Measure for Success: 7 Secrets of Actionable Content Marketing Dashboards

Elements of an Actionable Content Marketing Dashboard

Hey, content marketers. Imagine this: You’re sitting in a marketing meeting and you hear the following:

  • Our conversions are up 50% year-over-year!
  • Our blog traffic is down.
  • We saw a big spike in traffic this month to our primary service page!
  • Our bounce rate is all over the place.
  • This blog post about “X” had 2,000 page views last month!

What are the first thoughts that come to mind? For many, the first thought would likely be: Why? Followed by a: Is that good or bad? And then finally: What do we need to do next?

If you’ve ever experienced a similar scenario, you’ve come face-to-face with insight famine. The statements above simply relay data points and lack the insight needed to take any sort of action. And this is why an actionable content marketing dashboard is so incredibly important.

When properly set up, an actionable dashboard marries data and insight, helping you quickly see how you’re performing against your benchmarks, goals, and key performance indicators (KPIs), and where you have opportunities to improve results or need to dig deeper.

What makes a dashboard actionable? What key data and insight elements should be included? Let’s dig in.

What Makes a Marketing Dashboard Actionable?

For a content marketing dashboard to be actionable, it has to answer two simple questions:

  • Is what we’re doing working?
  • Why is it (or is it not) working?

In order to answer those questions, there are specific metrics to include based on your overall objectives. For example, if your objective is to drive qualified leads for your sales team, you might measure the amount of inquiries that resulted from a piece of content, how many of those inquiries turned into MQLs, then SQLs, then ultimately customers.

If you apply those metrics to each piece of content, you’ll quickly see which content is hitting the mark, and what needs to be adjusted. And if your objective varies by topic cluster or funnel stage, you’ll need different sets of KPIs for each.

7 Essential Elements of an Actionable Marketing Dashboard

So, how do we answer those two simple questions posed above? There are several key components to consider including in your dashboard:

#1 – Content Benchmarks

Benchmarks are essential for understanding how different types of content have performed on average over a specific period of time. Your benchmarks can and should be different based on the content type and its objective.

For example, a top-of-funnel blog post meant to drive traffic will have a different benchmark than a middle-funnel infographic meant to engage. By keeping these front-and center in your marketing dashboard, you can compare at-a-glance.

#2 – Goals

More than likely your goals are to beat your benchmarks every single time. But it’s important to document your goals so you can gauge success. By adding your goals to your marketing dashboard, you can quickly determine whether you’re on pace to hit your goal and if you’ve been able to surpass it.

And ultimately, keeping that data within your dashboard will help you course-correct where needed and celebrate wins as they occur.

#3 – Real-Time KPI Monitoring

Depending on your objective for the content you’re creating, there could be any number of KPIs to watch. Automating those reports in a dashboard will help you report to your internal team and leadership in an easily consumable way.

For example, if your KPIs are pageviews and asset downloads for a specific campaign, pull those into an executive summary that’s easy to digest with an option to drill down into more specific sources of traffic and conversions.

#4 – Traffic Trends

While measuring specific pieces of content is helpful to enhance performance, it’s important to keep your eyes on overall performance as well. Knowing whether overall website or blog traffic is trending up or down versus the previous year or month will help you inform the types of content you need to create next.

For example, if you notice your organic traffic is trending down month-over-month, you will want to dig into your content report to determine why that is and what needs to be done to repair the situation on a more granular level.

#5 – Performance by Topic and Persona

If you’re trying to reach a specific persona, or increase visibility around an important topic, segmenting your data within a dashboard can be hugely valuable. You’ll be able to tell if your content is more or less visible for your target, or if your content marketing strategy needs to shift to meet a different type of demand for that topic.

#6 – Engagement Metrics

All of the traffic in the world won’t mean a thing if would-be customers are bouncing off your site immediately. Make sure you’re monitoring your bounce rate and time-on-page for each post to determine if the content is resonating and adjust as needed. While these are often bucketed as vanity metrics, that doesn’t mean they can’t provide meaningful insight or should be forgotten.

#7 – Proof of ROI

To be fully actionable, integrate your sales team’s data sources into your dashboard. With the right analytics strategy, you can pull in performance by page or post from visit to sale. This will help you prove the value of your content, and understand which kind of content converts the prospects you’re looking for.

As a bonus, your sales team will be able to share that kind of converting content as a follow-up from an initial meeting or as a pre-meeting email with their prospects.

Take Action to Spur Action

An actionable content marketing dashboard is a pivotal piece to a data-informed content marketing strategy. If your data is accurate and your dashboard is actionable, you’re in the right place to start creating and marketing incredible content that has proven ROI and helps your sales team meet their goals. Talk about a win-win!

And before I go, I’d like to leave you with a few rules for measurement mastery:

  • Setting up a custom and integrated dashboard takes time and patience. You may set it up in one way and realize that the KPIs and metrics you have aren’t the ones you need, and that’s okay. Looking at the data in different ways can tell you different parts of the same story. Edits aren’t rework, they’re character development.
  • Don’t be afraid to spend some quality time with your data. As you create the dashboard, it’s important to dig in and manipulate data from different sources to understand how it’s best pulled in to complement the rest of your data set. Sometimes this means changing the way you have forms or tags set up. The more time you spend digging into data up front and understanding the finer points, the better equipped you’ll be to answer questions and provide insights into remaining questions.
  • If you find yourself asking why, look deeper. Sometimes you’ll put all the data together expecting answers, and you’ll encounter more questions. Questions are good, it means the data is telling you something you need to investigate. Don’t be afraid to dig deep, and ask other departments or SMEs for their perspective.
  • Always, always, always annotate. Did you run a really great campaign that showed a spike in traffic or conversions? Make an annotation. Did you lose tracking for a little while? Make an annotation. Did you implement some major website changes, or do a migration? Make an annotation. Those kinds of anomalies in the data seem major at the time, but easily get lost in the day-to-day management of your world. Annotations will save you from having to dig into your notes, emails or previous campaign data every time it pops up in a report.

Don’t forget: You can’t achieve goals you don’t set. And you can’t optimize performance without measurement. Your content marketing dashboard can hold you accountable to both and more.

Are data challenges holding your content marketing dashboard or other initiatives back? Check out our post covering the five top marketing data and analytics challenges, complete with tips to start solving them.

Content Marketing Gold Rush: How to Unearth Content Gold at Marketing Industry Events

The promise of professional growth. The excitement of striking new connections. The anticipation of hearing and learning from industry legends and up-and-comers. The marketing industry conference and event circuit is an absolute gold mine of opportunity.

What’s one of our favorite ways to strike-it-rich at any industry event? Panning for content gold.

via GIPHY

The content marketing gold rush that started roughly a decade ago has content marketers stamping, picking, drilling, and grinding away at content creation so they can break-ground with their audience and fend off the competition. And industry events can be boomtowns, not only allowing you to make the most of your time, budget, and resources—but also ideate, create, amplify, and repurpose compelling content that will resonate with your audiences.

How do you uncover golden content nuggets at industry events? Let’s dig in.

Before the Rush, Put Your Pre-Prospector’s Hat On

Before rushing to golden conference lands, it’s critical to pre-prospect your mission to ensure you have the right information, focus, and tools to unearth content opportunities.

Some of the actions to take here include:

  • Dig up event-related hashtags so you can keep track of what’s happening before, during, and after the event, as well as engage with speakers and attendees. Pay close attention to specific themes or topics being shared. This can be the start of content ideation.
  • Strike a connection with speakers, presenters, and attendees on social media and start to engage with them. This could not only help you land some new friends before the event, but also lay the foundation for amplifying the event-inspired content you create.
  • Survey the schedule of events and pre-select the digging fields (e.g. keynote addresses and breakout sessions) you want to go to. Pay special attention to sessions that have the most promise for helping you grow as a marketer—not simply create content. If a session has the potential to inspire you, it’s likely that you’ll be able to parlay that into great content for your audience, whether they’re fellow marketers or chief technology officers.

Read: 12 Helpful Tips for Effectively Using Social Media at Events

Bonus Nugget

If you thought content gold could only be found when you’re physically at the event, that’s fools gold. Pre-event content creation is a golden opportunity for any marketer.

“Reach out to the conference organizer, sponsors or speakers at the event that represent topics and brands of interest to your community to do pre-conference interviews,” Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing’s CEO and a seasoned conference speaker and prospector, suggests. “A series of interviews can be branded with a common theme and header image to let readers know there’s a connection to a conference.”

The key here? Choosing speakers that align to the topics and brands of interest to your unique community.

Tip for creating #ContentGold around industry events: Reach out to organizers, sponsors, or speakers that represent topics and brands of interest to your community to do pre-conference interviews. @leeodden Click To Tweet

Once You Arrive, Stake Your Claim

You’ve arrived in the land of golden content opportunity. You have your content prospecting plan in place. Now it’s time to sharpen your marketing pickaxe and start digging up the field. This is where you stake your content claim.

To break-ground on content mining and creation, we suggest that you:

  • Get to your digging fields early to get a primo spot. This will ensure you can clearly hear and see the presentation, and give you a better photo opportunity. All of this is critical for creating content on the fly.
  • Leverage flakes of speaker and presenter insights to create content gold in real-time. Whether you’re live-blogging or live-tweeting, keep an ear out for inspiring quotes and insights that you can share quickly with your audience. (If you’ve done your pre-prospecting diligence, it should be easy to mention/tag speakers in your social media posts. This will add credibility and make it easier for speakers to engage with and amplify your content.)
  • Participate in Q&A sessions to extract nuggets of insight that can enhance your content. Most speakers try to leave time at the end for audience questions. Use this as an opportunity to ask a specific question that can not only add more depth to your content, but also something that your audience would truly want to know.

