 7 main points of a plot structure. Then, we’ll explore how we can apply these concepts to evoke feelings from our own blog posts.

  1. Exposition – The exposition is also called the introduction of the story. Here’s where author introduces the characters, setting, and lets the reader know of the main problem looming in the distance.
  2. Point of Conflict – Dun, dun, DUUUNNN. The point of conflict is where the story says, “Fasten your seat belts! We’re in for a bumpy ride!”
  3. Rising Action – The suspense builds and the problem only seems to escalate. The author may give the reader brief reliefs in action, only to lift them back up again with more suspense.
  4. Emotional Climax – AKA what you’ve been waiting for! Typically, this is the most exciting part of a story.
  5. Falling Action – This part of the story can be swift or drawn out, and it’s meant to ease the reader off of the extreme emotional high they just experienced from the climax.
  6. Dénouement– I jump at any chance to use fancy French words. Essentially, the Dénouement is the “Technical Climax” of the story. It’s where the logistics are hashed out in a way that isn’t clouded by raw emotion.
  7. Resolution – That’s all folks! Here’s where all of the loose ends that remain are tied up into a neat little story bow by the author.

Plot Diagrams and Blog Post Structure

“Awesome, Emily, I can use this to write a novel. We’re here to talk about blogs.” Hold your horses there, bub! You can apply each of these aspects to your next blog post. Here’s how:

  1. Exposition – Instead of introducing characters and setting, you’ll be introducing the topic at hand. Whether that’s about Google’s new algorithm or the latest Facebook user experiment, draw your readers in with clearly describing the facets of what you are going to discuss.
  2. Point of Conflict – Here’s where you’ll tell your reader exactly why they’re taking the time to read your piece. Why should they read on? What’s in it for them? Express that clearly, and succinctly, at this point.
  3. Rising Action – Everything you decide to include in the rising action section should directly support what you told your readers in the point of conflict. Showcase your numbers, raw data, and evidence here, and it will function as the “body” of your post.
  4. Emotional Climax – You should carefully craft this as the “Ah-ha!” moment for your readers. Create a point in your post where everything comes together for the reader, make that light bulb turn on in their head.
  5. Falling Action – As with the falling action portion for the original plot diagram, use this time to ease your reader off of the “Ah-ha!” moment. Reinforce why your point makes sense and prepare the reader for the wrap-up.
  6. Dénouement – The dénouement is the real kicker in evoking emotions through your blog post. You’ve just lead the reader on quite the journey, and they’ve even learned something! Now, you drive the point home again with an angle they hadn’t previously thought of or a statement to make them delve deeper on their own about the topic at hand. Be controversial. Be memorable.
  7. Resolution – Again, just as with the original plot diagram, wrap up your riveting blog post in a pretty little bow for your readers. Remind them what they learned and how it can help them.

Bringing It All Together

Hopefully, now you won’t look at the prospect of evoking emotions as such an insurmountable task. If you can remember to apply the basics of writing, your blog posts will be much more successful in achieving your goals.

Take your readers on a journey. A journey that makes them laugh, cry, angry, uncomfortable, or even pensive. I find another great general tip to ensure your writing has feeling is to actively and purposefully feel how you want the reader to feel as you’re writing. While that may seem strange at first, your inner emotions can’t help but be expressed through the words you put onto a page. If you’re creating a post about how much you love a new Pinterest feature, FEEL that love as you write!

My one caveat to my aforementioned statement is similar to what the great Ernest Hemingway once said, “Write drunk, edit sober.” But, in this case, “Write with feeling, edit without.” Always make sure you’re proofreading and editing without the cloud of emotions. You’ll avoid many careless mistakes this way!

How are you telling stories? Share your methods in the comments!

Photo via Giphy

Photo via Giphy

8 Tips To Help You Write A Dang Good Headline

By | Blogging, Content Marketing | No Comments

In case you’ve heard otherwise, let me set the record straight for you. The most important part of your content piece isn’t the body of text you spend hours on but your headline. Yes, the part you spend the lesser amount of time on that’s average length is about 5-10 words long.

