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Content Marketing Blog

Keep up to date with the latest content marketing tips and news.


Site owners have been given an intriguing new tool to help them improve their content, courtesy of a new offering from Google: it looks like it may well be worth getting acquainted with the tech giant’s upcoming ‘Search Console Insights’.

Google is billing Search Console Insights as “a new experience tailored for content creators and publishers” that “can help them understand how audiences discover their site’s content and what resonates with their audiences”.

The bottom line is that the new experience will allow access to additional data that wasn’t available on the standard version of Search Console, and it can yield added insights into how a creator’s content is going down with users.

It’s always better to have some idea about how to modify content optimally rather than shooting in the dark and hoping for the best, and Search Console Insights aims to give creators the pointers they need for genuine, effective improvements. Decisions on how to go forward are always necessary, but informed decisions are usually better.

On visiting the tool’s landing page, readers will discover that it aims to give content creators and publishers valuable information about (a) how audiences have come to discover their content and (b) how that content resonates with them. All this, Google says, is “powered by data from both Search Console and Google Analytics”.

How Search Console Insights leads you to better content

There are a series of key questions that effective content creators need to have in mind as they set about their craft. These are:

  1. Which of your pieces have turned out to perform the best?
  • How are your latest pieces performing with audiences?
  • How do your audience members actually come to find your content on the web?
  • What queries about your site are topping Google Search, and what are the trending queries?
  • What other sites and pieces of content link to your website, and have you gained any new links?

Search Console Insights, happily, answers all five. However, for the time being, there’s a bit of a barrier for those who want to get started immediately: the tool is currently only being released in a closed beta available to creators who have already had an official email from Google inviting them to participate.

When will the tool be available to all?

The frustrating news for those eager to get to grips with the new offering is that if you haven’t received the official email, you’re not included in the select few. There’s no way into that beta group without the invitation. That said, if you’ve chosen not to receive emails from Google, it’s worth checking whether or not your site is included in the closed beta by taking a look at the ‘Search Console in search results’ feature.

However, on a more optimistic note, Google says that it hopes to open up the experience to more content creators and publishers “in the future”. It also intends to enlarge the number of sites that each individual can include in Search Console Insights.

Google has promised to release further news and updates soon. Stay tuned.


Refreshing old content is a great way to give pages a new lease of life and improve rankings for keywords and topics that you have already covered in previous blog posts.

Find underperforming content

Refreshing content works best when you target pages that have dropped out of SERPs and are underperforming for some reason. If the post is not ranking adequately for a specific keyword, was published more than a year ago, and is lacking in ‘link authority’, then you have found a prime target for republishing.

To find underperforming content, head over to Google Search Console and click on the ‘average position’ metrics in the ‘Search Results’ section and then select ‘filter by position’ in the dropdown menu beneath. You can input a ‘greater than’ position of your choosing here. Targeting pages that are ranked fifth or lower is a good starting point. Higher pages are already performing well.

The ‘Position’ metric here is not a definitive assessment of your pages, but it will give you a general idea about the performance of your keywords. Any viable older posts should be targeting an important keyword that is capable of driving search traffic to make your efforts worthwhile.

Finally, see whether there are any blog posts or articles from competitors that outrank you for this keyword. This means that it is eminently possible to move up SERPs with a refreshed piece.

Check for backlinks

Higher-quality content will boost your rankings, but copy is not always the primary factor that holds back pages from performing better. Some pages above you may just have more link authority and an excellent makeup of backlinks. You can use a keywords explorer to see the URL Ratings (UR) and Domain Ratings (DR) for each page.

If a page is ranking above you but has lower UR and DR, then that points to content being the problem. This makes it a great candidate for refreshing as just a few tweaks could push it several places higher in SERPs.

Informational queries are best

When updating blogs, you want to serve content to searchers who want information from blog posts. If pages that are outranking you are centred on product or service copy, then it is likely that searchers want tools and software and not advice. A refresh here may not have much of an impact.

