63 Actionable Content Marketing Insights from the Quick Sprout Blog
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This post is part of an ongoing series, “Game-Changing Advice from Top Marketing/SEO Blogs”
Neil Patel is a content marketing master.
He produces so much good content so quickly, I’m not sure how he finds time to sleep. (By the way, he says it takes him about 3 hours per post plus a little additional time for editing)
I’ve been reading his Quick Sprout blog for years and it has helped me tremendously.
In fact, it was one of my favorite sources in figuring out how to write perfect blog post.
So I wanted to boil down some of the best content marketing advice from the Quick Sprout blog for those of you who haven’t been reading it for years.
I’ve broken it down into several sections.
Write Scannable Content
- Forget about conventional paragraph rules and write short paragraphs. Even 1-sentence paragraphs are okay.
- Keep your sentences short
- Avoid using words with more than 4 syllables
- Use subheaders
- Use bulleted lists
- Add external links as references
Read more about scannable content here.
Focus on Your Copywriting
- Use “you” and “your” instead of “us” and “our”
- Use strong, active, direct verbs: “Get ready for vacation” is better than “Vacation is near”
- Don’t be afraid to use I, me, or my – it will make your writing more personal and increase engagement
- Use stories, whether they be your own or other people’s. Stories can prove that something works.
- Make your posts actionable. Provide clear instructions to your readers so they can follow through and experience the benefits your content discusses.
Read more about copywriting tweaks here.
- Emphasize benefits over features. For example, “Offsprout’s Site Grower allows you to create fully designed client sites in 5 minutes.” That’s much more compelling than “Offsprout’s Site Grower is a setup process that combines site templates, page templates, and initial configuration options.”
- Be as specific as possible. What’s more persuasive, saying that traffic tripled or saying that traffic increased by 198%?
- Use actual data to back up your claims. If you say 0.89% is the average conversion rate for display ads, back it up.
- Target emotions by using persuasive words like you, free, because, instantly, and new.
- Leverage testimonials to emphasize key clients that will impress prospects and brag about your service without it coming from you.
Read more about persuasion in copywriting here.
Use the Right Tools
- Buzzstream: Helps you find contact information and do outreach, especially to people that you’ve mentioned in your content.
- Buzzsumo: Shows you the most shared content for a given topic as well as who shared it and who linked to it.
- Buffer: Allows you to connect multiple social media accounts and schedule posts throughout the day and into the future.
- Ahrefs: A more complete version of Buzzsumo’s backlink checker. If you have Buzzsumo, you may not need this.
- SEMRush: See the keywords your competition is ranking for as well as keyword search volume.
- Target link roundups: search for “link roundup” + your niche or “newsletter” + your niche and see if you can find regular newsletters or content publishers that are looking to link to great content
- Link poaching: find good content of your competitors that is a few years old, then do a backlink search using a tool like Ahrefs or Buzzstream. If you find a number of inbound links, write a better, more updated version of the content, then reach out to the people who have linked to your competitor’s old post and suggest adding your link.
- Don’t seem like a liar: if you say that you’re a big fan, but don’t show that you actually are through interactions in blog comments, social media, or by being an email subscriber you probably don’t come across as the fan you say you are.
- Don’t ask them to do work: explain why your content is relevant to their audience rather than asking if it is.
- Explain why your content is special: be specific as to why your content is better than 100s of other posts on the topic.
- Get to know someone before asking for something: Make contact through email, social media, or comment sections. Then provide value, for example, by offering to upgrade/update old posts. Then you can make your ask (you’ll probably be about 4 weeks in at this point).
- Be personal: include a detail that is specific to the person that you’re reaching out to so they know they’re not getting a templated email.
- Tell what’s in it for them: or, even better, show them that you’ve already provided value to them in a real way.
- No typos!
Read more about outreach here.
The 5 Stages of Blog Growth
- Start (Two weeks): Define your niche. Create a reader persona with demographics, preferences, and goals. Create your blog. Find where your target readers hang out, whether that be other blogs, or offline.
- Find your 100 true fans (Less than 4 months): Build your initial following of 100 loyal fans using 4 strategies. 1) Guest-posting. 2) Creating the right type of content for your blog (types that work really well are roundup posts, ego bait posts, and “poster boy” posts. 3) Paid traffic if you have more money than time. 4) Social media through a SINGLE platform (at least to start).
- Scaling up (8-24 months): Continue with tactics that worked in the last stage. Spend more time on promotion. Create a content schedule. Consider monetization.
