Archive for the ‘Web Presence Optimization’ Category

31 Expert Guides to Maximizing Online Brand Visibility – WPO

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Given all of the changes Google has made affecting organic ranking factors (asking webmasters to disavow low-quality links, reducing the value of guest blogging, ignoring links in press releases, etc.),  the practice of SEO—optimizing owned content for search—is no longer sufficient for maximizing a brand’s online visibility.

This is not to say “SEO is dead” or that it no longer has value, only that it can no longer stand on its own. It needs to be part of a larger, coordinated strategy encompassing owned, earned and paid media: web presence optimization (WPO).

The original WPO model focused on content-sharing to maximize organic brand visibility; as the WPO framework evolved, it incorporated paid and industry (e.g., event sponsorships, community outreach, analyst coverage, trade association membership) components.

Today’s WPO model emphasizes the importance of fusing a solid content strategy with a comprehensive online distribution strategy in order to maximize brand visibility and credibility.

The Web Presence Optimization Model - WPOYet despite the analytical and strategic power of the model, WPO still largely remains the concept that everyone talks about, but no one names. It’s as if sportswriters constantly wrote about “contests in which opposing teams of five players attempt to shoot a round orange ball through a hoop with a net attached” instead of simply saying “basketball.” As indicated by the posts from Search Engine Watch and All Twitter highlighted below, that is starting to change, but only just.

How can social, PR, SEO, and online advertising efforts be coordinated to maximize brand visibility? How can paid, owned, and earned media be harmonized to achieve business goals? How can paid and organic content promotion channels be used together most effectively? What role does email play in extending online visibility?

Find the answers to those questions and many more here in 31 of the best blog posts and articles about WPO (even if they don’t call it that) of the past year.

Beyond Search & Social: Online Marketing in 2014 by Search Engine Journal

Marcela De Vivo covers a great deal of ground in this thought-provoking and wide-ranging post, from the impact of social signals on organic ranking to earning (vs. building) links, measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) based on your goals (e.g., “If your goal is organic visibility, your KPI’s will be based on increasing your rankings and organic traffic”), and the debate around paid, earned and owned media: all critical consideraations in a WPO strategy.

Convergence: Merging Disciplines Between PR and Marketing by InNetwork

Hessie Jones contends that while marketing and PR have traditionally been separate disciplines, due to social media, “these roles are converging in a big way,” so today brands need “a combination of PR and Marketing to stay on top of the conversation, and be ready to develop compelling content to engage and build advocacy,” and furthermore to pair “mainstream and digital media experts with creative specialists like copywriters, digital designers and video producers to uncover storytelling opportunities in real time, deliver critical business insights, engage influencers and customers and create the content that shapes news and conversations.” Which is to day: they need to coordinate the efforts of everyone involved in maximizing a brand’s online visibility and relevance.

How to build a robust content program by iMedia Connection

Writing that “Today, superb, consistent content best serves your customers and leads to increased loyalty and bottom-line results,” Deborah Hanamura explores a baker’s dozen considerations for content marketing strategy, including social, SEO, PPC (“Great Pay-Per-Click advertising requires great content. Create an impression versus multiple impressions”), and events—in other words, most of the key elements of WPO.

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Integrated Marketing: The Magic Formula for Success by Blue Kite Marketing

Laura Click (correctly) asserts there is no “one singular tactic that will help you achieve results” in digital marketing, but rather that achieving the objective of being everywhere your prospect look online requires an integrated marketing approach coordinating efforts across:

  • • content marketing;
  • • media relations;
  • • advertising;
  • • search engine marketing (actually, a form of online advertising);
  • • social media; and
  • • email marketing.

Add SEO to the list above and you’ve got WPO.

