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Turbocharge Your Content Marketing

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(Posted on Jan 10, 2015 at 06:26AM by William Cosgrove)

Using Multiple Blog Engines

Blogging gives you the opportunity to create relevant content for your customers to drive traffic back to your website.

Blogs increase your SEO and fresh and relevant content is the key to edging out your competitors in the search engine results pages and by using multiple blog engines to broadcast that fresh content you will increase That competitive advantage.

Well written articles will position your brand as an industry leader and posting topics that connect you with your market will demonstrate your knowledge of your business, service or product.

Blogs provide another way to develop better customer relationships by connecting directly with them on your website where your site visitors are able to get to know your business or product from the comfort of your online real estate.

Multiple Blogs, Multiple Results

Blogs improve SEO, attract and engage visitors and promote sales but success isn’t a singular idea. Instead it’s multi-faceted, with countless elements drawn together to attract the necessary clients. Letting just one blog dictate the tone, message and branding of your website is a mistake.

Having a multiple blog engine platform, each with its own search visibility, gives you a big advantage over the competition. Each of these blogs highlights an element of the company (such as sales events, product data and category topics). These elements are then offered SEO infused content, bolstering both their relevancy and their search engine rankings which is essential in today’s competitive landscape.

Through the social integration process, each of these blogs offers consistent content to the right networks. They contribute information that both entices and educates, encouraging readers to return again and again. This increases traffic and, more importantly, it increases sales

Socially Integrated Blogs

Social SEO (search engine optimization) shines a bright light back to your web platform, increasing your online visibility and connecting you to your entire target audience and beyond but even with a diligent blogging schedule, limiting your strategy to focus solely on site updates leaves you in the fog, invisible to your network of socially plugged-in customer base.

Automated integration of your blogs with multiple social networks enables your content to hit the sweet spot of the virtual world, instantly delivering your latest news to your customers via both search and social vectors while saving you valuable time.

Writing quality blog content is a great start toward running a successful blog, but the hard part is getting that content discovered and having the right technology to do it with is essential.

Your brand needs to be on point each and every day and blogs are a key component and to do this you must have the technology that will breath life into your brand.

A key component of any successful plan is the foundation on which it is built and provides the framework that is going to drive that success.

 

Blog Data Touch Points

 

Click here to enlarge

LinkedIn is the most recently added API not listed in this PDF along with the ability to post to over 300 Social sites.
 

William Cosgrove

 

Panda 4.1 expected to benefit SMBs creating quality content

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(Posted on Sep 28, 2014 at 06:10AM by William Cosgrove)
By Brafton Editorial
Picture Google confirmed yet another Panda update. This one’s being called 4.1, although technically it’s the 26th Panda update since the algorithm was released – and it’s expected to help small- to medium-sized businesses rank better in search results.

About 3 to 5 percent of queries are supposed to be impacted, so companies publishing useful and creative content for their target audiences might already be feeling the positive impacts of this update with more organic search traffic.

News of the update and its effects comes straight from Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Pierre Far, who posted about the update on Google+ September 25, saying:

“Earlier this week, we started a slow rollout of an improved Panda algorithm … we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher.”

Far explained that since the Panda 4 update in May, Google has discovered new signals that make it easier to identify low-quality content. Thus, smaller sites putting out good web content have a better chance of ranking well for related searches.

“This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher.” – Google’s Pierre Far

While SMBs are poised to benefit from this update if they’re using transparent white hat optimization practices, many businesses are feeling the sting of a penalty.

Earlier this week, Brafton covered an update that punished sites using private blog networks to generate links and artificially build ranking signals. This shouldn’t necessarily come as a shock –Matt Cutts said guest blogging for links was so done you could stick a fork in it.

Reposted from Brafton

How Measurment Can Kill Your Content Marketing Strategy

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(Posted on Aug 16, 2014 at 05:07AM by William Cosgrove)
By Eric Wittlake Director of Media at Babcock & Jenkins

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The measurement tail is wagging the marketing dog … and it’s turning your marketing into a dog. Unfortunately, few marketers have the insight needed to illustrate the problem, and even fewer have the guts to take it on within their organizations.

Content marketing strategy begins with an understanding of audience and context — everything from analyzing your competition, to assessing economic pressures and exploring competing priorities. Based on that understanding, you identify the opportunities or challenges marketing needs to tackle.


  • Are you losing opportunities because of a perception problem?
  • Are you not in the consideration set at all because of low awareness of what makes your solution different?
  • Are you not being discovered when people look for a solution to the problems you solve?
  • Is the problem that your product or solution addresses a challenge that has simply become accepted as a part of doing business today and is no longer seen as a source of pain?
Now you should be ready to establish your strategic plan. But instead, you are going to toss everything you just did and cave to the demands of the measurement dictocrats.

Here are just a few of the changes you will make. By the time you are finished, there won’t be anything left of the plan you could have created — or the difference it could have made. 

You will ignore the biggest opportunity you have. You could create a great article, white paper, and video that address the opportunity or challenge you identified and ensure they are broadly distributed, consumed, and discussed. For many marketers this is probably appropriate.

Not so fast. You need to measure that effort and definitively tie it back to revenue. Easy enough: You add a registration form.

Now you know who actually saw your content (not just how many times it was seen) and can tie future revenue back to that form completion and your marketing effort. There are just two elephant-sized problems you are overlooking: You decimated the distribution of your content and replaced your original content marketing strategy with rote lead capture.