Why are headlines so crucial in content writing? Because it’s the first, and sometimes the only, thing someone reads. It’s also the first impression you make with your prospective readers. So without a catchy title that screams, “HEY! Look at how interesting and useful I am!” and compels an easily-distracted-by-the-million-options-online browser to click-through and become a reader, the fact that you wrote an amazing and informative blog post doesn’t even matter.

On average, around 80 percent actually read your headline, and then it drops drastically to about 20 percent who go on to read the rest. Depressed or annoyed by this statistic? Maybe a little of both? Because it sure made me as a writer sad and peeved when I first heard that. But it also made me realize that we as content marketers need to understand the utter importance of headlines and that we should spend more time writing the most-attention grabbing ones we can!

The purpose of a compelling piece is to get the next sentence read, and then the next, and the next, and so on until your readers make it all the way to the end where your call to action is. But it all starts with the headline, and if yours isn’t extraordinary, expect only 20 percent or maybe less to actually read through your entire piece.

Not good enough for you? Perfect. Me either. Here are 8 ways to ensure your content piece gets read from the headline all the way down to the call to action!

1. Use a working title. Before you begin writing you first need a topic. But you need more than a general topic because that topic could pan out a hundred different ways and you could go off on just as many tangents in one post. If you have a topic and then create a working title, like “content marketing” (topic) and “Tools Needed For Content Marketing Success” (working title), you get something specific that helps guide you in your creation of one blog post free of several off-topic tangents.

2. Write a classic how-to. How-to posts will always be around. Want to know why? Because people will always want solutions to their problems. Every single day people go online to search for how to tie a tie, how to fix this, how to build that, etc. It’s human nature to like learning new things or learning how to better do things we already know how to do, and that’s not going to change any time soon.

How-tos from eHow

Screenshot taken from eHow.com

3. Ask a simple question. A great way to get a reader interested as soon as they see your headline is with a question. Questions get the wheels turning in people’s heads while also appealing to their emotions. When they’re curious and start feeling emotionally attached, they have to know the answer to the question asked. And the only way to get the answer from your headline is to read your post.

4. Think numbers. Numbers catch reader’s eyes (it helped me get you reading my post). And I’ve learned the odder the number the better. When people see a number, they know a list is coming and know exactly what they’re getting from your post. Lists are good. Most people can’t get enough of list posts.

Number headlines from Buzzfeed

Screenshot taken from Buzzfeed

5. Mix in keywords with power words. Using keywords in your headline is very helpful in getting your post ranked higher on Google, which every content marketer would like. So write for your readers, but still keep Google in mind. Also, mix in a power word or a couple. Writers were put on this earth to pass along information to others and then get them to feel a strong emotion about said information. And there’s no better way to move them than with power words, i.e. caution, fooled and hazardous.

6. Don’t shy away from controversy. Some people steer clear of any type of controversy, but writers should embrace it. Controversial blog posts always provoke discussion and debate in your comments section or maybe even on one of your social network sites. Comments, whether negative or positive, are engagement with you, your post and your site, which you should welcome and be grateful for. So don’t be afraid to throw a bold, controversial statement in your headline because readers will click to read more and to share their two cents with you and other readers on the topic.

Controversial headline

Screenshot taken from nytimes.com

7. Convey usefulness and urgency. A useful headline conveys a benefit to the reader and gives them a reason to read your blog post. If they don’t see the benefit they’ll get from reading your post from your headline, your post isn’t getting read. Another good thing to convey is urgency. You can’t express a sense of urgency in every headline, but when possible you should because it gets readers thinking they’re going to miss out on something if they don’t read what you have to say.

8. Go back and rewrite it. After writing your headline and writing and proofreading the body of your piece, don’t think your job is done. Go back to your headline and start rewriting it. See if you can shorten it or tweak it a little until it fits perfectly with what you just wrote. Remember this short thing that takes only a few seconds to read is extremely crucial to your blog post being read so spending some extra time editing it is totally worth it.

So there you have it. Eight (hopefully helpful) ways to help you craft the unique, attention-grabbing headline that gets you the clicks, traffic and engagement you want. If you have any comments or other tips you think are beneficial to content marketers and writers, please feel free to share them below!

Stryde’s Top Ten Posts of 2013

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This past year has been a great first year for Stryde. We’ve provided numerous marketing posts throughout the year, and in case you missed any, here’s a list of our top 10 posts from 2013.

1. Ten Books Every Digital Marketer MUST Read

This early summer post offers 10 books that every digital marketer should read to help them better understand the digital marketing landscape and become the best asset they can to their team and company.

Click this link if you want to check this post out: http://www.stryde.com/ten-books-every-digital-marketer-must-read/

2. How To Use Google Keyword Tool & Google Trends For Keyword Research

This article goes over two great tools that are used to help you discover keyword opportunities and how to best use them for your business.

Click here if you want to read more about this topic: http://www.stryde.com/how-to-use-google-keyword-tool-google-trends-for-keyword-research/

3. The Ultimate List of SEO Tools

In this post, we go over SEO tools every digital marketer should know and use. We go over tools in three different areas: keyword research, SEO analysis and link building.

Follow this link if you want to learn more: http://www.stryde.com/the-ultimate-list-of-seo-tools/

4. Five Things You MUST Do To Have A Successful, Thriving Online Business

Learning the five components of running a successful and thriving online business that will help you stand out from your competitors is what you’ll find in this post.

Click on this link to find out more: http://www.stryde.com/four-things-you-must-have-to-have-a-successful-thriving-online-business/

5. Five Ways To Tell Google What Your Website Is About

Here you’ll be told about five different elements that help your website make a strong case to the search engines that it’s relevant for specific keywords. These elements will also help you rank higher and generate more traffic to your website.

Click here to read this whole article: http://www.stryde.com/five-ways-to-tell-google-what-your-website-is-about/

6. How To Effectively Perform Link Prospecting & Outreach via BuzzStream

BuzzStream is a great platform for digital marketers looking to generate good quality links and outreach and is a way to build on relationships you make out of those. We offer a list of resources to help you learn about this tool and how to properly use it.

Check out this post by clicking on this link: http://www.stryde.com/how-to-effecitvely-perform-link-prospecting-outreach-via-buzzstream/

7. Understanding The Different Types of Anchor Text & How To Use Them

In this post we define what anchor text is, give you four types of anchor text and tell how to use them.

Click this link if you’re interested in learning more about this topic: http://www.stryde.com/understanding-different-types-anchor-text-use/

8. 25 Online Marketing Tools We’re Thankful For This Year

This was a Thanksgiving post where we listed 25 online marketing tools that we are thankful for and that we at Stryde use on a daily basis to help with our job and our clients.

If you want to know more, click this link: http://www.stryde.com/online-marketing-tools-thankful-year/

9. Guest Blogging As We Know It Is Dying! Evolve or Move On!

In this post the current guest blogging strategies being used are discussed and why they’re making guest blogging a less effective tactic. We then list and discuss six future guest blogging strategies that are sure to make you successful.

If you’re interested in this topic, click on this link to read the piece: http://www.stryde.com/guest-blogging-as-we-know-it-is-dying-evolve-or-move-on/

10. How To Diversify Your Backlink Portfolio

This piece teaches you how to better protect yourself from algorithm updates and about five types of links that should be considered when wanting to diversify your link portfolio.

Click on this link to read this entire article: http://www.stryde.com/how-to-diversify-your-backlink-portfolio/

We’re really looking forward to 2014 and continuing to add value to the online marketing community through our blog.

Google’s Matt Cutts on Guest Blogging as Spam

By | Blogging | 2 Comments


The trendiness of guest blogging is catching on and with it, arises a few questions and concerns with regards to spam. Users are wondering about the effects of guest blogging, how it might be considered spam, and whether Google will consequently penalize guest blogging sites. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, clears up some of the skepticism and provides his own insight on the proper way to use guest blogging.

What about Guest Blogging?

For many bloggers, guest blogging is a tactful method to direct traffic to their site by posting on other blogs that link readers back to their site, in turn, increasing its’ search engine rankings. While this method has the potential to turn out high results, guest blogging can be considered spam if not executed tactfully. Matt explains that Google recognizes the significant difference between high vs low quality blogging and offers the following recommendations for bloggers to promote quality content:

Don’t make it your only method. When done correctly, guest blogging may help increase traffic and ratings, but use this tactic in moderation. Over using isn’t the best way to build your site’s reputation.

Don’t email blast. Mass emails, offering to guest blog seem impersonal and ingenuine and are more likely to be be picked up as spam.

Don’t reuse. Posting the same article on two different blogs or even spinning an article to post on multiple blogs isn’t producing original work.

Don’t abuse. Be sure that you are writing content that is relevant to the blog on which you are posting and not just a dropping a laundry list of keywords in the anchor text.

Do create organic work that will “earn links on the basis of merit” and credibility. The most successful guest bloggers are those who produce original work and rely on their expertise on the subject, rather than an overload of keywords, to direct traffic and boost ratings.

The Ultimate List of Blogging Tools

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blogging ideas and tools

Today, we are going to continue our series on “list of tools” focusing specifically on tools to help you become a better blogger. As most marketers know, adding the very best content to your website via blog posts is a fantastic way to improve crawl rate and crawl depth (through internal links) as well as attract natural links and social shares. In this post, I want to hit on four areas of blogging, idea generation, content research, content creation, and content promotion. Let’s jump in!

Idea Generation

The hardest part of blogging is coming up with topics to write about on a regular basis.

Twitter Search – Twitter search is a fantastic tool to help you see what people are talking about on twitter and what kinds of topics are trending.

Google+ Search – Same thing as Twitter search, except on Google+.

Evernote – Evernote is a free app that you can jot down notes whenever you have an idea for a blog post. I like to use the voice to text feature and brainstorm on my commutes.

Xmind – Xmind is by far my favorite mind mapping software. Mind maps can help you easily generate dozens ideas for your blog posts from a single topic. I wrote a post about this over on Marketing Pilgrim you might want to take a look at.

Google Trends – Google trends allows you to compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and other Google properties.

Pulse – Pulse is an app that allows you to pull in feeds from your favorite blogs and news publications. This is particularly helpful to see what your competitors are writing about on a regular basis and can help give you ideas on what to write about as well.

Content Research

Once you come up with your topics, now you need to do your research and find content to support or flesh out your idea.

Qrait – Qrait allows you to collect online media about a single topic in a neat, clean interface and then allows you to share or embed in your blog.

Creative Commons – Flickr creative commons allows you to find images that are relevant to your topic and post them without paying a fee.

Curate.us – Curate.us allows you to put together visually compelling clips and quotes of web content that are easily embedded in blog posts, email, forums and websites.

Yahoo Answers – Yahoo answers is a fantastic place to go for tips from experts in different verticals. It is also a great place to find individuals who might be interested in providing a quote for your content.

Quora – Same idea as Yahoo answers.

Content Creation

After your research is done, its time to write!

WordPress – Many bloggers prefer to write their posts directly in their content management system. Adding content right into WordPress makes it easy to manage your drafts, optimize them (with the Yoast plugin), and get them published.

Dragon Dictate – Dragon dictate is one of the best speech to text programs ever! It is accurate and makes it far easier for people who hate to type, write fantastic posts.

Content Promotion

After you click publish, you are not done! You need to get more eyeballs on your content.

Digg Digg – The first piece of the puzzle when promoting your content is making sure others can easily share it. Digg Digg, a WordPress plugin does just that. It is a floating social sharing bar that is front and center whenever someone wants to share your post.

Viral Content Buzz – Viral Content Buzz is a community of individuals who are looking for content to share online. When you share someones content, you earn points and then you can use those points to get your content shared. It’s pretty awesome!

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery -Paid stumbles are a great way to get the ball rolling for your awesome content. Just add $5 and you will start to get targeted traffic to your post in no time. If it is a really good post, you will start to earn free stumbles and it can go viral from there.

Repost.us – At repost, your content can be instantly syndicated to other publishers, bloggers or websites with a few clicks and no prior business relationship.

So there you have it! Did I missing anything? If you have other blogging tools that you use and love, please feel free to share in the comments below.

Five Ways To Generate Hundreds of Blogging Topics In Less Than An Hour

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Most businesses understand that in order to compete in the search engines, they have to have a content marketing strategy that not only includes creation and promotion of digital assets, but also includes regular blogging on not only their company blog, but on other industry blogs. Producing a mass amount of content can be very hard and time consuming, but what’s harder is coming up with the topics to write about. In today’s post, I’d like to quickly run through five ways to generate hundreds of blogging topics in less than an hours time.

Mind Mapping

One of the first things I do when trying to come up with topics to write about is mind mapping. When I do this, I start with my primary keyword or theme and begin to brainstorm topics that are related to the original word. This is also referred to as word association. Here’s a mind map that I put together around the topic of photography:

word-association

In just a few minutes time, I was able to come up with 28 topics to start writing about. If you need a mind mapping software to get started, I like to use XMind. It works both on a Mac and a PC and is a robust mapping software.

Polling Customers

Another way to generate great topics to write about is to ask your customers what questions they have about your industry. Once you have a nice list built up, you can easily task someone in your company to start banging out posts that cater to your current client base. Producing this type of content not only helps with your search engine optimization, but has also shown to help increase customer life time value by solidifying in their minds that you are a thought leader and the right company to continue doing business with.

Creating Buyer Personas

Another great way to come up with blogging topics is to go through the process of building true buyer personas. Once you define who your target audience is, what their interests are, and what buttons you need to push to get their attention and have them take action, you can then write content that caters specifically to their needs. For example, if I knew that one of my buyer personas is a stay at home mom, in the age range of 25-40ish, has three kids, and loves doing crafts, the topic for my content might be different than if I were targeting a dad, same age range, same kids, and loves the outdoors.

Competitive Research

One very easy way to come up with content topics is to do some competitive research. Check out each of their blogs, see what they are writing about, and what is getting linked to and shared socially the most. Don’t just copy their content, but create a similar piece and begin to promote it.

Content Roundups

Very similar to competitive research, another super easy way to come up with content topics is to monitor content roundups. See what authoritative figures in your niche are curating and get some ideas from them. The beautiful thing about roundups is that you can get dozens of ideas just from one post. If you don’t know what I mean by roundups, Kristi Hines is the queen of producing some amazing roundups. Here’s one she put together on link building.

What other ways do you brainstorm topics to write about? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

The Importance of AuthorRank for Entrepreneurs

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Google-AuthorRank

The days when a company could simply “outsource their link building” for pennies on the dollar to an overseas spam-factory to improve their search engine rankings are long gone.

In fact, there is little to no value in low-quality automated link building at all, and if you haven’t realized this fact since Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, well, you’ve come to the right place.

The search engine behemoth’s latest endeavor is something called “AuthorRank”, which could revolutionize the way content is created and discovered online. Businesses today should get a jump on AuthorRank to stay competitive and ahead of the curve against their competitors.

What is AuthorRank?

Google filed a patent in 2005 called “Agent Rank”, which they describe as using a number of methods to determine an agent’s score in a specific area. Simply put, Google is attaching weight to an author’s expertise, influence and authority in a particular subject matter.

I like how Henrik Bondtofte explains it in a guest post for Content Verve: “In all its simplicity, the purpose of AuthorRank is to identify individuals, their knowledge within certain subjects, and what others think of the content they publish.”

There are a number of factors that Google is likely using to determine AuthorRank, including social engagement, traditional signals like inbound links, mentions and citations, as well as a host of others.

Authors who are actively engaging in building up their authority should leverage the power of Google+, through the network’s circles, communities and +1 buttons throughout the web. Authorship markup is also a factor in AuthorRank, since that is what ties a piece of content to the author.

How Entrepreneurs Can Build their AuthorRank

As a business owner, building up a viable and sustainable Internet marketing strategy for 2013 is crucial, and one of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is through your website’s blog.

A blog can be a great source of inbound traffic, with a host of natural, long-tail keyword phrases potentially bringing in a steady stream of leads. As such, it’s important to build out the AuthorRank of a number of authors in the blog, and you can do that through the following steps:

1. Create Google+ profiles for each author.

Each account will be based off a separate Gmail account, and you can visit http://plus.google.com to create the accounts.

2. Add a link pointing to the blog in the “Contributes To” section of the profile.

Google-Plus-Contributor-Section

This step will tie the profile to the author’s content.

3. Add Authorship markup to the content.

If you have multiple authors writing for the blog, have each author insert the markup into their respective author bylines or author profiles. The markup looks like this:

<rel=”author” link=”GOOGLE+URL” />

4. Add Authorship markup to guest posts, too.

Anytime the markup is added to a piece of content, the profile picture of the author will show up on the listing in the search results page in Google. Make sure to add a link to the content in the “Contributes To” section of the Google+ profile, though.

5. Create superb, engaging content.

Think about the way that Google will measure the quality of your content, and social engagement will probably come to mind. Every time someone clicks the +1 button, they are giving their stamp of approval, and so will Google. You should also encourage the writing of high quality content worthy of engagement, including pictures, screenshots, video, audio, extra resources, and/or anything else that shows the author is taking time to help the reader. Participate in the comments section of the posts, and draw upon the natural conversation taking place between the authors and the readers.

Do you think Google AuthorRank is a game-changer for businesses? Voice your thoughts in the comments!

About the author:

Kevin Phelps is the owner of GuestBlogPoster, a guest posting service for SEO agencies and marketing teams service. He has also worked in the content marketing realm for many years while employed by two nationally recognized SEO agencies. Connect with him on Google+!

Stryde’s Top 10 Posts of 2012

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Although our blog has only been up and running for a short time, we’ve published an insane amount of content and have a huge amount of traffic coming to our site each time we publish a new piece. Because of the positive response we’ve gotten, we decided last week to put together a post outlining the top ten posts of 2012. Here’s the criteria we took into consideration when ranking each piece:

  • Amount of traffic to each post
  • Number of social shares
  • Number of comments

So, without further ado, here are Stryde’s top ten posts of 2012!

1 – How Your Sales Team Should Be Using Twitter To Connect With More Prospects

2 – Five Ways To Build Solid Brand Advocates

3 – Why We Don’t Care About Matt Cutts Statement On Press Release Links & You Shouldn’t Either

4 – 15 Awesome Content Marketing Ideas For 2013

5 – Top 10 Content Marketers You Need To Be Following On Twitter

6 – Top 10 Link Builders You Should Be Following On Twitter

7 – BlueGlassX Day One & Two Recap

8 – Networking Your Way To Obtaining Solid Links

9 – Understanding The Different Types of Anchor Text & How To Use Them

10 – Find Your Competitors 404s & Dominate Competitive Link Building

So what do you think? Were these posts worthy of the top ten list? Any others that you would add?

Here’s to digital domination in 2013!!!