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Monthly Archives: December 2018

Sprout Social Raises $40.5 Million Series-D Fundraising

Sprout Social, a leading provider of social media marketing, analytics and advocacy solutions for business, today announced $40.5 million in new funding from Goldman Read more...

This post Sprout Social Raises $40.5 Million Series-D Fundraising originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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TopRank Marketing’s Top 6 B2B Social Media Marketing Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2019

Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2019

Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2019

That magical time of year has come once again, B2B marketers. As the end of the year draws near, we’re reflecting on what has come to pass and looking ahead to what is yet to come. We’re setting goals. We’re shaking up strategies. And we’re hoping the next year will bring more focus, insight, and success.

Undoubtedly, social media marketing is top-of-mind as we reflect and plan. From the emergence of cool new platform features to scandal and algorithm shifts, 2018 brought both opportunity and obstacles—excitement and dismay. And we expect 2019 to be no different.

So, what do B2B marketers need to keep an eye on in 2019? How will you need to adapt your social media strategies? How can you turn challenges into opportunities? Here are our top social media marketing trends and predictions for the coming year.

#1 – The Element of Trust

Seeds of mistrust in the profiles, postings, news, and information shared across social channels were planted a couple years ago. But in 2018, we’ve seen those seeds blossom.

Following its Russian ad debacle in late 2017, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March 2018, revealing that private profile information was exploited for political gain. As for Twitter, negativity, trolling, and news of fake accounts and follower counts have been growing in scope since the 2016 election, enraging many users and prompting the platform to take a hard look at how to improve civil discourse in 2018.

And to top it all off? We’re living in a world of general distrust, as the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed. In addition, a special Edelman report issued in June showed that global trust in social media is at just 41%.

The good news is that brands can and should rebuild that trust in 2019 and beyond. In fact, the special Edelman report shows that consumers—who are also your B2B buyers—are counting on brands to fix the issues.

“Four in 10 consumers say they are unlikely to become emotionally attached to a brand unless they are interacting via social media,” the Edelman report said. “But they want a better deal for their data. Brands must act to address data privacy concerns, create trusted content, and join forces with regulators, platforms and consumers to restore trust in the social media ecosystem.”

Ultimately, this will require you to align your overall digital marketing strategy around creating trust and value. More specifically for social, this means more authenticity, transparency, and active discourse with your buying audience to showcase your credibility, earn their trust, and encourage engagement.

via GIPHY

And as Debbie Friez, Influencer Strategist at TopRank Marketing points out: “This also means there’s an opportunity to for careful selection and collaboration with credible, relevant thought leaders and experts to create insightful, trustworthy content.”

We’ll get to the influencer piece in a bit. But first, all of this means being prepared for more platform changes and algorithm tweaks. Facebook announced major platform and ad changes following its mishaps, with iterations expected well into 2019 and beyond. Twitter has committed itself to purging fake accounts, fostering better conversations, and serving up better content to users.

[bctt tweet="Brands must act to address #dataprivacy concerns, create trusted #content, and join forces with regulators, platforms and consumers to restore trust in the #socialmedia ecosystem. - @EdelmanPR" username="toprank"]

#2 – The New Age of “Stories-telling”

When Snapchat launched its “My Story” feature back in 2014, it was an apparent wake-up call to the world’s larger, more established social networks. Instagram Stories launched in 2016, followed by Facebook beginning its rollout Facebook Stories in 2017. Now, it’s LinkedIn’s turn.

*LinkedIn recently launched “Student Voices” for university students in the United States. But the platform confirmed plans to build Stories out for more users. Will that include brand pages? Time will tell.

Credit: Mashable via LinkedIn

The point? The off-the-cuff, in-the-moment video and photo stories are resonating with, exciting, and engaging social media users. Why? They can be visually intriguing—and they’re short and sweet, which is good for our short attention spans. And this means the Stories format may be the future of in-app reach and engagement across channels—which no B2B marketer can afford to ignore, especially as their target buyers get younger.

Our own Nick Nelson dedicated some time to discussing marketing opportunities for Facebook Stories specifically, but his assessment has broad resonance and timeliness here.

“Since brands generally aren’t tapping into this functionality as of yet, early adopters can jump ahead of the curve and beat their competition to the punch,” he stated. “If there’s one primary takeaway from Facebook’s story (as reflected in The Social Network), it’s the tremendous business value in being first.”

