A couple weeks back, we found this article from SEM Rush which compiles 35 content-marketing tips from industry experts in SEO, Mobile, eCommerce and Publishing, Search and Social, Video, and of course, Content Marketing itself.

Not a bad read, but 35 tips is a pretty wide blast—so here’s our CLIKK Notes condensing it all down to the essential crystalline nuggets:

Quit with the keyword-stuffing and link-building for their own sake. For the former: perpetual keyword box-checking is why so much content sounds the same (and not good to readers). For the latter: ‘improving relevance’ is the express purpose of Google’s core updates, and over time, Google’s gotten better at seeing through empty link-building efforts which have no bearing on content quality.

Focus on improving the human relevance of your content. Instead of trying to read your pages like Google would, go back to reading them like a human. Your content, whenever possible, should provide a clear and valuable answer to a question your audience is asking (with the most-wanted info towards the top). Per the above, bear in mind that Google’s getting better at picking out sharp, direct answers to questions—meaning that keyword bloat and sheer information overload won’t float you to the highest ranks. A good policy is to…

Cover the basics, but differentiate. In other words: you should absolutely stop to provide the basic, direct, nutshell answer to the question you’re tackling in a piece of content. Once you’ve covered those basics (because you must), focus on differentiation (so you rise above the rest). This could mean providing a richer, more expansive level of detail afterwards. It could also mean that you…

Demonstrate the crap out of your expertise. Out of all the people in Google’s world, what uniquely qualifies YOU to provide this information? A special credential might not be necessary to produce good content (or get it to rank), but it could give your content a “competitive edge” to the people searching. SEM Rush gave the real-life example of a surgeon writing a blog post on post-operative recovery; they credited the post’s success with the unique authority of the surgeon writing it, since it elevates the post’s expertise in a way that the best content writer never could.

Give some attention to the content’s design and user experience (UX). This is maybe the opposite form of differentiation, but similarly important. The point here: information is lost on readers if you don’t present it effectively. Google has commoditized information—and the key to succeeding with any commoditized product is to differentiate on quality and specificity. Maybe there are thousands of other answers out there, but yours will compete well if it’s better than most AND tailored in some unique way.

Look for easy link-acquisition opportunities in your content. Quick distinction: this is link acquisition, not link building. In other words, rather than spreading a page link around on your own effort (historically a ‘game we play’ to win Google’s favor, less effective over time), you’re creating a page that people are likely to cite once they’ve found its content organically via Google search (which is an actual mark of content merit and a surefire way to win Google’s favor). If you can rank naturally for more specific types of content answers, this is an opportunity; as one big tip, look for statistical queries you can answer, since these are less qualitative and easier for Google to “match up” from their index.

Analyze the sites and pages which outrank you. Better yet, have an expert from outside your business do this (if you can swing it). There’s always something to learn from higher-ranking pages… and as we’ve said, great marketers steal (but especially from proven and successful sources).

At the same time, most quality content has to be original and different and good; it can’t be stolen.* This is where the hard work begins—but to encourage you in closing, we’ll give you the simple path to top-ranking content. This doesn’t make the work easy, but it’s a surefire way to get there: just take the top search results for any keyword or topic, then produce a piece of content better than all of them.

We’ll look forward to seeing your contender… but it ain’t gonna write itself!

* Except in the most flagrant, plagiaristic, and occasionally illegal of ways.

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