As Google places more importance on quality content as a benchmark for effective SEO, the ability to 'think like a journalist' gains new importance for content marketers. And, while the fundamental differences between these two industries remain the same, Google Hummingbird - which launched August 2013 - bridges the gap between them. For that very reason, content marketers who want to achieve consistent success in an ever-changing search climate should look to a few time-tested journalistic standards for guidance.
Grab Readers' Attention With Powerful Headlines
As referenced in Entrepreneur Magazine and other reputable sources, on average, people have an attention span of 8 seconds, which is behind goldfish that have 9.
So, create content that draws them - the people, not the goldfish - in from the get-go and helps them get to their bottom line quickly: the solution to their problems.
One of the specific movements behind Hummingbird has been surrounding conversational searches. For example, if you are in real estate, you would be concerned with a potential client searching "what are the top neighborhoods in toronto for families?" Before the reader searches this, provide answers to it. Create a blog and title it: Top Neighborhoods in Toronto for Families. This is a simple example, and certainly other topics are not so, but think like a journalist and a reader when composing engaging copy.
Give The People What They Want
In the same vein, quality journalism not only focuses on giving the audience what they want to know, but also what they actually need to know throughout the entire piece. This includes the five Ws of journalism: who, what, where, when, why.
Hummingbird encourages content that appeals more so to the reader than just the omnipotent search engines gods. It challenges marketers to truly understand their audience for the mutual benefit of how the audience remains engaged and how marketers can use this engagement to convert to leads.
Produce Evergreen Content
While a lot of journalism centers on breaking news, it also focuses on relevancy in terms of the audience and channel through which it is distributed. Evergreen content - content that is timeless - shares this purpose and uses it to increase authority and ranking for the source over time.
Providing a constant stream of relevant content tugs at the heart strings of the reader and Internet gods.
Just as we all completely settle into this algorithm, it will surely change yet again. But, regardless of how often Google changes its algorithm, people's interests largely remain the same. They want quality, relevant material. Don't waste the reader's time.
- 500-Word Articles Might Not Cut It Anymore With Google: The Rewards Of Generating In-Depth Articles (Sameer Panjwani)
If you didn't do it before, use Hummingbird as your excuse now to truly focus on the reader and customer when developing and implementing your content marketing strategy.
Allie Petit is the content department manager at Cardinal Web Solutions, where she creates and executes all on- and off-site content development for Cardinal and their 80+ clients. Prior to coming on board at Cardinal, she wrote internal and external communications for a corporate travel agency. She also has experience as a sports reporter for The University of Georgia, general-interest columnist and blogger.