Sure, your results look OK on paper, but you are now all but ignoring the biggest challenges or opportunities you have.

You will sacrifice the customer experience. Creating a great experience is critical, right?

Unfortunately, there is often a trade-off between measurement and experience. Usually marketers opt for the measurement and end up leaving results on the table. Here are three examples that are far too common:


  • Social-sharing buttons that require authorizing a new application before sharing: Sure, you get some great data, but at what cost to the visitor experience or the social distribution of your content?
  • Limiting RSS feeds to headlines and abstracts lets you track views of your content but increases the distance between your audience and your content. You created that content because you wanted people to see it; now you are making it more difficult.
  • Unnecessary thank-you pages make measurement a snap but they often become a dead end, keeping visitors out of the experience you were drawing them in to.
Every break point you add to the experience gives you a way to measure activity or collect additional data, but each additional step may compromise customer experience and your ultimate results.           

You will slowly adopt the most obnoxious marketing tactics. Strategy is not infallible, but measurement is not either.

Visits, sign-ups, sales meetings, and closed deals may be in nearly every report, but you will never see a line for the number of people who screamed, “I am sick of Acme Company!” because of an aggressive appointment-setting firm you hired.

You likely know to avoid aggressive telemarketing, but what about these common content missteps? Would your strategy lead you down these obnoxious and destructive roads, or just your measurement?


  • Interruptive online ads — like the not-at-all-welcoming welcome ads major publishers sell — deliver traffic from everyone who missed that tiny Close button by just two pixels. That includes practically every mobile visitor to the site. How many of them frantically hit the back button in frustration while your landing page loads?
  • Sensational, yet misleading, headlines increase traffic but leave your visitor feeling duped and wary of clicking again.
  • Expanding your retargeting program: I recently saw five retargeting ads for a single company on one page, each one bought through a different provider. Measurement, not strategy, made an agency do that.
Obnoxious marketing tactics look great in reports, but are they really great for your business?

It is time to resurrect strategy and stop sacrificing real results for the sake of misleading numbers on a piece of paper.

Reposted from the Content Marketing Institute

Cover image by Joe Kalinowski

Most B2B Marketers Struggle To Create Engaging Content

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(Posted on Jul 21, 2014 at 07:17AM by William Cosgrove)
By Laura Ramos

When it comes to content marketing, the majority of business-to-business (B2B) marketers we surveyed last month are not as mature as they think.

Roughly half of respondents (52%) are in the early stages of assembling a content strategy and executing against it. We call this early majority "aspiring editors," and while their practices are often inconsistent or not fully embraced across the organization, these marketers are busy laying the foundation upon which to build an editorial point of view that gives their buyers something useful and valuable to read, watch, or interact with. 

In a new report, published today (subscription required), we took a closer look at the maturity of content marketing practices among 113 B2B marketing professionals. Half of our respondents hail from companies with 1,000 employees or more, and 41% occupy senior marketing positions including the title of CMO or senior vice president. When compared to peers, most (51%) believe their practices are very mature.  

But that bar is not very high when an overwhelming 85% can't connect content activity to business value and, as a result, fail to create those intimate long-term relationships that will form the primary source of competitive advantage in business from now on.

Our content marketing benchmark shows that B2B marketers have more work to do when it comes to consistently delivering a valuable exchange of information with prospects and customers. Key findings include:

  • Content is not marketing's job No. 1. A startling 72% of surveyed marketers say less than half of their marketing staff plays a primary role in content marketing today — leaving content to quickly devolve to talk of products and features, rather than interesting insights buyers crave. It's not a surprise, then, that 87% say they struggle to produce content that truly engages their buyers.
  • Marketers produce content simply to fill the channel. Sixty-two percent admit to producing content on a campaign-by-campaign basis, while 47% said that they focus primarily on creating content for distribution channels like their company website, online advertising, email, and social media. Another 16% said they mainly develop sales collateral. Altogether, this data shows an acute focus on acquisition that practically ignores the remainder of the customer life cycle. 
  • They fail to highlight how they help customers become successful. While 71% of surveyed marketers say their content features case studies or customer stories, only 3% admit this is a primary focus of their efforts. 
  • Content lacks insight that buyers can turn into action. Only 12% of respondents make publishing research and perspectives the main focus of their content marketing, and no one said they engage external experts to validate those ideas.
  • Marketers focus on creating deals, not on building relationships. While more than three-quarters of respondents say they frequently communicate to their customer base, only 5% make this a priority, proving that marketers are too focused on acquisition rather than creating long-term loyalty. 

To overcome these deficiencies, and others we detail in the report, CMOs will need to take a hard look at skills, staff, and creative resources directed at content production — because it's clear that staying the current course will not be productive long-term. In the survey, we found just 4% of those we surveyed are true masters of content marketing. We were lucky enough to speak to a few at companies like Computer Sciences Corp, Deltek, Kapost, Sungard Availability Services, and Verizon — you can learn more about their practices and successes in the research. Survey participants who are members of the Business Marketing Association or Online Marketing Institute can apply for a copy of the report here. You can also read the Advertising Age coverage here to get an additional perspective.

Next up? A deeper look at why content marketing needs to look beyond the top of the funnel to deliver more impact to the business. And, in August, I'll bring this content marketing insight together during theForrester Webinar "Four Ways To Improve Your Content Marketing Maturity" on August 7th.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any interesting content marketing successes to share. Take the assessment yourself and let me know how you score. I look forward to meeting more content masters who deliver the information and insight that buyers value and share.

