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Don’t Buy Link Rich Advertorials (Unless You’re Google)

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I understand Google’s desire to have a clean editorial signal & not wanting people to manipulate the web graph.

But Google once again isn’t following the best practices they dish out for others.

Both of the following are not one-off articles, but are part of a “series” of advertorials for various Google products with direct followed links to AdWords, Google Analytics, Chromebook, & Hangouts.

Check the date on this next one: February 19th, the same day Interflora was penalized by Google. This is something that is an ongoing practice for Google, while they penalize others for doing the same thing.

Is using payment to influence search results unethical unless the check has Google on it?

None of those links in the content use nofollow, in spite of many of them having Google Analytics tracking URLs on them.

And I literally spent less than 10 minutes finding the above examples & writing this article. Surely Google insiders know more about Google’s internal marketing campaigns than I do. Which leads one to ask the obvious (but uncomfortable) question: why doesn’t Google police themselves when they are policing others? If their algorithmic ideals are true, shouldn’t they apply to Google as well?

Clearly Google takes paid links that pass pagerank seriously, as acknowledged by their repeated use of them.

Categories: 

SEO Book.com

Love, Relationships and SEO

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Love, Relationships and SEO was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Even though it’s past Valentine’s Day, love is still in the air with “The Love Edition” of our SEO Newsletter. This month, we speak with author and consultant Rob Garner, formerly of iCrossing, on the search and social love connection. We also dive into the importance of having a marketing mindset to enhance your keyword research. And as always, we bring you news and hot topics from the tech and search industry so you can stay in the know.

Here’s the highlights …

The “Search and Social” Love Connection

Virginia Nussey dives into the harmonious relationship that is search and social in this month’s feature story interview with Rob Garner (@RobGarner), extracting insight into questions like:

  1. What will businesses lose by keeping SEO and social media marketing separate?h
  2. For organizations that currently have separate search and social marketing departments, how can the merge be best transitioned?
  3. Are there missed opportunities for marketing and visibility where search and social meet?
  4. Do you have advice for integrating and leveraging search and social with other marketing channels?
  5. How can a business discover the right synergies to boost their current marketing efforts?
  6. It’s impossible to give one-size-fits-all advice on this issue, but what signs should a business look for when deciding which social channels to invest in?
  7. Is the search and social manager excellent at all areas or is a team with members for each specialty?
  8. What do you think the hybrid search-and-social professional looks like for the average small to mid-size business?
  9. Do you think all businesses today need to develop a brand personality to be successful?
  10. Can you explain more about social relevancy and how to calculate it and optimize for it?

Tune into this month’s feature on search and social for Rob Garner’s take on these questions.

Marketing and Keyword Research, Happily Ever After

Each marketer has a special relationship with his or her keyword research – what tools they use, how they select and target the keywords and so on. In this article for February’s Back to Basics piece, yours truly dives into how to approach keyword research with a more traditional marketing mindset to enhance the outcome.

In this article on the connection between marketing and keyword research, we cover how to:

  • Have the right conversations about the business so you can expand on the keyword research.
  • Know where the business is headed and how it will affect your keywords and SEO campaigns.
  • Understand the organization and its offerings thoroughly so you know the proper usage of keywords and best course of action for content.

Your Love Affair with News

Don’t have time to keep up on everything that’s going on in the industry? That’s OK, each month we bring you hand-picked news from tech and search to keep you entertained and informed. Check out all the happenings in our news section embedded in the cover of the SEO Newsletter here.

xoxo,

BCI Crew

Bruce Clay Blog

Growing the Search Pie

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Growing search marketshare is hard work. At a recent investor conference Marissa Mayer stated that: “The key pieces are around the underpinnings of the alliance themselves. The point is, we collectively want to grow share, rather than trading share with each other.”

Part of the reason Yahoo! & Bing struggle to gain marketshare is Google’s default search placement payments to Mozilla and Apple. If the associated browsers have nearly 1/3 the market & Chrome is another 1/3 of the market then it requires Yahoo! or Bing to be vastly better than Google to break the Google habit + default search placement purchases.

Danny reported some interesting comments from Nikesh Arora:

  • half of those billions of queries it handles comes from Google partners, rather than searches at Google directly.
  • Arora also said that he expects about 50% of advertising to move online in the next three to five years.
  • he just said ad team looks at ways to make ads not look like ads. I think he meant that positively, like content you want.

A friend sent me a screenshot where he was surprised how similar the results looked between Bing & Google.

If Bing looks too different it feels out of place, if it looks to similar it doesn’t feel memorable. And if Google is optimized for revenue generation then Bing is going to have a fairly similar look & feel to their results if they want to earn enough to bid on partnerships.

Another factor helping Google maintain their dominance in search marketshare is the shift of search query mix to mobile, where Google has a 95.8% marketshare.

Mobile search has a significantly higher CTR than desktop search, due in large part to there being less screen real estate. By the end of this year tablets will likely account for 20% of Google’s search ad clicks & drive $ 5 billion in ad revenues. Add in mobile phones with tablets & mobile search will drive 1/3 of paid search clicks by the end of this year.

With mobile becoming such a huge share of search clicks Google is forcing advertisers into buying all platforms with their ad purchase via their enhanced AdWords campaigns. Google builds off that sort of dominance & Yahoo! is only making about $ 125 million a year in total revenue from Yahoo!’s mobile traffic.

In spite of losing share on browser defaults & mobile, Yahoo! managed to grow their search ad clicks 11% year over year. How was Yahoo! able to do that? In part by quietly dialing up on search arbitrage. They have long had a “trending now” box on their homepage, but over the past year they have dialed up on ads in their news, finance & sports sections that are linked to search queries. Some of these ad units are in the sidebar & some are inline with the articles.

Yahoo! also buys ads on some smaller ad networks & sends those through to a search result with almost no organic results.

Yahoo! has had a long history of search arbitrage, but they typically did it through a partner network which lowered click value. That was part of what lowered their click prices & made them sign the deal with Microsoft (you couldn’t even opt out of Yahoo!’s partner syndication until after they signed the deal with Microsoft).

I recently saw the above ad for Bing which highlighted how they want to work with brands, but Bing still has a number of issues they are dealing with on the monetization front: tighter broad matching, smaller ad ecosystem, regional issues with ad targeting, and no serious effort to develop a contextual ad program open to the long tail of publishers. In spite of those issues, the Yahoo! / Bing ad network was finally starting to build a critical mass & Yahoo! responded by signing a deal to carry Google’s contextual AdSense ads.

As Google continues to layer contextual search layers into mobile devices, launch their own physical stores, layer their social network into the search ecosystem, expand their venture investments, inserts themselves at an ISP level, shape the news, control a greater share of ad budget with programmatic bidding, control measurements of success, redefine words, scrape-n-displace publishers with the knowledge graph, de-fund competitors, & hyper-target ads at users, their leverage & market dominance will only grow.

Google is great at growing the search pie.

Yahoo!, not so much. 😉

Categories: 

SEO Book.com

How Do I Find a Good SEO?

