Why Content Marketing is More Important Than Ever for B2B Brands

B2B Marketing Content

B2B Marketing Content

In his recently published eBook, Corona Marketing, Joe Pulizzi recounts how he and his wife launched the website Content Marketing Institute in 2007 at the exact time as a devastating financial crisis was beginning to unfold in the United States. 

“At the time, we believed things couldn’t have been bleaker,” Pulizzi writes. “Looking back though, this was absolutely the best time for my wife and I to start a business.”

Why is that? Because their commitment to providing useful, helpful and relevant content – even at a time where it was difficult to drive direct revenue with that content – paid major dividends as the market recovered. 

“When we were starting to come out of the recession in 2010, Content Marketing Institute quickly became the leading resource for content marketing education, not because we had some secret sauce, but simply because we invested in our audience for two years when everyone else went silent (or went out of business).”

Even when times are difficult, professional audiences still look to people and brands they trust for guidance, information, and entertainment; in fact, one might argue especially when times are difficult. And as we’re said on this blog before, that continued search for solutions means the work of marketing doesn’t stop

The challenges our world now faces with the coronavirus pandemic and social justice movement create a unique opportunity for B2B content marketing to make an impact, even relative to other recessions and crises we’ve faced in the past. Here’s why.

The Vital Role of B2B Content Marketing Right Now

In an increasingly customer-centric business sphere, content marketing has become a virtually omnipresent tactic for two primary reasons:

  1. It’s cost-effective at a time where budgets and ROI equations everywhere are closely reviewed and scrutinized.
  2. It’s non-pushy at a time where customers are increasingly resistant to interruptive, promotional messaging.

Both of these underlying drivers are magnified in the current environment. Budgets are broadly down – both for marketers and their customers – so business purchases (particularly discretionary ones) are being delayed and dialed back. As such, ads and content that aim for direct conversions can miss the mark. In fact, the perception that a brand is attempting to opportunistically profit during a crisis can be outright damaging.

But content that is aimed at building brand trust, affinity and loyalty? It has the ability to make a bigger positive impact than ever. This is NOT the time to remain silent. As Sarah Tourville writes in a recent piece at Forbes, “Silence does not convey the look of a healthy brand, and perception is paramount during these trying times.”

By stepping up and asserting our values, reinforcing our purpose, and delivering contextually useful insights, B2B companies can leave a lasting impression that profoundly strengthens our long-term outlooks.

Your audience is receptive. Digital content consumption and engagement rates are way up. Are you ready to deliver? 

Here are three examples of B2B brands that have impressed me with the way they’ve risen to the challenge.

3 Examples of Exceptional B2B Content Marketing During the Crisis

Content Marketing Institute: COVID-19 Resource Hub

CMI Covid 19
Since we mentioned Mr. Pulizzi and CMI earlier, they’re a fitting example to start with. The
COVID-19 Content Marketing Resources page on CMI’s site is full of free, neatly organized, and continually updated resources for brands and practitioners. 

Not only does CMI’s staff curate these articles and assets on their own, but they invite their community to contribute findings as well – while being crystal clear on the submission form about the purpose of these resources: “educational, inspirational, and freely accessible for all.”

American Express: Stand for Small

AMEX Stand for Small
Stand for Small is another example of an excellent resource hub directed at a distinct subset of professionals. In this case, American Express partnered with numerous other organizations to compile helpful information and guidance for small businesses, which are feeling the brunt of COVID-19 and its economic impact as much as anyone. American Express’ branding is minimal throughout the site. With tons of other big-name brands participating, this is an impressively collaborative effort. 

Stand for Small’s homepage states that “when small businesses thrive, our communities do too.” Unstated is that when small businesses thrive, American Express does too. But there’s nothing cynical about that because both things can be true. When content is able to find purpose in something that’s beneficial for your company AND beneficial for society in a deeper way, you’re doing it right.

Citigroup: Executive Thought Leadership

Citigroup I Can't Breathe
While there is a time and place for brands to speak as entities, it’s usually more powerful for leaders within the company to speak up, putting a human face and heart behind the sentiments. One example is a
post on Citigroup’s blog from Chief Financial Officer Mark Mason, which opens with a haunting reference to George Floyd’s last words, and closes with an urge for others to join the fight against racial injustice.

This was a hard-hitting message, and one that will stick with me when I think about Citi’s brand in the future. Importantly, the comments section was left open on the post, enabling (mostly respectful and grateful) dialogue. 

Even more so than pandemic-related topics, this represents precarious ground for B2B brands, with political activism being a controversial subject. But there’s the thing: Mark’s post isn’t political. There’s nothing inherently political about condemning George Floyd’s murder, or calling attention to the systemic issue it reflects, or saying “Black Lives Matter.”

The more we can normalize these messages through corporate-backed statements like this one, the more we can stop acting like advocating for social justice is political, or hazardous for brands with prominent voices and an ability to effect change. 

Invest in Your Audience

In many ways, content marketing was built for moments like this. It’s about developing relationships without treating the sale as a be-all, end-all. It’s about establishing what your brand stands for beyond the products or services it offers. It’s about investing in your audience rather than simply expecting your audience to invest in you.

I’ll close this out by circling back to another quote from Mr. Pulizzi, this one a bit older – drawn from an interview he did with our own Ashley Zeckman five years ago – but as relevant as ever: 

“I don’t like the idea that marketers only sell and don’t make positive change happen.  That’s why I love content marketing. You can increase the bottom line while, at the same time, help your customers live better lives or get better jobs. Content marketing is the only kind of marketing that provides ongoing value, whether you purchase the product or not.” 

Provide ongoing value, prop up your brand values, and eventually you’ll see plenty of value in return. For more inspiration, check out these five examples of effective B2B content marketing in times of crisis.

The post Why Content Marketing is More Important Than Ever for B2B Brands appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Thinking Beyond the Link Building “Campaign” [Case Study]

Over the years, I’ve often referred to our link building work as “campaigns”, which isn’t wrong, but isn’t completely right, either. I think that as an industry we need to alter our mindset to focus on what link building should be: an ongoing, integrated, business-as-usual activity.

Link building processes that work for brands now and that will continue to work in the future need to sit closer to the rest of the business. This means tighter integration with other disciplines, or at the very least, acknowledgment that link building isn’t a siloed activity or dark art like it used to be.

In this post, I’d like to propose how we should think about link building and share some ways to make it more sustainable, efficient, and effective.

The problem with campaigns

I want to start by being super clear on something, and I make no apologies for reiterating this throughout this post: Link building campaigns aren’t a bad thing. My core point is that they should be thought of as one piece of the puzzle — not something we should focus all of our time and attention on.

“Campaign”, in the context of link building or digital PR, implies a few things:

  • It has a start and an end point
  • It is a one-off activity
  • It is about a specific “thing”, whether that be a topic, product, or piece of content

There is nothing wrong with these as such, but link building shouldn’t be thought about only in these ways. If link building is seen as a series of one-off activities, or about a specific thing and with a start and end point, it’s never going to be integrated into a business the way it should be. It will always sit around the edges of marketing activity and not benefit the bottom line as much as it could.