Originally Posted on Forrester


3 Myths About Duplicate Content

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(Posted on Jul 12, 2014 at 04:50AM by William Cosgrove)

3 Myths About Duplicate Content By Andy Crestodina

The words “duplicate content penalty” strike fear in the hearts of marketers. People with no SEO experience use this phrase all the time. Most have never read Google’s guidelines on duplicate content. They just somehow assume that if something appears twice online, asteroids and locusts must be close behind.

This article is long overdue. Let’s bust some duplicate content myths.

Note: This article is about content and publishing, not technical SEO issues such as URL structure.

Myth #1: Non-Original Content on Your Site Will Hurt Your Rankings across Your Domain

I have never seen any evidence that non-original content hurts a site’s ranking, except for one truly extreme case. Here’s what happened:

The day a new website went live, a very lazy PR firm copied the home page text and pasted it into a press release. They put it out on the wire services, immediately creating hundreds of versions of the home page content all over the web. Alarms went off at Google and the domain was manually blacklisted by a cranky Googler.

It was ugly. Since we were the web development company, we got blamed. We filed a reconsideration request and eventually the domain was re-indexed.

So what was the problem?

  • Volume: There were hundreds of instances of the same text
  • Timing: All the content appeared at the same time
  • Context: It was the homepage copy on a brand new domain

It’s easy to imagine how this got flagged as spam.

But this isn’t what people are talking about when they invoke the phrase “duplicate content.” They’re usually talking about 1,000 words on one page of a well-established site. It takes more than this to make red lights blink at Google.

Many sites, including some of the most popular blogs on the internet, frequently repost articles that first appeared somewhere else. They don’t expect this content to rank, but they also know it won’t hurt the credibility of their domain.

Myth #2: Scrapers Will Hurt Your Site

I know a blogger who carefully watches Google Webmaster Tools. When a scraper site copies one of his posts, he quickly disavows any links to his site. Clearly, he hasn’t read Google’s Duplicate Content Guidelines or the Guidelines for Disavows.

Ever seen the analytics for a big blog? Some sites get scraped ten times before breakfast. I’ve seen it in their trackback reports. Do you think they have a full-time team watching GWT and disavowing links all day? No. They don’t pay any attention to scrapers. They don’t fear duplicate content.

Scrapers don’t help or hurt you. Do you think that a little blog in Asia with no original writing and no visitors confuses Google? No. It just isn’t relevant.

Personally, I don’t mind scrapers one bit. They usually take the article verbatim, links and all. The fact that they take the links is a good reason to pay attention to internal linking. The links on the scraped version pass little or no authority, but you may get the occasional referral visit.

Tip: Report Scrapers that Outrank Your Site

On the (very) rare occasion that Google does get confused and the copied version of your content is outranking your original, Google wants to know about it. Here’s the fix. Tell them using the Scraper Report Tool.

google scraper report

Tip: Digitally Sign Your Content with Google Authorship

Getting your picture to appear in search results isn’t the only reason to use Google Authorship. It’s a way of signing your name to a piece of content, forever associating you as the author with the content.

With Authorship, each piece of content is connected to one and only one author and their corresponding “contributor to” blogs, no matter how many times it gets scraped.

Tip: Take Harsh Action against Actual Plagiarists

There is a big difference between scraped content and copyright infringement. Sometimes, a company will copy your content (or even your entire site) and claim the credit of creation.

Plagiarism is the practice of someone else taking your work and passing it off as their own. Scrapers aren’t doing this. But others will, signing their name to your work. It’s illegal, and it’s why you have a copyright symbol in your footer.

If it happens to you, you’ll be thinking about lawyers, not search engines.

There are several levels of appropriate response. Here’s a true story of a complete website ripoff and step-by-step instructions on what actions to take.

Myth #3: Republishing Your Guest Posts on Your Own Site Will Hurt Your Site

I do a lot of guest blogging. It’s unlikely that my usual audience sees all these guest posts, so it’s tempting to republish these guest posts on my own blog.

As a general rule, I prefer that the content on my own site be strictly original. But this comes from a desire to add value, not from the fear of a penalty.

Ever written for a big blog? I’ve guest posted on some big sites. Some actually encourage you to republish the post on your own site after a few weeks go by. They know that Google isn’t confused. In some cases, they may ask you to add a little HTML tag to the post…

Tip: Use rel=“canonical” Tag

Canonical is really just a fancy (almost biblical) word that means “official version.” If you ever republish an article that first appeared elsewhere, you can use the canonical tag to tell search engines where the original version appeared. It looks like this:

canonical anchor link reference example

That’s it! Just add the tag and republish fearlessly.

Tip: Write the “Evil Twin”

If the original was a “how to” post, hold it up to a mirror and write the “how not to” post. Base it on the same concept and research, but use different examples and add more value. This “evil twin” post will be similar, but still original.

Not only will you avoid a penalty, but you may get an SEO benefit. Both of these posts rank on page one for “website navigation.”

Calm down, People.

In my view, we’re living through a massive overreaction. For some, it’s a near panic. So, let’s take a deep breath and consider the following…

Googlebot visits most sites every day. If it finds a copied version of something a week later on another site, it knows where the original appeared. Googlebot doesn’t get angry and penalize. It moves on. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Remember, Google has 2,000 math PhDs on staff. They build self-driving cars and computerized glasses. They are really, really good. Do you think they’ll ding a domain because they found a page of unoriginal text?

