Author Archives: Malhar Barai

About Malhar Barai

An author, speaker, blogger and digital media strategist, at my day job I work on devising and executing various digital media campaigns. I usually blog about content strategy, social media platforms, product reviews and tricks to ace Social Media. Let's collaborate over @MalharBarai (Twitter) and other platforms.

SEOTalk Twitter Chat Turns 5

seotalk twitter chatYes, SEOTalk Twitter Chat has turned 5 today!!

Happy Birthday to us. And us means the entire community because without you all, we would not have reached so far.

It was over 5 years back that I was in conversation with Jaydip Parikh, the founder and Chief Everything Officer of TejSolPro, on Facebook over some SEO stuff. And we dived deep into that conversation.

One thing led to another and few private conversations later, we decided to co-host this Twitter Chat.

Why SEOTalk?

I was a total newbie in the world of SEO though I had spent few years in the world of creating websites as a freelancer and also worked with brands dealing with creating websites.

Most of the times, being developers, we left out the SEO part or just did the basics of having a Title, Description, Keywords and few other meta tags.

Over the years, the SEO industry had matured and we had subject matter experts who lived and breathed all things SEO. My work really didn’t demand to learn more than basics. But as the online marketing world around me started developing too, I was getting inquiries about site optimisation. That’s where I started learning a little more than basics.

But unlike the programming universe, the SEO industry didn’t have any community around during that time. It was quite a big industry whitespace and many of the folks really worked on hearsay.

The other side of the coin was, 5 years back I was all enamored by Twitter Chat and its immense potential in creating engagement around certain subjects. Also, there were NO India based Twitter Chat during that time. Most of the chats I was part of were hosted by my friends in the US region and they were doing them brilliantly.

So, while I wanted to have a Twitter Chat of my own, I didn’t want to replicate the same themes.

Thus came SEOTalk, which had its own niche and geography.

5 Years is a long time

It is indeed!!

And they were not easy. There have been times where we hardly had any participation and then there were times when we had over 300 tweets in one hour and it started trending organically across the country.

Also, there have been times when I was clueless on the topic for the chat and pick one up from questions in Quora or similar websites.

The tough part though is coming up with questions and keep engaging the crowd through those 60 minutes. Any Twitter Chat host will agree that this part is never easy.

But we learned and we will keep learning!!

What next for SEOTalk?

We have some crazy ideas up the sleeve for next year.

The first is to go beyond our Facebook Group and have the community have its own place. So we are going to announce the launch of a forum website theseotalkers.in soon.

The second one is to have offline meetups. We want to have some of our online conversations to spill over into the offline meetups and gradually into an event/workshop of its own.

And finally, a new timing!! This had been requested for a while and we heard you. Starting this week, we plan to host #SEOTalk Twitter Chat at 9:30PM India Time, 4PM GMT.

Your Thoughts?

Have you been part of SEOTalk Twitter Chat? Do let us know your experience so far.

How can we make it better? Because it will benefit all of us.

Bouquet & brickbats, all are welcome!!

How PayPal is Helping Freelancers

how paypal is helping freelancerAm I a Gary Vee Generation Freelancer or a Steve Jobs Generation Freelancer

Someone recently asked me, are you a Gary Vee generation freelancer or a Steve Jobs generation freelancer. Intrigued!!??

How do we dissect the two? While on one hand, Gary Vee consistently speaks about ‘hustle’ or hard work, 24 hours a day to stay ahead of your competition. Steve Jobs was all about building ‘experience’ for your customer, staying premium and trouncing your competitors.

Therefore, question is as a freelancer what defines you. Hard work or Building experience.

What kind of Freelancer I am?

For me, ten years plus of experience – I would say I am from the Steve Jobs generation where building premium products and content for my customers worked to build reputation and consequently more work.

I still remember it started as a small project where I had to code a part of the website. Back then, the sheer joy of seeing your work hosted on WWW (or World Wide Web) was quite the high for me.

One thing led to another and in a short span of time I started building dynamic websites for clients with a Pan-India footprint.

However, this was not enough. A lot of coding and website building was taking place offshore. I was looking to dabble in international projects. Not long, I stumbled upon a freelance network – Elance. They helped me set up my portfolio and offer proposals to international clients.

