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The Science of Online B2B Marketing

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(Posted on Aug 14, 2014 at 03:10AM by William Cosgrove)
Circle S studio designed this infographic, “The Science of B2B Online Marketing”  to help you visualize the components and the overall process.

The Science of B2B Online Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]



Reposted from CoxBlue.com

The Social Animals We Humans Are

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(Posted on Aug 12, 2014 at 03:52AM by William Cosgrove)
Human beings are social creatures whose lives depend on other humans. We are born unable to care for ourselves. We develop and learn about the world around us through social interaction. Our connections to others are key not only our survival, but also to our happiness and the success of our careers.

And with being social creatures comes the need to interact with others to reassure ourselves that we are liked, admired, respected and noticed.

Then on April, 30th, 1993, it was announced that the World Wide Web would be free to everyone and the rest is history. Since then, the introduction of social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even AOL in the beginning, to name a few, has transformed the way we communicate. Along with the internet social media will probably go down as one of the major influencers of every generation since the Baby Boom generation and take its place as one of the wonders of modern time.

Between 2000 and 2002 the number of users on the internet grew a staggering 566.4% Nowhere else nor at any time in history has there been a forum even close to the scale of the World Wide Web. According to Internet Live Stats  (www.InternetLiveStats.com) by 2014 it is estimated that there will be close to 3,000,000,000 internet users globally representing around 40% of our population.

With all this connectivity we are now being faced with the loss of our privacy being subjected to Government agencies and even Employers spying on us and collecting information. By putting it all out there for everyone to see one should expect and understand that they are relinquishing their right to privacy to a large extent.

We use all this technology to interact with friends and family, to get the latest news and entertainment, and to research things we want to know about. It was only a matter of time before business saw the opportunities that Social Media offered.

Business saw the opportunity that getting involved with social media would open up a huge potential resource. Social Media presented Business with ways to reach people in ways that were never possible with other forms of media. It allowed them to put a face to their business and to identify them in new ways. Today, social media and the need to understand it has become an essential part in the success of marketing for business.

But this new social medium also comes with risks that if they are not socially responsible in their advertising and communications or have any kind of misstep the consequences could be very costly.

It is all boils down how you use this knowledge to your advantage or disadvantage. We are influenced by, and we are able to influence people who we know as well as people we never met.  We can influence others and gain recognition by posting blogs, getting involved in discussions, participate in forums and even help people by informing and educating them on any of the many sites available on the World wide Web.

We need to look at what social networks hold our and our customers interests and the ones we will benefit from and decide if the people we are interacting with are the people we want to influence and want shaping our lives, careers and businesses.

Social interaction can open doors to job or other opportunities. You can meet like-minded people and have discussions with people who can give you new perspectives. The possibilities for whatever we are looking for or want to accomplish socially are limitless.

In the end, we need to gain the knowledge necessary and take responsibility for how we act and market socially on the internet and conduct our business because in the end the internet as a social whole will make the final judgment on how it reacts to, responds to and accepts what it is being disseminated.

William Cosgrove

How Images Can Affect Your SEO and Engagement

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(Posted on Aug 11, 2014 at 03:59AM by William Cosgrove)
 

There was a time when the primary concern of bloggers was search engine optimization (SEO). Since then times have changed to an extent.  SEO is still a vital consideration, but it now shares the platform with another, equally important element: user engagement.

Most SEO’s will tell you that a page with a bounce rate of 90% and up probably won’t rank high on any search engines. It won’t matter how much you try to optimize the page off-site, there is only so much you can do with horrible bounce rate figures. This complicates things for online publishers, but it’s actually a positive development.  User engagement focuses on human interaction, not search algorithms, which is good for publishers with quality content because they can compete based on the merits of their content and the experience they offer users — not just how well they play the search game.

To win the race to draw more clicks, views and more interaction you need a simple, yet important element on each and every page: images.  Images highly support SEO and user engagement, so by using quality images in a productive manner, bloggers, online publishers, and marketers can boost their search engine rankings and their engagement with readers.

This Post Discusses:

  • The connection between Images and SEO
  • How images lead to engagement
  • In-image adverting and it’s connection to monetizing engagement

Images and SEO

SEO has become synonymous with keywords, due in large part to the ubiquity of keyword stuffed online.  Today’s search engines are, of course, far more sophisticated, but that doesn’t stop keywords (when handled with finesse) from having an effect.  Nonetheless, quality and relevant content usually trump any black hat technique in the long term.  Yet, quality and relevant content can still be lost in the shuffle when it comes to SEO thanks to how steep the competition is.  One way to boost search engine rankings — when there’s already quality textual content — is the inclusion of high quality content related images for SEO. A good image is always related to the text.

