Digital Marketing News: Social Storefront, The Trust Project and Facebook’s New App

Social Content is the New Storefront [Infographic]
Regardless what others might say, social content is here to stay. Instead of heading to local storefronts, consumers are now heading to social media platforms to find what they need in the in and off-season. Social Media Today

Google tries to bring more transparency to news content with help from The Trust Project
Google has teamed up with The Trust Project that works with over 75 news organizations to determine the difference between quality and promotional content that may be plagued with misinformation. Search Engine Land

Facebook’s New App Connects Creators With Video, Fans And Watch Shows
Facebook is on the hunt for new influencers and wants to see how these experts interact with their networks. Their new app will give “internet stars” a chance to publish, edit and film live video with their audiences. AdAge

Google’s Big Daddy Update: Big Changes to Google’s Infrastructure & the SERPs
Big Daddy has been on the scene since 2005 as part of infrastructure changes. And while it hasn’t always been a fan favorite, it has impacted the approach to SEO. Search Engine Journal

The State Of Subscription Video, In 5 Charts
With more and more content publishers and brands looking to video as the new frontier, many are also looking to monetize their offerings. But how well does subscription video perform in our current content landscape? Digiday

Google aims to make apps for Google Assistant more functional and discoverable
Are homes getting smarter with the help of Google? According to Google, they are making a number of updates to make it easier for third party apps to integrate and develop specific items for key users. Search Engine Land

The Huge Impact of Amazon This Holiday Season (And How Retailers Can Compete)
It’s getting even harder to compete with larger retailers during the holiday season. In fact, a new report found that shoppers expect to make at least one purchase for Amazon. Where does that leave other retailers during the holiday season? MarketingProfs

LinkedIn lets advertisers generate leads from Sponsored InMail, Dynamic Ad campaigns
As of April (no fools) LinkedIn launched their lead gen forms which let advertisers collect information through Sponsored Content Ads.Now, these options are available to members using the Sponsored InMail ad format which has enabled brands to add their own questions to the forms. MarketingLand

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news! If you need more in the meantime, follow @toprank on Twitter or leave your thoughts in the comments.

Digital Marketing News: Social Storefront, The Trust Project and Facebook’s New App was posted via Internet Marketing

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How B2B Brands are Getting Creative on Twitter with 280 Characters

Could you imagine pulling an Oreo cookie out of its sleeve to find four chocolate wafers and two layers of cream filling? Or taking home a six-pack of beer and somehow discovering 12 bottles crammed inside?

It’d be discombobulating to say the least, and that’s how many of us marketers are feeling about Twitter’s recent decision to double its character limit to 280. The 140-character tweet felt as natural and familiar as 10 organic listings on a search engine results page. Now, the game has changed completely.

Bigger isn’t always better, of course. If brands simply take this opportunity to double down on their promotional messaging or stack hashtags, it’s not going to create a better experience for users. The real opportunity, as our Caitlin Burgess explained last month when previewing the Twitter character expansion, “is to discover whether or not you can use that extra space to deliver more value and resonance to your audience.”

Now that the 280-character format has been rolled out in earnest, we thought we’d find a few examples of B2B brands that are taking advantage in creative and exemplary ways. If you’re trying to determine how this alteration can fit within your social media marketing approach, take a cue from the clever uses below.

Quirky Brand Plays

What does your company represent? What’s a gag that only people within your niche will truly understand? The character extension opens up new avenues for playful punnery with your followers.

For instance, this was tech conglomerate Cisco’s first foray into the #280characters hashtag:

Illumina, a genetic research solutions firm, took a similar tact with this gloriously geeky genome sequence:

Demonstrate Practical Uses

As a social media management platform, HootSuite is uniquely invested in Twitter’s latest pivot, so when announcing they’d integrated the update for their users, they also showed off a smart way to utilize the extra space:

One of the imperatives for online writing is to keep blocks of text in short, digestible chunks so that scanning readers won’t gloss over them. As this tweet shows, you can now incorporate that mindset on Twitter.

Add Substance to Your Link Teases

Properly setting up an article link with an informative and compelling tease could be challenging when you only had 120 characters (the link itself, of course, would take up 20). Now, we have much more room to summarize our content and explain why people should click. John Flannery, CEO of General Electric, exemplifies the ability to elaborate with this tweet linking to his investors presentation:

Make Tweets More Diverse and Robust

Admittedly, all-text tweets like the one above are going to cause some users scrolling their feeds to keep on moving; this is a danger of the expanded character count. The beauty of 140 was that it kept everything very bite-sized.

In order to keep people engaged with longer messages, you can incorporate several different elements to make them pop. For example, in the tweet below via Dell’s CSR branch, you’ll find multiple hashtags, a user handle, a link, and an image — all within a complete mini-narrative:

Quotes PLUS Descriptions

Under the previous tweeting parameters, we often had to make a decision: pull a quote to generate interest in an article, or include a description of what’s inside? Now, you can do both, as Salesforce shows in this example, where they’re able to both feature a full quote and set up the link while also sprinkling in a couple of emojis and a hashtag:

Finally, A Few Things to Keep In Mind

  • Don’t feel like you have to use up all 280 characters just because they’re available to you. At the end of the day, Twitter users prefer brevity and that’s why they love the platform.
  • In fact, one can argue that it’s now more important than ever to try and condense your message into the shortest possible package. On feeds full of longer tweets, the extremely short ones will stand out even more.
  • One of the less talked about aspects of this revamp is that Twitter also expanded the name length for users to 50, up from 20. This opens the door to plenty of new branding possibilities.