As I were interacting over mails, the client asked for payment methods. That is where I began fumbling because until then, I had never handled overseas payment.

Thus started my visits to the banks and back in those days, it was quite tedious. There was Wire Transfers and Swift code, each attached with a definite time lag in payments.

It was during the course of my research that I stumbled upon PayPal, an online company helping Freelancers with Payments. It was as easy as creating a profile on any website, adding your bank details and relevant information related to taxation (such as PAN card) – and I was live.

Then with Seller Protection Policy offered by PayPal, I am always assured that my payments are safe and I am eligible for a full reimbursement for my services in case of any dispute. This empowers freelancers everywhere to go Global with even more confidence.

I have been working with many International clients over the years. One thing that has always connected us all is PayPal. We just had to share our PayPal.me links, something like this – https://www.paypal.me/malharbarai and payments are done in a jiffy.

With time, size of projects has also increased and many times, I have had to engage a team of designers and coders to deliver the desired results. This time when PayPal launched a contest to refer your freelance friends to the network, I decided to include my entire extended team in this. Helping them work out PayPal as a medium for their own individual work and at the same time maximizing my own chances to win an Iphone 7 !

So to come back to the question at the beginning:

Am I a Gary Vee or a Steve Jobs generation freelancer?

I am definitely a Steve Jobs Generation Freelancer. What about you?

Rome was not built in a day, so is a freelancer.

Over the years, I have groomed my skills and delivered great results to clients repeatedly to earn a reputation in industry. All of this cannot happen overnight and only through sustained efforts and smart choices – like PayPal !

Your Turn

How has been your experience using PayPal as a freelancer?

Facebook Live Audio – The Next Frontier

facebook live audio - the next frontierFacebook is slowly rolling out the Live Audio feature as part of it’s live streaming services.

The feature was announced last year in December and Facebook had started testing with some leading partners like BBC and Harper Collins.

With the public launch, they are yet again trying to disrupt the audio streaming space.

Over last few months, we have seen Facebook doubling down on streaming content – they are ranking videos, especially Facebook Live videos higher on the platform, thus pushing users to produce more of video content.Facebook Live Audio

But with Facebook Live Audio, they are taking the competition beyond Periscope and the likes. Now they could become another platform to consume audio content competing with the likes of Soundcloud.

Is Facebook Live Audio the next frontier?

The launch has definitely opened up new possibilities and should challenge the existing players in the space.

According to Facebook,

We know that sometimes publishers want to tell a story on Facebook with words and not video. We’ve even seen some Pages find creative ways to go live and reach audiences with audio only by using the Facebook Live API or by adding a still image to accompany their audio broadcast. Our new Live Audio option makes it easy to go live with audio only when that’s the broadcaster’s preferred format.

In the other para, Facebook also mentioned –

We also know that publishers sometimes go live from areas that lack strong network connectivity. Though we alert the broadcaster if their signal is low, Live Audio presents another option for connecting with audiences in real time from low-connectivity areas

In a nutshell, they killed two birds with a single stone –

  1. Tap into brands that were leveraging Facebook Live option to just broadcast audio
  2. Also tap live-streamers who were living or visiting location where they have low bandwidth connections and it would be difficult to stream videos

In my opinion, Facebook Live Audio opens up an entire new frontier for podcasters, small-time music broadcasters, breaking news kind of content. Now they have a new platform, a platform which is highly popular and engaged, thus giving them a better reach.

From consumers perspective, they eliminate the need to download one more app since Live Audio will be native to the original Facebook app. Thus making it easy from them to consume the content.

What are your thoughts? Will it really be a challenge to existing players?

9 Awesome Blog Promotion Tactics [Infographic]

9 blog promotion tacticsHow to do blog promotion? Most of the bloggers struggle at this step once they have written the content.

Knowing when and where to promote is as or more crucial than just writing the content. It is essential that your content reaches the intended audience.

I have known few bloggers advocating the 20:80 rule – spend 20% time writing the blog, 80% time promoting it and that has been their secret to success (wink wink)

Not really sure if that works but while I was researching for my own blog, I stumbled on this nice little infographic that shares some awesome tactics for blog promotion.