SEO Content

This is an example of a content-related image

Part of the reason for this is the growing popularity of image searching via search engines: i.e. Google Image Search and similar services.  These searches have reached a level of sophistication that allows them to serve content users what they want, when they want it — and users frequently want images — so their popularity has exploded.  Which means what?

Two things:

  1. Companies with search engines (such as Google and Facebook) are putting more time, effort and expertise into indexing and rating images for SEO on websites to serve users content. If you need proof that this has been happening for a while, you can just check out the wiki page of Face.com, it will give you an idea how much money these companies are willing to invest into understanding images.
  2. The relevancy and quality of those images is being used to affect your site’s search engine rankings.

Even if you’re not serving images, which users are explicitly searching, the images for SEO on your site matter.  Indexing is taking into account alt text, file size, and file name, in addition of course to bounce rate.

Bounce rate is the time the user spends on the site they’ve chosen before heading back to the search engine.  It’s important to both the SEO and user engagement aspects of image inclusion, because it affects one and is an indicator of the other.  A bounce rate that is too high (that is, users are clicking through to your site and quickly abandoning it) will negatively affect rankings; it is also a good indicator that your levels of engagement aren’t optimal.

Bounce Rate

This is NOT an example of a content-related image, even though we are talking about bounce rate

Too few images, and images for SEO that are low quality or irrelevant, can lead to high bounce rate.  Images are good for view rates. In fact, articles featuring images get 94% more total views, which is quite significant, but if your view rates are increasing along with your bounce rate, you may find that the benefit cancels itself out.

So, images have become vitally important to SEO but those images must be worth viewing, and must be a catalyst for engagement.

Images and User Engagement

As mentioned above, studies show that images result in 94% more views, which shows a clear user bias toward articles with images.  So how important are images to engagement, really? Very important.

Photos and videos in press releases increase views by 45%, which is significant because users view press releases for very specific purposes. Usually a user reading a press release is considering increasing their engagement with the company mentioned in the future. Over half of consumers are more inclined to contact businesses which include an image in their search results locally. Over half of consumers are more inclined to contact businesses which include an image in their search results locally.

When purchasing a product online, a staggering 67% of consumers note that the quality of the image depicting the product is of great importance in following through with a purchase.  In fact, most users feel that the quality of the image outranks its description, its specifications, and even ratings or reviews.

And when it comes to Facebook, engagement with photos is 37% higher than engagement with text.

In short, the importance of images to user engagement simply cannot be overstated.  Again, however, with a caveat: users have high standards for images, as they do for all content now.  Images should decidedly add to the overall user experience to increase interactivity and SEO.

Leveraging Images to their Best Advantage

There are two main things for marketers, publishers, bloggers, and social media experts to keep in mind in regards to images for SEO and engagement:

  • Inclusion of images: Images, generally speaking, increase views
  • Images included must be both high quality and relevant to increase engagement in a meaningful way and to reduce bounce back, which would negatively affect SEO

Images also provide something else: the opportunity for quality, engaging monetization.  Their appeal to users and their potential to improve the user experience make them ripe for monetization, if it’s done in a tasteful, engaging, experience optimizing manner.

In-image advertising is one way to take advantage of the value of images while improving user experience, views, and engagement.  In-image advertising also has multiple advantages over traditional advertising; it isn’t subject to “banner blindess” (the phenomenon of users ignoring content-extraneous advertising), and it can be fully integrated into content in an engaging manner.

In-Image Advertising and Images for SEO and Engagement

Of course, all of the advantages and benefits that images can bring to your blog, publication, or social media interactions depend upon the ability to source quality, relevant images.  This can be simple for certain marketing goals, because the content lends itself to image collection. For other goals, and for independent bloggers and publishers, it can be a more complex procedure.  There’s a way to streamline the process for those who wish to monetize their sites with in-image advertising.

In-image advertising platforms like imonomy (full disclosure: I work here) can actually provide content in-image ads packaged with high-quality, content-relevant images.  For example, if the content is a recipe, the image might be a photo of relevant ingredients being mixed with a commercial mixer; should the user mouse over it, they could be presented with links to ads for kitchen appliances.

Ask Yourself

The recent success of sites like PlayBuzz, BuzzFeed, Viral Nova and Bored Panda is mostly attributed to their emphasis on putting images in the spotlight. Most viral content websites today know that an interesting thumbnail is sometimes all you need to create a viral news post. Ask yourself this, would these images be even remotely successful without their heavy systematic use of engaging images?

