The great non-blogging philosopher George Santayana was not without an eye for the irony of today’s battle over blog content:
Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.
This came to mind the other day when listening to some associates debate the primacy of SEO of B2B blog posts versus user appeal in developing compelling blog post content.
As the Web moved inexorably towards its commanding position as a marketing tool, the importance of search engines—and the mechanics of how they work— became an obsession with many marketers. And rightly so.
Who can imagine today’s marketing without Google being somewhere near front and center?
So until recently, it seems to me the preponderance of web content was being driven by SEO concerns. It was, so to speak, at the bottom end of the seesaw.
So much so that the seesaw had become static.
My recent post (Content, Content, Content) indicates the balance is shifting back towards user content: Google itself has posted new guidelines directing the creation of content “as if search engines never existed,” imploring content providers to “make your content as user friendly as possible.” These guidelines have been backed up by more aggressive policies that penalize websites and blogs that use ‘illegitimate’ ways to improve their search engine ranking.
And yet, and in granular detail, we know how those rankings are compiled.
So what’s a B2B blog content writer to do?
The key, it seems to me, is striking a balance— on the Web as in life, never an easy thing to do.
If you focus on keywords in your work, focus not because you want to improve your SEO, but rather because you want to convey the right message. That will keep things from shifting too far one way or the other.
Santayana, I think, would appreciate this. After all, he is considered among the pragmatists, and, even to his keen eyes, a moving seesaw is much more interesting than a stagnant one.
Earl Weaver, the crusty old manager of the Baltimore Orioles who chain-smoked his way to the Hall of Fame, was once asked about momentum:
Momentum? Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.
Not a bad thought to remember when you send out a B2B copywriter to pitch tomorrow’s B2B blog post. The importance of the content put in front of your audience is immediate— a dynamite post can have a dramatic effect on how your blog is perceived, and bring a reader back to it repeatedly.
For those with a more analytic approach to the blogging game, preferring Billy Beane’s sabermetrics to Weaver’s curmudgeonly instincts, a recent post on g2msolutions.com will be of interest.
The author shares a trio of tips on how B2B marketers can build momentum:
The first point speaks to the age-old task of marketers: quantifying their efforts. The inability of marketers to do this effectively has led to a stunningly negative perception of marketers among CEOs, according to a recent survey by the Fournaise Group. 80% indicated they don’t really trust and are not impressed by the work done by marketers. 78% said marketers too often lose sight of what their real job is— increasing demand for goods and services in a quantifiable manner. Bottom line, as a marketer you need to know the number of visitors, leads, meetings and proposals necessary to meet your sales objectives, as well as the volume of activity needed to reach revenue targets.
The second point speaks to the importance of common-sense tactics to achieve the “rhythm” necessary for momentum: repeatability of the message, value of that message to the customer and prospect, and the ability to deliver the message cost-effectively (and therefore with requisite frequency).
The final point speaks to the value of staying in touch with prospects, even if they fail to swing at your first pitch. According to the author, 80% of leads leak from the marketing effort.
Which brings me back to the hopeful kernel in Earl’s dictum: frustration is the antithesis of momentum, so never forget that today’s effort can dramatically change what’s happening on the playing field.
As another old ballplayer put it, it ain’t over until it’s over: something those playing in the big leagues always keep in mind; otherwise they‘re destined to be banished forever back to the minors.
Being a freelance writer based in the Asheville, NC, it's hard to avoid the deep cultural feelings for General Robert E. Lee.
Lee has been lionized for his civility, his self-denial, and is considered the consummate Southern gentleman as much as a consummate soldier. Though not a voluble man, when Lee talked, people listened.
I came across a comment of Lee’s that seems to be appropriate for those writing B2B blog posts: "The devil's name is dullness."
Lee's comment was pointed at bad behavior, and it seems to me the bad behavior of so many content writers is that they fail to keep their content interesting. Excessive focus on keywords or self-serving marketing copy quickly leads to a click to other pages.
A recent post on b2bbloogers.com rightly points to this as one its secrets behind strong business-to-business marketing strategy:
Don’t be a bore
best information will remain undiscovered if it lacks a certain level of
entertainment. Even with content strong enough to inspire the reader to finish
the entire piece, they (most often) will only remember a fraction of what you
have said. With this reality, we understand the importance of creating content
that leaves a lasting impression. Be smart, but be bold— or your content will
be buried before it is ever seen.
The author's other points about content strategy are worth considering as well, and include having a goal, providing useful and engaging information, making it personal, and providing easy to access points of contact— never forgetting that communications is a two-way street.
If you're a B2B blog content writer, never forget that writing itself is always the main thing. If you're hiring a content writer, be sure to assess his or her skill as a writer, not just as someone with technical Internet savvy. Failing to do so may lead to an Appomattox, and considering what you're investing in Internet marketing, you surely don't want to surrender, no matter how graciously you can do so.