Writing & Sharing Engaging Paid Search Content

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) hosts PPCChat with another great question set titled “Writing & Sharing Engaging Paid Search Content.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Describe your thought process when writing paid search related content (blog, ebook, etc)?

  • Many Qs first: Who is the audience. What do they need to know. What do they find interesting other than this. – Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
  • No special thought process. It starts with an idea and I take it from there. I don’t blog just to write something. – Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
  • (1) Is this something I can speak intelligently to? (2) Is this relatively “unique”? (3) Are people interested in it? – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • I write about what’s topical – what are ppl talking about in ppcchat, whatever’s on my mind since it’s my blog. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • What things have impacted my day to day recently? Would others be interested in it? Do I have an intelligent point to make? – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
    • About the intelligent point is so often missed – write something that will have value! – Matt Umbro
      • Totally agree. Always trying to find something *new* to write. Not just write for the sake of writing. – Michelle Morgan
  • Has something similar been written before? Does the publisher have a desired target audience or want certain content? – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Identifying audience is the biggest. If you’re writing on a “hot topic,” think about how to cover in a unique way. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • My blog writing targets my clients’ persona – The best ideas come from common client questions/situations or address PPC news. – Mary Hartman (@PPCHartman)
  • Aesthetically, I always try to include bullet points, images, etc to break up the text. – Matt Umbro
    • Agreed, aesthetics are a biggie. People skim posts, so content needs to be written & designed to keep their attention. – Erika Schmidt
  • I try my darndest not to just soapbox or subtweet. I’ve got strong opinions, no doubt but time and place. – Steve Hammer
  • I try to stay away from the fluffy everyone will write it pieces and stick to something unique as much as I can. – Duane Brown (@duanebrown)
    • I’m torn on this. Because you really can get a ton of traffic and interest if you’re one of the first ones. – Kirk Williams
      • Traffic is great but usually I find they are opinion pieces and don’t help me do my job with tactics or lessons learned. – Duane Brown
        • Or whenever there is a big change inevitably there are 50+ posts…not complaining, but it happens. – Matt Umbro
      • Being the first one to cover something (well) is great, but in my experience it rarely pays off w/o a big platform. – Martin Roettgerding
        • agreed, I don’t write anything I think will be good for a bigger audience on my personal blog, unfortunately. The Catch-22 of the small blogger: Build authority for your site VS reach a wider audience. – Kirk Williams
  • If i’m having trouble finding content on a particular topic, it’s an opp to create something myself. – Kelly Sullivan (@kellylsullivan)

Q2: What do you hope readers get from your content? Why?

  • Might be shooting the moon, but I hope they get a new process or new way of thinking. Want them to have at least 1 takeaway. – Michelle Morgan
  • My goal has been achieved if they walk away with one thing that they are still thinking about after they have closed the page. – Kirk Williams
  • If I’m not proving at least 1 interesting takeaway from someone, why did I even write the damn thing? – Michelle Morgan
  • Confidence to push the envelope, no matter their envelope. advanced -> experimental or basic -> advanced. – Steve Hammer
  • For any blog, presentation, informative email, I hope the user comes away with at least 1 or 2 takeaways! – Matt Umbro
  • (Not including thought pieces) Actionable items they can take, implement in their accounts to test & hopefully improve results. – Joe Martinez
  • Whatever I want them to get. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • Learn something, gain new perspective. – Melissa Mackey
  • I really want to advance the industry. A rising tide lifts all boats. – Steve Hammer
  • When people read my blogs, I hope they get that “Aha!” moment & are inspired to try something new. – Mary Hartman
  • Depends on the goal. Do you want to educate? Give actionable steps? Inspire? Have your end goal in mind then speak to it. – Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
  • I bet on 1. an aha moment 2. information *they* haven’t come across before 3. fun Every. Single. Time. – Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
  • How do they their job better. Also maybe inspire them to try something new they have not thought of yet. – Duane Brown

Q3: Especially for blog posts, how do you ensure your content is unique?