Conclusion

Users want images and they are far more willing to view a site which hosts images, and far more willing to engage with a site that hosts high quality images.  Images are key to increasing SEO and user engagement.  Ambitious marketers and publishers should take advantage of this, not only by serving their users the image-based content they want, but by marrying those images to non-intrusive, exceptionally relevant, interactive in-image advertising.  Banners and textual ads have become easy for users to ignore. However, users can’t ignore the very quality content they’re clamoring for, so long as the ads are delivered in a positive, experience enhancing way.

The Future

The way I see things might astonish some of you, but I think the next trend is going to be sites with much less text. Today people are talking how words equal better SEO and I don’t necessarily agree. I personally like to think that content will be reviewed by search algorithms in a much more advanced way. In the next couple of years, text won’t be the main things algorithms try to understand, the reason? A picture is worth more than a thousand words.

Reposted from SteamFeed

All Aboard For 'Ground Zero Marketing'

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(Posted on Aug 2, 2014 at 05:09AM by William Cosgrove)
Now that “Ground Zero Marketing” has already left the station and is gaining momentum I’d like to re-iterate some points from my article last week and bring up some new ones in hopes of continuing the momentum to enlist and educate business that it’s the website first and foremost that should provide the base from which all their its initiatives should originate and link back to directly.

So let’s rev up “Ground Zero Marketing” and invite everyone aboard.  There will be many stops along the way for those of you who are late to get on board but just remember that the first ones to get on board always get the best seats.

Technology today provides business with the tools to build and maintain their website as “ground Zero” to give them greater control and to reap all the benefits that increased exposure and community brings to organic search, natural link building, and search ranking.

.Your company website should be where all your marketing and communication efforts originate and directly link to where you can provide visitors with a customer centric culture enhanced through community. 

Why would you subscribe to a company whose platform requires you to use their website to do your marketing or distribute content? Your website is where you should concentrate on building your brand. Today it is important to note that it not only does not make sense to market from someone else’s site it simply diminishes the reach and effectiveness your most valuable online asset-Your Website.

From service to sales to customer service your website should be the main vessel used to attract traffic from all your organic and social media channels and an online community can tie it all together.

Unless you are a national or international company your efforts should also be on marketing locally to your local community and using  community to become part of it and to make them part of yours. This is where you are going to realize the most benefit and where you can show your support for your community through customer service, sponsorship and education to show them that you are more than just another sales machine.

The basics of earning respect and loyalty have never and will never change. Digital marketing has just given us newer and different ways in which to do it

These efforts are what are going to create the advocates that will repay you with their loyalty by patronizing your business and referring friends, family and others through WOM (Word of Mouth) advertising on and offline.

Ground Zero Marketing provides better and more stable ways of attracting customers and communicating with your existing customer and employee base from your most important online asset-Your website. Having your message emanating from and traffic directed to your website is the only way you will reap 100% of the benefit that SEO and link building provide.

All this interaction being streamed across your organic, social media and paid channels will engage potential customers by showing them that you have a customer and employee centric culture. This builds trust and confidence in your brand that will:

Increase visibility

Increase site traffic

Increase recommendations and testimonials

Increase employee advocacy

All of which combined will set your brand apart and result in higher sales and a fatter bottom line.

Use Ground Zero to show that you believe in your employees, your customers and yourself.  Show your customers and employees that you know they are the reason you exist through community, sharing and establishing a dialog that flows in two directions. Then you will have a solid foundation for continued and sustainable growth-ALL Aboard Yet?

And one more thing.-

Keep your eyes open so you don’t miss this important message that has been posted on along the way to “Ground Zero Marketing”: 

Picture
 
All Aboard!!!

Marketing From Ground Zero

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(Posted on Jul 26, 2014 at 07:32AM by William Cosgrove)


Would you do a little research to increase sales, customer retention and to more fully utilize your marketing dollars? Then take the time today to read this and research this important topic and you will discover the tremendous benefits and cost savings that an Onsite Social Community can provide.

The process of buying a product is fleeting in terms of the length of time it takes. After the sale your relationship can last for years when it comes to servicing, communicating and establishing a positive relationship with that customer who can also in turn make a positive impact in influencing potential customers.

These communities can take many forms to fit the needs of any business and can be utilized across your social networks and digital marketing campaigns to provide a customer centric message that no other social tool can.

Social communities provide customers a central place in which to directly communicate with a business and gain valuable information about all of the businesses services and offerings. Social communities also provide an ongoing opportunity for the business to gain knowledge about the customer as an individual by listening to and addressing their constantly changing individual wants and needs.

