Google’s Hummingbird update, combined with personalized search results and an increasing emphasis on social media influence, left many small-business owners without a clue as to how they should be approaching a content strategy. Many experts are suggesting creating collaborative content as a solution to the new changes.
Why Collaborative Content?
“Now, more importantly, Google's search engine result pages [SERPs] are driven by the context in which the consumer is searching for something, and your website content must be describing the answer for the search query,” explains Jason Hall, president of My Local SEOs. “If not, your website needs to send Google the impression that you can provide the best answer.”
Cooperative content is a joint-effort approach to brainstorming and creating content, often involving expertise from different team members. Have a member of your customer service team identify the most commonly asked questions, or have a member of your development team explain an aspect of your company’s software infrastructure that helps you provide better service to your customers.
Different perspectives lead to more interesting ideas and greater value. “You need to provide information that your prospective customer wants. You need to have answers for their questions. You need to make it easy for them to find,” Hall says. On his company’s approach to collaborative content, he explains, “We brainstorm, we research, we write different drafts and pass them around for critique and comments. We polish the content until it's right on the money for the customers and potential prospects.”
Multiple Authors Equals Social Opportunity
You can also utilize your team for content creation. Not everyone’s a great writer, but hiring a team of former journalists to maintain a consistent publishing schedule often exceeds the budget of small businesses. Hiring a professional content editor with the skills to fine-tune anyone’s writing into a clear and informative article is typically a more financially feasible option.
Having multiple authors provides additional benefits if you’re utilizing Google Authorship. In a recent Whiteboard Friday, Moz’s Rand Fishkin explains how Google+ influences personalized search results. For instance, searching for a restaurant in a particular city might bring up an article one of your Google+ contacts shared recently, an article written by a connection—which is where Google Authorship comes in—or content that your connections have +1-ed on Google+.
More exposure means more people will read your content, and more readers will share it—if it’s informative. More shares shows Google that readers find it useful, so Google then shows it to more searchers with similar queries. It’s a circular feedback loop that can work magic if you get it right.
Cooperative content can be sourced externally, too. Lisa Parmley, founder of Business Bolts Media, taps into the expertise of industry thought-leaders for tips and opinions on specific topics. Recently, she wrote an article on staying motivated in business that earned hundreds of shares across social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
“It's a lot of management as far as sending emails and coordinating the 'launch' of the piece of content, but the tradeoff is that you have less to write. In addition, the experts or people who are sending in the tips will also usually help you promote the content,” Parmley explains.
Get Your Team On Board
Getting your internal team on board can take some legwork, too. Use these four tips to help explain the goal of your new content strategy, why it will work and how everyone's contribution helps create successful content.
1. Explain what Hummingbird is, how it works and how it affects search results. Emphasize that every team member has something distinct and valuable to offer your customers.
2. Offer content writing workshops as a continuing-education opportunity for interested employees.
3. Get them excited about being identified as an author in the Google search results. It’s a perk that lends credibility and could offer career-advancement benefits.
4. Make it fun. Hold a team brainstorming session and take a vote on the best ideas. Make it a contest and offer rewards for the content that gets the most social shares, likes and so on. (Any motivation techniques you use to get your team excited for any project would apply here.)
Whether you rely on internal resources or outside experts, cooperative content is an approach that helps many businesses delve deeper into the hot-button topics that will resonate with their audiences. With Hummingbird’s real impact still up in the air, it’s a good time to experiment with different strategies.
Angela Stringfellow is a freelance writer, social media strategist and complete content marketing junkie obsessed with all things Web, written word and marketing.
Read more articles on content marketing.
Photo: Getty Images