A huge percentage of the internet is duplicate content. Google knows this. They’ve been separating originals from copies since 1997, long before the phrase “duplicate content” became a buzzword in 2005.

Disagree? Got Any Conflicting Evidence?

When I talk to SEOs about duplicate content, I often ask if they have first-hand experience. Eventually, I met someone who did. As an experiment, he built a site and republished posts from everywhere, verbatim, and gradually some of them began to rank. Then along came Panda and his rank dropped.

Was this a penalty? Or did the site just drop into oblivion where it belongs? There’s a difference between a penalty (like the blacklisting mentioned above) and a correction that restores the proper order of things.

If anyone out there has actual examples or real evidence of penalties related to duplicate content, I’d love to hear ‘em.

About the Author: Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. You can find Andy on Google+ and Twitter.

Photo Courtesy of Yehyon Chung, Poptip

Marketers are drowning in content

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(Posted on Jul 9, 2014 at 03:59AM by William Cosgrove)
Author: Jessica McGreal, digital content manager, B2B marketing
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B2B Marketing’s 2014 Content Benchmarking Report reveals marketers are struggling to harness the power of content because of the increasing volume being produced. Jessica McGreal investigates

Content marketing is popular. Period. However, with popularity comes great power, a power the majority of marketers surveyed in B2B Marketing’s 2014 Content Benchmarking Report cannot seem to measure, or harness.

Only one per cent of the B2B marketers that took part in the research said content has ‘limited or no importance’ in their activity. For the other 99 per cent content plays a key role in their overall marketing efforts, with 61 per cent of senior management supporting it.

Due to its great popularity, inbound marketing now takes up 40 per cent of marketers’ time and 29 per cent of the department’s budget.

Andrew Davies, COO and co-founder of IDIO, explains why content has become the holy grail in B2B: “As a B2B marketer myself, I search out content that solves my needs, and have very little time for interruptive messages that come from vendors. Content rules in B2B marketing because it allows me to pull what I need, when I need it; to be served not sold to.”

Under pressure
As a result of its popularity, 86 per cent of marketers have been creating more content over the last 12 months. Impressively, this has been achieved without any notable increase in time and budget; growing just one per cent and three per cent respectively.

Ilona Hitel, MD and founder of The CommsCo, believes this may be down to content being repurposed: “I can see a new world where budget goes a lot further than it used to; once quality content has been created, it can be re-used multiple times. A good idea that used to be a single piece of content can now be optimised to suit a multitude of channels and audiences, meaning marketers can effectively create more content.”

Yet, Brendan Farnell, vice president of strategic accounts at Regalix, believes there might be a more worrying reason behind these stats: “Marketers are still living in a world where feeding search engines with low quality and high quantity content is considered an SEO strategy. But search engines are getting smarter and so must marketers. Search results from ‘content farms’ are now being pushed off from page one and Google is giving more value to original, educational content.”

This paints a bleak picture of marketing teams under pressure to create an abundance of content to reach targets, rather than business goals.

It is unsurprising then that 84 per cent of marketers agreed ‘standing out from the crowd’ was a main challenge. To overcome this issue 42 per cent said their teams needed to produce ‘more relevant/commercially useful content’, 19 per cent said ‘using the right platform for the audience’ would overcome the problem and 13 per cent felt creating ‘original’, ‘tailored’ content would help. 

This may mean producing fewer pieces of content, focusing instead on larger projects tailored to prospects’ needs and pain points. Marketers need to follow Hitel’s advice and repurpose content. For example a research report can be recycled to create an infographic, a video and a series of blogs.

Content overdrive
So, as marketing teams go into content overdrive, what formats are they focusing on?

The research revealed the most popular types of content are blog posts, (frequently used by 61 per cent of marketers), followed by press releases (47 per cent) and case studies (45 per cent). However, this is in contrast with the most effective content types: video (47 per cent), case studies (46 per cent) and whitepapers (39 per cent).

Going forward, it is essential marketers begin to use the best type of content for their intended goals. The report showed the best type of content to generate the most leads is whitepapers. Reports, whitepapers and case studies generate most revenue. Whereas blog posts are the best at driving traffic to websites.

Planning matters
Creating effective content also means preparation and planning. While 68 per cent of brands have a content marketing strategy, 63 per cent of brands do not have editorial guidelines.

“Without a good set of guidelines you risk wasting a lot of time and energy on an expensive marketing discipline without a foundation on tone of voice, style and purpose, you are doing no more than ‘hit and hope’,” says Steve Kemish, managing director ofCyance. “A good set of guidelines shouldn’t be more than one or two sides of A4, so there should be no excuse.”

Guidelines should address the main objectives and features of the content marketing campaign. Forty-five per cent of marketers said the key feature of a successful programme was ‘relevance to audience’, 24 per cent listed ‘engagement’ and 19 per cent said ‘appropriate channel use’.

Oddly, only one per cent said creating ‘memorable content’ was a key feature of a successful campaign. This adds to the argument brands are creating an abundance of ‘one hit wonders’ when it comes to content, rather than creating useful, interesting and valuable pieces their prospects will remember and keep in mind when it’s time to buy.

Crowded marketplace
Creating successful content is only half the battle, ensuring it reaches the right people is the other. To do this 95 per cent of marketers use email to distribute content, followed by company website (93 per cent) and social media (91 per cent). 

