Posts Tagged ‘web presence optimization framework’

Anyone with a New Idea is a Crank Until the Idea Succeeds

Monday, November 12th, 2012

I was reminded of that famous quote from Mark Twain recently in a Twitter exchange about the web presence optimization framework. Although the framework has been for the most part enthusiastically embraced (and dozens of people have downloaded the framework white paper), a few people on Twitter questioned the need for a “new” marketing concept.

WPO Isn't Just Another TLA

Image credit: Ajax Union

While “search plus social plus content” is inarguably inelegant, it was suggested that other terms such as “online marketing” or “inbound marketing” already covered the concept of web presence optimization (WPO). Although those are clearly important concepts, they don’t cover the spectrum of an organization’s web presence and related activities, which is why the WPO model was introduced nearly three years ago.

Since its introduction, the concept has been embraced by tools vendors and covered in publications like iMedia Connection, Search Engine Watch, Business2Community and Social Media Today, and Website Magazine.

Nevertheless, the point raised on Twitter is valid: a number of overlapping terms in use address at least parts of the digital marketing and PR mix. Perhaps the definitions below will help to clarify the role of WPO as an overarching management framework.

Web Presence Optimization (WPO)

Web presence is essentially web visibility; it’s about being as ubiquitous and easy-to-find as possible when buyers are searching for information about what you and your competitors sell. Anything about your company or products that appears somewhere online—whether owned, earned or paid content—contributes to your web presence.

Tracking over time and against competitors as well as managing and continually improving this for relevant, maximum exposure is optimization. By using unified metrics, you can manage and coordinate the efforts of specialists in various disciplines, including content development, social media, SEO, PR, online advertising, and reputation management, resulting in efficient and effective optimization of an organization’s total web presence in order to drive business results.

Content Marketing

According to content management guru Joe Pulizzi, “Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. A content marketing strategy can leverage all story channels (print, online, in-person, mobile, social, etc.).”

Content marketing is arguably one component of WPO even though it includes offline venues such as print which don’t contribute to web presence. It’s also focused on owned (internally produced) media and does not include metrics or competitive benchmarking.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Per BusinessDictionary.com, SEO is “the process of improving traffic to a given website by increasing the site’s visibility in search engine results. Websites improve search engine optimization by improving content, making sure that the pages are able to be indexed correctly, and ensuring that the content is unique.”

SEO includes technical factors (making sure sites load quickly and are easy to crawl), content factors (keyword research, content optimization, meta tags) and linking factors (building internal and external links).

While SEO is affected by PR and social media activities, metrics, and competitive actions, it’s internally focused (owned media), cannot be used to manage PR or social media marketing activities (except as they relate specifically to website optimization) and is separate from paid search or other online advertising activities.

Inbound Marketing

In the words of HubSpot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan, inbound marketing is “where you help yourself ‘get found’ by people already learning about and shopping in your industry.  In order to do this, you need to set your website up like a ‘hub’ for your industry that attracts visitors naturally through search engines, the blogosphere, and social media.”

Like WPO, inbound marketing incorporates metrics, content creation and optimization, social media, and (in some cases) search engine marketing. Valuable as it is, however, it doesn’t provide the overall online visibility management framework that WPO does because the latter also includes PR, online advertising, competitive benchmarking and earned content.

One element that none of the above concepts address, but is addressed in WPO, is that third-party content (from customers, journalists, bloggers or other influencers) has value in influencing the buyer’s decision-making process, even when it doesn’t lead directly to a lead or sale. Third-party content is often viewed as more objective and credible than company-produced content, making it critical to track, measure and share.

Online Marketing

According to About.com, “Online Marketing is the art and science of selling products and/or services over digital networks, such as the Internet and cellular phone networks. The art of online marketing involves finding the right online marketing mix of strategies that appeals to your target market and will actually translate into sales.”

Though it incorporates SEM, online advertising, search optimization, and content marketing, online marketing is transaction-oriented: it’s focused on activities that lead directly to sales for generally low-consideration items including frequently-purchased or impulse-buy consumer goods and low-value business supplies.