Read: 10 Conference Hacks to Help You Crush Marketing Event Attendance

Bonus Nugget

Whether you missed your opportunity to ask a burning question or you’re interested in some one-on-one time with a speaker, take the time before or after their session to introduce yourself. You may just strike gold.

“Many speakers will also share their slides with you (if you ask nicely), which can be a fantastic resource for live blogging or taking information back to your team,” Ashley Zeckman, TopRank Marketing’s Senior Director of Digital Strategy, speaker, and seasoned live-blogger, shares.

Tip for striking #ContentGold at industry events: Many speakers will share their slides with you if you ask nicely, so don’t be shy. @azeckman #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Once the Rush is Over, Take Your Content to Repurposing Boomtown

Think that content gold isn’t possible after a conference has panned out? Guess again. Gold fever can strike again. How? Repurposing.

For starters:

  • Those quotable moments you pushed out via Twitter? Roundup up your favorites and repackage them as a conference wrap-up post. Or leverage one quote that directly speaks to a pain-point, attitude, or question your target audience can identify with, and build almost net-new content around it.
  • That one-on-one question you asked a speaker? Share it out on your social networks and ask for your audience to weigh in, too. (Oh, and then, leverage that UGC for another blog post or two.)
  • Those photos you took? Bring them to life by putting them into a video slideshow and sharing with your network.
  • Those interesting topics or common themes that arose during your networking interactions or learning sessions? Run them through your editorial process to determine whether they’re a fit for your audience, opportunities, and objectives.

Read: 12 Ways to Crush the Competition With Content From Events

Bonus Nugget

Whether you feel a conference produced dust, flakes, or enormous golden content nuggets, don’t underestimate the value of the content that you have gathered.

As I recently shared in a post (which coincidentally covered how to repurpose content marketing leftovers … and was inspired by another piece on repurposed content cobbler, which happened to feature one of my favorite conference quotes from Jay Acunzo):

“All content—fresh or seemingly expired—has the potential to be carved into something new and fresh.”

See. Content gold right there.

All content—fresh or seemingly expired—has the potential to be carved into something new and fresh. @CaitlinMBurgess #ContentMarketing #ContentGold Click To Tweet

Strike Content Gold at Your Next Event

Seasoned content marketing writer or not, industry conferences and events are golden content ideation, creation, amplification, and repurposing opportunities for every marketer.

So, as you saddle up for your next conference, remember that content gold awaits you—if you’re willing to claim it.

Speaking of conferences? TopRank Marketing’s next stop is B2B Marketing Exchange from Feb. 25-27, 2019 in sunny Scottsdale, AZ. Our own Lee Odden will lead a session on leveraging influencers and interactive content to take B2B content from boring to bold. In addition, myself and Ashley Zeckman will be on-hand to learn, connect, and, of course, create content gold.

Will we see you there? Tell us in the comments section below.

B2B Local Search Marketing: A Guide to Hidden Opportunity

Is a local business you’re marketing missing out on a host of B2B opportunities? Do B2B brands even qualify for local SEO?

If I say “B2B” and you think “tech,” then you’re having the same problem I was finding reliable information about local search marketing for business-to-business models. While it’s true that SaaS companies like Moz, MailChimp, and Hootsuite are businesses which vend to other businesses, their transactions are primarily digital. These may be the types of companies that make best-of B2B lists, but today let’s explore another realm in which a physical business you promote is eligible to be marketed both locally and as a B2B.

Let’s determine your eligibility, find your B2B opportunities, identify tips specific to your business model, analyze an outreach email, explore your content with a checklist, and find an advantage for you in today’s article.

Seeing how Google sees you

First to determine whether Google would view your brand as a local business, answer these two questions:

  1. Does the business I’m marketing have a physical location that’s accessible to the public? This can’t be a PO Box or virtual office. It must be a real-world address.
  2. Does the business I’m marketing interact face-to-face with its customers?

If you answered “yes” to both questions, continue, because you’ve just met Google’s local business guidelines.

Seeing your B2B opportunity

Next, determine if there’s a component of your business that already serves or could be created to serve other businesses.

Not totally sure? Let’s look at Google’s categories.

Out of the 2,395 Google My Business Categories listed here, there are at least 1,270 categories applicable to B2B companies. These include companies that are by nature B2B (wholesalers, suppliers) and companies that are B2C but could have a B2B offering (restaurants, event sites). In other words, more than half of Google’s categories signal to B2B-friendly companies that local marketing is an opportunity.

Let’s look at some major groups of categories and see how they could be fine-tuned to serve executive needs instead of only consumer needs:

Food establishments (restaurants, cafes, food trucks, caterers, etc.) can create relationships with nearby employers by offering business lunch specials, delivery, corporate catering, banquet rooms, and related B2B services. This can work especially well for restaurants located in large business districts, but almost any food-related business could create a corporate offering that incentivizes loyalty.

Major attractions (museums, amusements, cultural centers, sports centers, etc.) can create corporate packages for local employers seeking fun group activities. Brands looking to reduce implicit bias may be especially interested in interacting with cultural groups and events.

Professional services (realty, financial, printing, consulting, tech, etc.) can be geared towards corporate needs as well as individuals. A realtor can sell commercial properties. A printer can create business signage. A computer repair shop can service offices.

Personal services (counseling, wellness, fitness, skill training, etc.) can become corporate services when employers bring in outside experts to improve company morale, education, or well-being.

Home services (carpet cleaning, landscaping, plumbing, contracting, security, etc.) can become commercial services when offered to other businesses. Office buildings need design, remodeling, and construction and many have lounges, kitchens, restrooms, and grounds that need janitorial and upkeep services. Many retailers need these services, too.

Entertainers (comedians, musicians, DJs, performance troupes, etc.) can move beyond private events to corporate ones with special package offerings. Many brands have days where children, family members, and even pets are welcomed to the workplace, and special activities are planned.

Retailers (clothing, gifts, equipment, furniture, etc.) can find numerous ways to supply businesses with gear, swag, electronics, furnishings, gift baskets, uniforms, and other necessities. For example, a kitchen store could vend breakfast china to a B&B, or an electronics store could offer special pricing for a purchase of new computers for an office.

Transportation and travel services (auto sales and maintenance, auto rentals, travel agencies, tour guides, charging stations, etc.) can create special packages for businesses. A car dealer could sell a fleet of vehicles to a food delivery service, or a garage could offer special pricing for maintaining food trucks. A travel agency could manage business trips.

As you can see, the possibilities are substantial, and this is all apart from businesses that are classic B2B models, like manufacturers, suppliers, and wholesalers who also have physical premises and meet face-to-face with their clients. See if you’ve been missing out on a lucrative opportunity by examining the following spreadsheet of every Google My Business Category I could find that is either straight-up B2B or could create a B2B offering:

See local B2B categories

The business I’m marketing qualifies. What’s next?

See which of these two groups you belong to: either a B2B company that hasn’t been doing local SEO, or a local business that hasn’t created a B2B offering yet. Then follow the set of foundational tips specific to your scenario.

If you’re marketing a B2B company that hasn’t been doing local SEO:

  1. Know that the goal of local SEO is to make you as visible as possible online to any neighbor searching for what you offer so that you can win as many transactions as possible.
  2. Read the Guidelines for Representing your business on Google to be 100% sure your business qualifies and to familiarize yourself with Google’s rules. Google is the dominant player in local search.
  3. Make sure your complete, accurate name, address, and phone number is included in the footer of your website and on the Contact Us page. If you have multiple locations, create a unique page on your website for each location, complete with its full contact information and useful text for website visitors. Make each of these pages as unique and persuasive as possible.
  4. Be sure the content on your website thoroughly describes your goods and services, and makes compelling offers about the value of choosing you.
  5. Make sure your website is friendly to mobile users. If you’re not sure, test it using Google’s free mobile-friendly test.
  6. Create a Google My Business profile for your business if you don’t already have one so that you can work towards ranking well in Google’s local results. If you do have a profile, be sure it is claimed, accurate, guideline-compliant and fully filled out. This cheat sheet guide explains all of the common components that can show up in your Google Business Profile when people search for your company by name.
  7. Do a free check of the health of your other major local business listings on Moz Check Listing. Correct errors and duplicate listings manually, or to save time and enable ongoing monitoring, purchase Moz Local so that it can do the work for you. Accurate local business listings support good local rankings and prevent customers from being misdirected and inconvenience.
  8. Ask for, monitor, and respond to all of your Google reviews to improve customer satisfaction and build a strong, lucrative reputation. Read the guidelines of any other platform (like Yelp or TripAdvisor) to know what is allowed in terms of review management.
  9. Build real-world relationships within the community you serve and explore them for opportunities to earn relevant links to your website. Strong, sensible links can help you increase both your organic and local search engine rankings. Join local business organizations and become a community advocate.
  10. Be as accessible as possible via social media, sharing with your community online in the places they typically socialize. Emphasize communication rather than selling in this environment.