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Posted by randfish

Finding a decent SEO is hard work, and the recommendations you get for selecting your perfect fit will vary as much as the people providing them.

Whether you're looking for a consultant or an agency, you don't need to feel alone in your search! In this week's Whiteboard Friday, Rand walks you through his tips for finding an SEO that will be the cheese to your macaroni.

Do you have any other tips you've used to find an SEO that we haven't covered? Leave them in the comments below!

 

Video Transcription

"Howdy SEOmoz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I wanted to actually take a question from one of our users in the community and that question was:  "How do I find a good SEO?" They were hoping I would do a Whiteboard Friday on it. So here it is.

I recommend a lot of things when people ask me for SEO assistance, consultants, agencies, that kind of thing, and I do it all the time. But I have a benefit of being in the industry for a long time and knowing a lot of people and usually knowing pretty well the people that I'm talking to or asking them a few questions to get those probing, in-depth answers that can let me know who I should recommend them to. This process is not particularly scalable, and certainly I can't have everyone just emailing me and ask. So please everyone who needs an SEO, don't email and ask me.

But if you're looking for somebody, I would recommend a process similar to this. I would start with your network, meaning check out LinkedIn, check out people that you might know on Twitter and Facebook who have SEO or have SEO experience in their profile. You could even post something on these sites saying, "Hey, does anyone have someone that they'd strongly recommend?" I'm not saying that you go directly from this process to hiring someone, just that you can start with it, any of the web communities where you participate, your friends and family, business colleagues.

Even local meet-ups, if you see that there is an SEO meet-up in your area, that might not be a terrible idea to actually go, meet some people, get friendly, especially if you find some folks in that community who don't necessarily offer SEO services – maybe they are in-house SEOs, they work for software companies, those kinds of things – but they will often have very good recommendations about who'd they suggest that you use. That's a great process, find sort of a neutral third party whose only interest is in helping you, but who knows the field well. That's what I'd be looking for here, more so than a direct consultant right away.

Second thing, check out SEOs on the major marketing communities. If you don't have anyone in your network, you might try going to places like SEO blogs. I think SEO.alltop.com actually has a very good list of sort of all the popular and major sites in SEO, blogs in SEO. The SEOmoz Q&A certainly is a great place. This is actually one of my favorite features of Q&A now. There have been lots of people who have found their consultants and lots of consultants who have gotten work through Q&A. So I love that.

Quora is actually a good place to participate. You can see lots of people both asking and answering SEO questions there. I think the people who tend to give really good answers on Quora also tend to be pretty darn good folks. I see Ian Lurie, for example, from Portent Interactive, which is a great company here in Seattle, giving a lot of good answers there.

Some of those SEO forums, as well, if you see someone who not only the content of their answers, but the style of those answers. They are not reflexive or offensive. They don't get into arguments all the time. They're very open. They're empathetic. That's great. When you find people in these types of communities, that can be a good resource. Again, don't just think to yourself, "Oh, well they don't do consulting, or they're out of my price range." That can be a good thing. You can reach out to them and get a recommendation. These are the kind of people you want to find to get that recommendation.

Next, I want you to build a smart consideration set of the traits that matter to you, and this is certainly not exhaustive, these six, but these are traits that a lot of people have. So that could be I want someone who is very experienced, or I want someone who is relatively early in their career. I want someone whose background is they've been to college before, they've worked for several agencies, or I'm looking for an agency that has the background of having worked with several people in my field, or the opposite. A lot of times when they're seeking SEO consultants, they want someone who has no conflicting clients who are also in that field so that the links they build, the content they build, that work will all be for them exclusively and it won't be partnered out to several different folks.

Geography and location can matter a lot. I would be cautious about thinking about this one. Just because someone is not in your geography doesn't mean that you necessarily can't get together with them in person. If they're willing to fly out to your location or those kinds of things, I would still put them in your consideration set. I think that at least one or two meetings in person is a great thing if you can accomplish it. But geography tends not to be super important for doing SEO kinds of work, other than being able to connect up in person and sort of shake each other's hand and that sort of thing.

The agency consultancy size. Maybe you're looking for a one man operation or one woman operation. Maybe you're looking for a large agency that's inside a broader ad firm so they can serve lots of needs, that kind of thing.

Price, obviously, is a consideration for a lot of people. And timing and availability. Can they start their work right now? How many people do they have available? All those kinds of things.

You should add other things in this consideration set that matter to you. So, for example, values of the person might be really important. It might be very important to you that the person fits some particular criteria around what they've accomplished in the past or that they're very focused, they have a lot of skills on the content side as opposed to the linking side, or on the technical SEO side and the HTML and development side versus social media side. Whatever it is that matters to you, make sure to put that in your consideration set and consider people equally as you look through there.

Then I'd go and I'd create a short list of SEOs from the recommendations that you got. I would also do it, even if you're sure, absolutely 100% sure. You're like "You know what? This is the person for me. I just know that they're going to be the right one." At least talk to a couple of others. The perspectives that you'll get and the process of that interview is going to be very, very useful for you going forward and judging the work. You could find maybe you had your heart set on this person, but they turned out not to be right, and there was some reason. Just go through this process of at least vetting a couple of vendors.

So I would ask them some things like some project specific questions, related to specifically what we're trying to accomplish here at our company and the rankings we're trying to achieve, the visibility we're trying to get, the people we're trying to draw in, the intent of the marketing that we're doing. Great, ask them project specific questions, but also ask them generic SEO knowledge questions. There is actually a great resource that Joel linked to in the blog post of sort of a ten question litmus test that I wrote for professional SEOs a couple years ago now, but I think can still be quite valuable.

Get a reference or three, but be very careful in the references that you get. This is my experience, time and again, when reference checking vendors. You ask for a reference upfront, and you get people who they know will give a good reference. So really all you're saying is, "Do you have two or three people who will always say nice things about you?" That's not really a great reference check.

This is what I would do. When you start talking to them, don't ask for references. Ask, "What companies have you worked with? Who have been some of your clients over time?" Make sure to write down that list, and you can prompt them. If they give you a couple, you can say, "Oh, are there any others? Did you work with anyone in travel, anyone with a big site?" Whatever the criteria you have. Then write those all down and go back to LinkedIn or your personal network, see if you know people at those companies. Reach out to them independent of getting the reference and ask, "Hey, did you work with so and so? Were you happy with that experience?" Going that direct route is much better.

Then, I'll add this important caveat, very important caveat, which it's okay to get a couple of references that are not great. It really is. If you get one good reference from them and one of the people that you go back through your network says really good things about them, and you like them, and one other person that you've gone through your network says, "Ah, we were not happy," that's okay. It's okay to have a couple of people. There is no way that you're going to do SEO consulting or agency work, any kind of consulting or agency work or services work and not have a few unhappy people in the past. I think that 100% happiness ratio is extremely rare, and even if they were happy at the time, oftentimes people become dissatisfied over time with things, and that could be not the agency's fault, the consultant's fault. So I wouldn't dismiss these, but I would consider them very carefully, balance them on the whole, and make sure that you know all the things that are going on. Oftentimes, in any type of a services organization, it's not one person's fault or always the agency or the service provider's fault. Oftentimes, fault lies somewhere in between the company and the agency.