With nearly all B2B marketers utilising these channels, brands have begun shouting messages at their customers rather than creating a two-way dialogue. In order to break through the noise and differentiate in a busy marketplace, practitioners should be looking further afield at new technologies and traditional channels that are currently less popular. For example, only 28 per cent said they distributed content via direct mail, 19 per cent via third party blogs and 17 per cent via a mobile or tablet apps. These less busy channels could be exploited.

Subsequently, trying to be heard above the noise of competitors is a continuing problem in B2B, with ‘engaging target audience’ listed as the number one challenge 37 per cent of marketers are facing, followed by ‘measuring ROI’ (34 per cent) and ‘generating leads’  (29 per cent).

Only three per cent of those surveyed said they could measure ROI on their content activity ‘all the time’ (an increase of a mere two per cent since 2013). While 38 per cent said they could only measure ROI ‘some of the time’, another 15 per cent admitted they could ‘rarely or not at all’ calculate ROI.

It is worrying that ROI still remains a problem as 63 per cent of senior management teams prefer their marketing departments to demonstrate ROI, and a further 21 per cent have a ‘strong emphasis’ on it.

Marketers seem to be stuck when it comes to proving the value of their content activities, which may result in budgets being cut in the future. Farnell explains: “ROI attribution across channels has always been a problem and content will be no exception. The risk for marketers is that the lack of ROI tracking will result in a decrease in content marketing spend.”

Overcoming challenges
All three of these challenges could be overcome by the proper implementation of analytics. While over half (55 per cent) of B2B organisations said they utilised data analytics, only 22 per cent said it played a ‘critical’ role when creating effective campaigns.

Jon Myers, VP and MD EMEA at Marin Software, argues: “Running analytics on your content can help reveal valuable insights into audience interests. The more data you have, the better. Discover where you get the most viewers, what types of content they’re consuming, when they’re accessing it, and what information sparks their interest or leads them to convert. This kind of data can be used to influence aspects of your future content – content type, post time, channel of distribution, etc. Many people are surprised at just how data-driven content marketing is.”

Some 54 per cent of those surveyed used web analytics, 31 per cent social analytics, 27 per cent marketing automation software and 25 per cent CRM. Of the 27 per cent utilising marketing automation platforms, four per cent said they made ‘little or no use’ of the features, 57 per cent made ‘some use’ of the features, and only 17 per cent said they made ‘full use’ of the software.

This shows marketers are not taking advantage of the technology available. Without setting out goals that can be measured by analytics, marketers will remain lost – creating content that is of no value. This needs to change if brands want to engage with customers, prove ROI and generate real leads.

B2B Marketing’s 2014 Content Benchmarking Report proves the popularity of content is still on the rise. But it also contains a stark warning: marketers need to take full control of their content efforts to overcome the major problems that remain with engagement, ROI and leads.

Backlinks = Rankings, Rankings = Traffic - Deal With It

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(Posted on Jun 3, 2014 at 04:21AM by William Cosgrove)


Link building, done correctly, is hard work. It's laborious and filled with lots of rejection. In many ways, it's like telemarketing – nobody likes it, but it pays off. In fact, link building still works better than anything else to boost organic rankings.

Google's Matt Cutts recently confirmed the continuing value of links here and here. The key quotes:

...backlinks…are a really, really big win in terms of quality for search results ... backlink relevance still really, really helps in making sure we return the best, most relevant, most topical set of search results.

...backlinks still have many, many years left in them ... over time backlinks will become a little less important ... we will continue to use links in order to assess the basic reputation of pages and websites.

So what are the takeaways from these videos? Most commenters picked up on natural language processing and authorship, as probable ranking factors moving forward, without acknowledging the core message of the videos – links still matter a lot. And they will continue to matter for many years.

I don't blame anyone for chalking these videos up to Google FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), but the evidence doesn't stop there. I'm sure that you're familiar with the Penguin algorithm. How about manual penalties, for unnatural links? If links didn't matter, would there be an entire industry dedicated to link audits and sanitizing backlink profiles? Would Google spend so much time and resources battling spammy links? Of course not.

Still, there is a whole contingency of "link deniers" proclaiming that "link building is dead." These folks are just as fervent in their beliefs as the "truthers" and "birthers" despite factual evidence that runs to the contrary. (There's a pretty good chance you will read their comments, below.)

So why are so many people running away from the single most important task in building organic rankings? The answer is pretty simple. Not only is link building hard, but if done improperly, it can result in a penalty and in the most extreme cases can even get you sued!

Can you blame SEO professionals for running away from that hot mess? Of course you can – and you should.

Every marketing campaign focused on building organic rankings needs a link building component. Thousands, if not millions, of pages of great content are published on the web daily – most will never be seen by human eyes. Great content alone, in a competitive niche, rarely ranks without links.

There's a big difference between link building (baiting, earning) and link spamming. The kinds of links that matter are the ones that are editorially given. Links with innate value, not necessarily SEO value. These links require human intervention for placement. A link that can be dropped automatically by anyone has little value and often leads to abuse and trouble.