Integrating POEM: The Rhyme and Reason of Harmonizing the New Media Mix by iMedia Connection

Aaron Dubois explores the strengths and weaknesses of paid, owned and earned media (POEM), and advises marketers, “Throughout the planning process, take a step back and look at your brand’s overall marketing strategy. If the P, the O, and the E aren’t working in conjunction with each other – with a consistent brand voice across all communications – then it’s not likely you’re going to get as much out of your campaign as you hope to.” That’s another way of saying: adopt WPO, which coordinates efforts across these these three types of exposure.

Harmonizing owned, earned and paid mediaCreating a Multi-Channel Content Marketing Strategy by BlueGlass

Kevin Gibbons illustrates the POEM concept and recommends that marketers “have a fully integrated strategy, where everyone is involved towards having success across all of your owned, earned and paid media channels” in order to properly plan and execute to achieve online business goals (or in other words, adopt a WPO approach). He then provides further guidance regarding content creation, measurement, and audience targeting.

6 Reasons Social Media Is Critical To Your SEO by Convince with Convert

Jason Clegg offers “six reasons social media needs to be an important part of your website marketing and SEO strategy for years to come,” such as that social media enables you to “crowd source” your link building; social links actually drive traffic to your website; and “Google hates link building.” Though the post goes a bit over the top in spots (“link building as a direct SEO tactic is completely dead”—not quite true), Jason’s overall points regarding the SEO value of social media are spot on.

The PR Strategies SEOs Haven’t Learned by Siege Media

A helpful companion to the post above, Ross Hudgens here focuses on the value of PR for SEO: “Many PR companies still blast releases out to publishers that have no reason to receive them. Many SEO companies do the same with their outreach to bloggers. The best of both worlds will find the intersection, combine agility with empathy, and make for an extremely potent content marketing package.”

MarketingSherpa 2013 Marketing Benchmark Survey ResultsMarketing Research Chart: Integrating email and search marketing tactics by MarketingSherpa

Daniel Burstein notes that the chart at right “highlights one of marketers’ key challenges. They’re doing a lot. Even the least used tactic — digital asset optimization — is being conducted by 45% of marketers.” He then explains three ways that marketers can be more efficient by “SEO and email tasks to get more done in less time.” This type of coordination between different types of content promotion efforts is also at the heart of WPO.

The Evolution of Content In A Big-Content World by MediaPost

Writing that “‘big content’ is the definition of what content marketing has become: unruly, amorphous, exponential and everywhere,” Steve Kerho suggests that marketers should “think of big content as branded content that exists in multiple channels, across devices and…is no longer controlled solely by the brand.” Indeed they should, and efforts should be coordinated across these different channels to optimize visibility and engagement while maintaining consistent brand messaging.

SMO Guide for BusinessThe Complete SMO / SEO Guide for Business & Brands in Social Media by REALSMO
***** 5 STARS

Joshua Berg provides an indispensible and comprehensive guide to how social media and search work together; the principles of social media optimization, aka SMO (“Focus on the user and all elSEO will follow”–spot on); and the (possible) future of search.

The Aftermath Of SEO’s Death This Summer by Forbes

Writing that Google’s Penguin and Hummingbird algorithm updates “mean no more hat tricks, keyword stuffing, comment spamming, backlink image stuffing…Finally, Google uncovered the secret to blocking SEO tricks used to get customers on the infamous PAGE 1,” Eris Poringer provides excellent guidance on implementing a “comprehensive plan” for maximizing online brand visibility, incorporating social media, email, content marketing, native advertising, and other tactics. This approach isn’t SEM (paid search) though SEM is a key component of a wider WPO strategy.

Social Media Should Not Be A Stand Alone Brand Tactic by Brand Cottage

The smart and engaging Patricia Wilson lists seven reasons why social media should not be a stand-alone brand tactic (such as, “Social Media is very hard to scale on its own”) and suggests that “social strategy works best as part of a larger integrated marketing and business plan.” Couldn’t agree more; it’s a vital component of a WPO strategy.

