The Virtues of Creating Valuable Content

by Tom McEwin on 19 June, 2011

I recently watched a webinar by Ed Dale and Michelle McPherson that reaffirmed one of the views I’ve had for a while about content creation. What it highlighted to me is the virtue in creating content that is truly valuable and not solely targeted towards ranking on Google for revenue purposes.

SEO and monetisation is great if the content is the sort of thing that people want to read.  But there are a lot of spam sites out there which add little value to the world (except for the owner) and just clog up search engine rankings.  As Ed and Michelle explain, the last few Google algorithm changes seem to have been targeted to redress this.

I’ve tried to avoid churning out fluffy or insubstantial content – not only because it doesn’t deliver value to readers, but also because I would be too embarrassed to do so.  Now it seems there is another good reason to make content valuable – because it will be easier for it to rank well.

Here’s the webinar if you are interested (which runs for 80 or so minutes):

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Google Guidance on Creating High Quality Websites

In the webinar Ed and Michelle refer to guidance that Google has released regarding what it will take into account when considering whether a website is high quality.  Here is the relevant post on the official Google blog.  Google poses a number of questions to indicate the mindset that it uses when considering the quality of a webpage or site:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

My Rule of Thumb

The rule of thumb that I try to apply is to only publish content when it is worth bookmarking or sharing, and is something that I am really happy with.

I think this approach not only delivers value to readers, but also stays on the right side of the Google mindset.  This is a good idea – as the world’s most popular search engine by a long way, Google sets the rules.  Better to employ a strategy which means I am happy with the content I produce, and also means that content is less likely to be slapped down by future algorithm changes.

For anyone who has been hit by the Google Panda algorithm change or wants to start improving quality in Google’s eyes, check out this survival guide.

© Tom McEwin
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Simplifying My Approach to Internet Marketing

by Tom McEwin on 20 March, 2011

The internet marketing industry is a busy place.

Most of the time there is some sort of new product that has recently been released (or is about to be released) by one of the many gurus.  And even when there is not, if you are on too many email lists, then your inbox will still get swamped.

Add to this all the hype which surrounds social media, and it is possible to waste countless hours:

  • getting ‘free’ training/reports/bonuses by signing up to mailing lists; and
  • hanging out on social media.

One of the things I realised mid way through last year is the importance of taking effective action, and avoiding time wasting activities that would otherwise take up the time I had dedicated to internet marketing.

Step 1: Turning Down the Noise

One way of reducing internet marketing noiseThe first thing I did was to unsubscribe to a bunch of email lists I was on that weren’t delivering value to me.

I have still stayed on a few.  But those that I’ve remained on have a really clear target audience, regularly deliver value to these lists, only recommend directly relevant products and do not just spam affiliate products.

Initially it surprised me how many of the IM guru lists I was getting rid of.  But with a list big enough even a low conversion rate from a mail out can result in big dollars.  So I can understand why the owners of these lists might over promote products (their own or someone else’s).  But it doesn’t mean that I want to put up with it.

Step 2: Deciding on a New Approach

One of the things I realised about my approach is that there was something missing.  I originally started this blog in order to chronicle my development as an internet marketer, record my thoughts as I work through particular topics (as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s) and to help me build my skills as an internet marketer (and blogger). I originally intended to keep doing this while I worked towards finding the real niche I wanted to target.

While I’ve had some successes, they aren’t what I had originally hoped for.  So I decided to re-frame my approach.

Moving forward, I’ll be focusing on helping local businesses with their online presence.  This provides an explanation as to why it has been a little while since my last post – I’ve been busy setting up a company, and dealing with all the associated arrangements.

Step 3:  Working as Efficiently as Possible

I’ve also been giving a lot thought as to what part of my approach needs to change as part of this new business, to make sure I use my time as effectively as possible (given I only have so much time available).

This has involved not only really focusing on what I want out of this business, but also:

  • considering high yield versus low yield IM activities;
  • figuring out a scalable business model;
  • working out how to effectively implement this plan; and
  • working out how to avoid those tasks which suck up a lot of time but don’t deliver real results.

Enter Simpleology

In mid January a friend put me on to the training materials provided by Simpleology.  The beginners’ course (which is free) is called Simpleology 101.  It is beautifully simple and effective in helping you to:

  • focus on specific goals;
  • break these goals down into the critical steps (and no extra steps); and to
  • establishing a daily routine to continually work towards these goals.

This process is really good at helping manage the internet marketing noise, prioritise those things that really need to get done and dumping those things that just waste time.

If this sounds useful, then I highly recommend at least trying out Simpleology 101. The course only goes for 20 days and takes 10 – 15 minutes a day, so it is not a bit time commitment.  Plus it is completely free.  There are some upsells when signing up to the free version, but I simply ignored these.

So now I have less distractions, a better internet marketing plan and a process for increasing the amount of effective action I take.

Cheers,

© Tom McEwin
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