Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend the first ever ‘Content Marketing Show’ in London. Run by the same people behind #BrightonSEO, the show was a real success which can partly be pinned down to variation in perspectives and the approaches discussed.
Rather than do my ultra-long ‘take away’ blog post as normal (I think my last post had 150 takeaways!), I’ve written a more condensed post focusing on important actionable takeaways for SME’s or Agency’s working with SME’s.
I’ve broken each speaker’s presentation into two parts; key points and actionable takeaways.
Due to the shear depth and amount of topics covered during the day I’ve also split my blog post into two parts.
Influence Flows – Phillip Sheldrake (@Sheldrake)
The first talk of the day was Philip Sheldrake of Euler Partners who’s talk covered the history of content marketing, how it works and methods to measure in a real business context.
Content marketing started over 100 years ago with newspapers, before moving to TV and Radio towards end of the last century. Then we have internet in its current form today.
No matter how much content you produce online it will get consumed.
Social Media users each have their own channel, which crosses over with other users channels. This is best illustrated by websites and Apps like FlipBoard and Instapaper.
Influence can be defined as: "You have been influenced to do something you wouldn't have otherwise done".
Everyone can be influential, but some are more influential than others, the end goal of producing content is to create influence.
End users don’t have paid, earned or owned content channels, its one channel to them.
Write your content with the view that on some level you’re trying to influence an action.
Be wary of using Klout to identify influencers or in reporting as it doesn’t measure sentiment when scoring.
For every piece of content you produce make sure you have a strategy. The outcome of your content marketing should always reach your goal. Remember that every business is unique, so tailor your KPI to the important parts to your business. (See Slide Blow)
Content marketing 20 Nov 2012 from Philip Sheldrake
Agile content strategy – Lauren Pope (@La_Pope)
Lauren Pope’s experience of content marketing is one I’m sure many SME’s (or Agency’s working with SME’s) can relate to. She works on a small team with limited resources and limited time.
Her presentation discussed methodologies she has taken from agile project management experience and applied to content marketing, to create effective content that works on a smaller scale.
Angle content marketing is built on the three principals, to help inform your strategy and continually generate and inform future content production, showen in the slide below:
Agile content strategy from la_pope
Place yourself in the reader’s shoes when defining a strategy. What is the readers purpose for reading the document?
Don’t be afraid of retrospectively editing your content to improve it further based on feedback.
Understand that content does have a life span and don’t be afraid to kill it when it runs out.
Brain storm with Post-It notes, getting all your ideas out in one place. Do this as a team and edit it down to those ideas you can actually achieve.
With your idea’s filtered down, define your user story to guide your content production. Answer the below questions as these questions make sure you place your user at the centre of your content. The final question will also help define your KPI's.
As a ____
I want a ____
In order to ____
Get something quick and dirty live; publish, gain feedback and then improve.
Use Google Analytics to gain insights into which keywords perform best on a given page; those with high engagement (Long reading time etc…) and inform further content production or improvements to existing content. Look at metrics such as average visits, viewing time and conversions.
Digital Storytelling: The Power of Content Marketing – Ian Humphreys (@ianphumphreys)
Ian discussed the importance that narrative plays in great content and how it can drive discussion, further increasing its value.
When writing content, think about your businesses story alongside your client’s story. For example an eCommerce website selling pillows, should not be marketing the great pillows they sell but instead promote a good night’s sleep.
Narrative driven content marketing allows you to tell your own story and more importantly can allow your readers to tell their own story.
Failures are part of good content marketing, if you don’t have them you’re not pushing hard enough.
A great example of this story tell process is Chevy’s ‘My Dads Cars’ video (Shown Below)
Make sure your content includes opportunities to share your own stories.
Ensure the discussions you setup are built around the subjects you wish to promote.
To avoid brand trolling like the recent Waitrose hash tag high jacking, take time to honestly step outside the brand and think how you could be mocked. Adjust your strategy based on your findings.
There is nothing wrong with incentivising bloggers. This can be something as simple promoting their blog to help increase their readership it doesn't have to be paid!