How will you make use of all the new real estate on Twitter? This is one key question you should ask before setting your social media strategy. Hopefully these examples and pointers will help you uncover some answers.


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How B2B Brands are Getting Creative on Twitter with 280 Characters | http://www.toprankblog.com

How B2B Brands are Getting Creative on Twitter with 280 Characters was posted via Internet Marketing

6 Easy Ways to Discover Your Search Competitors

Who hasn’t heard the proverb “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”? This phrase alludes well to a key aspect of good SEO strategies: knowing who your search competitors are.

Your search competition is made up of sites competing for the same search visibility as your own domain. Search visibility refers to how visible your website is in search engine results. You need to who you are fighting against in the search results battlefield (and understand what their strategies are) because that’s how you can suss out where your SEO efforts will be best spent.

Even if you know who your traditional business competitors are, you need to bear in mind that if they are not competing for the same keywords as your sites, then they are not a “search” competitor.

So, how can you easily find your real online competitors? There are many ways to do this manually (using search engines), as well as free and paid tools to help automate this process. Here are six quick and easy tools to help you with your competitive research:

Prep work: Identify your keywords

Before getting started, you need to know what key terms your site is targeting (and ranking for). If you don’t have a seed list of keywords or know which ones you’re ranking for, I recommend using Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush or Moz Keyword Explorer to discover them. You can read this keyword research guide if you need further help on the process of how to find keyword for your business. Not all keywords and phrases are made equally, however: pay special attention to phrases with high and mid average search volume (this means a high or moderate number of searches for a particular keyword usually in a month) and an achievable difficulty score. Once you have established your list of key search terms, it’s time to find your competitors.

1. Google Search

This is the most manual process for finding your online competitors and is totally free / straightforward. Now that you have your seed list of top keywords, it’s time to search for these terms on Google. Which pages consistently rank in the top 10 positions? If you sell bespoke sofas, for example, and you search for this term, you will see who’s ranking in the top six spots:

Tip: The results you find will depend on your location and how Google personalised your search, however, you can construct your own Google search URLs to avoid personalised searches. For example:

https://www.google.com/search?q=example+query&pws=0&gl=gb&hl=en

q=example+query – this means you’re searching for “example query”.

pws=0 – this disables personalisation.

gl=gb – this means you’re searching as if you’re in the UK.

hl=en – this means you’re searching as if your browser language is English.

If you want to take it one step further, you can analyse results’ digital relevance through observing their Domain Authority (DA). DA is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that measures the predictive ranking strength of entire domains or subdomains. Learn how Domain Authority is calculated with this link.

You can view a website’s DA by using MozBar, a free Chrome extension:

A Domain Authority score ranges from 1 to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank. Pay special attention to those that have a higher score than yours, so in the next step, you can try to understand the reasons why they are outranking you.

Also, you may find competitors within the paid results, as shown below:

Keep in mind that these two websites with the label “Ad” in green you see above are not organic results. These brands are bidding to appear, in this case, for the keyword “bespoke sofas,” so they are not showing up as a result of their page’s relevance for this search term.

2. Google “Related:” search operator

Another way of using Google to find your online competition (which is less time-consuming than checking search results by manually typing in your target keywords) is by performing a search using the operator “related:” followed by your domain. It will help you identify websites that Google thinks are similar to yours and therefore they might be considered as your competitors.

You need to type “related:[your URL website]” in the search box. In this example, I searched for domains related to “argos.co.uk”:

Note that the “related:” operator may only work for certain industries, and is typically best for larger sites. That said, it’s quick and worth trying to spot any overlapping domains, and potentially identify ones you may have otherwise overlooked.

Check out the Google search operators list to learn more.

3. STAT (paid)

STAT is one of the ranking tools that we use every day at Distilled. In order to find who your search competitors are in STAT, you need first to set up keyword tracking. Plug in your domain and keyword seed list, then let STAT do its thing for about 24 hours (it takes at least a full day for ranking information to populate). Once the information is available, go under the “Competitive Landscape” tab – there you will find your top search competitors based on the keywords you’ve given STAT.

Within this same section you can track organic “share of voice” to see which domains are winning, which ones are losing and those that could become a potential threat:

Competitive Landscape Analysis Example. Source

Most Frequently in Top 10 in Google and Bing Example. Source

One of the most useful functionalities available in STAT is a keyword tagging tool, that allows you to group your keywords by specific types. If your company sells pet products, you may have a tag to group keywords targeting all variants of pet food searches as opposed to a tag grouping keywords targeting pet grooming searches.

Aside from tracking your domain’s performance across groups of keywords, you can analyze whether you have different competitors within each keyword segment. Using our pet store example, if one of your segments is pet food and another is pet grooming, you will probably find that competitors differ between these two categories.

4. SEMRush (paid)

SEMRush is a competitive research tool that provides keyword ranking and traffic data. You need to pay for a subscription for unlimited data. However, SEMRush does provide a “freemium” model that allows you to see some information in its free version.

To find out which websites SEMrush considers your competitors, enter your domain and scroll down to the “Main Organic Competitors” section.

Domain Analytics Overview Section on SEMrush.

SEMrush calculates your competitors based on the analysis of the number of keywords of each domain and the number of the domain’s common keywords. This means the more keywords you share with a website, the higher the competition level would be. Focus on the five or six competitors with the highest competition level.

Competitors Section on SEMrush.

5. Searchmetrics (paid)

Searchmetrics will also give you an overview of your current online presence, including some of your main competitors, for both organic and paid. To use this tool, you need to pay a monthly subscription and, as opposed to SEMrush, Search Metrics doesn’t provide any free data.

