Connecting with your audience through online content is key to your Google success and clinic success, but who has the time to write all that content? Can I just use canned content so I can focus on other things? Canned content does have some advantages, but the short answer to your question: not really.
Don’t worry, though; there’s some time-saving advice in store for you below. Today we’re going over the best ways to use canned content while catering to your visitors, your brand, your voice, your services, and to Google, of course.
Here’s what you can expect to take away from this episode:
What is canned content?
What are the pros and cons of using canned content?
What are the best ways and places to use canned content?
How to manage canned content you’re already using
Are you ready to learn the ins and outs of canned content? Hit the link below, and let’s do it!
Listen to the audio version:
Watch the video version:
- [00:02:20] What is canned content? Canned content is content created by a third party that is generally for sale to the public, meaning anyone willing to pay can have it on their website (or anywhere else).
- [00:03:35] What are the pros and cons of using canned content? It’s easy to find; it’s quick to put up, Google doesn't like it, it may not truly speak to your brand, your competition could be using it (if you’re using it too: embarrassing)…
- [00:04:54] What should you ask before deciding to use canned content? Is it relevant, is it my tone, will my audience like it? There are more questions to ask, but if the content doesn’t match with you and your brand, you should hard pass on buying that can of content.
- [00:06:22] What are the two types of canned content? The kind you can manipulate because you own the rights, and the kind you don’t own the rights to and can’t manipulate (guess which is better?)
- [00:06:49] Should I use canned content for my social media posts? You gotta recognize if the content is too vague or generic. You’ve set up social accounts for a reason, so be sure your posts are working for you, not against you.
- [00:09:01] Should I use canned content for my email campaign? This may be a better way to use it, as it’s usually easy to manipulate and pull in your brand’s voice and tone.
- [00:11:40] Should I use canned content on my website? Quick answer: maybe. You must ensure all content (images included) matches who you are as a clinic. The less generic, the more personal, the better.
- [00:14:19] If my website was built with canned content, what are my options for changing that? 1: start from scratch, 2: have the discussion with your website builder about changing the content, 3: you jump in yourself and update the content.
- [00:15:40] Can I use canned content just for my blog posts? Does the blog post line up with your messaging? Does it make sense for your brand? Your services? Your products?
- [00:18:20] How do I update my canned content blog posts? If you are able to modify canned content blog posts that are closely related to your tone, services, brand, etc., go for it! Just switch it up some to make it your own, and don’t forget to date it!
- [00:20:55] What time-saving tools can I use instead of using canned content? Check out our Five SEO Secrets to Owning the First Page of Google Without Buying Ads for some specific quality content intel.
Selected links and other resources related to this episode
Taking the lid off canned content. Should you use canned content in your marketing efforts? And if so, what's the right way to use it? That's what we're talking about on this episode of Propel Your Practice.
Hello, and welcome to the Propel Your Practice Podcast, where we provide clinic owners with actionable strategies to help them propel their practices’ presence online.
I'm your host, Darcy Sullivan. And in today's episode, we're taking the lid off canned content. For those of you who don't know who I am, I am the founder of Propel Marketing and Design, where we help chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists, wellness practitioners, and other clinic owners improve their website rankings and overall online presence.
Over the past few years, I've received tons of questions about canned content from clinic owners. Asking questions, like if they should use canned content, if they use canned content, how should they do it? And they want to know if Google will penalize them for using canned content.
So in today's episode, I'm going to give you some specific examples of how and when to use canned content and when you should absolutely avoid it.
You know, one of the reasons people love to use canned content is because they look at it as if they're pushing an easy button. We all only have so many hours in the day, and sometimes creating content can feel overwhelming.
So, you might feel as though you have limited time or need inspiration about what types of content to produce. And if that's you, I'm also going to share some additional suggestions and options later on in the show, outside of just using canned content so that you're able to provide your audience with content that reflects the work of your company.
Let's start at the beginning. What is canned content? Caned content is premade content by a third party that's for sale to the public. Yeah, that means that your competition, along with a company who has a similar business to you and that's many, many miles away, can be sharing the exact same content.