9 Awesome Blog Promotion Tactics

As the infographic says, it is imperative that you have well-written content. That is the base for any successful promotion tactic.

So your content should be simple, error-free, shorter sentences, jargon-free. Let the content carry your voice, be unique and share your opinion about the subject. Also looks at how Google’s semantic web work and try to answer questions via your content.

Second tactic is to have good SEO strategy in place. Ensure that you have used the right keywords & key-phrases that will make your content discoverable. Use tools like keyword.io or Google Keyword Planner to research about keywords that are popular in your niche.

Third tactic is to have relevant visual elements within your text content. Visual Content is a very effective hook, one that will ensure that you have relevant visitors on your site. Use sites like Pixabay to source royalty-free images and Canva for editing.

Fourth tactic speaks about relationship – it is essential that you build one with your readers as well as influencers in your niche. Good relationship will help you grow audience and build authority on the subject. You can leverage social media platforms, commenting systems to build relationship.

Fifth one would be to know your target audience. Know what they like, what they don’t. Know the demographics, etc. And then tailor your content to appeal to that kind of audience. Relevant content will helping in spreading content across the target audience.

The next tactic is personalization. How closer can you reach the target audience? Are you collecting leads via landing pages, are you creating a mailing list and sharing a mail about your new post. Do so and see your content views scaling upwards.

On the seventh tactic of targeted distribution, care has to be taken that you are not just blasting email but sharing them with your target audience only. Key is to segregate them.

Also if you’re running ad campaigns around your content, ensure that you have the right target audience. You can also reach out to key influencers in your niche and have them share content further.

Eighth tactic per the infographic asks you to leverage social media. First is to ensure that your pages have social-sharing buttons. Then ensure that you have platforms earmarked for sharing at times most of the consumers are online.

One key strategy would be to tweet multiple times in a day so that it reaches to audience in different time zones, there by increasing the potential of content to be shared across geographies.

Finally, it’s only something that you can do. ACT. DO. Look at all the steps mentioned in the infographic, print it, have it in front of you and pick the tactics that are best suited for you.
The 9 Most Powerful Blog Promotion Tactics From Top Marketing Experts [Infographic]
ReferralCandy – Refer-a-friend Programs for Ecommerce Stores

Your Thoughts

  1. Have you tried any of these blog promotion tactics?
  2. Which promotion tactic has worked best for you?

Do let me know your thoughts via the comment below or engage with me over Twitter – @MalharBarai

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5 Amazing Ways to Repurpose Content

5 ways to repurpose contentThe ability to repurpose content is the cornerstone for any successful content marketer.

More often than not, you might have hit a lean patch with writer’s block or lack of time. It’s during those times, that we look for quick content ideas and repurposing content is one very successful strategy.

Before we dive into how we can repurpose content, let’s take a quick look at the why of doing so.

Why Repurpose Content?

  1. Longer Shelf Life – One of the biggest advantage of repurposing content is the ability to give life to your old content and making it shareable, snackable again
  2. New Audience, More Reach – Probably you have written a blog a year back and it has reached a certain audience and forgotten. Now that you repurpose it to say a slide deck and host on Slideshare, you are reaching newer audience thus giving your wider reach.
  3. SEO Benefit – You might have written a cornerstone content with certain keywords/phrases a while earlier which got you the SEO benefits. Now by having the same content in other form, you are improving the long-tail aspect as well as the authority on those keywords/phrases. Also more traffic back to your website means better ranking too.

Now let’s get into the details…

5 Ways to Repurpose Content

Most of the time, the question I get asked is – what kind of content can be repurposed?

And my answer to that is, any content that has provided value to your readers. Look at your best performing content over the years, understand which one got you the best clicks or engagement and then look at repurposing that content.

Now, if you have shortlisted the content, here are the 5 ideas to help you repurpose content –

1. Quotable Images

One of the easiest ways to help your content reach wider audience is to leverage the power of visual content. Pick up data points, sub-headings or part of your text and convert that to images of various sizes and post on platforms likes Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram Stories, etc. You can create a custom link using bit.ly link and put it on your Instagram Story/Snapchat to drive traffic to the old blog.

