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Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

Trust Fractures: How to Avoid Accidentally Eroding Your Brand’s Credibility

Avoiding Unintended Brand Trust Fractures

Recently, we’ve been running a series of posts here on the TopRank Marketing Blog called “Trust Factors,” where we explore techniques that modern brands can use to build trust and credibility with digital audiences. There are numerous examples of companies building trust with best-answer content and boosting credibility with influencer marketing for this purpose.

Marketers are always seeking creative ways to forge genuine connections while standing out from the pack. New research from Edelman shows that consumers now have higher expectations than ever when it comes to brand responsibility. However, it’s worth pointing out that these efforts (even with the best of intentions) can backfire.

When steps taken to strengthen trust instead have the opposite effect, we call these “Trust Fractures.” A recent example got me thinking about the subject, and why marketers everywhere should be cognizant of its lurking danger.

A (North) Face Plant on Wikipedia

Wikipedia. According to Moz, its domain authority is among the highest on the web. Search marketers are accustomed to competing with the community-driven online resource’s informational results atop SERPs of all kinds. Brands occasionally attempt to co-opt Wikipedia’s popularity and inherent trust factor in various ways.

The North Face, an outdoor recreation product and clothing company, recently teamed up with agency Leo Burnett Tailor Made for a seemingly savvy initiative: taking high-quality photos of athletes in North Face gear at notable locations around the globe, then uploading them as featured pictures for the pages covering those landmarks on Wikipedia.

The idea is pretty straightforward; when a user runs a Google search to learn about state parks and mountains and the like, they’ll click on the Wikipedia entry and find North Face products and logos within the imagery. In addition to the powerful authority for an image hosted on wikipedia.org helping these graphics rank very highly in image searches, there’s also the subconscious connection created in one’s mind when they see the North Face brand embedded in photos of these beautiful places.

For a while, it seemed to be working, as explained by a recent writeup in AdAge. But when Wikipedia’s moderators became aware of the scheme, they were none too pleased. Unsurprisingly, this kind of activity goes against the non-profit website’s terms of service.

“Adding content that is solely intended to promote a company or its products goes against the spirit, purpose and policies of Wikipedia to provide neutral, fact-based knowledge to the world. It exploits a free public learning platform for corporate gain,” said a representative from the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit that runs Wikipedia.

(Source)

“What The North Face and Leo Burnett did wasn't clever or impressive—it was duplicitous, using Wikipedia's openness against it, and in fact was directly contradictory to Wikipedia's Terms of Use,” one of Wikipedia’s volunteer editors told AdAge. This particular editor, William Beutler, also happens to be the CEO of his own agency (Beutler Ink), making his sharp words toward Leo Burnett extra-spicy.

Wikipedia’s editors removed the offending images. North Face issued an apology. Perhaps they still consider the entire endeavor worthwhile given all the attention it garnered. But in their effort to gain brand trust and recognition by earning high search placements and associating (indirectly) with the Wikipedia name, North Face and its agency come out looking at best aloof, and at worst “duplicitous.”

How to Steer Clear of Trust Fractures

Sometimes, Trust Fractures are the simple results of blatant missteps by a brand or its representatives. These are relatively easy to avoid (don’t do shady stuff!). Instances like the one above, where a trust-diminishing situation arises as an unforeseen consequence, are tougher to eradicate but can be reduced through deeper and more comprehensive planning.

Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your programs are strengthening trust rather than weakening it.

#1: Do Things for the Right Reasons

You can’t — for lack of a better term — “black-hat” your way into trust. There’s no gaming human emotions. If your brand’s actions aren’t genuine, people (and even search algorithms) will get wise, because both are growing a lot more adept.

[bctt tweet="There’s no gaming human emotions. If your brand’s actions aren’t genuine, people (and even search algorithms) will get wise, because both are growing a lot more adept. @NickNelsonMN #TrustInMarketing" username="toprank"]

If you create content solely for the purpose of ranking high on search, rather than fulfilling your audience’s questions and curiosities, then a best-answer approach isn’t going to deliver the results you desire. The former should arrive as a natural consequence of the latter. I’ve come across numerous keyword-stacked pages that bury you in lead-gen fields as soon as you arrive. Not only will users reject these kinds of tactics, but because of the correspondingly low time-on-page and high bounce rates, Google will too.

The same goes for influencer marketing. When done right, as a mutually beneficial and fully engaged partnership, it’s a boon for credibility. But if you’re merely paying someone to associate your brand with them, it’s likely to be transparent to both their following and yours. We see this a lot in the B2C Instagram space, which (from my view) helps explain why millennials are reporting lower levels of influencer trust.

So I repeat: do things for the right reasons. Was there a purpose in North Face’s Wikipedia-image play other than sneaking its brand name into objective informational content? Perhaps, but it doesn’t really come off looking that way.

