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


The festive shopping season is expected to start earlier than ever this year as consumers turn to digital stores in droves to avoid last-minute logistical nightmares. This busy online sales period represents a great opportunity for brands to drive revenue and engagement.

Review last year’s performance

The best place to start is by looking at what worked and where you fell short during the holiday season last year. Google Analytics can be used here to review your website’s performance. You will be able to track general metrics such as session duration and bounce rate, which can highlight consumer behaviours and habits.

You should also be able to see what channels people used the most to reach your site and the products or services that saw an uptick in activity during a sales period. You might also find that a compelling blog post delivered a considerable spike in traffic.

You can use these insights to support your decision-making in the run-up to Christmas this year. For example, you might need to update product copy, republish a gift guide article, or tweak on-page SEO to get the best results.

Use local SEO

While COVID-19 will reduce the clamour for shopping at physical stores this year, local SEO should still be used to attract consumers in regional markets as many people will be eager to secure deliveries from suppliers nearby.

Optimisation here is relatively straightforward. All you need to do is update your Google My Business listing with relevant information, including contact details and opening hours. You can also use Google Posts to promote offers or new product offerings in the local section of SERPs.

Include internal links in content

Internal linking provides structure to your website, but more important in ecommerce is its ability to guide a visitor from one page to the next. Consumers want to see more relevant articles, blogs and product sections when they navigate to your site. This information could be enough to convert and close a sale.

Optimise images

Images are important for keeping customers engaged, especially during a product-driven shopping season. People want to see high-resolution images of products before they make a purchase. These images need to be optimised to ensure that the customer experience meets expectations — large files can weigh down pages. You can do this by resizing and compressing them and by optimising placement near relevant text.

Make sure to tag your images correctly. Google says that “adding more context around images” can make your content “more useful”, which leads to higher-quality traffic sources. You should include descriptive titles, filenames and captions for images for this reason.

Target top of the funnel

Content is readily deployed by marketers at the top of the funnel, and this works well at Christmas as consumers will want to research products before making a purchase. You can use content to provide timely advice, reviews and comparisons. Aim to inform and educate. This type of ‘research-stage’ content is incredibly valuable at this time of the year and it aligns perfectly with SEO and social media output.


Google’s SEO expert John Mueller revealed last week that heading tags are a very important signal for search and are strongly linked to the quality of content and what an article or blog is actually about.

Mueller has stated in the past that content can rank near the top of SERPs without H1 headings. This remains true, but this does not mean that they do not play an important role in search performance. This is because headings enable Google’s algorithm to get a better grasp of what is on a page.

During a Webmaster Central Hangout, Mueller noted: “Headings on the page are not the only ranking factor that we have. We look at the content on its own as well. But sometimes having a clear heading on a page gives us a little bit more information on what that section is about.”

Mueller went on to confirm that heading tags are a “really strong signal” for this reason – so what are headers exactly?

Headers are different from an article’s title. The first header on a page will use an H1 tag and ideally is an introduction to the topic covered on a particular page. Headers like this are used on ecommerce pages as well as blogs. In addition to providing useful information, they give structure to a webpage, which is what Google wants to see before it starts indexing content.

If you want to deploy excellent header tags to boost on-page SEO, these four best practices will give you a head start.

Use headers for at-a-glance insights

Just 16% of internet users read every word of an article after navigating to a webpage. The vast majority prefer to mix scanning with reading to get what they are looking for. Headers are great for breaking up text and improving the readability of a page, which in turn gives it a better chance of performing well in SERPs.

Include keywords and be consistent

Mueller says that headers are very important signals, so it makes sense to include a few of your target keywords in them. Don’t overstuff though and try to fit them in naturally. This will ensure that the user experience remains exemplary, something that can also be supported by being consistent with your use of header tags. The formatting and character limit should be the same across the board. Also, aim for shorter tags where possible.

Capture the reader’s attention

Bland and forgettable tags can undermine an otherwise excellent piece, so target the use of intriguing or interesting headers to keep those scanning engaged as they move down the page. High-quality tags are also more likely to encourage more readers to take the time to read important sections.

Focus on the H1 tag

The H1 tag is the first header that readers will notice, so place a particular focus on getting it right. Google has said in the past that there is no limit to the number of H1s that publishers can use on a page, but when optimising for SEO, it is best to start with only one as they are likely to be as long as titles and need to be used judiciously for the best results.


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.


What is a keyword?

Keywords are one of the simplest technical aspects of SEO. There is no code or HTML, just basic words, phrases and queries that are entered into search engines to find content and the answers to questions. Keyword research will find the words that are related to your brand and that you want to rank for.