While LinkedIn’s developing feature may be the most intriguing for B2B marketers like yourself, in the new year you should take stock of your current platform mix and associated strategies to determine if Stories holds potential for your audience and goals. In addition, you should keep a watchful eye on the evolution of these features, so you can make informed decisions more quickly.

[bctt tweet="Early (Stories) adopters can jump ahead of the curve and beat their competition to the punch. @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing #trends" username="toprank"]

#3 – The “Experiential Differential” for Social Video

Video content, both pre-produced and live content, started gaining real traction a couple years back. But today, video is officially dominating social media news feeds.

Why? No. 1: Video is engaging, and humans are visual creatures by nature. No. 2: Social media platforms have recognized video as an engagement medium that not only delights users, but also keeps them on the platform. And they’ve made tweaks to serve up more of it.

For B2B marketers, video has presented an opportunity to bring their brands, solutions, and services to life, and reach their prospects and customers in a more compelling way. But in 2019 and beyond, social video—especially live video—has the opportunity to create more than engagement—but also memorable, real-time experiences. After all, as famed customer service and experience expert, Shep Hyken, recently told us: “Customer experience is the new marketing; it’s the new brand.”

For example, Twitter recently announced that it would be taking steps to make video and broadcasts easier to find and watch live on mobile devices.

In addition, Facebook launched Facebook Watch, featuring videos from all pages and “Facebook originals.” From my perspective, this shows that the platforms are committed to driving better experiences with (great) content.

Also, consider the Twitch phenomenon. While Twitch may not consider itself a social media platform, it’s building a community where people can watch, talk, and interact. So, when it comes to creating compelling video experiences on social media, marketers should be asking themselves how they can elevate intrigue and foster engagement with their video content.

Like any marketing effort, start with data and draw insights. Earlier this year, Amanda Todorovich, Senior Director of Content and Creative Services at the Cleveland Clinic, shared her content marketing insights with us—with this tidbit directly applicable to social video, in my opinion.

“Always bring data to the table, especially data from search and analysis and social media engagement. These insights tell you what your customers want and need,” she said. “When your content helps fill those gaps and provides your target audiences with answers, you will build stronger relationships with them on your different platforms.”

What does your audience want and need? And how can you use video to fulfil what they’re asking for so you can build relationships and create a great experience? Commit to answering these questions in the new year.

Read: Allen Gannet Shares His Secrets to Racking Up Millions of LinkedIn Video Views #CMWorld

#4 – The Evolution of What Social Influence Looks Like

After years of incremental algorithm tweaks (and emerging scandals prompting even more), in early 2018 we marketers had to accept that brand organic reach on social media had essentially disappeared.

TopRank Marketing saw opportunity here—opportunity for B2B brands to dip their toes into the influencer marketing waters and partner with industry leaders and experts to create amazing content. However, as the year has gone on, a “crisis of influence” has emerged in a couple different forms.

First, platforms—most notably Twitter and Instagram—have had to contend with fake “bot” profiles and inflated follower counts (as the result of fake profiles). Quite obviously, this has meant that reach and resonance within target audiences aren’t reaching their full potential. Second, there’s been a lack of transparency on which posts and pitches are sponsored. And third, bad behavior on the part of recognized influencers has had a ricochet effect on brands. The latter two have had particularly dire impacts on B2C brands, but that doesn’t mean B2B brands shouldn’t be concerned.

The bottom line? It’s becoming clearer to brands, buyers, and consumers alike that influence isn’t defined by follower count and estimated reach, something we’ve been evangelizing for years.

via GIPHY

While “big players” certainly play an important role in your influencer mix, variety is absolutely the spice of life now and into the future—and niche and micro-influencers are growing in numbers and importance.

In 2019, B2B marketers need to double-down on vetting and recruiting influencers who are authentically interested in their products or services, and who are genuinely active in the communities of interest. When this is done right, it’s a win for all parties.

In addition, a commitment to ongoing nurturing is a must to drive success.

“We’ve found that B2B influencers will be more invested in the brand when the brand invests more in an ongoing relationship with the influencer,” Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing’s CEO, recently wrote. “One of the most effective ways to engage B2B influencers on an ongoing basis is through content collaboration.”