#2: Avoid the Fauxthenticity Pitfall

I wrote about this last year, and it goes hand-in-hand with the point above. Basically, when brands try too hard to convey authenticity in hopes of building trust with their audience, it can make them look even more out-of-touch.

This is the core issue afflicting many pay-to-play influencer engagements with Instagram celebrities, including one particularly cringeworthy example I cited in the linked post. When I see someone with millions of followers write nice but seemingly scripted things about a product, followed by hashtags indicating it’s an #ad, I have a really hard time trusting the legitimacy of the endorsement. I know I’m not alone.

#3: Think Through Outcomes and Next-Steps

Thinking strategically is always vital as a marketer, especially in cases like these. That means looking at the big picture. What was the end-game with North Face’s image play? Did their agency foresee this possibility? They probably should have, since Wikipedia’s terms aren’t locked up in secret somewhere.

With any trust-building initiative, it’s important to account for what comes next. Where might things go wrong? Are there angles we aren’t considering? How might a certain action be perceived differently than we’re intending?

Without the benefit of experience and seasoned perspective, it can be difficult if not impossible to think through all the effects that might ripple outward from a program or campaign. In this regard, it’s extremely helpful to enlist an agency partner with a strong track record of astute judgment.

Keep Marketing Trust Intact

When looking at the present digital marketing landscape, I frequently think about the saying that trust is gained in drops and lost in buckets. It’s so true, and so germane to this particular discussion. We as brands work so hard to establish and sustain genuine trust with our customers, prospects, and audiences that preventable backslides can be a real gut-punch.

[bctt tweet="As the old adage goes: Trust is gained in drops and lost in buckets. #B2BMarketing #trust" username="toprank"]

Here at TopRank Marketing, we’ve written often (and will continue to write often) about Trust Factors that can solidify relationships between your company and the people it serves. But it is equally important to be aware of potential Trust Fracture risks.

By maintaining genuine intentions, avoiding forced authenticity, and adhering to a holistic strategic vision, you’ll be on track to stay clear of face plants and fissures in the delicate balance of trust.

Want to learn more about the state of marketing trust today, with plenty of data-driven insight? Check out Tip of the Iceberg: A Story of Trust in Marketing as Told by Statistics

The post Trust Fractures: How to Avoid Accidentally Eroding Your Brand’s Credibility appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Sprout Social’s Justyn Howard named a Glassdoor Top CEO for a third consecutive year

I’m pleased to announce that Sprout Social founder and CEO, Justyn Howard, has been recognized as a Glassdoor Top CEO for U.S. companies with Read more...

This post Sprout Social’s Justyn Howard named a Glassdoor Top CEO for a third consecutive year originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Key B2B Takeaways From the 2019 Internet Trends Report

The post Key B2B Takeaways From the 2019 Internet Trends Report appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Solve 4 Common Facebook Marketing Problems

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The post How to Solve 4 Common Facebook Marketing Problems appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Nanoinfluencer marketing 101: How I got 1000 engaged followers in 30 days

Are you looking to become an influencer with a supportive community of followers and sought after brand partnerships? Read on to learn about how Read more...

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Social media manager vs. community manager: What’s the difference?

Does the person who post as your brand on Facebook also work to develop the community that the company is part of? Should they? Read more...

This post Social media manager vs. community manager: What’s the difference? originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each

Common SEO Mistakes

Common SEO Mistakes

Even the most seasoned content marketers make mistakes. In the world of SEO-driven content, with constant algorithm tweaks and changing search patterns, it’s nearly unavoidable. However, those same mistakes can often lead to discoveries that enable even better content performance.

The key is being able to recognize those easy-to-fix SEO mistakes and address them. As a result, your content will become an optimized, integrated network of metaphorical highways, leading searchers to best-answer content in a strategic and purposeful way.

So, what are the most common SEO mistakes, and how can they be addressed? Below, I’ve singled out the ‘usual suspects’ along with guidance on how to fix them while setting yourself up for long-term SEO success.

SEO Mistake #1 - Choosing Target Keywords Based on Volume vs. Relevance

How Keywords Affect Content Marketers: Great content isn't great unless people see it. But when content marketers overemphasize high-volume keywords, they miss out on meaningful engagement.

It’s tempting to plug into your keyword research tool of choice and select keywords with the highest search volume as your focuses for new content. But if the content you’re creating doesn’t match the search intent for that high-volume keyword, it’s unlikely to perform to your expectations.

The Fix: Google it! All jokes aside, evaluating the first ten search results for your target keywords can help you understand what searchers are trying to find, and what supporting content you should provide to truly be the best answer for that query.