Then I would check out some online contributions too, places where they've contributed – blogs, social media, comments, those types of things. It tends to be the case that if you have people from the consultancy or the agency who've done stuff on the web that you can observe, you're seeing them in a little bit more of their natural setting, and you can see what I would call kind of behind the curtain of the polish that they present to you directly. That can be extremely valuable. So I love looking at sort of oh, I met someone at a conference and I thought they did a good job speaking, let go me check out some of their other presentations. Then I'll check out some of the stuff that they've done online. Boy, I get the sense that this person is kind of mean and rude on the Internet. I'm not sure that they're actually a match. That kind of information can be really interesting and really useful to you.

You'll also get a sense for how knowledgeable they are. They can seem very knowledgeable in person, and then you go on the web and you sort of get this sense of, oh, actually this person seems to be giving bad advice or asking questions that don't seem like they know what they're doing. Unfortunately, because the SEO field is so easy to enter, you do have a lot of folks who just got started in the industry, maybe are looking for their first clients still, or folks who have been operating who may not necessarily be SEO experts, maybe they're great at other parts of web agency work but not SEO.

Finally, my last piece of advice on this process, be very careful about choosing exclusively on price or experience. Now, price is an obvious one. You sort of go, "Yeah. I'll get what I pay for and choosing the lowest price vendor might not be a great idea," and those kind of things. That's true. But experience is a dangerous one also. I see a lot of folks saying, "Ah, you worked with our big competitor," or "You worked with someone else in the field that we respect and admire, therefore, we're picking you." We lose track of all the other important traits and criteria. Just be cautious about that. I think that there is something to, whether you're hiring someone onto your team, we do a lot of hiring here, and one of the things that I see is relevant experience does not always trump sort of that excited newcomer. As long as they have the chops to do the work, sometimes that passion and that lack of experience can actually open up a lot of opportunity for you. So be careful about choosing on those alone, and hopefully this process will work for you.

I would love if you're an agency or a consultant or someone who has found SEOs in the past and you have additional things that you'd like to add to a process like this, please include them in the comments below. I would love to see those.

All right. Thanks everyone. Take care. We'll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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What’s Your Business’s One Key Metric?

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What’s Your Business’s One Key Metric? was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Allow me to make a suggestion for all of us juggling metrics and data diving. Before you do anything else, figure out what your business’s one key metric is.

juggling

Measuring what matters (and disregarding what doesn’t) is Analytics 101. And it’s very important because with all that we can track and measure with Web analytics, there’s the risk you’ll:

a) drown in data
b) be struck by info overload paralysis or
c) contribute to misleading metrics, whether intentionally or not.

Using the one key metric model is going to give you results, while chasing B.S. metrics doesn’t reveal meaningful insight into user behavior and preferences.

Suhail Doshi, founder of analytics platform Mixpanel, points out the problems of tracking pageviews, total members and other metrics that may look good on paper but ultimately don’t align with business goals:

“[C]ompanies should start by tracking a single actionable metric that they can literally bet the company on. I call this their One Key Metric (OKM). Companies choosing their OKM realize they must pick an actionable metric because pageviews or sign ups aren’t harsh enough and don’t correlate highly enough with the success of their business.

The best part of OKM is that companies can measure other things related to it, to understand how to improve it. […] Understanding your OKM often leads to deeper, more valuable questions. The answers often surprise businesses and guide them better than before.”

As we build upon our projects and the knowledge that informs our marketing efforts, it can pay to take a moment to check in with our most basic business goals. Build upon a foundation of key performance indicators that are focused and results-driven. With this solid starting place, your marketing efforts grow with purposeful direction and deep understanding. So, what’s your OKM?

Bruce Clay Blog

Social Authority: Our Measure of Twitter Influence

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Posted by @petebray

[This blog post is co-authored by Matt Peters, our Data Scientist.]

Today, we’re excited to announce the release of Social Authority, our metric of Twitter users’ influence. There are plenty of vanity metrics out there, but Social Authority offers something compellingly different.

Social Authority Helps Marketers

Social Authority is not about bragging rights or merchant discounts. Nor is it something that you check once and then forget about. Our metric is immediately, reliably useful. You can order all active Twitter users by influence, dissect your social graph, or find new followers who are most important — right now.

But it’s more than just exploring your own followers (or those of a competitor): Social Authority is ultimately a measure of influential activity. As such, it highlights content that is successful on Twitter. When you find users with high Social Authority, you’re finding great marketing strategies to analyze and mimic. And we think that this will help you be more successful with Twitter.

Finally, Social Authority is transparent. We could use all sorts of fuzzy words to explain how we compute our score, but we recognize that marketers need to see the “man behind the curtain.” Without insight into how we value influence, you can’t personally validate what makes us special, nor can you trust that our score is backed by deep research and thought.

Social Authority is Based on Retweets

Quite simply, our score includes three components:

  • The retweet rate of a few hundred of the measured user’s last non-@mention tweets
  • A time decay to favor recent activity versus ancient history
  • Other data for each user (such as follower count, friend count, and so on) that are optimized via a regression model trained to retweet rate

We’ll discuss why we’re focusing on retweets in a moment. For now, let’s consider the latter two items.

First, social media is very much a “what have you done for me lately” medium. In fact, the half-life of a tweet is a mere 18 minutes.

For this reason, we aggressively discount scores for users who haven’t tweeted lately.

Second, our regression model is a powerful addition to Social Authority. In part, it helps smooth the occasionally jumpy retweet rates of users. But, more than that, it accounts for the fact that retweets are a scarce commodity. For example, an average user needs 10,000 followers before 25% of their tweets are retweeted. Indeed, it’s only very popular users who get a large percentage of their tweets retweeted.

Our regression model helps fill in the blanks for the large majority of users with a spotty history of retweets.

Retweets are the Currency of Social

So, why retweets?

Well, whether you call them “shares” (Facebook), “repins” (Pinterest), or retweets, circulating someone else’s content to your network is a remarkable activity — and pretty much universal across all social networks. It demonstrates a significant commitment to the originating content.

Moreover, retweets are a great proxy for other important data.

For example, as you might expect, the number of retweets a user gets correlates strongly with the number of @mentions that user receives, with a correlation of ~0.8.

Even more excitingly, a higher retweet rate is associated with more traffic to tweeted URLs. In fact, the retweet rate is a stronger predictor of clicks than follower count! The correlations are ~0.7 and ~0.45, respectively.

This comparison is perhaps not entirely fair: Twitter-originating traffic counts are hard to obtain in large quantities. So, we limit ourselves only to users who use bit.ly shortened links: perhaps not a totally representative sample. We also apply the same time discount to our traffic rate as we do to our retweet rate; this may heighten the correlation.

Still, it’s exciting to see that retweets are a great measure of traffic potential.