Social Communities also provide a forum in which customers can ask questions relevant to them and share their feelings with others on why they like doing business with your company. What better way to get to know a customer than genuinely listening to their wants and needs and providing the solutions and answers that concern “them” from one central place-your website.

As well as enjoying the rewards of being a customer of a business through special member discounts and drawings they get to know you as a business and you get to know and maintain contact with them as a customer.

The cost effectiveness of having that customer on your site as a community member is immeasurable when comparing it to the cost of campaigns to reach them. (See Know These Must Have Social Media Marketing Tools)  Your communication also becomes expected and not intrusive to them.

Also, by having one central landing page for community members to provide helpful information from provided services to sales, events and relevant topics with the ability to ask questions they have that concern them will turn your customers into brand ambassadors to provide invaluable marketing opportunities for you to increase you customer base.

Online social communities can also be combined with on and offline events marketing to provide powerful and effective marketing campaigns that will stand out and which cannot be accomplished by any other means.

Analytics have provided more and more insight into online users behaviors and have started to provide more insight into target marketing to the individual. Onsite communities provide a cost effective and direct way of providing invaluable insight on targeting to the individual, and monitoring their changing behaviors.
 
The rapid advancement in technology as a whole promises to bring new and better ways to measure and market online much more efficiently but an onsite community can live on to be utilized with all the current technology available today as well as newer technologies that are made available on an almost daily basis.

More and more businesses are embracing the advantage of onsite communities to integrate current customers and employees into the company culture to better leverage these existing resources.

Would you do a little research to make a big difference? Then take the time to research and discuss the tremendous benefits an onsite community customized to fit your needs can bring to your business and you will discover that “Marketing from Ground Zero” will add more zeros to your bottom line.

William Cosgrove

(Photo courtesy of abramarketing)

Most B2B Marketers Struggle To Create Engaging Content

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(Posted on Jul 21, 2014 at 07:17AM by William Cosgrove)
By Laura Ramos

When it comes to content marketing, the majority of business-to-business (B2B) marketers we surveyed last month are not as mature as they think.

Roughly half of respondents (52%) are in the early stages of assembling a content strategy and executing against it. We call this early majority "aspiring editors," and while their practices are often inconsistent or not fully embraced across the organization, these marketers are busy laying the foundation upon which to build an editorial point of view that gives their buyers something useful and valuable to read, watch, or interact with. 

In a new report, published today (subscription required), we took a closer look at the maturity of content marketing practices among 113 B2B marketing professionals. Half of our respondents hail from companies with 1,000 employees or more, and 41% occupy senior marketing positions including the title of CMO or senior vice president. When compared to peers, most (51%) believe their practices are very mature.  

But that bar is not very high when an overwhelming 85% can't connect content activity to business value and, as a result, fail to create those intimate long-term relationships that will form the primary source of competitive advantage in business from now on.

Our content marketing benchmark shows that B2B marketers have more work to do when it comes to consistently delivering a valuable exchange of information with prospects and customers. Key findings include:

  • Content is not marketing's job No. 1. A startling 72% of surveyed marketers say less than half of their marketing staff plays a primary role in content marketing today — leaving content to quickly devolve to talk of products and features, rather than interesting insights buyers crave. It's not a surprise, then, that 87% say they struggle to produce content that truly engages their buyers.
  • Marketers produce content simply to fill the channel. Sixty-two percent admit to producing content on a campaign-by-campaign basis, while 47% said that they focus primarily on creating content for distribution channels like their company website, online advertising, email, and social media. Another 16% said they mainly develop sales collateral. Altogether, this data shows an acute focus on acquisition that practically ignores the remainder of the customer life cycle. 
  • They fail to highlight how they help customers become successful. While 71% of surveyed marketers say their content features case studies or customer stories, only 3% admit this is a primary focus of their efforts. 
  • Content lacks insight that buyers can turn into action. Only 12% of respondents make publishing research and perspectives the main focus of their content marketing, and no one said they engage external experts to validate those ideas.
  • Marketers focus on creating deals, not on building relationships. While more than three-quarters of respondents say they frequently communicate to their customer base, only 5% make this a priority, proving that marketers are too focused on acquisition rather than creating long-term loyalty. 