It comes in many forms: blog posts, email blasts, newsletters, social media, canned content for your website. Many people like to use canned content because it helps their business cover some of the broad range of topics without having to custom create every piece of content.
I think a good analogy of this is you can think of canned content like a builder-grade construction material. It's nowhere near at the top of the line. It's not customized. But there are times when homeowners can use it to achieve their goals without having to pay expensive rates.
Let's look at some pros and cons of using canned content.
Pros: it's easy to get your hands on, it's usually easy to use, and it can be cost-effective.
Cons: it's very generic, it might not represent your organization the way that you feel that your organization should be represented, and there's this belief out there that if you use canned content, Google is going to penalize you.
And I don't like us thinking of it like Google is going to penalize you. I think it's better to think of it as though Google's going to reward somebody else who has better, higher quality, more unique content.
And, of course, we have to remember that if you purchase canned content, your competition might have the exact same content floating out there on their website, on social media.
And beyond your direct competition, other companies that are far, far away from you could be using the exact same content as well. And that can lead to going against your company's credibility.
Here's some questions to ask yourself before using canned content:
Does your company stand behind the information that the canned content is providing?
Does it have your company's tone?
Will it resonate with your target audience?
Is it relevant and a value-add for your target audience?
You can purchase canned content for your website or even a complete website that's full of canned content. You can purchase blog posts that are canned. Social media posts, email marketing, and you can even repackage exercise programs or courses.
Now that last one, the repackaging of exercise programs and courses, I've seen examples where that type of canned content has worked really well for chiropractors or physical therapists. So that one, I would say if you're considering using that type of canned content, it can work really well for your organization.
It's the other types of canned content that I kind of want to dive into right now. That would be for your website, your blog, and your social media.
And before we dive into that, there's something that's important for us to point out. There are really two differentiators in canned content.
You have canned content that you own the rights to and you can manipulate. And we'll talk about some examples of how you should do that.
And then you have content that you don't own the rights to, and we'll look at some examples for that as well.
So, let's start with social media. I think we've all seen out there some social media posts that are pure and total canned content. And I'm really not a fan of these.
In most instances, these social media posts are very vague, and they lead us to go back and ask those three original questions that help us determine if we should use the canned content.
Does your company stand behind the information that's provided? Does it have your company's tone? Will it resonate with your target audience? Is it a value-add?
When I see a lot of these canned content, social media posts, they're very vague. They're very, kind of #MotivationalMonday in their essence.
They're what we kind of like to refer to as the baby's breath of the bouquet. They're, they're okay for filler content, but they're really not going to drive more people to come into your clinic. So that's something to really consider.
If you feel like you have access to canned content for social media, you know, look at your analytics. See how it's performing. If you have the ability to use it to drive traffic to your website, that's one way that you can leverage the content that you're sharing.
If you look at it and you look at the analytics, and you see that it's not driving any traffic to your website, that only your mother and your sister are the ones that are liking the pieces of content that you're putting out that are canned, reevaluate if that's really the right choice for you.
If you feel like it is the right choice because you feel overwhelmed with putting together social media content, then, like I said, think of it like the baby's breath of the bouquet where you're not just using it by itself, but you're also using real core content from your website or videos that you're putting together that represent your organization in the way that you want your organization represented.
Okay. So we talked about social media.
Email marketing. Email marketing is another way where you have these canned pieces of content that you can purchase. And, I get it. Look, you can feel like you're short on time, and you feel like you should be pushing out content to your audience, and email marketing has such a great return on your investment when it's done the right way.
So look at the email blast. Go in, and see how you can modify them. Because in most cases, if you have purchased that type of content, you have the ability– if it's not being sent out on your behalf by another organization– you have the ability to manipulate it.
So, if you had purchased canned content that was for your website, and this is an example, you can use that in your email blast. But go through it, make sure you add your voice, your tone, that you modify it so that it sounds like your voice.
And I encourage you to always add a call to action.
Okay, now that those examples are out of the way. Let's dive into the most common form of canned content that we come across. And that is canned content on your website. Whether it's blog posts or content that's on your core website.
And I want to give some real specific examples here of ways that I've seen canned content work well. And in ways that I've seen it really have adverse reactions.