Nine in 10 pages struggle to drive any sort of meaningful organic traffic. This is why it is important to have one or two phrases that you can target with your content marketing. You can tailor content to these keywords and related topics so that it finds the audience you want to engage with.

How do I find them?

Seed keywords are the bread and butter of a successful SEO campaign. These keywords define your brand, your product and service offerings, and your industry and niche. Seed keywords can be used as the base for an extensive brainstorming session where you populate a long list of potential keyword ideas.

If you are scratching your head thinking about what exactly your brand’s keywords are, you can pop over to Google Search Console and take a look at the Search Results report. You will already have an exhaustive list of keywords that your webpages are ranking for. There are other tools you can use to do this if you haven’t yet set up Google Search Console.

Who are my competitors?

If you are unsure exactly who your competitors are for a seed keyword, head over to Google and input one. The first page of results for that keyword will show you who is ranking for it. Again, you can use third-party tools such as Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to see the most popular pages for a keyword based on search traffic for the month. These pages are getting the most organic traffic for that particular keyword.

What do I do with keywords?

You can use keywords as the basis for content marketing materials. Keywords show you what consumers are searching for, so you can meet their needs by publishing a blog or an article that expounds on that keyword with useful information. You can also communicate a few of these keywords to an agency if they are managing a blog campaign for you as it will make the copy more targeted and relevant for your audience.

Is there anything else I need to do?

Seed keywords can be quite limiting as they are likely to be directly related to who you are and what you are doing right now. This is great to begin with, but over time you will need to drill down a few more ideas. You can do this by studying your niche in greater detail using keyword research tools, browsing forums related to your industry, and extracting insights from communications with clients and customers via email and social media.

How do I know what’s best? You can find out the best keywords for your business by analysing SEO metrics. There are a number of metrics you can track, but some of the most valuable include search volume, traffic potential, click total, and cost per click (CPC).


Marketers want greater access to “customer attention” metrics as they believe more in depth data about content consumption and viewability would drive better performance from campaigns and strategies.

A new study published by Forrester Consulting, titled ‘Attention 2.0: Enhancing Ad Measurement Beyond Clicks & Viewability’, attempts to determine whether customer attention metrics can support more favourable outcomes across the marketing and advertising pipeline.

The conclusion is unanimous. Out of the 164 brand marketers in a range of industries including automotive and retail, 98% said deeper attention metrics would drive greater value for their respective companies and improve returns and ROI over an extended period.

Making sense of data is big business for modern brands but a sizable 84% of marketers said they are not able to keep a track of customer attention when consuming content, especially during mobile ads.

It is no surprise then that four in five marketers said they are eager for more access to pools of customer attention data that can really make a difference to the quality of decision making and to support other positive outcomes.

If they had better access, two-thirds of respondents said they would attempt to improve the process of retargeting and get a better handle on the frequency of ads they need to publish, as well as enhance click-through rates.

With data taking on great import across the business, 63% of respondents said their organisations are planning to spend more on customer attention metrics in 2020, making it a core focus for marketing in general.

Moving back to the use cases for customer attention data, a majority of marketers also want to hone in on metrics to see what can help to “drive brand lift”.

A further 58% also want to be able to test creative to see what formats and mediums would be the best for generating the most attention.

Meanwhile, at a recent CMO Summit, experts have been speaking about the “attention economy” and how to put forward big brand stories to attract and engage customers on a regular basis.

Pocket Aces co-founder, Aditi Shrivastava believes audiences “no longer want to see ads” and instead, crave authentic content with strategic brand placements.

She adds: “We’ve done a lot of consumer studies directly with consumers ranging from age 15 to 35. Digital also helps you to understand their sentiment about their likes and dislikes, so you not only know if they’ve seen your brand but whether they have received the message or not.”

Shrivastava also outlined a few different methods for tracking ROI effectively. For brands with an online presence and a mobile app, measuring downloads is the path with the least resistance to better metrics. For offline brands, marketers should conduct brand studies and look to create a regular content schedule.

She says content should not be viewed as a “one-time activity” and needs to be optimised depending on a company’s needs, goals, and wider targets. It also needs to have a ROI driven mindset behind it to ensure returns are viable from the get-go.


UK consumers are currently “hungry” for information on Brexit, and brands and publishers can boost traffic and other metrics by using the right keywords to rank higher in Google, according to a new report released on Monday by analytics company Searchmetrics.

With the UK still set to leave the EU on 31st October pending developments in parliament this week, Searchmetrics looked at the types of queries and questions that the general populace are inputting into Google to keep up with breaking Brexit stories.

