King Kong and King Content: A Case Study in Content Recycling

King Content

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 1: 9

It’s all been done before – Barenaked Ladies

In the time since Al Gore invented the internet the deluge of content on it has become overwhelming. Millions of articles, covering just about every topic possible, are written and posted every day.

Our biggest challenge as SEO’s is finding a way to break through the slush clogging up the pipelines of cyberspace. It is a daunting task. Especially if BNL is right and everything has been done. The problem gets larger when you are writing for long term clients, then you aren’t just repeating what others have said you are often repeating yourself.

I wrote four articles about dentistry this month. Next month I will write four more. It is getting difficult to come up with anything original. I’ve spent so much time doing research that I am afraid I might suddenly raise up on my desk, take my shirt off , twist it round my head, and spin it like a helicopter all while screaming dental terms like expletives.

Anguish Ian (or: The Scream)
BICUSPID!!!

How do we say something that has already been said, by ourselves or by others, without losing our minds and without boring our audiences?

Lets look to a case study for help on the matter

King Kong

The original King Kong came out in 1933. Since then the movie has been remade several times.

King Kong Google Search
What…? My Mozbar is showing …? How embarrassing.

Each version follows the exact same story line; Kong lives happily on a previously undiscovered island, he meets an alluring girl, he is captured and brought to the city, he gets loose and uses the Manhattan skyline as his jungle gym.

Even though the story has been repeated, the latest version was very successful. Peter Jackson’s 2005 film has an 81 rating on Metacritic and 84 on Rotten Tomatoes.

What was it about his approach that turned an old story into a fresh and exciting one?

Successful Recycling

Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again. – Andre Gide

There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know. – Ambrose Bierce

The great thing about human beings is that we forget stuff. I imagine the world would get boring really fast if we didn’t.

The first two Kong films were separate by 43 years, the third came 29 years later. They were sufficiently spaced so that the viewing public did not get burnt out on the subject.

Luckily for us, the attention span of the internet is shorter than a 5-year-old’s in Disneyland. We don’t need to wait for years to recycle a story. If your article is older than 6 months, unless it went viral, chances are no one remembers it but you.

When a well researched article isn’t shared it is not because the ideas are bad, it is because they aren’t packaged in an interesting way. Your content can do a lot more work for you if you simply repackage and repost.

Let us look at some specific ways that the King Kong story has been repackaged.

Popularity

In 2005 Peter Jackson was fresh off the success of the Lord of the Rings thrillogy. He was the hottest name in Hollywood. If people didn’t care about the giant monkey, they went to see the movie because Peter Jackson’s name was attached to it. Universal capitalized on his popularity to resell an old story.

How can this work for us?

If you are following our twitter account @utseo, you might have seen this article, entitled Angelina’s Leg and User Friendly Web Design. If you don’t know what this article is referring to you either live in a hole in Canada or you tried really hard to avoid any news about the recent Oscars.

This article would probably not have grabbed my attention without its intriguing and timely title. If we use trending topics to help promote our tweets we need to do the same with our articles. An old article suddenly becomes fresh when it is tied to a timely topic.

Update

The movie industry is constantly being forced to adapt to new technologies. After the first movies with convincing CGI were released, movie goers were no longer appeased by old graphics. This simple change opened the door for all of the movie remakes we have seen in the last few years. Hollywood hasn’t run out of ideas they are just taking the easiest and most lucrative option to them. Why write a new story when you can take an old one, spend a little money on special effects, and re-release it to make millions?

Even though the 1933 film was still a good movie, watching it now, the special effects are laughable. Even the 70’s version was a little hokey. The 2005 release gave the story a facelift and made it more palatable to a modern audience.

How can this work for us?

Technology is always changing and not just for the movie industry. Keeping up with the newest ideas in your clients’ field is important if you are going to stay relevant. But if you have already written an article on the newest updates you can easily repurpose old content for a compare and contrast. Some industries, like SEO, are changing so fast that this technique could be a gold mine for new content.