  • If I wrote it, it’s unique. It’s my take on the topic. – Melissa Mackey
  • I’m not really afraid of writing about news when 50 others already have. Most times I can add stuff noone has covered. – Martin Roettgerding
    • Exactly! You are adding your own spin/value add to the topic. – Matt Umbro
  • I always do basic Google Searches to see if content is new or unique. Try to keep ear to the ground too, Twitter, SEL, etc. – Kirk Williams
  • Don’t just rehash what everyone else is saying. Look at data to find a fresh take. Don’t be afraid to state your opinion. – Timothy Jensen
  • Don’t write it if you haven’t thought up the unique angle yourself. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Over the last few months, I’ve been writing more about the business of PPC…trying to give my take on our industry. – Matt Umbro
  • Bring your unique experiences to the piece. We’ve all had unique tests, clients, campaigns. Case studies make a post shine IMHO. – Mary Hartman
  • <sarcasm>Or try to find what’s hot in the news (the election, prince, etc.) and then just relate how it’s like PPC!</sarcasm> – Joe Martinez
  • Some of the best pieces are from personal experiences/challenges. Also just see what industry blogs & Moz have talked about. – Duane Brown
  • Does anyone worry about leaking secret sauce with their posts? – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
    • Good question, yes. If I’m feeling uneasy I’ll anonymize or scrap the post. – Melissa Mackey
    • Most people are too lazy to execute, even if they had the recipe for “secret sauce”. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
    • Yes, tho I’m also starting to realize every time I think I had secret sauce, someone else already had it. Admittedly that could be more of a reflection of my inability to actually hold secret sauce. – Kirk Williams
  • Try the one-up rule. Skim other posts on the subject, discover what’s missing & add the missing gems to your post. – Erika Schmidt

Q4: What determines whether you share content or not? Why?

  • Does it suck? – Doug Thomas
  • (a) It made me think (b) It’s an announcement worth sharing (c) It’s funny. – Timothy Jensen
  • I try to share content that I had a good takeaway from. I don’t always do a good job of doing so. Tend to get my idea & run. – Michelle Morgan
  • Do I trust the author, do I trust the publication, do I trust the content, is this interesting? …all in varying formulas. – Kirk Williams
  • Most articles that I find worthwhile I’ll share…I’ll admit that I blindly share content sometimes from authors I trust. – Matt Umbro
  • One or more of these 1) If it amuses me 2) If I learn something 3) If I get paid 4) If I created it. – Rohan Ayyar
  • If I can relate to the content from similar experienes or love a new idea that I think is legit, I’m sharing it. – Joe Martinez
  • If people have RTed it and or friends reached out to say it was helpful. Odd time if it’s important to say and no one has. – Duane Brown
  • It has to be well-written and interesting or useful to me personally. I won’t endorse something I haven’t/wouldn’t read. – Emma Franks (@akaEmmaLouise)
  • If it has value in some way. Some things make me hesitate, like instant overlays for newsletters etc. even if content is good. – Martin Roettgerding

Q5: Do you blindly retweet or like articles that you haven’t read? Why?

  • If I trust the author, sometimes I do – but I usually try to go back and read the post and comment on it. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Depends on how good the attached meme or gif is. – Joe Martinez
  • No. (Does anyone?) – Steve Gibson
  • I rarely blindly share. part of that is twitter is very fits and starts for me. – Steve Hammer
  • Sometimes – author I trust, big announcement covered by source I know. I save in Pocket to read later. – Timothy Jensen
  • Only Melissa’s posts will I blindly retweet, then read later. Just because she’s Mel. Otherwise no. I’ll read it before sharing. – Michelle Morgan
  • No. I try not to regurgitate information, but only share things that I find interesting. – Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
  • Industry stuff no. For money management and travel I do at times if I know what it’ll say after a few paragraphs in. – Duane Brown
  • I never share content I didn’t actually read. Although I’ll bookmark an article for later if it has cool formulas, data, etc. – Mary Hartman
  • I always at least skim, but a trusted author can generally get a retweet out of me pretty quick. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)

Q6: What determines if you comment on a post or reach out to an author on social media about said post? Why?