Start updating

Now that you have identified a piece of content, you need to update it in a way that will give it the best chance of driving more organic traffic. Merely adding a sprinkling of new info or an editor’s note will not suffice if it does not serve any real purpose. For this reason, try to make sure that updated content aligns with search intent and includes basic components that have worked well for other high-ranking pages.

The format you choose to update with should be informed by search intent. People looking for information will respond well to how-tos and tutorials, for example. You can also find the basic building blocks that make up other high-performing pages by looking at the titles and headers used within them. Make sure to mention some of the common themes and then build on them to make your content better.

With all that done, you can now partner with an agency to update content or make changes internally before republishing it.


Branded content is better at improving brand perception and eliciting positive emotions from consumers compared to traditional linear ads according to a new study published by Channel 4.

The research found 60% of viewers had a positive view of branded entertainment and 70% rated it highly in terms of originality, entertainment value and quality, suggesting content funded and produced by companies can have a greater impact than standard ad campaigns.

Channel 4 recently worked with Age UK to create a series of branded entertainment titled ‘Old Peoples Home for 4 Year Olds’ and it found that brand perceptions changed considerably after it aired.

The number of people that viewed Age UK as an ‘uplifting brand’ soared by 51% and 29% more saw the charity as ‘caring and compassionate’.

The publication of videos and other forms of content with a branded yet grounded and organic feel is the way forward according to Sophie Lloyd, Channel 4’s Branded Entertainment and Creative Leader.

She says the research shows that entertaining and engaging content allows brands to deliver the authentic messages and high quality storytelling that viewers and customers crave and are willing to engage with.

For the study, Channel 4 partnered with the BVA Group for the research and published many of its key findings last week.

It found branded content is particularly effective at communicating with younger audiences who are more sceptical of traditional advertising. Gen Z views this sort of entertainment as a softer sell which leads to better brand resonance and higher levels of engagement.

However, brand alignment is important. 84% of respondents believe the brand needs to be a “logical fit” for the tone and type of content it publishes. This helps brands too as they are more likely to be closely associated with the content without the need to mention themselves or showcase logos or mottos.

A seamless alignment between content and brand leads to higher rates of approval from audiences which in turn drives more positive results across all KPIs for a brand. This increases return on investment and makes campaigns more likely to succeed in the long term.

The research also found that the power of content can result in a notable boost to brand perceptions, something that is more difficult to achieve with traditional spot advertisement. This is because it is easier to put forward a compelling message in an environment where viewers are more receptive to it.

High quality content then leads to positive brand associations. 44% of respondents said they had a more favourable view of a brand after consuming branded content and programming.

Uber saw the benefits after its ‘Where to Britain?’ campaign. The perception that the brand had a ‘sense of humour’ climbed 105% afterwards, as did the view that it had friendly drivers (+95%).

Sophie Lloyd concluded: “We’ve always believed branded entertainment delivers for brands but with this – the first research of its kind – we now have proof. It’s an opportunity for brands to co create quality editorial entertainment and weave their values and messages through storytelling and narratives that viewers want to engage with.”


Fake reviews and misleading content continue to frustrate retail customers who believe brands in the sector need to outline new standards to combat the problem.

A new study by Bazaarvoice Inc has found that compelling, informative content is a big win for brands in retail but that the opposite can turn off customers entirely as the demand for up to date, relevant and trustworthy information trumps all else in the buyer’s journey.

10,000 consumers in several countries including the US and UK were polled for their opinions on the reviews and other forms of content that often feature on product pages.

Authenticity is very important at this point as customers look to consume content at this stage to inform their decision making. The right content helps to build trust but fake reviews can lead to negative experiences and a lingering sense of disappointment.

The problem with fake reviews has escalated to a point where 72% of respondents want new standards to improve the situation.

Of the measures that could help, 43% want only customers that have made a verified purchase being able to submit a review. A third of those quizzed also said every product should be tried and tested by customers before they go on sale.