2. Slide Deck

The next way to repurpose content is to convert it to a slide deck. Like the quotable images, on the slide deck too, you can pick up the data points, key content and put together a slide deck and host on Slideshare. With it’s integration with Linkedin, you can reach audience on Slideshare as well as your business audience on Linkedin. Here’s the quick example

history of social networking

3. Infographic

Nothing beats a good infographic. As a small, medium, big or even a personal brand, you HAVE to build infograhics. This is one visual content form that has the power to make your content go viral even if it is little stale. If you are not creating them, you’re missing a ton of traffic on your content. Here’s a quick example of what you can do, again dip into data and key points of existing content and create a nice infographic.

Content Hack

Tools for creating infographic – Canva, Piktochart, Infogr.am

4. Video/Vlog

Producing video or vlog (video blog) is often considered a tough ask. Not now, with emergence of various video tools, you can create videos in a very short time. One of the easiest way I have found is to create content on Microsoft Powerpoint or the Keynote tool on Mac and save that content as videos. You can then use Windows Movie Maker or iMovie and add or edit effects. Alternatively, you can use your mobile devices to shoot a video of your own explaining the old content.

Here’s something I did when Instagram launched stories in competition with Snapchat.

Tools for Video – iMovie, Windows Moviemaker, Adobe Premiere (Advanced Users), Microsoft Powerpoint, Keynote on Mac

5. Podcast

Again like videos, podcast is often considered difficult. But it can be an amazing strategy to repurpose content to audio form. To keep it simple, you can invest as little as $5 on site like Fiverr and get a voice over artist. Make them read your content and there you have, an audio version. Now you can either create a podcast channel or host it on Soundcloud.

There you go, some easily doable tips to repurpose content and give life back to your old content all the while reaching to new audience.

Your Thoughts

  1. Do you invest in repurposing old content?
  2. What type of content works best for you?

Do share your thoughts over the comments below.

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10 Impactful Visual Content Ideas For Brands

10 impactful visual content ideasVisual Content is at the heart of any successful content strategy.

Given that brands are producing tons of content – blogs, videos, infographics etc, it often becomes difficult to stand out from the crowd.

This is addressed be creating powerful visual content, content that is a treat to the eyes, is easily understood by audience, is snackable, is shareable, is engaging and so on.

For long, I have been a fan of the Canva tool and have used it for creating content for my blogs, Twitter Chat and videos. So when I came across this infographic, where the Canva team shares some awesome visual content ideas that can help in creating impactful content strategy, I had to share it further with my readers.

Though some of the ideas were mooted about 2 years back, they are still relevant.

10 Impactful Visual Content Ideas

Find more awesome design content at designschool.canva.com

10 Types Of Awesome Visual Content Your Brand Should Be Creating Right Now [Infographic]

1. Photographs

I have always advocated brands to move away from stock photos. Brands should have set of photographs that can depicts behind-the-scenes process. People always love to see the humane side of brands and photographs go a long way.

2. Quote Cards

I absolutely love them. Whenever I come across some beautiful quote, I create a nice card out of it and share further with my community. The amount of likes/shares they generate are tremendous at times.

3. Creative Call To Actions

The conversion on text based CTA was drastically low and that’s where I came across someone on my network saying it loudly and clearly with a nice creative. When implemented, I could notice the difference in conversions

4.  Branded Images

Many brands these days are looking at optimum placements for their products. We have seen them leveraging movies, influencers, etc. Use those branded content images for increasing your brand recall and reach. Images with logo or subtle placement of products with your brand name works pretty well on platforms like Instagram.

5. Data Visualisation

I am a sucker of everything data. Have always loved the power of data and how effectively it can help convince anyone. Add some visual props to data and it becomes very effective way to communicate your message. A simple graph or a diagram with data can give your content the much required push.

6. Videos

Youtube is world’s second best search engine. And I also love the adage ‘A picture is worth thousand words and a video is worth thousand pictures’. If your brand is not playing around with videos, you are missing a lot of captive audience. Combine video with the capability of mobile devices and you have a sure shot winner.

