1. BADASS BLOGGING
Best Practices to Enhance Your Customer Reach
By @VirginiaNussey of @BruceClayInc presented at SES Chicago 2013
By @VirginiaNussey of @BruceClayInc presented at SES Chicago 2013
This photo of Bruce Clay, president of Bruce Clay, Inc., was taken October 2013 at the annual Bend WebCAM conference. Bruce was honored with the History of SEO board's Lifetime Achievement Award. Bruce is recognized as one of the first marketers to test and identify search ranking algorithm factors. His next book, released this month, is on content marketing.
I started at the company in 2008 as a blogger and podcaster. Today I'm the content and media manager. I'm a writer and managing editor of our publications, I'm our community manager, marketing and communications lead, and for clients I develop strategy and SEO-driven content. This is my leopard tortoise, Hiccups. As much as I love Hiccups you should not model your blog after her.
A blog that reaches customers and utilizes time saving and reach promoting technologies is a blog that has evolved to the needs of businesses today. We can look at the topic of this session by deconstructing the title. Let's start from the bottom and go up to examine the goal (customer reach), the process (blogging), and some extra badass mojo (conversions).
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1. Know your audience: Persona building 2. Research your keywords: Tools and process for keyword research 3. Network with influencers: How to tap into existing networks to grow your audience
A persona is a made-up but representative picture of a customer segment. There are some common characteristics to include in a persona. Here we see "Paul" the CTO's biography, salary, offline activities, technical comfort level, mobile use, key entry or trigger points, motivations, and goals. Source: http://www.dylanux.com/img/caseStudyOne/persona3.jpg
Image source: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/53/file-23132400-png/blog/images/persona-information.png
Interviews and surveys can be done in person or to select customers, to an email list. Google Consumer Surveys lets you add a survey to your site to survey site satisfaction with 4 free boilerplate questions and then custom questions you can add for $.01 per response. Quora is a healthy Q&A site with a diverse knowledge and interest base. If you want to know something about how someone might behave in a situation, what people are looking for in X product, or any number of questions, this is a good community to ask as Quora has gamified participation.
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Different personas talk about their needs for your product in different ways. We've already identified their motivations and pain points and we can use that to shape our language. It's worth noting here how Google Hummingbird will be affecting online content development. Hummingbird isn't an algorithm change, it's more like an infrastructure change in that it allows Google to see relationships between "entities." Entity search refers to moving away from understanding "tree" as T-R-E-E, a string of letters, a keyword phrase to match, and toward understanding of concepts, meaning, context and relationships. Here we see the Tiktaalik, one of the first creatures to emerge from the sea to dwell on land. It's actually one of the family of transitional creature, part fish, part amphibian, and at first it really confused evolutionary biologists. Because what's the difference between this and...
This? They both have these generally fishy needs, but they identify very differently. As marketers we would need to recognize that the language we use for each is different. As entity search develops and takes over, we're not going to think in terms of writing content for keywords, but rather, for personas, for customers.
"How to Do Keyword Research in 6 Steps" is here: http://bit.ly/how-to-kwd
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When it comes to keyword tools, it's hard not to mention Google's (not provided) keyword referral data and the absence of keyword data in Google Analytics. There's an October 2013 liveblog post I wrote of a Bing rep explaining how to use Bing Ads Intelligence for keyword research and a Google rep talking about Google Keyword Planner at http://bit.ly/kwd-liveblog-smx. Bruce Clay, Inc. has a keyword suggestion tool and keyword volume data from Bing in the SEOToolSet, and the reason that it's worth noting here is because along with the research you can monitor your keyword lists with a regularly scheduled ranking monitor so you can track the efficacy of your blogging efforts by seeing if your posts are ranking.
The question came up at yesterday's forum tables: how do I get more readers / expand our readership? Identify and build relationships with influencers. If you could get brand your brand in front of the eyes of a certain readership, what or who would it be? Who's network would you like to be connected with?
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Guest posts go both ways. If you post something helpful and valuable on an influential blog, that audience could potentially become yours, too. If an influencer takes a guest turn on your blog, they'll point their followers to that content and you benefit from that visibility. Comments are another way you can join the conversation. Of course, be careful you don't look spammy by link dropping in a comment, but you can take your own stance on a hot topic and summarize it in a comment and link to your full exposition. Or, don't even worry about the traffic back to your blog right away and focus on building your standing as a contributor to that blog's community. Again, it's about the value you offer and relationships you prove.
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Early cave paintings are one of the lasting relics of people who used tools to shape their environment and made a lasting, influential impression.
