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The Intersection of SEO & Influencer Marketing: What B2B Marketers Need to Know

The Intersection of SEO & Influence

The Intersection of SEO & Influence Peanut butter and jelly. Milk and cookies. Steak and potatoes. Wine and cheese. Bread and butter. SEO and influencer marketing. via GIPHY All of these exceptional pairings have something special in common: They work together. Now, I know what you’re thinking. And I get it. From red or white to pungent or salty, there are several incredibly important variables to consider when crafting the perfect wine and cheese combo. via GIPHY For real, though. Integration is key for B2B content marketing success. But some tactics and strategies seem like natural fits, while others seem a bit mismatched. If you feel like SEO and influencer marketing fall into the latter category, it might be time to flip your thinking. SEO is one of the oldest digital marketing tactics, defined by consistency, commitment, and agility over the long-term to see results. And despite the fact that most peg influencer marketing as a campaign-based, social media amplification tactic, influencer success is also tied to that always-on approach. But how exactly can SEO and influence intersect and support each other? Let’s dive in.

What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Pairing SEO & Influencer Marketing

#1 – Influencers can be an incredible keyword and topical research tool.

Your influencers are experts who are embedded in your niche or industry. They have relevant expertise that can help educate and inspire your audience. They have perspectives and experiences your audience can relate to. They are engaged with their followings and industry happenings. And … they are your audience in many cases. This means, when you work with the right influencers, there’s an incredible opportunity to gain deeper insights about who your audience is, what they care about, and what they’re struggling with so you can create content they’re searching for and need. Dr. Konstanze Alex, Head of Corporate Influencer Relations for Dell, said it best when she declared: “Working with B2B influencers allows our brand to have a constant pulse check with purchase decision makers. Informed influencers who share our vision of the future based on their own experience and expertise provide for independent, third party validation. Strategic partnerships with influencers provide for an outside in view when creating content for our customers. We need to constantly ensure that, as a brand, we don’t start talking to ourselves, but keep a keen focus on the evolving challenges our customers have and on language they use to express these challenges.” With insights gained straight from a reputable source, you can then turn to your traditional SEO tools to validate topics, uncover related queries and opportunities, and refine your integrated content marketing strategy for maximum impact. [bctt tweet=”Working with B2B influencers allows our brand to have a constant pulse check with purchase decision makers. – @konstanze #B2BInfluencerMarketing #SEO #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#2 – Influencers can help you create the best answer content that your audience and search engines crave.

Search engines are answer engines. They’re built to satisfy searchers’ needs by delivering the most relevant, helpful, and accurate information possible. They’re built to deliver the best content. This is why we believe B2B brands need to strive to be the best answer whenever and wherever their audience is searching. By collaborating with influencers to contribute original content or co-created content, they can help you put SEO insights into action by providing the answers your audience and search engines are looking for. As Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing’s CEO and resident industry influencer, said on why B2b marketers need optimized and influencer activated content: “B2B brands that integrate both SEO and influence into their content marketing create a compelling opportunity to be found when it matters most and to be trusted when it matters more. “With an understanding of keyword demand, B2B marketers can tap into the opportunity to be the best answer for buyers with content at the very moment of need. Even better is that influencer contributions to that optimized content will give it the credibility and engagement needed to inspire action.” [bctt tweet=”#B2B brands that integrate both #SEO and influence into their #contentmarketing create a compelling opportunity to be found when it matters most and to be trusted when it matters more. – @leeodden” username=”toprank”]

#3 – Influencers can help you send the right signals to search engines.

