Digital Marketing News: B2B Content Lifecycle Study, LinkedIn’s New Featured Section, B2B Millennial Report, & Facebook Adds Story Discovery Feature

2020 February 28 Skyword Chart

2020 February 28 Skyword Chart

Millennial buyers want better content from B2B marketers
Better B2B content is a top concern among Millennial buyers, as the demographic accounts for some 33 percent of overall B2B buyers, a portion Forrester’s newly-released report expects to grow to 44 percent by 2025. Digital Commerce 360

LinkedIn Launches New ‘Featured’ Section on Profiles to Highlight Key Achievements and Links
LinkedIn (client) began a gradual roll-out of a new “Featured” section, where users’ key achievements will appear near the top of profiles when starred from updates, the Microsoft-owned platform recently announced. Social Media Today

How the Fastest-Growing US Companies Are Using Social Media
87 percent of Inc. 500 firms used LinkedIn for social media during 2019, topping a list of how the fastest-growing U.S. firms are using social media, outlined in a recently-released UMass Dartmouth report of interest to digital marketers. MarketingProfs

The Best Times to Post on Social Media According to Research [Infographic]
B2B businesses find that the best posting times on LinkedIn are before noon and around 6:00 p.m., one of numerous social media platform most effective posting time statistics outlined in a recently-released infographic. Social Media Today

Gen Z Craves Multifaceted Content, Audio – And Even Likes (Relevant) Long-Form Ads
Digital media consumption habits vary by generation, with members of the Gen Z demographic more often seeking out multifaceted content comprised of interactive elements such as polls and quizzes, according to recently-released content consumption preference data. MediaPost

Are Brands Getting Smarter About Social? New Data Reveals Surprising Trends Across Platforms
2019 saw U.S. brands receiving an average of five percent more social engagement that during 2018, with video engagement achieving an even higher eight percent growth rate — two of numerous statistics of interest to online marketers contained in recent social media activity study data. Forbes

2020 February 28 Statistics Image

How Businesses Handle Customer Reviews [Infographic]
Over 35 percent of businesses often or always use positive reviews in their marketing efforts, with Google, Facebook, and Yelp being the three platforms most often monitored for online reviews, according to recently-released survey data focusing on how reviews are used by businesses. Social Media Today

IAB: Programmatic Now 85% Of All U.S. Digital Advertising
By 2021 programmatic advertising spending will exceed $91 billion in the U.S. alone, and account for 86 percent of overall digital ad spend — two of several items of interest to digital marketers in newly-released Interactive Advertising Bureau report data. MediaPost

Facebook Tests New Format for Separate Facebook Stories Discovery Page
Facebook has continued to ramp up its support for content shared in the Stories format, announcing recently that certain Stories will receive larger images in a test of a distinct new Facebook Stories discovery page, according to the social media giant. Social Media Today

From Consistent Publishing to Performance Peaks: What You Need to Know About the Life Span of Content
Digital B2B content assets often bring peak value two months after publishing, while going on to achieve steady endurance among consumers, two of many findings of interest to digital marketers contained in new B2B content lifespan report data. Skyword

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 February 28 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at what is digital transformation? by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Jif Partnered With Giphy to Make a Limited-Edition Peanut Butter No One Can Pronounce — Adweek

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Not Another State of Marketing Report — HubSpot
  • Lee Odden — What’s Trending: Aim for Excellence — LinkedIn (client)
  • TopRank Marketing / Prophix — B2B Campaign Spotlight: Prophix Strikes a Chord with Visual Storytelling — LinkedIn (client)
  • Lane R. Ellis — 10 Tips to Help You Better Understand Your Small Business Customers — Small Business Trends
  • Lee Odden — How to Create Trustworthy Content That People Want to Read — Aweber
  • Lee Odden — Speaker Spotlight: Lee Odden — Content Marketing Conference

Do you have your own top B2B content marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for joining us, and please return next week for a new selection of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. 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.

The post Digital Marketing News: B2B Content Lifecycle Study, LinkedIn’s New Featured Section, B2B Millennial Report, & Facebook Adds Story Discovery Feature appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Digital Marketing News: B2B Content Lifecycle Study, LinkedIn’s New Featured Section, B2B Millennial Report, & Facebook Adds Story Discovery Feature

2020 February 28 Skyword Chart

Millennial buyers want better content from B2B marketers
Better B2B content is a top concern among Millennial buyers, as the demographic accounts for some 33 percent of overall B2B buyers, a portion Forrester’s newly-released report expects to grow to 44 percent by 2025. Digital Commerce 360

LinkedIn Launches New ‘Featured’ Section on Profiles to Highlight Key Achievements and Links
LinkedIn (client) began a gradual roll-out of a new “Featured” section, where users’ key achievements will appear near the top of profiles when starred from updates, the Microsoft-owned platform recently announced. Social Media Today

How the Fastest-Growing US Companies Are Using Social Media
87 percent of Inc. 500 firms used LinkedIn for social media during 2019, topping a list of how the fastest-growing U.S. firms are using social media, outlined in a recently-released UMass Dartmouth report of interest to digital marketers. MarketingProfs

The Best Times to Post on Social Media According to Research [Infographic]
B2B businesses find that the best posting times on LinkedIn are before noon and around 6:00 p.m., one of numerous social media platform most effective posting time statistics outlined in a recently-released infographic. Social Media Today

Gen Z Craves Multifaceted Content, Audio – And Even Likes (Relevant) Long-Form Ads
Digital media consumption habits vary by generation, with members of the Gen Z demographic more often seeking out multifaceted content comprised of interactive elements such as polls and quizzes, according to recently-released content consumption preference data. MediaPost

Are Brands Getting Smarter About Social? New Data Reveals Surprising Trends Across Platforms
2019 saw U.S. brands receiving an average of five percent more social engagement that during 2018, with video engagement achieving an even higher eight percent growth rate — two of numerous statistics of interest to online marketers contained in recent social media activity study data. Forbes