While you’re analyzing those top results, pay attention to key factors that will shape your content creation and promotion strategy:

  1. What type of information is NOT included in top content, but is topically related? This can help you inform how you differentiate your content.
  2. What’s the content demand for that keyword? For example, are mostly top of funnel blog posts ranking, or are you seeing mostly product or service pages?
  3. How many backlinks and referring domains are pointing to the top search results? This can help you understand how competitive the first page of results is, and whether or not ongoing link building should be part of your content promotion strategy.
  4. How long is the top-ranking content for that keyword? This will help you determine ideal content length for your own post.

SEO Mistake #2 - Targeting the Same Keyword with Multiple Pages or Posts

How Same-Topic Targeting Affects Content Marketers: Pressure to create comprehensive content on a topic can actually result in dilution within search.

The conventional wisdom that more is better doesn’t apply universally — especially when it comes to SEO-driven content. Creating multiple pieces of content that target the exact same keyword is a surefire way to stand in your own way of success. There’s enough competition out there for B2B marketers without having to compete with your own content.

For example, a B2B technology company that wants to rank for B2B software consulting should optimize their service page for that term based on what is currently being served in search results. But, if they also create a series of blogs or resources that are targeting that specific term, search engine bots will be confused about which page is the best answer for that query. This could result in none of the content appearing in the top 10 results, in favor of competing sites with a more clear ‘answer’ to that query.

The Fix: Determine which of your pages or posts is the best answer for that particular query by analyzing ranking and analytics data. Which post or page sees the greatest amount of engaged organic traffic for your target keyword, and most closely matches the associated search intent?

Once you’ve determined your target page, it’s time to evaluate the remaining content targeting that keyword. Look for opportunities to:

  1. Remove or prune low-value or outdated content. Is there a blog post full of stats from 2009 that’s hindering your priority page’s chances of ranking? It might be time to consider removing that post and implementing the proper redirects.
  2. Optimize existing content for related, but different, keyword targets. For example, if you have a priority post for Chocolate Chip Cookies, and another post that more closely relates to ‘Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies’, consider optimizing that post for the latter and implementing internal links back to your priority cookies post.
  3. Combine closely related content. For example, if you have several blog posts around your targeted keyword(s), consider combining those posts into a longer, more robust piece of content.

SEO Mistake #3 - Ignoring Internal Link Structure

How Internal Linking Affects Content Marketers: Links are like electricity on the web, lighting up content for people and search engines alike.

Content is discovered by links. Your site’s internal linking structure tells bots (and users) which pages are most important, and which pages are most relevant to specific keywords. If you link to several pages from the same anchor text, for example, there will be some confusion about which page is truly ‘about’ that topic. Other times, you could have pages or posts on your site that are orphaned, with no internal links directing users or bots their way. This can confuse your site users, search engine bots, and even your own team. Confusion is not a ranking factor!

The Fix: Make sure you develop and continue to update your site’s keyword map. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet that lists your page’s URL and associated target keyword(s). This keyword map will help you determine what anchor text should be used to link to your target pages.

Next, conduct a site audit to determine:

  1. If there are orphaned pages that need internal links
  2. If you are linking to multiple pages with the same keyword-rich anchor text
  3. Where there are opportunities to create additional supporting content
  4. Where you might have opportunities to reduce and prune existing supporting content

Next, you’re going to want to crawl your site to find any orphaned pages. Then, map those into your overall keyword strategy and implement internal links.

SEO Mistake #4 - Ignoring Data from Other Digital Tactics

How Marketing Data Affects Content Marketers: Inspiration often drives ideation for many content marketers, but data drives optimization for ideal content performance. Marketing performance data can provide both.

Any data you can collect about how your audience engages with your content has the potential to be an SEO gold mine. For example, analyzing the keywords from your paid search campaigns can give you insight into which keywords are your best converters, and what content best suits searchers for those terms. Social posts that get the greatest amount of engagement can tell you which topics your audience is most interested in. Ignoring data from your other marketing and sales channels means missing out on an opportunity to better engage your prospects.

The Fix: Meet with different teams or departments to find out what kind of content performs best on their channels. Look at the data each platform or channel provides and compare that with your site analytics data for a full picture. And, be sure to share your channel performance data with the rest of your marketing team. The more information available related to content and marketing performance, the better equipped you are to optimize.

SEO Mistake #5 - Giving Up

How Persistence Affects Content Marketers: Content performance in search is a long game and persistence is essential for success.

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes a lack of results can feel demoralizing, but giving up is simply not an option. You wouldn’t stop building your house just because the nearest lumber yard ran out of wood, right? You’d find another lumber yard and keep plugging along.

The Fix: Take a step back. Re-evaluate the search landscape, your competitor’s organic presence, and your site’s overall health. Being able to remove yourself from the frustration can help you find opportunities you may have missed and additional whitespace to tackle.