A further 34% believe the onus is on the brand to run the rule over customer content each day to ensure it meets the highest standards and to weed out reviews that are fake.

The consequences for brands that do not uphold high standards can be dire as 43% would lose all trust and 78% of these consumers said they would not even consider purchasing a product or service from the brand again.

Bazaarvoice chief revenue officer, Joe Rohrlich said customers are often suspicious when there are a number of the same reviews with similar wording and a very high percentage of extremely positive reviews.

He added: “It is paramount that brands are reviewing customer content through technology-based and human moderation to account for the subtleties in one of the most challenging aspects of ecommerce.”

Customers prefer to see a mix of positive and negative reviews. More than two-thirds said less flattering takes on products are as important as those that gush about features as weighing the pros against the cons helps to improve decisions.

Highlighting negative reviews also means consumers are less likely to believe the content is fake or fraudulent.

The quality of content elsewhere on web pages is also important for customers. More than half said they don’t like to see dishonest brand or product info, which again highlights the need for relevant and trustworthy web copy.

Other turn offs for customers include lacklustre quality products (61%) and customer service issues (49%). All of these can break trust and make it difficult to regain it so brands should be proactive and vigilant when creating and supporting customer experiences.

Rohrlich concludes: “Alongside the right tools and expertise, brands should pursue new insights from customer content that can help enhance product design and production quality.”


Enterprise marketers need to use content during every phase in which a customer interacts with their company as it is essential for delivering ‘great’ experiences, a new study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has found.

Enterprise marketing is naturally grander in scale and scope than traditional marketing as it combines different departments and activities across an organisation to drive sales and attract and retain large audiences.

The latest report by CMI, titled ‘Enterprise Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America’ has uncovered a direct link between the deployment of content during each stage of the cycle, which generally starts with ‘awareness’ and concludes with ‘action’, and the quality of experiences.

More than half of enterprise marketers working for a brand delivering ‘optimal’ customer experiences say that their content marketing strategies and campaigns are either ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ successful.

Those using content every time a customer interacts with their company are enjoying greater success.

Just 29% of all respondents are managing high-quality content marketing activities and those who do not are struggling to deliver the experiences that their customers demand.

CMI general manager Stephanie Stahl said that the report shows that brands deploying content regularly are not only providing great experiences but are also truly focused on the needs of their audience.

This can pay off in a number of ways at the point of sale and further down the line as brand retention and loyalty comes into play.

Speaking about successful enterprise marketers, she added: “They give their audience what they want and need, when and where they need it.

“They create content based on specific points/stages of the buyer journey.

“Their content creates credibility and trust. On top of that, they view their role as directly connected to sales.”

Stahl also believes that content ties everything together and is able to unite disparate moving parts to ensure that customer experiences are seamless from the first interaction to the last.

In large-scale enterprise marketing, this is very important.

Enterprise marketers are also becoming more strategic as 46% now have some sort of documented strategy for content marketing in place.

There have been notable strides in this area as only 36% said the same 12 months ago.

While content is a unifying influence, the actual act of coordinating content creation and distribution is still proving to be a challenge as 62% say that this is their top issue for the year ahead.

Back in 2019, the same challenge came out on top.

There is also room for improvement in terms of deploying content after every touch point as just 44% said that they agree that their organisation can deliver seamless, optimal experiences during the entire sales and engagement cycle.

The 10th annual study shows that for brands naturally eager for customers to return and buy products and services a number of times, content can play a major role in strengthening ties, trust and loyalty.

Nine in 10 providing optimal experiences value the creativity and craft that’s central to content creation and a similar number strongly believe that relevant content needs to be distributed at points when individual customers can see it most.


Marketing professionals are going all in on content marketing in 2020, according to new research by the World Media Group, which found that 80% of brands expect campaigns led by editorial content, videos and other mediums to grow during the next two years.