2020 February 28 Statistics Image

How Businesses Handle Customer Reviews [Infographic]
Over 35 percent of businesses often or always use positive reviews in their marketing efforts, with Google, Facebook, and Yelp being the three platforms most often monitored for online reviews, according to recently-released survey data focusing on how reviews are used by businesses. Social Media Today

IAB: Programmatic Now 85% Of All U.S. Digital Advertising
By 2021 programmatic advertising spending will exceed $91 billion in the U.S. alone, and account for 86 percent of overall digital ad spend — two of several items of interest to digital marketers in newly-released Interactive Advertising Bureau report data. MediaPost

Facebook Tests New Format for Separate Facebook Stories Discovery Page
Facebook has continued to ramp up its support for content shared in the Stories format, announcing recently that certain Stories will receive larger images in a test of a distinct new Facebook Stories discovery page, according to the social media giant. Social Media Today

From Consistent Publishing to Performance Peaks: What You Need to Know About the Life Span of Content
Digital B2B content assets often bring peak value two months after publishing, while going on to achieve steady endurance among consumers, two of many findings of interest to digital marketers contained in new B2B content lifespan report data. Skyword

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 February 28 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at what is digital transformation? by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Jif Partnered With Giphy to Make a Limited-Edition Peanut Butter No One Can Pronounce — Adweek

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Not Another State of Marketing Report — HubSpot
  • Lee Odden — What’s Trending: Aim for Excellence — LinkedIn (client)
  • TopRank Marketing / Prophix — B2B Campaign Spotlight: Prophix Strikes a Chord with Visual Storytelling — LinkedIn (client)
  • Lane R. Ellis — 10 Tips to Help You Better Understand Your Small Business Customers — Small Business Trends
  • Lee Odden — How to Create Trustworthy Content That People Want to Read — Aweber
  • Lee Odden — Speaker Spotlight: Lee Odden — Content Marketing Conference

Do you have your own top B2B content marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for joining us, and please return next week for a new selection of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. 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.

The Rules of Link Building – Best of Whiteboard Friday

Are you building links the right way? Or are you still subscribing to outdated practices? Britney Muller clarifies which link building tactics still matter and which are a waste of time (or downright harmful) in one of our very favorite classic episodes of Whiteboard Friday.

The Rules of Link Building

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

Video Transcription

Happy Friday, Moz fans! Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we are going over the rules of link building. It’s no secret that links are one of the top three ranking factors in Google and can greatly benefit your website. But there is a little confusion around what’s okay to do as far as links and what’s not. So hopefully, this helps clear some of that up.

The Dos

All right. So what are the dos? What do you want to be doing? First and most importantly is just to…

I. Determine the value of that link. So aside from ranking potential, what kind of value will that link bring to your site? Is it potential traffic? Is it relevancy? Is it authority? Just start to weigh out your options and determine what’s really of value for your site. Our own tool, Moz Link Explorer, can 

II. Local listings still do very well. These local business citations are on a bunch of different platforms, and services like Moz Local or Yext can get you up and running a little bit quicker. They tend to show Google that this business is indeed located where it says it is. It has consistent business information — the name, address, phone number, you name it. But something that isn’t really talked about all that often is that some of these local listings never get indexed by Google. If you think about it, Yellowpages.com is probably populating thousands of new listings a day. Why would Google want to index all of those?

So if you’re doing business listings, an age-old thing that local SEOs have been doing for a while is create a page on your site that says where you can find us online. Link to those local listings to help Google get that indexed, and it sort of has this boomerang-like effect on your site. So hope that helps. If that’s confusing, I can clarify down below. Just wanted to include it because I think it’s important.

III. Unlinked brand mentions. One of the easiest ways you can get a link is by figuring out who is mentioning your brand or your company and not linking to it. Let’s say this article publishes about how awesome SEO companies are and they mention Moz, and they don’t link to us. That’s an easy way to reach out and say, “Hey, would you mind adding a link? It would be really helpful.”

IV. Reclaiming broken links is also a really great way to kind of get back some of your links in a short amount of time and little to no effort. What does this mean? This means that you had a link from a site that now your page currently 404s. So they were sending people to your site for a specific page that you’ve since deleted or updated somewhere else. Whatever that might be, you want to make sure that you 301 this broken link on your site so that it pushes the authority elsewhere. Definitely a great thing to do anyway.

V. HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Reporters will notify you of any questions or information they’re seeking for an article via this email service. So not only is it just good general PR, but it’s a great opportunity for you to get a link. I like to think of link building as really good PR anyway. It’s like digital PR. So this just takes it to the next level.

VI. Just be awesome. Be cool. Sponsor awesome things. I guarantee any one of you watching likely has incredible local charities or amazing nonprofits in your space that could use the sponsorship, however big or small that might be. But that also gives you an opportunity to get a link. So something to definitely consider.

VII. Ask/Outreach. There’s nothing wrong with asking. There’s nothing wrong with outreach, especially when done well. I know that link building outreach in general kind of gets a bad rap because the response rate is so painfully low. I think, on average, it’s around 4% to 7%, which is painful. But you can get that higher if you’re a little bit more strategic about it or if you outreach to people you already currently know. There’s a ton of resources available to help you do this better, so definitely check those out. We can link to some of those below.

VIII. COBC (create original badass content). We hear lots of people talk about this. When it comes to link building, it’s like, “Link building is dead. Just create great content and people will naturally link to you. It’s brilliant.” It is brilliant, but I also think that there is something to be said about having a healthy mix. There’s this idea of link building and then link earning. But there’s a really perfect sweet spot in the middle where you really do get the most bang for your buck.

The Don’ts

All right. So what not to do. The don’ts of today’s link building world are…

I. Don’t ask for specific anchor text. All of these things appear so spammy. The late Eric Ward talked about this and was a big advocate for never asking for anchor text. He said websites should be linked to however they see fit. That’s going to look more natural. Google is going to consider it to be more organic, and it will help your site in the long run. So that’s more of a suggestion. These other ones are definitely big no-no’s.

