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The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary

Social media marketing and search engine optimization are often viewed as two disparate components of a holistic digital strategy. In some ways, they are distinct, but there is far more convergence and crossover than we’re often led to believe.

I find that looking at one side through the lens of the other invariably helps me better understand the more ambiguous aspects of each. So today I thought I’d share this perspective, with a focus on how these tactical areas can work cohesively to strengthen your brand’s visibility and impact on the web.

Similarities Between Social and Search

Let’s begin by exploring some commonalities between social media networks and social engines.

Both are massively popular internet entry points. Google processes 3.5 billion searches every day. Nearly the same number of people (3.48 billion) are active social media users. That’s roughly half the planet’s population. These numbers, in a nutshell, illustrate why digital marketers everywhere need to account for both search and social. They’re the first places most people go when they hop online.

People use both to answer questions. We all know this is the primary purpose of search engines. Whether users are typing in a literal semantic question, or simply inputting keywords in hopes of finding information, they are trying to find answers and solve problems. Social media doesn’t necessarily present the same direct question-and-answer format, but we usually log on to satisfy some type of curiosity. (What are people talking about right now? What do my friends and connections have to say about recent events? Is this dress white and gold, or black and blue?)

Both are critical brand touchpoints. Two of the easiest ways for any customer to vet a company are by: A) Pulling them up in a Google search, or B) Checking out their social media accounts. It’s pretty easy to tell based on a brand’s search rankings, SERP display, and site structure whether they have a sound digital strategy. The same is true of a quick glance at their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. If it’s difficult to find your company through search or social — or if you give off a poor first impression on either front — that’s an immediate credibility-crusher.

Where Search and Social Can Work Together Strategically

SEO and social media marketing are fundamentally different. There are job titles, and entire companies, dedicated specifically to each. But in an integrated digital marketing strategy, it’s important to recognize where these two facets intersect and complement one another.

#1: Keyword Research and Application

Keywords (and extensions thereof) form the backbone of a best-answer content strategy. The intel derived from these efforts can also be applied to social media marketing. As mentioned above, people use both these channels to answer questions.

With a defined understanding of which search phrases and queries are pertinent to our audiences, we can better align the content we provide. This is true on social as well. When you use the right keywords (and, in this case, hashtags) more frequently in your posts, driving conversations and engagement around them, your brand will be more likely to show up on the feeds of people interested in them.

In either instance, it comes down to the same foundational crux of almost any content strategy: What do your customers want to know, and how can you deliver it?

#2: Social Content Can Show Up in Search

Try entering your company’s name into a Google search. What’s the first result? Hopefully your website’s homepage. The second and third might also be pages from your own domain. But very frequently, the first third-party link will be your LinkedIn Page. (See the SERP for TopRank Marketing below as a typical example.)

LinkedIn* is a particularly impactful platform in this regard; search engines crawl it, so incorporating savvy SEO tactics on your company’s LinkedIn Page can actually benefit your rankings. This hasn’t been quite as true for other networks, which were once almost invisible to Google, but research from HootSuite did find a dramatic increase in the appearance of Facebook and Twitter content in SERPS starting in late 2015:

“Admittedly, the majority of social links within the SERPs appear for branded search terms, but this should not be discounted,” writes Simon Ensor at Search Engine Watch. “If we are in fact looking at marketing as a more holistic practice in the digital age, then we have to ensure that your branded search terms result in high click-through rates from search.”

#3: Social Signals (Indirectly) Affect Search

It’s been a hotly debated topic in the digital marketing world. Google has claimed for years that social signals are not a ranking factor. Yet, HootSuite’s experimentation found that “there appears to be a strong correlation between social activity and rankings.” Another study last year from Searchmetrics reached the same conclusion.

We still don’t have complete clarity around this relationship, which would earn a Facebook status of “It’s complicated.” Although we don’t believe social signals directly impact search rankings, there is definitely a correlation, which is widely attributed to the byproducts of highly successful social content. As Sharon Hurley Hall puts it, “Social media may not be a ranking factor for Google, but it can amplify the ranking factors that Google DOES consider.”

In other words, when a link to your content gains traction on social media, it tends to gain more general prominence: pageviews, backlinks, brand authority, etc. This, in turn, helps the page earn more visibility in the eyes of Google.