If you’re marketing a local business that hasn’t created a B2B offering yet:

  1. Research your neighborhood and your community to determine what kinds of businesses are present around you. If you’re not sure, reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce or a local business association like AMIBA to see if they have data they can share with you. Doing searches like “Human Resources Event Seattle” or “People Ops Event Seattle” can bring up results like this one naming some key companies and staffers.
  2. Document your research. Create a spreadsheet with a column for why you feel a specific business might be a good fit for your service, and another column for their contact information.See if you can turn up direct contact info for the HR or People Ops team. Phone the business, if necessary, to acquire this information.
  3. Now, based on what you’ve learned, brainstorm an offering that might be appealing to this audience. Remember, you’re trying to entice other business owners and their staff with something that’s special for them and meets their needs..
  4. Next, write out your offering in as few words at possible, including all salient points (who you are, what you offer, why it solves a problem the business is likely to have, available proof of problem-solving, price range, a nice request to discuss further, and your complete contact info). Keep it short to respect how busy recipients are.
  5. Depending on your resources, plan outreach in manageable batches and keep track of outcomes.
  6. Be sure all of your online local SEO is representing you well, with the understanding that anyone seriously considering your offer is likely to check you out on the web. Be sure you’ve created a page on the site for your B2B offer. Be sure your website is navigable, optimized and persuasive, with clear contact information, and that your local business listings are accurate and thorough — hopefully with an abundance of good reviews to which you’ve gratefully responded.
  7. Now, begin outreach. In many cases this will be via email, using the text you’ve created, but if you’ve determined that an in-person visit is a better approach, invest a little in having your offer printed nicely so that you can give it to the staff at the place of business. Make the best impression you possibly can as a salesperson for your product.
  8. Give a reasonable amount of time for the business to review and decide on your offer. If you don’t hear back, follow up once. Ideally, you’re hoping for a reply with a request for more info. If you hear nothing in response to your follow-up, move on, as silence from the business is a signal of disinterest. Make note of the dates you outreached and try again after some time goes by, as things may have changed at the business by then. Do, however, avoid aggressive outreach as your business will appear to be spamming potential clients instead of helping them.

As indicated, these are foundational steps for both groups — the beginnings of your strategy rather than the ultimate lengths you may need to go to for your efforts to fully pay off. The amount of work you need to do depends largely on the level of your local competition.

B2B tips from Moz’s own Team Happy

Moz’s People Ops team is called Team Happy, and these wonderful folks handle everything from event and travel planning, to gift giving, to making sure people’s parking needs are met. Team Happy is responsible for creating an exceptional, fun, generous environment that functions smoothly for all Mozzers and visitors.

I asked Team Happy Manager of Operations, Ashlie Daulton, to share some tips for crafting successful B2B outreach when approaching a business like Moz. Ashlie explains:

  • We get lots of inquiry emails. Do some research into our company, help us see what we can benefit from, and how we can fit it in. We don’t accept every offer, but we try to stay open to exploring whether it’s a good fit for the office.
  • The more information we can get up front, the better! We are super busy in our day-to-day and we can get a lot of spam sometimes, so it can be hard to take vague email outreach seriously and not chalk it up to more spam. Be real, be direct in your outreach. Keeping it more person-to-person and less “sales pitchy” is usually key.
  • If we can get most of the information we need first, research the website/offers, and communicate our questions through emails until we feel a call is a good next step, that usually makes a good impression.

Finally, Ashlie let me know that her team comes to decisions thoughtfully, as will the People Ops folks at any reputable company. If your B2B outreach doesn’t meet with acceptance from a particular company, it would be a waste of your time and theirs to keep contacting them.

However, as mentioned above, a refusal one year doesn’t mean there couldn’t be opportunity at a later date if the company’s needs or your offer change to be a better fit. You may need to go through some refinements over the years, based on the feedback you receive and analyze, until you’ve got an offer that’s truly irresistible.

A sample B2B outreach email

La práctica hace al maestro.”
– Proverb

Practice makes perfect. Let’s do an exercise together in which we imagine ourselves running an awesome Oaxacan restaurant in Seattle that wants to grow the B2B side of our business. Let’s hypothesize that we’ve decided Moz would be a perfect client, and we’ve spent some time on the web learning about them. We’ve looked at their website, their blog, and have read some third-party news about the company.

We found an email address for Team Happy and we’ve crafted our outreach email. What follows is that email + Ashlie’s honest, summarized feedback to me (detailed below) about how our fictitious outreach would strike her team:

Good morning, Team Happy!

When was the last time Moz’s hardworking staff was treated to tacos made from grandmother’s own authentic recipe? I’m your neighbor Jose Morales, co-owner with my abuela of Tacos Morales, just down the street from you. Our Oaxacan-style Mexican food is:

– Locally sourced and prepared with love in our zero-waste kitchen
– 100% organic (better for Mozzers’ brains and happiness!) with traditional, vegan, and gluten-free options
– $6–$9 per plate

We know you have to feed tons of techies sometimes, and we can effortlessly cater meals of up to 500 Mozzers. The folks at another neighboring company, Zillow, say this about our beautiful food:

“The best handmade tortillas we’ve ever had. Just the right portions to feel full, but not bogged down for the afternoon’s workload. Perfect for corporate lunches and magically scrumptious!”

May I bring over a complimentary taco basket for a few of your teammates to try? Check out our menu here and please let me know if there would be a good day for you to sample the very best of Taco Morales. Thank you for your kind consideration and I hope I get the chance to personally make Team Happy even happier!

Your neighbors,
Jose y Lupita Morales
Tacos Morales
www.tacosmorales.com
222 2nd Street, Seattle – (206) 111-1111

Why this email works:

  • We’re an inclusive office, so the various dietary options catch our eye. Knowing price helps us decide if it’s a good fit for our budget.
  • The reference to tech feels personalized — they know our team and who we work with.
  • It’s great to know they can handle some larger events!
  • It instills trust to see a quote from a nearby, familiar company.
  • Samples are a nice way to get to know the product/service and how it feels to work with the B2B company.
  • The menu link, website link, and contact info ensure that we can do our own exploring to help us make a decision.

As the above outreach illustrates, Team Happy was most impressed by the elements of our sample email that provided key information about variety, price and capacity, useful links and contact data, trust signals in the form of a review from a well-known client, and a one-on-one personalized message.

Your business is unique, and the precise tone of your email will match both your company culture and the sensibilities of your potential clients. Regardless of industry, studying the above communication will give you some cues for creating your own from the viewpoint of speaking personally to another business with their needs in mind. Why not practice writing an email of your own today, then run it past an unbiased acquaintance to ask if it would persuade them to reply?

A checklist to guide your website content

Your site content speaks for you when a potential client wants to research you further before communicating one-on-one. Why invest both budget and heart in what you publish? Because 94% of B2B buyers reportedly conduct online investigation before purchasing a business solution. Unfortunately, the same study indicates that only 37% of these buyers are satisfied with the level of information provided by suppliers’ websites. Do you see a disconnect here?

Let’s look at the key landing pages of your website today and see how many of these boxes you can check off:

My content tells potential clients…

☑ What my business name, addresses, phone numbers, fax number, email addresses, driving directions, mapped locations, social and review profiles are

☑ What my products and services are and why they meet clients’ needs

☑ The complete details of my special offers for B2B clients, including my capacity for fulfillment

☑ What my pricing is like, so that I’m getting leads from qualified clients without wasting anyone’s time

☑ What my USP is — what makes my selling proposition unique and a better choice than my local competitors

☑ What my role is as a beneficial member of the local business community and the human community, including my professional relationships, philanthropy, sustainable practices, accreditations, awards, and other points of pride

☑ What others say about my company, including reviews and testimonials

☑ What my clients’ rights and guarantees are

☑ What value I place on my clients, via the quality, usefulness, and usability of my website and its content

If you found your content lacking any of these checklist elements, budget to build them. If writing is not your strong suit and your company isn’t large enough to have an in-house content team, hire help. A really good copywriter will partner up to tell the story of your business while also accurately portraying its unique voice. Expect to be deeply interviewed so that a rich narrative can emerge.

In sum, you want your website to be doing the talking for you 24 hours a day so that every question a potential B2B client has can be confidently answered, prompting the next step of personal outreach.

How to find your B2B advantage

Earlier, we spoke of the research you’ll do to analyze the business community you could be serving with your B2B offerings, and we covered how to be sure you’ve got the local digital marketing basics in place to showcase what you do on the web. Depending on your market, you could find that investment in either direction could represent an opportunity many of your competitors have overlooked.

For an even greater advantage, though, let’s look directly at your competitors. You can research them by:

  1. Visiting their websites to understand their services, products, pricing, hours, capacity, USP, etc.
  2. Visiting their physical premises, making inquiries by phone, or (if possible) making a purchase of their products/services to see how you like them and if there’s anything that could be done better
  3. Reading their negative reviews to see what their customers complain about
  4. Looking them up on social media, again to see what customers say and how the brand handles complaints
  5. Reading both positive and negative media coverage of the brand

Do you see any gaps? If you can dare to be different and fill them, you will have identified an important advantage. Perhaps you’ll be the only:

  • Commercial cleaning company in town that specializes in servicing the pet-friendly hospitality market
  • Restaurant offering a particular type of cuisine at scale
  • Major attraction with appealing discounts for large groups
  • Commercial printer open late at night for rush jobs
  • Yoga instructor specializing in reducing work-related stress/injuries

And if your city is large and highly competitive and there aren’t glaring gaps in available services, try to find a gap in service quality. Maybe there are several computer repair shops, but yours is the only one that works weekends. Maybe there are a multitude of travel agents, but your eco-tourism packages for corporations have won major awards. Maybe yours is just one of 400+ Chinese restaurants in San Francisco, but the only one to throw in a free bag of MeeMee’s sesame and almond cookies (a fortune cookie differentiator!) with every office delivery, giving a little uplift to hardworking staff.

Find your differentiator, put it in writing, put it to the fore of your sales process. And engineer it into consumer-centric language, so that hard candy buttons with chocolate inside them become the USP that “melts in your mouth, not in your hands,” solving a discovered pain point or need.