To overcome these deficiencies, and others we detail in the report, CMOs will need to take a hard look at skills, staff, and creative resources directed at content production — because it's clear that staying the current course will not be productive long-term. In the survey, we found just 4% of those we surveyed are true masters of content marketing. We were lucky enough to speak to a few at companies like Computer Sciences Corp, Deltek, Kapost, Sungard Availability Services, and Verizon — you can learn more about their practices and successes in the research. Survey participants who are members of the Business Marketing Association or Online Marketing Institute can apply for a copy of the report here. You can also read the Advertising Age coverage here to get an additional perspective.

Next up? A deeper look at why content marketing needs to look beyond the top of the funnel to deliver more impact to the business. And, in August, I'll bring this content marketing insight together during theForrester Webinar "Four Ways To Improve Your Content Marketing Maturity" on August 7th.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any interesting content marketing successes to share. Take the assessment yourself and let me know how you score. I look forward to meeting more content masters who deliver the information and insight that buyers value and share.

Originally Posted on Forrester


Marketing Has Changed-Get Over It

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(Posted on Jul 19, 2014 at 05:45AM by William Cosgrove)
Digital Marketing has shaped the way we market as a whole and the rapid advancement of technology is changing the marketing landscape and is demanding newer ways of marketing to get your message out consistently and effectively.

But in today’s fast paced business environment of being ROI focused at all costs it is hard to see the long term benefit  marketing as a nurturing and information tool to gain and retain customers over the long term when today’s results driven bottom line engrained  corporate culture does not support it.

In other words if you can’t see past the bottom line it is hard to develop a marketing strategy that is designed solely to inform and educate consumers to bring them to you instead of pushing yourself on them.

Back in 2006 the power shift in marketing as a whole was already being talked about. Stephen F. Quinn, senior vice president for marketing at Wal-Mart Stores, stated that “Today, the customer is in charge and whoever is best at putting the customer in charge makes all the money.”

And as consumers “wrest control away from brand-management control freaks,” Russ Klein,  president for global marketing, strategy and innovation at Burger King advised his peers, “get over it,” because “turning your brand over to the consumer is taking control — and in fact, if you do, they’ll return it to you in better shape.”

Still today it is hard to see that this power shift has been or is being accepted. Is it that business has yet figured out how to do it? Is it that the brand management control freaks are still in control? Or is the shortsighted profit mentality of business still the driving force?

We all need to make a profit but whatever happened to when businesses had a longer than a monthly or quarterly plan they used as a benchmark to build their business?

William Cosgrove

3 Myths About Duplicate Content

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(Posted on Jul 12, 2014 at 04:50AM by William Cosgrove)

3 Myths About Duplicate Content By Andy Crestodina

The words “duplicate content penalty” strike fear in the hearts of marketers. People with no SEO experience use this phrase all the time. Most have never read Google’s guidelines on duplicate content. They just somehow assume that if something appears twice online, asteroids and locusts must be close behind.

This article is long overdue. Let’s bust some duplicate content myths.

Note: This article is about content and publishing, not technical SEO issues such as URL structure.

Myth #1: Non-Original Content on Your Site Will Hurt Your Rankings across Your Domain

I have never seen any evidence that non-original content hurts a site’s ranking, except for one truly extreme case. Here’s what happened:

The day a new website went live, a very lazy PR firm copied the home page text and pasted it into a press release. They put it out on the wire services, immediately creating hundreds of versions of the home page content all over the web. Alarms went off at Google and the domain was manually blacklisted by a cranky Googler.

It was ugly. Since we were the web development company, we got blamed. We filed a reconsideration request and eventually the domain was re-indexed.

So what was the problem?

  • Volume: There were hundreds of instances of the same text
  • Timing: All the content appeared at the same time
  • Context: It was the homepage copy on a brand new domain

It’s easy to imagine how this got flagged as spam.

But this isn’t what people are talking about when they invoke the phrase “duplicate content.” They’re usually talking about 1,000 words on one page of a well-established site. It takes more than this to make red lights blink at Google.

Many sites, including some of the most popular blogs on the internet, frequently repost articles that first appeared somewhere else. They don’t expect this content to rank, but they also know it won’t hurt the credibility of their domain.

Myth #2: Scrapers Will Hurt Your Site

I know a blogger who carefully watches Google Webmaster Tools. When a scraper site copies one of his posts, he quickly disavows any links to his site. Clearly, he hasn’t read Google’s Duplicate Content Guidelines or the Guidelines for Disavows.

Ever seen the analytics for a big blog? Some sites get scraped ten times before breakfast. I’ve seen it in their trackback reports. Do you think they have a full-time team watching GWT and disavowing links all day? No. They don’t pay any attention to scrapers. They don’t fear duplicate content.