Even if you are reading this thinking that you’re okay because you have lots of campaigns lined up — maybe one a week, one a month, or one a quarter — the core problems still exist, but at a more zoomed-out level.

As digital marketers, we want link building to be:

  • Taken seriously as a tactic which helps support SEO within a business
  • Integrated with other areas to allow for efficiency and wider benefits
  • Fit into the overarching digital strategy of a business
  • Have measurable, consistent results

Let me demonstrate the final point with the graph below, which is the monthly performance of an Aira client on a 6-8 week campaign schedule:

On the face of it, this looks pretty good. We built over 200 links in 12 months, and were ahead of target in terms of individual campaign objectives.

This graph is the reality of link building campaign execution. We were honest and up-front with clients about the results, and those peaks and dips are perfectly normal.

But it could (and should) be a lot better.

Let’s take a quick step back.

An uncomfortable truth

The uncomfortable truth for many link builders is that a business shouldn’t really need to worry about link building as an intentional, proactive activity. Instead, links should be a natural consequence of a fantastic product or service which is marketed and branded well.

However, companies in this position are the exception rather than the rule, which means that as link builders, we still have a job!

I’d argue that there are only a relatively small number of businesses that truly don’t need to worry about link building. Think of the likes of well-established and popular brands like Apple, McDonalds, Amazon and Coca-Cola. These companies truly are the exception, rather than the rule.

Trying to be an exception and aiming to reach the nirvana of never actively worrying about link building should absolutely be your goal. Putting efforts into areas such as product development, customer service, content strategy, and brand building will all pay dividends when it comes to link building. But they all take time and you need to generate organic traffic sooner rather than later in order to grow the business.

Link building, as part of your larger integrated and robust digital strategy can get you there quicker. I worry that businesses often leave money on the table by waiting for that nirvana to come. They may indeed get there, but could they have gotten there sooner?

The question then becomes, how do they move quicker toward that ideal state, and what does link building look like in the interim? Running campaigns can help for sure, but you’re not really building upward as quickly as you could be.

This is the crux of my worry and problem with running link building campaigns and allowing our strategies to lean on them too heavily:

When the campaigns stop, so will the links.

I know, I know — Aira launches campaigns all the time.

Yes, we have launched many, many link building campaigns at Aira over the years and have been nominated for campaign-specific awards for some of them. I’ve even written about them many times. Campaign-led link building has a very valuable part to play in the world of link building, but we need to reframe our thinking and move away from campaigns as the primary way to generate links to a business.

Driving the right behaviors

It’s not just about results. It’s about driving the right behaviors within businesses, too.

Putting link building in the corner of a one-off project or campaign-led activity is not going to encourage habitual link building. It will drive behaviors and thinking which you don’t really want, such as:

  • Link building is a line item which can be switched on and off
  • Internal processes have to bend or break in order to accommodate link building
  • There is little desire or motivation for wider team members to learn about what link builders do
  • Link building is an isolated activity with no integration
  • Link building results aren’t consistent (you get those huge peaks and dips in performance, which can bring into question the marketing spend you’re being given)

Working under these pressures is not going to make your life easy, nor are you going to do the best job you possibly can.

I worry that as an industry, we’ve become too focused on launching campaign after campaign and have gotten too far away from effecting change within organizations through our work.

As digital marketers, we are trying to influence behaviors. Ultimately, it’s about the behaviors of customers, but before that point it’s about influencing stakeholders — whether you’re an agency or in-house SEO, our first job is to get things done. In order to do that, link building needs to be thought of as a business-as-usual (BAU) activity. Campaigns have a place, but are part of a much, much bigger picture. Link building needs to get to the point where it’s not “special” to build links to a content piece, it’s just done. If we can get there, not only will we accelerate the businesses we work with toward link building nirvana, but we will add much, much more value to them in the meantime.

Link building as a BAU activity

It is my firm belief that in order to mature as an industry, and specifically as an activity, link building needs to be understood much more than it currently is. It still suffers from the issues that plagued SEO for many years in the early days when it truly was a dark art and we were figuring it out as we went along.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve come a long way, especially since April 2012 (can you really believe it was over eight years ago?!) when link building began evolving into a content-led practice thanks in part to the Penguin update.

But we still have further to go.

We need to get out of the corner of “launching a campaign” and train our bosses and clients to ask questions like, “How can link building help here?” and “Is there a link building opportunity in this activity?”.

A case study

The best way I can explain this shift in thinking is to give you a real example of how we’ve done it at Aira. I can’t give you the exact client, but I can give you an overview of the journey we’ve been on with them, supporting an SEO team that is relentlessly committed to getting things done — the perfect partners for such an initiative.

I should also point out that this has never been easy. We are on this journey with a number of our clients, and some of them are barely into it. The examples here show what happens when you get it right — but it does take time, and the reality is that it may never happen for some businesses.

Where it started

One campaign. That was it. One shot to get links and show the client what we could do.

We failed.

This was back in 2016. We were lucky in that the client trusted the process and understood why things had gone wrong on this occasion. So, they gave us another chance and this time did a great job.

From there, the project grew and grew to the point where we were launching scaled campaigns like clockwork and getting links consistently. All was well.

Then I was asked a question by someone on the client’s team:

“What’s the evolution of our link building?”

Whilst link building is never far from my mind, I didn’t have a mental model to answer this straight away with any conviction — particularly given what I knew about this client and their industry. I took some time to think about it and consolidate a bunch of observations and opinions I’d actually had for years, but never really made concrete.

Side note: It’s often hard to take a step back from the day-to-day of what you’re doing and think about the bigger picture or the future. It’s even more difficult when you’re growing a business and generally doing good work. It can be hard to justify “rocking the boat” when things are going well, but I’ve learned that you need to find time for this reflection. For me at that point in time, it took a direct question from my client to force me into that mindset.

My answer

I confirmed that our existing model of link building for them was something that was likely to continue working and adding value, but that it should NOT be our sole focus in the coming years.

Then, I explained what I’ve talked about in this post thus far.

I told them that our work wasn’t good enough, despite them being one of our happiest, most long-standing clients. We were getting hundreds of links a month, but we could do better.

Running campaign after campaign and getting links to each one would not be good enough in the future. Sure it works now, but what about in two years? Five?? Probably only partly.

We knew we needed to bridge the gap between different content types:

  • Content for links (aka campaigns)
  • Content for traffic (informational and transactional pages)
  • Content for building expertise and trust

We’d only been focusing on the first one, pretty much in isolation. We’d come up with some relevant topic ideas, build them out and get links. Job done.

This wouldn’t be good enough a few years down the road, because link building would be taking place in a small pocket of a very large organization with limited integration.