II. Don’t buy or sell links that pass PageRank. You can buy or sell links that have a no-follow attached, which attributes that this is paid-for, whether it be an advertisement or you don’t trust it. So definitely looking into those and understanding how that works.

III. Hidden links. We used to do this back in the day, the ridiculous white link on a white background. They were totally hidden, but crawlers would pick them up. Don’t do that. That’s so old and will not work anymore. Google is getting so much smarter at understanding these things.

IV. Low-quality directory links. Same with low-quality directory links. We remember those where it was just loads and loads of links and text and a random auto insurance link in there. You want to steer clear of those.

V. Site-wide links also look very spammy. Site-wide being whether it’s a footer link or a top-level navigation link, you definitely don’t want to go after those. They can appear really, really spammy. Avoid those.

VI. Comment links with over-optimized anchor link text, specifically, you want to avoid. Again, it’s just like any of these others. It looks spammy. It’s not going to help you long-term. Again, what’s the value of that overall? So avoid that.

VII. Abusing guest posts. You definitely don’t want to do this. You don’t want to guest post purely just for a link. However, I am still a huge advocate, as I know many others out there are, of guest posting and providing value. Whether there be a link or not, I think there is still a ton of value in guest posting. So don’t get rid of that altogether, but definitely don’t target it for potential link building opportunities.

VIII. Automated tools used to create links on all sorts of websites. ScrapeBox is an infamous one that would create the comment links on all sorts of blogs. You don’t want to do that.

IX. Link schemes, private link networks, and private blog networks. This is where you really get into trouble as well. Google will penalize or de-index you altogether. It looks so, so spammy, and you want to avoid this.

X. Link exchange. This is in the same vein as the link exchanges, where back in the day you used to submit a website to a link exchange and they wouldn’t grant you that link until you also linked to them. Super silly. This stuff does not work anymore, but there are tons of opportunities and quick wins for you to gain links naturally and more authoritatively.

So hopefully, this helps clear up some of the confusion. One question I would love to ask all of you is: To disavow or to not disavow? I have heard back-and-forth conversations on either side on this. Does the disavow file still work? Does it not? What are your thoughts? Please let me know down below in the comments.

Thank you so much for tuning in to this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I will see you all soon. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

The B2B Marketer’s Journey To Experiential Content at #B2BMX

Ryan Brown Ceros

Ryan Brown Ceros

What makes an experience an…

B2B Marketing Experience?

Full disclosure: I am not on the design team at TopRank Marketing.

But you know what I mean. You’ve eaten dinner at dozens, if not hundreds of restaurants in your lifetime. But there are likely one or two that stick out in your memory. What makes them memorable?

That question drove an intriguing presentation at B2B Marketing Exchange, led by four expert marketers:

B2B Content Experience Team

Short answer: What makes experiences different and memorable is if they’re really good… or really bad. Anything in the middle tends to blur together in our recollection. Only the extremes stand out.

[bctt tweet=”“What makes experiences different and memorable is if they’re really good… or really bad. Anything in the middle tends to blur together in our recollection. Only the extremes stand out.” @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

Case in point: The vast majority of B2B content. It’s…fine! But maybe not so memorable. 

The Five Levels of Memorable Content

Ryan observed that, when a B2B business has customers or clients in the office, we offer amazing experiences: Everything from go-kart rides to monogrammed socks. 

So why do we offer blocks of black-and-white text in a PDF to our digital customers? Not only does our static content fail to be memorable, it isn’t measurable, either. Interactive, immersive content can provide a better experience and help marketers optimize at the same time. 

According to Ryan, there are five levels of “memorability” for great content:

  1. Narrative. This is text content at its most elemental: ad copy, blog posts, stories, scripts.

 

  1. Visual Elements. Images, graphics, photos and videos liven up the text, but are still static assets on the page.

 

  1. Integrated elements. Forms, maps, chat, embedded content. This level pulls in multiple different types of content from external sources, like a lead gen form or a Google map.

 

  1. Interactive Elements. This type of content solicits and rewards active engagement, versus passive consumption. It can include content you click, touch, or hover over to open content paths and customize the experience.

 

  1. Immersive Elements. This type of content comes alive as the audience moves through it, with animation, actions triggered on scroll and click, parallax effects to give depth, and multiple layers of content.

Most B2B marketers are proficient in the first two levels, and many are getting comfortable with the third. But truly interactive and immersive experiences aren’t as common.

Barriers to Immersive Content

Workflow

According to Ryan, one reason we get stuck with same-old content is the workflow between teams. Typically, content teams create the copy and hand it off to design. The design team isn’t consulted in the planning or execution of the copy. 

Then, the design team takes the copy and goes through the design process in their silo. There’s no collaboration; it’s content + design. 

To fix that workflow, Bluecore’s Paige and Sharon recommend that content and design teams work together, from planning to execution to optimization, in order to:

  • Engage early
  • Partner on content development
  • Frequently sync on milestones

To illustrate how their process leads to more engaging experiences, Paige and Shannon showed off their Content Concierge, an interactive recommendation engine for their content library.

Versus their static content, Bluecore’s Content Concierge achieved a 93% higher interaction rate, and 80% more dwell time.

Tools

The other major roadblock for interactive experiences is the tools marketers use to create content. These tools tend to reinforce the divide between content and design, Ryan says. More complex multimedia experiences also require a third cook in the kitchen: A web development team or vendor partner.

The solution is to seek out tools that empower content and design to work together on interactive, immersive experiences.

Darius from Carbon Black shared how his team used Ceros to design different types of experiences for their customers. They created a choose-your-own-adventure style game for an immersive, long-form experience. But they also created a snackable March Madness-inspired tournament game that people could play in under a minute.