The key is simply getting people to click through on those links, which brings us to the final point of convergence.

#4: Compelling Clicks is Crucial

Search engine optimization today isn’t so much about keyword-stuffing; Google is too smart to be gamed by it. The engine’s sole mission is to deliver the most satisfactory results for a given query, meaning it will weigh click-throughs and time on page more heavily than text arrangement. That’s why an irresistible headline and meta description are so vital to SERP success.

This is also at the heart of social media marketing. In a sea of competing ephemeral content, you’ve really gotta stand out to capture someone’s attention and compel a click. (Especially since social media networks, unlike search engines, aren’t all that interested in sending users over to your website, so the algorithms will often work against you for outbound links.)  

If you find a particular angle or message is especially resonant on social platforms (even if just for driving engagement, not clicks), you might consider adopting it for your meta descriptions to see if it improves CTRs, and vice versa.

Social and SEO: Two Keys to the Content Kingdom

These are separate tactical areas of digital marketing, but to treat them as completely independent would be a mistake. At TopRank Marketing, we view SEO and social media marketing as two complementary aspects of a fully integrated content marketing strategy, with numerous functional similarities and intersectional opportunities. Understanding how to maximize both in unison is instrumental to unleashing your brand’s full potential.

Want to learn more about how different tactics can work together harmoniously in today’s digital strategies? Check out our recent post from Caitlin on The Intersection of SEO & Influencer Marketing: What B2B Marketers Need to Know.

* Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client

The post The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Get Started With Facebook Business Manager

Do you have more than one person handling your Facebook marketing? Wondering how to share access securely to your Facebook pages and ad accounts? In this article, you’ll discover how to give people access to your Facebook business assets in Facebook Business Manager. Create a Facebook Business Manager Facebook Business Manager is a powerful tool […]

The post How to Get Started With Facebook Business Manager appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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How to Use Landing Pages to Test New Business or Product Ideas

Resident's Scott McCleod shows how you can use landing pages to test new product and business ideas before you go all in. They're the perfect low-effort, high-return way to ensure you put your best foot forward.

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How to Analyze Your YouTube Channel Performance in Google Analytics

Want to learn more about how people on YouTube engage with your channel? Wondering which YouTube video links drive the most website traffic? In this article, you’ll learn how to set up Google Analytics to analyze and assess the effectiveness of your YouTube marketing. Why Use Google Analytics to Track YouTube Channel and Link Traffic […]

The post How to Analyze Your YouTube Channel Performance in Google Analytics appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Pump it Up: How to Maximize Your B2B Content Marketing Campaign Investments

Let’s talk shoes for a moment. Years ago, I purchased a stunning pair Jimmy Choo stiletto pumps; they were all the rage at that time. I’d been eyeing them for months and I convinced myself that this rather spendy investment would pay dividends in style and wearability.

When my Choos made their public debut, I was showered with compliments on how gorgeous they were. I was feeling great.

via GIPHY

Of course, a few hours later a shooting pain in my Achilles tendon meant it was time to give them a rest, so I changed into tennis shoes.

Today, those shoes are collecting dust in my closet. And every time I see them, I feel a mixture of regret (perhaps not my wisest investment after all) and longing to take them out for another spin (with the right insoles at a sitting event).

B2B marketers are making huge investments in content this year, and that trend will only continue. From what we’re seeing across the industry, many marketers are investing in splashy content marketing campaigns. But like my Jimmy Choos, after the initial thrill and luster subsides, campaign content can start collecting dust at the back of the resource center and you may even wonder if it was worth the investment.

The good news is, with the right insight and planning you can regret-proof you campaigns. Taking the time to ensure the right messaging, promotional strategy, and long-term opportunities can help you extend the life span and visibility of your campaigns and drive results that are meaningful to your team and brand.

Here are five key considerations to help you do just that.

How to Maximize Your B2B Content Marketing Campaign Investment

#1 - Nail the hook.

This first step may be the trickiest, but it’s critical to build the foundation for a successful campaign. Creating a campaign hook that will inspire your target audience to engage, share, and talk about and remember your brand is both art and science.

[bctt tweet="Creating a campaign hook that will inspire your target audience to engage, share, and talk about and remember your brand is both art and science. @Alexis5484 #B2BContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Let’s start with the science. In short, go with the data.

