So you want to be found on Search. Absolutely. Survival depends on it. But how? How do we get found on search? The answer is that you need to do what you do but do it slightly differently. You will need to change the way you do things at the office from the editor all the way on down when it comes to publishing your content in a Search friendly way.
Your editorial staff’s job is writing about topics that interest your target audience. This creates content that online readers, just like print readers, are looking for. However, now, in addition to creating interesting content, your editorial staff must also make their content easy for interested readers to find through the search engines. This is a shift for your writers, but one that can be made fairly easily with some training and the right tools.
Editors must understand that the purpose of the changes they’ll see to their writing habits are designed to increase traffic and readership. Unique and original content that your target market will love is really only as good if potential readers can find it. This change in focus will bring you a wider range of readers outside of those people who visit your website or blog regularly.
Let’s be perfectly clear: your content should be written for your audience first—search engines second. You’re not asking your writers to create any content they wouldn’t normally create, but just to optimize it in a way that search robots can find and index it. We’ll get deeper into formatting things behind the scenes later, but for now, let’s take a look at the fundamentals.
Keyword Research - The Lowest Hanging Fruit
Print magazines succeed, in part, due to their ability to write catchy headlines. This works for humans, but not as well for search engines. Search engines take everything you write literally, so eye catching headlines are problematic, especially if these involve sarcasm, double entendres or witty satire.
Every subject or business has a lexicon of language. keywords that define what they do, how and for whom. These are the words that, according to research, are most often used when searching for information related to this subject. For example, if you want to buy a car, you probably search something like “best deal on a Honda in Vancouver” if you’re looking for a Honda and you live in Vancouver.
A quick and easy way to begin creating content that will fare better in the search engines is to know your top 100 keywords and begin incorporating these naturally into your content. You can get help developing this from a professional SEO consulting firm or from people like us. Hiring a pro ensures the keywords have been verified to be valid, at least according to the almighty Google, Bing and Yahoo. You can also create your own list, by brainstorming the 100 words that best define what it is you do or are “the” subject matter authority on. There are certainly more than 100, but start with a list that everyone can agree would be the words a reader would most likely use when trying to find the kind of content you provide.
If you choose not to solicit the help of a professional SEO consultancy, at least spend some time researching the words you choose to get some verification that these words are worthy in the eyes of Google before moving on to any kind of ad spend or investment of time and money on optimization.
These words work best when used in “key phrases”, like the one mentioned above on car buying. You wouldn’t simply search “car”, would you? Turn your words into simple search phrases.
There are a couple of ways to begin optimizing your content for the search engines. Your writers can begin using the phrases as they write content, where it is appropriate and sounds natural. With more than 100 words and even more phrase combinations, it can certainly be done, and offers the most natural approach. This approach prevents your content sounding like it was written for the search engines.
Some writers will be able to incorporate this change more easily than others. It’s a good idea to have some training on this, and to let the writers brainstorm together. It can be tricky, but if your writers will commit to it, this is the best way to ensure your content is keyword optimized and enjoyable to read.
The second way to incorporate keywords for SEO is to have a final editor read the written content and incorporate the keywords before publishing. It’s trickier to get reader friendly content this way. In the beginning, however, we recommend having someone check the writers’ content for good keyword use and entering keywords if necessary. This provides a check, but allows your writers to develop themselves as keyword writers at the same time.
In the next article, we’ll delve further into incorporating keywords into your content and ensuring you’re taking advantage of all the keywords your potential readers will use. Meanwhile, if you have questions or would like to learn more about incorporating SEO into your workflow, give us a call. Our Director of Digital at K9 strategy+design – Richard Carmichael – is happy to help.
The Call for Entries for the 2017 Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAs) is open and the Early bird deadline is June 9. Visit www.CanadianOnlinePublishingAwards.com.
We hear all the time from publishers – “We are the foremost authority in this area of expertise, and we publish tons of excellent and highly credible content, but we can’t find any of it on Google? What are we doing wrong?”
We have recently been honing in on the most important marketing aspects for magazines, including the importance of branding and how social media is used to drive awareness and engagement. There is a third aspect to your marketing strategy which may be the most important of all – Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO), is a process you’ll employ on an ongoing basis to ensure your work is found on Google search results.
Print magazines have struggled in recent years. Those who have continued to have success have done so because they have become competitive in the digital domain. While print magazine subscriptions have fallen off sharply in recent years, digital subscriptions have grown. People still want to read your magazine; they just want to read it online. In addition, they want to read your article because it has interest to them but they may not want to read the entire magazine.
This requires not only a shift in how content is marketed to the reader but how revenue is obtained as well. With most of its revenue derived from advertising, the traditional task of the average magazine is to deliver eyeballs to ads. The obvious metric for success in this mission is to deliver as many eyeballs as possible (with a “large and growing visitor base”).
Profitability relies heavily on marketing expertise, opening new markets and expanding reach via all relevant digital channels.
Publications are revamping their websites to accommodate this trend and optimizing their business models to reflect the shift to readership on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. That is great to see, but it is not enough to just be in the game. The magazine business is transitioning from a print-based industry to one which distributes content on multiple platforms, so subscriber and new visitor growth is critical. Consistent growth requires that the actual content work is done differently, as well as the marketing function.
For content to work in the digital space, it must be optimized for social media and for online searches. The content must market itself by being available digitally and by being easily searchable. This requires editorial teams to understand Search Engine Optimization and to create content that is aligned with keyword and topic search volume data.
This new rich media content must come from and go to a variety of platforms. By employing keyword optimization into the content, it becomes easier to find when readers search for content in which they have interest. Over time, this leads to greater readership and a higher ranking in the search engines.
In layman’s terms, this simply means that you want to choose words that are searched frequently in regard to the kind of information you provide, and then include those words in your content. Readers will look for content based on these magic words and find your articles. Over time, if your work becomes reliable in terms of providing the information searched for, you gain a higher ranking in the search engine results. The goal is to be on the first page of a Google search for your particular keyword.
Much research has been done on what words and phrases are most commonly searched in every imaginable category. However, this information is constantly changing, so the advice you receive from experts will constantly change as well. The truth is that keyword optimization is as much art as science, so there will always be a wide range of opinions as to what you should be doing. It is a tough job to stay ahead of this curve because what works today might not work tomorrow, so you always have to be learning.
A “defensive” (on page) approach (mostly using technical SEO behind the scenes) is a vitally important fundamental first step. This technique will get you started toward increasing your content’s rank in the search engines. However, the long-term strategy includes teaching editorial teams how to incorporate ongoing, purpose-driven SEO into their workflow. This is how your magazine evolves into naturally creating content that is both reader-friendly and search-engine friendly.
In the next blog we’ll delve into this concept more thoroughly. Meanwhile, if you have questions or would like to learn more about incorporating SEO into your workflow, give us a call. Our Director of Digital at K9 strategy+design – Richard Carmichael – is happy to help.
Don’t let your great content sit there. Figure out how to get it found and those engines working for you.
Social media and the management of it, is the topic of a lot of our conversations these days. Whether your goal is to sell more copies at the newsstand or to gain new subscribers, building a strong brand for your magazine is still the key. Your ability to gain new readers, and engage with your current, devoted readership, comes from your brand’s authority - and one of the best ways to build that is through the savvy use of social media.
You may be thinking that social media is the last thing on your to-do list and we hear from publishers regularly that they don’t have the time or manpower to dedicate to it. But it doesn’t have to be a crazy, arduous task. With some strategy and planning, creating your social content can easily be incorporated into your magazine timeline, resulting in that sought-after brand authority.
As magazine publishers, you are actually in an ideal position for populating social channels as you are already engaged in a dialogue with your audience. Social media is a natural extension of that conversation. Think of it like a dinner party with your audience; you wouldn’t read them a whole article from your magazine over dinner but you might casually bring up a great piece and give them a highlight or two.
Getting your magazine out there in the social universe doesn’t have to be a reinvention of your content - you already have the copy and images to work with. We suggest to our clients, that for efficiency and to maintain intent, it is optimal to create the content for your social channels while you are creating the magazine. Here are some strategies we follow when planning for a magazine’s social:
1. Choose your channels wisely.
You already know who your audience is so you can easily figure out what social channels they’re on and you can choose to be there too. Check out Futurpreneur.ca (http://www.futurpreneur.ca/en/2016/a-breakdown-of-social-media-platforms-and-their-uses/) for a great breakdown of who is hanging out where. We suggest that you only commit to the channels that you can maintain on a regular basis and if you find that you can’t keep up with one, delete it rather than letting it get stale.
2. Use a Strategy Roadmap.
(We have a template that is available upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org) A roadmap will allow you to clearly define goals, objectives and initiatives. Having a plan for each channel is helpful - at K9, for example, we use Facebook for our fun, team-based posts and Twitter and LinkedIn we keep more business focused.
3. Define your voice for each social media channel.
Remember that this is the more casual dinner party chat so we recommend that you keep it short, simple and channel specific - what works for Facebook may not work for SnapChat for example. Give some thought to being consistent with both content and image treatment.
4. Create shareable content.
By creating useful and shareable content, you widen your reach as your followers repost, retweet, and ‘like’ your posts. This is incredibly valuable for your brand authority and recognition. Have a look at this example from Forbes Magazine - they’ve taken an article from their publication and created smaller, bite-sized pieces with related images. These are more appropriate in length for social and they are also shareable by their audience.
5. Be SEO ready.
For Search Engine Optimization, when you post an image to a social channel, you have an opportunity to create a title and description. We advise using words that relate to the topics that your audience is searching for. This is a great way to drive readers back to your social channels, website and ultimately convert them into magazine buyers. Look for our post on this blog next month for a more in-depth look at SEO and your magazine brand.
When in doubt of whether or not a post is appropriate for a social channel, ask yourself if it’s inline with your magazine brand. We have created a handy checklist for ourselves that we use in-house for our social content with questions like, ‘Is this information useful for my audience?’ and ‘Is this something my audience would share with their friends?’. With your brand voice front of mind, and some dedicated time to your strategy, you will be able to post consistently and grow your audience.
Hello magazine media! In this, our first piece for Masthead, we have decided to start with a post for the B2B world. In our experience, B2B titles have settled for being the brainy, dress for comfort ones, living in the shadow of their glamorous, always-fashionable B2C cousins. This dynamic has persisted for years, as B2B publishers themselves have viewed design and branding as a ‘nice to have’, believing that the content (the story) was more important than how it was presented. That may have been true in the past, but today's audiences expect more, with presentation being almost equal in importance to the content.
Welcome to the design and brand savvy world, where we all need to be thinking in terms of how to build our brands. In this post, we explore a few ways that B2B publishers can leverage the hard work they’ve already done to help get them out of their B2C cousin’s shadow and rocking their brand-power in their own right.
Because we live in a multi-channel world, magazines aren’t just well loved printed products; they’re brands. B2C publishers invest big bucks in a myriad of research tools in an effort to understand their audience’s hearts and minds, and to develop a magazine – a brand – that resonates across all platforms.
Many B2B publishers consider the notion of ‘magazine as brand’ to be the exclusive territory of the consumer magazines. They can’t justify the cost of doing research and testing, when the truth is they may not have to as they’ve done most of the branding work already.
B2B publishers target a more focused audience and as a result are much more embedded in the communities they serve. They already have an instinctive understanding of who their audience is and what they expect from the brand. They’ve developed their editorial tone and voice, and defined their editorial/content guidelines. They just need to take that last step and define the visual language that aligns with the editorial to create, and fully communicate, the ‘brand’.
Here are the three considerations we explore at K9 strategy+design when we work to help a client create a magazine brand:
1. Own It - What can you claim that no one else can?
Stop looking over your shoulder trying to fit in. Instead, keep your head down and do the work you are so good at. That will differentiate you more than comparing yourself to your competitors. Most magazines have a general positioning statement but not all are working to support the brand or its place in the market. A winning positioning statement is short, to the point, and can be articulated and understood by anyone – the old school 30-second elevator pitch. A/J, one of our favourite projects, took a position and claimed it: Canada’s Environmental Voice. The phrase became the brand’s mantra - the team gave it prime real estate on every cover and used it as a compass to help guide all their decisions.
Canada’s Environmental Voice
Redesigned A\J cover featuring their new tagline
2. Think Big - What is the big idea?
Magazines are no longer just printed products. Today’s audiences consume your content in a host of ways so you need to develop your brand voice for each channel and recreate, not repurpose, content in ways that reflect each channel’s delivery strength. In other words, no mindless copy-and-pasting! Readers can tell when content is inauthentic to the channel. Plan and produce content for all channels at the same time. Decide how you’re going to tell your story on your digital properties, social media channels etc. when you’re deciding on pull quotes and images.
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3.Visual Language - What does your voice look like?
So much effort goes into trying to figure out what it sounds like but you must also consider what it looks like. Develop a visual language that supports your editorial mandate and resonates with your audience. Media consumers want more than just the facts; they want to connect on a deeper emotional level. Take a page from your B2C cousins - today’s audiences are savvy consumers of media and they expect a smart, good-looking and highly visual presentation that speaks in a clear voice and connects with their values and view of the world.
The 2016 Canadian Business Media Association Awards finalists for Best Media Brand. All feature elements that are commonly found on B2C covers.
These 3 considerations are not exclusive to building a brand but they are certainly a good start and probably enough work to keep you going for a while. For a more detailed look at magazine branding, specifically B2B design trends, join us on February 22, 2017 at 2 PM (EST) for a Magazines Canada webinar, where we will go deeper into current design trends and tips for refreshing your B2B title.
Norm is Creative Director and founder of K9 strategy+design and has 25 years of experience directing, strategizing and designing for publishing clients such as Rogers, Ski Canada Magazine, Alternatives Journal, Homes & Cottages Magazine and Metro News. Over the years, Norm has also assisted TELUS, Bell, Sirius, BMO Nesbitt Burns, American Express and countless entrepreneurial, professional and non-profit clients with their branding and communications opportunities.