Why SEO & Influence are Critical to Pandemic Era Content Marketing

Pandemic Marketing SEO Influence

Pandemic Marketing SEO Influence
On this Memorial Day of 2020, it is important we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country – not only in the military, but those on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to first responders, law enforcement, healthcare workers and all that support them!

The health and economic crisis we are all facing now compounds the many other uncertainties of our time including trust and expectations in the brands we buy from. The COVID-19 pandemic and our society’s reaction to it have changed the reality we have lived with into something different and very digital.

The why of business matters. For those of us in marketing, we have an obligation to seek answers about how social changes, culture, the economy, politics and consumer behaviors will change how business is done. As we peel back the onion for answers, it means revisiting the why of our business, the value of our customers and employees.

Pivot one way or another. Many companies have pivoted their business models and others have adapted their solutions to be more relevant to the time. In most cases, messaging and marketing tactics have changed and along with that goals and how to measure them have changed.

Sales expectations have not gone away. While there has generally been a shift from explicit sales/push marketing content to messaging that is more aligned with the times in terms of being more empathetic to customers, purpose oriented and branding focused, sales expectations still exist. Sales still need to be made and the work still needs to be done – just differently.

Will your brand be the best answer tomorrow? Not only do companies need to mitigate sales losses because of “these uncertain times” but it will be a land grab to be the most relevant for customers when purchasing behavior starts to ramp up again. Because of that, branding goals measured by share of voice for social, share of search and earned media are just as important now as measuring for leads and sales.

SEO more timely than ever. To reach those sales goals but without being “salesly” and tone deaf, there have been many changes in how marketers reach their customers and one in particular has been a shift towards organic search. In fact, 63% of marketers say SEO will be most important marketing tactic during the pandemic according to research from Conductor, as a way to hit lead and sales numbers.

Understanding that B2B buyers already prefer to pull themselves through most of the sales experience with their own research and content, B2B marketers are increasingly emphasizing SEO for the current time when field marketing, events and experiential marketing are no longer an option.

Buyers are in search of B2B technology. More specific to our industry of focus, G2 Crowd has reported B2B tech categories having 200-600% increase in organic search traffic during the pandemic. All capable marketers are closely monitoring changes in organic search traffic and ramping up to meet the increased demand.

Findability meets credibility in crisis marketing.  Customers are as skeptical of brand marketing as ever and are tiring of the “in these uncertain times, we’re here for you” ads and messaging. Bypassing that with search works well for customers but content with 3rd party experts works even better.

Are you optimizing for trust? Demand Gen Report’s study on content preferences showed that 95% of B2B buyers prefer content featuring industry experts. Marketing during a crisis that emphasizes SEO to help buyers pull themselves to brand content that ALSO includes credibility inspiring content from industry experts is what can really create trust and the confidence for buyers to make the connection.

During uncertain times, one thing is true in marketing. There is a lot of uncertainty right now but there is also the truth about what your customers need and the value your brand can deliver to them. Creating useful information, aka content marketing, is more than important than ever, especially in more engaging formats like video, podcasts, interactive and livestreaming.

ABO – Always Be Optimizing. Marketing is about optimizing for improved performance and the role that organic search plays in pulling customers to your brands solutions at the very moment of need is clear. Including trusted industry experts that have the attention and confidence of your customers is even clearer. Here are 5 steps on how to get started.

When it comes to learning more about the intersection of SEO, influence and content marketing, this blog is a useful resource. We have 469 posts about SEO, 159 posts on influencer marketing and over 800 posts on content marketing. Of course if you have unique questions, we are happy to hear and answer them at TopRank Marketing.


Source: SEO blog

Three Steps to a Better-Performing About Page

Somehow, many businesses I’ve come across online have one glaring problem in common: a very weak and unconvincing About Us page.

This doesn’t make any sense in my mind, as the About page is one of the most important brand assets, and unlike link building and social media marketing, it doesn’t require any ongoing effort or investment.

An About page is often part of a buying journey. It can drive people to your site and help convince them to deal with you. And, in these uncertain times, you can use it to help build trust in you and your business.

Creating a solid About page is a one-time task, but it will boost both brand loyalty and conversions for many months to come.

Why is your About page so important?

It is often an entry page

Whether you’re a business owner or blogger, your About page tends to rank incredibly well for brand-driven search queries (those that contain your name or your brand name). If nothing else, it shows up in your sitelinks:

Or your mini-sitelinks:

This means your customers will often enter your site through your About page. Is it making a good first impression to convince them to browse your site further (or engage)?

Let’s not forget that branded queries have high intent, because people typing your brand name in the search box already know you or have heard about your products. Failing to meet their needs equals a missed opportunity.

It is often a conversion trigger (and more)

How often have you checked a business’s About page before buying anything from them? I always do, especially if it’s a new brand I haven’t heard of before.

Or maybe it’s not even about buying.

Anytime someone approaches me with a quote or an interview request, I always check their About page. I refuse to deal with bloggers who don’t take themselves seriously.

Likewise, I often look to the About page when trying to find a press contact to feature a tool in my article.

On a personal level, I always open an About page to find a brand’s social media profiles when I want to follow them.

A lack of a detailed, well-structured About page often means leaked conversions as well as missed backlinks or follows.

It is an important entity optimization asset

We don’t know exactly how Google decides whether a site can be considered a brand, but we have well-educated theories so we can help Google in making this decision. The About page is a perfect entity optimization asset.

First, what we know: An About page is mentioned in Google’s human rating guidelines as one of the ways to determine the “expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness”, or E-A-T, of any page.

Human raters don’t have a direct impact on search results, but their assessments are used to teach Google’s algorithm to better rank pages. So if the About page comes up in their guidelines, it’s likely they use it as a ranking signal.