So, what are some effective techniques for building links in 2014? Actually, the same strategies advised by Cutts way back on March 4, 2010 still hold up today:


  • Create controversy: Use it sparingly like spice. The occasional rant is best and if over-used, loses its effectiveness.
  • Use humor: Offered as a "softer" alternative to controversy. Can be equally effective – especially if original. (The Oatmeal has built a franchise on funny)
  • Participate in blog and forum communities: Not as a spammer, but as an interested community member who gives back to the community by answering questions that help people. This builds credibility and opens up opportunities to attract links.
  • Publish original research: Doing a little work to dig into a subject can get a lot of links.
  • Use social media: Think about where your target audience spends their time. Is it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? You need to be there as well. Like blog and forum communities, getting to know people via social media opens up link opportunities.
  • Create a "Top X List": Like controversy, this is best used sparingly or it can get old fast
  • Blog frequently and establish yourself as an authority in your field: If authorship had been in place when this video was produced, I'm sure that would have been mentioned, as well.
  • Create how-tos and tutorials: They may not attract a ton of links, but a few good links can have a huge impact – especially on the long tail. These are also a natural for video.
  • Create a useful product and give it away for free: Firefox extensions, Chrome extensions, WordPress plugins, anything open source.
Bottom LineCheap, easy, automated link spamming is no longer an option for those in it for the long haul. (Notice that I didn't say that it's dead or doesn't work.)

Editorial link building is alive and well and more powerful than ever before. Getting position one for a keyword is no longer the only KPI to measure, but it's still an important metric to pay attention to as a means to drive organic traffic to your website.

By Chuck Price

User Generated Content Preferred Over TV By Millennials

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(Posted on Mar 17, 2014 at 08:50AM by William Cosgrove)

According to Crowdtap, partnered with Ipsos Media surveying 839 millennial men and women online, millennials reported spending roughly 18 hours of their day engaged with media, often viewing multiple devices simultaneously. Whether it’s called peer-created content, consumer content or user generated content (UGC), the research found that millennials spend 30% of their media consumption time with content that is created by their peers.

This exceeds television consumption and is rivaled only by the time spent with all traditional media types (TV, print, radio), a combined 33%. Millennials are also committed to engaging with social media on a daily basis above all other media types.

Millennials spend more time with User Generated Content than with TV

Share of Daily Media (All Media Types;17.8 hours)

% of Time Spent

Media

20%

Browse the internet / go online

13%

Watch TV (live)

10%

Watch TV (pre-recorded)

10%

Play computer or video games

7%

Go to the movies

7%

Listen to the radio

3%

Read print magazines / newspapers

 

Share of Daily Media Time (UGC; 5.4 hours)

% of Time Spent

Media  

18%

Social networking & content (FB, Instagram, LinkedIn)

6%

Use e-mail, text, chat, texting apps

6%

Talk with others about news / products /brands

Source: Ipsos MediaCT/Crowdtap Jan 2014


Millennials prioritize social networking above other media:

Daily Use of Media Types

Peer Generated

 

Format

Use Daily

Social Networking (eg. FB, LinkedIn, Inst...)

71%

E-mail, text, chat, texting apps

49%

Talk about products/brands

39%

Watch video clips (eg. YouTube)

35%

Read peer reviews (eg. epinions)

18%

Blog online, post to bulletin boards, etc.

15%

 

Other Media

 

Watch TV (live)

60%

Listen to Radio (broadcast/streaming)

53%

Retrieve news, weather, scores

47%

Watch TV (pre-recorded)

46%

Visit news media sites

37%

Read blogs, bulletin boards, etc.

29%

Read print magazines or newspapers

18%

Get product info/buy from a company

17%

Read professional reviews (CNET, etc.)

15%

Banner ad

12%

Source: Ipsos MediaCT/Crowdtap Jan 2014

Given millennials’ advertising savvy and skepticism around media, it is important to deliver a message through trusted sources, says the report. Millennials report that information they receive through UGC is highly trustworthy and trusted 40% more than information they get from traditional media sources (TV, print & radio), including newspapers and magazines.

Specifically, conversations with friends and family are the most trusted UGC format, followed by peer reviews. Conversations with friends and family are trusted 2:1 over TV and radio and almost 4:1 over banner ads. Brands looking for consumers to trust their marketing can no longer rely on tradi­tional media to communicate their messages to consumers. In today’s landscape, it’s peer-created content, or “consumer to consumer marketing,” that drives trust.

The correlation between trust and influence is revealed in the 2013 Annual Edelman Trust Barometer Study, says the report, which finds that trust leads to influence. The more trusted the source of a message, the more likely it will have a positive impact.

Media Trustworthiness (UGC 59%)

Format

% Most Trusted

Product/brand conversations with friends/family

74%

Peer reviews (e.g., epinions)

68%

E-mail, text, chat with friends/family

56%

Social networking & content (FB, Instagram, LinkedIn)

50%

Blogs, bulletin boards, forums, etc.

48%

 

Other media 39%

 

Professional/industry reviews (CNET, etc.)

64%

Product info/buy products from a co. website

49%

Print magazines or newspapers

44%

Online magazines or newspapers

40%

Radio

37%

On TV

34%

At the movies

28%

Banner ads

19%

Source: Ipsos MediaCT/Crowdtap Jan 2014

With 18 hours of media consumption a day, across multiple screens, with channel flipping, tabbing and page turning, it’s a wonder anything stands out and makes a lasting impression, notes the report. Marketers rely on creative to break through the clutter, but often it’s a combination of creative and the right delivery channel. For millennials, user generated content is more memorable than non-user gener­ated content, with peer-created content, including conversations with friends/family and peer reviews standing out the most.

Percent Finding Media Type Memorable

UCG  50%

 

Media Type

% Finding Memorable

Professional/industry reviews (CNET, etc.)