In a statement accompanying the release of the study, Searchmetrics’ senior content marketing manager Stephen Bench-Capon said that there is currently a “huge opportunity” for news websites to take advantage of the demand for a 24/7 cycle of content related to Brexit.

More specifically, people are looking for answers to questions about the differing stances on Brexit, most notably remain or leave, and what the deal and no-deal options actually involve.

Bench-Capon revealed that “expertise, authority and trust” are the primary signals for ranking on the first page of Google SERPs and that the BBC is considered the “number one” destination for relevant info pertaining to the UK’s upcoming exit from the continental bloc.

The BBC has a 30% share of all the content featured on the first page of search results when ‘Brexit’ is inputted, which puts it way ahead of other major publishers such as the Guardian (12%) and the Independent (9%); Wikipedia and the Telegraph both have a 4% share.

However, when looking only at broader Brexit-related keywords, the Guardian reigns supreme ahead of the Independent, the Express and the Telegraph.

While the Guardian is more focused on publishing content related to the remain side of the Brexit equation, the Sun website is the most cited hub for keywords related to ‘no deal Brexit’.

The Guardian also has the drop on other news sites for Google News boxes, which require more extensive optimisation – it appears in 20% of news boxes related to Brexit, putting it well ahead of the Independent and the BBC, which both have around a 9% share in this area.

Searchmetrics also found that major political parties are also using SEO to get their messages across to voters by winning ‘share of voice’ in search results.

Bench-Capon said: “A political party’s aims on Google are different from those of a news publisher. By appearing in the search results for certain keywords they can make it clear to voters that their party should be associated with this kind of policy. The Liberal Democrats ranking for ‘Stop Brexit campaign’ is a good example of this phenomenon.”

The study found that the website’s current top-ranking Brexit related words are ‘brexit policies’, ‘brexit 12 point plan’ and ‘reasons why brexit is good’.

Meanwhile, leads with ‘why is the brexit deal no good’, ‘theresa may brexit deal’ and ‘negotiation brexit’.

Bench-Capon said that parties can perform better in Google by providing “high-quality Brexit-related content’ capable of informing and education readers and optimising content for SEO so that it ranks higher in SERPs.


High-level executives are disconnected from the world of search engine optimisation (SEO) and, therefore, are not providing the support digital marketing professionals need to succeed in the search environment, according to a new industry survey by software provider SEOmonitor.

The study of professionals across SEO and digital marketing, which formed part of a wider Forecasting Nightmares whitepaper, looks at the challenges of planning and forecasting in SEO and what needs to be done to help SEOs to progress and complete their tasks effectively in an ever-evolving and demand business landscape.

The C-Suite is a common barrier to success, with one in five saying they don’t get enough support from higher-ups, which many believe is because senior targets and objectives do not align with SEO efforts.

The disconnect and lack of knowledge and comprehension across the business, and especially at the management level, has other downsides. A quarter said they are given unrealistic time frames to deliver results, and one in eight are pressured into making forecasts even though they may be false or unattainable.

Therefore, it is no surprise that 33% of professionals want greater support for their SEO forecasting efforts. Greater time and resource investment into SEO would go some way to solving pressing problems, but the report noted that a culture change could have the biggest impact.

The current state of affairs is not good for business or SEOs, as 26% of the respondents said they struggle to forecast accurately on a consistent basis, while 22% are unable to demonstrate the full value of search engine optimisation.

“By translating SEO goals such as keyword rankings or visibility into simple, clearly defined business metrics, forecasting makes an invaluable business case for SEO activity,” SEOmonitor CEO Cosmin Negrescu said. “However, for the field of forecasting and, indeed, SEO as a whole to reach its true potential, it’s clear that the industry needs more support than it currently receives.”

The lack of support means that many professionals are forced to use tools that are not suitable for daily processes. This is highlighted by the fact that 15% of respondents admit to using general applications, such as Microsoft Excel, to calculate the value of SEO. While the issues are wide-ranging, 37% said that more investment in specialist tools would go a long way to help them with accurate forecasting.

Additional training is another solution put forward by professionals, as 25% said that they have not been told how to forecast accurately, while one-sixth of all respondents revealed that they had not taken a single course or received any training about forecasting during their careers.

Cosmin concluded: “Simply enough, for search professionals to consistently forecast to the accuracy expected of them, greater buy-in and investment in the field is needed. However, the industry consensus is that this support is currently unlikely to come without business decision-makers first seeing the accurate forecasts it would facilitate. It’s high time this frustrating paradox, which continues to hinder the efforts of well-meaning search professionals the world over, changed.”