Who is your ideal customer or prospect? Not just their job title and company size, but rather what problems are they trying to solve? Who do they trust? What are they interested in aside from doing their job? Where do they spend their time online?

Leverage both quantitative and qualitative sources to bring this data together. Talk to your sales team or customer service reps since they are typically the most connected to your prospects and current customers. Engage in social media listening. Gather third party data. Perhaps consider creating your own data by designing and deploying a customer or industry survey.

Then run the data you collect through the business lens. How do you solve your customers’ problems? What key features or benefits are deserving of more attention? What types of content (e.g. webinars, white papers, interactive infographics) can you create to garner the most attention and interest? And finally, how can you bring everything together under a creative umbrella for maximum resonance?

This is where the art piece comes in. Tap into your best listeners, creative thinkers, and strategizers to finalize a theme and key messages that you believe will connect with and move your target audience.

Now, this piece of advice can be key to testing the viability of your content hook both short- and long-term. Do some acid testing. Ask your network for their initial thoughts or run a few A/B tests on social media to see if your hook is resonating. You’re not just looking for thumbs up. You’re looking for messaging that is memorable, creates brand affinity, and propels the user to take action.

#2 - Make promotion part of the planning process so you’re ready for launch day and beyond.

Your team has put a lot of effort into building your campaign. But far too often, promotion is an afterthought rather than an integral part of the planning and strategy process. This ensures integration from the beginning, minimizes stress as you draw closer to launch day, and allows you to think more globally about how you can promote or repurpose into the future.

[bctt tweet="Content promotion can’t be effective if it’s an afterthought. Your best practice would be to make promotion part of content planning. - @leeodden" username="toprank"]

As you draw closer to launch, create a promotional timeline that includes your tactical mix and content types. Ideally, that timeline will be at least three months in length. This will help you prevent a campaign from flaming out after two weeks of heavy promotion.

Your promotional timeline and plan could include:

  • Adding crosslinks and/or banner CTAs across your website or blog
  • Emails to customers and prospects
  • Social media messages, images, and video across major channels
  • A paid social targeting plan
  • Press releases or other third-party editorial
  • Repurposing plans (which we’ll get to in the next section)

Of course, when launch day arrives, the real work begins. Day 1 promotion is important to gaining campaign buzz, so plan to get all your promotion engines firing. But perhaps the most important piece of building out that promotional timeline is creating a cadence; tactics can be used beyond Day 1 or Week 1. (e.g. Just because you sent an email or press release on Day 1, doesn’t mean you can’t again on Day 7, Day 14, or Day 30.)

For more insight on designing your promotional timeline, check out these 50 content promotion tactics.

#3 - Optimize … and repromote.

Since you did so much research and planning upfront, hopefully your message is resonating and you’re seeing great results one, two, three, or even four weeks out. But whether you’re meeting, exceeding, or falling short of your expectations, post-launch is the time to really maximize your investment.

At launch, establish a regular check-in cadence with your team to review results and discuss campaign optimization opportunities. This is not the time to sit back and just watch the results roll in. You can start optimizing campaign performance on Day 1.

There are two key areas to focus on during your check-ins:

  • Reach: Are you reaching your goals in terms of visibility? If not, you may need to look at additional channels (e.g. third party editorial) or adjust your paid investment (if you haven’t already). In addition, look at what channels are driving the most visibility and put more investment there.
  • Engagement: This is a time to review what messages, visuals, and channels are driving the most people to take action. If certain messaging isn’t working, swap it out. Take a look at the bounce rate, conversion rate, and time spent on your landing page. This is usually a prime place to make adjustments.

Optimization will help you throughout the course of the campaign to learn from what is working and make adjustments to ensure more reach and engagement (and less regret) throughout.

#4 - Repurpose … and repromote.

Every brand is sitting on a dust-collecting gold mine of content. Whether you’re launching a brand new campaign or you’re trying to resurrect (or reimagine) one from a months or years past, this consideration has unending relevance and applications. Also, if the above mentioned recommendation to create a three-month promotion production timeline felt too long, you may not have been thinking about repurposing opportunities.

Here are a couple repurposing scenarios for your consideration:

Repurpose to extend the life of your campaign.

In this scenario you’re repurposing elements of an active campaign to drive back to your primary content hub. An easy way to repurpose content is to change up the format type.