47%

On TV

47%

Product info/buy products from a co. website

42%

Print magazines or newspapers

38%

At the movies

37%

Radio

33%

Online magazines or newspapers

32%

Banner ads

26%

 

Other Media 37%

 

Product/brand conversations with friends/family

67%

Peer reviews (eg., epinions)

53%

Social networking & content (FB, Instagram, LinkedIn)

50%

E-mail, text, chat with friends/family

46%

Blogs, bulletin boards, forums, etc.

40%

Source: Ipsos MediaCT/Crowdtap Jan 2014

UGC uniquely provides marketers greater access to millennials’ time, a trusted channel to deliver brand messages and a memorable experience. The combination to deliver all three makes UGC more influential on millennials’ product choices and purchase decisions than traditional media.

Percent of millennials who say media type has influence on purchase decision:

  • User Generated Content   53%
  • Traditional Media   44%
  • Banner Ads   23%

Concluding, the report says that professional influencers have the reach and resources to create and share quality content. Consumer influencers have personal relationships that enable their recommendations to carry weight. Together, this combination can drive both reach and powerful influence. As brands continue to aggregate types of influencers and refine their strengths, these programs will likely become a fundamental component of most marketing strategies.

By Jack Loechner,
Center for media Research

What do E.T., Jimmy Kimmel, Mashable and The Washington Post have in common?

They all used native advertising.

Also known as sponsored content, native advertising allows businesses to include branded content that resembles journalistic content in a publication’s pages.

The paid content will never match the credibility and value of earned media, but it can still amplify earned or owned messages, according to Edelman Chief Content Strategist Steve Rubel.

In Steve’s Sponsored Content Report he breaks down the ins and outs of native advertising.

This article highlights Steve’s findings about why native advertising’s popularity has surged and how brands and publications use it.

Why Now?

Native advertising has existed in some form for decades.

Recently, though, major news publications that had once shunned branded content from its pages have become open to it.

Here are three reasons why:

1. Vanishing revenue streams

It’s no secret that U.S. news media outlets need new sources of revenue.

Even since the beginning of 2013, advertising prices have dropped sharply because of increased content accessibility, fewer banner clicks due to increased mobile usage, and digital ad exchanges providing real-time ad inventory trading.

At the same time, few consumers have shown a willingness to pay for news.

2. Evolving reader behavior

Twitter and Facebook pioneered chronological news consumption with its layouts that include ads and personal content alongside editorial news.

People generally accept advertising in social networks (and search engines) because they understand that’s the cost of a free service.

Having paid, owned and earned content next to each other has potentially changed how audiences feel about “the permeability between advertising and editorial (e.g. the so-called church-state wall),” Steve writes.

Wrestling with native advertising? Register for Steve’s free webinar now!

3. Brands focusing on content

B2C Content Marketing - Native AdsFifty-five percent of B2C content marketers said spending on content would increase over the next 12 months, according to a 2012 study.

The continued growth of content marketing—which allows marketers to tell their brand story on their own websites, mobile apps and social channels—creates stiff competition for prospects’ attention.

Marketers joining forces with news executives “may enable sponsored content to thrive,” Steve writes.

What Do Native Ads Look Like?

Just as content types differ, so do the types of native advertising. Steve’s research has show three common approaches.

Steve suggests that more forms of native advertising will emerge as the practice becomes more widespread, ethical dilemmas are resolved and publishers differentiate offerings.

Here are three of today’s most popular methods:

1. Paid syndication

Currently the most common format, paid syndication places clearly labeled branded articles, videos, slideshows and infographics in the news section.

Paid syndication has potential pitfalls, though. Clearly labeling content as a “sponsored post” could drive readers away.

Other times, it can frustrate readers. In January 2013, The Atlantic published native advertising by The Church of Scientology and came under fire as its audience found it too self-serving. The backlash forced them to take down the article 11 hours later.

AOL, Slate, NBC News, and Gawker Media are some news outlets that run paid-syndicated posts.

2. Paid integration

Steve compared this tactic to TV product placement, where a publication weaves a brand into a narrative.

BuzzFeed, for example, uses this tactic by creating a post centered around a “sponsor’s ideals” with a brand message weaved in, Steve says.

Other publications will integrate native ads into posts but do so more overtly. For example, a top 10 list will have a sponsor listed as number 11.

3. Paid co-creation

The future of native advertising may be paid co-creation, Steve says. It has the potential to benefit readers, marketers and publishers while being “ethically safer.”

With the tactic, a brand funds the development and staffing of a new site, news section or app. Though a marketing team guides the new platform’s direction, the publication typically controls the editorial content.

Mashable, for example, has teamed its content creators with marketers to develop a series of feature articles that relate to the brand’s values or themes.

Conclusion

Steve writes that native advertising continues to evolve and provides the PR industry an opportunity to expand its relationship with media outlets. However, unknowns, including solutions to ethical issues, remain.

The onus of resolving the pitfalls of native advertising does not belong to publishers only, though.

“The PR industry can play a key role in the development of this new advertising format,” Steve writes. “Experimentation should be encouraged. And just as the social media revolution expanded the profession’s remit, so may sponsored content – but perhaps in a much more profound and accelerated way.”

BY BRIAN CONLIN

Creating content that’s tied to a specific news event — sometimes known as newsjacking — is an established way to give content a boost in the search rankings. Done correctly, it can be like being in a glider that hits an updrafting thermal. Searches for information about the news event bring your content to the attention of people you may want to reach. But news-relevant content can also be a powerful way to show customers and prospects that your organization understands their world and can help them with issues they’re facing. This builds trust, so they’re more likely to prefer you as a vendor. 