Go to the “SEO Research” tab and click on “Competitors”. One of the nice features this tool provides, different to SEMrush, is the competitor chart (below) where you can see in a graph how many keywords you share with your most related competitors. On the right side you will see your broad competitors, the ones you share fewer keywords with, and to the left the ones you share more keywords with. You can display up to 250 different competitors on the graph.

Competitors Section on Search Metrics.

6. Google Maps

Google Maps is great when you own a local business and you want to find your local competition. Go to Google Maps and search for your [“keyword” + Location], you will see all your competitors near you:

Google Maps results for “pet shops near Wimbledon”

In the example above, we search for “pet shops near Wimbledon” and Google shows similar businesses on the map as well as listings on the left side. If, for instance, due to proximity you want to include also New Malden as an area to find competitors, you can zoom out the map to expand your results across Wimbledon and New Malden. Otherwise, if you want to look into a more specific area of Wimbledon, you can zoom in the map to shrink your competitors’ results.

Summary

Now you have six different options for finding your search competitors. We suggest combining between free and paid tools when possible, so you can take advantage of the specific functionality / feature from each option:

Tool

Paid/Free

Specific Feature or Benefit

Google Search

Free

Know in which position your competitors are ranking for your keywords directly in search results

Google “Related” Search Operator

Free

Find your competitors by only typing your URL

STAT

Paid

See different competitors according to the keywords categories/tags you create

SEMRush

Paid with free options

It offers the widest number of competitors

Searchmetrics

Paid

It displays a graph showing up to 250 competitors with the number of keywords you share with each one

Google Maps

Free

it shows competitors by searching for localisation

How often should you check who your online competitors are?

New competitors may come to the scene over time, so it’s important to stay on top of the domains within your search landscape. TL;DR? Identifying your search competitors isn’t a one-and-done exercise. Depending on your industry, you may see rapid or regular influxes of new competitors for your terms.

For example, Amazon began selling tickets to music concerts, West End theatre performances, and Off West-End shows two years ago. Shortly thereafter, this giant suddenly became a direct search competitor of tickets sellers’ websites (London Theatre, Ticketmaster, London Theatre Direct, etc). As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In order to be prepared for new competition, we recommend you repeat this competitive research every quarter or at least twice a year.

Next steps

By this point, you have already identified your online competition and have a list of five or six brands for you to monitor. The next step is to perform a competitive analysis, which will allow you to observe why they may outrank your site, and point you in the right direction to craft your own SEO strategy.

Try this process out, and let us know what you find! If there are other ways you like to find your online competitors, share your tips as well.

6 Easy Ways to Discover Your Search Competitors was posted via Internet Marketing

How to Use Big Wins to Drive Continuous Content Marketing Performance

Like all brands or marketers, you’ve likely experienced a few content marketing campaign mishaps in your day. Despite your best efforts, sometimes a campaign just doesn’t quite reach its objective or it outright flops. And when this happens your disappointment typically spurs you into action as you work furiously to pin down exactly where you went wrong.

On the flip side; however, you’ve also experienced some big wins in your day. Some of those wildly successful content campaigns that crushed objectives and had the entire organization riding high. But in these situations, how often can you say that you dug into what made things go oh so right? Or regrouped and committed to keeping the momentum going?

From our perspective, those big wins can often teach you the most, not only providing helpful insights to keep things rolling, but also help you identify actionable next steps to make your next campaign just as—if not more—successful.

But how? Here are some tips to help you learn from your best content marketing work and continue to drive its performance.

Driving Continuous Success

Regardless of how successful a campaign is out of the gate, your work shouldn’t stop once you’ve released everything into the wild. But for those campaigns that are really flying high, they present the biggest opportunity to drive bigger and better results. So, you should continue to optimize and amplify these campaigns using a mix of content marketing tactics. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Test a new paid channel. If a campaign is already exceeding objectives and expectations, consider pushing the limits a bit by experimenting with paid tactics. For example, if you’ve had great success with LinkedIn, consider building a similar audience on Twitter. Or add more budget and expand your audience on the channels that are already working.
  • Repurpose campaign content. Repurposing content will not only add some freshness, but also help drive more traffic and signals to your main landing page or content asset. For example, consider creating an infographic or a motion graphic. Or put together a webinar that infuses existing and new related content or thought leaders.
  • Audit other existing content for cross-linking opportunities. Your campaign is successful for a reason, so why not add a little extra boost by helping direct more eyeballs and authority to your campaign content through cross-linking? So, take a look at other existing, relevant content and add an inline ad, CTA or link to it.
  • Try to secure third-party coverage or links. Pitch a guest blog or try to secure a third-party editorial to grow off-site links to your campaign content.

High-flying #marketing campaigns present the biggest opportunity to drive bigger, better results.
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Uncovering the Why Behind the Win

While we all know that failure can unleash some of the greatest learning opportunities, the same holds true for success. So, when it comes to learning from your biggest marketing campaign wins, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did I reach or exceed my objective? For example, if your objective was to drive brand awareness, which metrics can you point to that bolster achievement? Did you actually achieve other KPIs such as MQLs or SQLs?
  • How did I reach my objective? Some things to consider are: your content mix, top-sharing influencers, where the traffic came from (i.e. organic, social, etc.), the internal resources you leveraged, timing or seasonality, and so on.
  • What hurdles did I encounter? Even your most successful campaigns likely hit a snag or two along the way to launch. So, think about any hurdles you encountered and how you overcame them, and document opportunities to streamline your processes going forward.
  • How can I do even better next time? Use what you uncover from the “how” to document must-dos for the next campaign. For example, if a particular influencer was instrumental in driving shares, consider a full-length interview with them if relevant for your next campaign. As another example, if Twitter was your top-referring social channel, consider budgeting for some sponsored posts for the next campaign to get more traction.