The B2B Marketing Guide to Paid Content Distribution by B2B Digital Marketing
***** 5 STARS

In this highly bookmark-worthy post, Eric Wittlake details almost two dozen options for paid content distribution, from advertising on the large social networks to content distribution services like Outbrain and Taboola to native advertising and sponsored posts on B2B publication sites. As long as you stick with reputable sites that keep up with Google’s latest guidelines, these are great avenues for extending the reach of your content and increasing overall online brand visibility.

Social Media AdvertisingHow to Amplify Your Content Strategy with Social Media Advertising by Content Marketing Institute

Observing that tweets have an average half-life of 18 minutes, Facebook posts have a half-life of 30 minutes, and keeping up with algorithmic changes in organic search is getting increasingly difficult, Dan Stasiewski recommends “creating an advertising flow to your content ecosystem.” Excellent advice, though not either/or; successful content promotion requires coordinating all of the elements of WPO.

SEO And Other Web Marketing Techniques: Tools Or Tricks? by Forbes

Roger Kay comes down rather hard on content marketing and SEO (“a rather polite term for another way to game the system”), but writes that he likes “the concept of inbound marketing because it relies on product quality…at bottom, inbound will only work if the product is good.  Effectively, the Internet is a fantastic channel to give an idea a chance to make it in the wild, but the virus only spreads if the content justifies the buzz.” True, which is why content strategy forms the base of WPO. But as noted here previously, even the “most epic content will FAIL without content distribution,” which is why coordinated sharing and promotion across channels is just as important as creating high-quality content to begin with.

When Keyword (not provided) is 100 Percent of Organic Referrals, What Should Marketers Do? – Whiteboard Tuesday by Moz

Rand Fishkin steps through a number of steps SEO practitioners can take to deal with the loss of organic keyword data from Google, such as using “keyword suggestion sources like Google Suggest, Ubersuggest, certainly AdWords’s own volume data, SEMRush, etc. to see the keyword expansions related to your brand or the content that’s very closely tied to your brand.” Running AdWords ads and examining keyword performance is another option.

Time for a New Definition of SEO by Search Engine Watch

Writing that “digital marketing tactics such as email marketing, paid search and search retargeting have very clear, undisputed definitions. The definition of SEO, on the other hand, seems to be just as unclear as the practice itself,” Krista LaRiviere suggests WPO (she actually uses the term) represents the evolution of SEO, and defines WPO as “an all-encompassing approach to optimizing an entire web presence for organic search including the website, social channels, blogs, articles and press releases.” Her ideas clearly resonated, as the post garnered 50 comments.

The Web Presence Optimization Cycle [INFOGRAPHIC] by All Twitter

Allison Stadd showcases a helpful infographic designed to help marketers visualize “the steps to web presence optimization with the goal of helping you reach organic search success.”

The Web Presence Optimization Cycle Infographic

Getting less traffic from Google? Here’s why it may not matter soon by Jim’s Marketing Blog

Jim Connolly details three reasons marketers should diversify their efforts beyond just organic SEO, most importantly because “Google sends less traffic to sites than before…between August 2012 and March 2013, search traffic from Google nosedived an incredible 30%” to a collection of large publisher sites including The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, Newsweek, Time, Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone. It’s not that search isn’t still an important tactic, but that it’s only one of several important elements in a brand’s total online visibility (the focus of WPO).

Relying on organic SEO? You’re losing customers! by Digital Growth

Building on the arguments in Jim Connolly’s post above, Luke Chapman illustrates how ads and universal search elements continue to push organic listings further down on the typical search results page, making even a #1 organic ranking less valuable than it used to be. To combat this, he recommends using social media, email, PR, blogging and blog commenting, and industry/community marketing—pretty much the range of WPO elements. And investing in SEM also helps maintain search visibility.

Google SERPs - More Ads, Less Organic

Is SEO Dead — Or Decentralized? by MediaPost

Musing about the decline of traditional SEO and the rise of social media optimization and paid search, Ryan DeShazer concludes that “In today’s marketing communications organization, everyone is an SEO…creative teams (now) include content discoverability and SEO into their work streams; technologists are building sites and apps compliant with known onsite SEO best practices; and UX specialists are including keyword research before developing user personas and journeys.” Hmm, coordinating the efforts of multiple disciplines in order to optimize web visibility…sounds familiar.