Search engine algorithms are complex, elusive creatures. For the last decade or so, most marketers have been operating under the assumption that Google’s algorithm considers roughly 200 variables when ranking content. But as Search Engine Journal points out, a lot has changed in the last 10 years—including RankBrain, mobile-first indexing, and the HTTPS boost—so, it’s pretty likely that number has ballooned. Of course, the rise of influencer marketing has undoubtedly made an impact, too. (More on that in a minute.) Thanks to some confirmations straight from the source, as well as in-depth research and analysis, there are several known ranking factors—including a handful that can be reinforced with the help of an influencer marketing strategy. A couple of those opportunities include: Content & Search Intent A couple years ago, it was revealed that content is one of Google’s top 3 ranking factors. While “content” as a ranking factor is pretty damn broad, marketers know the nuance. We know it’s all about creating quality, relevant content that resonates with our audience and signals search engines. In addition, thanks to RankBrain, Google is getting increasingly better at handling never-before-seen queries and making correlations with other queries to serve up content that best matches search intent. And influencers, with their unique expertise and knowledge, can help us hit the best-answer, intent-match quality mark. This insight from my talented colleague Josh Nite captures the essence of all this: “Quality content demonstrates to your audience that you’re listening to them and you care … When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise.” Plus, when you commit to building mutually beneficial, long-term relationships, you have the opportunity to consistently create fresh quality content, which is also critical for increasing search visibility and domain authority. [bctt tweet=”When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise. – @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”] Inbound Links Getting backlinks from reputable, relevant, authoritative websites is a ranking factor that has stood the test of time. It’s simple: When you create comprehensive, insightful, quality content you give others something to “link about”—and search engines see that as a sign of relevance and authority. Unsurprisingly, influencers can play a massive role in the creation of that link-worthy content. From original research featuring reactions and commentary to a thoughtful listicle featuring top industry influencers to follow on social media, the possibilities are seemingly endless here. In addition, influencers can be the source of those quality backlinks. For example, if you partner with an influencer to co-create an article for their blog or another relevant industry publication, there’s likely a natural opportunity to include a link back to your site through optimized anchor text. But an important thing to note here: If you’re exchanging any sort of payment (e.g. straight cash or free goods and services) that not only needs to be noted in the content, but it’s also recommended that a “nofollow” link be implemented. (You may forfeit the baseline SEO advantages here, but you don’t lose the ability to direct traffic to your site through the link.) However, if you’ve partnered without payment beyond recognition, thought leadership, or forming an organic partnership, you’re probably safe.

SEO + Influence = The Perfect Pair

Integration is absolutely essential for driving digital and content marketing success in the crowded, competitive B2B landscape. By pairing an old favorite and a rising star, B2B marketers have the opportunity to design a long-term strategy for maximum impact. For more insights on the intersection of SEO and influencer marketing, check out:

The post The Intersection of SEO & Influencer Marketing: What B2B Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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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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The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information

Building Online Communities in B2B

Building Online Communities in B2B

What does effective marketing engagement look like?

In the common model we see today, it’s something like this: Brands push out relevant messaging, hoping to compel a response or interaction that leads to a conversation (and maybe ultimately a conversion). This can be anything from a comment on a social media post to a chat window initiation.

Nothing wrong with that. These back-and-forths between brands and individuals are important ingredients toward building trust and loyalty. The problem is that, as a sole method for driving engagement, the cast-and-wait approach is too dependent on explicit triggers to spark these interactions.  

Devising and creating content that drives targeted engagement is hard work. It’s worthwhile, but hard, and sometimes even well conceived plans miss the mark. What if you were able to develop a self-driven engagement engine, which fostered strategic conversations built awareness among your most valuable customers and prospects?

Enter: Communities.

Why Communities Matter to Digital Marketers

In his seminal book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin writes about turning scattered groups of followers into a unified “tribe,” which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

Human beings have long gravitated toward these communal experiences, elevating the collective power of their interests, beliefs, or passions. According to Godin, a group needs two things to become a tribe:

  1. A shared idea
  2. A way to communicate

The internet has taken care of No. 2, making it easy for strangers around the globe to come together via message boards, social media, subreddits, etc. So really it’s about identifying that mutual idea, or focal point, and taking the lead in rallying people around it.

Coordinating Communities for B2B Marketing

It’s not uncommon for tribes to form around a B2C product or service. For example, my fiancée follows several social media groups dedicated to Oreo cookies. People in these communities share updates about new flavors, and where they can be found. Other examples of strong brand communities include Sephora, LEGO, and Starbucks.

In the B2B space, this is more challenging. People aren’t generally drawn to, say, cybersecurity software in the same way they are to their favorite coffee or cosmetics brand. But that’s not to say there isn’t a deep level of passion for cybersecurity — it’s a prevalent issue throughout our society, and one that many professionals spend their entire days thinking about. The key lies in hitting the right resonant note and facilitating connections.

In the case of cybersecurity specialists, we have to ask: What questions burn in their minds? Which elements of the subject excite or agitate them? Where do discussions among hardcore followers tend to center? This type of empathetic mindset should be at the core of our DNA as modern marketers.