Failure provides great learning opportunities, but the same holds true for success. @Alexis5484…
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The Success Factor

Simply put, by continually refining and evaluating your top-performing marketing initiatives, you’re not only capitalizing on the great work you’ve already done, but also laying the foundation for the next big success.

Speaking of learning from big wins, check out our Case Studies to learn how we’re helping our clients reach and exceed their objectives.


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How to Use Big Wins to Drive Continuous Content Marketing Performance | http://www.toprankblog.com

How to Use Big Wins to Drive Continuous Content Marketing Performance was posted via Internet Marketing

How We’re Building a Digital Advertising & SEO Dream Team

In today’s competitive and content-saturated digital landscape, SEO is no longer a stand-alone, sure-fire way to grab audience attention in the search results. As a result, the role of a search marketer is transforming beyond the traditional walls of organic SEO and merging with the world of digital advertising — and the hunt for skilled marketers with the right mix of both skillsets is heating up.

At TopRank Marketing, we’re taking part in that hunt.

After more than 15 years as a digital marketing agency, if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that the collective talent of our team members is what drives our clients’ success and our company’s success. And we have our sights set on building a dream team.

As a member of the digital advertising and SEO teams, I was recently asked what great search marketing talent looks like. While I’m certainly not the ultimate judge of talent and skill, I will say that I’ve been in this industry since 2013, and I’ve seen many people come and many people go. I’ve seen careers fade out quickly, and I’ve seen other seemingly “overnight success stories” that take off like a rocket.

In my time in the industry, I have tried my hardest to learn from all of those people; learn why some people have fizzled out quickly and why others seem to hit the ground running. With that experience, as well as some of the core building blocks TopRank Marketing has outlined, below I share some of those skills and characteristics that we’re looking for and, really, every company should be looking for in SEO and digital advertising talent.

The Foundation

Like any other profession, there are must-have skills every SEO and/or digital advertising candidate must have. Simply put, I’ve had conversations with some people in hiring positions who simply won’t look at a resume unless it includes these foundational elements:

#1 – Google Certifications

There are numerous industry certifications out there. Honestly, it seems like every tool has their own set of certifications and badges, which may make some candidates think any certification can get your foot in the door. But don’t fall into that false sense of security. At the very least, it’s important to show up for the interview with these two certifications up to date:

  • Google AdWords
  • Google Analytics

#2 – Other Reputable Industry Certifications

Again, there are a ton of these to chose from. But having well-known and reputable certifications on your resume will show that you have the curiosity and the drive to learn and innovate. Some of those include:

The Structure

So you’ve passed the tests, updated your LinkedIn profile and printed the certificates. Now what? Well, now it’s all about you. Do you have the soft skills and personality traits it takes find fulfillment and do the work well? Here are some of the important qualities we look for in someone who’s interested in coming to TopRank Marketing.

#1 – The curiosity of a cat.

Whether it’s SEO, PPC, social media or any other niche in the world of digital marketing, the best in the industry always have a deep sense of curiosity. They want to understand how things work, and once they understand those innerworkings, they want dig deeper and find out why it works that way.

#2 – An analytical mind.

Being comfortable with analytics tools is more than being able to pass a Google Analytics exam. Now, nobody out there needs to be Avinash Kaushik, but the best in the business know how to go beyond the data and pull insights; they’re looking for ways to make that data actionable. They’re running A/B tests (and they want to run more of them) and experiments, and they work hard trying to communicate data in a way that would make Lea Pica proud.

#3 – Creativity in mind, body and spirit.

This might seem obvious, but great digital marketing professionals are really creative. Creativity doesn’t just mean that they are coming up with new and unique marketing ideas, creativity is who they are. They might spend time digging into art or music. Maybe they spend their time tinkering with things and refinishing old furniture (there’s that curiosity again). I follow quite a few digital marketers who exercise their creative muscle in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes. Being comfortable with thinking outside the box and coming up with something new is a skill that you will use often in your digital marketing career.

#4 – A strong business sense.

This doesn’t mean that the best SEOs and digital advertisers need MBAs. It means they understand why they’re doing what they do. It means they understand the impact that their activity has on the business. And it means they can tie KPIs to what matters most to the client/company.

The Spire

The final touch on any magnificent structure is the spire that sits atop. The spire is what stands out across the city skyline. For us, that defining characteristic is simple: An undeniable passion for what you do and who you do it with.

Our company culture is built on the passion our employees have for their work and their respective co-workers. After all, think about how much time you spend at the office. Without some love for the tasks and people who occupy that time, personal satisfaction and excellence can’t be found.

Interested in Joining the TopRank Marketing Dream Team?

That’s fantastic news. We happen to be hiring! Check out our Careers page to see a full list of open positions ranging from digital advertising and SEO to content and design.


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How We’re Building a Digital Advertising & SEO Dream Team | http://www.toprankblog.com

How We’re Building a Digital Advertising & SEO Dream Team was posted via Internet Marketing

Do You Really Need Another Blog Post? Why Content Marketing Needs More Flexibility

For at least a decade, the 500-word blog post has been the atomic unit of content marketing. Marketers like Joe Pulizzi and Marcus Sheridan built their entire careers on blogging. In Joe’s case, he started the blog without a business plan or a product, and developed both after building an audience through insightful, valuable blog posts. Even TopRank Marketing relied on blogging as a tactic for building thought leadership and establishing authority.