How To Win At Pooh Sticks – Tom Ewing (@tomewing)
As a researcher rather than a marketer, Tom Ewing offered more of a cultural-analysis spin on content marketing. Primarily his point was that the content you produce should be viewed as part of the users stream on social media.
Not one piece of content is bigger than the overall stream.
Much like the game Rock Band, users are forever presented with further new content to consume.
Content flows into the feed, most people forget it days later, your ‘stock’ items are the content you produce that is still interesting in two years.
Friendship networks are the people you went to school with, interest networks are the people you wish you went school with.
Content is not just created, its replicated and even mutated. For example Pinterest is a replication of content, where YouTube contains large amounts of video which is mutated from its original form.
Make sure you content marketing plans include content which stick in people’s flow in the long term.
We generally tend to think much less than we actually realise. People like to ‘go with the flow’. Create content which matches their intentions and help guide them toward your end goals.
Stories, Number & Conversations – Antony Mayfield (@amayfield)
Antony’s presentation on data was primarily about the learning you can gain if you connect multiple ‘big data’ sources together to inform content marketing strategy. In some respects I do have some presentation issues as most businesses don’t have access to this kind of data, however I still think SME’s can take some learning from this approach.
Story telling can scale. It is important to scale your ability to tell stories, listen to customers. 1-2-1 Conversations.
Obama’s choice to do a Reddit Q&A during 2012 US election, was not driven by wanting to seem ‘cool’, but rather data telling his campaign team that there were large amounts of swing voters on Reddit.
Real data insights when you connect multiple databases together, connect the dots so to speak. Gain insights about your customers.
Finally make sure you keep your website the hub of your content marketing efforts to drive SEO success.
Stories that scale: Big Data + Big Stories from Antony Mayfield
Look at a way of integrating your databases. For example, find ways to link Google Analytics, Social Media, Customer and email marketing databases.
Replace the sales funnel with the Mckinsey model to look at what content is needed at what stage and where their users are going to find it.
Tales from a Content Marketing Rookie – Mila McLean Homburg (@mrshomburg)
Mila like many in the industry is only just getting to grips with content marketing, so her initial insights in to this new (old) marketing discipline should resonate with many people.
Good content isn’t cheap not just financially, but time wise, be prepared to invest.
Larger content marketing projects require project management just like any other project.
Utilise your team and work with those who aid your end goal and where possible have an interest in your/your clients sector.
Don't be afraid to try something new and be willing to go beyond articles and blogs
Importantly have standards and make sure your happy with the end result, once it's in the net it's there for a long time.
Find out who your customers are, does your manager/client agree that real people match up with analysis of data? If not then why?
Leverage existing business/client relationships for content production, these can often be missed opportunities.
Understand client/business brand guidelines and how they want to be presented externally.
5 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Journalists But Were Afraid To Ask – Désiré Athow (@desireathow)
As the editor of ITproportal.com, Désiré Athow offered his perspective on how journalists and PR professionals interact and more importantly how to engage them in more effective ways.
Journalists have been educated to be wary of those in PR as often their end goals differ.
On the whole journalists are passion driven so gestures go a long way to building lasting relationships.
Page views link directly to advertising revenue for journalists, understanding this KPI is important.
Get social with journalists, build relationships via social media before contacting them via email.
Pitching via email works best as it doesn't interrupt their work flow as opposed to phone call pitches.
Provide exclusives, even if that means reformatting old data and spinning it from a new angle.
Use phone to calls to build relationships; Not pitches.
Attend industry events and personally meet with them if possible.
June 8, 2012 11:10 by EAOM
The importance of businesses maintaining a presence on the web cannot be understated. Companies that fail to integrate both traditional forms of marketing with digital marketing risk being left behind.
Most small businesses hire a digital marketing agency that doubles up as a seo agency to market their company online. If you run a company that has over a 100 employees, you might have a dedicated in house SEO team that handles your search engine optimization needs. If that's the case, you should outsource your backlinking needs by hiring a link building agency.
The key to ranking well on Google has always depended on two critical factors - quality content and relevant backlinks. The problem with some seo agencies is that they rely on blackhat techniques to build backlinks to your website. Google frowns upon this, and has heavily penalized websites in the past with their "Panda" and "Penguin" algorithm revisions.