You might ask, “Why not just use traffic as the basis for Social Authority?” Well, while clicks might be your ultimate goal, that isn’t the same for everyone. Indeed, retweets represent a native measure of social success. That is, for many accounts, traffic isn’t the goal. Rather, the focus is on increased engagement and resonance of one’s social content. Retweets are a better social-specific metric.

(By the way, a good rule of thumb: consider a 10:1 ratio when it comes to clicks and retweets. That is, if a tweet gets 10 retweets, it’s probably garnering about 100 clicks. We’ll delve into this in a future blog post.)

What Does Social Authority Mean in Practice?

Do we add value beyond what’s already out there? That’s a good question. After all, follower count by itself is a great measure of influence. And it’s the challenge of any metric creator to offer something appreciably better.

Here, for example, we see that Klout scores correlate strongly with follower counts.

We aren’t picking on Klout. Social Authority has a similar relationship to follower count. Quite simply, people with lots of followers are generally more influential!

But we believe it’s the subtle re-ranking of a users that reveals the value of Social Authority versus follower count (or other metrics out there).

First, behold the most followed accounts on Twitter….

Now, we’re going to use Followerwonk to sort all active Twitter users and show you those with the highest Social Authority.

Yes, we also put Bieber on top! (Who doesn’t!?)

We’ve highlighted a number of accounts in red. Take a close look at these. We were initially surprised to see these accounts with high Social Authority so we went back and checked the data. Sure enough, these accounts get retweeted a lot. For example, @autocorrects is retweeted 7% more than @BarackObama, yet has 14 times fewer followers!

As you can see, Social Authority surfaces a completely different set of top users: those that are extremely effective in engaging their followers. Perhaps jump onto Twitter and look at their content. Expand their tweets: that’s where the magic is. Those in red often have a similar content strategy: short, pithy, often humorous, and targeted well to their audience.

This isn’t content that we necessarily like — often, quite the opposite! Rather, these accounts have found the secret sauce: retweet bait. They’ve discovered content that gets their audiences’ attention, whether we like it or not, and prompts action in terms of retweets and traffic.

To us, at least, this is a revelation. We’ve always assumed that success on Twitter was largely about careful engagement, timely replies, and, sure, the occasional pithy remark. And that indeed may be a great strategy. But from the perspective of retweets (and clicks), engagement doesn’t matter at all.  Many of these accounts never @mention anyone.

Social Authority is focused on content, versus users. When computing our metric, we don’t directly care how many followers a user has. Instead, our interest is in the content that she creates, and how it resonates with her audience. This is what sets Social Authority apart as a metric.

Let’s take a look at how you can leverage Social Authority right now.

Social Authority Use Case: Refining Your Engagement Strategy

One of the most effective uses of Twitter is to reach out to other people. That is, you want to leverage other people to retweet your content and spread your message to their audience.

Social Authority and the engagement metrics we released in December can help.

Simply, you want to find that sweet spot of users who are both influential, and also likely to respond to any engagement that you direct at them.

Step 1. Go to Followerwonk and do a bio search for keywords related to your industry.  Limit the search to your followers. (Here’s an example.)

Step 2. Sort by Social Authority.

Step 3. Mouse over each user and find those with a high engagement rate. This will reveal possible candidates for direct engagement (DMs, @contacts, or even RTs of their content).

Here, for example, are the most influential followers of @followerwonk with “SEO” in their bio.

On mouse-over, I see that Rand has a really high engagement rate. Over 60% of his tweets are @mentions of other people! Notice that we have a bidirectional relationship (the little arrows): that is, he follows us, and we follow him. He’d be a great one to contact (if we weren’t already seeing him in the office pretty much everyday)!

Social Authority Use Case: Content Insights

Let’s say you’re thinking of opening a restaurant in the Bay Area. How can you use Twitter, and Social Authority, to help?

We can start by doing a comparison of the followers of three restaurant owners or Food writers.

In this report, we see that there are ~400 who follow all of them. We can pop this list of users open and sort by Social Authority.

As we mouse-over each user, we discover their engagement rates. Note that @chefsymon, with the highest Social Authority in this list, has a rocking 86% engagement rate! Compare this to, say, Zagats with a mere 6.5% rate.

Which is the better choice to @engage in an attempt to attract their attention (and retweets)?

But there’s more we can do with this list then find potential brand amplifiers. Notice, for example, that @Francis_Lam, with a “mere” 34,000 followers has a great Social Authority score. It’s worth jumping into his tweet stream and looking carefully at his content.

What is it about his style that generates so many retweets? His frequent tweeting? His food-related one-liners?

While we will discuss content strategies in a later blog post, we believe that, to some extent, there are different content strategies for each industry. What works well for one audience, won’t work for others. So, carefully examining high Social Authority users — particularly those who are outliers in terms of having relatively few followers — is a great way to discover the content that ignites your audience.

We can take this one step further still.  We can analyze @Francis_Lam’s followers.

Then, we can hone in those high Social Authority users local to us. Perhaps a special invite to a soft opening?

Bottom line

One of our core values at SEOmoz is transparency. As such, we’re against “mystery meat” metrics. We believe that metrics are only enhanced when you have real insight into what goes into them.

Social Authority is a tool for marketers to find key relationships and great content strategies. It’s backed by serious research and development.

We welcome your feedback, and look forward to seeing how you’ll take advantage of our score.

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Turns Out, Google Is a Dude

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Turns Out, Google Is a Dude was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Google has crossed over to theatrical arts. Over the weekend, I caught a one-man show led by Craig Ricci Shaynak in Los Angeles at Theatre Asylum called: “I Am Google.” And this time, Google wasn’t just a search engine; Google was a dude in a bachelor pad.

With a cool mix of improv, performance and audience participation, this show had everything from Google’s nerdy counterpart, Bing, to his ex-girlfriend Twitter and his crush on Siri. Without giving too much away, I’ll let you in on a little of the fun.

Upon entering the theater, you see Google hard at work answering a multitude of calls from telephones reminiscent of the 80s, while frantically looking up answers in the dictionary and sometimes phoning a friend “Wikipedia” when he wasn’t quite sure what the answer was (although Wiki proved to rarely be right). And at the end of the call, he’d always report how long the search took.

Craig Shaynak of "I Am Google." Photo courtesy of Shaynak's Google Plus profile.

Craig Shaynak of “I Am Google.” Photo courtesy of Shaynak’s Google Plus profile.

Google confessed his innermost thoughts to us that night, from the fact that everyone thinks he’s so smart, but he’s really just organizing information that’s already there from sources like books — sources, he infers in so many words, that we could all use if we weren’t so lazy.

He talked about his breakup with Twitter who just didn’t think he was “funny” anymore. And he defended himself by reminding us about the “tilt” search and the directions Maps gives us for getting across the ocean to Japan. Then he complained about all the hashtags Twitter left in the apartment when she moved out.

And every once in a while, he’d dress up in a costume and serve us up an ad from Crate & Barrel or Uggs or something no one in the audience wanted. And mid-sentence, every few minutes, he’d change the sign around his neck to reflect a new Google Doodle.