Scrapers don’t help or hurt you. Do you think that a little blog in Asia with no original writing and no visitors confuses Google? No. It just isn’t relevant.

Personally, I don’t mind scrapers one bit. They usually take the article verbatim, links and all. The fact that they take the links is a good reason to pay attention to internal linking. The links on the scraped version pass little or no authority, but you may get the occasional referral visit.

Tip: Report Scrapers that Outrank Your Site

On the (very) rare occasion that Google does get confused and the copied version of your content is outranking your original, Google wants to know about it. Here’s the fix. Tell them using the Scraper Report Tool.

google scraper report

Tip: Digitally Sign Your Content with Google Authorship

Getting your picture to appear in search results isn’t the only reason to use Google Authorship. It’s a way of signing your name to a piece of content, forever associating you as the author with the content.

With Authorship, each piece of content is connected to one and only one author and their corresponding “contributor to” blogs, no matter how many times it gets scraped.

Tip: Take Harsh Action against Actual Plagiarists

There is a big difference between scraped content and copyright infringement. Sometimes, a company will copy your content (or even your entire site) and claim the credit of creation.

Plagiarism is the practice of someone else taking your work and passing it off as their own. Scrapers aren’t doing this. But others will, signing their name to your work. It’s illegal, and it’s why you have a copyright symbol in your footer.

If it happens to you, you’ll be thinking about lawyers, not search engines.

There are several levels of appropriate response. Here’s a true story of a complete website ripoff and step-by-step instructions on what actions to take.

Myth #3: Republishing Your Guest Posts on Your Own Site Will Hurt Your Site

I do a lot of guest blogging. It’s unlikely that my usual audience sees all these guest posts, so it’s tempting to republish these guest posts on my own blog.

As a general rule, I prefer that the content on my own site be strictly original. But this comes from a desire to add value, not from the fear of a penalty.

Ever written for a big blog? I’ve guest posted on some big sites. Some actually encourage you to republish the post on your own site after a few weeks go by. They know that Google isn’t confused. In some cases, they may ask you to add a little HTML tag to the post…

Tip: Use rel=“canonical” Tag

Canonical is really just a fancy (almost biblical) word that means “official version.” If you ever republish an article that first appeared elsewhere, you can use the canonical tag to tell search engines where the original version appeared. It looks like this:

canonical anchor link reference example

That’s it! Just add the tag and republish fearlessly.

Tip: Write the “Evil Twin”

If the original was a “how to” post, hold it up to a mirror and write the “how not to” post. Base it on the same concept and research, but use different examples and add more value. This “evil twin” post will be similar, but still original.

Not only will you avoid a penalty, but you may get an SEO benefit. Both of these posts rank on page one for “website navigation.”

Calm down, People.

In my view, we’re living through a massive overreaction. For some, it’s a near panic. So, let’s take a deep breath and consider the following…

Googlebot visits most sites every day. If it finds a copied version of something a week later on another site, it knows where the original appeared. Googlebot doesn’t get angry and penalize. It moves on. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Remember, Google has 2,000 math PhDs on staff. They build self-driving cars and computerized glasses. They are really, really good. Do you think they’ll ding a domain because they found a page of unoriginal text?

A huge percentage of the internet is duplicate content. Google knows this. They’ve been separating originals from copies since 1997, long before the phrase “duplicate content” became a buzzword in 2005.

Disagree? Got Any Conflicting Evidence?

When I talk to SEOs about duplicate content, I often ask if they have first-hand experience. Eventually, I met someone who did. As an experiment, he built a site and republished posts from everywhere, verbatim, and gradually some of them began to rank. Then along came Panda and his rank dropped.

Was this a penalty? Or did the site just drop into oblivion where it belongs? There’s a difference between a penalty (like the blacklisting mentioned above) and a correction that restores the proper order of things.

If anyone out there has actual examples or real evidence of penalties related to duplicate content, I’d love to hear ‘em.

About the Author: Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. You can find Andy on Google+ and Twitter.

Photo Courtesy of Yehyon Chung, Poptip

Marketers are drowning in content

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(Posted on Jul 9, 2014 at 03:59AM by William Cosgrove)
Author: Jessica McGreal, digital content manager, B2B marketing
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B2B Marketing’s 2014 Content Benchmarking Report reveals marketers are struggling to harness the power of content because of the increasing volume being produced. Jessica McGreal investigates

Content marketing is popular. Period. However, with popularity comes great power, a power the majority of marketers surveyed in B2B Marketing’s 2014 Content Benchmarking Report cannot seem to measure, or harness.

