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10 Predictions for Inbound Marketing in 2013

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Posted by randfish

As is tradition here at Moz, I'm conducting my annual analysis of my predictions from 2012, and if I score high enough, predicting what will happen in 2013. I like to use this process because it keeps me honest – if I suck at predicting what will happen in a 12-month span, should you really listen to me for the next 12 months?

This year, I'm also broadening my focus beyond just SEO to all of inbound marketing – search, social, content, PR, CRO, and email. Hence, if my predictions from last year do well, I'll be making a few more guesses about the year to come than usual.

Here's how scoring works:

  • Spot On (+2) – when a prediction hits the nail on the head and the primary criteria are fulfilled
  • Partially Accurate (+1) – predictions that are in the area, but are somewhat different than reality
  • Not Completely Wrong (-1) – those that landed near the truth, but couldn't be called "correct" in any real sense
  • Off the Mark (-2) – guesses which didn't come close

The rules state that if the score is lower than +1, I'm not allowed to make predictions for the coming year. Here's to hoping!

In 2012, I made 8 predictions:

  1. Bing will have a slight increase in US marketshare, but remain <20% to Google's 80%+: This one is spot on if you use real numbers like those from Statcounter (which makes way more sense than using Comscore). Here's the graph for 2012:
    Statcounter US Search Market Share
    It's showing almost exactly what I predicted. Bing has gained very slightly in the US (while Yahoo! shrunk a tiny bit), but the two combined remains at 18.2% while Google hovers at 80.68% (GG+AOL). That's worthy of +2 points.
  2. SEO without social media will become a relic of the past: I'm struggling with exactly how to rate this one. One the one hand, there are certainly forms of SEO that can exist independent of social media, and some practitioners still don't combine the two. On the other hand, that number has drifted to a very small percent of the SEO world, and the use of social, especially in link building, outreach, PR, research, and networking is nearly universal. This one comes down to opinion, but I think few would say it's off the mark, so I'll give a +1.
  3. Google will finally take stronger, Panda-style action against manipulative link spam: This one was a slam dunk. The "Penguin Update" is not only focused specifically on link spam, but it's also similar to Panda's style of updating and, many suspect, uses much of the frameworks that Google's Search Quality team built with Panda. +2 points on this prediction.
  4. Pinterest will break into the mainstream: To be fair, this was one of the easiest predictions to make for 2012, given how Pinterest was exploding at the end of 2011. And while growth the first half of the year was exceptional, it slowed in the 2nd half (as seen below in this chart from Nielsen's excellent Social Media Report 2012):
    Spotlight on Pinterest via Nielsen
    I'll only give myself a +1 despite the fact that Pinterest was the web's fastest growing social network in 2012, due to that slowing second-half growth, and the fact that from a media, investor, and market standpoint, Pinterest still isn't mentioned alongside Twitter & Facebook.
  5. Overly aggressive search ads will result in mainstream backlash against Google: Given how Google ads and Google properties are appearing in verticals like travel, autos, mortgages, and credit cards, I'm surprised we haven't seen more of a backlash.
    Compare Credit Cards
    Certainly, we've seen some activity like EU regulators cracking down on some potentially monopolistic practices, but the outrage for Google's ad practices are miniscule compared to, say, the TOS changes by Instagram. I suspect the search giant is still benefiting from the positive reputation it's built over the past decade. We'll see if they can maintain that long term. All in all, I'm giving myself a -1 on this prediction. There's been some backlash and we may see some legal consequences, but they're pretty small.
  6. Keyword (not provided) will rise to 25%+ of web searches: I'm sad to be right on this one. I believe Google is destroying value on the web and hurting the ability of site owners and content creators to better serve searchers, and doing so only in the interests of protecting their own revenue opportunities (since keyword data is still provided to any paying AdWords customers).
    NotProvidedCount Project
    The above chart comes from the excellent (Not Provided) Count project which tracks referral data across a large number of sites in a variety of verticals to show the average impact. Given that this number hit just over 25% at the end of the year, I'm giving myself a +2. Predictions that accurate don't come along often – I only wish it was a less negative one. 
  7. We'll see the rise of a serious certification program: Tragically, this still hasn't happened. Distilled U is certainly a great resource, and Market Motive, Search Engine College and free programs like Hubspot's Inbound University continue to do well, but there's no true standard (or even a combination of standards). I'm giving this one a -2 as the trend just hasn't materialized in a mainstream enough way to deserve more.
  8. Google will make it very hard to do great SEO without using Google+: this one's tough. It's mostly true for local business SEO, where Google Local Pages now require a Google+ account. And certainly Google's authorship program, which leverages Plus, is a powerful tool for content publishers (and has some hidden benefits, too). However, Google+ signals like shares and +1s don't appear to be a big part of the ranking algorithm. Thus, I'm giving myself a -1.

Taken together, the total score is a surprisingly good +4. That means it's time for another set of annual predictions!

#1: None of the potential threats to Google's domination of search will make even a tiny dent

I've heard all the theories – Apple is getting into search, Facebook is getting into search, DuckDuckGo will take market share, Amazon will restart their old A9 project and take share, Bing will take share as Google loses consumer trust, Yandex & Baidu will expand to other markets and slowly peel away users, and all the rest. I don't buy any of them. Google is a "default behavior" for the world's Internet users, and it's going to take massive, repeated failures on their part or a complete shift in the way the web is used before Google will feel even a sliver of pain.

My prediction is that Google's market share at the end of 2013 will remain at least steady, and possibly gain in the US, and its global domination will continue unabated.

BTW – If I had to place a bet on which of these would have the best chance, it would probably be Amazon (mostly because search is a behavior we're used to on Amazon and their brand already serves as a destination in lots of commerce-focused verticals). But, I still think it wouldn't work.

#2: "Inbound marketing" will be in more titles & job profiles as "SEO" becomes too limiting for many professionals

Searching LinkedIn today, I can see that "SEO" far, far outnumbers "inbound marketing" on job profiles.

LinkedIn Searches

The same holds true for job postings on aggregator sites like SimplyHired:

But, I think there's already a trend among early adopters to expand their job descriptions and earn more responsibility and influence in areas that have a significant impact on SEO – social media, PR, content, etc.

The only term I've seen that potentially rivals "inbound marketing" is "growth hacker," but that's confined to only the most hardcore Silicon Valley cultures and companies, and the definition seems far less clear. Still, it''s my guess that either or both of these terms will make a more serious showing in job profiles and listings in 2013.

#3: More websites will move away from Google Analytics as the only provider of web visitor tracking

I read Russ Jones' post on Dropping Google Analytics for Piwik and it struck a chord. I think we're going to see more of this as marketers grow more suspicious of Google and less happy with relying on what the search giant does or doesn't grant. I do expect this trend to be small, but measurable, in 2013.

Benefcators will include folks like Piwik, but also potentially Omniture and Webtrends on the enterprise side (though both have UX and usability work to do to catch u with GA), and Clicky, Statcounter, Mint, Mixpanel, KISSMetrics, Hubspot, and others on the SMB end.