By outsourcing your backlinking to a dedicated team of workers, you can maintain the quality of backlinks that are being built back to your site. This will ensure that any backlinks built are viewed favourably by Google.
Besides that, outsourcing your link building can be more cost effective than hiring someone to do it manually in your firm. Contrary to what you may believe, outsourcing you link building can be easy and hassle free if done properly.
When contacting a link building agency, you should specify specially what you want from them.
They are namely:
Type of backlinks built back to your desired URL
The type of reports you want to receive
Rate charged (per project or per hour)
If you are run a local business, you should also specify that the backlinks built should come from websites in your country. For example, if you run a dental clinic in Australia, you need to tell your link builder that you only want backlinks from websites ending with the url .com.au
Outsourcing your link building is both easy and cost effective. You should consider hiring a link building agency to help maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your company's SEO efforts.
Many SEO’s still swear by it, while some treat it like the plague but what are the realities of link building using article marketing and does it really still work?
How it is done?
Turning the Volume Up to 11.
Historically the key to article marketing relied on the volume of ‘unique’ articles you produced and the breadth of your syndication. Simply put the more articles you created and syndicated the more links you would generate. This process was made significantly easier following the rise of Indian based businesses providing out sourcing solutions, where you could have articles submitted very cheaply to hundreds of websites.
Spinning the Wheel
Even before panda most SEO’s were aware that original content win’s every time, but how do article marketers handle this requirement with the large volumes needed to be truly effective when building links using articles. The most common way this is achieved is by ‘spinning’ articles, which is the process of writing an original article and using software to re-write it creating multiple ‘unique’ articles based on your originalcopy. Due to the machine produced nature of spun article quality is often lost.
It’s All About Anchor Text
This is the biggy for many article marketers, by spinning articles and scaling their syndication it is possible to point large amounts of links to your website focusing on a single subject and keyword, which historically can help improve your keyword rankings for your targeted keyword.
Why it Worked and Why it was Used:
The reality for many small SEO agencies and clients is that you often have to work within a small fixed budget and article marketing for many was the answer to their link building needs. As you can see in the first part of this post it’s a relatively simple process, takes minimal time to execute and can yield a large amount of highly targeted links which point to your client’s website, allowing the agency to get with other non-link building focused activities.
Why its Dying
Panda’s Don’t Like It
In August 2011 Google launched its Panda update internationally which effectively downgraded the weight of websites with thin content (content farms) and websites with high ad-to-content ratios. This meant that many article directories saw the weight attached to their outbound links reduced significantly, thus reducing their usefulness as part of a link building strategy.
Penguins Hate Anchor Text
Google’s recent Penguin update on April 24th meant there are now penalties for over optimisation of websites and their respective link profile. Article marketing often results in a large amount of links targeting a single or small group of keywords, which as highlighted by Tim Grice at the recent ionSearch Conference may result in penalisation on exact match keywords where they exceed 10-15% of your total backlink profile.
Articles Aren’t Socially Acceptable
There is a growing opinion that social signals such as Twitter updates, retweets, Facebook Share’s & Likes are becoming more influential to the link graph, which given that most syndicated articles receive little social promotion their weighting will become further diluted.
Does Article Marketing Have a Place at the Table?
The main argument against article marketing is that since Panda & Penguin SEO link building efforts are simple better spent methods which yield stronger returns. The reality is that if you whiter than white hat, you’ve probably not bothered with article marketing for years or what article marketing you were doing you’ve now ceased since Panda and Penguin.
I have to admit this is where I currently hang my hat, article marketing still has a place at the link building table but days of large scale submission are over. Any well thought out link building campaign should focus on building a natural looking link graph which is ware article marketing can play its part, it also can still prove effective some uncompetitive niches.
Used article marketing previously, still using it or hate the idea of it? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below:
Yesterday I went to the first ionSearch Search Marketing Conference in Leeds, where I attended a mix of both speaker talks and expert panel sessions.
Overall it was a really great first conference with some really interesting debate and discussion around current and future industry issues and best practice. I attended a total of 10 talks and expert panels and have summed up what I believe to be the main take aways from each session below, with a few common themes coming out:
With Panda and the recent updates to Google’s linking algorithm exact match anchor text can be risky if over used, with the context of the surrounding content now more important.
