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TODD SMITH — SEO tips to help PR content rank highly with Google’s latest update

TODD SMITH

TODD SMITH

Google’s latest algorithm rollout, which began last week, continues the search giant’s commitment to rewarding high-quality, user-focused content with higher rankings.

Here are three easy tips for optimizing your PR content for better results from Entrepreneur:

1. Go long – many PR pros got used to writing short content because news release services provided a surcharge if copy ran over 400 words. Google now scans short content and assumes it doesn’t contain much useful information. The result is that shorter content doesn’t rank as well.

It’s now better to “go long,” says SEO-PR Chief Executive Greg Jarboe, citing a favorite football phrase. “Go ahead and write 600 to 800 words – whether for a press release, blog post or summary of a white paper behind a paywall.”

2. Use synonyms – Google will penalize you for keyword stuffing, which is using the same search term repeatedly in copy. It rewards what has always been a good writing practice: the use of synonyms.

“If you’re going to use one word or phrase in the first sentence, use a variation in the second sentence or graph,” said Jarboe. “Google understands what synonyms are and rewards them as good writing that’s more likely to be of interest to readers. The result is a higher ranking.”

3. Get visual – You’re missing a huge SEO opportunity if you aren’t adding photos and videos to your content. Over 55 percent of Google search results now include videos and over 40 percent include photos, according to Jarboe.

The most important element to optimize in photos is your caption. Make sure to plant your two- or three-word key phrase at the beginning of your caption copy, said Jarboe. “The same rule applies to YouTube titles. They can only be 100 characters long, so make sure your key phrase is at least in the front third of your title.”

Jarboe’s big SEO takeaway for PR pros is that strong writing skills are more of an asset now than ever before, because Google rewards well-written content. So, stop writing for what you thought Google wanted – and start writing well again.

Marketers desire bigger budgets for visual content

While the majority of senior marketers believe visual assets are important to their marketing strategy, they don’t feel they’re allocating enough of their budget to creating visual content, according to a study released recently by the CMO Council.

The study, “From Creativity to Content,” was based on an online survey of 177 senior marketers in North America, conducted during the second quarter. Fifty-two percent of respondents were from b-to-b companies; 30 percent were from companies doing both b-to-b and b-to-c; and 18 percent were from b-to-c companies.

According to the survey, 65 percent of marketers said they believe visual assets, including photos, videos, illustrations and infographics, are core to how their brand story is communicated.

However, only 29 percent of senior marketers said their marketing budget is allocated appropriately and at the right level toward acquiring or creating visual assets, and 39 percent said more budget should be allocated to creating visual assets.

Currently, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of marketers allocate less than 5 percent of their marketing budget to the creation or procurement of visual assets, the study found. Nineteen percent of marketers devote between 5 percent and 10 percent of their budget to creating visual assets; 23 percent allocate between 10 percent and 25 percent to visuals; 9 percent devote between 25 percent and 50 percent to visuals; and 2 percent devote more than half of their marketing budget to creating visual assets. The rest either don’t know or don’t have a separate line item for visuals.

Regarding which types of visual content assets will become more important in the future, the top ones cited by senior marketers were video (79 percent), infographics (60 percent), photos (50 percent) and illustrations (41 percent).

5 Cs of social media success

As the cliché goes, the only constant is change. For social media, that definitely holds true. From changes to News Feed algorithms, changes to content types, changes in which social networks to use – social media is in constant flux. But, if you stick to the five C’s from Social Times, you should achieve success in your social media marketing.

1. Content – Yes, this was true in 2014, but content holds an even higher place with the rules coming into effect with Facebook’s stance on promotional content started in January. If you haven’t seen the notices, take note. Facebook has clearly stated, brands that put up promotional content in their feed will feel a smack down to their dwindling organic reach. In the eyes of Facebook, if you want to sell, advertise.

2. Capturing – People don’t want to be targets or be part of a campaign. They don’t want to be captured either. However, in this case coerced doesn’t sound any better.

The key becomes how do you direct them to a place where they can see more and engage more in a space you own – email, your website, an online community – then share.

3. Conversion – Social brand advocates and enthusiasts provide a great, sustainable community that branches out and benefits every element of your organization, but there is still a place for paid media. When using paid social media, your goal should be simple – convert.

4. Conversation – People want to be engaged by brands in the same manner they want to be engaged by celebrities or athletes. People are far more likely to talk about brands they feel a connection to, and the people they speak to are far more likely to trust their friends than a brand’s ad or content, so the effect is multiplied.

5. Community – Ignite your brand’s best social connections and let them become a community. Let these people get the inside scoop on special things with your brand, ask them for thoughts, provide a two-way experience, but most importantly – let people with a shared passion for your brand become a community and share their experiences, excitement and ideas.

You don’t have to focus on all five. And if you remember that it’s all about people, conversation and community you’re winning the game.

Haywired Mic | Donald Trump, You’re Fired

The world knows that the Donald is a bombastic, in-your-face, firebrand who speaks his mind – and sets off controversy at just about every turn. That style seems to resonate when Trump is one-on-one and can speak his mind. But it’s a whole new ballgame when it’s a presidential debate – where both style, and substance matter. That style slammed head-on into a solid Republican wall during the first debate of the season, where the other nine candidates offered much more substantive ideas and strategies for America. Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ted Cruz commanded the evening – while Trump crashed. Carly Fiorina dominated the earlier debate, which could vault her in the post-debate polls.

Trump’s treatment of Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly was inexcusable, and he most likely will suffer in the polls. The fallout is already tangible. He was dumped from a speaking role at an important gathering of conservatives called Red State, and his top political advisEr, Roger Stone, fired Trump, although the campaign said it fired him.

For his utter lack of decorum, civility and taste – not to mention his ungentlemanly ways – Trump takes a Haywired Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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