7. Tips, How-Tos

Tips and how-to images, videos is another visual content that has given me and some of my clients best results. How many times have you started looking for content starting your search with ‘How to…’. Any visual content that conforms to such kind of search will have better SEO rankings as well as good CTRs.

Example of a video we had done for CakeOMania

how to image

8. Screenshots

I have often used this technique when I have to give a sneak peek to my blog or an asset that I want my followers to take a close look at. So, this technique can be used as a teaser for your products. It also helps when you are doing explainer content and would like to reinforce your thoughts with examples from the screen.

9. Questions as Images

A technique that I have been experimenting off late. This one is giving me some fantastic engagement on Facebook, where I often post it. I believe it can give similar results on other platforms like Instagram and even Snapchat.

Sneak peek at what I do on Facebook

question image

10. Infographics

Infographics are liked and shared 3x times more than other content types. Success of brands on Pinterest can be attributed to their efforts in creating impactful infographics that get shared widely on the platform.

I would suggest brands to pick some data of their industry and investing in creating infographic with that data. They would be really happy to see the results.

The simplest form of infographic I had ever done was to create one with data from Facebook’s Annual results. And that kind of became my cornerstone content for a while.

So there they are, the 10 most impactful visual content ideas that you can adopt for your brands.

Your Take

  1. Have you invested in any form of visual content?
  2. What has been the returns on your investment in visual content?

Guest Post – Importance of Lead Validation

importance of lead validation

Guest Post by Aaron Wittersheim

Generating quality leads is a never-ending battle for a lot of companies. One way to win that war is to set up a system that will better measure the success of your lead generation campaign. Ideally that system would involve separating sales leads from non-sales conversions, a process called lead validation. This allows you to decipher what’s working in your campaign and what’s not, helping you adjust campaign elements for better results.

Why Lead Validation

Most inaccuracies in lead generation stem from relying on conversion data instead of sales lead data. According to “The Importance of Lead Validation” study, 50 percent of a company’s website conversions aren’t sales leads. That means you could be investing in campaigns that aren’t contributing to ROI. Here are more key benefits of vetting your inquiries:

  • You will know the online marketing source that contributed to every sales lead.
  • You will know how to optimize campaign performance based on sales leads data versus conversion data.
  • While conversion data provides the cost per conversion (which is grossly misleading when half aren’t sales related), through lead validation your will know the accurate (and far more important) cost per lead.

Find out more valuable information on lead generation (like the visit attribution for conversion) and importance of lead validation in the presentation below:

Your Take

  1. Why is it important to validate leads?
  2.  What steps are you taking to validate your leads?

Author Bio

Aaron Wittersheim is Chief Operating Officer at Internet marketing agency Straight North.

Artificial Intelligence in Content Writing

artifical intelligence in content writingRecently I came across two websites ContentHop and WordAI promising to write and rewrite content using artificial intelligence. What piqued my interest was, there could already be some content that would have been written by these AI programs.

Next came this news about a robot reporter in China which had written 300 words in one second!

Boom! Are we entering the age of artificial intelligence and robots in the world of content writing.

Artificial Intelligence in Content Writing – Death or Transformation

Now that is an important question? Will content marketing die or transform?

A look at the content cited at the start of the article and you can hardly deduce that these have been written using bots.

That means, as consumers, if the bot is doing a better job with writing content, handling the emotive aspects, thinking more closely as humans, we really do not bother.

We are already seeing how the likes of Google, Facebook, etc are deploying self learning systems, which try to mimic the behaviour of consumers and show results, timelines that are more relevant to them.

Extending the same concept to content writing, I would believe that systems are being developed that will keep learning what kind of content is resonating well with the consumers. This will improve the bot-driven content writing skills making it better for consumers.

Will Artificial Intelligence Help Content Writers?