Memorable & Measurable Experiences

According to Ryan, downloadable assets — like a typical white paper — miss the opportunity to provide a memorable experience. What’s worse, they’re not measurable once downloaded. Did the downloader make it past the front page? Was there an infographic that really hit with your target audience? It’s impossible to tell. 

With the right type of interactive content, you can be a fly on the wall as people go through the experience. You can tell where people are clicking, how deep they’re scrolling, and when they’re likely to drop off. That means more opportunities to optimize and engage more deeply. 

Darius encouraged marketers to invest their time and energy in creating and optimizing these memorable experiences. “If we’re not putting the time in with our customers, we can’t expect them to give us their time back,” he said.

[bctt tweet=”“If we’re not putting the time in with our customers, we can’t expect them to give us their time back.” — Darius Eslami, Carbon Black” username=”toprank”]

Getting Started with Experiential Content

Creating memorable content experiences requires a shift in mindset and operations. Making the change can be tricky, Sharon and Paige warned. They offered a three-step approach to getting started:

  1. Create a business case to get buy-in
  2. Do a proof of concept — have a clear outline, objectives and measurable goals.
  3. Prioritize where you will get the most impact 

That last point is crucial, Sharon said. Without a clear set of priorities, you can get option paralysis with the possibilities. Or, as she put it, “It’s like going to the Cheesecake Factory hungry and trying to navigate that massive menu.”

Be the Architect of Your Brand

Ryan ended the session on an aspirational note. He reminds marketers that we are responsible for designing the ways that customers encounter and perceive our brands. “Take pride in the experiences you create,” he said. “Stop ‘writing at’ your customer, and start ‘creating for’ them.”

Dynamic, interactive, immersive content is more engaging for customers, gets better results for marketers, and can even lead to quicker sales and more revenue for the company. It’s well worth making your content experience into an…

Experience in glitter text

See how interactive content made for a memorable experience that smashed benchmarks for our client Prophix.

The post The B2B Marketer’s Journey To Experiential Content at #B2BMX appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

The B2B Marketer’s Journey To Experiential Content at #B2BMX

Ryan Brown Ceros

What makes an experience an…

B2B Marketing Experience?

Full disclosure: I am not on the design team at TopRank Marketing.

But you know what I mean. You’ve eaten dinner at dozens, if not hundreds of restaurants in your lifetime. But there are likely one or two that stick out in your memory. What makes them memorable?

That question drove an intriguing presentation at B2B Marketing Exchange, led by four expert marketers:

B2B Content Experience Team

Short answer: What makes experiences different and memorable is if they’re really good… or really bad. Anything in the middle tends to blur together in our recollection. Only the extremes stand out.

“What makes experiences different and memorable is if they’re really good… or really bad. Anything in the middle tends to blur together in our recollection. Only the extremes stand out.” @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

Case in point: The vast majority of B2B content. It’s…fine! But maybe not so memorable. 

The Five Levels of Memorable Content

Ryan observed that, when a B2B business has customers or clients in the office, we offer amazing experiences: Everything from go-kart rides to monogrammed socks. 

So why do we offer blocks of black-and-white text in a PDF to our digital customers? Not only does our static content fail to be memorable, it isn’t measurable, either. Interactive, immersive content can provide a better experience and help marketers optimize at the same time. 

According to Ryan, there are five levels of “memorability” for great content:

  1. Narrative. This is text content at its most elemental: ad copy, blog posts, stories, scripts.
  1. Visual Elements. Images, graphics, photos and videos liven up the text, but are still static assets on the page.
  1. Integrated elements. Forms, maps, chat, embedded content. This level pulls in multiple different types of content from external sources, like a lead gen form or a Google map.
  1. Interactive Elements. This type of content solicits and rewards active engagement, versus passive consumption. It can include content you click, touch, or hover over to open content paths and customize the experience.
  1. Immersive Elements. This type of content comes alive as the audience moves through it, with animation, actions triggered on scroll and click, parallax effects to give depth, and multiple layers of content.

Most B2B marketers are proficient in the first two levels, and many are getting comfortable with the third. But truly interactive and immersive experiences aren’t as common.

Barriers to Immersive Content

Workflow

According to Ryan, one reason we get stuck with same-old content is the workflow between teams. Typically, content teams create the copy and hand it off to design. The design team isn’t consulted in the planning or execution of the copy. 

Then, the design team takes the copy and goes through the design process in their silo. There’s no collaboration; it’s content + design. 

To fix that workflow, Bluecore’s Paige and Sharon recommend that content and design teams work together, from planning to execution to optimization, in order to:

  • Engage early
  • Partner on content development
  • Frequently sync on milestones

To illustrate how their process leads to more engaging experiences, Paige and Shannon showed off their Content Concierge, an interactive recommendation engine for their content library.

Versus their static content, Bluecore’s Content Concierge achieved a 93% higher interaction rate, and 80% more dwell time.

Tools

The other major roadblock for interactive experiences is the tools marketers use to create content. These tools tend to reinforce the divide between content and design, Ryan says. More complex multimedia experiences also require a third cook in the kitchen: A web development team or vendor partner.

The solution is to seek out tools that empower content and design to work together on interactive, immersive experiences.

Darius from Carbon Black shared how his team used Ceros to design different types of experiences for their customers. They created a choose-your-own-adventure style game for an immersive, long-form experience. But they also created a snackable March Madness-inspired tournament game that people could play in under a minute.

Memorable & Measurable Experiences

According to Ryan, downloadable assets — like a typical white paper — miss the opportunity to provide a memorable experience. What’s worse, they’re not measurable once downloaded. Did the downloader make it past the front page? Was there an infographic that really hit with your target audience? It’s impossible to tell. 

With the right type of interactive content, you can be a fly on the wall as people go through the experience. You can tell where people are clicking, how deep they’re scrolling, and when they’re likely to drop off. That means more opportunities to optimize and engage more deeply. 