For example, pull out nuggets from a text based eBook and create a video for social media or YouTube to drive back to the original asset. If your content was audio or video, pull quotes and create a series of text based blogs driving back to the main asset. A new infographic, motion graphic, or blog content is a good reason to re-promote, remind your existing audience, and reach new prospects.

Repurpose to create your next campaign.

Even after the lifespan of a campaign is mostly over, that campaign investment can absolutely be leveraged for a future campaign. You can create an entirely new campaigns by bringing together previous content from other campaigns, blog posts, and influencer contributions. It can also work really well to freshen up an evergreen piece and re-release with new information.

Here’s a recent example from *LinkedIn. The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn was a cornerstone campaign a few years back, and a helpful asset that had long-term appeal. And in honor of its fifth anniversary, the content and design was refreshed, re-released, and repromoted.

LinkedIn Relaunches The Sophisticated Marketers' Guide

Bonus tip: In order to be really effective at repurposing content, it really helps to have some kind of searchable repository of all the content that has been created organized by topic. Your website isn’t always the most reliable or complete source of content created.

Read: A Tasty, Strategic Addition to the Content Marketing Table: ‘Repurposed Content Cobbler’

#5 - Integrate your B2B content marketing campaigns with your always-on strategy.

If you really want to maximize your B2B content marketing campaigns, you have to think long-term. Campaigns work hand-in-hand with your ongoing, always-on marketing efforts.

Ultimately, your marketing efforts aim to fill the funnel, foster brand affinity, and achieve business ROI. If you design campaigns that fit within your core objectives, strategy, and marketing pillars, then they’ll always be a make-sense investment.

In addition, integrating you campaigns within your always-on strategy can help you enhance your nurturing capabilities as they relate to your customers, prospects, and target audience, as well as influencers, by creating an interesting, steady drumbeat of content. It also makes repurposing easier and helps extend and keep conversations top-of-mind.

Pump Your B2B Content Marketing Campaigns Up

Flashy, attention-grabbing campaigns can be great investments. They can drive valuable spikes in traffic, engagement, or conversions, as well as help you target specific audiences or verticals.

However, without an eye toward the long-term, campaigns often end up like my beautiful Jimmy Choo pumps: A wasted investment that’s collecting dust.

By spending time upfront to thoughtfully identify your creative hook and robust, longer-than-a-few-weeks promotional strategy, you can continue to promote and optimize your campaign content for maximum impact and ROI.

Are you notching some serious big wins on a recent campaign? How do you keep that momentum going? How do you apply your learnings to what comes next? Check out my post on driving continuous content marketing improvement.

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Pump it Up: How to Maximize Your B2B Content Marketing Campaign Investments appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Increase Your Facebook Ad Exposure Without Causing Ad Fatigue

Wondering how to appear consistently in your audience’s Facebook news feed while limiting the impact of ad fatigue? Looking for a Facebook ad campaign you can model? In this article, you’ll discover how to run a Facebook advertising campaign that consistently puts your business in front of your target audience with unique messaging at every […]

The post How to Increase Your Facebook Ad Exposure Without Causing Ad Fatigue appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Instagram Pushes IGTV Growth With Horizontal Video

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore horizontal video support for IGTV and other video broadcasting updates with special guests, Luria Petrucci and David […]

The post Instagram Pushes IGTV Growth With Horizontal Video appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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How to master social media for retail and win more customers

Retailers arguably have the most to gain from social media marketing. And despite popular belief, social media isn’t killing retail: it’s simply encouraging the Read more...

This post How to master social media for retail and win more customers originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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New B2B Marketing Research, LinkedIn Sales Navigator & Ad Transparency Updates, Using AI Wisely, & US Digital Ads Top $100B

The post New B2B Marketing Research, LinkedIn Sales Navigator & Ad Transparency Updates, Using AI Wisely, & US Digital Ads Top $100B appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Create Content That Attracts Customers

Do you need a better content marketing plan? Wondering how to improve your content strategy? To explore creative ways to regularly create content, I interview Melanie Deziel. Melanie is a former journalist, storytelling expert, and founder of StoryFuel, a company that helps marketers become better storytellers. Discover different ways to create content both on and […]

The post How to Create Content That Attracts Customers appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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