In the end, he gave us some food for thought. He suggested we don’t need to find the answers to everything that pops into our head the moment we think about it. And that most of the searches we perform are based on useless information anyway.

The Stage at "I Am Google." Photo taken by Jessica Lee.

The stage at “I Am Google.” Photo taken by Jessica Lee.

He challenged us to go “70s style” and make a date with a friend without the use of any technology … just tell them where to meet you and show up at the time you said you were going to. That’s a novel idea, eh?

We had a great time at the show that night, and turns out, Shaynak is refining his act over several more shows before he performs in front of Google.

I talked with him after the show about slipping in some SEO stuff like Panda and Penguin, so we’ll see if those makes the cut.

Shaynak welcomes SEOs, digital marketers and Web developers to come see his show; the technical stuff they throw at him during the act proves to be a hilarious basis for his improv.

So if you’re in the LA area (or inquire for details on what I think they said was a traveling act), check out “I Am Google.” You’ll enjoy it.

Bruce Clay Blog

Fresh and Sizzling at Applebee’s: Social Media Reputation Management

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Fresh and Sizzling at Applebee’s: Social Media Reputation Management was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Applebee’s is serving up a lesson in social media reputation management and crisis communications this week. There are multiple layers worth exploring in this story.

There’s the Reddit community whose mob mentality infected this story as it traveled across social media channels.

There’s also the social media marketing industry that has raised its voice against how Applebee’s handled the situation.

Herein I attempt to look at both because, of course, they’re overlapping and related.  Yet because this story is deeply layered and complex, I merely skim the surface. Still, I think it’s enough to add a few things to your business’s guidelines for online discourse if and when your brand ever comes under fire.

To recap what happened with Applebee’s:

  • An Applebee’s customer, Alois Bell, rejected the automatic 18% tip for a large party, opting instead to leave a snarky comment with a religious allusion. Update: In an interview with Alois after the controversy broke, she says her group left the 18% tip in cash on the table.
  • An Applebee’s employee named Chelsea Welch – not the server of this delightful customer – posted the customer’s note to Reddit’s atheist section.
  • Reddit had a grand time making fun of the customer and her religious affiliations. Welch was fired by Applebee’s for breaking rules regarding customer privacy.
  • Applebee’s issued an apology for the incident on Facebook. Across social media networks, outrage rang out over Welch’s firing.
  • Applebee’s defended their position in a middle-of-the-night Facebook posting and tens of thousands of comments accumulated. Nearly all comments are negative, and many point to a failure in using Facebook and social media for public relations and customer communications.
applebees.com home page

Mentions of Applebee’s on Twitter focus on the customer tipping scandal that rocked the company’s social media profile this week. Don’t tell Chelsea Welch they’re hiring because they let her go after she posted customer info on Reddit.

The Arguments Against Applebee’s

I think Applebee’s is being crucified for reasons beyond the incident that went down in a St. Louis restaurant on January 25.

To start, it’s my feeling that Reddit can get pretty uppity. Any action taken against Welch would have been met with righteous indignation regardless of Applebee’s reasoning. The social media community had elevated itself to a mob and would have attacked any argument — and this attack mentality spread to Facebook and Twitter. At this point it was Applebee’s against the haters across the Web.

These haters looked to any opportunity to call foul on Applebee’s. When the company explained Welch’s firing as the result of her violation of the customer’s privacy, this is how the debate that went down:

Applebee’s: “We don’t post customer’s personal information.”

Angry hoard points to a January 12th Applebee’s Facebook posting of a photograph of customer praise with the customer’s name included: “Look, look! You did so post a customer’s personal info!”

What Applebee’s should have said next: “Let us rephrase. We don’t publish customer’s personal information to tar and feather them in the public eye.”

Based on the facts we have, Applebee’s acted well within appropriate boundaries in letting the employee go and in its initial explanations and apologies about the situation on Facebook.

Some social media marketing industry insiders have argued otherwise, pointing to these actions as a lack of planned crisis communications strategy:

  • Posting in the middle of the night
  • Needlessly repetitive copy-and-paste responses
  • Replying to critics as responses rather than definitive status updates

These are all judgment calls in my mind, with no clear right or wrong without the aid of hindsight.

Of course, regardless of what Applebee’s was being persecuted for, the fact is that they were under attack in social media. So…

Could This Have Been Avoided?

If Applebee’s had a social media crisis response plan, could this nightmare have been avoided? It just so happens that two years ago, Jessica interviewed Applebee’s then-social media director Scott Gulbransen about the company’s social media policy.

When he talked to BCI in 2010, he explained the current state of Applebee’s social media strategy as “evolving” with “a ways to go.” What he described was a corporate social communications department that was trusted by company leadership to interact and engage online.

He explained, “We’re in the process of getting more folks in cross-functional roles trained to respond and participate appropriately in social channels with our guests and employees out the in field.” In that level of development, after a year with Applebee’s odds are good he established crisis response guidelines, or at least equipped his predecessors with the needed ideas and background to act appropriately in a critical situation.

He called the company’s voice “real, authentic and transparent,” and as comfortable making jokes as “pointed remarks.” To that point he said, “[W]hen people Tweet at us or post on our Facebook page comments or content that is pushing the limits, we don’t mind calling them on it.” If a brand isn’t “real” in social media, they aren’t worth listening to. If a brand is stiff and always agreeable, people have no reasons to connect.

The Cost of Being Real

So when I hear people arguing that in this instance Applebee’s demonstrated failure in a high-pressure social media situation, I’m wondering if what they expected Applebee’s do is roll over and take a flogging. That’s not a brand I can relate to. Applebee’s established its corporate voice as one who calls out people who push the limits, and as both a social media marketing professional and a social media user, I respect that.

Now add to that, with the facts we have, I don’t think Applebee’s acted out of turn in terminating employment of a staff member who posted a customer’s personal information for the purpose of mocking on the Internet, and you can see how I find Applebee’s in the right on this one.

Was their room for improvement? Sure. Lessons I’ve taken from this are to create a plan of defense before saying anything. It could cover how to respond to individual comments, or if that should be done at all. And a pre-planned blueprint would probably rule out posting at 3 am, an unsacred hour when late-night trolls are just waiting for something to dig their teeth into.

Other than that, Applebee’s should keep calm and carry on. Although tens of thousands of people hated on Applebee’s online this week, how many of them do you think are Applebee’s diners who will now boycott their normal happy hour spot? …See you tomorrow, Applebee’s.

Bruce Clay Blog

How to Get Your Boss to Care About Content Marketing

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Posted by Adria Saracino

This article consists of part selling content marketing, and part how to actually create a content campaign. However, at a more Meta level, it's also about the idea of "how to be good at getting what you want." If you want your boss to care about content marketing, you need to know how to pitch it right.

Like everything in business, from sales to link building, "selling an idea" is all about persuasive speech and delivery. However, if persuasion doesn't come naturally to you, how do you formulate a pitch that will be sticky and affect change?