He added: “That content doesn’t always need to be a blockbuster campaign, either. Twitter chats, short quotes, quick videos and social engagement are all easy and impactful ways for brands to engage with influencers on an ongoing basis.”

[bctt tweet="Twitter chats, short quotes, quick videos and #socialmedia engagement are all easy and impactful ways for brands to engage with influencers on an ongoing basis. - @leeodden #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

#5 – The Rebirth of Groups

On LinkedIn and Facebook, Groups have been around for a while. But when the community-centric spaces started to lose steam, both eventually took steps to pull them into separate apps. However, those moves fell flat of expectations.

In 2017, Facebook announced it would pull the app and integrate the feature closer to the user experience, according to TechCrunch. Then Facebook rolled out “Facebook Groups for Pages,” allowing brands to rally engagement and conversation around interests and topics. And just a few months ago, LinkedIn relaunched Groups in the main app, after “quietly” shutting the app down earlier in the year. And according to both platforms, more updates and features for Groups are to come in the new year.

But why are these social media giants focusing on Groups? The widely publicized scandals, and user’s growing privacy concerns and calls for more real connections, are all likely culprits.

Why should Groups be on your radar in 2019? Because groups are captive audiences, made up of people who are actively looking to engage, seeking authenticity, and wanting to be part of a community.

If you’re thinking of adding Groups to your B2B social media marketing mix in 2019, it will require a different approach. While these spaces present marketing opportunities, they’re not places for product-centric messaging.

When it comes to a B2B marketer’s preferred platform, LinkedIn, the new features within Groups stress exclusivity, privacy, security, and less distractions for meaningful conversations. But it’s an opportunity for B2B marketers to establish thought leadership since they’ll be showcasing their knowledge—which can lead prospects back to company pages and marketing materials.

[bctt tweet="Why should #LinkedIn and #Facebook Groups be on your radar in 2019? Groups are captive audiences, made up of people who are actively looking to engage, seeking authenticity, and wanting to be part of a community. - @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"]

#6 – The Visualization & Personalization of Pay-to-Play Options

For years, social media platforms have been making algorithm and layout tweaks aimed at improving user experience, as well as revenue numbers. As a result, organic reach has effectively disappeared and the use of paid tactics has been rising.

But in light of the aforementioned scandals, user privacy concerns, and new data privacy laws, as well as the increasing need to tailor experiences to make meaningful connections, most major social media platforms are retooling their ad options to be more visual (eh hem, video) and personalized. And if they haven’t already, they will in 2019 and beyond.

For example, stricter ad targeting, customer satisfaction ratings, and ad transparency have been some of the bigger changes Facebook made this year. But the platform plans to invest in creating more advertising opportunities within its Facebook Watch platform, stating: “Next year we will continue to provide advertisers with more options to tailor their video ad campaigns and connect with their target audience.”

Facebook Watch

As another example, LinkedIn recently launched Dynamic Video Ads, which definitely need to be on the radar of B2B marketers.

“Dynamic Ads help you build deeper relationships with your audience by automatically customizing your ad creative with the publicly available information from LinkedIn member profiles,” LinkedIn said. “With this added visibility and scale, you can create more memorable experiences with the people that matter most to your business.”

And let’s talk about Pinterest for a second. While not as widely used in B2B, it has Instagram and Facebook appeal and potential for the right brands. The platform began testing wide-format video ads earlier this year, and just last month they debuted carousel ad formats, which boast enhanced targeting options.

Pinterest Carousel Ads

Finally, Snapchat, which is seeing an uptick in interest and use in the B2B space, launched Story Ads and just announced last week that it was rolling out retargeting, location-based options for its advertisers.

Snapchat Business

So, as we head into 2019, all social media platforms are doubling down on more visual, personalized ad options, and marketers should take advantage.

Ready. Set. Action.

As you prepare for 2019, remember what 2018 taught us—your prospects and customers are consumers, and consumers are skeptical and searching for truth, authenticity, meaningful engagement, and transparency.

As social networks continue to make platform tweaks in the interest of user experience and building back trust, so to must B2B marketers if they want to build stronger, trusting relationships with their audiences.

There will be challenges, but smart strategies and the willingness to adapt can help you overcome them and realize opportunities.

Content is the foundation of social media marketing. What’s on tap for 2019 in the content marketing realm? Check out our picks top content marketing trends and predictions to watch in 2019.