#4: Google+ will continue to grow in 2013, but much more slowly than in 2012

At last report (Dec. 6th via TNW), Google+ had 135mm active users viewing their streams on the service in a 30-day period, and 500mm total users. The total users number was only 90mm according to Google in January of 2012, meaning the service grew nearly 5X (unfortunately, we don't have earlier numbers on monthly actives).

In 2013, I'm predicting both numbers to grow 1.5-2X at maximum, and I'll be shocked if Google can reach more than 300mm active monthly users.

#5: App store search will remain largely ignored by marketers (for lots of defensible reasons)

Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store attracted a lot of attention over the last 2 years, but not much serious effort from marketers (with some notable exceptions), particularly on the SEO side. The reason's fairly clear – search on the app store isn't anything like web search. Brand searches are probably 80%+ of that market (I'd actually guess they're well over 90%), and the algorithm used to rank apps is based on basic keyword use and metrics like downloads and ratings, hence the rich get richer.

I thought Vibhu Norby's post Why We're Pivoting from Mobile-First to Web-First made a tremendous amount of sense, and while I respect and admire those who disagree (like USV's Fred Wilson), I think marketers as a whole and certainly a lot of startups, too, are going to come back to the web as the way to build a brand and mobile as a way to extend it when and where a device-specific format makes sense.

#6: Facebook (and maybe Twitter, too) will make substantive efforts to expose new, meaningful data to brands that let them better track the ROI of both advertising and organic participation

Both social media services are woefully underserving their advertisers and marketers today, and I predict that for paying customers as well as account administrators, more substantial and robust options will be available on the data side. A great match for marketers would be tracking via the Facebook share / Twitter tweet buttons that maps to account info in the platform's dashboard, e.g. 7,514 logged-in Twitter users visited this blog post of which 72 tweeted it. More data like sources of shares and click-tracking could add even more utility.

A good example might be what FourSquare's doing with their dashboards for businesses (though I think both need to go further on the data they provide):

FourSquare Dashboard

Twitter in particular could benefit hugely from this, while Facebook is already close(ish) with their admin portal. That said, I think it's unlikely we'll see Facebook fo as FourSquare has and share full names of users who visit.

#7: Google will introduce more protocols like the meta keywords for Google News, rel author for publishers, etc.

Google continues to keep SEO for their engine a complex, nuanced, and fast-changing practice through the launch of dramatic numbers of updates and introduction of new optimization protocols and opportunities. I don't see this slowing down anytime soon. 2012 saw the launch of the Google News Meta Keywords tag, the expansion of the Rel=Author/AuthorRank program, and the new Google+ for Local Business pages, among others.

In 2013, expect a few more of these to keep SEOs, publishers, and web businesses of all kinds on their toes. There's no rest for the optimization weary.

#8: The social media tool market will continue a trend of consolidation and shrinkage

I haven't seen this trend widely reported, but as we studied the social media tools market in 2011 and 2012 from a potential acquisitions perspective, we observed a surprising amount of tools and services shuttering (many of which, to be fair, were "features" not fully-baked products that could support and justify companies). We also noticed that 2012 in particular had far fewer wholly new social media monitoring/management/reporting/scheduling/analytics tools that the three prior years.

I'm guessing that 2013 will be the year this comes to a head, and the few dozen social tool companies who have substantive, loyal users will gobble up or copy the key features of their smaller, less-well-suited-for-long-term-survival competitors. 

#9: Co-occurrence of brands/websites and keyword terms/phrases will be proven to have an impact on search engine rankings through correlation data, specific experiments, and/or both

The idea of co-occurrence as a ranking factor is by no means new, but it got a lot more attention in 2012 thanks to a number of SEO industry folks discussing it on blogs, forums, and at conferences. One of Moz's most popular WB Fridays this year was on the subject: Anchor Text is Weakening… And May Be Replaced by Co-Occurrence. Bill Slawski wrote an excellent follow-on: Not All Anchor Text is Equal And Other Co-Citation Observations, and Joshua Giardino followed him with another good piece: It's Not Co-Citation, But It's Still Awesome.

#10: We'll witness a major transaction (or two) in the inbound marketing field, potentially rivaling the iCrossing acquisition in size and scope

Acquisitions and IPOs make headlines and they make the market's movers & shakers (and investors) stand up and take note. In 2010, iCrossing's $ 325mm acquisition by Hearst Media dominated headlines and got a lot of organic search-focused agencies (and big advertising/publishing brands) taking note. That acquisition marked one of the few massive exits in the SEO/inbound space and remains the largest transaction I'm aware of outside the email world (e.g. ConstantContact, iContact, etc). Eloqua's public offering in 2012 was a bright spot, too, and I think we're in for one or two more of those in 2013.

My money would be on the tools/software market (companies like Marketo, Hubspot, SearchMetrics, Conductor, Brightedge, Covario, Raven, Act-On, SproutSocial, Hootsuite, Ginza Metrics, etc) but I'm not confident enough to limit my prediction to the software space exclusively. Agencies may still be in the picture, and the big four advertising firms still have opportunity in the inbound realm, IMO.

2013 is going to move fast in our space. The relentless pace of innovation, change, and opportunity have little chance of slowing down, and that's a wonderful thing for all us in the marketing world. Hopefully, these predictions will provide some value to you – whether they do or not, I'd love to hear some of the expectations you have for what the world has in store for us in 2013.

Happy New Year and best wishes for a fantastic 2013!

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A Web Marketing Consultant’s New Year’s Resolutions

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Posted by Mike Pantoliano

Ah, the "year-end," "best-of," and "what-to-look-forward-to" posts. Love it or hate it, it's a great time to both reflect on 2012 and glimpse into the New Year for what possible stories will dominate our industry. I'm never one to dwell in the past, so I'd like to focus on 2013.

Instead of a simple 2013 predictions list, I'd like to frame this discussion as a New Year's resolution list. What are the things that we should focus on improving? Some of this is based on where things are trending, while others are based on areas where I personally feel like a lot of us could make improvements.

Mostly, I'd just like to spark some discussion about what may be important in 2013.

We will continue to think of the big picture

Most of the time I blog or speak at conferences, I talk about SEO's bordering disciplines – analytics, content strategy, marketing campaigns, PPC, conversion rate optimization, etc. I've done this intentionally because it forces me to dwell on a specific subset of the whole web marketer.

With these new tools in our web marketer's tool kit, we're (hopefully) able to think bigger and ask better questions.

  • Do I really want to be building links to these pages at this time when I know they'll never convert? Perhaps a portion of my budget should be spent on CRO.
  • Should this "link bait" campaign be supplemented with some social paid advertising? What might that look like in terms of expected cost and ROI?
  • How does this content strategy I've developed fit with my clients' company-wide goals and prioritizations? Perhaps I could fast-track my strategy's implementation by more closely aligning it with a broader marketing campaign that's already in process?

One of my goals in the early months of 2013 is to develop a full marketing plan for one of my clients. A marketing plan in which nothing is off the table – video, mobile, display advertising, and even more traditional offline advertising. How are you planning to keep the big picture in mind?

