Categories
Content Marketing

Structuring Your Content for Accessibility

Structuring your content for accessibility requires some formatting and technical adjustments to your text-based, audio, and video content. On your website or social media, accessible content means people with visual and other impairments are able to access your content and understand it.

Additionally, Google and other search engines love accessibly structured content and may prioritize it in the search results, which can help you get more views and engagement on your content.

Text Accessibility Tips

If you’re creating a blog post or website content, the text is usually the bread and butter of your message. Here are some fast and simple tips to ensure your text is accessible.

Write in Short Paragraphs

When writing for the web, consider using short paragraphs to make it easier for the reader. A good guideline: imagine you’re reading your text on your phone. If the paragraph runs longer than your mobile phone screen, it’s probably too long to be accessible. While you’re at it, make sure you break up your text with a compressed image every 250 words or so.

You can find a royalty-free image for use on sites like Pixabay and Pexels, or at many other locations.

Utilize Headings

To make your content more accessible to all readers and search engines, use headings. Top-level headings, or H1s, indicate the main topic (or title) of your content. Those go in <H1> tags. Sub-headings should be scannable to the reader and go under <H2> headings. Need to break it down beyond that? Consider <H3> headings.

If all this code sounds confusing, don’t worry. Most word processing programs and CMSes (content management systems, like WordPress or Drupal) have WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) header editing options. To use them, highlight the text and then select the correct heading option. Here’s how to do that in WordPress, GoogleDocs, and Microsoft Word.

In addition to creating accessible content for users with screen readers, most people prefer to scan articles in this fashion to find relevant information. Proper headings make the text more accessible for everyone.

Use Accessible Font Choices

Users with visual impairments, as well as screen readers and other helpful AI (artificial intelligence) can best read accessible fonts. While you might think default or sans serif fonts are boring, they’re the defaults for a reason: they’re accessible and generally easier to read.

Accessible fonts include Helvetica, Calibri, and Arial. These are especially helpful to users with low vision.

Static Image Accessibility Tips

Are you using pictures in the body of your text, or as the content itself? You might think images are completely inaccessible to those using screen readers, but that’s not so. Some folks who use screen readers have low vision, meaning they can magnify and consume visual content using special tools.

Additionally, search engines and users with accessibility needs often prefer images with alt-tags. Alt-tags are short descriptions that describe the content. Let’s say you have a photo of two dogs playing. Your alt-tag might read “two medium-sized poodle dogs playing.” This description gives the user a decent image in their mind. Even if they’ve only touched a poodle, they can imagine the texture when the dog is described.

If you’re posting memes or other text-heavy content on a website or social media, make sure to include the text in the image description. On Facebook, for example, post the meme, but along with the image, include what the text says.

Video Content Accessibility Tips

Do you regularly post video content? If so, make your videos more accessible to those with hearing impairments by including video captions on your video. Here are some things to think about:

  • 28 million adult Americans can’t hear your video—they have hearing impairments.
  • 85% of Facebook videos get played with no sound.
  • Want people to watch your video to the end? Chances of them completing it increases significantly with video captions.

It may also help to include more information about the video in its description, including a transcript, a few bullet points about the content, and the video length.

When you include a transcript, make sure to use the words “video transcript” to aid users in searching specifically for the transcript. Remember: this also signals to Google and other search engines that you’re including a transcript, and that can increase your search engine ranking and visibility.

Accessibility Goes Beyond Hearing and Visual Impairments

Creating accessible content also means considering those who have cognitive disabilities, physical disabilities, and learning disabilities. Plus, according to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), businesses must comply with accessibility needs. That doesn’t only refer to brick-and-mortar establishments, but to websites, social media platforms, and other online real estate as well.

What can you do to make the most accessible content? Consider presenting data in logical, easy-to-digest formats. While complex infographics look nice, simple data might work best in a small table. Those with cognitive impairments may be able to more easily understand the information.

Consider Other Definitions of Accessibility

Beyond visual accessibility, think about the people who might want to access your content and otherwise could not. Do you offer a product or service that appeals to children as well as adults? If so, you’ll need content (or maybe even your own app) that is child-friendly and accessible to kids—that means considering kids’ reading levels, interests, and colors that engage them.

While a parent considering a toy might want to know more about the safety, price, and educational value of it, a child will want to know when it’s available and what type of features it might have. A discerning grandparent might simply want to know how or where to order it so it arrives before the holidays. Can they get it in one click with Amazon? Even better.