  • I’ll usually comment on social to say “good post” or ask a question or comment. If I have a lengthy answer I’ll comment on post. – Melissa Mackey
  • a) if they don’t have some hackneyed comment platform b) if I can be arsed to care. I’ll comment the ever living crap out of your "7 Excel Hacks to Inflate Client ROI" though I swear to god. – Kevin Klein (@kkwrites)
  • If I feel strong enough I’ll post a comment, but generally I’ll just share the post. – Matt Umbro
  • Did my first medium comment on a post last week become it struck a cord with me as an LGBT person in tech/marketing. Something I’ll reachout on twitter to say a good post or if the person is out to lunch and hurting our industry. – Duane Brown
  • If I have a question about implementing a tactic described in the post I’ll comment. If it’s a “good post” reaction I’ll share. – Timothy Jensen
  • I’ll support someone socially that’s taken a stand. – Steve Hammer
  • I generally don’t write in-depth comments because they take too long to post and I have other work! – Matt Umbro
    • Agreed. I tend to read and keep quiet. Need to get better at engaging with good content/writers though! – Michelle Morgan
  • I admit it: sometimes I don’t constructively comment because I know I don’t have the time/energy to engage in a back and forth. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • My comments are mostly come with a retweet. Lengthy comments on a blog are the exception, but will do on occasion. – Martin Roettgerding
  • I feel encouraged to comment when the author asks for it at the end to get a variety of insights or start a discussion. – Joe Martinez
  • Most likely because I strongly agree or disagree with a point the author made. – Kirk Williams

Q7: What makes great content? In other words, why do some posts stand the test of time and/or consistently get shared?

  • Honestly it feels like a crap shoot sometimes. That said, I’ve personally found case studies to be lastingly popular. – Melissa Mackey
  • Controversial posts always do well…but you have to be steadfast in backing up your opinion. – Matt Umbro
  • Solves or addresses a problem, or starts a conversation on a current topic of interest. Also the posters network matters. – Josh Kelson
  • Great content: something that serves the reader, not the platform on which it’s written. – Kevin Klein
  • They… 1) Are well written 2) Are genuinely interesting 3) Teach something you didn’t already know 4) Make you think. I’ve noticed the best posts tend to be very long too – 5000 words of thoughtful discussion vs. 800 word “for a deadline” posts. – Sam Owen (@SamOwenPPC)
    • My ideal blog post is 1,000 – 1,400 words. Less doesn’t back your opinion enough. More is just clutter. There are always exceptions…I just like this word count range in general. – Matt Umbro
  • Timing helps. How to guides for new features are a personal fave. – Steve Gibson
  • Posts that make our industry better and or they are good for the beginners to use as a way to get started I find. – Duane Brown
  • The 10M Question. IMHO: Utility + Perspective + Editing + Thought = success. Last one is the hardest. – Steve Hammer
  • Great content answers a common question that we all ask continuously. It scratches an itch, defines an approach. – Mary Hartman
  • Controversial headline + reasoning to back up your premise = a shareable article that gets attention. – Timothy Jensen
  • For me, it’s style. When someone writes the way they talk, it’s like having an indepth conversation. One I can remember. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • Because details of PPC change so often, I agree with Martin that “great” posts and “test of time” posts are not synonymous. – Kirk Williams
  • Reading about why I need to try RLSA, customer match, etc. gets old. I like to read deeper thoughts & reasoning. – Joe Martinez
  • Posts I like best tend to be long, include an opinion, action items, & industry reflection. You know, the easy ones to write. – Michelle Morgan
  • I’ve gotten so I refuse to read hack, kitten, or unicorn posts. They’re almost always BS. – Melissa Mackey
    • Agreed. The articles that sound click-baity usually are. Avoid like the plague. – Michelle Morgan
  • I revisit content that I can use as a solid reference. Esp if the writer adds update notes when there are platform changes, etc. – Emma Franks
  • Most ppc content is flaccid maintenance of the status-quo. for an industry so smitten w/ verb “disrupt”, there’s little of it. – Kevin Klein

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Duane Brown (@duanebrown)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Emma Franks (@akaEmmaLouise)
• Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
• Kelly Sullivan (@kellylsullivan)
• Kevin Klein (@kkwrites)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
• Mary Hartman (@PPCHartman)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
• Sam Owen (@SamOwenPPC)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Writing and Sharing Engaging Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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