The 4 SEO Trends Every Marketer Needs to Know by iMedia Connection

Tony Quin reveals what he believes are four key trends in SEO that marketers need to understand, the most relevant of which for WPO is number four, “Traditional marketing tactics will boost digital marketing initiatives…Press releases, for example, provide branded mentions and links that will increase the authority of your website while also increasing exposure. Despite what some might say, email is still extremely effective in creating opportunities for awareness and sharing.” Creating compelling content is vital, but that content then needs to be shared using social media alongside “traditional marketing tactics.”

Inbound vs. Interruption MarketingInbound Marketing: 15 tactics to help you earn attention organically by MarketingSherpa

Daniel Burstein (again) serves up a list of “quantitative metrics, case studies, how-to articles and other resources to help you improve your own inbound marketing efforts by learning more about how your peers are effectively using these tactics,” including SEO, PPC, email, events, PR, blogging, content marketing, and other aspects of WPO.

How to optimize your emails for search by iMedia Connection

Noting “It might sound like a strange idea to optimize your emails for search engines, but SEO is a skill that email marketers better start working on,” Michael Linthorst explores the ins and outs of Gmail Field Trial, an “experiment in which Google includes a user’s Gmail inbox in his or her search results.” Engagement, content, and relevancy are keys to “email SEO”—and a solid approach to email marketing regardless.

Social Search Engine Marketing Throws Search Experts A Lifeline by MediaPost

Laurie Sullivan reports on recent research showing that “Social signals continue to make their way into search results—making social search engine optimization the next major trend in organic listing. Enterprise SEO requires a search across traditional techniques and social media channels.” This integration is, of course, at the heart of WPO.

Why Your Online Marketing Department Is All Screwed Up by ClickZ

Andrew Delamarter describes how marketing departments can, and must, sop operating in “silos” and coordinate efforts across paid, earned, and owned media: “Now is the time to stop thinking SEO, media, content marketing, web analytics, and Facebook posts and start thinking holistically about inbound marketing that brings it all together.”

Marketing in Silos is Screwed Up

Must evolve to:

Integrating Owned, Earned and Paid Media Efforts

If you build it, they will come — maybe by iMedia Connection

The brilliant and prolific Rebecca Lieb believes “The winners in content marketing will create not just quality content, but distribution strategies that will get that content ‘out there'” (i.e., WPO). SEO, PR, advertising, and social all have their role to play, but so do media companies.

Six Ways Internet Marketing Meets PR Online by SteamFeed

Because “the online world of content marketing requires knowledge of Internet marketing which includes search marketing, key word designation, html coding, link building, and the other tools and tricks of the trade,” Jayme Soulati outlines half a dozen ways for PR professionals to work with their Internet marketing counterparts to maximize online brand visibility and impact.

Search Marketing Integration, a.k.a. WPOThe New SEO: Search Marketing Integration by Search Engine Watch

Brad Miller writes that while SEO isn’t dead, “the days of SEO as a distinct, independent discipline are certainly numbered. SEO is fast evolving into a more creative, diverse, and challenging profession.” He uses the term “search marketing integration” to describe the coordination of activities across social search, branding, PR, SEM, and others areas in order to integrate all your marketing efforts into “into one single, agile, engaging strategy.” That would be WPO.

2013 – Break the (Digital) Marketing Silos by The RKG Blog

As noted above in the introduction to this post, WPO is about coordinating the efforts of everyone on your team involved in content creation or digital marketing. As Todd McDonald writes here, “Imagine the insights available to those who successfully bring together PR, social, email, PPC, SEO, and other channels!  Each one can feed the next, providing ever-deepening levels of data and connections that will drive data-driven strategic marketing decisions.  SEO will be a cog in this machine and it will need the machine to work well in order to functional optimally.” He challenges marketers to smash their internal silos—a vital step (as noted above) in WPO, even if he doesn’t call it that.

