Top 10 Digital Marketing "How-To" Posts of 2013

Everyone likes to be told what to do and exactly how to do it.  This is especially true in Digital Marketing where strategies need to be adaptive and tactics need to be readily available to teams on the front lines.  If you write "how-to" posts for a marketing blog, your "how- to" post will get read on average 55% more than your other posts according to Hub Spot's data.

As the Director and Founder of my agency Damolade Consulting, I spend most of my time doing industry research and developing strategy for my clients. I then need to make decisions in regards to what tactics will achieve the goals of the strategy and direct my contractors as to what actions to take.

A lot of times I will direct a contractor to really useful "how -to " posts to get them inspired. Here are my Top 10 - "How To" Posts of 2013. Some are explicitly "How -To" while others are more like general guides. All contain tactics (and some free tools) to achieve content strategy and digital marketing goals.

Share your favorite how-to's in the comment section of this post or on my facebook page! HINT: The titles are clickable, just don't forget to come back to me!  Happy learning! 

1.  How to Create a Content Strategy (In Only 652 Steps)

I love this post! I refer to it again and again. Not only does it break down content strategy into manageable (ha) tasks, the author offers handy illustrations, charts, data and TOOLS! Yay, tools!  To help you get the laborious job of content strategy done right from start to finish. I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but with this post you will get a step-by-step guide starting from inventory on down to governance.

The big takeaway for SEO's out there is you (we) need to stop focusing on rankings. While they are a part of the equation, they do not add up to the whole picture - Content influences everything in marketing. If you do not have a strategy, everything that follows after - every social media post, every blog post, every word of content on your website will be misguided. Small to medium sized companies can gain a huge advantage by hiring a content strategist now and getting ahead of their competition and engaging in this this powerful, "enterprise level" discipline.

2.  Link Building Strategies – The Complete List

This is a very tactical list. Jon Cooper, the author, just did an update in December 2013  so it's still fresh as of today.  This is one of those lists that I can email to my contractors and let them run with it. We can also prioritize tactics by looking at the "Link Value" i.e SEO value of attaining that link which helps us know if it will be worth our time to go after it.  The list is also categorized and we can turn options on and off to refine our strategy. You can filter the list of strategies below by time to execute & dependencies. Neat-o.

3.  How To Write the In-Depth Articles Google Loves

This article from Copyblogger was particularly good because it gives you some visual examples of the difference between a plain- ole Google article result and an "In-Depth Article" result that has been marked up with Schema.org code.

If Schema.org makes your head feel like its going to explode - Don't worry, you are not alone. If you are on Wordpress, hooray! You have the easiest options of  having the markup you need to claim Authorship and adapting the schema code for you.

Below you see an example of a search result " 3." which has no schema mark up and one that does "4." This author has also "claimed" his profile with Google+ as you can see within the search result.

in-depth article result.png

According to data published on Search Engine Land, rich snippets like this can increase SERP click through rates by up to 30%. That means up to 30% more traffic from your current rankings! It also just a prettier search result. 

4.  How to Create Smarter Content Using Semantic Keyword Research

The semantic web has taken us marketers by storm. If you are just doing plain ole' keyword research you are missing out on synonym creation, semantic search optimization, and further into semantic themes.  The geniuses over at Copyblogger explain the concepts quite fully in this blog post and will get you up to speed on how to develop keyword lists into something smarter for 2014 and beyond, so check it out.  First, to get you started thinking on the subject - just imagine that Google's complex algorithms are aiming to better interpret meanings from the words you type into their search engine to produce greater quality search results for you, the user. Enter the Matrix.

5. The Advanced Guide To Linkbuilding - Quicksprout

This epic 12-chapter post by Neil Patel & Brian Dean describes a new era of linkbuilding based on doing nothing we did for the previous 10 years! Yeehaw!

Strategies need to take into consideration lots and lots of penalties from Google and algorithm updates that can make or break your site in a matter of minutes.  These twelve chapters will break down a lot of tactical information and give you lists of resources that "still work" post Panda and Penguin updates. Lists like what submission sites still matter and how to write an email asking if you can guest post. I come back to this post often, especially chapter 11 which reminds me of a bunch of nifty advanced Google search strings I can use when I want to find a site that accepts guest posts. For example I can search:

  • "Keyword" + “guest post”
  • "keyword+ “write for us”
  • "keyword" + “This post was written by”
  • intitle:guest post guidelines
  • intitle:guest blog guidelines
  • Google Blog Search ( google blog search for hidden gems)

Take your time reading trough this badboy. I guarantee it will make it onto your bookmark bar.

6.  How To Create A Popular Infographic

Again, Neil Patel lays out a few requirements for Infographics that I agree should be followed to get the maximum social share and ROI from these.

Clients seem to shy away from infographics, in my experience, because their cost can be prohibitive. You can bring the cost down if you use a free template AND the data supports their use : businesses that publish infographics grow their traffic an average of 12% more than those that don’t, according to HubSpot.

7. SEO Checklist For StartUp Websites

I think she means "new websites" but that's ok, this is a very helpful "how-to" get started if you are brave enough to DIY your own on-page optimization.  You should pretty much follow this checklist exactly as it defines a sites on-page focus for the first few months before and after the initial launch. Some of these tasks are on-going like linkbuilding, but you need to have the research done so you will know who to reach out to when the time comes.  On-Page Optimization and Linkbuilding is one of Damolade Consulting's most popular services, so feel free to get in touch if you decide not to go it alone!

8.  Why Tom Cruise Should Be Your Content Strategist

Although I've linked to this before, it's worth mentioning again because of the awesomeness of the metaphor "Tom Cruise/Content Strategy" and because of the 70-20-10 approach to on-site content it describes. As far as managing brand identity through choices in content, this is the holy grail of dividing up content for your strategy. It can be applied to every business and we know it already works. If you are lucky enough to have your editorial calendar already completed for 2014,  apply this strategy and see where your content falls.  You might find it useful for revisions and additions for the upcoming year.

9. MozCon 2013 Tools

There are so many great tools and resources on this list. Its virtually "how to do everything" content marketing, seo, content strategy wise. The nice thing is all these tools are recommended by the highest level professionals in the industry mentioned at MozCon, (SEM Yearly Industry Event) so you know you are getting a referral from peeps who know the business and the tools of their trade. One of my favorite tools not mentioned on the list is Portent's Title Maker. Go ahead throw your subject or keywords in there and watch the Title magic happen. Fun for brainstorming sessions.

10.  Local Citation Building Best Practices

Last but certainly not least, is this guide on building citations for your local business. I didn't have more than a handful of "local" clients this year, but I'd love to have more! "Local" just refers to your physical business address being associated with your listing on the web , for example your Yelp listing. Doesn't have to be local to "Austin, Texas" where I am located.

Doing Local search requires a lot of repetitive data entry and  top-notch excel skills. You may be thinking, "Great! Intern!"  Slow down tiger. Before you decide to hire some poor soul to claim your citations for you, make sure you know what they will be responsible for. These tasks requires a person with best-practice knowledge and serious organizational skills so it's best to consult a local pro.  Getting your citations corrected after the fact is one of the biggest bummers that's ever existed on the internet, so trust me on this, you want it done right the first time.

The Whitespark post also provides us with a Google Doc template to help you build citations the way an agency would if you decide to go it alone. Good luck and....

Here's to a Top 2014!

image courtesy of portent.com

image courtesy of portent.com