So first off, as we mentioned before, there are two kinds of canned content. You have the canned content that you own the rights to that you can modify as you see fit.
And then there are those canned content websites. And the problem with some of those canned content websites, where it's just full-on somebody put together canned content on your website for you- you want to consider the fact that that is representing your organization.
And you want to make sure that you go through that website and make sure that it's the proper way of presenting yourself; from the images that are being used to making sure that they just don't look completely generic to the words that are being used, making sure that there's more that was subbed out than just the name of the city or location where your clinic resides.
There are times when these canned content websites might outrank other websites, but once somebody lands on them, they're just seeing this canned content, and it's very hard for somebody visiting that website versus a more authentic website to have a good connection with the person or the company that's putting it together.
And I've seen instances where some of these fully canned websites are getting more website traffic. But it's not the right website traffic. In fact, I've even seen canned websites where there's certain city pages– so there will be a page dedicated to the location where the clinic resides but has absolutely nothing to do with the services that the clinic offers; what are the problems that the patients are facing?
So, for example, it might just be a page on Boston, Massachusetts. And at times some of these pages get higher traffic, but in absolutely no way are they leading to conversions.
Meaning that you got a lot of fluff on your website, which might not, well, in most cases. isn't actually leading to leads or people walking through your door.
So if you are in the specific situation where you had somebody design your website with canned content that you do not own, you need to be aware of the fact that you do not own it. And if you were to ever switch websites, switch platforms, use a different company to help you with your SEO or your website, you're going to lose all of that content.
We've seen this before. We do evaluations for chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists, clinic owners, you know, where they'll say, “look at our website, let us know what you think. We hate that it's canned content.
How do we make this content better?”
And then we look at the website, and it's surely canned content, we say, “Okay. You have a couple of different options…”
Option one: you ditch what you currently have, you switch platforms to ones that we would recommend, and you start from scratch and build a more authentic website.
Or, option two, if you're in contract with a company that put together this canned website, you go back to them, and depending on exactly what your relationship is, you give them directive, and they make changes to your website. Then, here are some specific directions and directive that you should give them to help you improve your SEO, your website, rankings, your, your level of being authentic on your website, and to help you convert more of your website viewers into actual patients.
Or, if you have the ability to jump in yourself and make modifications, that's when people either come to us for an SEO audit- to give them the recommendations, or they joined the Ready.Set.Rank! Program (that’s the D.I.Y. SEO program that helps them make those modifications.
So, that's what I would suggest if you have just a full-blown canned content website.
Then we have the people that come to us who are using canned content solely on their blog posts. And one of their main concerns is that Google is going to penalize them for using the canned content. And I don't want you to think of it like Google's going to penalize you. It's just not doing you a favor of any sort.
And, what's happening is sites that are providing better content are going to outrank you. If you are sitting in the situation where you have canned content on your blog, here is what I suggest you do, it's a decision that you should make blog posts by blog post: first of all, you can go through and look at your blog posts– and, let me give an example, if, let's say, you're a chiropractor, and one of the blog posts is about healthy eating, but has nothing to do... it's about nutrition, but it doesn't tie into the services that you offer, or the problems that someone has when they come to see you. Sure they're, they're related, but they're not a direct fit.
You want to look at your analytics and see is anybody going to that page on the website? And then not only are they going to that page on the website but what actions are they taking after that?
Because you could be getting a lot of traffic to pages, just like I gave the blog post, just like I gave the example, I have somebody coming to a quote-unquote “city page” on a website. But then they're not taking action. So you might have blog posts that are canned, that are on your website, that are targeting the wrong audience. If so, get rid of those.
Delete them and redirect the URL where they were to either your homepage on your website or your main blog, your main blog landing page.
If the topic actually relates to your audience, then you should keep the blog post, but make sure that it’s not canned. So, what we do is, we take this canned content that's already there– and this is if it's already sitting on your blog post, if you already have blog posts that are sitting there that are canned– topics that relate to your target audience, go through and modify them.
And how would you modify this? Well, you read through it. You make modifications that make it sound like it's your voice, your tone. You make sure that you're highlighting services that you offer. If that's what fits into the blog post, you can drop in videos; you can drop in more relatable images; you can modify the blog post so that it sounds less canned, and then update the date on it.