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How To Analyze and Grow Website Visits

Friday, October 4th, 2013
Editor’s note: a version of this post originally appeared on ChamberofCommerce.com

If your responsibilities including managing and optimizing website results for a small to midsized organization, chances are you’re using Google Analytics to track website traffic. Google Analytics is used on more than half of all websites. And if it’s not installed, it should be: the Google Analytics (GA) tool is free, powerful, and easy to set up.

For many small to midsized businesses (SMBs), the biggest problem with GA is that it provides too much information. There are a dozen reports under the “Audience” tab alone (not counting “custom” reports). Every report means something to someone, but which are most important from a small business perspective?The long answer to that question could fill an ebook. The short answer? One of the most actionable reports for SMBs is the All Traffic report. To access it within GA, click on Acquisition > All Traffic in the left sidebar menu, then choose Medium as your Primary Dimension. You should see something like this:

Google Analytics - Sources of Traffic

 

 

Although the figures will vary from site to site, all sites include at least these three Google traffic categories: direct (none), referral and search (organic) visits. Which sources of traffic should you work to increase? All of them!

And although you can adopt a number of strategies to boost your site’s traffic, a proven approach is web presence optimization (WPO): the art and science of being found.

As you study your All Traffic report, it helps to understand each type of web traffic, which also helps you learn more about your audience—and in turn, you can make improvements to your site that better serve visitors, thereby boosting your traffic. Let’s take a look at the three traffic sources and how you can improve them:

Direct (“none”) Traffic

Direct traffic primarily comes from two sources: visitors typing in a site URL directly into their browser, or clicking on a stored bookmark. The first group is likely to contain more prospective customers and others new to your site, while the latter is more often existing customers and partners.

To drive more repeat (bookmarked) direct visits, offer resources, additional products/services, support and other reasons, including regularly updated content, for customers to keep returning to your site.

New direct visits result from both offline and online branding activities. Offline tactics include trade shows and other events, business cards, direct mail, printed brochures, signage and print advertising.

Online branding tactics include media mentions, building links by writing guest posts and articles, product reviews, social media, and industry activities like high-quality directory listings and trade association membership. Note that, as part of an effective WPO strategy, these activities also drive more referral visits and create valuable backlinks that help attract more visits from search.

Referral Traffic

Referral traffic results from visitors clicking links on other websites that lead to your website—think of it as following a trail of digital breadcrumbs directly to your online hub. Possible sources of referral traffic links include:

  • • News articles in trade, local or business publications
  • • Coverage by industry or financial analysts
  • • Product reviews
  • • Blogs (guest posts, comments or blogroll links)
  • • Industry and local business directories
  • • Partner websites (e.g., retailers, resellers, technology partners, affiliates or vendors)
  • • Social media sites (e.g., YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, SlideShare, Scoop.it)
  • • Online forums and discussion boards
  • • Trade show and event websites
  • • Other company or product websites or microsites (mostly for large organizations)

In many cases, your company may attract such links over time simply through normal business activities. A more proactive (and effective) approach, however, is to help build links through a combined digital marketing strategy that includes PR, social, content marketing, and SEO. As you use each of these components to build links and boost your visibility, keep a close eye on your referral traffic. What types of sites send the most traffic your way? That data is a clear signal to continue using those sources in order to keep your referral traffic at optimal levels. Additionally, a robust set of WPO metrics can help in evaluating the value of traffic from each referral source as well as identify competitor links and tactics to emulate.

Search (Organic) Traffic

As you can probably guess, search traffic is comprised of visits from Google, Yahoo!, Bing and a host of smaller search engines. To increase search traffic, your site needs to be optimized to rank highly in the search engines for the types of phrases that buyers use when searching for the types of products and/or services you offer.

Rankings are determined by a combination of relevance (how well does the content on your site align with the search query) and authority (the number and quality of backlinks to your website).