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.


Content marketing, SEO and paid search need to work in unison to be effective, according to Saf Chowdhury and Mez Homayunfard from Online Marketing Gurus (OMG). The duo spoke about the ever-growing importance of web copy, articles and videos at the recent Mumbrella360 event.

Homayunfard, who is OMG’s co-founder, believes that organic content now takes on a greater role in the general marketing mix as the costs of paid media have skyrocketed during the last five years. He said that content is the best means for generating organic traffic and that, when supplemented by SEO, it is a hugely powerful tool for brands to leverage.

Speaking at the event on 30 June, Homayunfard used a case study involving a popular fashion retailer to highlight how search performance can collapse entirely during web migrations and without a carefully managed strategy. The drop-off forced the company to turn to OMG to rebuild its online presence.

Homayunfard noted: “This client had seen a very sharp drop in rankings – the business lost 86% of its visibility. Fashion is also a fragmented and splintered space and we were competing against a lot of pure-play online retailers. It was not a fun place to start a project.”

Content marketing was one of three activities, along with SEO and PPC, that enabled the company to recover lost ground, and it did so within just a few months. In the medium term, it drove $2m in incremental growth and campaigns centred on content to give it a platform to thrive in the long term without worries about a repeat performance slump.

A combination of content marketing and SEO are now preferable for Homayunfard and Chowdhury due to the rising costs of paid media, which make it difficult to sustain and use consistently as part of marketing and advertising strategies. The pair revealed that paid media now requires 35% more investment compared to three years ago.

As content marketing has matured, brands have turned to the practice to support cost-effective, agile and scalable campaigns. Homayunfard adds: “When we started the business six or seven years ago there was a heavy focus on paid search because SEO was a bit of a sort of Pandora’s Box. There wasn’t much transparency.”

Chowdhury believes content is now “super important” and advised businesses to double down on shorter, sharper and snappier forms of content rather than overlong pieces, though he admitted there is still a wide range of views in the industry about what is the right length of content for each situation.

“No one really wants to be shopping for dresses and then read an essay on the same page,” he said. “You need to look at content differently. You should think of reviews, and frequently asked questions.”

The two gurus finished their speech by saying that their client has been able to rank at the top of SERPS and enjoy significant revenue growth on a monthly basis and with the knowledge that it is a “repeatable process” that will continue to pay dividends.


Optimising content for search engines is a crucial process for B2B brands, as 87% of their audiences say they find relevant articles, blogs and news using Google, Bing and other leading search platforms.

That is the primary takeaway from a new study released by Clutch earlier this week. Content has long been seen a prime outlet for B2B enterprises to push thought leadership pieces and engaging prose, but the findings suggest SEO services are particularly important for amplifying the power of these messages and ensuring they are visible to the right people, at the right time.

The study noted that search engines can support a sort of snowball effect, as featuring on the first page of Google listings can then lead to more people clicking through to a corporate website and then making a purchase of a product or service or developing a lucrative relationship with a client.

“SEO remains an important way for B2B audiences to find content,” Content Marketing Institute, vice president, Kim Moustos said. “Don’t forget, though, that it involves optimizing content not just for search engines, but also for the people behind the queries.”

In 2018, optimising for search is very much centred around serving up content that provides value to the end user rather than merely checking boxes in the hope of it performing well in SERPs. However, search is just one aspect of the content mix, as 85% said they find business content via social media.

An additional 75% said they go to a company’s website for this content. How well a B2B brand can link these channels and put its content front and centre will play a major role in the success of digital marketing efforts.

“We produce a wide range of content, whether it be social media or content for our own website,” Digital Third Coast digital marketing manager, Mike Theodore said. “The goal is to drive organic traffic to our company and our service offerings, to be seen and heard as industry leaders, and to build a level of credibility with prospective employees, clients, and strategic partners.”

Blogs or articles are the most popular content formats for B2B audiences, but the study found that a broad, diverse content portfolio is best in today’s multi-device, multi-platform world. In terms of topics, tech leads the consumption stakes, ahead of small business and workplace/personnel.

Content consumption habits are also centred around the sale funnel and what an end user needs at a specific point in time. For example, during the awareness phase, almost half read blogs and articles, while product descriptions are more popular for those in the interest stage.

Theodore added: “We’re very conscious of the content we produce for our clients based on their different stages of purchasing. We’re always conscious to write to the best ‘persona.’” The good news continues for B2B brands, as audiences now engage with at least one piece of content every week, though Theodore believes the actual numbers could be even higher.