We will learn more about Mobile/Video/Schema/Local/SOMETHING

There are a million things in web marketing that can be learnt. Time isn't unlimited though, so sometimes you have to pick your battles. Most of my career, the things I've learned about have been dictated by my (sometimes potential) clients' needs. For choosing a battle, you can make a case for leveling up in mobile, video, schema, local, and a lot more.

My personal choice is mobile. To this point, I've not yet been solely responsible for work on a mobile SEO audit, mobile strategy, or otherwise. Based on the undeniable shift in importance of mobile, I want to preempt clients' needs. There are two aspects of mobile that I'm most interested in:

Mobile Search

iphone mobile search

Maybe 2013 is the "Year of Mobile Search." These sorts of things don't happen in a single year, though. More than likely 2012-2015 will be the years of mobile search, much like 2009-2012 were the years of social.

Now would be a great time to dive in, develop an understanding, and maybe get some ROI benchmarks for the future – especially when it comes to paid mobile advertising (as CPMs will likely never be lower).

Mobile App Analytics

mobile app tracking

Google Analytics has clearly been hard at work on improving their mobile app tracking. With apps becoming an increasingly common piece of any brand's content strategy, the need for engagement measurement will only grow.

What do you think about this one? Which aspect of web marketing should we be focusing if we want to stay ahead of the curve?

We will read MORE/LESS industry blogs and publications

rss banner

Three years ago or so, I began to cull my SEO-related Google Reader. Just give me the essentials! This eventually culminated in the complete abandonment of RSS about a year later. The thought was that anything super important would surely come across my eyes and ears via Twitter, email, or real life discussions.

This was largely a success; I've spent much more time doing, and less time consuming others' work. Still, I think the pendulum has swung a bit too far to the other side.

This one's a really personal one, so I won't dwell on it, but I think the overall idea applies to everyone: I want to read just enough to keep me informed, but not too much that distracts me from what's important; the work.

We will accept (not provided) and adapt as necessary

not provided increasing
What's that orange line? A successful link building project? Sadly, it's not (provided).

(not provided) really does suck. Whatever methodology we've chosen for overcoming the increasingly frustrating loss of our keyword data, it will never quite be as nice as it was before October 2011. 100% keywords are a luxury we no longer have, and by the end of 2013 we might be lucky to be working with 20%.

Adaptation is our only option. I've chosen to spend more time in my landing page reports. Some may choose to work on extrapolating known data. It's up to you. The worst choice is to do nothing at all.

We will continue to closely watch G+ and its effect on search

google plus banner
Oh Hai. To ignore me is futile! 🙂

Love or hate G+, the search engine that commands ~75% of the search market share has thrown a colossal amount of weight behind their social network. That's reason enough to listen.

What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Everyone is at different stages of their web marketing careers, so I don't want to pretend that all of my resolutions apply to everyone.

What are you expecting from 2013? What areas are you looking to improve the most?

Happy New Year!!

Lastly, on behalf of all of the Moz bloggers I want to wish you all the best in 2013!

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Pitching Search Marketing In Traditional Marketing Terms

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For those selling search marketing to customers, especially those customers new to the concept of search marketing, it’s often useful to pitch search marketing services in terms the customer already understands.

A lot search marketing theory and practice is borrowed and adapted from direct marketing. Direct marketing concepts have been around since the 60s, and may be more readily understood by some customers than some of the arcane terminology sometimes associated with SEO/SEM.

Here are some ideas on how to link search marketing and direct marketing concepts.

1. Targeting & Segmentation

A central theme of direct marketing is targeting.

On broadcast television, advertisers show the one advertisement to many people, and hope it will be relevant to a small fraction of that audience. Most television advertising messages are wasted on people who aren’t interested in those messages. It’s a scattergun, largely untargeted approach.

Search marketing, a form of direct marketing, is targeted. Search marketers target their audience based on the specific keywords the audience use.

Search marketing is concerned with the most likely prospects – a small fraction of the total audience. Further, if we analyse the visitor behavior of people using specific keyword terms post-click, we can find out who are the hottest prospects amongst that narrowly defined group.

The widely accepted 20-80 rule says that 20% of your customers create 80% of your business. An example might be “luxury vacations France”, as opposed to “vacations France”. If we have higher margins on luxury travel, then segmenting to focus on the frequent luxury travel buyer, as opposed to a less frequent economy buyer whom we still might sell to, but at lower margins, might be more in line with business objectives. Defining, and refining, keyword terms can help us segment the target market.

2. Focus

Once you get a search visitor to your site, what happens next?

They start reading. Such a specific audience requires focused, detailed information, and a *lot* of it, or they will click back.

It is a mistake to pitch to an “average” audience at this point i.e. to lose focus. If we’ve done our job correctly, and segmented our visitors using specific keyword terms, we already know they are interested in what we offer.

To use our travel example above, the visitor who typed in “luxury vacations in France” wants to hear all about luxury vacations in France. They are unlikely to want a pitch about how wonderful France, as a country, is, as the keyword term suggests they’ve already made their mind up about destination. Therefore, a simplistic, generalized message selling French tourism is less likely to work.

Genuine buyers – who will spend thousands on such vacations – will want a lot of detail about luxury travel in France, as this is unlikely to be a trivial purchase they make often. That generally means offering long, detailed articles, not short ones. It means many options, not few. It means focusing on luxury travel, and not general travel.

Simple, but many marketers get this wrong. They go for the click, but don’t focus enough on the level of detail required by hot prospects i.e. someone most likely to buy.

3. Engagement

One advantage of the web is that we can spend a lot of time getting a message across once a hot prospect has landed on a site. This is not the case on radio. Radio placements only have seconds to get the message across. Likewise, television slots are commonly measured in 15 and 30 second blocks.

On the web, we can engage a visitor for long periods of time. The message becomes as long as the customer is prepared to hear it.

4. Personalized

The keyword tells you a lot about visitor intent. “Luxury travel France” is a highly targeted term that suggests a lot about the visitor i.e. their level of spend and tastes. If we build keyword lists and themes associated with this term, we can personalize the sales message using various landing pages that talk specifically to the needs of the visitor. Examples might include “Five Star Hotels”, “Luxury Car Hire”, “Best Restaurants In Paris”, and so on. Each time they click a link, or reveal a bit more about themselves,we can start to personalize the message. Personalized marketing works well because the message is something the prospect is willing to hear. It’s specifically about them.

We can personalize the journey through the site, configuring customized pathways so we can market one-to-one. We see this at work on Amazon notes your search and order history and prompts you with suggestions based on that history. One-to-many marketing approaches, as used in newspapers, on radio and on television typically aren’t focused and lack personalization. They may work well for products with broad appeal, but work less well for defined niches.

5. Active Response

We’re not just interested in views, impressions, or reach. We want the visitor to actively respond. We want them to take a desired, measurable action. This may involve filling out a form, using a coupon, giving us an email address, and/or making a purchase.

Active response helps make search marketing spends directly accountable and measurable.

6. Accountable

People either visit via a search term, or they don’t.

Whilst there can be some advantage in brand awareness i.e. a PPC ad that appears high on the page, but is only clicked a fraction of the time, the real value is in the click-thru. This is, of course, measurable, as the activity will show up in the site statistics, and can be traced back to the originating search engine.