The ‘Understanding the Future for Content-Led Marketing Around the World’ study shines a light on how content is being deployed by big brands and its evolution from primarily being a lead generation tool to a wide-reaching, multi-faceted activity.

By the end of 2021, a staggering 98% of marketers expect content-driven campaigns to either stabilise or grow, with just 2% expecting a drop-off during the period.

As content strategies mature, brands are becoming more bold and experimental in their campaigns as they look to drive action across the marketing funnel.

Nine in 10 respondents said that they will add audio and podcasts to their publication slate in 2020 and a similar number are expecting to leverage cutting-edge tech such as augmented reality and virtual reality to deliver more engaging experiences.

While written, editorial-style content and posts on social media remain a cornerstone of content marketing strategies, there is a willingness to diversify and embrace new mediums to cater to the more nuanced role that content marketing plays across the business.

Content creation is the activity that makes everything tick, but to create holistic strategies, brands are also focusing on how output is distributed as putting content front and centre at various stages of a customer’s journey is becoming more important.

The concept of added value is also strengthening as companies are attempting to showcase their expertise and address customers’ needs to ensure that they return to a website at a later date, which drives conversion in the long term.

“Content, when produced strategically and with regularity, can be the backbone of a marketing and advertising plan,” eMarketer principal analyst Jillian Ryan said in a statement.

She added: “It should be created for a specific audience and shared in the most relevant channel to reach the intended audience.

“Brands are starting to realize that content-led strategies can inform and provide fuel for most of their other marketing and advertising initiatives.”

The popularity of content marketing has been espoused in other recent studies such as the CMO Club’s report on the “real drivers of brand growth” in marketing, which found that 86% of key decision-makers in the US believe that the practice is the single most important area for investment.

Organic content marketing topped the charts as the best digital media channel ahead of digital display ads (64%), general search engine optimisation (59%) and paid search (59%) 

A separate study by Borrell Associates also found that content marketing is now regularly being deployed alongside paid ads to increase its reach and power.

More than two-thirds plan to spend more on digital video ads in the coming months, while a similar number expect to see an uptick in investment in digital audio ads and social media advertising.

In contrast, traditional mediums such as newspaper, magazine and radio are falling by the wayside.


Mature B2C content marketing teams are more capable of using articles, blogs and videos to keep customers engaged through an entire cycle or journey, according to a new comprehensive study on marketing practices published by Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

The ‘B2C Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends’ report for 2020 found that marketing teams are enjoying greater success with their campaigns but that the majority of efforts are still focused at the top of the funnel.

CMI believes that brands must attempt to find more of a balance to really transform results next year.

When asked about the most important marketing goals for the previous 12 months, 84% of respondents said ‘creating brand awareness’, making it the most popular overall ahead of ‘educating audiences’ (75%) and ‘building credibility and trust’ (65%).

In contrast, the lower part of the funnel gets short shrift, with just a third of respondents saying that they are using content to support deeper journeys with the aim of building a solid base of subscribers.

A similar number are currently trying to nurture audiences for the longer term.

B2C marketers would be served well by a pivot to more balanced strategies, as CMI found that goals such as building subscribers are often the key to moving performance from merely good to excellent.

Forging deeper relationships can really pay off, and content is a conduit for helping that lofty objective to be achieved.

Despite the lop-sided nature of content output, 75% of B2C marketers believe that their organisations are currently either ‘moderately’, ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ successful, which is encouraging as content continues to play a greater role in the marketing mix.

Perhaps most importantly, campaigns are improving: the majority of respondents said that they are delivering better returns and are ‘somewhat’ or ‘much’ more successful compared to the same time last year.

CMI’s Chief Strategy Advisor Robert Rose said that the findings are “exciting” and show that particularly in B2C environments, content marketing “is alive and well” and will be a force for good as the new decade rolls in.

He did add a word of caution though: “However, when we look at B2C companies that are in the sophisticated/mature phase of content marketing, one of the biggest reasons they are successful is because their organization provides customers with optimal experiences across the entire engagement journey.”