The post TopRank Marketing’s Top 6 B2B Social Media Marketing Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2019 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Style Your Instagram Grid Layout: 4 Planning Tools

Do you want an easier way to curate a stylish and cohesive Instagram profile? Wondering how to see what new images will look like in your profile before you publish? In this article, you’ll discover four Instagram grid layout planning tools that will help you create a visually attractive profile grid. Why Use an Instagram […]

The post How to Style Your Instagram Grid Layout: 4 Planning Tools appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Cross-network insights to drive your paid strategy

The Facebook ads platform may have dominated the social advertising space at the onset, but marketers’ paid social strategies are continually diversifying across social Read more...

This post Cross-network insights to drive your paid strategy originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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7 Efficiency-Boosting Martech Tools & Platform Features B2B Marketers Need to Consider

Back in 2011, roughly 150 marketing technology solutions were on the market. Today, the growth of this sector and it’s options are staggering. In fact, according to Scott Brinker, the mastermind behind the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, the martech landscape has grown an impressive 27% in 2018 to include nearly 7,000 solutions.

Of course, B2B  are rejoicing at the increased number of solutions at their disposal. Many have been steadily adding new tools and solutions to their martech stacks as the need arises to help streamline operations, automate the mundane, quickly gain new insights, track campaigns, and generate greater results.

In other words, these tools offer big efficiency gains, giving you the time, insights, or resources to make better marketing decisions.

But whether your martech stack seems sturdy or you’re actively on the hunt for new tools, you may not be keeping up with the latest and greatest tools that you have yet to tap into. Or perhaps you’re missing out on some of the great features that your current go-to tools offer.

So, to help you get the most out of your martech stack and add to its effectiveness, below we highlight a handful of martech tools and platform features that you maybe haven’t thought of or haven’t heard of to drive efficiency (that can drive better results).

3 Tools That Might Be Under Your Radar

#1 - Nimble

Today, 91% of organizations with over 10 employees have a CRM system. And for B2B companies, a CRM is often a basic essential. But are you leveraging it to execute account-based marketing (ABM) programs or build relationships with your audience over social? With traditional CRM systems, this becomes hard to do as there usually isn’t a social selling or marketing function.

Nimble, a social selling and marketing CRM provider that’s been improving and iterating on its product since 2009, promises to change that. After integrating with your email, Nimble identifies the contacts that need to be entered into the CRM system and matches them with social profiles. This enriches your contact information to much more than just a name, title, and email address.

In addition, this social integration allows you to track how your customers are interacting with your brand over social, as well as enables you to scour social networks for potential prospects. You can also segment your customers in Nimble and send them customized email messages, increasing the effectiveness of your ABM campaigns and saving you time.

Nimble Marketing Technology Tool

Image credit: Nimble

#2 - FeedOtter*

Content marketing is no longer a shiny new object. It’s core to B2B marketing strategies. In fact, Content Marketing Institute (CMI) stopped asking marketers whether or not they use it in their most recent research report.

But as a result of wide adoption, it’s a well-known fact that brands have content and lots of it—and cutting through the clutter and making meaningful connections with your audience can be a big pain point. This often requires a healthy, smart mix of email marketing campaigns, on-page optimization, social media amplification, paid social/search, and more.

FeedOtter has one of the easiest and most efficient ways to consistently get your content out there, and you don’t even have to think twice about it. Through an integration with your marketing automation platform (Pardot or Marketo), FeedOtter is able to automate RSS email and send it through your ESP or marketing automation software.

The tool takes your RSS content and curates it automatically into a beautiful, templated email campaign. And for a more customized approach, you can pick and choose which pieces of content you want to include in your emails to create a personalized blog digest or newsletter.

FeedOtter Marketing Tool

Image credit: Medium

* FeedOtter is a TopRank Marketing Client

#3 - RivalIQ

Competitive research is a routine task for any B2B marketer. But knowing what your competitors are publishing, how they’re interacting with customers, what their customers are saying about them, and more takes an incredible amount of time and research. However, there’s a tool that can help eliminate the need for extensive manual research.

Since 2013, RivalIQ has provided competitive social media analytics that allow you to see exactly where you stand in relation to your competitors. You can see how quickly they’re gaining followers, how often they post over social, what their top messages were, what their average engagement rate is, and more.

