Welcome to another edition of the Content Marketing Weekly, where we’ve queued up great insights from around the industry. Learn the advantages of user-generated content, machine learning, Google Analytics proficiency and avoiding ranking penalties.

How to Grow Your Business by Doing Less Work with UGC

Look, I know you style yourself a hard worker, but marketing these days is all about getting as much done with as little effort as possible. That’s what user-generated content (UGC) allows you to accomplish.

Neil Patel in this Quick Sprout blog outlines why the buzz around UGC is all it’s hyped up to be – not just as a content production tactic but as an efficiency tool.

The benefit to UGC is that you put your actual customers and site visitors into the driver’s seat of your content, allowing you to serve interactive experiences that mirror customers’ intent.

The other key advantage of content that involves some level of reader interaction is that you capture all the data related to their movements, data that can then be used to further personalize future content efforts. Common data capture methods include:

  • Incentivizing user reviews on Yelp, Facebook, your website and any other platform with followers.
  • Contests/competitions/campaigns (even if users aren’t purchasing items, they’re still letting you know what interests them most by clicking, sharing and posting about your products).
  • User submissions on social (ask followers to tweet a video or photo of themselves using your product and a specific hashtag).
  • Give away free gifts to influencers.

Via quicksprout.com

For other great insights on UGC, check out the full blog here.

How Machine Learning Levels the SERP Playing Field

It’s not always fun being the underdog, no matter how glorified it is in film. Smaller budgets and fewer resources can hamper any content marketing program, while larger competitors burn through cash, crowding out SERP opportunities.

Well, this dilemma isn’t necessarily true anymore. Machine learning algorithms utilized by Google clearly prize quality, authenticity and relevancy – you don’t need to be top dog to nail each of these content signals; you just need to be smart and diligent, and that’s free.

This Search Engine Land article highlights how RankBrain, Google’s artificial intelligence algorithm, has upended conventional marketing strategies, weeding out former content superpowers that were too slow to the new game of user experience and natural language search.


Today, SERPs are open opportunities, especially for long-tail, high-intent keywords. While competitors set their sights on owning every SERP under the sun, you should focus on ones that will actually generate revenue.

There’s plenty more to learn about gaining the upper hand in search, so find out all the extras here.

Google Penalties and Messages Explained – Search Engine Land’s Ultimate Guide

There’s a Google update, your rankings tank and your boss is glaring at you with vengeful eyes.

No, this isn’t some futuristic digital hellscape; it’s the daily life of every marketing manager.

Search Engine Land just released a handy guide to all things penalties, violations and notifications from our algorithmic overlord, Google.

SEL provides additional commentary and explanations on on- and off-page factors you always need to keep in mind, lest your company’s site succumb to ranking sickness. A few penalties to be mindful of are:

  • Unstructured data.
  • Unnatural outbound links.
  • Spam (in its many forms).

Read on for the full playbook on dealing with Google’s dark side.

3 Quick SEO Wins Lurking Inside Google Analytics

Wading through Google Analytics in search of some sort of higher meaning in life is how many SEOs and digital strategists spend their time. But for the rest of us marketing mortals, we need the data to come to us.

Search Engine Journal provides three uncomplicated ways to identify SEO opportunities within GA and how to capitalize on them.

  • Isolate high-traffic older content and update for max conversions.
  • Look for high-bounce rate, high-exit percentage posts and update for intent.
  • Reroute traffic to top-converting landing pages.

Via giphy.com

Tracking down these opportunities requires only a few clicks, dropdowns and segmentation, so nothing too fancy. Yet, the payoffs can be enormous, as the article shows. Following the first tip above, one company revamped 17 of their top-performing posts and saw 275 percent more conversions in just two weeks. Oh, and they didn’t even create new content during that two-week window. Now that’s efficiency.

See which methods can enhance your SEO efforts by reading more here.

Check back in next week for more Friday fun.

Mike O'Neill is a writer, editor and content manager in Chicago. When he's not keeping a close eye on Brafton's editorial content, he's auditioning to narrate the next Ken Burns documentary. All buzzwords are his own.