Other accessibility considerations include:

  • Broadband internet accessibility: Many internet users around the world rely partially or totally on mobile devices. Make sure your content is mobile-friendly (also essential for search engine ranking) and navigable on your phone.
  • Financial accessibility: Is your content behind a paywall? If so, it may not be financially accessible to everyone.

With the right structure and accessibility considerations, your content has the potential to not only rank better but to impress and serve all the users you’re hoping to reach.

Categories
Content Marketing

Content vs. Content Marketing

Believe it or not, there are still some people who think content and content marketing are the same thing. Going beyond the definition, the difference lies in the difference between content creation and the practice of content marketing. White papers, webinars, and e-books are not content marketing. Ads aren’t content marketing. Your social media posts aren’t content marketing. Marketing with content isn’t content marketing.

The Difference Between Content and Content Marketing

Content marketing relies on the publisher destination and the frequency of high quality content to attract and build an audience. On social platforms, you don’t own the audience. And publishing one ebook doesn’t provide the consistency people need and expect to build trust. Content marketing is meant to attract an audience to an experience or destination you own. You build it and optimize it in order to help you achieve your marketing goals. Content itself is everywhere. You have sales content, advertising content, marketing campaign content, event content, customer service content, user-generated content, and more. Content marketing on the other hand attracts an audience to a platform you own rather than buying an audience or interrupting them on someone else’s platform.

Making Content Marketing Work for You

Build Your Content Marketing Mission Statement

Your content marketing mission statement should support your brand mission and put your customers brought in center. Make sure to define who your target audience is and what topic or topics you support along with the value you provide to your audience.

Choose a URL

Decide whether your content marketing destination should be your company’s domain or on an unbranded website. For instance, BigCommerce, an e-commerce solution provider displays their content marketing solutions for small businesses looking to learn about digital marketing and customer experience on the same domain with a blog URL. On the other hand, we see that CMO.com is a domain that’s independent of its parent company, Adobe.

Determine How Branded the Site Will Be

Content marketing is different in terms of branding. If you place your content site on your domain, it needs to contain at least a few elements of your corporate brands. If you opt for an off-domain content site the creative direction you take needs to support whatever topic you are trying to become an authority .

Make Sure to Include All the Components of an Effective Content Marketing Destination

Your site must include all of the components that are typically found on any publisher website such as:

  • Categories that show the topics you cover
  • Articles that are frequently published with visible publication dates and authors
  • Strong focus on growing your audience by including calls to subscribe in your updates
  • Calls to action, a contact us page, or an offer for anyone who wants to read you directly
  • Visuals to support your topics and break up text
  • Highways of the top performing content so readers can easily find your best content
  • Social sharing options to allow your readers to easily promote your content

Develop a Plan to Support Visual Content

Getting everything done to this point can be challenging. Once it’s done however you will find that creating visual content is a challenge. The good news is you don’t have to ruin your budget to include visuals. You can use other people’s visual content by embedding it with your own. You can create SlideShare presentations with little to no budget. And you could tell stories with your visuals.

Build Site to Focus on Subscriptions

Subscribers are an important measure of engagement, conversion, and reach. They are representation of the audience of readers that invite you into their email box. As such, you should optimize your website and the content for them to build your list. As you build your list, build trust by consistently providing them with great content they can only get in their email box. This is a crucial step in educating your customers that is especially important for B2B companies or professional service providers.

Publish New Content Consistently

If you’re covering just one topic, publish new content at least once a week. If you’re covering two topics,  publish at least twice  weekly. If possible, publish every day on various categories of content that will attract the right audience. Research from Hubspot shows that increasing the frequency of quality content delivers a predictable and in some cases, exponential ROI.

Define the Metrics You’ll Measure

It may be tempting to select a large number of metrics to track. Thankfully, you don’t have to pick them all. By focusing just on your traffic (page views and visitors), your engagement (social shares, comments, and time on site) and conversions (number of subscribers and contact form submissions) you have everything you need to further inform your strategy. If you struggle to find the time and resources to get all of this done, there are plenty of marketing automation tools available to help you plan your editorial calendar, schedule the content to your website, and handle social promotion. If you’re not a great writer, you can always outsource the content creation. And if your budget allows, you can always hire an agency like mine, Sachs Marketing Group, to handle all your content creation and content marketing needs.