B2B marketing boils down to service

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
– Charles Dickens

We’re all in business to serve. We’re all helpers. At Moz, we make SEO easier for digital and local companies. At your brand, _________?

However you fill in that blank, you’re in the business of service. Whether you’re marketing a B2B that’s awakening to the need to invest in local SEO or a B2C on the verge of debuting your new business-to-business offering, your project boils down to the simple question,

“How can I help?”

Looking thoughtfully into your brand’s untapped capacities to serve your community, coupled with an authentic desire to help, is the best groundwork you can lay at the starting point for satisfaction at the finish line.

Why Your Company Needs to Understand Memes

This picture is my 13 year old son’s recent project. He printed out the Sunday funnies (we don’t get a newspaper so he went online and found some to print). Then, he chopped up each panel and sliced out each bit of dialog. Finally, he mixed them all up at random to make his own comics to see if anything unexpectedly funny would come of it. It was funny enough. The idea comes (roughly) from “Garfield without Garfield” and other remixes of old comics tropes.

Your Company Probably Doesn’t Pay A Lot of Attention to Memes

Shortly after Barack Obama became US President, a lot of politicians and corporations decided to take social media a lot more seriously. Before then, it was “that thing kids do.” Afterwards, I was hired by some of the biggest companies in the world (Coke, Disney, Pepsi, GM, Microsoft, and so on) to talk about how these tools could drive better human interactions.

Memes and meme culture are that same thing all over again. And everyone’s ignoring it. Again.

Okay, So What is a Meme?

The word meme (rhymes with “seem”) take a little unpacking. The official definition is “an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.”

The other definition (the real one): “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.”

It’s these two words “spread rapidly” that should raise your eyebrow.

Oh, and a quick aside: bookmark this site. It helps explain some of these.

Memes are a Fast Pass to “Insider” Feelings

Here are three things you might not know about right now:

  • A massive petition went out requesting the song “Sweet Victory” be played during the SuperBowl halftime show. This song is from the cartoon SpongeBob Squarepants, created by the recently deceased Stephen Hillenburg. It appears that Maroon 5 will be honoring this meme request and playing the song. (Wait and see.)
  • Elon Musk (of Tesla and SpaceX fame) just reached out to PewdiePie (YouTube’s most subscribed channel with 82 million viewers) to host “meme review,” after several memes and fake tweets were posted saying he would. (Memes drive reality.)
  • Teachers and companies all over are trying their hand at posting memes to interact with students and customers, sometimes hitting and other times failing, but definitely earning attention they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Not everyone is there yet. And yet others know it feels weird but they want to participate.

It’s not that you care all that much about SpongeBob or PewdiePie or memes in general, but to realize that a multi-billion dollar event and a billionaire CEO are being influenced by memes is worth thinking about. The fact that memes are “technology” that travel fast, convey meaning in a VERY brief format (in a world that is attention starved) and that give you a potential quick connection into otherwise distracted and attention-starved people, that’s worth thinking about.

If you’re already thinking of ignoring this, let me remind you that in 2008, no one thought Twitter or Facebook or YouTube were all that interesting, either.

About Memes

Often times, the point of the meme is easy to understand, even if you’re not aware of the reference material:

That’s Squidward from SpongeBob. You don’t need to know that to accept the premise of the meme.

The format doesn’t exactly matter much.

This is just a graphic of a tweet that’s spreading around as a meme. It’s obviously a political jab at the current US President, cloaked in a reminder that other presidents were a bit more wholesome.

Other memes come from adding an interpretation to a photo for multiple potential future uses:

The obvious hinge of the meme is “but.” We have all kinds of ways to use that. “I know you didn’t ask for any opinions…” or “I’m not racist…” etc. Everything before the “BUT” is the joke.

Why Should You Care?

I’m least interested in convincing you to care. That’s a hard rule I have. But you might become a bit more aware of this as a tiny media type, as a way to earn attention before seeking even more attention from the people you most want to serve. People are far more willing to invest the small amount of time required to possibly laugh and relate (even more importantly) with your meme before they decide to check out your larger and more time-consuming business content.

This is most definitely a B2B play as well as B2C. Everything I’m talking about here is in play for as long as humans are your intended customer or prospect.

As with all media types, a little bit of thought is required before execution. (By the way, I consult about that.) You might review any potential memes created to ensure they’re not offensive to particular groups, and also to ensure that the content you’re creating is reasonably current. One insanely frustrating detail with the world of memes is that they seem to have a shelf life of less than a week.

But there’s value in here. You might not immediately see it. That’s okay. Other companies are noticing and they’re adapting.

Chris Brogan is a business advisor and digital marketing consultant. Get in touch with him here.

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Rewriting the Beginner’s Guide to SEO, Chapter 6: Link Building & Establishing Authority

In Chapter 6 of the new Beginner’s Guide to SEO, we’ll be covering the dos and don’ts of link building and ways your site can build its authority. If you missed them, we’ve got the drafts of our outline, Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, and Chapter Five for your reading pleasure. Be sure to let us know what you think of Chapter 6 in the comments!


Chapter 6: Link Building & Establishing Authority

Turn up the volume.

You’ve created content that people are searching for, that answers their questions, and that search engines can understand, but those qualities alone don’t mean it’ll rank. To outrank the rest of the sites with those qualities, you have to establish authority. That can be accomplished by earning links from authoritative websites, building your brand, and nurturing an audience who will help amplify your content.

Google has confirmed that links and quality content (which we covered back in Chapter 4) are two of the three most important ranking factors for SEO. Trustworthy sites tend to link to other trustworthy sites, and spammy sites tend to link to other spammy sites. But what is a link, exactly? How do you go about earning them from other websites? Let’s start with the basics.

What are links?

Inbound links, also known as backlinks or external links, are HTML hyperlinks that point from one website to another. They’re the currency of the Internet, as they act a lot like real-life reputation. If you went on vacation and asked three people (all completely unrelated to one another) what the best coffee shop in town was, and they all said, “Cuppa Joe on Main Street,” you would feel confident that Cuppa Joe is indeed the best coffee place in town. Links do that for search engines.

Since the late 1990s, search engines have treated links as votes for popularity and importance on the web.

Internal links, or links that connect internal pages of the same domain, work very similarly for your website. A high amount of internal links pointing to a particular page on your site will provide a signal to Google that the page is important, so long as it’s done naturally and not in a spammy way.

The engines themselves have refined the way they view links, now using algorithms to evaluate sites and pages based on the links they find. But what’s in those algorithms? How do the engines evaluate all those links? It all starts with the concept of E-A-T.

You are what you E-A-T

Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines put a great deal of importance on the concept of E-A-T — an acronym for expert, authoritative, and trustworthy. Sites that don’t display these characteristics tend to be seen as lower-quality in the eyes of the engines, while those that do are subsequently rewarded. E-A-T is becoming more and more important as search evolves and increases the importance of solving for user intent.

Creating a site that’s considered expert, authoritative, and trustworthy should be your guiding light as you practice SEO. Not only will it simply result in a better site, but it’s future-proof. After all, providing great value to searchers is what Google itself is trying to do.

E-A-T and links to your site

The more popular and important a site is, the more weight the links from that site carry. A site like Wikipedia, for example, has thousands of diverse sites linking to it. This indicates it provides lots of expertise, has cultivated authority, and is trusted among those other sites.

To earn trust and authority with search engines, you’ll need links from websites that display the qualities of E-A-T. These don’t have to be Wikipedia-level sites, but they should provide searchers with credible, trustworthy content.

  • Tip: Moz has proprietary metrics to help you determine how authoritative a site is: Domain Authority, Page Authority, and Spam Score. In general, you’ll want links from sites with a higher Domain Authority than your sites.

Followed vs. nofollowed links

Remember how links act as votes? The rel=nofollow attribute (pronounced as two words, “no follow”) allows you to link to a resource while removing your “vote” for search engine purposes.

Just like it sounds, “nofollow” tells search engines not to follow the link. Some engines still follow them simply to discover new pages, but these links don’t pass link equity (the “votes of popularity” we talked about above), so they can be useful in situations where a page is either linking to an untrustworthy source or was paid for or created by the owner of the destination page (making it an unnatural link).

Say, for example, you write a post about link building practices, and want to call out an example of poor, spammy link building. You could link to the offending site without signaling to Google that you trust it.

Standard links (ones that haven’t had nofollow added) look like this:

<a href="https://moz.com">I love Moz</a>

Nofollow link markup looks like this:

<a href="https://moz.com" rel="nofollow">I love Moz</a>

If follow links pass all the link equity, shouldn’t that mean you want only follow links?

Not necessarily. Think about all the legitimate places you can create links to your own website: a Facebook profile, a Yelp page, a Twitter account, etc. These are all natural places to add links to your website, but they shouldn’t count as votes for your website. (Setting up a Twitter profile with a link to your site isn’t a vote from Twitter that they like your site.)

It’s natural for your site to have a balance between nofollowed and followed backlinks in its link profile (more on link profiles below). A nofollow link might not pass authority, but it could send valuable traffic to your site and even lead to future followed links.

  • Tip: Use the MozBar extension for Google Chrome to highlight links on any page to find out whether they’re nofollow or follow without ever having to view the source code!

Your link profile

Your link profile is an overall assessment of all the inbound links your site has earned: the total number of links, their quality (or spamminess), their diversity (is one site linking to you hundreds of times, or are hundreds of sites linking to you once?), and more. The state of your link profile helps search engines understand how your site relates to other sites on the Internet. There are various SEO tools that allow you to analyze your link profile and begin to understand its overall makeup.

How can I see which inbound links point to my website?

