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Boutique Agency Experts Offer Tips on Finding Success on Social

Small agencies are not immune to big challenges. They often don’t have a well-known name to rely on to back their reputation, nor large budgets or a team with diverse skillsets. Professionals on small agency teams, or solopreneurs need to be savvy, have a reliable toolset and stay in tuned with what the market wants. Not only do they need to be good at marketing, but often they are managing new business, operations, HR and more.

Many of our Sprout All Stars come from small or single person teams. They shared their advice for running a boutique agency, along with recommendations for tools and why this kind of job is so rewarding.

What are some tactics to ensure you have a solid list of clients?

Nicholas Scalice: One of the tactics that has served us well over the past two years has been partnership and certification opportunities. For instance, we’re involved with the Unbounce Partner program and the ActiveCampaign Certified Consultants program. By partnering with the platforms that your potential clients are already using, you can become much more proficient in using them, while generating leads at the same time.

Keri Jaehnig: The key is having the RIGHT clients. Not every client is the right one, and we’ve learned that over time. The right client list comes from targeting the type of client that is in the position to pay for services, can can also benefit from what we offer. From there, communication is of utmost importance. We keep our clients updated with changes in the social media industry.

And, we’re always training them on something that will benefit them and our partnership. In turn, we see referrals. However, a business must always be planting seeds by networking, advertising, etc. IMPORTANT: A social media marketing agency should be doing for themselves what they promise they can do for others, or they are not leading by example.

Rebekah Radice: Invest in a solid Inbound marketing strategy. While it might be a low cost option, the results can be huge when done right. And don’t forget the role email plays in Inbound. It’s still the best way to control your message and nurture client relationships through segmentation and personalization.

What resources do you rely on the most?

David Pride: The softwares I rely on most include: Sprout Social, PhoneBurner for sales calls, Canva for design, and Camtasia for video editing.

Nicholas Scalice: We try to specialize in just a few tools, but to get really, really good at them. For us, that mostly consists of Unbounce (for landing page design), ActiveCampaign (for email marketing and automation), Hotjar (for qualitative analytics and feedback), Drift (for on-site chat), and of course, Sprout Social (our social media command center). We also love productivity tools such as Slack, Zapier, Trello, and Asana.

Keri Jaehnig: We use a proprietary combination of both free and paid tools. Among our favorites are Sprout Social, Canva, ManageFlitter, LeadPages, MailChimp and several mobile apps. For our own website, we use managed hosting and a trusted web developer. Those two things we would not give up for the world!

Rebekah Radice: Project Manager – Atlassian JIRA

  • Social Media Tools – Sprout Social and Post Planner
  • Productivity – Slack, Google for Work
  • CRM – Hubspot
  • Customer Management – Intercom

What are some initiatives or protocol you follow to ensure fast growth?

Nicholas Scalice: We try to have a detailed process for everything, and a system for tracking what we’re working on. For us, accountability, responsibility, and trust are three of our most important values, so our processes are built around that. For instance, we use Asana as our project management software. Every task in Asana needs to be assigned to just one person. This helps track the accountability of a task down to a single person.

What does your marketing strategy look like? Is content marketing a must for agencies?

Keri Jaehnig: Fluid. Always open to change to reflect dynamics of the industry. Content marketing is a backbone to any strategy for any agency, I believe. As I’ve told many, “when the blog stops, so does everything else.” In turn, social media content can be repurposed, and should lead back to the website and blog.

Rebekah Radice: If you want to connect with the right people and build a system that supports continuous growth, investing in content marketing is a must. And you don’t have to start big to make it effective. Begin by defining how content will support your business goals. Run an audit and review how it’s currently performing–from type to message to channel–review it all.

Now determine where you’re receiving the biggest results. What could you do better or provide more of? Next you’ll choose your channels. Which ones will you focus on, double down on, and go all in on in 2017? The biggest mistake I see so many marketers make is a scattershot approach. Commit to the process, not the tactics and you will succeed.

How can you partner with other agencies or businesses for a mutually beneficial outcome?

Keri Jaehnig: An ideal partnership is a project where agencies can come together and offer stellar service in a complementary way. For example, maybe one agency offers great social media marketing and another offers more expertise in traditional marketing. Together, their customer gets the best of both worlds by utilizing both agencies. Other possibilities might be working together to host a summit-type event, partnering on a series of webinars, or even pulling in an expert as a consultant for a type of training while the social media marketing agency handles the rest of the project. The key is pulling together different strengths in a way that offers a win for all.

David Pride: We have found that partnerships for us are pretty beneficial, especially because we only do social media for our clients. Since we have one sole focus we do not present a threat to other “full service” agencies. They feel pretty comfortable partnering with us as their social partner knowing that we have no interest or competency in web development or other traditional agency roles.

Is it better to focus on one or two industries or focus on one or two core competencies?

Keri Jaehnig: Here, we have tried both tactics. An agency needs to decide, and work the plan.  However, I will say that it usually works out that an agency will serve a select group of niches and be strong in a couple of key competencies.

Does physical location often play into whether or not you win Business? Is it always beneficial to be local?

Keri Jaehnig: Being local to customers does have it’s advantages, but it is not necessary. We have clients all over the world! They key is to really research your client, their competition, their brand voice, and their location. If done well, it is easy to capture the brand voice and make it seem like we’re right on site!

David Pride: I live up in Maine, a state that some folks don’t even know exists. I have found that my location doesn’t matter too much to my clients – we serve companies around the world. I think location is important if you plan on having a massive corporate infrastructure, though…but that is not my goal.

Name some agencies you look up or have learned from.

Nicholas Scalice: The first agency I ever worked at was Ten Golden Rules, based right here in Boca Raton, Florida. I learned so much from that role, and from their founder, Jay Berkowitz. His team continues to innovate in the performance-driven marketing space. Above all else, Jay taught me to constantly be on the lookout for new trends, and he showed me the power of testing and optimizing every aspect of a campaign. Another agency I really admire is KlientBoost, founded by Johnathan Dane. They are super-focused on being the absolute best at a few things, rather than being moderately good at a bunch of things. You can learn so much from this approach. It’s all about focus!

Keri Jaehnig: Marketing Nutz. I’ll also say that Sprout Social has developed their tool, brand, and business model quite well.

What makes agency life so rewarding?

Nicholas Scalice: Variety! The best part of working with multiple clients in an agency environment is that you get to work on a wide range of projects, of all different types. Even if your agency is focused on just one niche, no two projects are ever the same. For those of us who like to have variety in our day, it’s rewarding to be able to work on a Facebook lead generation campaign in the morning, and a landing page optimization project in the afternoon for instance.

This post Boutique Agency Experts Offer Tips on Finding Success on Social originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About 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.

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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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