When new clients partner with our agency, they’re frequently looking to follow in Joe and Marcus’ footsteps. They’re likely to request 15-30 short blog posts a month as the foundation of their content efforts.  But we’re more likely to think in terms of content units—the amount of effort the content team will put in, rather than the specific output.

Should you focus your time and resources on a blog? Are there better ways to serve your audience? Here’s how our agency is changing the way we think about content.

Why Short-Form Blog Posts Are No Longer the Atomic Unit of Content Marketing Strategy

Short Blog Posts Are Losing Search Visibility
One of the chief purposes of a blog is to capture search engine rankings. You write useful content, people find it via search, they subscribe and keep coming back for more. But short blog posts aren’t great at capturing rankings anymore. There’s just too much short-form content out there for even the most optimized post to rise above it.

Quality Beats Quantity
Longer-form content tends to dominate search rankings. Comprehensive, in-depth best answer content will not only rank higher for the main search term, it’s more likely to include (and rank for) long-term keywords as well.

Just ask Neil Patel, of Kissmetrics fame. He posts 1500+-word blog posts on the regular. You’ll find his posts on any list of highest-ranked or most-shared content on any topic he addresses. 

Most of us don’t have the time and resources to post best answer content every day, but that’s okay—a steady drip of high-quality content is still preferable to a deluge of shallower takes.

Blog Posts Are Temporary by Design
The very structure of a blog means that old posts are less likely to be read than the latest post – and the latest one quickly joins the seldom-seen archives. This kind of content is good for satisfying subscribers, but not great for long-term search visibility. The end goal of repurposing content is to take old blog posts and turn them into evergreen assets – so it makes sense to actually design evergreen assets as part of your strategy. 

The Way People Consume Content Is Changing
Last year, mobile internet use outstripped desktop use for the first time ever. In other words, all new internet traffic is happening on mobile devices. That’s significant for content creators, because 84.9% of smartphone time is spent in apps, versus on the mobile web.  While desktop users might have spent more time reading blogs and visiting websites, mobile traffic is concentrated in apps like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. These apps require a different type of content to earn audience attention.

Blogs Are Still a Thing – But Not the Only Thing
That’s not to say that blogging is dead, of course. A blog can be a great place to interact with customers and prospects, build credibility, establish thought leadership, and round up subscribers. But focusing exclusively on creating a ton of blog content is no longer the best strategy.

More Flexible Content Alternatives

Instead of creating a set number of blog posts a month, focus on the outcomes you want to achieve. The deliverable should match your goals, not the other way around. You’ll end up with a more efficient use of your time and resources, and content assets that get the job done.

Long-Form Assets
For example, if your goal is to top the rankings for a specific keyword, roll three posts’ worth of effort into crafting a long-form resource. Then put that resource on your Features page, or give it its own slot on your navigation header – don’t bury it in the blog. The closer your page is to your site’s root directory, the more weight it carries for ranking purposes. That is, Google will give preference to “www.yourcompany.com/awesome-resource” than “www.yourcompany.com/blog/2017/October/awesome-resource.”

Video Content
Trading short-form blog posts for video content is another useful tactic. Video can be embedded in a blog post, but also find another life on Facebook and YouTube. Our client DivvyHQ recently published a video series with the videos hosted on YouTube. They can serve their blog audience, but also reach out to a new audience through the YouTube app. TopRank Marketing creates a weekly news video that we post to Facebook, and each video earns hundreds of views natively on the platform.

 Influencer Content
If your daily blog responsibilities have kept you from exploring influencer marketing, it’s high time to devote attention to it. Influencers can help boost your credibility, increase visibility, and create relationships that will serve your business in the long-term. A single influencer co-created asset can achieve far higher visibility than the most comprehensive blog post.

Blog On – But Blog Wisely

The humble blog post had a good run – it dominated content marketing strategy for the 00s and most of the 2010s. But the content landscape is changing, and we need to change with it. Don’t ditch your blog just yet, but do examine how you’re using the time and resources available to you.

Focus on your desired outcomes rather than a rigid set of deliverables. Give your content team the flexibility to explore new strategies, and you can evolve your content mix along with your audience’s demands.

 


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Do You Really Need Another Blog Post? Why Content Marketing Needs More Flexibility | http://www.toprankblog.com

Do You Really Need Another Blog Post? Why Content Marketing Needs More Flexibility was posted via Internet Marketing

Ranking in Organic Search is the #1 Local Ranking Factor

Do I have your attention now? Sweet!

I’m happy to announce that we just updated our Local SEO Ranking Factors! This year we really expanded the data set of the study. We looked at the 150 largest metro’s in the US and doubled the number of keywords we were looking at. This means the data set from this year is significantly bigger than last year. We also added a large number of factors this year. While last year we used Majestic to look at link data, this year we were also able to get link data from AHREFs and Moz. We also got deeper on reviews.

While organic search ranking was the highest correlating factor with local pack success, that doesn’t mean that it’s the #1 ranking factor. Google’s search algo just doesn’t work like that. Now that being said, we see a few things in this year’s data:

1) Your owned resources are critical to local SEO success

2) Traditional local factors continue to correlate less with positive pack performance

3) Reviews are incredibly important in terms of a ranking signal

Want to get all the deets? Then you are gonna have to click through to here. Of course, anyone that wasn’t done with last years data, that can still be found here.

Ranking in Organic Search is the #1 Local Ranking Factor was posted via Internet Marketing

Report: What Marketers Need to Know About the ‘State of Video Marketing’

These days, there’s little doubt among marketers that video content is an incredibly powerful content marketing tool. After all, humans are visual creatures by nature, so it stands to reason that video often satisfies our content appetite. In fact, according to a Think With Google study, 50% of internet users said they’ve looked for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.

But as more brands and marketers jump on the video content marketing bandwagon, it’s more important than ever to examine your strategy to ensure you’re getting the most out of your efforts. And a great starting point is to get the lay of the current video marketing land and emerging trends.  

Thankfully, Demand Metric and Vidyard recently published the 2017 Video Content Marketing Benchmark Study, featuring data and insights collected from marketers at B2B or mixed B2B/B2C companies—all of which reported revenue growth in the previous fiscal year, as well as using video to some degree.

Below I highlight some of the findings that I found most interesting, as well as what that means for you as you begin or refine your video marketing efforts.

1. Video marketing usage is not only on the rise, but the amount of video being created is growing rapidly.

According to the study, for the fourth consecutive year, over 90% of study participants reported that video is becoming more important to their efforts. But what’s more, the average number of videos being produced annually jumped from around 29 in 2016 to 38 in 2017.

Video Marketing Production

Of course, smaller companies are producing less video than big companies, but the gap is narrowing. For example, 2016 numbers showed that more than one-third of small companies were producing less than five videos every year. But in 2017 that number shrunk to just one-fifth.

What does this mean for marketers? While video seemed like the answer to overcoming content overload and capturing audience attention, the competition for creating high-quality, engaging and compelling video is growing. So, it’s more critical than ever to make sure you’re not just “doing” video, but that it’s a strategic and thoughtful piece of your overall content marketing mix.


It’s more critical than ever to make sure you’re not just “doing” #video. @CaitlinMBurgess
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2. The types of video marketers are investing in are expanding.

Product, demos and explainer videos lead the pack in terms of the most common types of videos being created, which isn’t a surprise. This type of content highlights a company’s product or service offerings, and expertise in a visual way. However, more forms of video such as how-tos, live streams, social media and those focused on company culture are becoming more widely used.

What does this mean for marketers? To me, this signals that video can and does enhance the customer journey at every stage of the funnel. Just as you craft written content to satisfy your audience’s quest for knowledge at different stages, video can be used in the same way. Furthermore, it can be used to achieve a variety of different marketing objectives such as recruiting new talent, humanizing your brand or sparking real-time engagement.


Video can & does enhance the customer journey at every stage. #videomarketing
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3. Video can inform, engage and convert.

Video, both produced and native, has long-been dubbed as a great way to inform and engage your audience. Studies have shown that we spend a huge chunk of our online time watching video, often multiple times a day. (My personal favorite are all those Tasty videos of recipes I’ll probably never make.)

But if you’ve been skeptical on the conversion power of video, don’t be. According to the report, roughly 70% of participants said video converts better than other forms of content.

Video Marketing ROI

What does this mean for marketers? Building off my point in the previous section, if you really want to commit to video and drive the ultimate objective of getting conversions, you should aim to create relevant, quality video content for every level of buyer’s journey.


70% of marketers say #video converts better than other content forms. @DemandMetric @vidyard
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4. Advanced measurement is key to unlocking the best ROI.

As with any marketing initiative, measurement is critical to understanding how you’re performing and uncovering opportunities for improvement. However, most marketers are just tracking and analyzing the basics such as views or shares—making it difficult to map video to ROI.

According to the report, just 13% of respondents said they’re using advanced metrics such as views by embed location, viewer drop-off rates, heat maps and attribution to sales pipeline. However, of that 13%, 71% say that these metrics help report much better on video ROI.

“A true and accurate measurement of the ROI of video (or any type of content) requires the adoption and use of advanced metrics,” the report states. “When advanced metrics are not in use, ROI determination is an estimate at best. When advanced metrics are in use, marketers have the information they need about video content performance to achieve even better results.”

What does this mean for marketers? Marketers are often looked at as the spenders within an organization. And while video can no longer be considered a “rising” trend, it can still be hard to get buy-in and more budget if you can’t prove its value. According to the report: “The best way to capture and exploit advanced metrics is to integrate video viewing data into Marketing Automation and/or CRM systems.”


Advanced #videomarketing metrics are key to achieving better results. @DemandMetric @vidyard
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Looking for Video Content Marketing Best Practices & Tips?

Check out these helpful resources on the TopRank Marketing blog:

In addition, if you want more on the state of video marketing, read the full report here.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Report: What Marketers Need to Know About the ‘State of Video Marketing’ | http://www.toprankblog.com

Report: What Marketers Need to Know About the ‘State of Video Marketing’ was posted via Internet Marketing

Demystifying the Design Process with Sketch

For non-designers, there is often a level of mysticism around the way we work. In your job, it may well be your responsibility to brief a designer, but as for what happens in between that stage and finally seeing the fruits of their labour – well, this may be rather alien. While it’s not necessarily important to know the ins and outs of this (in a similar way that I can’t claim much knowledge for what our developers do code-side), this post aims to demystify the process and shed light on one of my favourite design programs at the moment, and equip you with good reason to convince any digital or web designer you work with to pick it up if they don’t use it already. Not to mention that having a top-level overview of design software makes it a whole lot easier to communicate with those that do use it.

If the above doesn’t quite apply to you, don’t click off just yet; there is still value to be had if you are:

  1. A designer – learn how this program and accompanying tools can improve the way you work.

  2. A jack-of-all-trades – discover how you can improve the design aspect of your role

  3. A manager – as if by magic  find out how to streamline your team and processes

Still here? Great, let’s begin.