So, if it's a crappy blog post, ditch it, do a 301 redirect to either revised content that's in that same topic zone or to the general blog page (that would be YourWebsite.com/blog).
And remember, if they are not directed to your target audience, if the information is out of date or inaccurate and not worth updating, ditch them.
If you are going through your blogs and do you see that there are, let's just say two or three blog posts that are very similar, let's say the topic of dry needling, and they're actually getting traffic to your website– not only getting traffic to your website, people are jumping around once they're on that page– then, what you want to do is merge them together to make a better blog post. And point the two older blog posts to the new blog post.
So that's how you can leverage the content, if you see that. I know there's some canned content companies that give you three or four blog posts a month. What you can do in that instance is you can merge them together if they're the same topic cluster and make them a longer, better blog post.
Add your personality to it, make sure you're adding images, video where needed.
And it's going to give you more value than just posting a little 300 or 200-word blog post that doesn't really have any value-add.
So, again, I understand why some people use canned content. If you can avoid canned content, I suggest that you should avoid canned content. But that means that you're going to have to put time, energy, or other resources into producing content because we live in a content world.
So what can you do instead?
Well, I would like to invite you to check out our training on the Five SEO Secrets to Owning the First Page of Google Without Buying Ads. You can find that by visiting PropelYourCompany.com/learn, or you can check the link in the Show Notes.
At the beginning of that training, I go through the content creation plan that helps you really identify specific types of content that you can put together that will help you connect better with your target audience.
It's the first thing we do in that training. And I've heard from so many people how it's really helped them get over that hurdle of not knowing what to put together. Then, there's the people that feel like they know what to put together, but they don't know how to put it together. In that case, I suggest templates or writing prompts.
We offer these in our Ready. Set. Rank! Program or the Ready. Set. Rank! Chiropractor Bundle, where you'll find specific blog post templates, and writing prompts to help guide you.
These are not canned pieces of content. Instead, they're templates that you can follow, along with writing prompts based on specific terms that people are currently, uh, searching for.
Another option that you have is to outsource content creation, which I know can add an expense to your company. If you're just getting started, or if you're on a tighter budget, you can always leverage other people's content, but make sure that you give them credit for this.
So this could mean that you would love to write a blog post and include videos about a specific topic, but you don't have the time, energy, or resources to film those videos, tet somebody else who is not your direct competition, might've already filmed similar videos. You can embed their videos along with your text, making sure that you give them credit. And that way, you're saving yourself a little bit of time by leveraging other people's content.
Another example of this would be if you used somebody else's infographic, again, giving them credit, but writing your own content around it.
So those are a couple tips if you're looking to create content that isn't canned and would like some kind of shortcuts so that you don't feel overwhelmed.
For those two examples, the example of using somebody else's video and using somebody else's infographic while putting your own content around them, those are two great solutions for blog posts- if you're looking to put together some blog posts, and you're short on time or energy or resources, and you do not want to use canned content, but want to leverage content somebody else has already put together.
All right. Well, that's a wrap on this episode of Propel Your Practice.
Well, hey, before we head out, I want to invite you to join in on a free masterclass I put together on the Five SEO Secrets to Owning the First Page of Google Without Buying Ads.
You can find a link to sign up for this free masterclass in the Show Notes for this episode or by visiting PropelYourCompany.com/learn.
During this workshop, we do a deep dive into strategies to help you improve your online presence, including your Google Business Profile, that's what used to be called the Google My Business listing and what controls the Google Maps section, along with how voice SEO plays a big role in today's search and where you should be focusing your efforts online for the biggest impact.
All right. Well, that's it for today. Again, you can join the masterclass by visiting PropelYourCompany.com/learn. And if you have a topic that you would like to hear on an upcoming episode of Propel Your Practice, please send it in by visiting PropelYourCompany.com/podcast-topics or looking for the link in the Show Notes.
Thanks so much for your time. I'll talk to you soon.
Darcy’s SEO strategies are easy to implement and effective. She’s the #1 SEO expert I refer to whenever I need help with my rankings.
- Nicholas Scalice, Growth Marketing Podcast // Growth Marketer
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