Branch Out

So far we have only talked about the three movies that carry the title of King Kong. But there are numerous derivations. Mighty Joe Young is almost exactly the same story and there were two versions of this film in 1949 and 1998. Notice that both of these movies were made to fill the giant ape gaps left by the Kong movies.

I won’t even talk about the TV shows and other related films that have split off of the original idea. The world must not be getting its fill of big monkey if posters like this one are being made in hopes that another remake will follow.

king kong vs godzilla
MOAR!

How can this work for us?

The old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” doesn’t just apply to your lawn mower and the 70’s Schwinn sitting in your garage. No matter how many “how to” or “top 10” articles are written on a subject these headlines will always get some attention.

Your best source for new ideas is to look through old content. Often you will find some little section that you can expand into a full article. Or you could take the entire article and fit it into a new format like the two already mentioned. Don’t waste your most precious resource, yourself.

Find a New Voice

These Geico ads are a great example of a new voice for old ideas. Just look at their campaign, the three little pigs, woodchucks chucking wood, Foghorn Leghorn, Elmer Fudd; all of these stories have been around for a while. All these advertisers did was add a new and interesting voice.

This is the same thing Universal did when they brought on Peter Jackson. His voice telling an old story made it new and interesting.

How can this work for us?

That article which has been sitting unshared and lonely in the black expanse of cyberspace only needs a new voice to brighten it up and bring it some friends. If you have a lot of old content lying around that is all written in a dry, informative, or academic style try adding a new tone. Make it playful or sarcastic, anything that is different and interesting. Revising the tone of an article is so much easier than writing a new one.

The End

With everything we have on our SEO plate we can’t afford to waste any resources. Take a lesson from King Kong, let your content do work for you. Don’t waste time doing new research and coming up with new ideas when you don’t have to. Use these simple rules of recycling to save yourself time and money.

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Are Long Tail Keywords the Key to Show Campaign Effectiviness?

What do you do when a client’s targeted keywords are showing minimal improvements in the rankings and they are threatening to take their business elsewhere? Well, here is what we did.

One of our clients owned a photography studio that sells photography props and background stands. Keywords in that market are hit or miss in terms of competitiveness. They had been with us for about 7 months total and our ranking report wasn’t giving our work the rcognition it deserved. We decided to go into their analytics and run a couple reports and this is what I found out:

YEP! Traffic had tripled for non-branded organic search terms. This long tail swell in rankings was a direct result of the work we had done with targeted keywords. And our customer recognized that when he saw this. Sales were up, however they had been attributing all the extra traffic to their current customer base and some print ads they ran. Yes, it would have been easier to set up e-commerce tracking but their e-commerce software was run by a third party who did not give us access to add this functionality. Whatever — sometimes you have to work with what you are given.

As you know, sometimes SEO can feel like a tug and war match with your clients. However, hard data such as the above report is hard to ignore and can go a long way in that battle of proving your worth. I have included a quick tutorial on how to set that report up in case you are interested.

On average 70% of your search traffic will be derived from long tail keywords. Showing customers the long tail traffic coming as a result of our work targeting keywords has saved us many times.

You can get an idea what kind of long tail you’re looking at with the Google keyword tool. Setting the tool to focus on broad match gives you the total search volume of the keyword and related terms. Lets say I wanted to build links for the term “energy booster”, watch how significantly that number drops when switched to the exact match.

When I focus my SEO on the word “energy boosters,” more than likely it will take months to rank for that exact key term. But in the wake of this effort I’m building authority with Google for thousands of related search queries. Key terms such as “healthy energy boosters” or “new energy boosters just released” are some examples of long tail search terms I’m scooping up. The easiest way to check this is to go through your analytics.

If you have Google analytics installed, on the left hand side select Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic. This will give you a list of organic search terms. Once there, find the search bar below the graph and select “advanced” Next, select exclude and but in all variations of related branded keyterms. This will bring up a good list of natural unbranded organic keywords. With these settings, you can get a good idea of how far you have come organically speaking. You can continue to break this down further if you need to. Happy Mining!

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Are Meta Tags Important In Todays Changing Landscape?