Compare this with radio, television or print. It’s difficult to know where the customer came from, as their interaction may be difficult to link back to the advertising campaign.

Search marketing is also immediately measurable.

7. Testable

Some keyword terms work, some do not. Some keyword terms only work when combined with landing page X, but not landing page Y. By “work” we tend to mean “achieves a measurable business outcome”.

Different combinations can be tried and compared against one another. Keywords can be tested using PPC. Once we’ve determined what the most effective keywords are in terms of achieving measurable business outcomes, we can flow these through to our SEO campaign. We can do the reverse, too. Use terms that work in our SEO campaigns to underpin our PPC campaigns.

This process is measureable, repeatable and ongoing. Language has near infinite variety. There are many different ways to describe things, and the landing pages can be configured and written in near infinite ways, too. We track using software tools to help determine patterns of behaviour, so we can keep feeding this back into our strategy in order to refine and optimize. We broaden keyword research in order to capture the significant percentage of search phrases that are unique.

Further Reading:



2012 Search Marketing Year in Review

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2012 Search Marketing Year in Review was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

2012 was an eventful year in search marketing — we laughed, we cried (some of us more than others when Penguin hit). But we made it. And we even survived an apocalypse. Each month here at Bruce Clay, Inc., we bring to you an industry newsletter that dives into the issues that matter to marketers  (Did you know that? Have you signed up?). Looking back on newsletter editions in 2012, we can see some of the events that shaped the year in search marketing. The following is a culmination of some of our most popular reading in the SEO Newsletter this year, starting with some big Google-focused events.

Google Algorithm Issues 2012

Woman Pruning a Tree

Did you have to take up link pruning as a new hobby after Google’s Penguin hit?

In April 2012, Google made some big changes to its algorithm, and sites with if-y link practices were hit the hardest. That sent site owners into a tailspin — many not knowing how to recover from the penalties and loss of rankings. Bruce Clay, Inc. knew that cleaning up a site’s link profile, including “pruning” the inbound links was the way to help sites get back on the right path. In this step-by-step guide to link pruning back in May 2012, we showed you how to understand your link profile, identify the links you should be removing and how to handle removal requests. Since the article was written, Google gave webmasters some help getting rid of links as a last resort with the Link Disavow tool.

Related Topics – The Google Saga Continues

Back in April, Bruce Clay weighed in on the whole Google over-optimization issue (more on that to the right), including:

  • What to watch out for when evaluating the long-term security of your SEO strategy.
  • Possible technologies Google is using to detect over-optimization.
  • Potential motivation for Google’s reinvigorated offense, including the future face of search results.
Warning Symbol
It was a lively time for search back towards the beginning of 2012. Google Webmaster Tools was sending warning messages left and right to webmasters. Matt Cutts *mentioned” something about an algo update to target aggressive SEO at SXSW in February. And what happened next was a panic over what many were calling an “over-optimization penalty.” In this article by  Bruce Clay Australia, we looked at over-optimization and unnatural linking.
Woman Standing Next to ChalkboardIs your site worthy of rankings? This is the question many site owners and marketers ask every day — especially in the light of Google’s crackdown in 2012. In this article on algorithm-proof SEO, we explored an approach to SEO that can help you avoid disastrous consequences of algorithm updates and keep your site healthy. Letter Grade Drawn on a ChalkboardIt’s been known for some time that Google has a method for rating the quality of a site, but just how they do it has been somewhat of a mystery. Enter Google’s leaked quality rating manual for its human raters. The good news? It confirms what many marketers already suspected about what Google believes is quality.


Data and Tools in 2012

Caveman with a White Board

Did you practice “caveman analytics” in 2012? We learned tips from author and speaker Matt Bailey on how to get the most from the data available.

What were people talking about in the way of data and tools to help add context to our decisions in search marketing in 2012? Here we look at some of our more popular reads on reporting, including the launch of Google’s social reports in analytics; an interview with author and speaker Matt Bailey on context in data and asking the right questions; and how to mine data for SEO with BCI’s SEOToolSet.

Typewriter Report

Earlier in the year, Google released social reporting in its analytics tool. In this article, we explored how to find and read social reports.

Laptop and Magnifying Glass

Do you know how to get the most out of your data? This article about our SEOToolSet aimed to help marketers understand data that’s available for wiser decisions within SEO strategy.


Ecommerce, Mobile and Social

In 2012, Google’s Search Plus Your World (and the rise of Google Plus) was all the buzz. People wondered once again if it “killed SEO” (the running joke amongst search marketers who’ve heard this question one too many times). There was also a continued emphasis on the need for responsive design for mobile as Google announced official guidelines for mobile optimization. And an evergreen topic that’s always interesting to readers: how site navigation and information architecture work together to create a great ecommerce and shopping experience. These are just some of the more popular articles on the topics of mobile, social and ecommerce in 2012.

Baby and Cell Phone

Back in June, Google announced guidelines for optimizing mobile-ready sites. Bruce Clay Australia dives into this topic.

Magnet with Money

What’s the best way to design navigation for ecommerce sites? Bruce Clay India looked into sites that hit the mark.

Mouse Icon Over a Button with a Questions Mark

What is Google’s “Search, plus Your World”? And how does Google+ factor into it? In this article, we explored how the new search functionality works.


SEO Factors and Trends Report

Bruce Clay Australia put out a report at the head of the new year that talked trends over 2011 and predictions for SEO and other search marketing disciplines in 2012. You can download the report to see what transpired over 2011, and how different or the same it was to this year. And check out some highlights below …

Search Engine Optimization on a Chalkboard

Just some of the highlights from the report on search marketing in 2011 included:

  • A smarter Web, tailoring content to individual users.
  • The rise of Google+ and big changes to Facebook.
  • The continued importance of White Hat SEO.

2012 predictions included a focus on the user:

  • Serve them awesome content regularly.
  • Increase the number of touch points with them by integrating with social platforms.
  • Spend time creating advanced, cross-platform user-engagement strategies.
  • Allow them access to your information wherever they are through mobile sites and apps.
  • Make their lives easier by facilitating their access to your information, products and services.
  • Reinforce your local presence and geo-location services.

Hope you enjoyed this 2012 recap of search marketing hot topics. See you in 2013 for another lively year. My prediction? There won’t ever be a dull moment.

And if you’re interested in Bruce Clay’s predictions for the state of search, stay tuned for the January edition of the SEO Newsletter, set to hit mid-January.

Bruce Clay Blog

SEO, Meet Marketing

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SEO, Meet Marketing was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Google is getting smarter. I caught an interview over the weekend with Ray Kurzweil, author, inventor and futurist who has been known to make accurate predictions about technology and where it’s headed. In this interview, he talked about concepts within his book, “How to Create a Mind” (which I’m putting on my wish list for the holidays, BTW).

Right now, Google might not be able to comprehend the content on a Web page in the human sense (hence the need for humans to tell Google what the page is about when we optimize it), but if Kurzweil’s predictions come true, it’s only a matter of time before Google can comprehend it.

Here’s Part 1 of the mind-bending interview if you want to catch a glimpse of Kurzweil’s insights:

Taking a step back from the future, SEO is evolving right now. Allow me to make the leap from Kurzweil and a smarter Google to how we look at marketing a website. Because ultimately, they are interconnected.