I'm not here to give vague, unhelpful advice like "be persuasive," "give solid delivery," or some other abstract concept that is difficult to act upon. Rather, I will do my best to give you an actionable, step-by-step formula to constructing an effective pitch and convincing your boss that content marketing is the answer to your online business woes.  

Whether you're selling content marketing to the C-Suite, your manager, a client, or even trying to convince yourself, here is everything you need to make a compelling argument and be on your way to content marketing success.

Step 1: Paint a story

Think of some of the best advertising campaigns you can recall. I get chills every time the Kellogg's Special-K commercials come on and they end it with the simple phrase, "What will you gain when you lose?" Genius in one simple question.

Just like Kellogg's stays top of mind by getting viewers to think about the flip side of weight loss, you need to paint a story and deliver an overarching vision in which the decision makers can relate if you want them to support you throughout the process.

Tom Critchlow once told me to "voice a vision" and I literally walked away baffled because it was so non-actionable that I wanted to rampage. However, now being on the other side, I'm going to say this "story painting" part is the most abstract piece of the "making-your-boss-care" puzzle because at the end of the day, each story will differ depending on the company. Since you have more intimate knowledge of the brand than I ever will, this story-painting task lies in your creative ability to succinctly develop a vision for your company.

All this being said, I can provide some tricks for developing your story:

  • What is the brand message? If there is a PR team, ask. No sense painting a new vision that doesn't align. If not, start thinking about what you know about your customers and brainstorming why they chose your brand over another. What is your brand's USP? Sales and FAQ pages could be invaluable here. You could even bribe the social media manager to throw a question out on Facebook and see what responses you get.

PRO TIP: Send out an email asking all (or a group) of employees to put into an Excel doc words that come to mind when they think of your brand. Throw it into Wordle to create a word cloud to help with brainstorming. You could also add words from the Facebook responses from customers if you ended up bribing your social manager.

  • Can you re-position the conversation? Just like Kellogg's, Taco Bell re-positioned the conversation in its market with the tagline "Think Outside the Bun." It was in the market of burger joint vs. burger joint, but instead of comparing itself to the competition by creating more noise about "fast food" and "sandwich-like" options, Taco Bell re-positioned the conversation to "us vs. them."

Can you focus the conversation on another angle in your market? Think about your competition and what all of the marketing noise sounds like. How can you differentiate your message?

  • If you're not a natural storyteller, find someone who is. I personally am hit or miss with storytelling, so I often go to Lexi Mills or Ron Garrett for this skill. The bonus to getting someone else invested in the vision is that it becomes an opportunity to recruit more advocates of content marketing. Think of it as a mini coup, as there is strength in numbers.
  • Google it. Hey, if you're not a great storyteller look to see what other people are saying. I just did to make sure I wasn't missing anything and found some great resources on storytelling for marketing.

Remember: decision makers need to see, understand, and be on board with your vision if you want to truly get their buy in. Sell the vision and you're on your way to getting the resources you need to get there.

Step 2: Match it with specific goals

I'll make it easy for you. There's only one real goal: conversions. All other "goals" are really just means to this one end. You're in business, so all goals should end in the monies. Any other goal you think of (links, rankings, domain authority, etc.) will be a short-term checkpoint to reaching the end of the race and improving conversions.

Your long-term goal should be the first thing you pitch: "I want to make us more money." Perfect; you got their attention and are speaking in their terms. Now, how do you get specific and create a road map of short-term-goal measurement "checkpoints" to show you are coming to the pitch with solutions and not just fanciful stories?

Remember, it's about painting a story. You want to go all Memento on them. Start with the end of the story (end goal = more money) and then flash back to the beginning – give them a high-level snapshot of your company's current performance.

For current performance: Usually a few key graphs and specific metrics in areas where the company is under-performing will be enough. If you can pair it with some competitive research, such as "so-and-so is dominating the search results," that will most likely help. The key is to not get caught up in minutia and to talk big picture. Don't say, "We are getting a high bounce rate on this one page and I think it's important to build content to improve it." You want the conversation to sound more like, "I audited our site and saw there are over 30 pages in which we're getting X-significant-amount-of-traffic and it has a 100% bounce rate, which is costing us approximately $ X a year."

For future goals: Again, you want to think bigger picture and not get caught up in the minutia. You definitely don't want to say, "I'm going to make a piece of linkbait that's going to get us a lot of links." Business leaders don't think in links, they think in money so start leveling up your language.

Content marketing isn't a string of piecemeal linkbait. It is aligning content with a company's customer funnel to make sure the brand is at top-of-mind throughout the purchasing path. Thus, your pitch should sound more like this, "To improve our organic traffic by X% and bring in $ X more a year, we need to dominate the SERPs for keywords relevant to our customers' purchasing behavior. To get here, we need to do X, Y, and Z."

Below, we'll talk more about the recipe for developing a content strategy which, depending on your company's specific performance, you can most likely plug into this part of the pitch for the X, Y, and Z variables. Also, I really loved Jay Baer's presentation at Content Marketing World on the four different types of metrics.

Step 3: Pair the vision + goals with the benefits

Kane Jamison of Content Harmony and I were shooting emails back and forth in preparation for our meet-up on content marketing in March, and he explained the core benefit of content marketing so well:

"Tangential/viral campaigns have to be justified to the client like this:

'Well, viral may results in links/social, which may result in domain authority and may result in ranking improvements across the domain, but if it fails then we don't have much to show for it.'

That can be too much of a stretch for a client to get on board with. Aligning the content you produce with the client's sales funnel sidestep that. The discussion turns into this:

'Well, if it goes viral, then we win the internet, but if it doesn't go viral then it's still great for X, Y, & Z business goals, and you can continue promoting it long in to the future.'"

If you have inquisitive management, they are going to start coming at you with questions and rebuttals trying to say what your team is currently doing is enough. Kane's reasoning will be enough explanation for most, but counteract any serious dubiousness with a list of reasons why content marketing is beneficial. You know your boss best, so you can read whether or not you'll need to dive into this in detail or just have it ready, but it's always good to pepper some of these into your pitch.

I wrote an article on aligning content marketing with the customer funnel that had some of these benefits, but here is an expanded list:

It's safer and actually strategic

Frankly, if a piece of content doesn't go viral, you have a backup plan if you align content to the broader marketing goal and message.

As Kane mentioned, "viral" content pieces on tangential topics put a lot of strain on the outreachers to deliver links and shares. However, creating sharable content that is also relevant to the top of your company's funnel can make sure you're not putting all your eggs in one basket. If it doesn't go "viral," it could still have other benefits, such as ranking for a relevant term, being used by the sales team, and so on. This is called diversifying your link building plan.

In addition, if you build content around broader PR or social media efforts, you are now integrating campaigns – economies of scale for content marketing. This makes sure you are leaving no stone unturned and capitalizing on all the potential business wins possible.

EXAMPLE: If the social team is hosting a huge contest, is there an opportunity to create relevant content onsite that has the opportunity to rank for keywords relevant to your funnel?