It’s now been over a year since that conversation and guess what? Our campaigns are still working great, but we are evolving to do so much more.

What happened

If you haven’t taken a look at what else your business is doing and where link building can add value, this is the first step towards better integration, and thus better link building. By the time the conversation above happened, we’d already recognized the need to integrate with other teams within the client’s organization, so we had a head start.

With the help of the client’s SEO team, we started to discover other activities within the organization which we could add value to or leverage for greater wins:

  • The traditional marketing team had been running campaigns for years on different industry topics. Some of these crossed over with the topics we’d created content for.
  • The internal PR team had lots of activity going on and had often seen our coverage pop up on their trackers. As it turned out, they were just as keen to meet us and understand more about our processes.
  • The brand team was starting to review all on-site assets to ensure conformity to brand guidelines. Working with them was going to be important moving forward for consistency’s sake.
  • With our help, the client were building out more informational content related to their products, with us helping brief their internal copywriters.

All of these opportunities sowed the seeds for a new focus on the evolution of link building, and pushed us to move quicker into a few things including:

  • Running joint projects with the internal PR team where we collaborate on ideas and outreach that don’t just focus on data visualization
  • Running ideation sessions around topics given to us by the SEO team, which are also focused on by their traditional marketing team
  • Building relationships with several subject matter experts within the organization who we are now working with and promoting online (more on this below)
  • Testing the informational product content for link building after noticing that a few pieces naturally attracted links
  • Working alongside the PR team to carry out brand-reclamation-style link building

Where we are now

Just one year from that open and honest conversation, we have been able to show our value beyond launching campaign after campaign whilst still building links to the client’s content. This will hold value for years to come and mean that their reliance on campaigns will be reduced more and more over time.

We’re making good progress toward taking our reliance off campaigns and making it part of our strategy — not all of it. Yes, campaigns still drive the majority of links, but our strategy now includes some key changes:

  • All campaigns (with the odd exception) are evergreen in nature, can always be outreached, and have the ability to attract links on their own.
  • We are launching long-form, report-style content pieces that demonstrate the authority and expertise the client has in their industry, and then building links to them. (They’re far slower in terms of getting links, but they are doing well.)
  • We are raising the profile of key spokespeople within the business by connecting them with writers and journalists who can contact them directly for quotes and comments in the future.
  • We are doing prospecting and outreach for informational content, aiming to give them a nudge in rankings which will lead to more links in the future (that we didn’t have to ask for).

Link building isn’t quite a BAU activity just yet for this client, but it’s not far off from becoming one. The practice is taken seriously, not just within the SEO team, but also within the wider marketing team. There is more awareness than there has ever been.

Content strategy framework

I want to share the framework which we’ve used to support and visualize the shift away from campaigns as our sole link building strategy.

We’ve been aware for a while that we need to ensure any link building work we do is topically relevant. We’d found ourselves defaulting to content which was campaign-led and focused on links, as opposed to content that can serve other purposes.

Link builders need to take a long, hard look at the topics we want our clients and businesses to be famous for, credible to talk about, and that resonate with their audience. Once you have these topics, you can start to plan your content execution. After that, you’ll start to see where link building fits in.

Contrast this with the approach of “we need links, let’s come up with some relevant content ideas to help do that.” This can work, but isn’t as effective.

To help clients shift their strategies, we put together the framework below. Here’s how it works:

Let’s imagine we sell products that help customers sleep better. We may come up with the following themes and topics:



Notice that “Campaigns” is only one format. We’re also acknowledging that topics and themes can not only lead to other forms of content (and links), but also that our KPIs may not always be just links.

If we put together a long-form content guide on the science of sleep, it may not get on the front page of the New York Times, but it may get a slow, steady stream of links and organic search traffic. This traffic could include potential customers for a sleep product.

Once you have a specific topic in mind, you can go deeper into that topic and start thinking about what content pieces you can create to truly demonstrate expertise and authority. This will differ by client and by topic, but it could look something like this:

In this case, the blue circles denote a topic + format which may be link-worthy. While the orange ones denote a valuable execution that aren’t as link-worthy, we may still want to create this content for longer-term link and traffic generation.

To wrap up

Link building campaigns still have huge amounts of value. But if that’s all you’re doing for clients, you’re leaving opportunities behind. Think bigger and beyond campaigns to see what else can be done to move you and your business closer to link building nirvana.

Three B2B Marketing Tactics That Will Outlast the COVID19 Pandemic

B2B Marketing Pandemic

B2B Marketing Pandemic

Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the B2B world with companies generally reducing marketing budgets. At the same time, many B2B companies are maintaining or increasing marketing spend as we’ve seen with most of our clients at TopRank Marketing.

While there has generally been a shift from explicit sales/push marketing content to brand messaging that is more aligned with the times and empathetic to customers, sales expectations still exist for B2B brands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The challenge many B2B marketers are facing is to understand how to navigate both the short term changes in what works for customers in the current environment as as well as in the long term, post-crisis.

According to research from McKinsey, one of the biggest changes that has happened is the boost in importance of B2B digital over traditional means of engaging customers – 200% more than before COVID-19. This move to digital means higher expectations by B2B customers of self service as well as B2B ecommerce experiences. With those changes in expectations come changes in marketing, short and long term.

Not only do B2B companies need to mitigate sales losses because of the uncertainty during the pandemic but those who want to continue being the best solution and top of mind for customers when purchasing behavior comes back need to look at what pandemic-era tactics will stick after the crisis has subsided.

For a great overview of how to measure marketing goals in a crisis, be sure to check out Birdie’s post here. 

How buyers feel about B2B brands short and long term will directly contribute to which brands are the most relevant as budgets open up and business solutions investments experience substantial growth. Some of the long term metrics include branding goals measured by share of voice for social, share of search and earned media.

So, can B2B marketers do to optimize and measure their pandemic era marketing?

Content is the kingdom. Providing customers with information and resources for surviving and thriving during the pandemic that are useful from the customer’s perspective is a good starting point. Demonstrating how the B2B brand’s solution provides value in the current environment is also essential for creating relevance and utility with customers. Of course, useful information isn’t all there is. The shift towards digital, B2B brands need to make sure the digital experiences they provide are 100%: Information is easy to find, the inquiry or ordering process is easy and fast, there are zero glitches in using online systems.

Search is even more relevant. As mentioned in the research from McKinsey, self service is an increasing expectations amongst B2B buyers. One way buyers are performing self serve marketing  is through the use of search engines.

An emphasis on search also helps B2B brands reach sales goals without being “salesly”.  This trend has been picked up on by savvy B2B marketers with 63% of marketers saying it will be most important during the pandemic according to a survey by Conductor. This confidence is also exemplified from data reported by G2 Crowd showing B2B tech categories having a 200-600% increase in organic search traffic during the pandemic.