Visit Moz Link Explorer and type in your site’s URL. You’ll be able to see how many and which websites are linking back to you.

What are the qualities of a healthy link profile?

When people began to learn about the power of links, they began manipulating them for their benefit. They’d find ways to gain artificial links just to increase their search engine rankings. While these dangerous tactics can sometimes work, they are against Google’s terms of service and can get a website deindexed (removal of web pages or entire domains from search results). You should always try to maintain a healthy link profile.

A healthy link profile is one that indicates to search engines that you’re earning your links and authority fairly. Just like you shouldn’t lie, cheat, or steal, you should strive to ensure your link profile is honest and earned via your hard work.

Links are earned or editorially placed

Editorial links are links added naturally by sites and pages that want to link to your website.

The foundation of acquiring earned links is almost always through creating high-quality content that people genuinely wish to reference. This is where creating 10X content (a way of describing extremely high-quality content) is essential! If you can provide the best and most interesting resource on the web, people will naturally link to it.

Naturally earned links require no specific action from you, other than the creation of worthy content and the ability to create awareness about it.

  • Tip: Earned mentions are often unlinked! When websites are referring to your brand or a specific piece of content you’ve published, they will often mention it without linking to it. To find these earned mentions, use Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer. You can then reach out to those publishers to see if they’ll update those mentions with links.

Links are relevant and from topically similar websites

Links from websites within a topic-specific community are generally better than links from websites that aren’t relevant to your site. If your website sells dog houses, a link from the Society of Dog Breeders matters much more than one from the Roller Skating Association. Additionally, links from topically irrelevant sources can send confusing signals to search engines regarding what your page is about.

  • Tip: Linking domains don’t have to match the topic of your page exactly, but they should be related. Avoid pursuing backlinks from sources that are completely off-topic; there are far better uses of your time.

Anchor text is descriptive and relevant, without being spammy

Anchor text helps tell Google what the topic of your page is about. If dozens of links point to a page with a variation of a word or phrase, the page has a higher likelihood of ranking well for those types of phrases. However, proceed with caution! Too many backlinks with the same anchor text could indicate to the search engines that you’re trying to manipulate your site’s ranking in search results.

Consider this. You ask ten separate friends at separate times how their day was going, and they each responded with the same phrase:

“Great! I started my day by walking my dog, Peanut, and then had a picante beef Top Ramen for lunch.”

That’s strange, and you’d be quite suspicious of your friends. The same goes for Google. Describing the content of the target page with the anchor text helps them understand what the page is about, but the same description over and over from multiple sources starts to look suspicious. Aim for relevance; avoid spam.

  • Tip: Use the “Anchor Text” report in Moz’s Link Explorer to see what anchor text other websites are using to link to your content.

Links send qualified traffic to your site

Link building should never be solely about search engine rankings. Esteemed SEO and link building thought leader Eric Ward used to say that you should build your links as though Google might disappear tomorrow. In essence, you should focus on acquiring links that will bring qualified traffic to your website — another reason why it’s important to acquire links from relevant websites whose audience would find value in your site, as well.

  • Tip: Use the “Referral Traffic” report in Google Analytics to evaluate websites that are currently sending you traffic. How can you continue to build relationships with similar types of websites?

Link building don’ts & things to avoid

Spammy link profiles are just that: full of links built in unnatural, sneaky, or otherwise low-quality ways. Practices like buying links or engaging in a link exchange might seem like the easy way out, but doing so is dangerous and could put all of your hard work at risk. Google penalizes sites with spammy link profiles, so don’t give in to temptation.

A guiding principle for your link building efforts is to never try to manipulate a site’s ranking in search results. But isn’t that the entire goal of SEO? To increase a site’s ranking in search results? And herein lies the confusion. Google wants you to earn links, not build them, but the line between the two is often blurry. To avoid penalties for unnatural links (known as “link spam”), Google has made clear what should be avoided.

Purchased links

Google and Bing both seek to discount the influence of paid links in their organic search results. While a search engine can’t know which links were earned vs. paid for from viewing the link itself, there are clues it uses to detect patterns that indicate foul play. Websites caught buying or selling followed links risk severe penalties that will severely drop their rankings. (By the way, exchanging goods or services for a link is also a form of payment and qualifies as buying links.)

Link exchanges / reciprocal linking

If you’ve ever received a “you link to me and I’ll link you you” email from someone you have no affiliation with, you’ve been targeted for a link exchange. Google’s quality guidelines caution against “excessive” link exchange and similar partner programs conducted exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, so there is some indication that this type of exchange on a smaller scale might not trigger any link spam alarms.

It is acceptable, and even valuable, to link to people you work with, partner with, or have some other affiliation with and have them link back to you.

It’s the exchange of links at mass scale with unaffiliated sites that can warrant penalties.

Low-quality directory links

These used to be a popular source of manipulation. A large number of pay-for-placement web directories exist to serve this market and pass themselves off as legitimate, with varying degrees of success. These types of sites tend to look very similar, with large lists of websites and their descriptions (typically, the site’s critical keyword is used as the anchor text to link back to the submittor’s site).

There are many more manipulative link building tactics that search engines have identified. In most cases, they have found algorithmic methods for reducing their impact. As new spam systems emerge, engineers will continue to fight them with targeted algorithms, human reviews, and the collection of spam reports from webmasters and SEOs. By and large, it isn’t worth finding ways around them.

How to build high-quality backlinks

Link building comes in many shapes and sizes, but one thing is always true: link campaigns should always match your unique goals. With that said, there are some popular methods that tend to work well for most campaigns. This is not an exhaustive list, so visit Moz’s blog posts on link building for more detail on this topic.

Find customer and partner links

If you have partners you work with regularly, or loyal customers that love your brand, there are ways to earn links from them with relative ease. You might send out partnership badges (graphic icons that signify mutual respect), or offer to write up testimonials of their products. Both of those offer things they can display on their website along with links back to you.

Publish a blog

This content and link building strategy is so popular and valuable that it’s one of the few recommended personally by the engineers at Google. Blogs have the unique ability to contribute fresh material on a consistent basis, generate conversations across the web, and earn listings and links from other blogs.

Careful, though — you should avoid low-quality guest posting just for the sake of link building. Google has advised against this and your energy is better spent elsewhere.

Create unique resources

Creating unique, high quality resources is no easy task, but it’s well worth the effort. High quality content that is promoted in the right ways can be widely shared. It can help to create pieces that have the following traits:

Creating a resource like this is a great way to attract a lot of links with one page. You could also create a highly-specific resource — without as broad of an appeal — that targeted a handful of websites. You might see a higher rate of success, but that approach isn’t as scalable.

Users who see this kind of unique content often want to share it with friends, and bloggers/tech-savvy webmasters who see it will often do so through links. These high quality, editorially earned votes are invaluable to building trust, authority, and rankings potential.

Build resource pages

Resource pages are a great way to build links. However, to find them you’ll want to know some Advanced Google operators to make discovering them a bit easier.

For example, if you were doing link building for a company that made pots and pans, you could search for: cooking intitle:”resources” and see which pages might be good link targets.

This can also give you great ideas for content creation — just think about which types of resources you could create that these pages would all like to reference/link to.

Get involved in your local community

For a local business (one that meets its customers in person), community outreach can result in some of the most valuable and influential links.

  • Engage in sponsorships and scholarships.
  • Host or participate in community events, seminars, workshops, and organizations.
  • Donate to worthy local causes and join local business associations.
  • Post jobs and offer internships.
  • Promote loyalty programs.
  • Run a local competition.
  • Develop real-world relationships with related local businesses to discover how you can team up to improve the health of your local economy.

All of these smart and authentic strategies provide good local link opportunities.

Refurbish top content

You likely already know which of your site’s content earns the most traffic, converts the most customers, or retains visitors for the longest amount of time.

Take that content and refurbish it for other platforms (Slideshare, YouTube, Instagram, Quora, etc.) to expand your acquisition funnel beyond Google.

You can also dust off, update, and simply republish older content on the same platform. If you discover that a few trusted industry websites all linked to a popular resource that’s gone stale, update it and let those industry websites know — you may just earn a good link.

You can also do this with images. Reach out to websites that are using your images and not citing/linking back to you and ask if they’d mind including a link.

Be newsworthy

Earning the attention of the press, bloggers, and news media is an effective, time-honored way to earn links. Sometimes this is as simple as giving something away for free, releasing a great new product, or stating something controversial. Since so much of SEO is about creating a digital representation of your brand in the real world, to succeed in SEO, you have to be a great brand.

Be personal and genuine

The most common mistake new SEOs make when trying to build links is not taking the time to craft a custom, personal, and valuable initial outreach email. You know as well as anyone how annoying spammy emails can be, so make sure yours doesn’t make people roll their eyes.

Your goal for an initial outreach email is simply to get a response. These tips can help:

  • Make it personal by mentioning something the person is working on, where they went to school, their dog, etc.
  • Provide value. Let them know about a broken link on their website or a page that isn’t working on mobile.
  • Keep it short.
  • Ask one simple question (typically not for a link; you’ll likely want to build a rapport first).

Pro Tip:

Earning links can be very resource-intensive, so you’ll likely want to measure your success to prove the value of those efforts.

Metrics for link building should match up with the site’s overall KPIs. These might be sales, email subscriptions, page views, etc. You should also evaluate Domain and/or Page Authority scores, the ranking of desired keywords, and the amount of traffic to your content — but we’ll talk more about measuring the success of your SEO campaigns in Chapter 7.

Beyond links: How awareness, amplification, and sentiment impact authority

A lot of the methods you’d use to build links will also indirectly build your brand. In fact, you can view link building as a great way to increase awareness of your brand, the topics on which you’re an authority, and the products or services you offer.

Once your target audience knows about you and you have valuable content to share, let your audience know about it! Sharing your content on social platforms will not only make your audience aware of your content, but it can also encourage them to amplify that awareness to their own networks, thereby extending your own reach.

Are social shares the same as links? No. But shares to the right people can result in links. Social shares can also promote an increase in traffic and new visitors to your website, which can grow brand awareness, and with a growth in brand awareness can come a growth in trust and links. The connection between social signals and rankings seems indirect, but even indirect correlations can be helpful for informing strategy.

Trustworthiness goes a long way

For search engines, trust is largely determined by the quality and quantity of the links your domain has earned, but that’s not to say that there aren’t other factors at play that can influence your site’s authority. Think about all the different ways you come to trust a brand:

  • Awareness (you know they exist)
  • Helpfulness (they provide answers to your questions)
  • Integrity (they do what they say they will)
  • Quality (their product or service provides value; possibly more than others you’ve tried)
  • Continued value (they continue to provide value even after you’ve gotten what you needed)
  • Voice (they communicate in unique, memorable ways)
  • Sentiment (others have good things to say about their experience with the brand)

That last point is what we’re going to focus on here. Reviews of your brand, its products, or its services can make or break a business.

In your effort to establish authority from reviews, follow these review rules of thumb:

  • Never pay any individual or agency to create a fake positive review for your business or a fake negative review of a competitor.
  • Don’t review your own business or the businesses of your competitors. Don’t have your staff do so either.
  • Never offer incentives of any kind in exchange for reviews.
  • All reviews must be left directly by customers in their own accounts; never post reviews on behalf of a customer or employ an agency to do so.
  • Don’t set up a review station/kiosk in your place of business; many reviews stemming from the same IP can be viewed as spam.
  • Read the guidelines of each review platform where you’re hoping to earn reviews.

Be aware that review spam is a problem that’s taken on global proportions, and that violation of governmental truth-in-advertising guidelines has led to legal prosecution and heavy fines. It’s just too dangerous to be worth it. Playing by the rules and offering exceptional customer experiences is the winning combination for building both trust and authority over time.

Authority is built when brands are doing great things in the real-world, making customers happy, creating and sharing great content, and earning links from reputable sources.

In the next and final section, you’ll learn how to measure the success of all your efforts, as well as tactics for iterating and improving upon them. Onward!

A Simple Three-Point Checklist for Documenting Your B2B Content Strategy Right Now

On the first day of 2019, I laid out a series of New Year’s resolutions for content marketers. At the top of the list was creating a documented content strategy.

Maybe you came across the post. Maybe you nodded your head while reading that particular item and said, “Yup, I’m gonna do that.” But most likely, you still haven’t yet. I’m not trying to be presumptive, just speaking in probabilities: research tells us that documenting a content strategy has been the subject of pervasive and perpetual procrastination across our field for some time.

What gives? Why do we keep putting it off?

“Usually procrastination happens because the task seems too difficult,” according to psychiatrist A. Chris Heath, MD (via PsyCom). Makes sense, based on my personal experience.

In this case, I think the difficulty and complexity seem a lot greater than they actually are. So, B2B content marketers, today I’m going to try and make both the “why” and “how” of this matter as simple and straightforward as possible.

The framework I’ll use is one that TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden laid out in his book “Optimize” — a framework that is a core to our agency’s approach for creating best-answer content

Why is a Documented B2B Content Strategy So Important?

There are two primary reasons.

First of all, neuroscience has found that we are more likely to accomplish our goals if we write them down. According to an article on Forbes last year from Mark Murphy, there are a couple of psychological factors driving this:

  • External storage: When your goals are written down, in a tangible and visible form (whether a physical piece of paper or even a digital document) they are harder to ignore. This is why Post-it Notes exist.
  • Encoding: The actual process of writing something down makes it far more ingrained in our memories. This owes to the generation effect, “a phenomenon where information is better remembered if it is generated from one’s own mind rather than simply read.”

So that’s a big part of it. The second component is tangentially related, but has more to do with the collaborative nature of a marketing operation. When you’re trying to keep numerous individuals aligned around the same vision, it’s essential to have a single source of truth that’s accessible to everyone.

The above psychological principles come into play from a team aspect — your colleagues will better adhere to a strategy if they can actually see it, and the process of encoding will take place if everyone is collectively involved with documentation — but there are also more basic and practical elements.

When your content strategy is documented, you don’t have to re-explain things to people over and over again. You have a central point of reference for various freelancers, contractors, new hires, clients, external business partners, and so forth. It provides a concrete and objective basis for decision-making.

You also might spot flaws in your strategy more quickly (for example, an SEO specialist may see something amiss in the documentation and say, “We’ve gotta fix that,” whereas it may have gone unnoticed).

Are we all agreed on the value of a documented content strategy? Good. Let’s get one put together.

A Three-Point Checklist for Documenting Your B2B Content Strategy

In the interest of keeping things simple, we’ll flesh this out in high-level fashion. When you cut through all the variables and moving parts, content marketing strategy almost universally nests under three buyer stages: Discovery, Consumption, Action.

If our content is going to accomplish anything, it needs to be discovered, it needs to be consumed, and it needs to ultimately drive action (all with the right audiences, of course). As Lee so eloquently puts it, this means creating buyer-centric content strategy.

Making sure #contentmarketing plans are accountable to the buyer experience, and how they discover, consume, and act on info, empowers #B2B marketers with the ability to make their content accountable. @leeodden Click To Tweet

Discovery: Who is your target audience and how will they find your content?

That first part is arguably the most important in this entire discussion. Who is your audience? What makes them tick? The more specific you can get, the better. When you gain a firm and comprehensive understanding of the people you want to reach — the challenges they’re trying to solve, the questions they’re trying to answer, the channels they tend to use — it can and should guide your entire strategy.

This is one foundational area where the documentation process is particularly valuable. Going through the exercise of articulating details about your audience can expose gaps in your knowledge, and force you to challenge existing assumptions.

The “Discovery” phase of your content strategy should account for the following:

  • Who is our buying audience?
  • What differentiates the various segments and buyer personas?
  • How can we develop an SEO strategy that aligns with their search behavior?
  • Which channels do they use?
  • Who do they listen to and respect in the industry or niche?
  • What topic clusters or editorial themes will dictate our content direction?

From here, you can build out your editorial plan and start focusing on consumption.

Consumption: How and why will people engage and interact with your content?

Once you’ve fleshed out a mix of channels and topics that align with your audience, the next step is focusing on engagement. Creating a bunch of content — even if it’s relevant and strategically aligned — won’t do you any good if people aren’t consuming it. Documenting your approach for making this happen will help keep everyone on the same page, while tying consumption to discovery.

The “Consumption” phase of your content strategy should account for the following:

  • How will our content stand out from competitors?
  • Are we optimizing on all fronts for mobile users?
  • How will we compel clicks with our headlines, meta descriptions and social messaging?
    What will be the timing and cadence for publishing?
  • What tools and technology will you use to plan, publish, and track your content?
  • How will you respond and interact to audience engagement? Whose responsibility?
  • Where do organic, paid, and influencers fit in?

With consumption covered, you’re to focus on action.

Action: What are your end goals, and how does your tactical mix connect to them?

Strategy is defined as “a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim,” so ultimately it all comes down to the outcome. We’ve listed this part last, to keep things chronological, but really you’ll want to start with your objectives and work backward. Your content strategy is a bridge between your purpose/mission statement and your goals. You have to know where you’re going before you can chart a course.

The “Action” phase should account for the following:

  • How will we convert our buying audience into customers?
  • How will we build and maintain relationships?
  • What are our key performance indicators (KPIs)?
  • Where do our benchmarks lie?
  • How will success ultimately be judged?
  • What ongoing steps are in place for conversion optimization?
  • How does every piece of the Discovery/Consumption framework above lead into this piece?

Create a steady stream of qualified traffic at the top, engage them through the middle, and drive action at the bottom. That’s a simple strategic content funnel, and as long as it keeps flowing you’ll be in good shape. Documenting strategy helps everyone in your organization rally around the same structure for making it happen.

Write It Down, Ramp It Up

If you can confidently check all three boxes above, you’ve got yourself a fundamental content marketing strategy that is built for success. There are plenty of extensions and additional elements that come into play, but for the sake of simplicity, this should cover your bases.

By documenting all of this, creating external storage and encoding it for your team, you’ll be on your way to full focal alignment, minimizing miscommunications and ambiguities that plague many operations.

And if you don’t have time to create that documented B2B content strategy at this moment? Make a note to yourself. Don’t underestimate the power of writing something down.