Only one per cent of the B2B marketers that took part in the research said content has ‘limited or no importance’ in their activity. For the other 99 per cent content plays a key role in their overall marketing efforts, with 61 per cent of senior management supporting it.

Due to its great popularity, inbound marketing now takes up 40 per cent of marketers’ time and 29 per cent of the department’s budget.

Andrew Davies, COO and co-founder of IDIO, explains why content has become the holy grail in B2B: “As a B2B marketer myself, I search out content that solves my needs, and have very little time for interruptive messages that come from vendors. Content rules in B2B marketing because it allows me to pull what I need, when I need it; to be served not sold to.”

Under pressure
As a result of its popularity, 86 per cent of marketers have been creating more content over the last 12 months. Impressively, this has been achieved without any notable increase in time and budget; growing just one per cent and three per cent respectively.

Ilona Hitel, MD and founder of The CommsCo, believes this may be down to content being repurposed: “I can see a new world where budget goes a lot further than it used to; once quality content has been created, it can be re-used multiple times. A good idea that used to be a single piece of content can now be optimised to suit a multitude of channels and audiences, meaning marketers can effectively create more content.”

Yet, Brendan Farnell, vice president of strategic accounts at Regalix, believes there might be a more worrying reason behind these stats: “Marketers are still living in a world where feeding search engines with low quality and high quantity content is considered an SEO strategy. But search engines are getting smarter and so must marketers. Search results from ‘content farms’ are now being pushed off from page one and Google is giving more value to original, educational content.”

This paints a bleak picture of marketing teams under pressure to create an abundance of content to reach targets, rather than business goals.

It is unsurprising then that 84 per cent of marketers agreed ‘standing out from the crowd’ was a main challenge. To overcome this issue 42 per cent said their teams needed to produce ‘more relevant/commercially useful content’, 19 per cent said ‘using the right platform for the audience’ would overcome the problem and 13 per cent felt creating ‘original’, ‘tailored’ content would help. 

This may mean producing fewer pieces of content, focusing instead on larger projects tailored to prospects’ needs and pain points. Marketers need to follow Hitel’s advice and repurpose content. For example a research report can be recycled to create an infographic, a video and a series of blogs.

Content overdrive
So, as marketing teams go into content overdrive, what formats are they focusing on?

The research revealed the most popular types of content are blog posts, (frequently used by 61 per cent of marketers), followed by press releases (47 per cent) and case studies (45 per cent). However, this is in contrast with the most effective content types: video (47 per cent), case studies (46 per cent) and whitepapers (39 per cent).

Going forward, it is essential marketers begin to use the best type of content for their intended goals. The report showed the best type of content to generate the most leads is whitepapers. Reports, whitepapers and case studies generate most revenue. Whereas blog posts are the best at driving traffic to websites.

Planning matters
Creating effective content also means preparation and planning. While 68 per cent of brands have a content marketing strategy, 63 per cent of brands do not have editorial guidelines.

“Without a good set of guidelines you risk wasting a lot of time and energy on an expensive marketing discipline without a foundation on tone of voice, style and purpose, you are doing no more than ‘hit and hope’,” says Steve Kemish, managing director ofCyance. “A good set of guidelines shouldn’t be more than one or two sides of A4, so there should be no excuse.”

Guidelines should address the main objectives and features of the content marketing campaign. Forty-five per cent of marketers said the key feature of a successful programme was ‘relevance to audience’, 24 per cent listed ‘engagement’ and 19 per cent said ‘appropriate channel use’.

Oddly, only one per cent said creating ‘memorable content’ was a key feature of a successful campaign. This adds to the argument brands are creating an abundance of ‘one hit wonders’ when it comes to content, rather than creating useful, interesting and valuable pieces their prospects will remember and keep in mind when it’s time to buy.

Crowded marketplace
Creating successful content is only half the battle, ensuring it reaches the right people is the other. To do this 95 per cent of marketers use email to distribute content, followed by company website (93 per cent) and social media (91 per cent). 

With nearly all B2B marketers utilising these channels, brands have begun shouting messages at their customers rather than creating a two-way dialogue. In order to break through the noise and differentiate in a busy marketplace, practitioners should be looking further afield at new technologies and traditional channels that are currently less popular. For example, only 28 per cent said they distributed content via direct mail, 19 per cent via third party blogs and 17 per cent via a mobile or tablet apps. These less busy channels could be exploited.

Subsequently, trying to be heard above the noise of competitors is a continuing problem in B2B, with ‘engaging target audience’ listed as the number one challenge 37 per cent of marketers are facing, followed by ‘measuring ROI’ (34 per cent) and ‘generating leads’  (29 per cent).