Backlinks, as noted above, can be generated through PR, social, SEO, and other marketing tactics. Links are most valuable when they appear on sites that are highly relevant to your business, i.e., other websites that your prospective customers would be likely to visit for information. Links from low-quality, general purpose directories were helpful for ranking at one time, but are now essentially worthless (and can even be harmful to rankings if your site has too many such links).

The best type of content is that which educates your buyers or helps them solve problems, and only indirectly promotes your products or services. After all, your customers don’t necessarily want to hear how great you are—they want help solving their problems as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. And many times, some of the most valuable backlinks to your site will be those that are created voluntarily and spontaneously by others—bloggers, site owners, social media users—based on the quality and usefulness of your content.

Given the near ubiquitous use of the web for researching product and services prior to buying, optimizing all of your potential sources of site traffic gives you the best chance to be found when your prospective customers are looking. And as you continue to analyze your site’s traffic, be aware that website marketing and traffic building are ongoing processes.

It’s critical to regularly examine your data so that you can spot potential problems and fix them before your site’s visibility and traffic is further compromised. On the flip side, your customers will tell you what you’re doing right—you simply have to pay attention to the data and understand that it not only tells you a powerful story about your customers, but also helps you make key decisions.

Are you listening?

 

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Search Traffic Declining? You’re Not Alone (and What to Do About It)

Monday, September 9th, 2013

If your website traffic from organic search has fallen over the past year, take some small solace in knowing you’re not alone—in fact, you’re in good (if not happy) company.

Lost Search Trafifc

Image credit: Young Digital Lab

According to research from BuzzFeed, “Search traffic to publishers has taken a dive in the last eight months, with traffic from Google dropping more than 30%…While Google makes up the bulk of search traffic to publishers, traffic from all search engines has dropped by 20% in the same period.” Organic search visits have fallen significantly to A-list publishers like Time, Sports Illustrated, Us Weekly and Rolling Stone.

It’s not quite clear why this is happening. BuzzFeed mentions changes in behavior, greater use of social networks for content discovery, and a 52% increase in traffic from “‘Dark social,’ that netherland of direct traffic” (i.e., unknown sources), and concludes “We can draw a lot of assumptions but few conclusions from the drop in search traffic.”

The Tutorspree blog offers another possible answer: Google is intentionally de-emphasizing organic results (free clicks) in favor of search advertising results (for which it gets paid). While there’s no before and after (which would have been very helpful) and results will vary, obviously, based on the nature of the search, this example shows how organic results can comprise only a quarter or less of total screen real estate on a commercial search, with paid results accounting 60% of the visible display,  and other results like maps or images taking up the remaining screen area.

And it’s not only Google. Both Google and Bing are now displaying fewer than ten organic search results on certain queries: eight, seven, even as few as four in some cases. That means organic results which used to appear in the middle or lower half of page one in search results are now banished to page two, significantly reducing the likelihood of attracting the click.

Finally, algorithmic changes implemented by Google (and subsequently mimicked by other search engines) over the past 18 months have impacted traffic to b2c and b2b websites. Much has been written about how Panda and Penguin may negatively impact rankings of commercial websites in search results.

Given that b2b websites attract, on average, more than 40% of all traffic from organic search (and close to 90% of that from Google), the results above are clearly of great concern. But what does it mean?

Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” What’s happening today,  however,  is that many b2b vendors, news publishers and other commercial website owners are doing the same things in the same way and actually getting different (worse) results—because the environment has changed.

So in order to maintain and grow website traffic, online marketing practices have to change as well. Companies need to take a broader view of their overall online visibility and embrace a web presence optimization (WPO) approach.

