Expert Interview 016: New Content Ideas with Dan Shure

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The quality of content is one of the most important elements in the content marketing scene. And having unique content ideas in your toolkit can help you stand out among all brand assets (blog post, infographics, videos, etc…) and can influence the behavior of the targeted audience or consumers.

Today, Dan Shure, the founder of Evolving SEO shares his insights (free SEO tools and strategies) on how to look for new content ideas and develop a content that every person would like to share and link to.

dan-shure

Dan Shure with his dogs Marley (Left) and Tucker (Right)

Where did you get the name “Evolving SEO”? Give me a little background about yourself.

I actually had a music lesson business before I started my SEO business and it was called “Evolving Music Education”. I remember clear as day coming up with the word “Evolving”. I was jotting down ideas in a notebook – trying to figure out what made me different from other music teachers, or just as a human. I realized it’s that I am always changing and experimenting – I don’t ever stay set in one thing.

But I think it ended up working even better for an SEO business. To me, “the only constant in SEO, is that it is constantly changing” – it’s alive and always growing. Even Danny Sullivan says SEO is Evolving :)

In short – my background is basically a jack of all trades (literally – I’ve learned bits of design, development, photography etc – and of course music was my first profession) but my true love being marketing, content and the technology being search engines.

Dan’s Advices to Get More Content Ideas for Your Blog

Do you have any tools/strategies that you use to look for new content ideas?

Absolutely, but they all really boil down to listening in one way or another. Rarely does a great content idea just come out of thin air. It might work that way as an artist or a poet. But in marketing your “great” content idea has to resonate with other people and drive action.

So whether it’s Topsy, or reading blog comments, or scanning Quora or using Ubersuggest – they are forms of just listening. You can also get a ton of ideas just from talking to someone for 30 minutes in the industry you’re trying to promote – or talking to a customer in that industry.

Can you walk us through a process on how you create content specifically a blog post?

On my personal blog, this is where the “inspired musician” in me comes out. I very rarely plan a post. If an idea hits me I run with it, and usually finish at least a first draft in a few hours.

For example this post I did about Ben Folds and Twitter – I was literally just listening to an interview he was giving randomly, and he mentioned not knowing why more people didn’t click on his Twitter links. I think just a few hours later the post was done.

How can someone create a unique content if he is not an expert in the topic or he is working in a boring industry?

Lots of ways!

  • Interview someone who is an expert.
  • Do a roundup of several experts.
  • Find someone who’s an expert giving a talk on the subject on YouTube. Embed the video on your site and add value by either adding extra resources (maybe all of their links they mention), or extra commentary.

I don’t ever take the “boring industry” excuse :)

Let’s take door knobs for example. I am just making these up now;

  • Teach us how the architecture, time period, location and so on of a house helps determine what type of design for a door knob you would use.
  • Your audience is homeowners, probably do-it-yourselfers. I would provide homeowners resources like

○         How to install a new door

○         How to fix things that go broken on a door

○         Of course, how to install / replace a doorknob

○         Make these all videos with someone charismatic doing the video.

  • Do a contest – who can install a new doorknob the fastest?
  • Famous celebrity doorknobs…. ok ok… maybe not that :)
  • Mix and match data – does income, location, gender, education, employment or anything like that correlate with having a higher quality, more expensive or nicer looking doorknob?
  • Do a “hidden camera spoof” – where are odd places you can put a doorknob and trick people? A bathroom stall? A taxi cab door?
  • Do something emotional. Visiting your family for the Holidays – the first physical contact you have with their environment is a doorknob. The door knob allows you to open the door into their world – see people you love but have missed – and share special time with them.

But it all really boils down to who is your audience and what will work for them. In many ways, I am just making things up out of thin air – but you’d be surprised what you can come up with just by talking to your core customer base.

If someone is to write an evergreen content, what are the steps that he must undergo?

Very simplistically;

  1. Define your audience.
  2. Find a gap in the content targeted at that audience.
    1. Is it old?
    2. Is it just bad?
    3. Does it not exist?
    4. Does it exist but not in the right format? (It’s text but should be a slideshow?)
  3. Set your goals. What do you want the content to accomplish?
    1. Virality?
    2. Search rankings?
    3. Links?
    4. General buzz?
  4. Execute it.
  5. Promote it.
  6. Measure success and learn!

Give me tips on how to organize new ideas in a content calendar or spreadsheet?

You have to follow a few dimensions and criteria here for how practical you can be.