Like always, artificial intelligence will definitely help consumers but in my opinion it will help the content writers more. Here’s how –

Artificial Intelligence for content writers

  1. Draft post – Give the bot relevant inputs and you can have you the post created in a jiffy (the 300-word article in China Daily was created in one second)
  2. Citations – The bots can find related content across the web and provide references that you can cite in the article
  3. Syndication – As of today, many of us are using multiple tools to syndicate and distribute our content across multiple channels. What if, there could be one tool that will study the destination and automate syndication too.
  4. Humanizing Content – Many of us might argue that this is not possible, but my contention is, with self-learning systems, many of the future content writing engines will learn how the consumers are reacting to certain kind of content. Hence the system will alter the content writing style to best suit the consumer’s reading preference. As of today, we still rely on CTRs and other means to know it.

With this, I rest my case and conclude that artificial intelligence in content writing will actually help in transforming the industry. Therefore making us better writers rather than killing the industry

But are we ready??

Your Thoughts

  1. Will Artificial Intelligence in content writing kill the industry?
  2. What could be the future?

 

Google AMP Demystified – #SEOTalk Recap

google amp demystifiedWelcome 2017 on SEOTalk Twitter Chat. We decided to start the year with a look at Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).

Since the launch of AMP, we have been debating on it’s importance and does it really make sense for brands to adopt it.

Last year, Google also made changes to SERP where it integrated AMP with mobile listings and also giving better ranking to sites with AMP.

The biggest benefit for using Google AMP is the ability to load the site on mobile devices faster. In my opinion, since making ‘faster loading’ one of the ranking factor and also advocating ‘mobile first’ design, Google has been asking webmaster to be mobile ready for a while.

But we were wondering if AMP really mattered and for which kind of brands? We asked this question during the chat.

The answers were a mixed bag. Many of the folks commented that it will really matter but more so if you are a brand that has frequent updates and more long form content. Since AMP requires sites to load in 2 seconds max, it matters much.

That thought brought us to media brands, which have content being published frequently and thus AMP made more sense to them.

Another interesting question was on the SEO impact of Google AMP.

We had two insightful answers to it, by Varun and Jerry –

Given that we are still in the early days of Google AMP, the chat was quite insightful. Read on…

Here are the questions that were covered during the chat –

Q1. What is difference between non-AMP and AMP websites?
Q2. Why does AMP matter?
Q3. What kind if brands should implement AMP?
Q4. How can AMP be implemented for WordPress websites?
Q5. How will AMP impact SEO?
Q6. How are you approaching AMP?

Google AMP Chat Transcripts

Here are the transcripts from the chat –

Your Thoughts

  1. What kind of brands should adopt Google AMP?
  2. Do you see better results for brands using Google AMP?

Join us on #SEOTalk Twitter Chat every Monday 8:30PM India, 3:00PM GMT, 10:00AM EST

SEO Predictions for 2017 – #SEOTalk Recap

seo predictions for 2017We had an exciting 2016 on SEOTalk and it was fitting to end it on a high with all the possible SEO Predictions for 2017.

Over 2016, we saw a lot of action in the search industry and it kept the practitioners literally on their toes. And 2017 doesn’t seem to be any different.

We are already seeing the world where desktop is being relegated to second screen and mobile devices are becoming primary. Add to that, the power of local information and contextual information. So we saw in 2016, Google increasingly giving precedence to mobile and Local SEO. That should continue to improve in 2017 too.

So very aptly, we started the SEOTalk Twitter Chat with that topic and then discussed few others.Post that we moved to automation and AI in SEO.

2016 saw introduction of RankBrain and we expect it to grow bigger and beyond search queries in 2017. So search practitioners should have a field day optimizing content for AI.

And finally, we moved to the importance of schemas. I had covered that topic in couple of recent meets and was surprised to see many brands still not leveraging the power of schemas. While schemas do offer better view in SERP there was another argument – it reduces CTR. The point that was being made is, since enough information is available in SERP, people wouldn’t click on the links and go to site. What are your thoughts?

So off you go. Catch the chat transcripts below. This is what the community believes will happen in 2017.

The chat got divided in 4 segments –

  1. Local and Mobile SEO
  2. Automation and AI in SEO
  3. Schema Markups
  4. Anything around SEO

SEO Predictions for 2017 Transcripts

Here are the transcripts from the Twitter Chat –

Your Turn

  1. What are you SEO Predictions for 2017?
  2. How will Automation and AI transform SEO?

Do share your thoughts over comments below.