Darius encouraged marketers to invest their time and energy in creating and optimizing these memorable experiences. “If we’re not putting the time in with our customers, we can’t expect them to give us their time back,” he said.

“If we’re not putting the time in with our customers, we can’t expect them to give us their time back.” — Darius Eslami, Carbon Black Click To Tweet

Getting Started with Experiential Content

Creating memorable content experiences requires a shift in mindset and operations. Making the change can be tricky, Sharon and Paige warned. They offered a three-step approach to getting started:

  1. Create a business case to get buy-in
  2. Do a proof of concept — have a clear outline, objectives and measurable goals.
  3. Prioritize where you will get the most impact 

That last point is crucial, Sharon said. Without a clear set of priorities, you can get option paralysis with the possibilities. Or, as she put it, “It’s like going to the Cheesecake Factory hungry and trying to navigate that massive menu.”

Be the Architect of Your Brand

Ryan ended the session on an aspirational note. He reminds marketers that we are responsible for designing the ways that customers encounter and perceive our brands. “Take pride in the experiences you create,” he said. “Stop ‘writing at’ your customer, and start ‘creating for’ them.”

Dynamic, interactive, immersive content is more engaging for customers, gets better results for marketers, and can even lead to quicker sales and more revenue for the company. It’s well worth making your content experience into an…

Experience in glitter text

See how interactive content made for a memorable experience that smashed benchmarks for our client Prophix.

How Low Can #1 Go? (2020 Edition)

Being #1 on Google isn’t what it used to be. Back in 2013, we analyzed 10,000 searches and found out that the average #1 ranking began at 375 pixels (px) down the page. The worst case scenario, a search for “Disney stock,” pushed #1 all the way down to 976px.

A lot has changed in seven years, including an explosion of rich SERP (Search Engine Results Page) features, like Featured Snippets, local packs, and video carousels. It feels like the plight of #1 is only getting worse. So, we decided to run the numbers again (over the same searches) and see if the data matches our perceptions. Is the #1 listing on Google being pushed even farther down the page?

I try to let the numbers speak for themselves, but before we dig into a lot of stats, here’s one that legitimately shocked me. In 2020, over 1,600 (16.6%) of the searches we analyzed had #1 positions that were worse than the worst-case scenario in 2013. Let’s dig into a few of these …

What’s the worst-case for #1?

Data is great, but sometimes it takes the visuals to really understand what’s going on. Here’s our big “winner” for 2020, a search for “lollipop” — the #1 ranking came in at an incredible 2,938px down. I’ve annotated the #1 position, along with the 1,000px and 2,000px marks …

At 2,938px, the 2020 winner comes in at just over three times 2013’s worst-case scenario. You may have noticed that the line is slightly above the organic link. For the sake of consistency and to be able to replicate the data later, we chose to use the HTML/CSS container position. This hits about halfway between the organic link and the URL breadcrumbs (which recently moved above the link). This is a slightly more conservative measure than our 2013 study.

You may also have noticed that this result contains a large-format video result, which really dominates page-one real estate. In fact, five of our top 10 lowest #1 results in 2020 contained large-format videos. Here’s the top contender without a large-format video, coming in at fourth place overall (a search for “vacuum cleaners”) …

Before the traditional #1 organic position, we have shopping results, a research carousel, a local pack, People Also Ask results, and a top products carousel with a massive vertical footprint. This is a relentlessly commercial result. While only a portion of it is direct advertising, most of the focus of the page above the organic results is on people looking to buy a vacuum.

What about the big picture?

It’s easy — and more than a little entertaining — to cherry-pick the worst-case scenarios, so let’s look at the data across all 10,000 results. In 2013, we only looked at the #1 position, but we’ve expanded our analysis in 2020 to consider all page-one organic positions. Here’s the breakdown …

The only direct comparison to 2013 is the position #1 row, and you can see that every metric increased, some substantially. If you look at the maximum Y-position by rank, you’ll notice that it peaks around #7 and then begins to decrease. This is easier to illustrate in a chart …

To understand this phenomenon, you have to realize that certain SERP features, like Top Stories and video carousels, take the place of a page-one organic result. At the same time, those features tend to be longer (vertically) than a typical organic result. So, a page with 10 traditional organic results will in many cases be shorter than a page with multiple rich SERP features.

What’s the worst-case overall?

Let’s dig into that seven-result page-one bucket and look at the worst-case organic position across all of the SERPs in the study, a #7 organic ranking coming in at 4,487px …

Congratulations, you’re finally done scrolling. This SERP has seven traditional organic positions (including one with FAQ links), plus an incredible seven rich features and a full seven ads (three are below the final result). Note that this page shows the older ad and organic design, which Google is still testing, so the position is measured as just above the link.

How much do ads matter?

Since our 2013 study (in early 2016), Google removed right-hand column ads on desktop and increased the maximum number of top-left ads from three to four. One notable point about ads is that they have prime placement over both organic results and SERP features. So, how does this impact organic Y-positions? Here’s a breakdown …

Not surprisingly, the mean and median increase as ad-count increases – on average, the more ads there are, the lower the #1 organic position is. So why does the maximum Y-position of #1 decrease with ad-count? This is because SERP features are tied closely to search intent, and results with more ads tend to be more commercial. This naturally rules out other features.

For example, while 1,270 SERPs on February 12 in our 10,000-SERP data set had four ads on top, and 1,584 had featured snippets, only 16 had both (just 1% of SERPs with featured snippets). Featured snippets naturally reflect informational intent (in other words, they provide answers), whereas the presence of four ads signals strong commercial intent.

Here’s the worst-case #1 position for a SERP with four ads on top in our data set …

The college results are a fairly rare feature, and local packs often appear on commercial results (as anyone who wants to buy something is looking for a place to buy it). Even with four ads, though, this result comes in significantly higher than our overall worst-case #1 position. While ads certainly push down organic results, they also tend to preclude other rich SERP features.