Disclaimer: This is not an advertorial.

While it would be nice to have been sponsored to write this post, it’s worth clarifying first of all that any hints of sales chatter that may ensue should just be read as pure enthusiasm for the product.

So, to cut to the chase, my most-recommended piece of design software at the moment is Sketch. It’s my partner in design if you will. I started using it around two years ago and haven’t looked back since. Before getting on to the ‘why?’  and ‘how?’ though, let’s briefly touch upon what it actually is (and isn’t)  for those in the dark.

Sketch? What’s that?

On paper Sketch is a ‘proprietary vector graphics editor’. From a user perspective though, it’s essentially a blank canvas in which you can design and create anything from a macro website right down to the nitty-gritty aspects of a user-interface.

Rather than just rattle through more points about what Sketch is and what it’s capable of, I want to throw in a quick lowdown as to what it isn’t:

  • It isn’t anything to do with SketchUp (which happens to be a 3D graphics modelling programme) so best not to get them confused.

  • It isn’t an illustration, photomanipulation or text-setting tool – these are best left to Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign, respectively.

  • It isn’t going to work in Windows/Linux etc. – sorry! It’s an Apple macOS-only program; though the benefit of this being that it’s incredibly well-designed and intuitive for Mac users.

  • It isn’t going to break the bank! Sure, it was the free trial that roped me in to give it a go, but it was the very reasonable price tag that converted me to a paying user.

Life before Sketch

Before Sketch came along, my go-to design programme had always been Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator and I go way back, to my teen years, before I ever thought of myself as a designer. Over the years I’ve built up a bank of knowledge and can convincingly say that I now have a pretty good understanding of its features, and am more than happy to sing its praises over the likes of Photoshop. Similarly, when I joined Distilled, the other designers here were also keen advocates of Illustrator, and so it never occurred to me to question the process. Until one day I was chatting with a designer from another company, and on finding out our process, looked at me with incredulity and asked: “You use Illustrator for web build design?!” To be fair to us, there are plenty of designers who did, and still, do this. But importantly, this set the wheels in motion for me to look beyond our tried and tested tools. After some research it seemed a lot of people in the design community were raving about Sketch – this relative ‘new kid on the block’; so I set myself the task of using it for the next project I was assigned to.

I was immediately sold; and here are three reasons why you should be too.

1. Designed for digital, with a kickass online community to match

Unlike Illustrator, Sketch is designed for digital-first use cases in mind. With that comes an understanding that us digital folk want things done fast, we want them now. The time it took for me to go from deciding to try it out, to downloading, installing and opening the app, was less than five minutes. Anyone who has ever tried to get Illustrator on their machine before can relate to how amazed I was at the speed. That’s not a surprise, considering the app itself comes in only at 45.2mb, in comparison to Illustrator CS6 at 259.8mb.

Sketch’s UI is laid out in a clean, modular fashion, with no potential for toolbars to become unwieldy and disparate  (which I’m definitely guilty of in Illustrator), and this ease of use if further reflected in the way the programme operates:

No matter how intuitive a tool is, questions are bound to crop up when you start doing more complex things. Luckily I quickly learnt what a great online community Sketch has fostered. My favourite forum is sketchtalk.io where you can generally expect pretty fast response rates.

Not only is this community great in sharing knowledge on a case-by-case basis, there are also those who eagerly contribute by writing plugins (often open source and free to use) which enhance the capabilities of Sketch. For example, just the other day I came across AnimateMate, allowing users to create simple animations. This is just one example amongst many. Usually, if I know something I specifically want to do that isn’t natively built into Sketch, I’ll consult Google – ‘[blank]  plugin for Sketch’. Or, I might occasionally browse directories like this and this to discover new goodies.

All in all, the payback far outweighs the minimal learning curve of familiarising yourself with slightly different keyboard shortcuts.

2. Save time (and money) by streamlining the route from design to development

Prior to Sketch, my process from taking a design into development typically looked like this:

  1. Create layouts in Illustrator.

  2. Write up a detailed spec document for the developer, including aspects such as font weights and sizing, and hex code colours to name but a few.

  3. Export a series of flat image or PDF from Illustrator for the dev and manually save any assets they might need, e.g. icons, images or logos.

  4. Dev then goes away and uses the above to code and build by eye to match the design.

  5. Expect a few feedback rounds on getting sizings, padding etc spot on.

Instead, my process is cut pretty much in half and now consists of just three steps:

  1. Create layouts in Sketch.

  2. Export layouts into Zeplin (third party plugin) project.

  3. Invite developer to the Zeplin project (which literally just takes seconds).

Zeplin is my second most favoured tool when it comes to design. Its saved me hours by eliminating the need to do a write up a spec, manually export assets and cuts down the back and forth with developers by a mile. In fact, it almost deserves another post all to itself, but in the meantime, they’ve got the ground covered in a couple of quick overviews as to how Zeplin is good for designers and also developers.

If I still haven’t convinced you yet, just know that a lot of these new time-saving tools only support Sketch and not Illustrator 😉

3. Work with a tool that’s as agile and iterative as you

Sketch is an app that’s constantly improving and pushing out updates. There’s even a part of their site dedicated to showcasing the latest changes. From a user perspective, I love this – it shows that I’m getting a product that’s at the forefront of technologies. And of course, it’s not cumbersome to update, no machine restarts etc.  The majority of them are done in the time it takes to go make a brew. Given that there’s not a single day in which the digital landscape isn’t changing, it’s great to know that the tool you’re working with is also changing and improving with it.