Right now, we are leaving the days behind where SEO means update a Meta tag here, get a link there – all for the sake of creating a “relevant” website Google can understand.

This of course is an oversimplification of the technical side of SEO, which is complicated and much needed at the moment. But the question is, at what point will some of these elements be obsolete as Google gets smarter? And at that point, what’s left to marketing a business online? These are some of the things we should be pondering now.

Today, we are already moving from those more granular tactics in SEO to a more holistic approach to marketing online. This is the natural progression of marketing in the digital age. And part of that is because Google is getting smarter, and as it evolves, our approach can evolve to meet it.

SEO Is Marketing … or at Least It Should Be Thought of That Way

In its most simple form, your website is the representation of your brand. Everything you do, including traditional SEO functions like optimizing pages, needs to take into account the brand, marketing and sales goals that are important to your business.

In SEO, this marketing fundamental starts as soon as you think about keyword research. For example, what products and services are important to the business that year, that quarter, that season? How can you architect the information on the site, including the topics and navigation, to support the business and its audience? How will you reach your audience?

Then there’s your brand. Your brand is demonstrated with the way you communicate and interact with your audience online: your community and your customers. Your brand should seep through every part of your website – including something as small as a Meta tag.

In fact, marketing and branding wisdom should be brought to every decision the SEO team makes. Ask, does the decision support the marketing and business goals — yes or no? Does it demonstrate the values of the brand — yes or no? And marketing and branding knowledge can be applied to make wiser decisions about the analytics data you have as well.

When Will SEO and Marketing Be One?

The shift from search engine optimization in the strictest sense of the word to a more developed “digital marketing” has been occurring for some time. As Google gets smarter, as we have access to more technology, channels and data that allow us to market differently, SEO and marketing become one.

And as SEO is adopted more and more by the mainstream (which is a cause-and-effect event as mainstream adoption allows SEO to progress due to the resources that are put into it and the scenarios it is put in), SEO and marketing becomes one.

Neither traditional marketing nor SEO can continue to exist within their individual bubbles. Whether traditional marketers like it or not, and whether SEOs like it or not, the two must merge:

  • Traditional marketing cannot exist without knowing how to market online; so traditional marketers must bring all their knowledge about how to market a company and a brand to the digital marketing team.
  • SEO cannot exist without knowing how to support a company’s marketing and branding objectives; so traditional SEOs must ask the right questions and listen intently to the things that are important to the business.
Hand Drawing a Marketing Quote on a Window

So, Who Is in Charge of the Business Online?

So where does that leave businesses that needs marketing — who do you hire? If you’re able to afford a team, you need a team of people working together to ensure your site is fulfilling both the technical and marketing requirements to compete in the digital space.

If you are looking for a solo consultant or staff member, try to find that person who understands not only how to market a business, but also how to create a healthy, crawlable, clean website that works within Google’s guidelines and recommendations. (And as Google evolves, so will these requirements.)

If you’re a professional stuck in the middle of these two worlds, it doesn’t mean you have to be a “Jack of All Trades.” There will always be a place for you on the digital marketing team with your specialized skill set.

And while you may not ever be a Kurzweil, understanding where your discipline is headed in the digital marketing age as technology changes will help you make predictions about the future of online marketing, add to your skill set and contribute at a much higher level to the success of a site.

Bruce Clay Blog

Marketing Analytics and the Problem of Attribution Modeling

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Posted by RuthBurr

Guys, we need to talk about attribution modeling. It’s a hot issue in our industry and most of us (SEOmoz included) aren't doing it as well as we want to be. It's tough stuff. Mike P from Distilled gave a great MozCon presentation on the topic, but most of us aren't anywhere close to that sophisticated – and even his model is impacted by Google Analytics' limitations.

It’s been covered in far more detail elsewhere, but in a nutshell: attribution modeling attempts to solve the problem of which channel gets credit when a user touches multiple channels prior to converting. Many marketers simply throw up their hands and say the last touch gets all the credit – but then we have to live with the knowledge that some of our efforts are far more effective than we give them credit for.

Not-so-super modeling

dog model
Supermodel by Soggydan on Flickr

Unfortunately, attribution modeling is very hard to do well for a lot of reasons: 

  • Any site to which users return daily (like, for example, quickly fills up with touches that may or may not be related to conversions.
  • Channels like social media and community building are often a first touch but rarely the only touch before conversion, meaning they tend to get less credit than they deserve.
  • Attributing offline sales to online efforts can be very painful, not to mention tracking one user’s conversion path as she uses multiple devices during her buying decision.
  • In our post-Panda world, we’re spending a ton of time and effort on content that may end up on third party sites, opening us up to the near-impossible task of tracking view-through conversions.

In my opinion, however, the biggest problem with the attribution models available to us today is that their roots lie in web analytics tools like Google Analytics. This means that attribution models tend to be biased toward on-site efforts. The bulk of our marketing efforts doesn’t happen on-site, so why should our measurement? Our competitors certainly aren’t doing things on our site, so why should we content ourselves with on-site data?

Web-analytics-based attribution models also tend to break up sources at the channel level: organic search, social media, direct traffic, etc. Anyone who’s worked for months on driving traffic from Twitter and then had one tweet from Rand break their site can tell you not all social media touches are created equal, so why lump them all into Social Media?

tweet from @randfish

Finally, attribution models are incredibly difficult to implement for success metrics beyond conversion (more on that later).

Marketing analytics is about campaigns, not channels

Here at the MozPlex, we’ve been talking a lot about marketing analytics: the way we measure and optimize our marketing activities. I think Joanna put it best in her post: “Marketing analytics is the act of looking past mere website results, and asking yourself, ‘How did that marketing campaign really go?’”

Marketing analytics means going beyond the data we can get from our web analytics tool so you can measure off-site and even offline activities. Capturing that additional data about how your off-site and on-site marketing activities are performing allows you to test with greater confidence, and as marketers, we should always be testing. It’s probably not as simple as “social media doesn’t drive as many conversions as organic search.” Instead, we can test how to spend our time and money – which levers to pull at which time and in which way – to attract, keep, and delight our customers. At the same time, we can take a cross-channel, holistic view of our efforts to see what messages are resonating best.

All conversions aren’t created equal

Of course, one thing we want to do with our marketing efforts is make more money. ROI-driven modeling is always going to be part of what we’re measuring. However, modern marketers are driving for more than just the lead or the sale or the free trial. We’re looking at micro-conversions like newsletter signups. We’re watching and participating in conversations about our brand. We’re investing in customer happiness. We’re tracking shares, tweets, mentions, and views – and we’re keeping an eye on how are competitors are doing, too.

In addition to major conversions, marketing analytics is about tracking customer loyalty.

customer loyalty
Forever Friends by dprotz, on Flickr

We can often gain as much revenue from keeping our existing customers happy as from getting new ones. What happens after the conversion?

Marketing analytics is also about tracking brand identity. This is becoming more and more important as the major search engines focus more and more on brand strength as a quality indicator. This is another area where typical attribution models just don’t go far enough. Brand-centric campaigns are as much about generating conversation and positive feelings as they are about directly causing more conversions – this makes it harder to prove value if conversions are your only KPI. Branding has an influence on direct traffic, but it also has a big influence on organic search traffic from branded keywords.