Creates a flywheel

Content marketing is a COO's operational dream. Over time, it creates a flywheel for efficient content creation. No endless cycle of "think of epic idea, build it, outreach it, repeat." Instead, you are front loading the research and planning to create a long term road map that follows a strategic set of creative parameters. 

In addition to the internal flywheel, content following a strategic plan can also market itself over time, eliminating the need to keep promoting it manually. For example, if the content targets a low-competition keyword that has decent volume, it can start ranking well on its own. If it's a topic a lot of other authors write about, when they are researching they could use your content. Furthermore, since users are search heavy during decision making, it's bringing new potential customers to your site all by itself. If you create content regularly enough, people can come to expect it and start coming to your site to see what you will launch next. All of these are examples of how content can become a snowball effect of wins with little to no redundant work.

Provides consistent user experience

This is the benefit I am personally most passionate about because, at the end of the day, your customers are who matter most. If you are creating inconsistent, tangential content to target who I call the gatekeepers, you run the risk of confusing your customers and irreparably damaging your brand's trust factor. Here's an easy rule to follow: all content you create should make sense as coming from your brand. No zombie infographics if you are an insurance company. No cat memes if you are a travel company. Keep it relevant and consistent. I have another version of #RCS: Relevant, Consistent Shit.

Captures long-term traffic

I used this image in my last post and I'm going to use it again because it's so relevant: content that is relevant to your customer funnel builds traffic over time. Unless they are searching for zombie apocalypse equipment, no one is searching for keywords around your zombie infographic. It will not gain long-term traffic unless you keep pushing it.

However, if you create content that you know targets a topic heavily searched, you could see results like this:

content growth chart

Step 4: Demonstrate potential results with examples

Keep up the storytelling theme by ideally having both good and bad examples to represent the hero and the villain. We are hardwired to connect with storytelling, so it can be difficult for decision makers to resist rooting for the good guys. You want to subtly paint this good vs. bad picture by choosing the right examples. The best "bad" examples usually hit home when they are your own company's work, but just remember to be tactful when talking about the negatives.

Here are some good examples for you to use. Note, I am showing these because I have access to how the campaigns did and the results are what you need to show your boss this stuff works. There's a lot of really, really cool content marketing going on out there, and I encourage you to follow up with the companies that are doing them to see if you can get some case studies on the results.

"The Small Business Champions"

Mackenzie Fogelson just talked about them in her building community value post. They even wrote a post explaining their campaign and the results. They might be all over the place, but I'm going to say it again because it has such clear results you can show your boss (remember: show, don't tell) – the team over at Simply Business is onto something with this whole content marketing thing.

I'll let you read the post over at CMI that goes into more depth, but essentially SB developed a brand message to become "the small business champion." As such, it decided to create content around common roadblocks businesses face – successfully navigating all the backend mumbo jumbo around operations. Things like being more efficient, installing and using Google Analytics, hiring your first employee…anything and everything that frustrates business owners.

The results*:

  • Moved to 1st or 2nd position in SERPs for head key terms
  • Ranking for top-of-funnel keywords
  • 6% higher first-visit-to-buy conversions
  • Improved customer retention by 30%

* Pulled from Simply Business' CMI post linked above

Platform for #SocialSuccess

Kieran Flanagan revealed the results to Salesforce's #SocialSuccess content marketing campaign on Moz last year. Similar to Simply Business above, Salesforce identified its brand message, "Get Found," and embarked on a journey to pull new potential customers into its funnel by creating content around social media issues its tools address.

The result was a #SocialSuccess section of the Salesforce site that included a variety of rich media around social media topics, including interviews with experts and eBooks.

salesforce social success

The results*:

  • Traffic for launch month up 80% YoY
  • Traffic from social sites up 2500%
  • 6500 newsletter signups
  • 10,000 eBook downloads (and thus 10K leads)
  • An ongoing platform for content marketing – Salesforce is still killing it today with #SocialSuccess-themed content

* Pulled from Kieran's SEOmoz post linked above

Step 5: Outline a "bird's eye view" plan

Don't plague them with the minutia. It's generally a fixed plan with concrete steps no matter the business.  It's only four real steps with some mini actions in between: research, compile, execute, analyze (RCEA – management loves acronyms, right?).

Note: I am going into more detail for each of these sections so you know what it is and have a starting point for when you get to the execution part. You don't need to include all this detail in your pitch!

Before you begin: Talk to other teams. You would not believe how many companies silo their teams and waste time, money, and efficiency repeating processes. One of these processes is understanding the customer. Someone in your company might already be an expert, so don't duplicate the work to find out yourself!

If you don't have anyone to talk to or a team that did one of the below steps, here is an overview of the type of functions you will need to perform to create a content marketing plan from the ground up.

Research

Benchmark audit

Look through all of the company's back-end analytics to get a clear picture of its current performance. You want to find out the answers to questions like:

  • What is traffic pattern like? Any seasonality?
  • What pages were visited most?
  • What is the typical visitor flow?
  • What pages get the most conversions?
  • Where do visitors spend the most time?
  • What are the bounce rates, particularly for high volume pages?
  • How long goes the visitor typically stay on the site?
  • How did they get to the site?
  • What are the predominant referring keywords?
  • Any interesting mobile vs. web data?

I call this a "benchmark" audit because you should also be taking out key metrics as the baseline you will compare all future performance to in order to determine ROI of your efforts. While you are doing this, keep in the back of your mind that you will need to develop a way to track all future content goals you develop. 

Talk to your customers

From the benchmark audit, you will probably start seeing visitor patterns in which you can draw conclusions around customer behavior. However, you cannot go solely off this data because it's usually muddled with a large number of potential and failed customers. 

Instead, pair these metric-driven insights with more thorough market research: talking to your customers. I wrote an article on how to develop personas, so I won't dive into it in detail here, but this is arguably the most important piece to making #RCS content: you need to know who you are creating it for! Conduct surveys, hold focus groups, do in-depth interviews, etc.; the more info you can gather, the better you will be able to develop clear customer stories.

Keyword research

This is so, so important because if you want to earn those long-term traffic benefits, you need to make sure your content aligns with phrase people are actually using as they search. The key here though is to focus on keywords THROUGHOUT the funnel. This is the number one task I see all SEOs struggle with – they are hardwired to only focus on the conversion, bottom-of-the-funnel-terms. If you are planning for a content piece around "buy X online" and think it will go viral or is even worth outreach time, you are sorely mistaken.

The key here is to dive into research by asking yourself questions as if you were searching yourself. You need to understand the search intent to be epic at more top-of-funnel keyword research. This is a pretty good article on the topic, and there are plenty of tools out there to aid creativity. Also, Kieran Flanagan gets it. Just remember, a winning content strategy is aimed at getting new customers into the funnel at all levels; don't miss the opportunity to get people in at the top.

PRO TIP: Like above when brainstorming your brand message, when you get a pretty good keyword list, throw it into Wordle after cutting out the redundant terms to get a word cloud that shows the most dominantly searched topic for your funnel. This will help get the content creative juices flowing later.