Categories
SEO

How to Rank Your Old Content

Do you know what percentage of your search traffic comes from your top 10 pages? When’s the last time you looked? Chances are, it’s a pretty big part of your total monthly website traffic.  The older your website is and the more content it has on it, the less those 10 pages tend to account for a larger portion of your traffic.

Generally, with smaller sites, the percentages are much higher where the top 10 pages make up the majority of their search traffic simply because there isn’t that much material available on the website. Does that mean you should just focus on your top 10 pages and ignore the rest, or should you focus just on generating more new content?

Quality Matters Over Quantity

Many people seem to believe that when it comes to web content, the philosophy of more is better applies. There are people who crank out dozens of articles every week and sometimes publish more than one article a day on their blog. And over time, they see their traffic grow, but not by much. They spend all of this time writing just to realize the majority of the content they publish never even ranked. So what should you do in this situation?

Begin focusing on your old and outdated content to boost your traffic. Consider this. You can publish one new piece of content a week to keep things fresh, but your team can update older articles as you work on new content.

When you write more frequently, your top 10 pages will typically make up a larger portion of your search traffic. By updating your older content, you can increase your search traffic exponentially and reduce your reliance on your top 10 pages.

Start with the Google Search Console

In the Google Search Console, you have access to data for up to 16 months. Compare this month’s results to the same period as last year. Click on date and then compare. Next, choose your older date first and then today’s date.

Look for Pages That Used to Get a Lot of Traffic

On the generated report, look for articles that used to get a lot of traffic but have less now.  This way, you’ll see old content that Google used to love but no longer pays attention to.

Look for Pages That Never Got a Lot of Traffic

After we’ve located those, it’s time to find content on your site that Google has never loved. Go back into the search console and look for pages that have a high impression count but never got any real clicks. The easiest way to find these pages is to choose a date range in the last month and look at each page  metric from an impression, click, and click through rate perspective. Sort the click through rate column in descending order so the lowest percentage is at the top and the highest person is just at the bottom.

Generally, the pages  at the top of the list have the most potential because it means Google is ranking you but you  just aren’t getting enough clicks. Most of the time, it isn’t just related to your title tag and meta description and has to do with the content on the pages.

With this information, it’s time to create a list of pages that have the greatest potential.

Prioritize Your Content Updates

Most often, the pages that have the highest potential are ones that used to rank but no longer do so. Google used to rank in like them which means that if you give those pages a bit of TLC, you can easily get Google to love them again.

The second group of pages may have potential but not as much as the first. These are the ones that have a high impression count but a low click through rate. These pages are more difficult to fix because they never really performed well.

Start Updating Old Content

Find the first article you want to update in your Google Search Console, and click on it. Then, click on “Queries.” If you see keywords that don’t rank in the top five or have a high impression value, go to your ranking article and check to make sure it is relevant to that term.

If it’s not, edit the article so that it at least includes that term and covers the topic.

For terms where you’re already ranking in the top 5 spots, use a keyword tool to get more keyword ideas. You should see long-tail variations of the keyword, so you can edit the article to include any of the long-tail phrases, you should see some quick gains in traffic.

Beyond including the right keywords, update the content to make sure all of the information is relevant, the photos are current and if you could include any kind of multimedia such as embedding relevant YouTube videos. This will help you increase the time on site of your visitors.

User Experience

Because user behavior is one of the biggest influencing factors with Google’s algorithm, you’ll need to optimize your newly updated content for these are signals to help boost its rankings. Takes time to optimize your title tags and meta description.

Why? If everyone searched keyword on Google and clicked on the second result instead of the first, Google eventually learns that the second result is more relevant and it should be ranking in the first spot rather than the second. Eventually, Google would change the ranking of the two sites.

By using persuasive copy and convincing people to click on your search listing rather than the competition, you’ll see your rankings climb.

Promote your content again because you’ve updated it and optimized it. Once you’ve updated the content, update the published date or the last updated date within your WordPress platform to signal to readers and the search engines that your content is changed, up-to-date, and more relevant. Share it on social media to get it circulating again and traffic will start coming in.

Build Links

Links are an important part of the ranking equation. You should create a new strategy or continue working on your old one to build more links to the newly updated content.

Once your website has 150 pages or more, consider focusing the majority of your time and effort on updating old content instead of creating new content.

If you have more than 1,000 pages, spends at least 80% of your time updating old content rather than writing new content.

The key to getting that old outdated content ranking again is a focus on the content that used to rank but doesn’t anymore.