- Reap the rewards (3-6 months): Monetize and hire help with areas that you don’t need to be involved with (like graphic design or even the content writing itself)
- Maintain your position (forever!): Keep hiring. Automate with paid tools, employees, and documented procedures. Be selective about guest posting and conference appearances. Focus more on the technical aspects of SEO.
Read more about the 5 stages of blog growth here.
Besides guest posting, SEO, which are discussed elsewhere in greater detail, these are some tactics you can use to drive traffic to your blog:
- Blog commenting: Don’t just say, “Great post!” when you comment on a blog. Actually add value to the post by providing your own case study of using the tactics in the post, or providing similar tactics that weren’t discussed in the post itself.
- Leveraging Q&A sites: find questions in your niche that were asked in the last 24 hours, have over 100 views, and have under 5 answers. Then answer the questions using 1 of 3 methods. 1) A brief answer with a link to a post that answers the question perfectly. 2) A thoughtful answer with supporting links back to various posts. 3) Recommendation of your product directly that starts with a disclaimer.
- Reddit: 1) Find relevant subreddits. 2) Figure out what content people like in those subreddits by looking at top posts. 3) Comment on some posts and post relevant content, possibly with links to others’ content. 4) Post your own content only if it’s great and relevant. 5) Focus on your posting time and your headline. 6) Create custom content (sort of like a Reddit guest post).
- LinkedIn: Find and participate in relevant groups. Connect with people in groups. Endorse them for skills you’ve seen them demonstrate. Share the right content to those groups.
- Paid Syndication: Use Outbrain, Zemanta, Taboola to drive paid clicks from related content on other blogs.
- Syndication: Use LinkedIn, Medium, Inbound.org, Hacker News, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, Technorati to syndicate your best content.
Busting Through Traffic Plateaus
- Make sure you’re writing about topics that are trending upwards and not downwards by referring to Google Trends.
- Update old posts that may be the victim of link decay and Google favoring newer content.
- Make sure that you aren’t using outdated SEO methods that have been rendered ineffective by Google algorithm changes.
- Have persistence and focus more on link building if you’re starting to try to target more competitive keywords.
- See if you’re already ranking well for your target keywords and try to think of some others to target that may be able to drive relevant traffic.
Read more about traffic plateaus here.
- Find guest posting opportunities with search strings like: Keyword” + “guest post”, keyword+ “write for us”, “keyword” + “This post was written by”, intitle:guest post guidelines, intitle:guest blog guidelines. Filter by results in the last month.
- Search Twitter for guest post opportunities by searching “keyword” + “guest post”
- Figure out which opportunities are most relevant for your audience and have the best reach by analyzing the target blog’s best content with a tool like LinkTally.
- Provide value to the target blog. This can even be an email sharing results that you’ve gotten (in case study form) from following the advice of one of your target blog’s posts.
- Reach out using the recommendations from the outreach section above.
- Pitch topics that you think will be successful on the target blog.
- Write awesome content!
For an outreach email script, check here.
Search Engine Optimization
Getting SEO Traffic in a Competitive Niche
- Target long tail keywords. For example, instead of targeting “make money online,” you could target “make money online with web design.” You can find long tail keywords by searching the main keyword in Reddit and seeing what phrases come up in article titles and questions. You can also find related, longer tail keywords by seeing what other searches Google recommends at the bottom of the search results page.
- Find backlink opportunities in related niches. For example, if you’re a plumber, related niches could be home DIY and home decor.
- Make a boring niche fun. For example, a pest control company talking about using bugs as a natural way to defeat garden pests.
- Improve your ranking on review sites like Yelp that own the first few search results anyway.
- Find competitors’ backlinks using a tool like Ahrefs or Buzzsumo and steal them or get those linking sites to add a link to your site as well.
For more about getting traffic in a competitive niche, check here.
- Check education marketplaces like Udemy and Skillshare that sell courses. We can assume the top courses in each category have keywords in their course title, description, and lesson titles that resonate with students.
- Check autocomplete suggestions in these marketplaces.
- Use faqfox to find questions your readers are asking on forums and Reddit.
- Search for your keyword target in Quora and see what questions your target audience is asking there.
- Use keywordtool.io to get Google autocomplete and suggested search results quickly.
For more tips on keyword research, check here.
For further information on any of the topics distilled in this post, I highly recommend reading the full reference articles on Quick Sprout.
Neil provides a ton of statistical and real world support to the claims he makes and tactics he discusses.
He’s also really good about responding to all of the comments on his posts if you have additional questions.
How about you guys? What are your favorite blogs?
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