So, should that traffic still count as organic search, if branding efforts are what inspired the search in the first place? This is another area where a more campaign-centric view can provide more insight than simply attributing conversions to channels.

Getting closer to marketing analytics

We’re still in the early days of true marketing analytics, which means we’re still mashing up data from a bunch of different tools and struggling to find the right ways to track campaigns. In the meantime, we can start hacking our web analytics’ attribution monitoring tools to go beyond simple channel attributions:

Advanced metrics for attribution modeling

  • Top referrers (separated out from the rest of referral traffic)
  • Top keywords (separated out from the rest of the keywords)
  • Long-tail keywords (same deal)
  • Top partners and/or affiliates
  • (not provided) search traffic
  • Branded and non-branded search traffic
  • Individual social networks (A friend and a follower may not be the same!)
  • Individual feeds
  • Individual paid advertising sources

We can also start thinking of (and tracking) our data with a marketing analytics mindset:

Advanced metrics for marketing analytics

  • Messages
  • Type of touch (Branding? Promotion? Retention? Happiness?)
  • Type of product
  • Audience
  • Time of day
  • Conversations

In the end, marketing analytics is more useful than straight-up attribution modeling, because it allows you to view your marketing efforts holistically. When you view individual customer touches as part of a larger whole instead of siloed by medium, you can take a longer and more customer-driven view of your marketing efforts.

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Engagement Marketing 101

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Getting traffic to a site is one thing. How do we best engage visitors once they arrive?

Since Update Penquin/Panda, engagement metrics have become more important. In order for our sites to rank well, we need to avoid the bounce – the immediate click-back – or we’re likely to experience drops in ranking. We need to pull visitors deeper into our site. We need more genuine engagement.

Even if engagement metrics had no impact on rankings, optimizing for engagement is always going to be beneficial. The more engaged our audience, the more influence we’re likely to have, and we derive the benefits that flow from it.

Here are a few ideas on visitor engagement, and how to optimize for it.


When visitors have so many options, it’s difficult to engage them for long. We can’t accommodate every need on one site. It’s certainly impossible to accommodate every need within one or two clicks. So, to make the most of every opportunity, we should be optimizing engagement factors.

One problem with content-based approaches is that they tend to be top-down. The visitor is assumed to be a somewhat passive recipient of published information. However, at the heart of engagement is a two-way conversation. In order to foster engagement, we must encourage participation, as opposed to simply deliver content.

The web is moving from an information age to a relationship age. Social media demonstrates that information is intersecting in new ways. Information is being sliced, diced, repurposed, remixed and redelivered, turning “recipients” into producers. The act of consumption changes the information, and often creates new information. Conversation, as discussed in the Cluetrain Manifesto, is crucial in this new economy.

“Historically, the authors state, the marketplace was a location where people gathered and talked to each other: they would discuss available products, price, reputation and in doing so connect with others (theses 2–5.) The authors then assert that the internet is providing a means for anyone connected to the internet to re-enter such a virtual marketplace and once again achieve such a level of communication between people. This, prior to the internet, had not been available in the age of mass media (thesis 6.)”

And that conversation will largely be decided by our visitors. It certainly reshapes marketing. To give an offline example, what’s the problem with marketing television and radio? We watch or listen to the content, but the marketing keeps jumping in, which is intrusive and disruptive.

Engagement Marketing is the opposite. The marketer hangs back and engages with the visitor of and when they need it. Look for ways the visitor can initiate and direct the engagement.

Benchmark/Define Success Metrics

How do we best measure engagement?

We start with a benchmark, which is the current level of engagement. We could look at the engagement link in Google Analytics. Typical measurements include time on site, pages per visit, inbound links, mentions on twitter, return visits, new users per date range, categories of interest, and page depth.

All good. If those metrics increase, it certainly feels like we’re being more engaging. One example might be to examine visitor flow through the site. If we can identify bottlenecks – the point where engagement breaks down – then we can adjust our approach at this point to clear the bottleneck.

But we need to be sure this engagement benefits us. Are these metrics aligned with our business goals? People might well be spending a lot of time on our site, but that might be because they’re lost. We might be getting a lot of mentions on Facebook and Twitter, but are these people actually buying anything? Mentions on Twitter & Facebook might be great metrics for a brand strategy, but not so great for conversion strategy, at least, not in the short term, and not in isolation.

Engagement must translate, and be aligned with, business goals. When choosing what engagement metrics to measure, ask yourself how this type of engagement helps achieve your goals. Also, are there other types of engagement we could foster to support own goals?

Practical Lessons In Engagement

This video is a little sales pitch-y, but contains some interesting lessons on optimizing engagement.

Optimizer, Dan Siroker, who once worked for Google before moving onto the Obama campaign talks about how they used metrics to increase engagement. Both Obama campaigns have demonstrated effective use of digital engagement and measurement to help produce a desired election result. The techniques involve establishing a baseline i.e. seeing what they do already and increasing performance by making tweaks and adjustments, and measuring the result.

He found that, generally speaking, these rules apply when optimizing for engagament:

Start By Defining Success: How will you know if your engagement optimization has worked? Decide on a few, quantifiable measures based around a visitor taking a desirable action. Link those actions to business return.

Less Is More – if we reduce choice, people are more likely to engage. In this example, they reduced the fields people needed to fill in to only those actually required, rather than all the information that may be desirable. Look for ways you can streamline and thus boost engagement.

Words Matter – focus on your call to action. Calls to action tend to work best when you tell the visitor exactly what they have to do. Be explicit. In this example, they compared the phrase “Free trial” vs “Try It Free”. The latter resulted in 14.6% improvement. This was most likely because it was an explicit call to action. However, the “why” doesn’t really matter. The point is to measure one thing against another and see what actually works.

Fail Fast And fail cheap!. It’s all about being iterative. Being flexible. Trying things out. The underlying presumption is that a lot of things we do aren’t going to work, no matter how logical and rational they seem to be when we devise them.

So, rather than be afraid to make a change, as this may result in failure, grasp the opportunity to make a change and be sure to “fail fast”. If something is not working out, cut it quickly, and try something else, until it does work. If it hurts, dump it quick and move on.

Start Today It’s easy to talk about being engaging, but what really matters is taking action to be more engaging. If there’s one thing you can do today to make your site more engaging, what would it be? Go do that. Test it. And then do something else tomorrow 🙂

In the video, Dan talks mostly about process changes. Another area is, of course, web design.
This article talks about the influence of design on engagement, based on opinion on what design is preferable to another.

If we go back to the rules of engagement, the important thing to do is to test. Test one design against each other to see which is more engaging based on desired visitor action. Ensure the engagement measurement is aligned with a business goal i.e. “we want more 50% orders via our web site”.

Social Media Engagement?

Do Blogs, Twitter and Facebook help you meet your engagement goals?

Is anyone reading our posts? If they do, what do they do next? Anything? Many people are very busy in this space, but generate little or no return on investment. When it comes to engagement, it’s one thing to measure activity, quite another to measure if that activity actually means something.