In fact, you can even see which of your competitor's posts were paid promotions, giving you insight into their social media strategy. With this information on hand, you can see if you’re moving ahead or lagging behind in performance, allowing you to make adjustments to your social strategy on the fly.

RivalIQ Marketing Tool

Image credit: RivalIQ

4 Underutilized Features From Your Favorite Tools

#1 - BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer

According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2018 Report, 55% of marketers say that content creation is their top priority. Cranking out content is easier said than done, however. You can’t just put out content for content’s sake, you need to make sure your content actually answers a customer question or solves a buyer's pain point—something we often refer to as best-answer content.

BuzzSumo has been around for a while, but their Question Analyzer was just released in 2017 and it can help you ensure that the content you’re creating serves a real, specific need. Just enter in a keyword you want to target, and BuzzSumo will scour online forums, social media, Amazon, and Q&A sites to surface the most popular questions people ask using that term or phrase.

As a B2B marketer, this is critical information to have that can help shape your content marketing strategy and monitor the topics and questions your buying audience is asking. And this feature can help you gather intel quickly.

BuzzSumo's Question Analyzer

Image credit: BuzzSumo

#2 - SEMRush’s Keyword Magic Tool

SEMRush is easily one of our favorite search marketing tools here at TopRank Marketing. Why? They’re constantly releasing new features that help us create better content and make more effective optimizations. One such feature is the Keyword Magic Tool in their SEO Toolkit.

The Keyword Magic Tool has been around for the past couple of years, however, SEMRush has been expanding the tool to make it bigger and badder than ever before. The tool’s database is now home to 7.7 billion keywords, which the company says is the largest in the world. There are now 118 country databases, too.

The tool is one of our go-to resources for informing our SEO strategies or coming up with new content ideas, saving time and providing meaningful insights. Instead of having to search each individual keyword we could target, a single search in the Keyword Magic Tool will gather all of the related keywords, their monthly search volumes, their competition scores, and even filter them based on categories and questions.

SEMRush's Keyword Magic Tool

Image credit: SEMRush

#3 - Google Analytics’ Custom Dashboards

Google Analytics (GA) is included in nearly every marketer's toolkit in order to track their website performance, engagement, and so on. But GA is loaded with features and tools that can help you be more productive—and you might not even be leveraging them.

For example, a top GA pain point can be the time it takes time to navigate through the platform to find the results you’re looking for. Plus, the reports take time to customize, load, and integrate with other data sources.

This is where GA’s custom dashboards come in handy as they allow you to aggregate the data you actually care about and put it into one easy table. You don’t need to dig into several different reports to find what you’re looking for. Instead, you can create a dashboard with all of the information you need on a single page. And you can create several of them, allowing you to create segmented and tailored reports based on your specific KPIs.

If you're already using custom dashboards, you should be asking yourself if you have an opportunity to do more. For example, at TopRank Marketing we have custom dashboards for each of our core services areas.

Google Analytics Custom Dashboards

#4 - Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker

To grow your site’s organic traffic, increasing the quantity and quality of your rankings are a top KPI. But with rankings changing each and every day, your ranking performance is hard to track without a tool to do it with.

Now, well-known SEO tool, Ahrefs, can track your rankings and historical rankings for you. Just last year, Ahrefs released their new Rank Tracker to help you keep tabs on your rankings and the rankings of your competitors—without an immense time commitment.

This tool is especially helpful as it allows you to see your all-time historical rankings for each page of your site and even allows you to segment your rankings based on keyword group, position, SERP type, and more. Want to know how many featured snippets you have? The Rank Tracker can tell you that, too.

Ahrefs Rank Track

Image credit: Ahrefs

Stacking Up Your MarTech Tools

New marketing tools and features are being constantly released, and it’s up to you to evaluate them to see if they’re a good fit for your team and your overall marketing goals. To help spare you from having to do all of the work yourself, the above tools and features are some of the most helpful that we’ve come across.

For more new technologies that can help improve your marketing productivity, check out our list of 54 Artificial Intelligence Powered Marketing Tools.