A recent estimation from SEOMoz’s 2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors puts on-page keyword usage accounting for 15 percent of the ranking algorithm. What I take from this is that you should really invest some time to optimize each page on your site. Your on-page optimization strategy should generally include title tag, meta tags, content, inner page linking strategy, header tags, and more.

Typically, most SEOs or webmasters will be adding meta data after a site with content has already been on the web for a little while. For best SEO results, we would like for one of the firsts steps to be the creation of the title tag and meta data and I will tell you why. But I will explain the “what” question before answering the “why”.

What are Meta Tags?
When we talk about your meta data we are typically referring to the meta keywords tag and the meta description tag. These tags are not visible to visitors on your site. This information has been made exclusively for user agents such as search engines and the spiders that work for them. Essentially, a meta tag is a certain type of code that is placed into the header of your page and describes the contents therein.

Why are they Important?
Meta tags are useful for marketing and as organizational components. When someone looks at the results from a search query, a user will typically see the title tag and the meta description tag. It is from these descriptions that a user will select the site that best fulfills their search desire.

If they like your title and meta description they will then click through to your site hoping to find more information about what they were searching for. This is why it is extremely beneficial to start by crafting your meta tags as the first step in optimizing your page.

The meta keywords tag is currently deprecated and provides no ranking help to your site, but still can help with your site keyword organization. When crafting your meta keywords tag, think about what keywords really describe the purpose of the page. Craft your writing around the keywords so your content is more targeted and search engine friendly.

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How to Write First-Class SEO Content

Writing content that captivates readers can be hard enough. Accomplishing that while making your content search engine-friendly can be a real headache. The fact is, in SEO there is no magic equation to write great optimized content that’s also readable. It’s a world governed by best principles rather than laws. Master these principles, and you’ll have some of the most effective content on the Web.

Make it Natural
First things first—when writing, your readers are your highest priority. Targeted keywords are important for SEO, but they should fit naturally within the text. Keyword stuffing is not only annoying for your readers; it can also hurt your rankings. Search engine algorithms look for unnaturally high keyword density and will dock you for it. But don’t become overly concerned about keyword density. A good rule of thumb is if it reads naturally, you are probably ok.

Use a Variety
Search engines don’t just look at the keywords you want to rank for; they see everything on your page. Using variations of your keywords can help them know what your page is about without sounding spammy. For example, if you are targeting the keyword “bicycle” you could include words such as “bike”, “cycling”, “road bikes”, “biking”, etc. Including synonyms and related keywords makes your page more credible to search engines and makes your content read more naturally. You can find synonyms using Google’s Keyword Tool or a trusty thesaurus.

Space It Out
Even if your overall density is reasonable, take care not to lump all your keywords into one paragraph. Too tight repetition of the same word is distracting to readers and looks like keyword stuffing to the search engines. Generally, it is a good idea to get a keyword in the first sentence. From there, sprinkle your writing with keywords and synonyms.

Emphasize Keywords
In general, search engines do a good job of determining what a page is about. They use the same cues as a reader might. Including keywords in headings, anchor text, and alt (or image) tags are big tip-offs to search engine robots. Bolding and italicizing words also show they are relevant to your page.

There is no one right way to write great SEO content. Try different techniques to determine what works best for your website and SEO campaign. With time and practice, writing will become easier and optimizing content will become second nature.

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UtahSEO is Hiring!

FULL OR PART TIME, IN-HOUSE POSITION.

UtahSEO is seeking an in-house search engine optimizer to join our web development company.

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Optimize websites for SEO (meta tags, content, ect.)
  • Keyword research
  • Problem solve rankings issues
  • Help manage PPC campaigns

REQUIREMENTS

  • Previous experience in SEO/PPC
  • Some knowledge of HTML
  • Content writing experience- excellent writing skills a must!

UtahSEO is a great place to work and gain incredible experience in the SEO field.

Please email us your resume or fill out our online application.

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Google’s CAPTCHA – How Do I Type That??