What about featured snippets?

In early 2014, a year after our original study, Google launched featured snippets, promoted results that combine organic links with answers extracted from featured pages. For example, Google can tell you that I am both a human who works for Moz and a Dr. Pepper knock-off available at Target …

While featured snippets are technically considered organic, they can impact click-through rates (CTR) and the extracted text naturally pushes down the organic link. On the other hand, Featured Snippets tend to appear above other rich SERP features (except for ads, of course). So, what’s the worst-case scenario for a #1 result inside a featured snippet in our data set?

Ads are still pushing this result down, and the bullet list extracted from the page takes up a fair amount of space, but the absence of other SERP features above the featured snippet puts this in a much better position than our overall worst-case scenario. This is an interesting example, as the “According to mashable.com …” text is linked to Mashable (but not considered the #1 result), but the images are all linked to more Google searches.

Overall in our study, the average Y-position of #1 results with featured snippets was 99px lower/worse (704px) than traditional #1 results (605px), suggesting a net disadvantage in most cases. In some cases, multiple SERP features can appear between the featured snippet and the #2 organic result. Here’s an example where the #1 and #2 result are 1,342px apart …

In cases like this, it’s a strategic advantage to work for the featured snippet, as there’s likely a substantial drop-off in clicks from #1 to #2. Featured snippets are going to continue to evolve, and examples like this show how critical it is to understand the entire landscape of your search results.

When is #2 not worth it?

Another interesting case that’s evolved quite a bit since 2013 is brand searches, or as Google is more likely to call them, “dominant intent” searches. Here’s a SERP for the company Mattress Firm …

While the #1 result has solid placement, the #2 result is pushed all the way down to 2,848px. Note that the #1 position has a search box plus six full site-links below it, taking up a massive amount of real estate. Even the brand’s ad has site-links. Below #1 is a local pack, People Also Ask results, Twitter results from the brand’s account, heavily branded image results, and then a product refinement carousel (which leads to more Google searches).

There are only five total, traditional organic results on this page, and they’re made up of the company’s website, the company’s Facebook page, the company’s YouTube channel, a Wikipedia page about the company, and a news article about the company’s 2018 bankruptcy filing.

This isn’t just about vertical position — unless you’re Mattress Firm, trying to compete on this search really doesn’t make much sense. They essentially own page one, and this is a situation we’re seeing more and more frequently for searches with clear dominant intent (i.e. most searchers are looking for a specific entity).

What’s a search marketer to do?

Search is changing, and change can certainly be scary. There’s no question that the SERP of 2020 is very different in some ways than the SERP of 2013, and traditional organic results are just one piece of a much larger picture. Realistically, as search marketers, we have to adapt — either that, or find a new career. I hear alpaca farming is nice.

I think there are three critical things to remember. First, the lion’s share of search traffic still comes from traditional organic results. Second, many rich features are really the evolution of vertical results, like news, videos, and images, that still have an organic component. In other words, these are results that we can potentially create content for and rank in, even if they’re not the ten blue links we traditionally think of as organic search.

Finally, it’s important to realize that many SERP features are driven by searcher intent and we need to target intent more strategically. Take the branded example above — it may be depressing that the #2 organic result is pushed down so far, but ask yourself a simple question. What’s the value of ranking for “mattress firm” if you’re not Mattress Firm? Even if you’re a direct competitor, you’re flying in the face of searchers with a very clear brand intent. Your effort is better spent on product searches, consumer questions, and other searches likely to support your own brand and sales.

If you’re the 11th person in line at the grocery checkout and the line next to you has no people, do you stand around complaining about how person #2, #7, and #9 aren’t as deserving of groceries as you are? No, you change lines. If you’re being pushed too far down the results, maybe it’s time to seek out different results where your goals and searcher goals are better aligned.

Brief notes on methodology

Not to get too deep in the weeds, but a couple of notes on our methodology. These results were based on a fixed set of 10,000 keywords that we track daily as part of the MozCast research project. All of the data in this study is based on page-one, Google.com, US, desktop results. While the keywords in this data set are distributed across a wide range of topics and industries, the set skews toward more competitive “head” terms. All of the data and images in this post were captured on February 12, 2020. Ironically, this blog post is over 26,000 pixels long. If you’re still reading, thank you, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Are H1 Tags Necessary for Ranking? [SEO Experiment]

In earlier days of search marketing, SEOs often heard the same two best practices repeated so many times it became implanted in our brains:

  1. Wrap the title of your page in H1 tags
  2. Use one — and only one — H1 tag per page

These suggestions appeared in audits, SEO tools, and was the source of constant head shaking. Conversations would go like this:

“Silly CNN. The headline on that page is an H2. That’s not right!”

“Sure, but is it hurting them?”

“No idea, actually.”

Over time, SEOs started to abandon these ideas, and the strict concept of using a single H1 was replaced by “large text near the top of the page.”

Google grew better at content analysis and understanding how the pieces of the page fit together. Given how often publishers make mistakes with HTML markup, it makes sense that they would try to figure it out for themselves.

The question comes up so often, Google’s John Muller addressed it in a Webmaster Hangout:

“You can use H1 tags as often as you want on a page. There’s no limit — neither upper nor lower bound.

H1 elements are a great way to give more structure to a page so that users and search engines can understand which parts of a page are kind of under different headings, so I would use them in the proper way on a page.

And especially with HTML5, having multiple H1 elements on a page is completely normal and kind of expected. So it’s not something that you need to worry about. And some SEO tools flag this as an issue and say like ‘oh you don’t have any H1 tag’ or ‘you have two H1 tags.’ From our point of view, that’s not a critical issue. From a usability point of view, maybe it makes sense to improve that. So, it’s not that I would completely ignore those suggestions, but I wouldn’t see it as a critical issue.

Your site can do perfectly fine with no H1 tags or with five H1 tags.”