Why the WPO Model  is Important

With potentially less future traffic available from search, given changes in both technology and user behavior, the WPO model is valuable because:

  • • WPO is about total online visibility—not just search. Yes, SEO (which increases website visibility) is a key component of WPO, but it’s only one component. WPO is about creating valuable, highly relevant content and then leveraging across multiple channels. So if your prospective buyers are relying less on search but more on social media, or established industry news sources, or on expert “influencers,” or even on advertising, WPO is about making sure your brand is visible in all of those places.
  • • WPO is about helping, not manipulating. Google wants (or at least claims to want) to provide searchers with the most relevant results for their queries. Searchers want to find the most relevant results. The WPO model is about creating the most relevant results for buyers looking for what you are offering, but also about being linked from, quoted in, recommended by, or sponsoring other relevant results.
  • • WPO is Google-proof. Because it’s designed to help and not manipulate, the concepts of WPO should (theoretically at least) never run counter to Google algorithm changes. And if your prospective buyers are using Google less, WPO maximizes your brand’s visibility in whatever channels, media or sources they are using in its place.

Web Presence Optimization Model

How to Get Your Traffic Back

Here are a few concrete steps for using WPO principles to adapt to and counteract declining search traffic.

  • • Figure out where your prospective buys are looking, and be there. Use social media and news monitoring tools to identify the online venues where your prospective buyers are hanging out, discussing your company, your industry, and your competitors.For many b2b companies, LinkedIn Groups are a rich environment for discovering and participating in these conversations. If your buyers are highly technical however,  they may be more likely to hang at sites like Stack Overflow, CodeGuru or Spiceworks.
  • • Experiment. Go beyond the “big three” social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) and check out avenues for sharing like exploreB2B, Quora, Scoop.It, and for blogs specifically, Triberr.
  • • In terms of generating “social shares,” either correlation doesn’t equal causation or Matt Cutts is being…at best misleading, at worst duplicitous. While social signals are a factor in search rankings, it’s much less clear how important they are.But in the end, it doesn’t matter—garnering social shares is valuable for web traffic and credibility-building regardless. What matters is knowing how to drive more traffic to your content from social networks and how to drive direct and search visits through social media optimization.
  • • Use news releases for exposure, not backlinks. Until fairly recently, common SEO guidance was to “Create backlinks from (press releases) to…supporting pages on your website. Make sure the anchor text of the hyperlink is the keyword phrase you are optimizing for.” But Google now frowns on anchor text links in news releases.That doesn’t mean that news releases now have no value in driving site traffic, but it does change the strategy.First, make sure your news releases are truly newswortthy, and worth sharing. Second, optimize news releases themselves for search. Third, use news releases as part of an overall strategy to build and develop relationships with journalists, which over time can lead to citations and even backlinks which actually are valuable for driving direct and search visits to your website.
  • • Use directories based on their relevance and value, but as with news releases—not just for backlinks. In early 2013, Google devalued general directory links for search rankings. That is, the old SEO strategy of improving search ranking simply by building or buying lots of links from broad-topic web directories is no longer effective. That does not mean,  however, that all directories are worthless.
  • • It’s still worthwhile to seek out backlinks from quality, human-edited, industry-specific online directories, such as vendor directories published by trade publications and industry associations. The two key questions to ask are 1) would your prospective buyers actually be likely to find my site and visit it from this directory? And 2), do you feel good about your company being listed in this directory (or does it feel a bit sleazy to be listed alongside online casinos, web pharmacies, miracle weight loss, make-big-money-now schemes and the like)?
  • • Use guest blog posts for exposure (and if you get a backlink–that’s a bonus). Guest-posting is still a viable SEO practice,  for the moment at least. But it is commonly abused through poor approaches. Best practice is to develop a relationship with the blogger before asking for the guest post opportunity; asking for the opportunity with a personal note; understanding their audience and proposing a topic that is suitable; and not requesting (or worse, requiring) any specific quid pro quo.
  • • Finally, don’t over-rely on paid advertising but do make it part of your online marketing mix. Experiment with AdWords, social network advertising, Bizo, and other ad networks. Many offer pay-per-click or even pay-per-conversion options, so costs and results are controllable. While paid advertising has no effect on SEO, it does increase your brand’s online exposure and drives traffic to specific landing pages and offers.