What emerging marketing tools or new features for old favorites have caught your eye recently? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post 7 Efficiency-Boosting Martech Tools & Platform Features B2B Marketers Need to Consider appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Implement Social Listening for Your Business: 4 Tools

Do you need to do more than monitor and respond to mentions on social media? Looking for tools that also reveal strategic insights from those conversations? In this article, you’ll discover four social listening tools that deliver information you can use to make smart marketing decisions. What Is Social Listening? Social listening is the process […]

The post How to Implement Social Listening for Your Business: 4 Tools appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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A complete calendar of hashtag holidays for 2019

There are hundreds of national, international and world hashtag holidays. Before #NationalMargaritaDay or #NationalPuppyDay—or even social media—nonprofits and global agencies worked to educate and Read more...

This post A complete calendar of hashtag holidays for 2019 originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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The Key to SEO & Content Marketing Success: Understanding Search Intent

Tips for Understanding Search Intent

Tips for Understanding Search Intent

From changes in how people search thanks to technological innovations such as voice assistants, to changes in how search engine algorithms identify searcher needs, smart SEO is now rooted in understanding and matching the intent behind search queries.

When we marketers understand search intent, we can create new content and/or optimize existing content to be more tailored to their audience’s specific needs, problems, and questions—helping gain SERP visibility in the increasingly crowded content landscape, and attract more qualified traffic and build trust with those visitors (who will hopefully feel like you “get” them and their needs).

At TopRank Marketing, we call this SEO and content strategy striving to be the best answer for your audiences—wherever and whenever they’re searching. But where do you start?

It starts by understanding there are different types of intent. From there, there are steps you can take to create a more data- and intent-informed SEO and content marketing strategy.

Below, we dive into the different categories of search intent, as well as provide some starting steps for strategically mapping your content to what your audience is really asking for.

[bctt tweet="When marketers understand #searchintent, we can create #content more tailored to our audience’s specific needs, problems, and questions—helping gain visibility, attract more qualified traffic, & build trust. @annieleuman" username="toprank"]

The Four Types of Search Intent

Whether you want to book a flight to Las Vegas or you’re looking to get a crash-course in underwater basket weaving, we all search for content that helps us achieve something. And generally speaking, there are four core types of search intent: informational (know), navigational (go), transactional (do), and commercial (do + know)—all of which manifest at different stages throughout the customer or buyer journey.

#1 - Informational

This type of search intent is all about learning; searchers are seeking knowledge. Searchers here want to learn more about a topic, are asking questions, and seek answers. Generally speaking, this is the most popular type of search intent—but queries can range from simple questions or phrases (broader queries with lots of search volume) to more complex queries (long-tail queries with more complicated answers and lower search volume.)

Typically, informational queries occur early in the funnel. Searchers have a problem and they’re looking for a solution. They’re going to take some nurturing before they will be ready to convert and are more interested in getting their questions answered quickly than sticking around and making a purchase.

Stage: Top

#2 - Navigational

Navigational intent is all about location. The searcher knows what they need and want, they just don’t know how to find it. Here, searchers often use branded keywords along with specific products and services to find the exact webpage they need. For example, a navigational search might be “L.L. Bean Winter Boots” or “Intel Cloud Computing.” As a result, the SERP typically contains products and service pages as well as brand-related news coverage.

Stage: Middle

#3 - Commercial

Searchers with commercial intent are ready to make a purchase, but they want additional information first—hence the “do + know” designation. They have additional questions that they want answered to help them inform their buying decisions. For instance, they might be trying to decide between two different products and services. They know they need one or the other, but just need an additional resource or guide to help them decide.

Stage: Middle + Bottom

#4 - Transactional

As the name implies, transactional intent is all about the purchase. Searchers are ready to convert and just need to find the correct page or place to convert. Keywords here are very specific as they’re in the bottom of the funnel and often include transactional terms like “buy,” “sale,” or “price.”

Stage: Bottom

[bctt tweet="We all search for #content that helps us achieve something. @annieleuman #ContentMarketing #SEO" username="toprank"]

3 Steps for Building Search Intent into Your SEO & Content Strategy

Now that you’re able to look at your SEO and content strategy under the lens of search intent, the three steps below are a great starting point to leverage that knowledge to make strategic decisions.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Performance

Unsurprisingly, you need to understand where your content stands before you can make informed decisions on where and what to optimize. Take a look at your current keyword map, and what queries you’re ranking for and where in the SERPs you’re ranking.