Despite these assertions from one of Google’s most trusted authorities, many SEOs remained skeptical, wanting to “trust but verify” instead.

So of course, we decided to test it… with science!

Craig Bradford of Distilled noticed that the Moz Blog — this very one — used H2s for headlines instead of H1s (a quirk of our CMS).

H2 Headerh1 SEO Test Experiment

We devised a 50/50 split test of our titles using the newly branded SearchPilot (formerly DistilledODN). Half of our blog titles would be changed to H1s, and half kept as H2. We would then measure any difference in organic traffic between the two groups.

After eight weeks, the results were in:

To the uninitiated, these charts can be a little hard to decipher. Rida Abidi of Distilled broke down the data for us like this:

Change breakdown – inconclusive

  • Predicted uplift: 6.2% (est. 6,200 monthly organic sessions)
  • We are 95% confident that the monthly increase in organic sessions is between:
    • Top: 13,800
    • Bottom: -4,100

The results of this test were inconclusive in terms of organic traffic, therefore we recommend rolling it back.

Result: Changing our H2s to H1s made no statistically significant difference

Confirming their statements, Google’s algorithms didn’t seem to care if we used H1s or H2s for our titles. Presumably, we’d see the same result if we used H3s, H4s, or no heading tags at all.

It should be noted that our titles still:

  • Used a large font
  • Sat at the top of each article
  • Were unambiguous and likely easy for Google to figure out

Does this settle the debate? Should SEOs throw caution to the wind and throw away all those H1 recommendations?

No, not completely…

Why you should still use H1s

Despite the fact that Google seems to be able to figure out the vast majority of titles one way or another, there are several good reasons to keep using H1s as an SEO best practice.

Georgy Nguyen made some excellent points in an article over at Search Engine Land, which I’ll try to summarize and add to here.

1. H1s help accessibility

Screen reading technology can use H1s to help users navigate your content, both in display and the ability to search.

2. Google may use H1s in place of title tags

In some rare instances — such as when Google can’t find or process your title tag — they may choose to extract a title from some other element of your page. Oftentimes, this can be an H1.

3. Heading use is correlated with higher rankings

Nearly every SEO correlation study we’ve ever seen has shown a small but positive correlation between higher rankings and the use of headings on a page, such as this most recent one from SEMrush, which looked at H2s and H3s.

To be clear, there’s no evidence that headings in and of themselves are a Google ranking factor. But headings, like Structured Data, can provide context and meaning to a page.

As John Mueller said on Twitter:

What’s it all mean? While it’s a good idea to keep adhering to H1 “best practices” for a number of reasons, Google will more than likely figure things out — as our experiment showed — if you fail to follow strict H1 guidelines.

Regardless, you should likely:

  1. Organize your content with hierarchical headings — ideally H1, H2s, H3s, etc.
  2. Use a large font headline at the top of your content. In other words, make it easy for Google, screen readers, and other machines or people reading your content to figure out the headline.
  3. If you have a CMS or technical limitations that prevent you from using strict H1s and SEO best practices, do your best and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Real-world SEO — for better or worse — can be messy. Fortunately, it can also be flexible.

The Influence of ABM in B2B Marketing: Top B2BMX Sessions & Speaker Insights

Influence ABM in B2B Marketing

Influence ABM in B2B Marketing
2020 marks the 8th year in a row that I’ve presented at the B2B Marketing Exchange. During that time there have been many changes: within the B2B marketing industry, the strategies and technologies driving performance and in the programming at B2B events like B2BMX.

ABM in particular has experienced a rise in the B2B marketing world and evidence of that momentum is evident in the session topics, martech vendors and attendees at this year’s B2BMX conference in Scottsdale, February 24-26.

According to research from Demand Gen Report, 50% of B2B companies have been implementing ABM programs for more than a year and that number will continue to rise. With growing popularity, increasing numbers of marketers are searching for ways to incorporate ABM into their B2B marketing mix.

Enthusiasm around ABM has reached B2BMX in the form of numerous sessions in the program dedicated to the practice. It’s easy to see why as B2BMX Content Director, Andrew Gaffney puts it:

“ABM has transformed B2B marketing at a foundational level and has helped usher in more contextual and relevant outreach across all mediums.” @agaffney

To get a handle on where ABM is going and what B2B marketers should be focusing on in 2020, I spoke with several B2BMX speakers that will be presenting on ABM and asked for their insights.

“While traditional demand generation activities continue to be the lifeblood of marketing-sourced pipeline for B2B revenue marketers, ABM is now becoming the conduit for the historically strained relationship between marketing and sales. ABM requires marketers and sales teams to work together on things like account selection, personified value propositions and success measures – ultimately uniting teams prior to GTM, reducing revenue attribution friction and creating camaraderie. When building your ABM strategy, engage your extended teams early, gain their buy-in, ideas, and suggestions and build on the qualitative gains.”
Stacy Gardner
Stacy Gardner /in/stacyrambingardner

Director of Marketing Programs, Banking Solutions at Bottomline Technologies

“One of the most significant challenges B2B marketers are facing is how to achieve any degree of scale to their ABM efforts. As sales increasingly sees the value of an account-based approach, the pressure falls on marketers to deliver on the promise of ABM but to an expanded list of accounts. In 2020, successful ABM leaders will be those that make compelling arguments internally to secure or re-allocate more resources to support the accounts that matter most.”
Bob Peterson
Bob Peterson /in/bob-peterson
Vice President, Principal Analyst, Account-Based Marketing for the SiriusDecisions at Forrester Research

“No forms, no cold calls and no spam in 2020 – As a marketer, your cold emails are probably not getting you any business but are definitely getting you unsubscribes. To break out from the noise, marketers will personalize for the account, persona and buying team, behavior and TIMING. Next year, marketers will break up with the form fill, the spam email and the cold call. Rather than bombard buyers with irrelevant emails, marketing teams will take a leap to understand what they care about. Marketing will generate bigger deals and win more often by uncovering, prioritizing and engaging in-market buyers.”
Latane Conant
Latané Conant @LataneConant
Chief Marketing Officer at 6sense

