It probably comes no surprise that SEO and content tactics are major buzz words nowadays. I learned from this year’s Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego that Facebook is running out of room of news feed and ad space. Community building has become even more important; likewise, producing quality and valuable content for your audience has become a must to serve your fans and build relationships with them, and to rise above the noise.
I had the honor to engage in an hour-long conversation with Julia McCoy, CEO of Express Writers, regarding SEO and content tactics that can help organizations and individuals build a strong online presence and rise above the noise.
If you are an social media marketer or communication professional, you are for sure going to benefit from the strategies and tactics Julia shared to elevate your brand to the next level. If you are an educator, you will also love Julia’s advice on taking advantage of social media to create a strong online presence for you so that you can maximize your potential reach and impact.
Without any further ado, here is my conversation with Julia. Enjoy!
Who’s Julia McCoy?
Julia is the CEO of Express Writers. She is an author, speaker, and content marketer. Julia has been the CEO of Express Writers for more than six years. She transformed her agency from bootstrapped to a six-figure business. Julia is a top-ranking content marketer (ranked #33rd last year). She is also a best-selling author about online writing skills, So You Think You Write?Additionally, Julia is the creator of a podcast, online course (contentstrategycourse.com), and her own Twitter chat (#ContentWritingChat).
Clearly, Julia has no shortage of accomplishment. I am so honored that she joined me for a value-packed interview.
Top strategies to build a strong online brand
✅ Determine your place of authority online. First, you need to identify your niche. The more niche you go, the better results you get. Understanding your niche helps you create a persona of your ideal client.
Who is your ideal client? Whom are you going to serve?
Understanding your ideal client helps you create content and use the right keywords to reach out to that client. For example, if you are a digital marketer, that’s extremely broad. You need to identify the specific industry you are serving, such as B2B, B2C, gender, income, interest, etc. You want to narrow down your niche as much as possible.
Once you discover your niche, you can create content by thinking about the person you are serving.
Julia recommends conducting surveys to identify your ideal audience. If you have a brand new audience, you can use Facebook Audience Insights, which allow you to get tons of data on your ideal target person. To be honest, I have never explored Facebook Audience Insights until my interview with Julia. I went ahead and did a search on my Facebook page’s audience insights. See the two screenshots below.
My understanding of Facebook Audience Insights is really rudimentary. But, I can see from the second image that my audience tend to be married and more educated. This makes perfect sense to me because my target audience is college professor.
✅ Listen to your audience. Your clients have issues and face challenges. Listen to them and create content to solve their problems. For example, if your client doesn’t know how to write a list-style post, it can be a topic on your editorial calendar. At Express Writers, Julia shared that her team has done a great job at listening to their audience and creating content that matters to them. For example, the content that works for their audience is long-form, intensive, and thorough content.
How to create stellar content that can rise above the noise?
Julia shared a pattern that she observed based on her personal and Express Writers’ top-performing content. The key takeaway is,
How much usefulness are you giving away in your piece of content?
Once you answer that question, there are optimization tricks that writers can employ to further enhance the reach of their content. For example, if you are creating a long piece of content, you want to study your headlines. The tool that Julia uses and recommends is called, Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Analyzer , which is a free tool. I did a quick headline analysis using the current title I have for this article. See the screenshot below. You can see from the screenshot that the ideal Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) score is 50% to 75%.
Julia shared a great example of a long-form piece of content that she created for this year’s International Women’s Day. She identified the top 50 women in marketing to follow. The article took her two months to complete. However, it achieved incredible results. The article got shared 5K plus times and read 7K times on Search Engine Journal, and has become the top performing content there.
The key takeaway is,
The more time you take to craft a piece of content, the better the content is. Putting lots of time into that piece of content and perfecting it, it will pay off. It will help your content stand out above the crowd.
At Express Writers, Julia has a team of five people to help her create and perfect a piece of content. For example, Julia will spend a week to just research the topic and identify the best keywords for that topic. The second week will be production week when they create the content and write about it. Hearing this from Julia really helps me see how much time and effort it involves to create outstanding content that ranks high on Google.
On the other hand, Julia does mention that you don’t always have to create long-form content. The rule of thumb is understanding your audience and what they expect. In other words,
Knowing what your audience expects is the first and foremost key to create really great content.
Our interview also help me understand the importance of using the right keywords in your content creation. Julia recommended using specific tools instead of Google because Google doesn’t give you competition numbers, which are crucial to keyword selection. The tools Julia suggested include SEMrush and Mangools. Whereas SEMrush is on the more expensive end, Mangools is a lot cheaper to use. In general, you want to use keywords that are low on the competition rank.
I hope you learned as much as I did from my interview with Julia. Julia has recently launched a Practical Content Strategy Certification course, which goes much deeper and broader on the topics we discussed here. For a limited time, you can have access to a free version of her course. Please make sure to sign up here to receive the free course content.
Julia can be found at @JuliaEMcCoy on Twitter and Medium, and @ceomommy1 on Instagram.