In the end, no one knows whether the broad drop in search traffic is a temporary aberration or a long-term trend. But utilizing WPO tactics to broaden your brand’s online exposure and potential sources of web traffic is a winning strategy either way.

 

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How to Measure Content Marketing Success (Infographic)

Monday, July 29th, 2013

With more than 90% of companies now doing some form of content marketing, the logical question is: how do you know if you’re doing it well?

In terms of “what” to measure, this infographic from Brandpoint recommends three broad areas to assess:

  • • Awareness (e.g., search engine rank for target keywords,  social metrics such as likes and followers);
  • • Consideration (longer average visit duration, social shares); and
  • • Conversion (increased conversion rate, growth in newsletter subscriptions).

In terms of “how” to measure success, CMOs utilizing a sophisticated web presence optimization framework for maximizing content marketing results will likely embrace tools for measuring competitive multi-channel marketing metrics—not just “are we making progress?” but also “how are we doing compared to our competitors?”

Among the other interesting statistics from the infographic:

  • • 93% of “online experiences” (e.g., “considered purchases”) begin with search.
  • • 75% of searchers won’t look beyond the first page of results.
  • • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of prospective buyers learn about new products and services through social media.
  • • 61% of people say they trust companies that deliver custom content.
  • v39% of all customers come from search.
  • • 77% of b2c companies have acquired a customer through Facebook (not surprising) as have 41% of all b2b companies (very surprising).

What are your takeaways?

 

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How to Get Found Where Your Buyers are Looking: Web Presence Optimization

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Editor’s note: a version of this post originally appeared on ChamberofCommerce.com in January 2013.

With more and more purchases, for business-to-business (b2b) and high-value consumer goods, now starting with online research, it’s imperative to make your business ubiquitous when potential buyers are searching for what you sell.

It starts with a well-optimized website of course, but there’s much more to it than that; a website isn’t the only way to show up in a search, and traditional search engines aren’t the only online tools that buyers are using to learn about products and services.

Web Presence Optimization ModelTo expand your online footprint within your market, think about three types of sites where you want a presence:

  • Social media sites: these include social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), social content sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr, SlideShare) and social bookmarking sites (Reddit, StumbleUpon, Diigo).
  • News sites: depending on the type of business and the market you serve, this may include local news sites (newspapers, TV stations, online magazines), trade publications, and business news sites (like the Business Journal, Forbes, or ChamberofCommerce.com).
  • Industry sites: these can include financial or technology analyst websites, trade show and event sites, and trade association sites.

Coordinating the manner in which your presence (whether owned, earned or paid) on these different categories of sites ultimately drives traffic and conversions on your website is accomplished through a web presence optimization (WPO) strategy.  This strategy is based on the WPO framework and supported by metrics that inform decisions about budget allocation and tactics.

Each type of site requires its own strategy and offers its own unique value, but in general, a presence on these types of websites provides three unique benefits:

  1. Gets more brand exposure in the market, increasing brand awareness and credibility.
  2. Provides referral visits to your website.
  3. Creates backlinks (at least in the case of do-follow sites) that help your website rank more highly in the search engines.

Of course, what your prospective buyers find is just as important as where they find you. Social media sites provide the opportunity to demonstrate expertise in your field and engage with peers, influencers and potential customers.

News sites offer the opportunity to share customer success stories, what’s new with your product or service, even what actions your organization is taking to move your industry forward.

Industry sites showcase your firm’s involvement in leadership in your field, and facilitate connections.

Capitalizing on the unique strengths and benefits of these different types of sites requires strategic and tactical planning, supported by multi-channel marketing metrics that enable data-driven decision making about tactical efforts and resource allocations. It’s work, but well worthwhile. The more places that prospective buyers find you, along with content relevant to the problems they are trying to solve or the benefits they are seeking, the greater the number of opportunities for your organization to win the business.

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