Second, Google is using information you choose to put on your About page to put your business inside their knowledge base, so it’s important to include as much detail as you can.

With all of this in mind, how should you put together a great About page?

1. Start strong

This step is not unique to this particular page, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

Treat your About page as a business card: People should be willing to learn more as soon as they see it. Your page should be eye-catching and memorable, and grab attention at first sight without the need to scroll down.

For example, Cisco starts with a powerful picture and message:

Nextiva starts with their main tagline:

Slack tells us exactly what they are doing and sums up its most impressive stats:

Telling your brand’s story is a great way to make your About page more memorable and relatable. Terminus does a very good job at starting their page with some history about the company that leaves you wanting to know more:

And Zoom starts with a video and a list of the company’s values:

Starting your page with a quick, attention-grabbing video is probably the best idea because video has been proven to convince visitors to linger a little bit longer and start engaging with the page.

You can create a short and professional video within minutes using web-based video editors like InVideo (in fact, InVideo is probably the most affordable solution I’m aware of).

To create a video intro using InVideo:

  • Pick a template
  • Upload your images and videos (or use the ones inside the platform)
  • Edit subtitles to tell your brand’s story
  • Add music or a voiceover

It’ll take you just 30 minutes to create a captivating video to put on your landing page:

2. Link your brand to other entities

With all that Google-fueled nonsense going around about nofollowing external links, or even linking out in general, marketers and bloggers tend to forget about one important thing: A link is the only way for Google to crawl the web.

More than that, Google needs links to:

  • Understand how well-cited (and hence authoritative) any page is
  • Create a map of sites, entities behind them, and concepts they represent

This is where linking out to other “entities” (e.g. brands, organizations, places, etc.) is so important: it helps Google identify your place within their own knowledge base.

To give you some ideas, make sure to link to:

  • Your company’s professional awards
  • Your featured mentions
  • Conferences you were/are speaking at

For personal blogs, feel free to include references to your education, past companies you worked for, etc.

To give you a quick example of how useful this may turn out to be, here’s my own Google Knowledge Graph:



How did I get it?

To start, “Shorty Awards” is Google’s recognized entity. When I was nominated, I linked to that announcement from my blog, so Google connected me to the entity and generated a branded Knowledge Graph.

This nomination is hardly my only — or even most notable — accomplishment, but that’s all Google needed to put me on the map.

Google may know you exist, but without making a connection to a known entity, you can’t become one yourself. So start by making those associations using your About page.

To help Google even more, use semantic analysis to create copy containing related concepts and entities:

  • Register at Text Optimizer and type in your core keyword (something that describes your business model/niche in the best possible way)
  • Choose Google and then “New Text”

Text Optimizer will run your query in Google, grab search snippets, and apply semantic analysis to generate the list of related concepts and entities you should try and include in your content. This will make it easier for Google to understand what your business is about and what kinds of associations it should be building:

Using some structured markup is also a good idea to help Google connect all the dots. You can point Google to your organization’s details (date it was founded, founder’s name, type of company, etc.) as well as some more details including official social media channels, awards, associated books, and more.

Here are a few useful Schema generators to create your code:

For WordPress users, here are a few plugins to help with Schema integration.

3. Include your CTA

Most About pages I’ve had to deal with so far have one issue in common: It’s unclear what users are supposed to do once they land there.

Given the page role in the buying journey (customers may be entering your site through it or using it as a final research touchpoint), it is very important to help them proceed down your conversion channel.

Depending on the nature of your business, include a CTA to:

  • Request a personal demo
  • Contact you
  • Check out your catalogue
  • Talk to your chatbot
  • Opt-in to receive your downloadable brochure or newsletter

Apart from your CTAs, there are helpful ways to make your About page easier to navigate from. These include:

Whatever you do, start treating your About page as a commercial landing page, not just a resource for information about your business. Turn it into a conversion funnel, and this includes monitoring that funnel.

On WordPress, you can set up each link or button on your About page as an event to track using Finteza’s plugin. This way, you’ll be able to tell which of those CTAs bring in more customers and which are leaking conversions.

Finteza allows you to keep a close eye on your conversion funnel and analyze its performance based on traffic source, user location, and more.

For example, here’s us tracking all kinds of “Free Download” buttons. It’s obvious that the home page has many more entries, but the About page seems to do a better job at getting its visitors to convert:

[I am using arrows to show “leaked” clicks. The home page us obviously losing more clicks than the “About” page]

You can absolutely use Google Analytics to analyze your conversion funnel and user journeys once they land on your About page, but it will require some setup. For help, read about Google Analytics Attribution and Google Analytics Custom Dimensions — both resources are helpful in uncovering more insights with Google Analytics, beyond what you would normally monitor.

Like any other top- and middle-of-the-funnel pages, you’re welcome to reinforce your CTA by using social proof (recent reviews, testimonials, featured case studies, etc.). Here are a few ideas for placing testimonials.

Takeaways

Creating and optimizing your About page is a fairly low-effort initiative, especially if you compare it with other marketing tasks. Yet it can bring about several positive changes, like more trust in your brand and better conversion rates.

You should treat this page as a business card: It needs to create a very good impression in an instant. Put something attention-grabbing and engaging in the above-the-fold area — for example, a quick video intro, a tagline, or a photo.

Consider using links, semantic analysis, and structured markups to help Google associate your brand with other niche entities, and put it into its knowledge base.

Add CTAs (and experiment with different kinds of CTAs) to prompt your page visitors to follow your conversion funnel. An About page is often an underestimated, yet a very important part of your customers’ buying journeys, so make sure it’s clear where you want them to proceed.

Thanks for reading, hope it was helpful, let me know your thoughts/questions in the comments. Let’s discuss!