Of course to make search work, B2B brands need content and SEO best practices in place to ensure optimized visibility for what customers are looking for. We’ve seen many B2B brands emphasize SEO during the pandemic which enables buyers who are no longer attending trade shows and engaging in experiential or field marketing activities to use search engines for finding useful information and solutions on their own terms.

Findability works best with credibility.  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. While bypassing that with search engine optimization and advertising works well for connecting with customers, optimized content that has added 3rd party credibility can work even better.

In our own research in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 77% of B2B marketers say their prospects rely on influencers for information. Confidence in influencer marketing is on the rise for B2B marketers. 63% of survey respondents believe they would have better marketing results with an influencer marketing program.

So, crisis era marketing 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. This is why SEO and influence are essential partners for any B2B marketing effort during and after the pandemic.

Measuring the impact of B2B content marketing that is optimized and influencer activated means understanding the search phrases and topics of influence that are most relevant for customers and then tracking the brand’s relevance, engagement and conversion for those topics.

For  search marketing, key measures include:

  • Topic visibility reporting & share of search for those topics
  • Referred traffic to content optimized for the target topics
  • Conversions from target topic content

Influencer marketing, metrics to track include:

  • Share of voice on topics of include
  • Growth of brand affinity with influencers
  • Reach of topic content amongst influencer networks
  • Engagement and conversion performance of topic content shared by influencers
  • Growth in affinity of topics and brand in social
  • Growth of organic brand advocacy by influencers and their networks

Uncertainty is a dangerous state for businesses and making no decision is often worse than making the wrong decision or failing fast. Understanding the shifts in buyer behavior can help B2B brands gain confidence in the role content marketing will play in the short and long term. Relevant content that is both findable for increasingly self-serve buyers and credible through industry expert contributions can give the competitive advantage needed to perform both short term and post-pandemic.

The post Three B2B Marketing Tactics That Will Outlast the COVID19 Pandemic appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Three B2B Marketing Tactics That Will Outlast the COVID19 Pandemic

B2B Marketing Pandemic

Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the B2B world with companies generally reducing marketing budgets. At the same time, many B2B companies are maintaining or increasing marketing spend as we’ve seen with most of our clients at TopRank Marketing.

While there has generally been a shift from explicit sales/push marketing content to brand messaging that is more aligned with the times and empathetic to customers, sales expectations still exist for B2B brands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The challenge many B2B marketers are facing is to understand how to navigate both the short term changes in what works for customers in the current environment as as well as in the long term, post-crisis.

According to research from McKinsey, one of the biggest changes that has happened is the boost in importance of B2B digital over traditional means of engaging customers – 200% more than before COVID-19. This move to digital means higher expectations by B2B customers of self service as well as B2B ecommerce experiences. With those changes in expectations come changes in marketing, short and long term.

Not only do B2B companies need to mitigate sales losses because of the uncertainty during the pandemic but those who want to continue being the best solution and top of mind for customers when purchasing behavior comes back need to look at what pandemic-era tactics will stick after the crisis has subsided.

For a great overview of how to measure marketing goals in a crisis, be sure to check out Birdie’s post here. 

How buyers feel about B2B brands short and long term will directly contribute to which brands are the most relevant as budgets open up and business solutions investments experience substantial growth. Some of the long term metrics include branding goals measured by share of voice for social, share of search and earned media.

So, can B2B marketers do to optimize and measure their pandemic era marketing?

Content is the kingdom. Providing customers with information and resources for surviving and thriving during the pandemic that are useful from the customer’s perspective is a good starting point. Demonstrating how the B2B brand’s solution provides value in the current environment is also essential for creating relevance and utility with customers. Of course, useful information isn’t all there is. The shift towards digital, B2B brands need to make sure the digital experiences they provide are 100%: Information is easy to find, the inquiry or ordering process is easy and fast, there are zero glitches in using online systems.

Search is even more relevant. As mentioned in the research from McKinsey, self service is an increasing expectations amongst B2B buyers. One way buyers are performing self serve marketing  is through the use of search engines.

An emphasis on search also helps B2B brands reach sales goals without being “salesly”.  This trend has been picked up on by savvy B2B marketers with 63% of marketers saying it will be most important during the pandemic according to a survey by Conductor. This confidence is also exemplified from data reported by G2 Crowd showing B2B tech categories having a 200-600% increase in organic search traffic during the pandemic.

Of course to make search work, B2B brands need content and SEO best practices in place to ensure optimized visibility for what customers are looking for. We’ve seen many B2B brands emphasize SEO during the pandemic which enables buyers who are no longer attending trade shows and engaging in experiential or field marketing activities to use search engines for finding useful information and solutions on their own terms.

Findability works best with credibility.  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. While bypassing that with search engine optimization and advertising works well for connecting with customers, optimized content that has added 3rd party credibility can work even better.

In our own research in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 77% of B2B marketers say their prospects rely on influencers for information. Confidence in influencer marketing is on the rise for B2B marketers. 63% of survey respondents believe they would have better marketing results with an influencer marketing program.

So, crisis era marketing 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. This is why SEO and influence are essential partners for any B2B marketing effort during and after the pandemic.

Measuring the impact of B2B content marketing that is optimized and influencer activated means understanding the search phrases and topics of influence that are most relevant for customers and then tracking the brand’s relevance, engagement and conversion for those topics.

For  search marketing, key measures include:

  • Topic visibility reporting & share of search for those topics
  • Referred traffic to content optimized for the target topics
  • Conversions from target topic content

Influencer marketing, metrics to track include:

  • Share of voice on topics of include
  • Growth of brand affinity with influencers
  • Reach of topic content amongst influencer networks
  • Engagement and conversion performance of topic content shared by influencers
  • Growth in affinity of topics and brand in social
  • Growth of organic brand advocacy by influencers and their networks

Uncertainty is a dangerous state for businesses and making no decision is often worse than making the wrong decision or failing fast. Understanding the shifts in buyer behavior can help B2B brands gain confidence in the role content marketing will play in the short and long term. Relevant content that is both findable for increasingly self-serve buyers and credible through industry expert contributions can give the competitive advantage needed to perform both short term and post-pandemic.

How to Choose the Most Link-Worthy Data Source for Your Content

Fractl has produced thousands of content marketing campaigns across every topic, and for the past seven years, we’ve been keeping track of each and every campaign in order to refine and improve the content we produce on behalf of our clients.

In my last post for Moz, I explained how to set realistic digital PR expectations for your content based on your niche. In this topic, I want to dive a little bit deeper into the data and share insights about how the source of your content can be just as important in determining how your content will perform.

In this analysis, I looked at 1,474 client content campaigns across six different data source categories:

  • Client data
  • Social media
  • Participatory methods
  • Publicly available data
  • Survey
  • Germ swab

It’s important to note that there are countless other data sources that we use for content campaigns every day at Fractl that are not mentioned in this article. In this analysis, each category has at least 20 campaigns, while some categories have several hundred campaigns.

