Inbound Writer, social writing to calibrate content

 

Anyone who has managed a blog has most likely experienced the hard way a certain sense of frustration: you come up with a new post on an interesting topic, putting in the hours to make it insightful and well thought out, choosing a catchy title, throwing in a handful of tags and after all your hard work you post it on your blog.

Twenty-four hours later, much to your horror, you discover that only about a dozen people – most of them are your friends or regular blog readers – have bothered to read it.

Nowadays, a well-crafted content – which means a piece of text written and translated into digital – is no longer enough. It needs to stand out, to be easily picked out by search engines and, above all, highly shareable on Facebook and other social networks. Basically, it is necessary to implement the set of tricks that Brian Solisdefines: the art of “cultivating an audience.”

Some moths ago a new web tool was released. Designed to help writers and web journalists fine-tune their articles, so that they scroll better and faster through the web. It’s called Inbound Writer, and is the first official cloud-based social writing application.

Before going any further, I think it’s important to rattle off some useful figures in order to get to grips with the speed at which information on the web is growing, expressing an array of voices ever more deafening.

The number of active Internet users around the world exceeded the two billion mark. One third of the world’s population contributes to maintaining more than 160 million blogs active, starting up on an average 21 million new websites each year, producing 63,000 billion bytes of information every second.

Many of us engage themselves in writing blogs and posting it in a social medium to get an infinite number of readers.  Do you think it happens as we expect? Definitely, not. After a few hours of posting, if we tend to open the blog post, we would find only a minimal number of people have read it and that too our close circle of people. This is truly a disappointment for the bloggers. However, they can use Inbound writer which is a famous cloud-based writing application and we would have heard about this in recent news.

In short, after the Web 2.0 social big bang, the Internet has expanded at breakneck pace. As social networks become more numerous and multiply their interconnections, content published outside the sphere of the most popular sites, is becoming more like rolled up messages that are placed in bottles and left to the mercy of the sea.

What chances has a tool like InboundWriter got to curb this trend?

In order to tackle this question, I used as a guinea pig one of my old articles. It was a piece about sexting and censorship on the net, published last October for Owni.eu.

To start off I was asked to choose three keywords – sextingcensorship and blacklisting – and one or more similar web sites that are likely to have dealt with the same argument. Based on these inputs the software went off sifting through those sites in search of the most commonly used words, which were then complied in a Relevant Termslist. At this point, I was asked to paste the title and the main body of the article in the main page, and then it proceeded to make an X-ray of the content. Result: the document scored 54/100. In short, there was definitely room for improvement. Here’s what the application recommended:

– Terms used more than 5 times, labeled Focus Terms, should be used throughout the text, especially in the title and at the beginning.

– It’s possible to choose from two different strategies. Maximizing the Search Popularity, and thus using terms that are most commonly found by search engines. Or Search Competitivity, and thereby opting instead for niche terms and less competitive amongst online searches.

– Change the piece directly on IW and see how the score changes in real time, based on the strategy adopted.

– Change the title so that it is easier for search engines to find it. Here are a couple of tips from the Content Marketing Institute.

After obtaining a diagnosis for my document, I wanted to put an article that received a lot more clicks than mine, to the test. I chose one that analyzed the Fukushima disaster, published by David E. Singer in The New York Times. To my surprise it didn’t exceed more than 45/100.

But, besides the low score, IW’s diagnosis of the NYT article revealed something very significant: that whether it is an article dealing with online censorship published on a small website or an article about the Fukushima disaster published on a mass portal, the instructions provided by InboundWriter were the same: use more Focus Terms, multiply the number of Relevant Terms in the piece, move the Focus Terms to the top of the article, and make sure you place them also in the title.

Obviously, one can draw two possible conclusions: either InboundWriter has very little advice to give, or most of the online articles suffer from the same defects.

But a word of warning, making your online content more aerodynamic and visible is not imperative. There will always be those who prefer to correctly focus on the substance and appearance of the piece at the expense of its performance. In addition many bloggers don’t like the idea of having a web writing coach breathing down their necks at every keystroke. For anyone involved in content marketing, this tool however, may soon become indispensable.

The B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks 2010 report estimated that the biggest challenge the industry faces today is making web content more relevant, identifiable and sharable. In addition to IW, there are other tools that are still in the development phase useful for this purpose.

Scribe, for example, is a SEO tool that focuses on surgical management of keywords. Prosodic, on the other hand deals with optimizing the performance of a post or piece placed on a social network, which currently represent the battleground fought over by content marketers.

The emergence of these tools is certainly interesting, but it would be a mistake to think that a better aerodynamic performance is enough to balance out a poor content. It would be like an irresistible gold inlay frame around nothing. It would be more easily identifiable, but ultimately it would be of little significance and, therefore, unattractive to share.

 

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