WPO, in contrast, has a broader focus on earned content (e.g. social and press) and overall online visibility, which is important for high-value, considered-purchase consumer goods and b2b sales where web research may lead to an online or offline sale.

Internet Marketing

While this was originally an umbrella term for various types of activities similar to online marketing, Marketing Land notes that the term has since become to large extent co-opted by get-rich quick hoaxes, pyramid schemes and other scams.

As WPO is all about building online credibility, it’s the farthest thing from Internet marketing.

All of which means…

In the end, the Twitterers’ concern about buzzword proliferation isn’t misplaced. Buzzwords are often used to obscure, confuse, or spin. But WPO genuinely illuminates the actionable key metrics of online visibility, enabling marketing executives to make smart decisions about coordinating PR, SEO, SEM, social, and content marketing efforts.

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Maximize Your Online Visibility: The Web Presence Optimization (WPO) Framework

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Recent research makes clear that, for high-value consumer purchases as well as b2b procurement, being as “findable” as possible online is critical to winning the business.

Of course that means it’s imperative to produce relevant, compelling, optimized content for your company’s website and blog, but online visibility goes beyond that. It also requires an active presence and network of relationships in social media, coverage in industry press, and carefully targeted online advertising to be where your prospective buyers are looking, when they are looking.

Optimizing online visibility then requires the coordination of public relations (PR), content development, social networking, SEO, digital advertising and marketing communications efforts. Without coordination, the efforts of these different individuals or groups are like the blind men and the elephant; none of the experts are wrong, but none get the big picture either.

We refer to this maximization of online visibility as web presence optimization (WPO): the combination of PR, content, SEO, SEM, marcom and social media efforts to make a company as ubiquitous as possible, with relevant content, everywhere online that prospective customers are looking when they are searching for what the company offers.

As a practical matter, the WPO process includes:

Research: a number of questions need to be answered before a tactical WPO plan can be roughed out, such as: where are your prospective customers congregating online? (e.g., are they more likely to use Facebook or a specialized discussion forum? What online publications do they read? What groups do they belong to?) What topics are they most interested in exploring or discussing? How are your competitors approaching the market?

Execution: this includes multiple avenues of content creation, distribution and follow-up. For example, a news release may be written, search-optimized and then distributed through wire service like Marketwire or PRWeb. But it may also be sent to specific journalists and bloggers, who need to be followed up with, shared socially, and have any questions or comments responded to.

Measurement: What was the result—how much online visibility was achieved with a particular piece of content? How much website traffic did it drive? How many conversions? How does this compare to other activities? Lessons learned and intelligence gleaned from these metrics feed back into the execution phase, driving and refining additional projects.

(This is the essence of the web presence optimization strategy and approach we’ve been using at KC Associates for the past year. We research a client’s current competitive and digital landscape, develop a WPO and content strategy, execute, measure and refine.)

The WPO framework has evolved over the past 34 months from the spaghetti-ish original WPO model to the refined definition of web presence optimization a year ago to today’s streamlined version focused on the five broad areas of presence:

The Web Presence Optimization Framework

Content strategy is developed based on market interests, competitor moves and company or product differentiation then shared through one (or more often a combination) of channels. Content creation, optimization, distribution and sharing results in five types of measurable online presence:

Press Presence (news release pickups, news articles, product reviews, publication-sponsored directories, etc.)

Social Presence (tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates, social bookmarks, videos on YouTube, presentations on SlideShare, etc.)

Website Presence (content published on a company’s own website, blog or microsite which ranks highly and attracts organic search traffic)

Industry Presence (trade association articles, association membership lists or directories, trade show exhibitor lists, industry analyst coverage, etc.)

Paid Presence (search engine ads, banner ads on trade or publication sites, social network ads)

To learn more about the WPO framework, check out this free whitepaper.

The coordination of the various specialties—PR, social, SEO, SEM, content marketing—depends upon having a clear, unified view of actionable metrics. This single,  comprehensive (but not overwhelming) view of results keeps a team in alignment about next steps, what to do more of, what to drop, and what to do differently.

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