It’s also important to note that averages were collected by excluding upper outliers. For campaigns that went “viral” and performed well above the norm, we excluded them in the calculation so as not to skew the averages higher.

In addition to sharing link and press averages, I will also be walking through how to produce pressworthy, sharable content from each data source and providing examples.

Managing expectations across content types

Across the entire sample of 1,474 campaigns, a project on average received 24 dofollow links and 89 press mentions in total.

A press mention is defined as any time the content campaign was mentioned on a publisher’s website.

There were some individual data source category averages that were on par with the sample average, while other categories deviated greatly from the sample average.

Publicly available data

For almost any niche out there, you can bet there is a publicly available data set available for use. Some examples include data from the CDC, the U.S. Census, colleges and universities, the WHO, and the TSA. The opportunities really are endless when it comes to using publicly available data as a methodology for your content.

While free data sets can be a treasure trove of information for your content, keep in mind that they’re not always the simplest to work with. They do require a lot of analysis to make sense of the massive amount of information in them, and to make the insights digestible for your audience.

Take for example a campaign we produced for a client called Neighborhood Names. The data was free from the US Census, but in order to make any sense of it, our researchers had to use QGIS, Python, text-mining, and phrasemachine (a text analysis API) just to narrow it down to what we were looking for.

And what were we looking for? Looking at neighborhood names across America seems boring at first, until you realize that certain words correspond to wealth.

I was the outreach specialist for this project, and by using the wealth angle, I was able to secure two notable placements on CNBC as well as a press mention on MSN. The project quickly made its way around the internet after that, earning 76 dofollow links and 202 total press mentions by the end of our reporting period.

Survey

Unlike scouring the internet for free data, using a survey as a methodology can be more costly. That being said, there is one major advantage to using a survey to shape your content: you can find out anything you want.

While publicly available data will tell a story, it’s not always the story you want to tell, and that’s where surveys come in.

Of course, when it comes to surveys, anyone can create one without paying attention to research method best practices. That’s one of the problems we need to address. With “fake news” in the forefront of everyone’s minds in 2020, building trust with journalists and editors is of the utmost importance.

As content creators, we have a responsibility to ensure that content is not only attention-grabbing and entertaining, but also accurate and informative.

Survey campaigns, in particular, require you to analyze responses through a rigorous methodological lens. When collecting data for surveys, be sure to pay close attention to ethical upholdance, data validity, and fair visual representations.

Germ swab

From my own personal experience, germ swab content campaigns are the most fun, and often, the most disturbing. Fractl did some research a while back about the emotions that make content go viral, and oftentimes, germ swab campaigns hit all of the right emotions in the viral equation.

Negative emotions like disgust are often evoked when reviewing the results of germ swab campaigns. Our study found that when negative emotions are paired with emotions like anticipation or surprise, they can still achieve viral success (internet viral, not germ viral). What is more surprising than finding out the airplane tray table is dirtier than a toilet seat?

Publishers around the world seemed to think the content was surprising, too. This campaign performed above the norm for a typical content campaign earning 38 dofollows and 195 total press mentions — and this was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participatory methods

Participatory methods are campaigns that require active participation for the methodology. These are unique ideas — no two are alike. Some examples of campaigns that fall under the participatory methods category are when we had team members do a 30-day squat challenge, asked respondents to draw brand logos from memory, or when we literally drove from D.C. to NYC with a dash cam to record traffic violations.

These campaigns have a certain level of risk associated with them. They require a lot of upfront effort and planning without the promise of any return — and that’s scary for clients and for our team who put in tremendous effort to pull them off.

As you can see from the chart above, however, these ideas collectively performed right on par with other campaign types, and even better than survey methodologies for both the number of dofollow links and press mentions. In order to reap big benefits, it seems you need to be willing to take a big risk.

Social media

Social medIa as a data source is almost a no-brainer, right up there with survey methodologies and publicly available data sets. Unlike participatory methods campaigns, you don’t have to leave your computer in order to produce a campaign based on social media data.

Through our seven years of content creation, Fractl has produced campaigns based on data scrapes from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and more. From this experience, we know firsthand what kinds of social campaigns work and which ones fall flat.

The best thing about using social media as a source for content is that it can be applied to all verticals.

The biggest lesson we’ve learned from producing content based on social media data is that the methodology is typically subjective, so you need to keep the project lighthearted in nature in order to earn major coverage.

For example, we produced a campaign for a client in which we looked at Instagram posts with the hashtag #sexy and a geolocation. From this, we were able to glean the “sexiest” countries in the world as well as U.S. states.

While it would be impossible to learn what the actual sexiest places in the world were, (what does that even mean?) we were able to produce a fun campaign that used geo-bait to appeal to lighthearted publishers, like Glamour, E! Online, Women’s Health, and Elite Daily.

Make sure that no matter the topic, whatever you produce contributes to an ongoing conversation. Statistics that don’t point to anything meaningful won’t be relevant for writers actually trying to add to the conversation.

Client data

Client data is often the most underappreciated data source for content marketers. You may be sitting on a wealth of actionable industry insights and not even know it.

You might think of internal data as only being useful for improving your internal processes at work, but it can also be valuable outside of your organization.

Unlike publicly available data, internal data is never-before-seen and 100% unique. Journalists eat this up because it means that you’re providing completely exclusive resources.

Think of this article, for example. This article is filled with data and insights that Fractl has gleaned after producing thousands of content marketing campaigns.

An added bonus of using internal data to craft your content is that, according to our analysis, it performs on par with surveys. Unlike surveys, though, it’s completely free.

Conclusion

No matter what methodology you’re using or vertical you’re creating content for, it’s important to realize that as content creators, we have an ethical and moral responsibility to create with an audience in mind.

With “fake news” on the forefront of everyone’s minds, building and maintaining trust with writers and editors is of the utmost importance.

All of the content you produce and promote must be assessed through a rigorous methodological lens to ensure that content is accurate and informative as well as eye-grabbing and entertaining.

Regardless of your methodology, if you don’t take the proper steps to make sure your data sources are accurate, you are contributing to the fake news epidemic.