Heading into 2020, agencies are in a position to take advantage of the content boom as the majority of B2C marketing teams are now outsourcing a single activity or more as they look to expert outside assistance to support different aspects of campaigns.

Creating written and visual content is an ongoing challenge, and 80% of those outsourcing are handing over content creation to agencies.

The desire to outsource is closely linked to B2C marketers’ list of goals for 2020.

Half of respondents said that a focus on content quality and quantity will be a top priority in the new year, which is something that third parties are particularly adept at supporting over time.

The same number have also set their sights on improving the quality and conversion of audiences.


Editorial content can play a key role in inspiring luxury shoppers and guiding their purchase decisions, according to a new independent study by Attraqt that suggests that brands in fashion and retail are not doing enough to influence customers at various stages of the purchasing cycle.

The study of 3,000 shoppers in the UK, the UAE and France aimed to highlight behaviour expectations and frustrations and the factors that lead to a purchase being made.

It also looks at the rising number of digital channels and how they can be used to support a consumer’s buying journey.

Physical stores were the traditional starting point for retail shoppers, and while 40% say that they still visit stores to peruse new products, the same number are now using smartphones, retailer websites and brand apps to discover new trends and offers and make purchases.

Attraqt’s director of customer experience Jon Stephens says that the journey for luxury shoppers is currently evolving rapidly and change is being driven by younger consumers.

The report predicts that Millennials and Gen Z will account for half of the luxury goods sector by the middle of the next decade.

In order to keep up with the evolution, the report suggests that brands need to look beyond digital channels merely being a source of inspiration and use them instead to deliver “more immersive, personal and frictionless” experiences.

Luxury shoppers regard finding new products with ease as the single most important factor in their shopping experience, while discovering new trends, personalised recommendations and advice from stylists were also ranked highly.

Every one of these ‘essentials’ can be demonstrated via high-quality content marketing campaigns, either through interactive ‘shoppable’ videos, which allow viewers to click on items of clothing to discover more information, or blogs highlighting new trends.

One in 10 say that bloggers are their single biggest ‘influencer’, while 26% say that a brand’s online content is very influential in the decisions they make about luxury purchases.

More specifically, when shoppers don’t know what to buy, 34% say that product recommendations can push them in the right direction and 26% say that editorial and featured stories can be helpful.

Social media site Instagram is also a notable influence on purchases.

“The importance of orchestrating a luxury shopping journey fit for the digital era – connecting the customer with relevant products and creating a series of ‘wow’ experiences to nurture a customer to a sale – has never been more important,” adds Stephens, who says that a failure to serve needs in micro-moments can lead to lost sales.

“In the luxury market this means removing the data silos in their organisation to ensure they influence every touchpoint – from the curated editorial content to the search and navigation process right through to the packaging of the delivery and re-engagement.”

The need to optimise digital platforms and channels is brought into sharp focus by the fact that 65% of Gen Z and Millennials now start their respective journeys online, and this age group will be responsible for the lion’s share of purchases by 2025.


Paid search will “probably decline” during the final months of 2019, according to a new study by audience intelligence platform SparkToro that found the number of zero-click searches on Google soared to an all-time high in June.

The latest report found just 4.42% of searches ending with a paid search click. That number was dwarfed by the 45.25% of searches that result in an organic click and the 50.33% of searches leading to no discernible action by the end-user, more commonly known as zero-click searches.

SparkToro founder Rand Fishkin says zero-click searches have been tracking steadily higher for a while now and that the upward trend is unlikely to plateau or reverse soon. He believes that brands must factor this new behaviour into their SEO and content campaigns to achieve sustainable success moving forward.

Fishkin expects paid search click-through rates, which now take up just a small portion of overall activity, to drop off even further before 2020 and zero-click searches to grow even further. Zero-click searches are more prevalent on smartphones and other mobile devices and have increased steadily from 43.9% during the last three years.