Next, seek out advice from other SEOs. Ask questions on social media, in specific groups or forums, or send a question to your favorite SEO blog. If budget permits, enlist the help of a consultant or SEO agency that can help you break through your roadblocks.

Finally, we have two big SEO bummers that are tougher to fix, but absolutely necessary to address.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Migrating Your Site with No SEO Plan

How Migrating Without a Plan Affects Content Marketers: A bad migration can effectively undo your hard work, reducing content visibility and creating more user friction.

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of SEOs cringing around the globe. A botched site migration can wreak havoc on your organic positioning and torpedo your results. It can take months, even years to recuperate organic visibility to pre-migration levels.

The Fix: Always, always consult your in-house SEO team or SEO agency when you’re considering a website migration. Before you move forward, it’s imperative you have a plan for technical, on-page, and off-page factors.

If you’ve already migrated your site and have experienced a loss of organic traffic and rankings, start with a site audit. Check for the basics, like whether or not your site is being indexed, first. Then start to evaluate technical factors like broken links, crawl errors, and duplicate content.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Recovering from a site migration is a challenge for even the best of SEOs, and sometimes those big challenges call for a little teamwork.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Not Optimizing for Mobile

How Not Optimizing for Mobile Affects Content Marketers: Even the greatest content can’t stand up to a bad mobile experience. Users will bounce, reducing engagement and sending negative signals to search engines.

Mobile accounts for about half of web traffic worldwide. Knowing this, in March 2018 Google started migrating sites to mobile-first indexing. Providing a seamless mobile experience is no longer optional, especially when you’re living in the wild world of search.

Sites that didn’t properly prepare for this can and will likely see some declines in organic search traffic and rankings as a result. And, as more sites follow mobile best practices, more users will notice and become frustrated by poor mobile experiences. This leads to declines in other pivotal ranking factors like on-page engagement. In short, if not properly addressed, a poor mobile experience can wreak havoc on your search visibility.

The Fix: The first thing to do is to conduct a mobile audit on your site. Understanding your site’s mobile performance is step one toward making improvements. Look for things like:

  1. Mobile site speed. A couple great tools for this are Google Page Speed Insights and Pingdom. These tools can tell you where to look for issues like slow-loading code, images that aren’t optimized, and other technical issues.
  2. Mobile experience. Visit your site on your phone. Ask someone who doesn’t use your site regularly to do the same. Record your experience, take notes on where you get stuck and why. Click on everything. Turn your phone into horizontal mode. Try to think of every single way a user could browse your site. And, don’t forget to try a site search on mobile.
  3. Look at mobile analytics. This will tell you key metrics like mobile bounce rate, mobile time on page and pages per session.

These steps will help you build a hypothesis to test against. Is your mobile bounce rate crazy high? Does your site take a long time to load? Is your time on page way out of line with desktop traffic? Then, use A/B testing to root out the discrepancy. Use these same metrics to test if the fix is working. Then, repeat with another element.

So, What Does This All Mean for You?

Ultimately, following SEO best practices as a content marketer can reduce performance-related headaches and set you up for long-term success.

For example, when Innovatech Labs decided it was time to make major changes to their website, they worked with our team at TopRank Marketing to implement a safe website transition strategy, minimizing their risk of reduced content visibility on Google. This assessment involved avoiding many of the big risks mentioned above, including linking, use of data and keyword research which allowed us to act quickly post-migration to combat organic traffic declines. The result? Double- and triple-digit increases in organic traffic (and increased conversions, too!).

A best-answer content strategy focused on creating content with the most relevance to their audience was the ticket to better marketing performance for a martech SaaS company. Working with the team at TopRank Marketing, long-tail and hyper-relevant keywords were researched for a comprehensive content strategy to help the brand content become the best answer for those queries. The “best answer” approach and topics were applied across organic and paid efforts. As a result, the volume of both paid and organic MQLs increased, leading to better content performance and spontaneous proclamations of love from the client’s sales team.

Fixing these big SEO mistakes aren’t only for short-term wins. Our longtime partner Antea Group USA has achieved amazing triple-digit growth over three years by avoiding these big mistakes and implementing an ongoing commitment to SEO-driven, best answer content.

As I mentioned earlier, even the most experienced content marketers can make these common SEO mistakes. But, with the right SEO strategy driven by diligent execution and monitoring of results, you can get back on track. The key is to be intentional about your site’s architecture, as well as the content you create, and to never, ever give up.

Still feeling stuck? Or maybe your team doesn’t have the resources to take on this battle alone? Check out our SEO services, tweet us your thoughts @toprank, or drop me a line in the comments. We are here to help!

The post 5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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The post Sentiment Analysis: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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