  • How many resources are there for creating content? Writers? Designers etc?
  • How often could you publish without oversaturating the space?
  • How often could you publish but maintain high standards of quality?

I think those things need to be very well determined first. How often will you push content out etc? Then you can use any number of free templates or system out there. This post by Unbounce has a free Google Doc and free WordPress plugin.

I like to have some arrangement of the following columns;

  • keyword
  • topic idea
  • title
  • audience
  • goal(s) or call to action
  • author
  • date of publishing

What are the factors that make a content worthy of being shared on social networks?

There are a few I think;

  • Make the person sharing look good in one way or another. Either they get “credit” for finding something cool, useful, funny, entertaining etc or they will look good to their peers in some way.
  • Timing – shared content usually strikes a chord with people because it matching some sort of sentiment.
  • Ask – I personally have never asked anyone to share something of mine. But that’s just how I am personally. I know asking your inner network of friends and colleagues to get some momentum going for you can work very well.
  • Involve others in the creation process – you bet I’m going to share this interview! And you can even extend it to just asking people to help you with content, or proof it for you, or just be involved in any way – and they will a) Notice when it publishes b) if they don’t you have an excuse to tell them when it does and c) either way they will feel a personal connection to the content and be more likely to share it.
  • Be controversial – this is the classic SEO share-bait. Write an article slamming SEO, and you betcha a whole tonna SEO’s are gonna comment on it, share it, post it to Inbound and comment on it more there.
  • Have a Hook – this could be a click worthy title or a catchy content you can grab onto and instantly “get” the value in what the content is. You have to capture someone’s attention very quickly.
  • Help – many of my most shared posts are reviews of a tool. I didn’t do this just for the sake of getting shares – when I find tools I’m really excited about I write about them. Since they naturally help and promote the people who make the tool, when they notice they will share it with their network which can help get it some tracking.

How should content be treated by inbound marketers?

We need to think beyond the word “content” into the specific types of content. For example – mediums;

  • Text
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Slideshows
  • Photos / Graphics
  • Mixed media
  • Web based content like parallax

“Content” is so vague and we often don’t know what we mean – we need to make is less abstract. Content is something that should be happening naturally. Not this extra thing like “oh I need content now”.

The thing is content is everywhere around us.

Have you written an email? Content.

Do you tell your close friend everything you’re passionate about over drinks? Content.

Do you deliver products or services? Content.

Do you teach your customers about your product, service or industry? Content.

Do you talk on the phone? Content.

D’you ever feel compelled to leave a comment on someone’s blog? Content!!

It’s everywhere. People make the mistake of not realizing this and try to force something out of nothing when the best content is right in front of us.

The trick is listening to your customers and organizing this stuff into a format that makes sense.

Content is just communication in a solid format someone can consume. Think of all the ways we communicate.

  • We tell stories.
  • We teach.
  • We have conversations.

The real challenge is distilling this into a brand voice, keeping it consistent, and keeping your audience engaged.

What are some considerations one should consider in content development provide that he has an existing content but needs some changes/editing?

For content development, presentation is everything. When it comes to text, even just upgrading to custom web fonts can make a huge difference. I always urge clients to keep their images optimized, but not at the expense of quality. There are ways to reduce image size but without pixelation or distortion.

Hire a great designer – they are worth their weight in gold!

I would worry less about every little word in your paragraphs and more about crafting great headings that pull the reader through your story.

One huge thing I never used to do, but am trying to do more, is ask a few friends or people you trust to give you a really hard critique of your content before you publish. If they’re honest and helpful, it could make a world of difference.

Where do you see yourself in the next five or ten years?

I hope to see Evolving SEO grow into a 4-5 person boutique agency that helps companies who really know who they are as a brand and delight their customers. I hope to be delighting our clients just the same.

I also hope to put on more events, bring people together, use SEO to create real change in the physical world – and own a Volkswagen again :)

You can also read the following expert interviews:

If you liked this interview, feel free to share it to your friends. Also, if you’re looking for more content ideas for your blog, you can get them by subscribing to this blog and following me on  @venchito14.

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Comments

  1. says

    Interesting questions and actionable answers. Hearing and reading interviews from fellow guys in our industry will not only help us learn new tips and ideas but also get to know them even more. Especially if the person being interviewed is known awesome at what s/he does. I would love to see Danny Sullivan and John Rampton to be listed in your Interview-Resources Venchito.

  2. says

    Howdy! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

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