Building B2B communities doesn’t always mean trying to create a “brand community” where your company and its offerings are the primary focus; this can be tough to accomplish, and even when you do, you’re unlikely to pull in many members outside of your existing customer base. The more effective approach, from my view, is building communities around interests and commonalities that align directly with what you do.

Pinpointing the ideal focal point for your community requires an acute understanding of the people you serve, derived through copious research. We can apply many of the same tactics for identifying best answer opportunities to arrive at data-driven conclusions about the most avid areas of curiosity for our audiences. If your customers are repeatedly asking the same questions to Google, they probably want to discuss them amongst one another as well.

Where Can You Build Online Communities?

Let’s say you’re interested in starting a community around a certain topic relevant to your brand. Where might go about doing so? Here are some popular options:

  • Facebook Groups: It’s the world’s most popular social media platform and a prevalent hub for connecting around common interests. We wrote recently about the value of Facebook groups for B2B brands. And Facebook’s recently announced redesign will put groups at the center of the experience.
  • LinkedIn Groups: Often a better contextual fit than Facebook for B2B social media groups, as LinkedIn is (of course) structured around professional topics. Last year LinkedIn made its Groups feature more accessible by integrating it into the mobile app.
  • Forum/Message Board: The online message board traces its origins back nearly to the dawn of the internet, when it was called a bulletin board system (BBS). Today, these platforms for organized digital discourse remain prevalent and — when well populated — highly active and engaging. This post from HubSpot offers some step-by-step guidance for launching your community in such a fashion.
  • Microsite: A special section of your website dedicated entirely to allowing your customers and audience members to interact with one another. It might be a message board built within your site, or a more customized setup. Whatever the case, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to navigate and follow conversation threads.

Benefits of B2B Community-Building

“Community is important because it brings people together. Community keeps people loyal, makes them feel like they matter. It also lets the company show how much they appreciate their customers,” according to Mary Green, a community-building specialist who shared her insights with B2B News Network.

Beyond the overarching loyalty imperative, here are a few other practical advantages to creating an online community:

  • Firsthand audience research. Marketers are always endeavoring to understand what matters most to their audiences. In many cases, this requires considerable guesswork. But by monitoring a community, you can watch conversations play out organically, seeing what impassioned followers talk about and how they talk about it. This can serve as a crucial springboard for your content planning. It might even help inspire new product features or service offerings.
  • User-generated content. “Brands and influencers can make great content, but the phenomenal stuff comes from the discussion. User-generated content is gold,” says Green. I’ve written here in the past about the power of UGC for authenticity, and online communities can be an excellent resource for uncovering it.
  • Finding and cultivating influencers. Within these communities, you’ll frequently see particular experts emerging with strong voices or magnetic insights. These might be candidates to incorporate more deeply into your influencer marketing strategy.

B2B Brands Running Strong Communities

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few companies that set the right example with B2B community-building:

Bank of America

They major national bank created a small business online community, which they describe as “a forum for small business ideas, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to help your small business grow.”

As you scroll through the links and discussions within, you’ll find that much of it is unrelated to banking or even financial matters, and that’s just fine. The point is that numerous customers and prospects are coming to BoA’s website to talk shop.

Bank of America Online Community

Intuit

The QuickBooks Community is basically a public knowledge bank where users can help each other solve problems and learn new things. There are product-centric areas for QB troubleshooting, as well as general business discussions. Intuit company reps are also active participants in the community.

QuickBooks Online Community

Jamf

Jamf Nation describes itself as “the largest Apple IT management community in the world.” It’s a perfect example of owning a niche, and mobilizing a community while keeping product promotion on the backburner. Members are welcomed to “Dialog with your fellow IT professionals, gain insight about Apple device deployments, share best practices and bounce ideas off each other.”

Jamf Nation Online Community

Find Your Tribe

As marketing emphasis shifts more and more toward delivering holistic experiences, community-building should be a key consideration for practitioners everywhere, especially in B2B where the opportunity is especially ripe. Herein lies the next frontier of digital engagement.

Want to learn more about B2B brands that are finding more authentic ways to engage? Check out our post: Flipping the B2B Marketing Script: 7 Brands That Talk to Consumers, Not Companies

The post The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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