A Great SEO is Really a Good Reporter

One of the most difficult challenges we face as a content marketing agency is coming up with creative content ideas for some of our smaller clients that don’t get a lot of press.  It is now mid 2013, and pretty much every topic has been covered, and covered again (and then rewritten by X,XXX SEO’s out there.)

My brother is a real life reporter for patch.com.  His day consists of getting in his car and hitting the streets in order to find a good story.  This means talking to adults, kids, cops, teachers, politicians, good guys, bad guys and everyone in between. His goal is to find a story that people find invigorating.  So should yours.

Curating a piece of content that goes viral and is an authority piece is worth more now than ever.  Long gone are the days when “the more articles you have, the better.”

Several months ago I held a company meeting in our headquarters, and forbid any of our SEO’s or content writers from producing a piece of content that wasn’t (at the very least) interesting and worth sharing.  I came up with a few simple rules:

  • If it won’t hold your interest, it isn’t worth producing
  • An average person must be able to look at it and find it appealing
  • The title MUST stick out
  • Must have the potential to be shared

 

I also told them to get rid of the magic “500 word” minimum or whatever old SEO standard they might have been going by.  There are great pieces of content that are 80 words and ones that are 5000.  It shouldn’t be forced.

Every SEO and their mother knows how to open up the Google keyword tool and find out what keywords bring in the most traffic.  While there is value in this, this really dumbs down the content and forces us to write content based on numbers, and not necessarily what our audience is actually looking for.

The Google Keyword Tool is only a guess.  Aside from that, it is an average from the last 12 months or so.  That being said, if a particular trend or event has happened within the last few months, it might not register on the almighty keyword tool.

seo content marketing

Interview your clients like they are a story source

The bottom line is no one knows your clients’ niche better than your client does.  Sure, they’ve been your client for X months now and you’ve gained a general familiarity with the industry, but they are the ones that live and breathe their industry every day.

With that in mind, we want to harness all of that information inside of your client’s brain and channel it into a solid piece of content: an article, blog, whitepaper, video, infographic, etc.

That’s right, you are going to have to talk to your clients about something else other than reporting and targeting.

Step 1 – Identify someone in your organization, preferably your lead content writers and someone who is good on the phone. Part of their job will now include interviewing clients. Instead of having them scouring the internet looking for ideas on what to write about, they are going to get their ideas from your clients.  Congratulations, you are now using an interactive content marketing approach.

Step 2 – Call your client or make an appointment for 30 minutes to 1 Hour, whenever is good for them.

Step 3 – Once you have them on the phone; let them know that you would like to ask them some questions about their industry in order to get a better idea about the content you are writing for their SEO campaign.  99/100 times you will be not only well received but praised for your forthcoming. Ask them what is going on in their industry right now (possibly record it for later).  Ask them if there are any sort of industry standards that are changing or anything like that.

Step 4 – After your phone call, write up an outline of what you’ve just talked about.  If an idea is good, ask to do a video interview.

Once you have all of this information in front of you, you’ll probably find that you are way ahead of your competitions content and have tons of good story ideas.

Go from there.

seo authorities

Finding an authority in your niche can spark a great story idea.

Find up and coming authorities in your industry

In our industry, not everyone wants to see interviews with Matt Cutts, Rand Fishkin, or Danny Sullivan.  Sure those guys are the leaders of our industry, but they get enough attention.

Locate the people within your industry that are up and coming and talk to them.  Let them know that you are a blogger up front. It might turn into a story idea, an interview, or even spawn off into another idea…who knows.

Talk to your clients about who they think the authorities are (other than them) and talk to them. Of course always check out if there is a conflict of interest or anything like that first.

If you can’t find news, make news

All of the major news is picked up by the major aggregators out there.  Unless you really want to throw your hat into that arena, you’ll never have a shot at constantly finding the big news.

Find events within micro-niches that are going on and report on them.  This could mean a number of different things such as:

  • product releases
  • people joining / leaving an organization
  • product recalls
  • an authority / celebrity who used your product or service
  • someone who used your product or service for a different reason
  • anything regarding philanthropy in your niche

There are many more good examples of this.

Conclusion

Regardless of if you are white/grey or black hat: no one is going to stay on your site if your content sucks. The real innovators in this industry are the people who are producing stellar content.

Producing great content will not only keep your visitors on your page longer, it will yield links and all of the other signals that the search engines use to rank websites

Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe is the founder and CEO of Elite Strategies Llc. Patrick takes a hands on approach to managing Elite Strategies and loves to get involved with technical projects relating to clients inbound marketing needs.
Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe
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