B2B Marketing News: 3 New B2B Marketing Studies, Twitter’s Audio Tweets, Google’s Pinterest-like Keen Project, & Gen Z Digital Consumption Habits

2020 June 26 Marketing Charts Chart

2020 June 26 MarketingCharts Chart

The 10 Traits B2B Buyers and Managers Value Most in Salespeople
42 percent of B2B buyers value active listening when it comes to interacting with salespeople, according to recently-released survey data from LinkedIn (client), while 38 percent value problem solving, 38 percent confidence, and 34 percent who said that they value relationship building skills. MarketingProfs

Addressing the B2B void between product data and online sales [Survey]
52.8 percent of B2B professionals expect to add voice-controlled search technology to their customer experience (CX) program within the next 12 months, according to newly-released report data, while 44.8 percent plan to add live chat, and 39 percent expect to install new augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology. Digital Commerce 360

The Biggest Challenges to Aligning B2B Marketing and Sales Teams
Half of marketing and sales professionals primarily at B2B firms find that their biggest challenge to aligning sales and marketing is a lack of complete or accurate data about target accounts and prospects, according to recently-released survey data, while some 47 percent said that communication was the top alignment challenge. MarketingProfs

New Report Looks at How COVID-19 Consumption Behaviors will Influence Gen Z Activity Moving Forward
Younger consumers in the Gen Z and millennial demographics have shifted their digital habits more quickly during the pandemic, and are more likely to stick to the new patterns in the future, according to newly-released Snapchat survey data using predictive technology. Social Media Today

Advertisers continue to defer ad spend due to COVID-19: report
Major multinational firms have maintained holding off on a return to pre-pandemic advertising spending, with 40 percent expecting to defer ad spend by six months, according to recently-released World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) data of interest to digital marketers. Mobile Marketing

Twitter starts rolling out audio tweets on iOS
Twitter has given some of the platform’s iOS users the ability to record and include audio in tweets, opening an array of new marketing options for digital advertisers, the firm recently announced. The current test — which is not yet available to Android device users — allows audio recordings of up to 140 seconds with the ability to roll longer audio into multiple tweets, Twitter noted. The Verge

2020 June 26 Statistics Image

Google’s latest experiment is Keen, an automated, machine-learning based version of Pinterest
Google has launched a pin-board image-based content curation service test called Keen, that utilizes both machine learning along with human collaboration techniques to form automated Pinterest-like collections, the firm has announced. TechCrunch

LinkedIn Publishes New Guide on Using Its Events and Live-Streaming Tools
LinkedIn (client) has published an expanded new guide to help brands use both LinkedIn Live and Events with their Pages, along with announcing forthcoming features for capturing event registrations and retargeting event attendees, the Microsoft-owned platform announced. Social Media Today

Google pushes “text fragment links” with new Chrome extension
Google has rolled out its own deep-link capable extension that allows Chrome users to cite any portion of a webpage even if it hasn’t been set up as anchor text on the hosting website, the search giant recently announced. Will the move lead to marketers increasing their use of citation-specific linking? Ars Technica

What Support Do B2B Marketers Offer Sales?
52 percent of B2B marketers utilize case studies as their top choice for providing information to sales, according to recently-released survey data, while 51 percent use product or service collateral, 48 percent use primary research, 45 percent commercial insights, and 43 percent video material. MarketingCharts

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 June 26 Marketoonist Comic Image

A lighthearted look at “strategic options in a recession” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

IBM Condemns Use Of Facial Recognition Software For Anything Other Than Matching People With Their Celebrity Doppelganger — The Onion

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • TopRank Marketing / Prophix — 8 Interactive eBook Examples to Inspire Your B2B Content Marketing — DivvyHQ
  • Lee Odden — Virtual Summer School: Making the Most of New Digital Opportunities — IABC Minnesota / Eventbrite
  • TopRank Marketing / Prophix / LinkedIn — LinkedIn Marketing: The Definitive Guide [2020] — Loomly
  • Lane R. Ellis / TopRank Marketing — Der SEO-Wochenrückblick KW 25/20 [In German] — artaxo GmbH
  • Nick Nelson — 10 Tips to Help Small Businesses Create Better Customer Experiences — Small Business Trends
  • Lee Odden / TopRank Marketing — Directivos en redes sociales ¿Qué tan sociales deben ser? [3 tips] [In Spanish] — Luismaram

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

Thank you for taking the time to join us, and we hope you’ll come back next Friday for another collection 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 B2B Marketing News: 3 New B2B Marketing Studies, Twitter’s Audio Tweets, Google’s Pinterest-like Keen Project, & Gen Z Digital Consumption Habits appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

B2B Marketing News: 3 New B2B Marketing Studies, Twitter’s Audio Tweets, Google’s Pinterest-like Keen Project, & Gen Z Digital Consumption Habits

2020 June 26 MarketingCharts Chart

The 10 Traits B2B Buyers and Managers Value Most in Salespeople
42 percent of B2B buyers value active listening when it comes to interacting with salespeople, according to recently-released survey data from LinkedIn (client), while 38 percent value problem solving, 38 percent confidence, and 34 percent who said that they value relationship building skills. MarketingProfs

Addressing the B2B void between product data and online sales [Survey]
52.8 percent of B2B professionals expect to add voice-controlled search technology to their customer experience (CX) program within the next 12 months, according to newly-released report data, while 44.8 percent plan to add live chat, and 39 percent expect to install new augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology. Digital Commerce 360

The Biggest Challenges to Aligning B2B Marketing and Sales Teams
Half of marketing and sales professionals primarily at B2B firms find that their biggest challenge to aligning sales and marketing is a lack of complete or accurate data about target accounts and prospects, according to recently-released survey data, while some 47 percent said that communication was the top alignment challenge. MarketingProfs

New Report Looks at How COVID-19 Consumption Behaviors will Influence Gen Z Activity Moving Forward
Younger consumers in the Gen Z and millennial demographics have shifted their digital habits more quickly during the pandemic, and are more likely to stick to the new patterns in the future, according to newly-released Snapchat survey data using predictive technology. Social Media Today

Advertisers continue to defer ad spend due to COVID-19: report
Major multinational firms have maintained holding off on a return to pre-pandemic advertising spending, with 40 percent expecting to defer ad spend by six months, according to recently-released World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) data of interest to digital marketers. Mobile Marketing

Twitter starts rolling out audio tweets on iOS
Twitter has given some of the platform’s iOS users the ability to record and include audio in tweets, opening an array of new marketing options for digital advertisers, the firm recently announced. The current test — which is not yet available to Android device users — allows audio recordings of up to 140 seconds with the ability to roll longer audio into multiple tweets, Twitter noted. The Verge

2020 June 26 Statistics Image

Google’s latest experiment is Keen, an automated, machine-learning based version of Pinterest
Google has launched a pin-board image-based content curation service test called Keen, that utilizes both machine learning along with human collaboration techniques to form automated Pinterest-like collections, the firm has announced. TechCrunch

LinkedIn Publishes New Guide on Using Its Events and Live-Streaming Tools
LinkedIn (client) has published an expanded new guide to help brands use both LinkedIn Live and Events with their Pages, along with announcing forthcoming features for capturing event registrations and retargeting event attendees, the Microsoft-owned platform announced. Social Media Today

Google pushes “text fragment links” with new Chrome extension
Google has rolled out its own deep-link capable extension that allows Chrome users to cite any portion of a webpage even if it hasn’t been set up as anchor text on the hosting website, the search giant recently announced. Will the move lead to marketers increasing their use of citation-specific linking? Ars Technica

What Support Do B2B Marketers Offer Sales?
52 percent of B2B marketers utilize case studies as their top choice for providing information to sales, according to recently-released survey data, while 51 percent use product or service collateral, 48 percent use primary research, 45 percent commercial insights, and 43 percent video material. MarketingCharts