Want more resources from our blog to help solidify your content strategy? Check out these past articles:

Digital Marketing News: Buffer’s State of Social Report, LinkedIn’s Interest Targeting, Consumer Trust & Twitter’s Emojis

2019 January 25 Buffer Chart

Buffer’s 2019 State of Social Report
Buffer recently released its 2019 State of Social report, offering an in-depth look at what digital marketers are focusing on and an examination of trends and how the industry is changing. Buffer

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Twitter Releases its Official Marketing Calendar for 2019
Twitter has put out its 2019 version of so-called hashtag holidays, a handy calendar for digital marketers including traditional mainstream holidays as well as “Talk Like A Pirate Day” and others. Search Engine Journal

Legal tips for managing your influencer relationships
Protecting brand and influencer relationships has become a greater concern among marketers as the use of social influencers has risen, and AdAge takes a look at some legal safeguards and practices that can pay off in the long run. AdAge

Consumer Trust High In Tech, Traditional Media And Search / 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer
For 19 years Edelman has produced a trust barometer, and the 2019 edition has recently been released, offering a look at the ever-changing trust landscape, including several insights for digital marketers. MediaPost

Gartner: Enterprise use of AI grew 270% over the past 4 years
Enterprise firms have increasingly turned to implementing artificial intelligence (AI) technology, according to new report data that offers a look at its growing use in the enterprise sector. VentureBeat

Google slapped with $56.8 million fine for GDPR consent violations
Google was given a $56.8M fine recently, as a French privacy regulator imposed the biggest General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) violation penalty yet, stemming from consent violations relating to ad targeting. MarTech Today

2019 January 25 Statistic Image

LinkedIn Is Debuting Interest Targeting Based on Content Users Share and Engage With
LinkedIn (client) has announced extensive new user interest targeting functionality, for the first time allowing advertisers to target more than 200 categories within the firm’s Campaign Manager. AdWeek

Twitter is rolling out a new web interface, including an emoji button
Twitter recently started offering users of its web-based interface a selection of new features aimed at making tweeting easier, including an overhauled emoji button, streamlined trending section, and other changes. The Verge

New features for service area businesses on Google My Business
Google recently launched a slew of new features for its My Business offering, including expanded ability to share additional information about businesses via the search giant’s Google Maps and Search products. Google

New Report Shows Nearly a Third of Americans Interact with Social Media Content 10+ Times a Day
30 percent of people interact on social media platform more than 10 times each day, with the most-used content type being images, according to new survey data from The Manifest, including insight of interest to digital marketers. Social Media Today

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2019 January 25 Marketooist Cartoon

A lighthearted look at the state of user experience design by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

YouTuber Starts Every Video With Apology For Hiatus — The Hard Times

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — The Marketing Strategist: The Power of Influence in B2B Marketing — ITSMA
  • Lee Odden — Ignite, Fuel, and Spread: How Your Content Can Catch Fire With The Right Amplification Process With Heidi Cohen From Actionable Marketing Guide — CoSchedule
  • Joshua Nite — What’s Trending: Does Your Content Spark Joy? — LinkedIn (client)
  • Ashley Zeckman — Twin Cities Women In Digital January Members ONLY – 2019 Digital Trends — EventBrite / Women In Digital
  • Caitlin Burgess — 10 Ways to Evolve Your Marketing Strategy as Your Business Grows — Small Business Trends

Do you have your own favorite new influencer marketing or content marketing news items for the week?

Thanks for taking the time to join us, and we hope you’ll come back next week for a new array of the most relevant digital marketing industry news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

Redirects: One Way to Make or Break Your Site Migration – Whiteboard Friday

Correctly redirecting your URLs is one of the most important things you can do to make a site migration go smoothly, but there are clear processes to follow if you want to get it right. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins breaks down the rules of redirection for site migrations to make sure your URLs are set up for success.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, guys. Welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins, and I work here at Moz. What we’re going to be talking about today is redirects and how they’re one way that you can make or break your site migration. Site migration can mean a lot of different things depending on your context.

Migrations?

I wanted to go over quickly what I mean before we dive into some tips for avoiding redirection errors. When I talk about migration, I’m coming from the experience of these primary activities.

CMS moving/URL format

One example of a migration I might be referring to is maybe we’re taking on a client and they previously used a CMS that had a default kind of URL formatting, and it was dated something.

So it was like /2018/May/ and then the post. Then we’re changing the CMS. We have more flexibility with how our pages, our URLs are structured, so we’re going to move it to just /post or something like that. In that way a lot of URLs are going to be moving around because we’re changing the way that those URLs are structured.

“Keywordy” naming conventions

Another instance is that sometimes we’ll get clients that come to us with kind of dated or keywordy URLs, and we want to change this to be a lot cleaner, shorten them where possible, just make them more human-readable.

An example of that would be maybe the client used URLs like /best-plumber-dallas, and we want to change it to something a little bit cleaner, more natural, and not as keywordy, to just /plumbers or something like that. So that can be another example of lots of URLs moving around if we’re taking over a whole site and we’re kind of wanting to do away with those.

Content overhaul

Another example is if we’re doing a complete content overhaul. Maybe the client comes to us and they say, “Hey, we’ve been writing content and blogging for a really long time, and we’re just not seeing the traffic and the rankings that we want. Can you do a thorough audit of all of our content?” Usually what we notice is that you have maybe even thousands of pages, but four of them are ranking.

So there are a lot of just redundant pages, pages that are thin and would be stronger together, some pages that just don’t really serve a purpose and we want to just let die. So that’s another example where we would be merging URLs, moving pages around, just letting some drop completely. That’s another example of migrating things around that I’m referring to.

Don’t we know this stuff? Yes, but…

That’s what I’m referring to when it comes to migrations. But before we dive in, I kind of wanted to address the fact that like don’t we know this stuff already? I mean I’m talking to SEOs, and we all know or should know the importance of redirection. If there’s not a redirect, there’s no path to follow to tell Google where you’ve moved your page to.

It’s frustrating for users if they click on a link that no longer works, that doesn’t take them to the proper destination. We know it’s important, and we know what it does. It passes link equity. It makes sure people aren’t frustrated. It helps to get the correct page indexed, all of those things. So we know this stuff. But if you’re like me, you’ve also been in those situations where you have to spend entire days fixing 404s to correct traffic loss or whatever after a migration, or you’re fixing 301s that were maybe done but they were sent to all kinds of weird, funky places.

Mistakes still happen even though we know the importance of redirects. So I want to talk about why really quickly.

Unclear ownership

Unclear ownership is something that can happen, especially if you’re on a scrappier team, a smaller team and maybe you don’t handle these things very often enough to have a defined process for this. I’ve been in situations where I assumed the tech was going to do it, and the tech assumed that the project assistant was going to do it.

We’re all kind of pointing fingers at each other with no clear ownership, and then the ball gets dropped because no one really knows whose responsibility it is. So just make sure that you designate someone to do it and that they know and you know that that person is going to be handling it.

Deadlines

Another thing is deadlines. Internal and external deadlines can affect this. So one example that I encountered pretty often is the client would say, “Hey, we really need this project done by next Monday because we’re launching another initiative. We’re doing a TV commercial, and our domain is going to be listed on the TV commercial. So I’d really like this stuff wrapped up when those commercials go live.”

So those kind of external deadlines can affect how quickly we have to work. A lot of times it just gets left by the wayside because it is not a very visible thing. If you don’t know the importance of redirects, you might handle things like content and making sure the buttons all work and the template looks nice and things like that, the visible things. Where people assume that redirects, oh, that’s just a backend thing. We can take care of it later. Unfortunately, redirects usually fall into that category if the person doing it doesn’t really know the importance of it.

Another thing with deadlines is internal deadlines. Sometimes maybe you might have a deadline for a quarterly game or a monthly game. We have to have all of our projects done by this date. The same thing with the deadlines. The redirects are usually unfortunately something that tends to miss the cutoff for those types of things.

Non-SEOs handling the redirection

Then another situation that can cause site migration errors and 404s after moving around is non-SEOs handling this. Now you don’t have to be a really experienced SEO usually to handle these types of things. It depends on your CMS and how complicated is the way that you’re implementing your redirects. But sometimes if it’s easy, if your CMS makes redirection easy, it can be treated as like a data entry-type of job, and it can be delegated to someone who maybe doesn’t know the importance of doing all of them or formatting them properly or directing them to the places that they’re supposed to go.

The rules of redirection for site migrations

Those are all situations that I’ve encountered issues with. So now that we kind of know what I’m talking about with migrations and why they kind of sometimes still happen, I’m going to launch into some rules that will hopefully help prevent site migration errors because of failed redirects.

1. Create one-to-one redirects

Number one, always create one-to-one redirects. This is super important. What I’ve seen sometimes is oh, man, it could save me tons of time if I just use a wildcard and redirect all of these pages to the homepage or to the blog homepage or something like that. But what that tells Google is that Page A has moved to Page B, whereas that’s not the case. You’re not moving all of these pages to the homepage. They haven’t actually moved there. So it’s an irrelevant redirect, and Google has even said, I think, that they treat those essentially as a soft 404. They don’t even count. So make sure you don’t do that. Make sure you’re always linking URL to its new location, one-to-one every single time for every URL that’s moving.

2. Watch out for redirect chains

Two, watch out for chains. I think Google says something oddly specific, like watch out for redirect chains, three, no more than five. Just try to limit it as much as possible. By chains, I mean you have URL A, and then you redirect it to B, and then later you decide to move it to a third location. Instead of doing this and going through a middleman, A to B to C, shorten it if you can. Go straight from the source to the destination, A to C.

3. Watch out for loops

Three, watch out for loops. Similarly what can happen is you redirect position A to URL B to another version C and then back to A. What happens is it’s chasing its tail. It will never resolve, so you’re redirecting it in a loop. So watch out for things like that. One way to check those things I think is a nifty tool, Screaming Frog has a redirect chains report. So you can see if you’re kind of encountering any of those issues after you’ve implemented your redirects.

4. 404 strategically

Number four, 404 strategically. The presence of 404s on your site alone, that is not going to hurt your site’s rankings. It is letting pages die that were ranking and bringing your site traffic that is going to cause issues. Obviously, if a page is 404ing, eventually Google is going to take that out of the index if you don’t redirect it to its new location. If that page was ranking really well, if it was bringing your site traffic, you’re going to lose the benefits of it. If it had links to it, you’re going to lose the benefits of that backlink if it dies.