Do this through what I call the “narrowcast” approach to newsjacking. It works best for highly targeted products and services, and is particularly relevant for B2B content for businesses like professional services. However, it also works well in B2C — particularly for big-ticket or high-involvement categories — because the news that matters to these audiences generally isn’t the type of information that gets shouted from the rooftops of Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, or Yahoo News. Because it’s relevant only to a small number of people, it tends not to be carried by media obsessed with the latest OMG!!! about ScarJo, JLaw, and JLo.

People in tightly defined markets want to know about new government regulations, legal judgments, laws, disruptive technologies, the results of studies and surveys, and other information that’s relevant to them. Because this kind of focused information is hard to find amid all the celebrity gossip, if you tell them about new developments that may affect them, you’ll win their long-lasting attention — and, likely, their gratitude.

Case study: New EPA regulations For example, consider a case I was involved in on behalf of a client. The narrowcast news in this case was about a regulatory change, from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about the allowable levels of emissions from some diesel engines. At the time, the EPA had announced that exhaust emission limits would start to be calculated based on the engines’ hourly emissions averages, rather than their annual averages (as had been the previous measurement standard).

This seemingly small announcement, which got little media coverage, left hundreds of power producers (such as municipal utilities) aghast. With one stroke of a pen, the EPA had rendered their current business strategies useless, as they would now face new expenses in meeting demands for “peak power” — morning and afternoon times, when demand for energy is particularly high.

My client, an engineering firm, asked for my help in creating content that would highlight the value it provides in helping utilities find and implement the best solutions to help them meet the new EPA guidelines effectively and cost-efficiently.

The resulting content described the new EPA rules, analyzed their expected effects, and offered suggestions on how utilities could adapt to the change in regulations. While the text was informative overall, it particularly highlighted the role that the engineering firm could play in addressing the specific concerns brought on by the news announcement. The content was published in a national power-sector trade publication, as well as being placed on the firm’s website, ensuring that it reached the right audiences.

The lesson learned While the EPA announcement wouldn’t necessarily qualify as newsworthy to mainstream media, it was a huge deal for some utility companies — exactly the market my engineer clients were pursuing.

The strength of narrowcast newsjacking comes from exclusivity. While any number of bloggers will prepare content around big news events, capitalizing on topics of niche interest give your organization a chance to show its ability to offer real-life solutions that directly pertain to your target’s business challenges.

It’s powerful positioning. Customers want to know that their suppliers have “got their back” and will be able to protect them from new developments that have the potential to harm them. They will also appreciate that they can count on your company to alert them to new opportunities to cut costs, work more efficiently, or comply with the latest industry standards. Using content creation to demonstrate your organization’s understanding of the audience’s world — and of the issues its members are facing — is a strong way to show that you care about their business, and are able to achieve results that are tailored to their specific needs.

Building your narrowcast newsjacking machine Start by getting clarity around three kinds of questions:


  • Whom do you want to reach? Within your target customer base, for example, is the decision-maker you need to reach the CEO, the Director of Operations, legal counsel, the marketing department, or human resources?
  • What issues and concerns are relevant to them? For example, the head of staff development might be interested in new training technologies; the environmental compliance people want to know about new environmental regulations, and IT people may want to know about new ways to make a trend like bring-your-own-device-to-work the standard in your company.
  • How will you plan to learn about new developments that might interest your target markets in those fields? Some information-gathering methods will be what military intelligence systems call “human intelligence” — networking with colleagues, customers, vendors, and others to find out what’s happening. You will also want to personally scan relevant trade and business media, social media, and traditional news channels. And some information may come to you through alerts you’ve set up on your favorite media channels for targeted industry keywords.
Creating effective newsjacking content There are several points that should be covered in the news-related content you create in order to provide the right information that will also move your audience to take action:

  • What’s the news? You need to define the news event and summarize it — as well as provide any additional background information that will help clarify the situation, and how and why it came about.
  • Why does it matter to your audience? Here, you may need to deal with what salespeople would call “objections.” Prospective customers may think that the news development you’re describing won’t affect them, so your content should point out exactly why it’s relevant and may impact their business. Alternately, prospects may be thinking, “It’s no problem; even if this news does pertain to us, it won’t impact us negatively.” If there are reasons you believe otherwise, make sure to discuss why in your content.
  • What’s likely to happen as a result of this news? If you’ve explained the event, given some background, and shown why the audience needs to pay attention, prospective customers will want to seek out expert opinions on how the situation is likely to develop. For example, if the news is about a new disruptive technology, you might want your content to discuss the potential impact it will have on your industry’s marketplace.
  • What are your recommendations? Here is where you provide your organization’s real value-add in terms of moving the prospective customers to take action. This might involve outlining some steps that they can take themselves, or offering links to resources they can use to stay informed — such as your company newsletter, your Twitter account, relevant social media discussion groups, white papers, or contact information for your company’s sales representatives.
News analysis content is also a good way to improve a firm’s Google rankings. If the content you create contains relevant keywords and key phrases, it is more likely to come up when your target audience searches for more information on the newsworthy item. Because of the time-sensitivity of searches on news-related items, getting your content out there quickly is particularly important in newsjacking.

In cases of tightly-defined markets, where the relevant news is scarce — and recommendations on what to do about it are even scarcer — narrowcast newsjacking can help your company prove itself to be a true friend, and trusted resource, in your industry.

Looking for more ideas and inspiration for creating content around news? Read CMI’s Content Marketing Playbook: 24 Epic Ideas for Connecting with Your Customers.


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