In fact, as much as it is about delivering the best user offering, it is a market as competitive as any other. As well as die-hard Illustrator and Photoshop fans to try and lure away, there are others trying to steal market share, for example, Adobe XD and soon-to-be InVision Studio. The Sketch folk know they can’t rest on their laurels, and I’m looking forward to another year of great updates fuelled by a dose of healthy competition.

Closing thoughts

To summarise, Sketch has revolutionised the way I approach design, forcing me to think more about the power of automation and in turn benefiting from that with shortcuts that don’t compromise on quality. I urge anyone working with designers to get them to give it a go. And with a one-month free trial, there’s really no excuse.

Demystifying the Design Process with Sketch was posted via Internet Marketing

Here we Grow Again: Welcome New VP Katie Uphus to TopRank Marketing

Here we grow again TopRank Marketing

TopRank Marketing evolved from PR to digital marketing agency in the mid 2000’s, right about the time our new VP of Operations got into agency project management.

Twelve years and multiple advancements from a creative agency Director of Production to Senior Director of Operations later, Katie Uphus has now joined the team as Vice President at TopRank Marketing.

Katie Uphus Lee Odden

Talent is what makes our agency magical for our B2B clients and we’re excited to bring Katie on board. Her experience developing teams, coordinating workflow and marketing operations will help us establish the framework for an environment where each of our team can become the best they can be in their respective roles.

At the same time, we’re focused on optimizing how our teams work together in order to deliver the best possible solutions for our clients and a satisfying work environment for our professional team of smart, creative and results-focused marketers.

My co-founder Susan Misukanis and I are committed to supporting the team at TopRank Marketing with the best talent we can find. We have 5 new team members joining the agency in November and several more Account Managers, Content Marketers, Social Media Specialists and Influence Marketing Specialists to be added through the rest of Q4 and into the new year. Here is a list of our open positions.

As part of Katie’s introduction to the TopRank Marketing community, I’ve asked her to share a little about herself from background to thoughts on the industry to my favorite social network word association game.

What is your background working in the marketing agency world?

For the past 12 years I’ve been at StoneArch, a Minneapolis health and medical marketing agency, where I served in various management and leadership roles. Prior to that, I spent nearly 10 years at Optum. In the early days, when Optum was an employee assistance program, I was a counselor and management consultant, and eventually moved into marketing and product management.

What do you love most about digital marketing?

I like that brands are being pushed to create better and more meaningful experiences for people–beyond the usual “hard sell,” and actually finding ways to be useful to people.

What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned when it comes to managing marketing teams?

Good collaboration comes when each individual from each discipline understands and appreciates the value of the other’s contribution. With clear guiding principles and some form of process or structure to guide the work, smart individuals can make big things happen.

It’s still early days in your time with TopRank Marketing, but so far, what excites you the most about the agency?

TopRank Marketing is ahead of the curve in the content marketing space–real thought leaders in the world of influencer marketing. They are their own, best case study for how to do it right….not the typical “cobbler with no shoes” scenario. There’s a real sense of excitement and curiosity on the team–they inspire and energize each other!

What are some of your overall goals for 2018?

My main goal will be to optimize the efforts of all the smart people of TopRank. They are doing amazing work; I can help bring greater alignment between people and systems and processes to support growth. In order to do this, it will be important for each team member to explore and develop their own professional identity and goals; I want to help with this. It’s the most exciting aspect of the work for me.

Now for some fun questions:

Where would you go on a dream vacation?

My adventuresome mom, Rose, traveled the world and would come home with stories that were so enchanting and thrilling to me. In particular, I was taken by the way she described Portugal–the feeling it evoked in her–homey and foreign at once. The treacherous driving and the blue, blue water; the caves where they made wine and whiskey, and the pottery, of course. The warm, welcoming people. The patrons playing the piano in the basement pub of the ancient palace where they stayed. It’s been on the top of my list ever since she came back. I hope it’s exactly as she recalls.

What is your favorite band, book and movie?

Music: Nina Simone is my current obsession. I’m a big Lucinda Williams fan…and I have a deep love-hate for Dylan. Favorite book might still be The Catcher in the Rye. Movie: Muriel’s Wedding always lifts my spirits, if I make it through the end.

What do you love most about Minnesota?

The month of October is magical to me. And family, of course: ten of my eleven siblings live here in Minnesota–several recently returned after many years away. I left for a few years too, after college–to Alaska then the San Francisco Bay Area, both of which l still have a great fondness for, but Minneapolis is home.

What brings you joy?

Young Joni’s clam pizza and Indeed’s Peach Bum IPA at the moment. The many lovely children in my life.

Let’s play word association. I’ll list some social networks and you share the first word(s) that come to mind:

  • Facebook – Russian trolls
  • Twitter – Donald Trump
  • LinkedIn – Impressively less spammy these days
  • Instagram – Fun and personal visual storytelling
  • Snapchat – Are they profitable yet?
  • YouTube – My go-to for cooking tutorials
  • Pinterest – Great for big life moments
  • Tumblr – Meme generator
  • Reddit – Same as above
  • Google+ – Never bothered
  • WhatsApp – Free calls to my sister in England!
  • Flickr – GenX Instagram

Thanks for playing along with my questions Katie and welcome to the TopRank Marketing team!


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Here we Grow Again: Welcome New VP Katie Uphus to TopRank Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

Here we Grow Again: Welcome New VP Katie Uphus to TopRank Marketing was posted via Internet Marketing