Use Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, or the same offering from another search engine for this task. Take a peek at your ranking content to determine what characteristics are contributing to your search position. (e.g. How is your content structured? Are you providing a specific answer to the query? Does your target keyword match the queries your ranking for?) Using the data, you should be able to draw some solid insights about the type of intent your existing content is serving, as well as where you may have some opportunities to fill gaps.

To gain some addition perspective, consider doing some internal recon to get more qualitative insight on your customers or buying audiences. Ask your sales team what they’re hearing from customers or review contact forms you’re receiving to see what real customers/buyers are looking for—or better yet, ask current customers directly how they found you and what problem you helped solve. Finally, work with your analysts to learn what queries are coming through on internal site searchers. All of this can add some additional perspective when analyzing the hard data.

The end goal here is to understand your current state, as well as surface additional opportunities where you can create best-answer content to match with audience search intent. Document your findings and move onto taking a deeper dive into the search results in the next step.

Step 2: Evaluate the Competition

Chances are, your content isn’t dominating Page 1 search results across the board; you have competition. So, you need to take the time to analyze the content topping search result pages for your top priority keywords and topics. This will help you can gain a deeper understanding of how search engines have determined intent and why they’ve identified your competition (indirect or direct) as the best match.

Some things to consider as you review results are:

  • Do my initial assumptions about search intent ring true? (e.g. Does my content fit the mold here?)
  • What types of results are on the SERP? (e.g. Are you up against other similar brands? Or are you competing with third-party sites such as Wikipedia? Or is there a variety of seemingly different types of content displayed?)
  • How detailed are the top-ranking pages? (e.g. what’s the length of the content)
  • How is the content structured on those top pages? (e.g. Are there short snackable paragraphs? Is there a strong use of header tags throughout? What CTAs or cross-links are present?)
  • Do I have an opportunity to do better? (How can I optimize my own content to leapfrog other results? Or what other gaps can I fill?)

These are important questions to ask as they can help you see how you measure up. As an example, if one of your target keywords has informational intent and your find top search results are made up of several in-depth, rich blog posts, you’ll know that you need to create an even stronger, media-rich resource to challenge the competition for a better position. (The competition on the SERP is already strong and matches well with the search intent, meaning you’ll have a tougher climb.)

Step 3: Optimize. Create. Iterate.

You’ve taken stock of your own positioning, you understand what you’re up against for increasing your visibility, and you’ve collected more definitive information on search intent. Now, it’s time to put insights into action.

Start with the low-hanging fruit. Through your analysis, you’ve hopefully found opportunities to improve existing content by making updates to align with the intent behind a specific target keyword query or topical cluster, as well as adding relevant crosslinks.

In addition, document, organize, and prioritize additional opportunities as a part of your content strategy so you can execute and track performance. In fact, you may consider adding the type of search intent, the state of the SERP, and how well you match to intent as categories to your keyword maps, glossaries, and other important SEO documents. These documents should be updated as you make improvements to your content, making it easier for you to track changes, measure performance, and do further optimization based on the results you’re seeing.

Searching High and Low

When you take steps to understand the intent behind your audience's queries, you have the opportunity to not only optimize for your audience's needs, but also show them you get them and what they're looking for.

Good old fashioned keyword research and competitive scores paint the outlines of a picture. Search intent adds the color to make your content a work of art. So, start by identifying the type of search intent for your target keywords as you review SERPs. Once you know where you stand and where the competition may be winning, prioritize and execute on opportunities within your strategy to help move the needle.

[bctt tweet="Good old fashioned keyword research and competitive scores paint the outlines of a picture. #SearchIntent adds the color to make your #content a work of art. @annieleuman" username="toprank"]

Matching search intent will be even more critical in 2019. But what other SEO trends do you need to keep an eye on? Check out our list top SEO trends and predictions to watch in 2019.

The post The Key to SEO & Content Marketing Success: Understanding Search Intent appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Use the Instagram Close Friends List for Business

Want to send Instagram stories to a segmented list of followers? Have you heard of Instagram’s Close Friends feature? In this article, you’ll discover five ways to use your Instagram close friends list for your business. What Is the Instagram Close Friends List? While most users have long enjoyed the simplicity of Instagram’s interface, one […]

The post How to Use the Instagram Close Friends List for Business appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Twitter Cards: Everything you need to know

There are more than 330 million monthly active users on Twitter. If that number isn’t significant enough to make your marketing team’s mouths water – Read more...

This post Twitter Cards: Everything you need to know originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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