“I think paid search CTR will probably decline over the next few months,” Fishkin said. “That’s because historically, each time Google changes how paid ads appear in the search results (like the late May shift to the black ‘Ad’ labels in mobile SERPs), ad CTR rises, then slowly declines as more searchers get familiar with the ad format and develop ad blindness.”

Google’s parent company Alphabet continues to be the dominant force in the search environment, as its properties now account for 94% of all searches made in the US. Fishkin believes this is now essentially a “monopoly”, and while zero-click searches are on the rise, Google has been able to deliver a regular stream of searchers to Alphabet-owned properties.

The predicted slump for paid ads means that organic content and SEO will take on even greater importance according to Fishkin, though he admits Google will be looking to new methods to prompt more searches to interact with ads in the coming months. He also believes that zero-click searches are an opportunity for marketers to advertisers to do something new to drive awareness and exposure.

Fishkin concludes: “Rich information appearing in Google’s results may be, like billboard ads or press mentions, harder to track than website traffic, but it’s still exposing your brand name to an audience, building familiarity, and sharing information. In my opinion, the brands that find ways to benefit from that type of SERP exposure, even without a click, will be the ones who win at this new form of on-SERP SEO.”

The rise of zero-click searches may be worrying for brands initially, as they may find it more challenging to push consumers along a traditional sales cycle of awareness and discovery to intent and purchase. The loss of traffic also means fewer marketing opportunities and a greater challenge to retain and develop audiences. However, the strength of organic clicks suggests the power of search is not waning.


Pharmaceutical brands need to do more to create and distribute “relevant and meaningful” content, according to a new report released last Thursday by Gartnerthat highlights the importance of improving digital strategies in the sector.

The first Gartner L2 Digital IQ Index: Pharmaceutical Rx U.S. study found that most brands in the pharmaceutical industry have not been able to pivot from a brand-centric approach to one that puts the patient at the heart of the experience and messages. Gartner noted that today’s consumers are both sceptical and savvy and that brands must, in turn, go to extra lengths to ensure that their needs are being met.

Gartner ranked 88 pharmaceutical brands in the US based on their performance in digital endeavours, and it did so by analysing more than a thousand data points across “critical dimensions”, such as social media, content marketing and site functionality. The primary takeaway is that while digital marketing efforts are meeting an adequate standard, much more can still be done.

Three-quarters of the brands were able to achieve a rank of “average” or better according to Gartner, which said the performance was impressive in part due to the “unprecedented” levels of regulation and scrutiny in the sector that can often hamper marketing campaigns.

The importance of serving up better content was highlighted by the fact that two-thirds of consumers say they use credible information that they have read or viewed to improve their own decision-making processes. Gartner said that many brand websites are still “content-poor” and that just half have up-to-date conversation guides or patient stories.

“It’s not enough to have average digital capabilities these days – pharmaceutical brands must ensure that their content is present, relevant and meaningful enough to take action on,” Gartner’s sector lead, Chris Beland, said.

He added: “Pharmaceutical brands in the U.S. face unprecedented levels of scrutiny and regulation, including strict limitations that have a profound impact on how they market to consumers. Despite these difficulties, consumers continue to look to brands’ digital channels for credible information and guidance.”

Paid search is also a key battleground for pharmaceuticals, as 68% say they regularly engage in competitive keyword bidding. Gartner noted that brands that focus their budgets on category search terms usually drive better return on investment but said these efforts must also be supported by more organic strategies.

This theory is strengthened by data in the study showing brands with effective social, mobile and email content efforts can deliver a larger portion of website traffic and general performance. Going mobile is crucial, as 83% of all traffic is now centred on mobile sites. Gartner also urged brands to incorporate prominent calls to action in content to generate better ROI.

Only three of the 88 brands analysed came away with a “genius” rating. These were Repatha, FASENRA and Humira. A further 28 are classified as “gifted”, while 37 are “average”. At the other end of the spectrum, 11 pharmaceutical brands received a “feeble” ranking.