I was doing some keyword research on Google’s Keyword Tool and came to their lovely CAPTCHA:

So, how am I supposed to type that?!  Unfortunately, Google does not allow you to display a different CAPTCHA if you need one.  So, I had to arbitrarily type in some characters and get denied and start over.

I know CAPTCHA is good for blocking spam, but I think that the world needs a better technology.  This is just very primitive.

Another problem with CAPTCHA is that it can reduce your overall conversion rate for leads or sales.  Many times those CAPTCHAs are just too darn difficult to read. Many times I certainly just give up.

Hopefully there is a company out there creating some new anti-spam technology Google or a similar large company can purchase and promote.

Until then, I guess we all have to learn Chinese* :)

*is that Chinese? Not sure. It may be Japanese. I need to check. Sounds like a fun Friday afternoon adventure!

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Utah SEO @ Mozcation in Salt Lake

Our visit to Mozcation was a success. We thought it would be fun to showcase some of the photos from that evening.

utah search engine optimization team

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SEOmoz Coming to Salt Lake City – MozCation June 2011

And the winner of the #mozcation is Salt Lake City!

Here’s the info on the mozcation meet up contest:

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/introducing-mozcation-nominate-your-city-for-an-seomoz-meetup

SEOmoz will be coming June 29 to Salt Lake City.

Sam McRoberts, creator of http://mozcation.net, says:

Wow, I am so excited right now, and so is the rest of the Utah SEO community!

The SEOmoz crew was so impressed by all the nominations that instead of picking just one city, they picked 4, and SLC is the first stop :)

A big thanks to Greg Shuey, David Scoville and Adrian Lazo (and the whole Clearlink SEO crew) for their entries! There is no way we would have won this without the multiple awesome entries and major community support.

So, to all Utah SEO folks, keep your eyes peeled for the details of the June 29th MozCation in Salt Lake City!

Also, a big congrats to São Paulo Brazil as city #2, Lima Peru as city #3, and Spain as #4 (city TBD). There were a ton of awesome entries all around, and this was a fantastic event!

The details about the winners and the schedule are here:
SEOmoz MozCation Results or watch the video below :)

Sam’s representation of SEO in Utah:

 

See you all there!

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Google Says “Don’t Be Afraid” Of Duplicate Content

From SEORoundtable

One session we did not cover in our SES Chicago coverage was the duplicate content session and now I am regretting it. Susan Moskwa from Google presented and offered some advice and tips on the issue, from a Google’s perspective.

Of course, she said the same thing Google always says about the topic. There is no real penalty for having duplicate content, it is a filter, not a penalty. Okay, okay, so what is new?

According to the coverage by Top Rank, Susan explained when webmasters should not worry about duplicate content. They include:

  • Common, minimal duplication.
  • When you think the benefit outweighs potential ranking concerns. Consider your cost of fixing the duplicate content situation vs. the benefit you would receive.
  • Remember: duplication is common and search engines can handle it.

I honestly felt this way for a long time, but in many cases it might just make sense to make sure you do not have major duplicate content issues. Not always, but in many cases.

She added one more interesting tidbit:

A lot of people think that if they have duplicate content that they’ll be penalized. In most cases, Google does not penalize sites for accidental duplication. Many, many, many sites have duplicate content.Google may penalize sites for deliberate or manipulative duplication. For example: auto generated content, link networks or similar tactics designed to be manipulative.

Most cases, Google won’t penalize for duplicate content, as said above. But if it is being done as a spam technique, then of course.

I do like one comment in the WebmasterWorld thread discussing this coverage:

If I had a nickel for every time I had to explain to someone the difference between a penalty and a filter… I’d have a lot of nickels.

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Overrated SEO Tactics

There’s a great discussion going on at Sphinn about overrated SEO tactics. Some common ones mentioned are:

• buying multiple domains and redirecting them to your site
• over use or over importance of XML sitemaps
• meta-keywords
• keyword saturation

Make sure your are not spinning your wheels or spending money on tactics that won’t make much of a difference.

Check out the discussion here.

http://sphinn.com/story/179982

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