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1. Blog as hub: your blog is one of the only assets you own. If it's your hub, all your off-site channels will bring traffic back to the site 2. Choosing topics: writer's block can be but a memory 3. Editorial calendar: stay on track and work smart / how to get things done
There are several reasons you want your blog to be the axis of your content marketing. It's one of the only platforms your own and have full control over (see: Facebook placing a competitor's ad next to yours and their News Feed algo). It means people are on your site, and what you can do to convert them from there is really your responsibility. And you want to be building your blog as a destination. You want direct type-in URL traffic. You want people bookmarking you. Google is edging out more and more SERP space to its own properties, and Knowledge Graph will give searchers answers to simple requests. You can't rely on search traffic; you want people to make visiting you a habit.
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Everyone in your organization is a content creation asset (and spokesperson, and evangelist...)
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The list if content ideas will come from requests from readers through blog comments or inquiries, requests from staff on information about topics, when writers notice that there's no resource available on a topic on the site and they have to link to another source to give background. When a topic is identified for development, return to keyword research steps to refine the topic and use the words people use to talk about it.
Spreadsheet to organize your growing list of content requests. GWT will tell you what keywords lead to impressions, where you are positioned in search for those keywords, how often impressions lead to clicks; go to Traffic > Search Queries for this info.
Watch productivity skyrocket when you start putting content on a calendar.
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Tips for setting up your editorial calendar: http://bit.ly/ed-cal-3q Content topic bucket example: self promotional, product how-tos, news analysis, company culture, featured customers
Some insight into the question "How often should I blog?" may be provided by "unlikes," "hide story," and "hide all" in Facebook Insights. Evaluate what activity was going on at that time on your timeline to garner those reactions.
1. Repurpose content: reach your whole audience with tailored messaging 2. Curate: in a post-Panda update world, you can still get time saving and networking benefits of curation by following some guidelines 3. Drive conversions: the question is, what are you counting?
Again, here being a badass blogger is making your content go far for you. Getting it to achieve the greatest reach. Adapting it for different communities. One potential hurdle when reusing content and posting across channels is making sure you don't over saturate the message. You don't want people who follow you on a few channels to feel that you're going too heavy. Here we see my personal DNA genome results showing how much Neanderthal I am. Neanderthals and Homo sapiens existed at the same time, but there was only room for one hominid.
Instead of competing with your own message, you can rotate messages so your latest post on any social channel is different than the others. You can take different angles for each channel because the audience expectations and interests differ. So maybe on Google+ and Facebook you post one message, and on Twitter you post a different message from your inventory, and on LinkedIn a third, and then later in the day you shift those messages so you eventually hit them all but at different times.
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Google's Panda update and subsequent updates sent a shock through the online business community. But content curation is not a dirty word in SEO, because curation has a lot of benefits if you approach it like the story-telling medium that museums do. Curation is organizing and presenting content around a theme with a summary or excerpt of the original piece, and a link.
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Through curated content, as with all content: Build relevant content to support site themes. Avoid low-quality or duplicate content flags. Establish subject matter authority.
PublishThis.com: a WordPress plugin with its own index. You can input sources if they aren't included already. ScribbleLive.com: use for live event coverage. Embed code to include it on your blog. You can include content from Twitter using @names and #hashtags so that it's participatory coverage of an event. This gets you the network effect. Storify.com: you search on the platform for your topic of whatever story you want, you can order posts for flow of information. You embed it on your site. The most potential here is if some story is actually breaking or unfolding via Twitter. RebelMouse.com: here's an option to have a "blog" presence on your site that's actually pulling from your social channels. If you "power" a page through RebelMouse, you're getting the on-site traffic, potentially habit building, giving a central location. I really like this option for "personality" brands like Gary Vaynerchuk.
The money question: How do I get conversions from my blog? Benefits of microconversions: 1. You'll focus on the relationships you're building 2. You'll be able to see what works for your personas 3. You'll be a lot happier Potential microconversions: Registrations and sign-ups Opting in for more contact Sharing content with networks Feed subscribers Image source: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/micro-conversions-fotonatura-1.png
Your blog is going to grow up into your community, your richest presence, your resource for your own organization and for your audience. Watch it grow. These metrics count. Vanity metrics include time on page and on site and brand searches since they indicate awareness. Image source: http://www.shodh.biz/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/micro-conversions.jpg
Did you know that dinosaurs were covered in fuzz and feathers? They may have been more adaptable than we once thought. Your blog is, too.
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