The nature of the Internet and search engine rankings has made online publishing the new Wild West of the business world. In a nutshell if you’re not producing content in 2014, you’re dead in the water. This is changing how business owners approach their own website and their presence online in general. The focus now is not on maximizing page views and getting backlinks but on producing quality content that users will engage with and share with others. This has a huge impact on everything from design to on-site and off-site content.
The shift in thinking has also created a new market and term: “native advertising.” This ad strategy incorporates marketing which promotes content in a non-intrusive way, integrating the ads into the experience of the user. To put it simply, a TV commercial interrupts the show you are viewing and says “hey, look at me and buy this product.” Non-interruptive native advertising is found in places like the Facebook News Feed in the form of “hey, your friend liked Nike’s page, thought you’d like to know.” The small business owner can utilize existing tools like those found in social media, or simply incorporate their own flavor of native advertising on their own website. This can easily be done by peppering in information about the products and services you sell on your blog along with news about your community and industry.
Those looking to get a bit more adventurous and take their advertising seriously will want to focus on open-style native advertising. In this great infographic from TechCrunch, they show the differences between sites offering closed native advertising and those offering an open format. The difference is in a closed environment you have to be on specific websites to view the content (e.g. YouTube). Open native advertising allows businesses to promote their content without users having to be on another company’s site. Utilities like Zynga, Social Vibe and Devour are great for brand-building where programs running on Stumble Upon, Mint.com and Pandora may be better suited to direct response advertising.
As in anything you put up on the web, you’ll want to take precautions. This is especially true if your business is involved. The best thing you can do is assume that everything you already find online is protected content with a copyright. Never duplicate content and only publish original ideas in your own words. A cool trick you can use to check for duplicated content is to copy from the end of one sentence into the beginning of another sentence and place it within quotes in a Google search. If you see multiple websites come up for the content you know something is up. You can also use a tool like Copyscape to double check that what you are posting is original.
So where do you get started? Let’s say you’re not in a profession that necessarily is known as a group of expert writers. You’ve still got something to say and a particular insight into your industry. The first step is to determine what you want to focus on. Let’s say you’re a plumber. Instead of talking about everything there is to know about plumbing, become “the guy (or gal)” who is the #1 authority on kitchens. Having a specific niche with a hard focus will help you develop a strong following and get your content shared. Once you have your niche developed, decide how much time you can dedicate to publishing content. The biggest thing here is going to be consistency. Don’t start out with a weekly post that devolves into a monthly one; you’ll lose your audience.
The last thing you’ll have to do is decide where you want to publish your content. There are tons of sources online and several traditional ones where you can make a huge impact. The best tip here is to keep the “top quality” content for your website. This will keep people coming back and get your statistics up, helping you rank higher and making your website a valuable investment and marketing tool.
About the author:
John Saddington is an online authority on authorship, writing and publication. Check him out on Twitter.