INSIDE THE PODCASTING COMEBACK

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Listen by the numbers

Podcasting is sounding better and better. And people are noticing.

Before anyone gets into a trend-chasing tizzy, remember that overall, podcast growth has been modest. Adults who listened to a podcast grew about 20% between 2006 and 2012. That’s nice, but it’s not setting Rome on fire.

But then podcasting reached an all-time high in 2014, with 15% of U.S. residents having listened to a podcast in the last month – almost 39 million people. Here’s the research, and it’s good.

Why it’s growing

Any victim of Serial addiction will talk your ear off about how great this podcasting series has been.

It tells the story of Adnan Syed, a high school student convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend. It’s told in real time, and his case is still in-process, so listeners feel like it’s actually unfolding – because it is. Serial has combined immediacy and drama in a way no other podcast ever has.

Podcasting is also something of a life-hack tool – a way of making daily life better by enabling people to gain information and be entertained during time that would otherwise be wasted. Look at how Esquire’s Top Podcasts recommend an esoteric mix of daily content in your diet.

Lowering the technical media drawbridge

As podcasting content and production quality have gone up, the cost of entry has gone down. It’s a great forum for creative risk and adventure.

Plus, devices are so ubiquitous that there are more and more opportunities to listen. Commuters are prime podcast consumers, and Edison research showed that people who listen to online audio content while commuting feel it is “new time” for them, i.e. it holds value.

The podcast leaders

Apple and ITunes are still dominant and holding steady as the resource for podcast search and access. But on the content side, podcasting’s standards are largely defined by – you guessed it – NPR.

This American Life, an NPR production with Ira Glass, began in 1995 but became widely available through the Public Radio Exchange in 2014. It examines a wide range of stories, often through 1st-person narrative. Along with RadioLab, This American Life has been a standard bearer for entertaining, educational, thought-provoking, and humorous content. Serial is a spin off of it.

How podcasting works best

Some podcasts with a commercial agenda seek only to inform. Nothing wrong with being informative, but podcasting, as Serial shows, adores a good story.

Storytelling is a powerful tool. When a story is told, the human brain lights up. Language, sensory, and motion centers all become engaged. Lovers of fiction have always known this.

Marketers should know it, too.

4 things to think about before creating a podcast.

Decide what the purpose is. Get an objective. Is it to teach, to entertain, to cultivate followers? Content strategy will flow from this.

Craft the narrative. What is the story that is unfolding? How can it be dramatized or made relevant through anecdotes and allegory?

Create a calendar. Podcasts require planning. So brainstorm and plan to explore the bandwidth of the topic you’re considering.

Listen to other podcasts. Get immersed in podcasts you like to build a sense of what really works and what doesn’t.

Whenever the topic is marketing, we’re always ready to listen. Contact us for a conversation.

4 NEW RULES FOR SEO

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It All Comes Down to Content

You’ve heard it ad nauseam, but today, when it comes to being the highest ranked on a search engine result page, content really is king.

With Google’s new SEO algorithm introduced in Google Panda content is being scrutinized as never before.

Panda evaluates UX in its analysis of site content. So it’s not just the range of content your site features, it’s the quality. That means a lot of site managers need to rethink their content strategy.

The rules have changed. And now, SEO thinking has to change, too. Here’s a guide to 4 critical new rules of SEO as seen by the folks here at drinkcaffeine.

The “Best of the Best” Rule

To maintain basic competitive positioning in search hierarchy, your site content must be as good as the best results on any particular search page. If you can’t consistently maintain this standard against the keywords used to explore your category, the hard truth is you do not have the opportunity to rank.

Search is becoming a mature category. Lots of sites have good, unique content. But it’s not enough to get to the top. You should aim to be the absolute best and then some.

If you don’t think you have the content to fulfill the keywords that drive your site traffic and your industry, then go back to the drawing board and review what it will take to bring your content to the next level.

The Right Links

 In the new world of Panda, links matter. Panda will discern between links that are authoritative and ones that are not.

Google, again valuing the best user experience, favors sites that are organically linked to by users. In fact, if you’re not earning links organically, you may even be earning undesirable links that Google is penalizing you for by lowering your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking.

It’s an uphill battle to earn links with anything less than the best content, but there’s a reason why getting to the top of the hill is worthwhile. And users are already beginning to notice that top-ranked players on any given SERP have the goods.

Think mobile

User experience more than ever relies on mobile-friendly sites, pages that load instantly, and device rendering. Don’t forget this aspect of UX as you develop your site. Panda certainly hasn’t.

So how do you become the best?

The shifts in Google’s algorithm require us all to look in the mirror and examine content more critically than ever before. Here are some critical questions.

  • Do my pages answer specific questions or call outs that a user may be searching for? A user problem-solution model is a powerful way to earn user trust, and links.
  • What’s my site like from a UX perspective? Are pages loading quickly? Is the navigation really intuitive and based on what users want?
  • Where is my content being sourced from? Content that pulls from trusted, branded sources will be far superior to the content that has no anchor to solid data.
  • Am I communicating visually? As we mentioned, people want their information delivered quickly and efficiently. Tidbits of text information will seldom surpass the power of an infographic or graph.
  • What am I missing? What are the top SERP leaders missing that you can provide? This is how you’ll set yourself apart.

When it comes to building out your best content, we’re your search engine optimizers. Search drinkcaffeine for your best result.