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 June 26 Marketoonist Comic Image

A lighthearted look at “strategic options in a recession” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

IBM Condemns Use Of Facial Recognition Software For Anything Other Than Matching People With Their Celebrity Doppelganger — The Onion

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • TopRank Marketing / Prophix — 8 Interactive eBook Examples to Inspire Your B2B Content Marketing — DivvyHQ
  • Lee Odden — Virtual Summer School: Making the Most of New Digital Opportunities — IABC Minnesota / Eventbrite
  • TopRank Marketing / Prophix / LinkedIn — LinkedIn Marketing: The Definitive Guide [2020] — Loomly
  • Lane R. Ellis / TopRank Marketing — Der SEO-Wochenrückblick KW 25/20 [In German] — artaxo GmbH
  • Nick Nelson — 10 Tips to Help Small Businesses Create Better Customer Experiences — Small Business Trends
  • Lee Odden / TopRank Marketing — Directivos en redes sociales ¿Qué tan sociales deben ser? [3 tips] [In Spanish] — Luismaram

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

Thank you for taking the time to join us, and we hope you’ll come back next Friday for another collection 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.

Don’t Try to Be Authentic. Be Brave

Photo by Farhan Abid on Unsplash

“How to be authentic.” People talk to me about authenticity a lot because they pay me the “compliment” that I am authentic. First, I don’t think it’s a good pursuit: learning how to be authentic. Second, I feel there’s a better goal: how to be brave. Because when people talk about authenticity, what they really mean is that they want the confidence to be who they really are and feel brave about talking about it.

“How to Be Authentic” Isn’t a Very Good Goal

I say this because it means you’re learning how to portray authenticity, not how to live with confidence. The term “authenticity” when used in the way people throw it around means to be accurate, factual, reliable. It means that you mean what you say and say what you mean. It troubles me that people feel they can’t do this. But of course, that’s not really what one is saying.

Learn to Be Brave. You’ll Appreciate It More

Bravery is built on courage, and the root of courage is the ability to do something despite feeling fear. That seems a better concept to master. For instance, if you’re like me and you deal with depression, it’s “authentic” that I say that because it’s factual and reliable and accurate, but it’s also “brave” because I say this information knowing that it might sway someone to not hire me. (In my calculus, if a company doesn’t work with people who deal with depression, they’re probably not my kind of people.)

The path to bravery is simply through repetition of effort on one hand, and through contemplating what matters to you on the other. There are so many areas of your business and life where you would do to be more brave:

  • Learn not to talk so much, and listen more without fear that people might think you’re not so smart.
  • Practice hearing someone’s concerns without overlaying their words with your own autobiography.
  • Experience that it’s okay not to know everything without worrying that people won’t trust your knowledge about what you do know.

Bravery is about repeatedly confront what you thought would scare you (or does scare you) and beating it. It’s also about learning more about what matters to you.

Bravery Beats Authenticity

A lot of my friends suddenly found themselves working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their bosses at various companies hadn’t run many remote teams, and didn’t have the tools necessary to manage remote employees. Instead of bravely telling their teams: “Hey, we’re all new to this. Let’s talk about how we can make this work best for everyone,” they acted as if they were professionals in this regard. But lacking that knowledge, they put their teams into greater stress and reduced productivity by forcing more frequent status meetings, and far more video contact than is necessary.

Imagine being a team member working with that group, and having some suggestions. Is it authentic to share your ideas with the boss? No. It’s brave. Which one helps more? Authentic means being factual and trustworthy. It doesn’t mean you’ll tell people you report to what you think might better suit the team as far as arrangements for remote working and status check-ins.

How to be Brave

Instead of worrying about authenticity, focus on helping others. Instead of wondering when you’ll get your turn, work on what you’re doing. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing out on, sink yourself into what you can build for yourself.

Stop worrying about what you’ll lose. There are always more things and people and opportunities out in the world than there are days left in your life. Don’t hold on so tight, and you’ll find your hands free to reach out for the next opportunity and the next.

Bravery is a verb. It’s an active state. It’s a morning ritual and a daily promise. It’s learning that mistakes aren’t failure as much as they’re another opportunity to try something else. And failure is just an outcome you didn’t expect or intend.

I wrote a book about bravery a few years back. The lessons all still work the same way. It’s about building up the tools to be more brave and it might be useful. Let me know. I’m always here to help.

Chris Brogan

Work With Me

If you’re looking for personal or corporate team coaching, I’m always available to help you win. Just get in touch.

I’m always here to help.

How to Get Backlinks in 2020 [Series] – Whiteboard Friday

Link building is never-ending in SEO, but a little creativity and smart tactics can help you ferret out great link opportunities from their hiding spots. In this episode of Whiteboard Friday, Britney Muller kicks off a series on modern link building (including the sage advice: let people choose their own anchor text!)

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

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we are going to be looking at the easiest ways for you to get backlinks to your website. None of these involve content creation whatsoever.

Really excited to dive into this. It will be part of a larger “Link Building in 2020 Series and Beyond.” So really excited to dive into some of the easiest things that you can do today to enhance your backlink profile. Let’s take a look.

No-brainer link building

☑ Unlinked brand, product, name, etc. mentions

This is simply just going to Google, doing a search for these things within quotes, and looking at the first several pages of results to ensure that all of those results are linking back to your site.

They likely are not, so those will be your opportunities to send a message or an email asking for the webmaster or the writer to provide a link back to your site with your mention. It’s one of the easiest things to do. So is unlinked images. 

☑ Unlinked images

This is a gold mine if you’re working with a website that has a lot of proprietary images or really great graphic design, maybe you have infographics or some things that are special to the brand or the domain. Use Google reverse image search and put in the images that you think might have been taken or used on other websites.

You will immediately see what those websites are and whether or not they link back to your site. So again, very similar to this first one. You’re basically just asking for them to credit the website and link back accordingly. 

☑ Redirect your 404 pages with backlinks

This is completely within your control. No outreach required. In fact, Moz Link Explorer provides this really, really easily within Moz Pro. You basically take a look at all of your pages that have backlinks, and you can filter by status code.

You just change that to 400s, 404s, and you can see all of the pages to your website that currently have backlinks but the page is no longer there. All you want to do with that is just simply 301 redirect that old broken page to a new relevant page, and you’re kind of saving that authority that is being sent to your site.

So, so easy. A lot of people forget about that one. It’s great. 

☑ Keep an eye on recently lost links

The keyword here is “recently.” If you can engage with another website that has recently either by accident or changed things around on purpose on the page, you are more likely to reclaim your lost link.

It’s also just important to really understand why. 

  • Is that website going through a redesign? 
  • Have they gotten rid of pages? 
  • Did a competitor come in and provide a better resource than what you currently had? 

There are all sorts of reasons why you really want to identify what’s going on.