Part of the problem is not focusing on ROI. Determine your business goals, then shape your social media approach to bring about these goals. One example might be “Twitter traffic makes a donation to our cause”. We’d measure the Twitter traffic, and link it to a successful donation.

This is a good example of where metrics can be deceptive. If we measured Twitter traffic, and time on site, and depth of their activity on-site, that might look great in terms of engagement, but if it doesn’t serve a business purpose, then why are we doing it? If people spend more time on site, is that good? Well, not if we want them to sign up, but they didn’t

Engagement Media & Strategy

There is no substitute for relevance. Relevance is the first, essential step. The next step is pull the visitor in, get them contributing, and get them coming back.

Alan Moore, Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, puts it well:

Engagement marketing is “premised upon: transparency – interactivity – immediacy – facilitation – engagement – co-creation – collaboration – experience and trust, these words define the migration from mass media to social media. The explosion of: Myspace, YouTube, Second Life and other MMORPG’s, Citizen Journalism, Wicki’s and Swicki’s, TV formats like Pop Idol, or Jamies School Dinners, Blogs, social search, The Guinness Visitor Centre in Dublin or the Eden project in Cornwall UK, mobile games like Superstable or Twins, or, new business platforms like all demonstrate a new socio-economic model, where engagement sits at the epicentre

In order for the following media examples and strategies to work well, they should have as many of these qualities – transparency – interactivity – immediacy – facilitation – engagement – co-creation – collaboration – experience and trust – as possible. No doubt you’ve experienced the frustration of heavily moderated and delayed visitor comments on mainstream media acticles. They rob the interaction of immediacy and trust, so it’s no wonder their business model is dying in the face of relatively open and immediate citizen media and reporting.

A quality content strategy is likely to keep people reading, bookmarking, and coming back. Quality is, of course, relative. Compare your content with that of your opponents. Obviously, your stuff needs to be better. Even if people do click away, they may well return if they look at your competitors and find their quality lacking.

Video and audio are linear, so people, once engaged, are likely to engage as long as the media lasts. Likewise, webcasts engage people in the same way, with the added bonus that visitors can interact, if they wish. If increasing time on site aligns with your business goals, then video and audio might be good media to try.

People love giving their opinion. Look for ways to allow them to do so. Blog comments, obviously. Forums. Encouraging people to Tweet or post to their favored social media channel. Implement chat applications, where appropriate, to seek direct feedback. Amazon’s value is considerably increased by their review system – by giving their customers a voice, whether their opinion is positive or negative.

Use mailing lists. These are especially useful for up sells and cross sells post-purchase. Up-sells are when you encourage the customer to buy something more expensive. Cross-selling is when we sell the existing customer an additional item. I receive special discounts from a clothing retailer I buy from on a regular basis, based on my previous buying history. This retains engagement after I’ve left the site, and because it’s relevant and beneficial, it doesn’t feel intrusive. It’s considerably more expensive to get a new customer, rather than look after those customers you’ve got, so look for ways to pass on that value to existing customers. They are likely to be highly receptive and willing to engage, as you’ve already convinced them once.

Brand. A huge topic, but let’s take a look at brand in terms of engagement. A brand is an experience. We associate feelings and thoughts with a brand. Apple’s brand is as much about technology as it is about fashion, desirability and identity. Apple creates engagement on a number of levels, but perhaps the most effective is that you become a “member of a club” when you buy an Apple product. The sense of belonging, and defending and asserting your purchase in the cleverly constructed “Apple vs everything else” debate creates a deep level of engagement.

Try to foster a sense of community. It runs very deep in the human psyche. We used to get a sense of community by geographic location. but now our sense of community is largely defined by the tribes to which we belong.



YouTube & Calculus: A Video Marketing Love Story (Plus Tips for Bootstrappers!)

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YouTube & Calculus: A Video Marketing Love Story (Plus Tips for Bootstrappers!) was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Five years ago I graduated from Notre Dame and started my first “real” job. About four years ago, it was clear to me that the corporate world was not everything I’d dreamed it would be. I simply was not cut out for cubicle life. I think most people last longer before reaching my same level of quiet desperation; I guess I just got lucky.

All I could think about was quitting and traveling around the world, but I didn’t know how to do that and pay my student loans at the same time, so I did a YouTube search for “make money doing what you love”. It became obvious to me that I had to start an online business. After all, how else was I going to get away with working from anywhere in the world?

A Graphical Representation of Passion, Love and Time

I started a couple websites that turned into nothing before I figured out what I really wanted to do. It seems crazy to most people, but calculus video tutorials were the right product for me because I love helping people get better at calculus. And I used to tutor other students back in college as a side gig. So I started

I didn’t really know what I was doing at first. I managed to put up a website and make a YouTube channel. I was filming my videos with an old pocket camera, setting it on the coffee table in my living room and pointing it roughly at myself and my whiteboard. And I just kept filming and filming and filming, every spare minute I got on nights and weekends. I knew I wanted to help people, and I didn’t know how to build a business, so I just kept filming.

Since then, it’s been sheer determination that’s kept me going, and a long series of wrong turns that have landed me in the place I’m at today, which is a pretty great place to be. To date, people have watched millions of minutes of my videos, and the growing success of my business has allowed me to move down to part-time work. By next year, I plan to leave my day job and focus full time on integralCALC … and travel.

Here’s a quick example of the type of videos I create (this is an intro to one of my mini lectures on YouTube):

Since I started off as a bootstrapper myself, I learned a lot about video marketing from trial and error. Today, I’m going to share my lessons of video marketing, community and tips on how to make great videos for marketing when you don’t have a giant budget.

Video Marketing Lessons Learned

Video Matters

Written content may still have an edge when it comes to search engine algorithms, but video content can’t be beat when it comes to building community and social networks. Invariably, short videos posted to my Facebook or Twitter page get more likes and retweets than text posts.

Quality Matters

I’ll watch almost any video if it’s very well done. Yet despite that fact that it’s easier and more affordable than ever to create high-quality video content, most people don’t invest time into that extra layer of polish. In today’s online marketplace, you can still find a competitive edge by investing in video and audio quality, even if your competitors currently have you beat in viewers, subscribers or anything else.

Consistency Matters

People check your site when they’re expecting to hear from you. If they don’t know when you’ll publish, they don’t know when to visit you, so they just won’t. Communicating your publishing schedule and sticking to it makes it easy for your followers to follow you. Why wouldn’t you want do that? Make sure that you also prompt your users to sign up for your newsletter, subscribe to your channel, or connect with you on social networks. Give them plenty of opportunities to do so on your website, or on the end screen of your videos.

Viewers Matter

Every time I’ve asked my followers for feedback on something I’ve done, or input on something I’m going to do, I’m always surprised by their eagerness to share their ideas and opinions. And I often find that they disagree with the direction I’m heading. Don’t abandon your purpose for the sake of pleasing your audience, but be willing to give a little. Use your audience as a course correction tool to make sure you’re giving them what they want. If you’re curious about what they’ll think or what they’ll like, just ask; they’re happy to enlighten you.