Content audit

This is essentially taking inventory of all the content on your site so you can conduct a content gap analysis. I wrote an article on conducting a content audit, but the specifics might change a bit depending on your needs. For example, you might stick to just the quantitative parts (pulling metrics) and only assessing qualitatively the content that has gregariously inconsistent metrics (such as tons of traffic, high bounce rate).

Compile

Bring all the pieces together and define goals

I'll keep this part short and sweet. Once you have all the above pieces:

  • Create your customer personas
  • Address any outlandish technical woes you found during benchmark audit
  • Identify key areas on your site that you need to repurpose content based off findings from benchmark audit
  • Figure out what content you are missing based off your content gap analysis and keyword research
  • Prioritize keywords
  • Start prioritizing areas to focus your content
  • Clearly define measurable short and long-term goals

Create an editorial calendar

Once you are done prioritizing your areas to focus on, start brainstorming and filling in the editorial calendar (aka long-term project plan). Depending on factors like whether or not you have a blog, you might need to create a more detailed editorial calendar to keep your daily content creators focused. The key is to plan out all your content so you only have to focus on execution – this is the starting point of that flywheel.

Make sure you have the brand message, standards, and tracking in place

Remember the importance of a consistent user experience? You want to keep it consistent not only through the topics you cover but also the style in which you write. Remember that brand message you developed? All content should definitely align with that. Remember those personas? All of your content should definitely target one persona each.

In addition, make sure you are aligned with your brand/editorial standards that the wider company uses. If there isn't one, make one. This covers things like grammar, voice, on-page SEO considerations, blog theme style, etc.

PRO TIP: You also need governance standards – trust me, the bigger the organization, the crazier it can get. You want to clearly define dependencies early. This includes answers to questions like what is the editorial review workflow, who owns getting it through each stage, and what are the engagement standards?

Lastly, remember I mentioned during the benchmark audit to start thinking about how you can track goals? By now, you should have goals clearly defined. Make sure you implement any necessary backend tracking so you can start measuring and comparing to those benchmarks right away.

Execute

Easy – get 'er done. Start creating the content and launching.

Assess

After each larger content piece, you should be assessing how it did. However, you should also plan on assessing long term and conducting a content inventory of this new content (just like the content audit, just smaller scale and more outcomes focused). This is where you will really see the ROI of all your efforts. Check out this great article on measuring content marketing.

Step 6: Manage those expectations

Just like with everything else, you need to give due diligence to managing your boss' expectations. There are a ton of resources out there around effectively managing expectations, which takes practice. However, some key components include:

  • Be honest – content marketing is front loaded, long term, but smart business
  • Give clear deadlines – and meet them
  • Involve the right people from the start

Step 7: Demand greatness

You're almost done. One key component to a successful content marketing program is to ensure everyone is on board and the key decision makers are all in. If they aren't, it will cause unnecessary roadblocks down the road, like cross-team conflict and lack of required resources.

Thus, before beginning, you need to demand greatness. This may be a conversation for after the initial pitch, but it is important. You can't let your decision makers half-ass their commitment to the program; they are either all in, or you're not proceeding. In addition, you need to clearly and consistently voice that there is a right way to do content marketing. Remember, this isn't a plan for putting together a string of irrelevant linkbait pieces.

Step 8: Deliver

If you had to sell the idea in the first place – you better deliver. If you make mistakes, own up to them and devise a solution for how to fix them.


Whew! There is your eight-step program to selling and delivering a content marketing plan. Hopefully you walk away with your boss caring, but if not, keep at it and consider shipping a smaller version of it anyway. Sometimes you need to show those results to get buy in because it puts them in terms they definitely understand: their own business success.

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How’s It Going, Facebook? Feature Updates to Watch For

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How’s It Going, Facebook? Feature Updates to Watch For was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Facebook and me are tight. I like how Facebook’s always asking me how I’m doing. No matter what’s going on in my life, I know Facebook is happy to hear from me.

hows-it-going

It’s pretty impressive Facebook can always make the time considering how much it’s got going on. Lately the service has been really busy adding new features to its social platform, so I wanted to take a minute to get an update from the ultimate update sharing service.

Graph Search

Facebook Graph Search is still in beta, and is sure to morph before it becomes the community pillar Zuckerberg suggests in the intro video for Graph Search. But if you haven’t signed up for the beta yet, don’t delay. You’ll want to be able to play inside when the doors open to you.

Before Graph Search is out of beta we can expect to see changes to address privacy concerns. And I expect some people will scrub some of the humor out of their profiles when Graph Search is open to the public — unless you like being found in the graph of “married people who like prostitutes” (see Actual Facebook Graph Searches on tumblr).

Privacy issues aside, there’s potential for good stuff in Graph Search for marketers. At Facebook’s press event last month, the company illustrated some of the feature’s uses for business, including job recruiting and, of course, advertising.

Facebook has had a good reputation among online advertisers for its ability to target user interests with never-before-seen granularity. Facebook Graph is a new way to sort and filter user data. Here are a few ways to mix and match Graph Search filters to reach new customers and find influential contacts — just a few ideas to get you started in a creative direction.

Facebook Nearby for Mobile

As far as Facebook updates, we can’t overlook the space the service is carving for itself in the local-mobile arena. A natural growth direction thanks to the hundreds of millions of users connecting to Facebook from mobile apps, including Apple and Android devices.

Read all about the Facebook Nearby feature and how brick-and-mortar businesses should be taking advantage of the review and ratings system to reach new customers through their friends and networks, as shared last week by my colleague in Bruce Clay Australasia.

Facebook Gifts

Our final update isn’t exactly new, but I used Facebook Gifts for the first time last week and I now have a sneaking suspicion that I have to share. At the beginning of January, a game went around Facebook that looked like this:

ScreenShot013
Still in the surge of the giving-season I decided to join the “2013 Creative Pay-It-Forward” game. I’m looking forward to sending surprise, for-no-good-reason gifts to a few of my favorite people. Warm fuzzies ahead!

Last Friday Facebook notified me of the birthday of a very special person, and as you may have noticed, that notification comes with the ability to “Send a gift.” A bunch of vendors have hooked up with Facebook, making it easy to send gifts for the home, tasty treats, gift cards, beauty and style products and a lot more for all sorts of occasions. As I was putting together this birthday gift it occurred to me that this makes my gifting game play so easy! Everyone I’m playing with is already on Facebook, after all, and now I don’t have to worry about getting addresses I don’t have from anyone.

Which of course makes me wonder if Facebook could have seeded this little game to get people playing with Gifts? The first reference of the game I found online was dated January 2 on GOOD.is. The first commenter said:

“im trying to track the person who originally came up with this idea on facebook. you’re one of the earliest people i can find that posted this idea. are you the one? or did you get it from someone else too?”

And there was no response. Anyone else suspicious of self-motivated origins of this supposedly selfless game? What do you think?

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In the end, no, I don’t really care if Facebook planted the seed for this game in order to spark a new profit stream. But how can you not enjoy the irony in this mystery and the occasion to play conspiracy theorist? :)

Bruce Clay Blog

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