The lines between SEO and Social are blending further and social should be part of all content strategies
Blogger outreach and relationship building is becoming more key than ever to link building efforts
Expert Panel: SEO Content Strategies
Use social media to look for up-coming trends and plan your content development around them
Measure closely the link between rankings and traffic to judge content success.
Plan your distribution first, focusing content writing on what network, sites or blogs find the most useful.
In boring industries look to humanise content to add context.
look at building content around more interesting subjects and relate that back to your original site.
Expert Panel: SEO for eCommerce
Users buy at product level, develop your SEO campaigns to start from product level up. E.g. Product Detail > Sub Category > Category > Home Page.
Look at what competitors are targeting that you are not for opportunities.
Error management (404’s, 505’s, 301s) is important for site and link stabilisation, use tools such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider, Google Web Master Tools & Xenu to identify them.
Out of stock messages naturally lead to high bounce rates, look at how you can capitalise on these pages with related products and data capture for pre-order.
Don’t ignore customer demographics take time to drive meaning from Google Analysis and your CRM system for content ideas.
Think about page titles from a gender perspective and match them to your market. Men like bold statements, women like answers to questions.
Look at improving the CTR of your SERP’s using schema.org mark up
Reviews are becoming more and more key to SERP CTR
You have to work for reviews, make sure you chase your customers for them, rotating through different review sites.
Video is cheaper to produce than you think and can improve both conversion and dwell time, both of which are metrics that Google is focusing on.
Google shopping ranks price with delivery included
Reviews also play a big influence in Google Shopping, further showing their growing influence.
Ideally look to update sitemaps as often as possible, daily if achivable.
Google can deal with pagination, but ideally look to implement ether rel="next"/"prev" or using rel canonical tags to point back to a ‘view all’ page.
Don’t share any bespoke product text with affiliates, use manufacture text.
Physical stores should always have a dedicated page rather than any dynamic pages, making sure you mark-up addresses with schema.org.
Speaker Talk (Tim Grice): Link Building in Competitive Industries
Bad link are those which are low in quality, un-relevant and contain large amounts of exact match anchor text.
Look at turning your link profile into a graph, comparing the number of links to the quality and see where the most links are held, looking for unnatural spikes.
Target landing pages not keywords, focusing on between 10-15 keywords per page.
Look to mix anchor text and don’t have exact match links that make up more than 15% of your back link profile.
Social signal can be a catalyst to justify link quality in Google’s eyes.
When creating content for both social sharing and linking bear in mind these can be two different types of people, target those who both share and link for the best results.
‘Fresh Rank’ is becoming more important, links in old ‘High PR’ page may not be as effective as they once were; look to develop links in fresh content.
Competitor Analysis, rather than just matching competitor link profiles look to discover why competitors are gaining links.
Develop a content production process such as that used at Branded3 (See slide 6 here) .
Develop content for the network, website & blogger rather than for your-self, going beyond the ‘build it and they will come’ approach.
Find your social influences and develop brand champions.
Speaker Talk (Jon Alderson): Symantec HTML
Schema.org is helping blend the lines between the information web and data web where extrapolating data from written information has previously been difficult.
Use html mark up to maximise Google’s ability read your website e.g. Marking up an address for restaurant using schema.org.
Think about what your mark-up tells Google about your content? are using it correctly?
Speaker Talk (Roland Dunn): SearchBots!
Don’t ignore your server logs, they can tell where GoogleBot is visiting on your website.
Segment and graph the data to understand if GoogleBot is getting lost on your website and not hitting the pages important to your SEO strategy.
Compare GoogleBot’s visits to other user visits to see if they differ and identify if your structure or navigation is causing Google to visits areas your uses don’t.
Speaker Talk (Ralph Tegtmeier, AKA Fantomaster): Turning Black into White - Auto Content Generation for SEO.
Automatically generated content has now advanced to the point where you can’t distinguish between it and real content.
Depending on the hat your wearing, high quality machine written copy can provide real benefits for scalable content production.