Only three per cent of those surveyed said they could measure ROI on their content activity ‘all the time’ (an increase of a mere two per cent since 2013). While 38 per cent said they could only measure ROI ‘some of the time’, another 15 per cent admitted they could ‘rarely or not at all’ calculate ROI.

It is worrying that ROI still remains a problem as 63 per cent of senior management teams prefer their marketing departments to demonstrate ROI, and a further 21 per cent have a ‘strong emphasis’ on it.

Marketers seem to be stuck when it comes to proving the value of their content activities, which may result in budgets being cut in the future. Farnell explains: “ROI attribution across channels has always been a problem and content will be no exception. The risk for marketers is that the lack of ROI tracking will result in a decrease in content marketing spend.”

Overcoming challenges
All three of these challenges could be overcome by the proper implementation of analytics. While over half (55 per cent) of B2B organisations said they utilised data analytics, only 22 per cent said it played a ‘critical’ role when creating effective campaigns.

Jon Myers, VP and MD EMEA at Marin Software, argues: “Running analytics on your content can help reveal valuable insights into audience interests. The more data you have, the better. Discover where you get the most viewers, what types of content they’re consuming, when they’re accessing it, and what information sparks their interest or leads them to convert. This kind of data can be used to influence aspects of your future content – content type, post time, channel of distribution, etc. Many people are surprised at just how data-driven content marketing is.”

Some 54 per cent of those surveyed used web analytics, 31 per cent social analytics, 27 per cent marketing automation software and 25 per cent CRM. Of the 27 per cent utilising marketing automation platforms, four per cent said they made ‘little or no use’ of the features, 57 per cent made ‘some use’ of the features, and only 17 per cent said they made ‘full use’ of the software.

This shows marketers are not taking advantage of the technology available. Without setting out goals that can be measured by analytics, marketers will remain lost – creating content that is of no value. This needs to change if brands want to engage with customers, prove ROI and generate real leads.

B2B Marketing’s 2014 Content Benchmarking Report proves the popularity of content is still on the rise. But it also contains a stark warning: marketers need to take full control of their content efforts to overcome the major problems that remain with engagement, ROI and leads.

How To Get More Social

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(Posted on Jul 5, 2014 at 05:50AM by William Cosgrove)

Have you overlooked the potential of harnessing and combining your own social network or community in a niche social community network with your overall social brand strategy?
The benefits that these networks will bring are the most cost effective way in which to engage, retain, manage and form alliances with your community members that will not only foster retention but promote your brand in the most positive ways imaginable.

Companies with private social networks can experience better employee relations, customer service, reduced customer complaints and even higher brand loyalty. Think of having a central place in which to read and understand your customers’ concerns, wants, needs and expectations.

Onsite social networks can also connect to onsite/online events marketing allowing businesses their customers, employees and event sponsors to manage their own profiles – including creating their own content– which can all be administered with specified permissions tools. This “conglomerate”-style online network harnesses the power of multiple which acts like a magnet to attract search back to one central place- your site.

An onsite social network offers many benefits for you as a business, your employees and the customer that cannot be duplicated elsewhere-providing a win-win situation for all.

Below I have outlined some examples of how you can setup and implement an onsite social community to start reaping the multitude of benefits and good will through engagement, referrals and recommendations that no other form of marketing or rewards program can offer. The possibilities are only limited to your creative ideas and can benefit any business.

Community Members:

Existing members will automatically be made members and sent an e-mail to inform them. How many existing customers do you already have in your database?

New customers will automatically become members of the community as part of the benefit of doing business with your company.

Site visitors will be invited to join to enjoy member benefits who can be nurtured for future business.

Member Benefits:

Discounts on  purchases

Discounts on Extended Warranties, Maintenance Contracts and/or Services

Discounts on financing

Drawing, contests and Special Offers:

Have a monthly drawing for $$$ In free services and or product discounts that broadly cover individuals current needs that members can entered every month with their e-mail to keep members engaged and visiting your site. Take a picture of winners, see PhotoRep, get a testimonial and post it to your Customer Satisfaction Page and Social Media Sites.

The upside potential of having and utilizing an onsite community to engage and interact with customers are enormous. Showing your existing and potential customers that you will be there before and after the sale will create a customer centric culture that will foster customer loyalty that will extend across all your earned and social media to benefit you and your customers each and every day .

By William Cosgrove

Also read Social Networking at Its Best

(Photo courtesy of personalitytutor.com)