☑ Move backlink targets

This is a new tactic that was recently brought to my attention by the brilliant Sarah Hollenbeck at Siege Media. They have a brilliant team. I highly recommend you checking out this article that’s basically all about moving backlink targets, which has never really occurred to me, where you basically have backlinks to older resources or older content or products that you want restructured to newer or more important pages on your website. 

Sarah goes into great detail about this and can help explain just how you can do this successfully and what that means for your site. So really, really neat. I highly suggest that. 

☑ Sites that list competitors, but not you

Check out sites that list competitors but not you. These might be resource pages or roundups of information of sorts.

You can play around with this in Google as well by providing competitors within quotes and then minus your company or the website you’re working on. 

It really starts to give you an idea of what websites might be great opportunities for a backlink, because you fit within that vein. It makes sense. 

☑  Sites that provide topic/industry + geo information

Similarly sites that provide topic or industry plus geo information, so again finding those resource pages, those roundups. Oftentimes you will see these on lots of .edu sites or even .gov. So you can do some different searches around, if you were Columbia, outdoor clothing in Minnesota.

Play around with this a bit. This could be in the Midwest, in the United States. You can change these words around and really start to identify some higher-quality link prospects. 

☑ Build relationships

Lastly, build relationships. I cannot speak more highly about this.

Just for your own career longevity and what you do in SEO and marketing in general, it is so important to develop genuine, real relationships with individuals that work in the industry, whether that be at other websites or just in the same vein of things.

Not only can you bounce ideas off of these people and really get help with different things, but you get to help support the incredible things that they’re working on. It’s just an all-around, feel-good, help each other out situation. So if you’re not already reaching out and building relationships, I highly suggest you do that.

It’s a lot of fun, and I can’t stress enough there are so, so many good people within our industry it’s incredible. 

☑ BONUS: Let people choose anchor text!

Lastly, we really want to take a modern look at link building practices in 2020 and beyond, and a big part of that goes around things like let people choose the anchor text for your backlink.

Five or 10 years ago it was standard to request very specific anchor text for the keyword you wanted to rank for. It’s not really the case anymore. Especially with the addition of BERT, Google has gotten so much more sophisticated in understanding text and language and websites that it’s really unnecessary and might even cause problems to ask for those specific anchor link texts.

Definitely take a look at this article we’ll link to down below by David Farkas here, who wrote about link building lies. It’s a really great article. We’ll continue to build upon this series to provide you with some fresher information around link building today. I really look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions down below.

Feel free to let us know what you liked about this, what you didn’t like. If you have any great ideas, please let us know down in the comments, and I look forward to seeing you all next time. Thanks so much. See you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

Don’t miss exclusive data, tips, workflows, and advice from Britney and our other fantastic speakers at this year’s MozCon Virtual! Chock full of the SEO industry’s top thought leadership, for the first time ever MozCon will be completely remote-friendly. It’s like 20+ of your favorite Whiteboard Fridays on vitamins and doubled in size, plus interactive Q&A, virtual networking, and full access to the video bundle:

Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

We can’t wait to see you there!

Leadership Skills for After the Pandemic

Leadership Skills Pandemic

Restaurants Reopening After the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic

Leadership skills haven’t changed much in some ways. In others, we’re at a whole new turn in the road for organizations as they learn how to manage teams remotely, as they grapple with issues of transmitting corporate culture without so much physical proximity. What we knew before March 2020 must be checked, edited, revised, and maybe just plain thrown out. So what can we do? What should we do? What does it take to be a great leader now?

Leadership Skills for After the Pandemic

The top qualities of an effective leader revolve these days circle a “Big 3” traits to focus on: communication, collaboration, and configuration. When you see those three topics, your first response is likely: “What? I do all that. I know all about that.” But it’s different these days. I’ll explain.

Communication – The new rule of communicating and being a leader involves brevity and clarity. In writing and verbally, learn to be crisp and clear. Start at the “ask” or the most important point. Chop out explanations and segues. One topic per message.

Collaboration – Bring part of the project, and let the team fill in the rest. Embrace and encourage a diversity of thought. Motivate team members to share their experience as it applies to the project. Inspire team members to own some of the leadership tasks of any given experience.

Configuration – Factories are over. Leading like you run a factory is over. Teams and leaders must embrace more chances to make work what they need it to be. The Work From Home (WFH) elements of COVID-19 showed that office hours didn’t exactly have to be synchronous. What else can be configured differently? Do you need people to live near the office any longer? If not, what else has to change?

As leaders work on their own efforts with communication, collaboration, and configuration, so too will team members need to learn more about how to do the same. Distributed teams means remote leadership and personal leadership become quite important to everyone. Not only will management skills need to exist at the individual contributor level, but also the competencies of listening, delegation and strong interpersonal skills will hinge on being able to improve in the three big Cs.

Good Leaders Inspire Action. Great Leaders Grow More Leaders.

Gone is the fear that you as a boss have to know everything. Empathy and self-awareness become much more important, as do a strong emotional intelligence as well as the humility to presume that you don’t always have the best answer, and that maybe your team members do.

Develop your leadership by growing more leaders. Invite team members to take parts of a project as their responsibility. But empower and educate them a little bit first. The leadership skills necessary to run parts of your business aren’t immediately obvious. (Remember when you started?) Teach them the Three Big Cs above. Everyone needs those. And here are a few more leadership skills to encourage strategic thinking.

If this, then what? – Teach your budding leaders to walk through decisions before taking the action. In his book “It’s Your Ship,” Captain Michael Abrashoff teaches as part of his leadership method the concept of “I intend to.” It’s a level of leadership where team members don’t execute without permission but where they bring their recommended path of action for review by saying, “I intend to take the following action.”

Which decisions need making? – Team members sometimes burn time not knowing which parts of business need more thorough decision making and which don’t merit the time spent. Sometimes, aspiring leaders weigh the strengths and weaknesses of every possible step of a project, instead of knowing which parts can be accepted as a given, or which can be ignored. Teach your aspiring leadership candidates the skill of knowing which parts of a project need a solid decision making system.

Is this aligned with the ultimate goal? – Some people as they attempt successful leadership get far too stuck in task oriented mindsets. Instead, drive goal-level leadership at all turns. Ensure that tasks completed are only valuable if they advance the goal and that filling out a checklist every day isn’t nearly as valuable as moving a project towards a timely and cost effective solution.

Inspire Two-Way Mentorship

As the leader of a team, make it clear that you thrive on developing your team. But also, be just as clear that you seek to learn from the diverse wealth of backgrounds your team employs. Be open to learning new approaches, to understanding different cultural and skill experiences. Actively seek out this two-way mentorship and guidance. Build it into how you spend team time on projects. The rewards will be remarkable.


Chris Brogan

Ask About Leadership Training

Chris Brogan wants to talk with you.

If you want to explore what leadership training looks like for your organization using the StoryLeader™ system, please get in touch. Drop an email at [email protected] or fill out my nifty contact form.