If your providing readable, usable, non-duplicated content for sites where thin content is an issue is it really black hat?
Speaker Talk (Dave Snyder): Content Marketing in a Post Pander World.
The content matters as much as anchor text now, if not more.
Authorship can help add authority to content.
Look at how words relate semantically.
Create content with depth, that doesn’t just mean words: mix content with pictures, video and audio etc…
Think about how you curate your content, look at where you are going to published it
Many social network offer adverts for promoting your content e.g. StumbleUpon, or Reddit offer cheap but effective content advertising channels.
Expert Panel: Creative Link Building
Reverse engineer your link strategy, think about where you’re going to get them and who’s going to give them to you, then develop your content around that purpose.
Understand your audience and what they share or link to.
Use Google ImageSearch to find where you infographic has been syndicated to optimise those links
Build outreach networks and relationships for syndicating content, keep these relationships strong.
Use services like myBlogGuest to find guest posters for your own sites to develop brand advocates.
Paid guest post still happen but if you guest post is of a high enough quality bloggers will accept for nothing
Create a link building process, covering industry review, blue sky ideas, relationship building and promotion.
Find out your clients pain threshold e.g. how risky or controversial can your link building ideas be? The more pain the more likely you are to get links.
Track news and social and try, riding the back of those waves to drive traffic and links from your content.
Link your creative to KPI’s e.g. traffic, sales, links
Audit your company’s assets, what can you do with them from a link prospective.
Create websites or content around debate that has some form of relevance.
Create blog posts for un-live products to drive buzz and links, using rel=canonical to transfer link juice once live.
For small agencies doing link building focus on developing blogger outreach networks, using tools such as MyBlogGuest,
Exact match anchor text is dead, the context of content surrounding links now carries equal weight
Expert Panel: How to use Twitter, Facebook & Google+ for SEO
When doing social for SEO your dealing with real people and as such are representing the brand and must understand the responsibilities that go with it.
Your content needs to be on point with your brand making sure your discussing the same subjects that are being talked about socially and in other channels.
Measure KPI’s from what social activities e.g. ranks etc…
Schedule content/social updates around events and weekends, allowing you to be re-active to comments/retweets etc…
A StickyEyes study showed the ranking correlation between social and SERP’s is strong with sites that have high keyword positions often have a solid social footprint.
Consider moving brands onto Google+ as Google integrates more services with it, potentially even Google Maps.
Expert Panel: Future Proof Your SEO
Holistic SEO is future proofing, making sure you cover all the angles from social & structure to content production and html mark up.
Eliminate bad links from the backline profile where possible.
Prime link elimination efforts should focus on removing duplicate content and scraper conten.t
Audit client backlink profiles as part of proposals to avoid dealing with legacy SEO issues.
Social vs. Links profile should look natural.
Building links without social mentions could be risky and result in unnatural link vs social footprints which Google may penalise.
At EAOM we use a number of different SEO tools from a number of providers to make sure we get the most out of our campaigns for our clients from link building and large scale keyword tracking to social media monitoring and competitor analysis.
So as way of spreading a little bit of Christmas cheer here’s some Free SEO tools trials to try in the new year:
Tools: Link Analysis, Competitor Analysis, Social Media Monitoring, On-Page Analysis, Keyword Ranking Checker Trail Period: 30 Days Quick Review: A great tool to overall campaign management, very good onsite error tracking. Also has a very strong community that you can tap into for advice.
Tools: Link Analysis, Link Management, Competitor Analysis, Social Media Monitoring, Keyword Ranking Checker Trail Period: 30 Days Quick Review: Similar to SEOmoz but with added tools for managing your link building efforts which is particularly effective for larger scale link building.
Tools: Advanced Link AnalysisTrail Period: Free (Basic Account)Quick Review: Possibly the deepest and largest link analysis tools and idea for hard core link builders who really want in depth knowledge of competitors and their own websites.
Tools: Link Analysis, Competitor Analysis, Social Media Monitoring, On-Page Analysis, Project Management, Keyword Ranking Checker Trail Period: Free Review: A different approach to SEO tools, where you only pay on a scale for keyword rankings and link analysis has some very well planned out project management tools.