Remember that curation is a content strategy, while tools are tactics in search of a strategy.
One of the tactics in the Content Marketer’s arsenal is called “curation”, where you find and republish quality content in a newly “packaged” way. The idea is that you add value at least three ways — you assemble a package that would be hard to find or gather elsewhere; you contribute some editing and related content yourself; and the UI of the “package” facilitates readership (on different devices and through smart layouts that leverage content in a streamlined fashion) and social sharing.
We’ve tried four of the major services for curation over the past 3-5 years, so I wanted to give you some take-aways about each — Flipboard, Paper.li, Rebel Mouse, and Scoop.it. I’ll give you a sample of what we have used them for and thoughts on results but first the most important thing I can tell you is that these tools are tactics… in search of a strategy. What do I mean by that? Well, too many content marketer’s seem to rush into the latest greatest tool and deploy it as a tactic with no clear publishing strategy (niche, readership, purpose of publication, editorial guidelines, etc.) in hand. Planning is in order. And, remember the old adage — if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Curating a good publication takes time and consistent effort, so you need to have a clear picture of the end goal and how it will pay off for you. Remember that curation is a content marketing tactic, not a publishing strategy.
Four Curation Tools for Content Marketers
Webdirexion uses Flipboard to publish the new BLIP Online Marketing Magazine
Introducing BLIP Magazine: Our newest endeavor is to curate, write for, and edit a new “magazine” with great articles for marketing communication professionals. BLIP… Google has updated its algorithm… BLIP… there’s another new marketing tool… BLIP… someone has figured out a new tactic for marketing automation. You get it.
Our magazine is curated with the FlipBoard tool, which allows you to flip pages — just like in old-school magazines. We like it because it fosters a team curation approach, it is mobile centric (you cannot even register except on a mobile device), and efficient to use.
It’s a relatively new platform, so this tactical tool from Flipboard is still evolving — right now, there are no embedding options available, for example. It’s easy to get started with your own magazine, but strategically you will need to define your audience, set a publishing focus, then bring your editing team. What about ROI for the effort? I recommend you study that with smart use of analytics (I will report on that in a forthcoming post). For this publication, I am taking the managing editor role with supporting editors and writers from our Webdirexion team — and of course authors with articles from MOZ, Content Marketing Institute, MarketingLand, Social Media Examiner, and several others. Our publishing goal is to bring you the most useful articles on tactics and strategies for online marketers.
Medical Healthcare Matters is Webdirexion’s Digest for Healthcare professionals, curated using Paper.li.
Medical HealthCare Matters focus on Healthcare: Since we have six clients in healthcare, we use a curation tool that has been around for a while — Paper.li — to publish our weekly “digest” for this industry focus. The digest format is different than a magazine — content may include shorter items, videos, discussions and tweets. Our Miranda Booher, a former traveling nurse (before she elected to do content triage at Webdirexion), serves as managing editor for this publication. Our publishing goal here is to serve up a frequently updated smorgasbord of news on medical devices & healthcare services that move health forward. This is a more mature publication for us and its current circulation reach, including its associate Twitter account (1400 followers), is approximately 4,400.
Page at this link shows embedded digest from Paper.li.
Our publishing strategy goals are threefold: reach and inform our prospective target group — healthcare clients; build circulation and readership; and offer exposure to client’s when appropriate.
This platform offers some advanced tactics including assigning a top level domain (we use MedicalHealthcareMatters.com) and embedding a digest in an actual website (click at left to see how we do that at our Coffee Nut Hut site). Cost for premium features is approx. $9 per month.
Samsung’s “Front Row” microsite is created on the Rebel Mouse platform.
This is a curation tool we tested and published to a subdomain on Webdirexion — then realized that we were guilty of excitedly using the tool as a tactic in search of a smart publishing strategy. We’ve since shut it down, but I would recommend the platform for its advanced feature set (create an entire mini-site with the tool, complete with “page” navigation), the ability to brand it and use a top-level domain name, with the added ability to embed it.
The Rebel folks have positioned their app as a tool offering “Turnkey Content Hubs and Mobile Apps”. According to their site, Rebel Mouse is “Wired for Distributed Reach and Engagement”, and one example is that the app will notify people via email or @reply when their content is featured on your site. This is the app we would probably look at first for clients seeking an efficient “micro site” solution.