Process Matters

I used to film my videos with a regular camera, then transfer the file to my computer, edit, export and upload. Switching to screencasting means I save myself the file transfer and the import into the editing software. Cutting out little steps like this can save you a ton of time, especially if you’re a frequent publisher. Look at every step in your process and decide whether it’s absolutely essential to meeting your primary objectives, or whether it can be eliminated.

Here’s a still shot of one of my oldest videos compared to one of my newest, so you can see how it’s evolved over the years:

integralCALC Before and After Video Still Shot

5 Video Marketing Must-Haves

  1. You. Know yourself, and don’t try to be someone you’re not. Write blog posts if you like writing; film videos if you like being in front of the camera. Your audience can sense immediately when you’re uncomfortable, and they don’t want to see you that way!
  2. But not too much you. My YouTube analytics consistently show me that people are more likely to click play on a shorter video, and more likely to stick with the video if the end is in sight. For example, if I publish a six-minute video, people will stop watching at the four-minute mark, but they’ll stay to the end of a five-minute video. Always be as concise as possible. Your viewers appreciate it.
  3. Great audio. I mentioned earlier that quality matters. For a long time, I invested in quality video, while ignoring quality audio, but I know now that ignoring audio quality is a huge mistake. I’m much more likely to watch something with so-so video quality and great audio, than I am to watch something with great video and awful audio. I use a Yeti microphone by Blue, because it’s a good mix of quality and affordability.
  4. Accountability. I’m not the best at keeping myself accountable. I’m passionate about what I do and I have a sense of purpose and determination, but sometimes it’s still hard to stay focused and put in the time. Make sure you have something or someone who keeps you accountable. This is one of the most important must-haves in my opinion, because a great idea or a great product doesn’t matter if you don’t keep going and execute. If you’re self-motivated, then set goals and timelines and stick to them. If not, involve someone you can trust to help keep you on track. Or, you can always use an option like Google Chrome’s StayFocused to deter procrastination.
  5. Knowledge. Don’t spend so much time learning that you neglect real progress in your business. Instead, set aside a predefined amount of time daily or weekly to stay up-to-date. “That was soooo last year” is now “That was soooo three months ago,” so it’s important to make sure you’re taking advantage of the latest and greatest, when it offers significant benefit to your business.

For example, when the “Sh*t so and so never says” meme hit the Internet, I knew I could use it as a way to connect with my audience, so I jumped on the trend right away. I produced the “Sh*t Calculus Students Never Say” video below in less than a week from discovering the meme.

More than anything, I want new entrepreneurs to know that success depends solely on your level of determination. I was unprepared to start a business. I am often intimidated by the amount of opportunity in front of me, and by the amount of work required to take advantage of it. Many times I’ve thought that I would never get this far. Now I know that all I have to do is keep going, and no matter how many wrong turns I make, it only gets better from here.

You can check out and subscribe to integralCALC videos on YouTube and on To stay up-to-date on Krista and integralCALC, check out integralCALC on Facebook and on Twitter @integralCALC.

Bruce Clay Blog

What’s In Store for Content Marketing in 2013?

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What’s In Store for Content Marketing in 2013? was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

The Content Marketing Institute last week released 2013 predictions, where more than 80 marketers (including yours truly) weighed in on where the discipline was going in 2013.

Some predictions we heard over and over again:

  • Journalists will have a new home in the corporate or agency environment.
  • Visual content ramps up in the form of video and graphics.
  • Creating content for mobile is key, along with other multiscreen options.

My take on the emerging themes from the survey:

  • Great business content that’s on par with big publishers will be key.
  • The way we want to receive information is changing from the device (mobile) to the medium (visual) to the delivery (concise).

Here’s the report on SlideShare. Scroll down for hand-picked predictions plus my take on them.

Journalists Predicted to Be Big Players in Content Marketing

We heard a lot of predictions in the CMI report about the demand for journalists, and how they will now have a home in the corporate or agency environment due to the brand publishing explosion.

Sarah Mitchell Prediction for Content Marketing in 2013

If the predictions are true, businesses will be putting a high value on writers – trained writers – and especially those that can use objective writing as in journalism, as well as investigate the company to find the stories and then go tell them.

I loved Paul Conley’s take on the future of brand journalism, and I think it’s a highly likely scenario:

Paul Conley Prediction for Content Marketing in 2013

And while the journalist skill set in a company’s marketing and publishing department is a fantastic addition, it doesn’t necessarily mean a successful content marketing department.

Businesses should turn to journalist skill sets as a viable options for well-written content and storytelling, but those journalists may not have the digital marketing strategy to execute content marketing on a full scale.

Which is why I see it a little differently than Jason’s comment below:

Jason Falls Prediction for Content Marketing in 2013


My prediction is that businesses will need a healthy mix of skills sets on the content marketing team – publishing, journalism, editing, analytics, SEO, social media, writing, user experience, design and videography, and other Web marketing disciplines.

In fact, here’s my prediction from the CMI report:

Jessica Lee Prediction for Content Marketing in 2013

At the helm of all those skill sets I mentioned previously should be someone who understands how all the moving parts fit together within a healthy digital marketing campaign; someone who can speak to the strategy and make sense of all the data to balance the content production with the business goals and audience.

This is similar to what Nicholas Kinports is saying:

Nicholas Kinports Prediction for Content Marketing in 2013

I particularly loved the following prediction because in order to be successful, businesses need to define what content marketing means before they go after it:

Justin Lambert Prediction for Content Marketing in 2013

How We Create Content Is Predicted to Change

Several marketers predicted the way people wish to receive and produce content is changing and will continue to do so. Many statements had to do with the rise of video production and visuals, as well as more sophisticated execution of those types of content.

So just as journalists will be in demand, I say graphic designers and videographers will continue to have a home as the need for visual storytelling becomes more and more important.

Then there’s the rise of mobile consumption of content. Many predictions talked about the devices people will use to consume content, which means content needs to be responsive for multiscreen use.

Ian Lurie Prediction for Content Marketing in 2013

Tom Bishop Prediction for Content Marketing in 2013

And on top of it all, you have waning attention spans. One of my favorite predictions by Roger Parker was on simplifying the message:

Sarah Mitchell Prediction for Content Marketing in 2013

I also agreed with the predictions on Slideshare being a driver of content consumption. Think about it: Why wait until you have a presentation that you’ve unveiled to an audience? Any topic you have in your head can fleshed out in a PowerPoint, and the succinct nature caters to thin attention spans. Could slide decks be the new blog post?

In a prediction by David Dunworth, he talks about visuals trumping the written word as a form of learning. I would add to that comment by saying that I believe we are going to have to take into account various personas and learning styles to cater the content deliverable (words, visuals, video) we present on the same topic.

David Dunworth Prediction for Content Marketing in 2013

All of this is to say that the way we think about creating our content will need to change, from the way our text is laid out, to the type of content we create and the way content is written and delivered, where simplicity, entertainment, ease of use and engagement could trump in-depth, how-to content for the purposes of authoritative content.

Does this mean that the entertainment factor will trump thought leadership in our content production? I guess we’ll find out …

What’s your prediction for content in 2013? Weigh in in the comments below!

Bruce Clay Blog

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