So if you’re going to 404, just do it strategically. You can let pages die. Like in these situations, maybe you’re just outright deleting a page and it has no new location, nothing relevant to redirect it to. That’s okay. Just know that you’re going to lose any of the benefits that URL was bringing your site.

5. Prioritize “SEO valuable” URLs

Number five, prioritize “SEO valuable” URLs, and I do that because I prefer to obviously redirect everything that you’re moving, everything that’s legitimately moving.

But because of situations like deadlines and things like that, when we’re down to the wire, I think it’s really important to at least have started out with your most important URLs. So those are URLs that are ranking really well, giving you a lot of good traffic, URLs that you’ve earned links to. So those really SEO valuable URLs, if you have a deadline and you don’t get to finish all of your redirects before this project goes live, at least you have those most critical, most important URLs handled first.

Again, obviously, it’s not ideal, I don’t think in my mind, to save any until after the launch. Obviously, I think it’s best to have them all set up by the time it goes live. But if that’s not the case and you’re getting rushed and you have to launch, at least you will have handled the most important URLs for SEO value.

6. Test!

Number six, just to end it off, test. I think it’s super important just to monitor these things, because you could think that you have set these all up right, but maybe there were some formatting errors, or maybe you mistakenly redirected something to the wrong place. It is super important just to test. So what you can do, you can do a site:domain.com and just start clicking on all the results that come up and see if any are redirecting to the wrong place, maybe they’re 404ing.

Just checking all of those indexed URLs to make sure that they’re going to a proper new destination. I think Moz’s Site Crawl is another huge benefit here for testing purposes. What it does, if you have a domain set up or a URL set up in a campaign in Moz Pro, it checks this every week, and you can force another run if you want it to.

But it will scan your site for errors like this, 404s namely. So if there are any issues like that, 500 or 400 type errors, Site Crawl will catch it and notify you. If you’re not managing the domain that you’re working on in a campaign in Moz Pro, there’s on-demand crawl too. So you can run that on any domain that you’re working on to test for things like that.

There are plenty of other ways you can test and find errors. But the most important thing to remember is just to do it, just to test and make sure that even once you’ve implemented these things, that you’re checking and making sure that there are no issues after a launch. I would check right after a launch and then a couple of days later, and then just kind of taper off until you’re absolutely positive that everything has gone smoothly.

So those are my tips, those are my rules for how to implement redirects properly, why you need to, when you need to, and the risks that can happen with that. If you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share, pop them in the comments and share it with all of us in the SEO community. That’s it for this week’s Whiteboard Friday.

Come back again next week for another one. Thanks, everybody.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Mapping the Overlap of SERP Feature Suggestions

From carousel snippets to related searches to “People also ask” boxes and “People also search for” boxes, the Google SERP is jam-packed with features that not only aid in keyword list creation but can help you better understand the topics your unique search landscape is structured around.

In fact, the increase of topics and entities as a way of navigating and indexing the web was one of the biggest developments in search in 2018. This is why we took 40,977 SERPS and stripped out every term or phrase from the aforementioned features — a small, first step toward making sense of Google’s organizational skills.

We wanted to see how much overlap might exist across these different SERP features. Does Google give us a lot of new keywords to work with or just suggest the same stuff over and over again? Do we need to pay attention to each SERP feature when building out our SEO strategy or can we overlook a few? We dug into a bunch of data in STAT to find out.

A little bit on topics and entities and SERP features

In September 2018, Google announced a new layer to its knowledge graph:

“The Topic Layer is built by analyzing all the content that exists on the web for a given topic and develops hundreds and thousands of subtopics. For these subtopics, we can identify the most relevant articles and videos—the ones that have shown themselves to be evergreen and continually useful, as well as fresh content on the topic. We then look at patterns to understand how these subtopics relate to each other, so we can more intelligently surface the type of content you might want to explore next.”

But, even before Google came out with its Topic Layer, Cindy Krum, CEO & Founder of MobileMoxie, was all about what she called “entities” as mobile-first indexing was (finally) rolling out. See if you can spot the similarities:

“Entities can be described by keywords, but can also be described by pictures, sounds, smells, feelings and concepts; (Think about the sound of a train station – it brings up a somewhat universal concept for anyone who might hear it, without needing a keyword.) A unified index that is based on entity concepts, eliminates the need for Google to sort through the immense morass of changing languages and keywords in all the languages in the world; instead, they can align their index based on these unifying concepts (entities), and then stem out from there in different languages as necessary.”

Bringing it back to SEO-specifics, Cindy explains that both domains (traditionally associated with indexing) and the brands that operate them can be considered entities. “Indexing based on entities is what will allow Google to group all of a brand’s international websites as one entity, and switch in the appropriate one for the searcher, based on their individual country and language.”

So, what does any of this have to do with our SERP features of choice? Well, all of the suggested terms packed into them are the direct result of Google’s endless topic analysing and organizing. We might not be privy to every entity Google scrapes but we can certainly take cues from how they choose to express the final product on the SERP.

How we made the magic happen

In order to map the overlap in our particular query space, we took the highly scientific word-bag approach. Operating on a SERP-by-SERP level of analysis, we scooped each feature’s suggestions into its own bag, filtered out any stop words, and then compared one bag’s suggestions to another, looking for a match and tallying as we went.

So, for example, we’d examine all the PAA questions on one SERP against all the related searches on the same SERP. Each PAA suggestion got its own bag, as did each related search, and we removed the search term itself from all of the bags. If any remaining words in the two bags matched, we counted it as an overlap, divided it by the total number of possible overlaps, and got the total entity overlap between these features. Phew!

In the end, after combing through 40,977 SERPs, we made roughly forty-million word bag comparisons. No sweat.

What we found

Ultimately, there’s not a lot of overlap happening with our four features. A measly average of 4 percent of the search suggestions saw any duplication in terms. This tells us that Google’s putting a lot of care and consideration into what each SERP feature’s up to and we’d be wise to keep an eye on all of them, even it means weeding out a few duplicate suggestions now and then.

Here’s how things turned out when we looked at specific pairings:

Carousel snippets

Carousel snippets hold the answers to many different questions thanks to the “IQ-bubbles” that run along the bottom of them. When you click a bubble, JavaScript takes over and replaces the initial “parent” snippet with one that answers a brand new query. This query is a combination of your original search term and the text in the IQ-bubble. For this bit of research, we took the bubble text and left the rest.

It turns out that carousel snippet IQ-bubbles had the least amount of overlap with the other three SERP features. This is likely because the bubbles, while topically related to the original query, typically contain subcategories that live within the high-level category introduced by the search term.

Take the above snippet for example. The query [savings account rates] produces a SERP with organic results and other features that provide general info on the subject of savings accounts. The bubbles, however, name different banks that have savings accounts, making them highly distinct keyword suggestions.

Other reasons to consider these terms when list-building and content strategizing: Google keeps this snippet right at the top of the SERP and doesn’t require clicking of any kind in order to surface the bubbles, which means they’re one of the first things Google makes sure a searcher sees.

The “People also ask” box

The “People also ask” box typically contains four questions (before it gets infinite) related to the searcher’s initial query, which then expand to reveal answers that Google has pulled from other websites and links that guide users to a SERP of the PAA question.

Not only are PAA questions excellent long-tail additions to your keyword set, they’re also a great resource for content inspiration. So we stripped them out and dumped them into our word bags to analyse.

PAA questions ended up returning the second highest level of duplication, though most of that was tied to terms we pulled from the “People also search for” box — the two had a 10.41 percent overlap.

This makes sense as both ostensibly offer up other terms that people either ask or search for. It could also be a result of the longer length of both suggestions, which can create more opportunity for matching.

Related searches

No less than eight related searches sit at the very bottom of each SERP and, when clicked, become the search query of a new SERP. These help to refine or expand on the original query.

We were surprised to see how little duplication related searches had with the other SERP features — they were oddly unique. We say “oddly unique” because these terms are usually shorter and more iterative of the original query, tending to stay on topic and, as a result, we expected them to show up more in the other features (the carousel snippet perhaps being the only exception).

The “People also search for” box

In order to surface a “People also search for” box, you need to do a little pogo-sticking. It’ll materialize after clicking an organic search result and then navigating back to the SERP. Mobile PASFs typically have eight topically-related terms that open up a new SERP, while desktop PASFs usually have six.

Out of all our comparisons, PASF boxes had the most amount of overlap, particularly with PAAs (which we noted above) and related searches. Given that PASF terms are attached, both physically and topically, to the organic result and not the search query, we actually didn’t expect them to share this much.

One possible explanation would be the sheer volume of them. With an average of 8.77 boxes per SERP and six or eight terms per box, this would lead to both a lot of duplication within the box itself and an overall saturation of the topic field. But, when we think about what PAAs and related searches attempt to do, PASFs do seem like a mix of both.

Putting it all together

With not a lot of term overlap happening, it’s a good idea to keep all of these features top of mind. Google may be running out of unique-sounding names for them, but they’re not running out of unique suggestions to stuff into them.

Even if understanding the topic hierarchies that rule your query space is a little outside of your day-to-day concerns, if people click on search suggestions rather than — or even in addition to — organic results, then it stands to reason that you should at least be trying to rank for these terms as well as the base query.

If you’re super pressed for time or don’t have the resources required to wade through each SERP feature’s suggestions and had to pick just one, you could run with the PASF box (though we’d still recommend you throw in any IQ-bubbles that show up) as it returns the highest duplication.

Conversely, since STAT’s got super easy PAA and related searches reports, you could quickly cover about as much ground with those two. Want take those reports (and more) for a test drive? Say hello and request a demo!

This post was originally published on the STAT blog.