Embedding as a tactic: We had begun to explore the embedding capacity with sections for healthcare and law firm marketing (another focus niche for us), and the embedding was being done on the same site, Webdirexion, as the main “publication” (on a subdomain of Webdirexion). In the end the maintaining of a larger effort proved to take too much resource time for us, but the point about embedding I want to make is that you can embed your publication on multiple sites and locations, so this could be a powerful tactic for people with a number of domains and a network of sites strategy. With Rebel Mouse, we could even embed different sections on different pages — healthcare curations on our healthcare page, law firm articles on our law firm page, etc. This is not necessarily a great SEO tactic, because you are duplicating content, but it can boost readership and also signal to Google the relevance of certain pages and sections on your site.
This Scoop.it site was one I curated for a couple of years.
This is another freemium (no top level domain name)/premium (unlock advanced features) curation platform we used for about 18 months. During that time, I curated and commented (a nice feature — your comments appear along with the items you curate) on B2B Content Marketing Tactics. I liked some of the aspects of it, but in the end moved on to other tools and tactics on which to focus in the limited time — you know how those hours swirl by in a sea of new and evolving marketing tools.
One unique aspect of this platform is that other publishers can “scoop” your articles into their own publications. It is possible to do something like this on the Flipboard platform as well.
Note that in this publication, I narrowed the publishing focus from Content Marketing in general, to a focus on tactics more for Business to Business marketers. This is another key consideration at the publishing/content strategy level — your niche. Good Content Marketers will always proceed with their “target personas” in mind, and publishers live and die on that concept. In fact, Content Marketing is really just another term for “publishing” rolled forward into today’s marketplace of evolving tools and tactics.
Proceed from the level of good content and publishing strategy. Focus clearly both on the goals for your readership and the ROI for your organization. Then, have some fun! Do contact us for any help you may require.
Avoid the backlink beartrap – clean up your link profile.
Way back in the mists of internet time, Google noticed that sites which performed a useful service tended to attract natural links. Web-owners chose to link out to sites which complemented their own or served their own web visitors in some way. For example, a site selling holiday accommodation might link out to local restaurants, tours or transport information.
This system worked well for both those searching for information and for the website owners themselves. By going to the effort of seeking out quality websites to link to, the website owners created a source of information to which visitors would return. The sites which made a point of providing quality information naturally attracted links from related sites.
Unfortunately, while this system worked well for all involved, once it came to Google’s attention they decided that organic links could be used as a method of judging a site’s quality. Although Google is notoriously close-mouthed when it comes to their ranking algorithm, it soon become clear that the number of links pointing to a site was significant. Cue linkbuilding frenzy.
Discredited Linkbuilding Tactics
Just say no.
Services sprang up right, left and center promising to drum up hundreds of links within days. Schemes and scams abounded. They still do. Look at the image to the left which was cut and pasted from a service in the wild. Wow. 56,999 backlinks for $5. It sounds too good to be true. Doh.
- Blog Commenting
- Link Wheels
- Blog Network
- Guest Blogging
- Article Directory Spam
- Site wide Links
- Widget Links
- Poor Quality Directory Spam
The Intent Behind a Link
While some of the techniques used were spammy and intended to game Google from the outset (hello, Link Wheels!), others like blog commenting and guest blogging only become spammy when you consider the intent. It is fairly obvious that a comment on a mommy blogger site from a user calling himself – and linking to – Hot Asian Chicks is likely to be a spammer. However, a commenter on the same site giving tips on baking the perfect pie is likely to be the real deal. In the end, both Google (and smart, honest marketers) want to be about authentic links — you know, from people who really think your site content IS worth a link.
Google Slams the Brakes On
In April 2012, Google launched an update, initially known as the Webspam Algorithm but soon given the name Penguin. Like the Panda Update which came before, this newcomer had teeth. Here is how Penguin is described by Chris Meier in the excellent Positionly blog:
A little more than a year after first introducing the Panda update, Google introduced Penguin – a webspam algorithm update. Panda specifically targeted sites and pages with low quality content, while Penguin was designed to target pages that were boosting their rankings by spamming Google. Popular techniques included: Keyword stuffing, Link schemes, Cloaking, Sly redirects, Doorway pages, and Intentional duplicate content.”
Google is always on the lookout for ways that their search engine might be being gamed by those trying to get low quality, irrelevant sites to appear higher in the SERPS than they deserve. This constant tightening of loopholes means that what was a legitimate SEO tactic a couple of years ago is now verboten. It may be that the first the web owner knows about a poor quality link profile is when he receives the following scary email from Google:
Unnatural inbound links
Google has detected a pattern of artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank are violations of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to globaldatavault.com/. There may be other actions on your site or parts of your site.