“Since 2020 marks a new decade, let’s start fresh. Many b2b marketers are hamstrung by old-style expectations of what they can do. Starting now, marketing leaders in account-centric models (i.e. everyone in b2b) must re-negotiate terms of how they’re measured. Reality in a world where more revenue comes from keeping and growing accounts you have means success based on marketing-sourced leads is largely irrelevant. Look instead at the holistic view of how marketing engages and encourages customers. Measure marketing based on engagement, revenue and retention but in context of overall customer experience, not just top of the old funnel.”
Megan Heuer
Megan Heuer @megheuer
Vice President of Marketing at Engagio

With any newish marketing discipline on the rise, it’s tempting to think of ABM as a flashy new B2B marketing strategy, but experienced marketers like Sangram Vajre, CEO at Terminus sum it up succinctly, “ABM is B2B”.

With such a broad view of ABM, it’s inevitable to see the connections between ABM and other B2B marketing disciplines that effective at creating real marketing and business impact.

One of those intersections is between ABM and influencer marketing as Nick Nelson has covered here recently:

“The intersection of ABM and influencer marketing represents one of the most promising frontiers for B2B marketing, especially when it comes to the pursuit of enterprise customers. Not only do influencer partnerships help you break through and gain visibility with busy decision makers at these coveted accounts, but also drive engagement and persuasively move the needle.”

In my own journey to understand the opportunities with ABM, I’ve learned that within ABM, the focus on influencers has to do with individuals that influence within buying committees. But what about the source of influence for those buying committee influencers? The role of influence is certainly not limited to those within the target account.

The question I’ll be posing in my B2BMX presentation, is why limit our focus on influencers to those within the target account?

Who is influencing the influencers and how can we activate them to improve our B2B marketing?

Understanding the sources of influence for individuals within a target account can provide essential insights into the signals, targeting and content activations that can make ABM work even better.

B2BMX Optimize ABM with Influence
In my presentation, How to Optimize ABM Results with Influencer Marketing, I’ll be digging in to how B2B marketers can identify those influencers, how to map topics of influence to content activations with influencers and examples of how ongoing influencer engagement can create brand awareness, advocacy and influence within accounts.

If you’re attending B2BMX this week, you may see my TopRank Marketing associates Susan Misukanis and Joshua Nite attending sessions and interviewing key B2B marketing influencers.

Here are a few sessions on ABM and in other areas that our team is looking forward to:

Monday Case Studies – 2:20PM
Dell Technologies And Innovative Conversion Strategies That Create Pipeline
Anamaria Alba, Dell Technologies
Ed Grossman, Activate

Monday Case Studies – 3:10PM
From ABM Zero To Revenue Hero In Less Than A Year: How One Marketer Won Over Sales & Delivered Success — Fast
Katie Findling, Smarsh
Brian Panicko, Smarsh
Megan Heuer, Engagio

Monday 4:05PM Keynote
Getting The Green Light: How To Build Messages People Say YES To
Tamsen Webster, Find The Red Thread

Monday 5:30PM
Killer Content Awards Ceremony
TopRank Marketing is proud to share two of our clients are KCA finalists!
Dell Outlet Small Business and Alcatel Lucent Enterprise

Tuesday 10:45AM
ABM And Demand Generation: Taking A Blended Approach
Robert Peterson, SiriusDecisions

Tuesday LUNCH & LEARN: 12:20PM
Experiences Everywhere: How To Create Marketing Your Audience Demands
Mark Bornstein, ON24

Tuesday 4:30PM
Move Over Mediocre! The B2B Marketer’s Journey To Experiential Content
Ryan Brown, Ceros
Darius Eslami, Carbon Black
Paige Gildner, Bluecore
Sharon Shapiro, Bluecore

Wednesday 10:40AM
How To Optimize ABM Results With Influencer Marketing
Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing

Wednesday 11:20AM
PANEL: Orchestrating ABM With Channel Partners
Latane Conant, 6Sense
Rauli Garcia, Sage Intacct
Kerry Desberg, Impartner
Jessica Garrett, KORE Wireless (former)

Wednesday 2:15PM
ABM, DemandGen, Hybrid: Best-Practice Tips & Tricks To Improve Conversion
Jon Russo, B2B Fusion
Tim White, People.ai
Corey Livingston, OneNeck IT Solutions
Neenu Sharma, GE Digital
Stacy Gardner, Bottomline Technologies

Wednesday 3:30PM
The B2B Marketing Team of Tomorrow: The Top Skills & Talents Shaping Success For The New Decade
Wes Lieser, Versique
Rose Spicer, Oracle
Michelle Liro, PTC
Nirosha Methananda, Bombora

Be sure to follow our liveblogging of B2BMX here on TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog as well as our social shares on Twitter from @nitewrites, @smisukanis, @leeodden and @toprank.

To learn more about the intersection of ABM and Influencer Marketing, you can get more details on my session here:

How to Optimize ABM Results with Influencer Marketing
Wednesday, February 26th at 10:40AM
Demand Gen Summit Track – Arizona 5
Focusing on accounts with the biggest revenue potential requires every competitive advantage. But ABM alone is not enough to break through to distracted and distrustful decision makers. To connect with accounts more effectively, B2B marketers are increasingly adopting influencer marketing to build trust, reach and engagement.

This presentation with Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing will share how B2B marketers can identify the influencers that resonate most with target account contacts as well as create greater influence amongst client facing contacts. In this session you will learn:

* How an ABM and influencer marketing integration model inspires strategy
* How to determine what topics and content resonate with your target accounts
* How to identify who is influential to the people within your targeted accounts
* How to grow influence for sales and the brand

We hope to see you there!

The post The Influence of ABM in B2B Marketing: Top B2BMX Sessions & Speaker Insights appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog