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Developing great content: SES London 2011

With Amanda Davie from Reform, and Caragh McKenna of The Search Agency.

First up is Amanda Davie.

She says she is going to try and make her presentation without mentioning JC Penney – great content but it’s getting tired….;)


Content as the life-stream in search marketing.

Examples of great content:

  • Telegraph published a book of their unpublished letters, an example of old school user generated content. This was very ‘on brand’ for The Telegraph. They put this content on facebook, repurposed to appeal to a new demographic.
  • Plays the tape of James Naughtie’s radio debacle. Great content is sticky and hangs around long after the event.
  • ‘Webbies’ awards this year – Zombie Roadkill was a US web TV show. www.roadkillyourfacebook.com/ -

What makes content great?


  • Entertainment
  • Utility
  • Status
  • Education
  • Monetary Value

Bringing new people to the site, getting repeat visitors, increasing engagement, driving revenue.

As search marketers we are sitting on a goldmine of information that can inspire us – search and social data. But we are also drowning in data – it’s a challenge for us to gather the data – and from it develop insights from which we can spark ideas and innovate.

Tips for content that’s great

  • Understand your audience – where are they, what are they searching for, what are they talking about?
  • Be authoritative or give advice e.g. “how to…”
  • Best of, Top 10 etc
  • Think “universally” – universal search. can you produce content in different formats?
  • Make it controversial
  • Use data, infographics and charts…

Tips for great editorial content

  • Do your keyword research
  • Write casually
  • Write succinctly
  • Avoid jargon
  • limit the number of points
  • use pictures or images
  • keep your brand territory consistent

Use wordle.net to scrape your site and identify your key themes

Tips for distributing great content

  • where is your audience and what platform are they on, territories, time zones etc
  • use anchor texts
  • Media relations: PR news wires etc
  • Twitter
  • Discussions
  • Karma – RT other people and they might just RT you
  • Email

Example of great distribution of content – search for ‘developing great content’ – 7 of the results in the SERPS were for SES.

When content goes wrong

When google indexes stuff that it shouldn’t have got hold of. If you are distributing content that isn’t your own make sure you check it first!


Dont stop at measuring volume – number of likes, visits and followers. You need to also measure the richness of the engagement.

The CUT Score

CDA are a content strategy agency that developed this model. Takes existing content that clients have, and goes on to understand what content can be repurposed and optimised etc

Finishes with a valuable content insight from the SEO rapper. Well, you can’t go wrong with that.

Next up is Caragh.

Going to look at changes in the environment for populating the content.

What’s new in the world of content?

Prior to JC Penney debacle there was much online chat regarding the need for Google to address Spam, partly driven by Blekko addressing how they were going to keep spam from appearing in their SERPs.

Matt Cutts had made comments regarding dealing with spam before the JC Penney story broke.

According to Blekko less spam = better (more relevant) search

What is spam? According to Blekko:

  • ehow.com
  • naymz.com
  • 123people.com
  • thefreedictionary.com
  • shopwiki.com
  • allexperts.com
  • caopygator.com

Sites that in the SERPs look huge and reputable, but a click through to the site reveals very weak content.

Google Instant – how it changed CTR

  • increased long tail searches
  • greater need for recent, relevant content
  • call to action in decsription while retaining keywords
  • changes in CTR on paid search

The semantic web

semantic search “seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding search intent and the contextual of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace, whether on the Web or within a closed system, to generate more relevant results”

Basically: know the intent of your target user.

Keyword driven and user intent driven

Do your keyphrase research.

Pop this into an excel spreadsheet – understand the Google algorithm and ranking factors through competitive analysis on data points.

Build using different forms of content: choose according to your aims and objectives, and your audiences. Just concentrate on your best converting verticals.

  • news
  • blogs
  • video
  • places / maps
  • real time
  • products
  • hot spots
  • books
  • recipes

QDF – query deserves freshness

  • QDF gives priority to fresh content over old or static content
  • QDF is applied when search engines detect spikes in activity – trending topics
  • results that are deemed to be most relevant (fresher) will apear ahead of older results, regardless if age or links

How to influence QDF

  • promotional domains
  • news
  • blogs
  • online PR
  • twitter

Content and social media

It’s about engagement – make it a conversation. Gives example of Heathrow airport as an example of a brand that doesn’t engage online via social media.

Don’t forget the basics of SEO…


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