- Use the Links to Your Site feature in Webmaster Tools to download a list of links to your site.
- Ensure that unnatural links pointing to your site are removed.
- When these changes are made, and you are satisfied that links to your site follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, submit a reconsideration request. If you’re unable to remove links pointing to your site, please provide as much detail as possible in your reconsideration request.
- For an updated list of manual actions currently applied to your site, visit the Manual Actions page. If no manual actions are listed, there is no longer a need to file a reconsideration request.
- If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.
An Ounce of Prevention
There is no question that inbound links are still an important ranking factor. Here is what Searchmetrics say about them in the introduction to their excellent 2014 Ranking Factors Study:
Backlinks: The quantity and quality of backlinks remains crucial as there are many new features introduced this year that have been revised to improve the quality of the results.
What has changed is the very strong emphasis on the quality of the link. Is it coming from a reputable site? Is it coming from a relevant page? Is the site the link is coming from seasoned and cited often on the topic of the post it is linking to?
Going forward your link building energy will have be targeted on building high quality connections however before that perhaps you need to take a trip back in time and see what beartraps have been left in your path through outdated linking tactics or downright spammy techniques.
Stay tuned for the next post to find out how to take a long hard look at your current link profile and clean it up preparatory to embarking on a quality link building campaign.
Read more in : Sticking a Fork in Link Schemes: Penguin, Guest Posts and the Impact on Link Building
The Webdirexion Sled Team, left to right: Scott (Chief Optimizer), Miranda (Content Wrestler), Serhii (Programming Ninja), Julie (SEO Maven), and Wendy (Project Chauffeur). Sherri is not in this race (only 5 allowed on the slopes), but will appear in a forthcoming video.
Quick… what would be a great way to unwind after all that online, digital, content, internet marketing work? A sled race, a la Jib Jab, of course.
We were inspired to create the following video for our Holiday Greetings in the spirit of fun and good humor when one on our team, Sherri Gutierrez (Marketing Consultant), did her own greeting using the same tool. We’re reproducing our sled race here, in case you missed it, and we do wish you a Happy New Year — watch it below.
But beyond the good fun, here are some technical social media marketing points for consideration: (more…)
Scott is Chief Optimizer for Webdirexion and includes Marketing, Content Strategy, WordPress, CSS, Photoshop, Tai Chi, and Coffee among his passions.
This month, my “TacTech Talk” Column (a fusion of Tactical and Technical tips for today’s marketers) discusses Responsive Design vs. Mobile App solutions; and I have an “authentic” Social Media Marketing tactic or two for you.
Responsive, Schmonszive… Responsive or Mobile App Solution?
There are a lot of gurus out there claiming that “responsive design” (your site shrinks according to the size of the mobile device screen) is the only way to go nowadays. Wrong. You have two choices — compromise your desktop view and go for a smartphone/tablet view that looks the same but smaller, or design for desktop, then optimize in an app-like interface for mobile devices. Is one “better” than the other? It’s debateable, and the answer depends on two things: your budget; and how best to serve your visitors. Let’s look at strengths and advantages to both: (more…)
Spammy Engine Optimization is SEO is deader than a dodo but Search Engine Optimization is very much alive and well.
In the last two years there have been countless articles published on internet marketing websites and online publications declaring that ‘SEO is dead’. In fact, if you were to do a filtered search on Google for webpages that contained the SEO is Dead term published in the last month alone, you would find hundreds from which to choose. So, is it true?
Is SEO dead?
Well yes and no. Scammer SEO is dead. The kind that relied on creating false profiles and blasting thousands of links to spammy link directories. The kind that involved ‘spinning’ the same piece of content multiple times and plastering the resulting gibberish all over the web. That kind of seo worked for a while to get dubious sites ranked well for terms that they really did not deserve (more…)
What’s in a name? We chose to call ourselves an Online Marketing Agency… learn why in this article.
Content Marketing… or… Online Marketing? Short answer: Yes. Both apply. Right now, we’re going with Online Marketing, as in, Webdirexion is an Online Marketing Agency. Sure, the discipline of Content Marketing has become quite the rage in recent years, helped along by the realization that content can make connections that lead to customers. This is central to the work we perform at Webdirexion… so why not call ourselves a “Content Marketing Agency?” Short Answer: Content Marketing doesn’t define all that we do.
We recently redesigned our site, and are updating our brand, so that question came up a few times. To answer the central brand question — who are we? — we benchmarked competitors and saw they called themselves a range of things — from Digital Marketers to (more…)