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

The B2B Marketing Force Multiplier: Integrated SEO and Influencer Marketing

B2B Marketing Force Multiplier SEO Influence

B2B Marketing Force Multiplier SEO Influence

As business customers with questions are ignoring tone deaf brand marketing (and tiring of Pandemic messaging too) they are increasingly in search of information more than ever. Trust Radius reports that some B2B tech categories are seeing anywhere from 194% to 613% increases in search driven traffic. Search engines are clearly positioned to deliver answers for buyers seeking answers, but where is the trust? And more importantly, is your brand the best answer when and where buyers are looking?

SEO alone is not enough. A study from CSO insights ranked Web searches the 8th most trusted source of information for technology buyers. According to a study by Forbes/Yext, only 50% of customers believe search results. Search ads are not necessarily the solution because 65% of marketers don’t trust them either (HubSpot).

What good is being found in search if customers don’t trust what they find?

The solution? Make search optimized content more trustworthy, credible and useful by partnering with industry experts to create it. A Demand Gen Report study reports that 95% of buyers prefer influencer content. That’s an incredibly strong level of preference that B2B marketers would be negligent to ignore.

SEO and influence are excellent partners to deliver a satisfying content experience. To do that, you must first find the sweet spot for your customers with content that is findable with SEO and credible by showcasing relevant expertise from industry influencers.

Influencer content also optimizes B2B brands for Google E-A-T. Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness are page quality characteristics highlighted in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. When B2B companies ensure their content demonstrates E-A-T characteristics, it’s akin to optimizing for both better Google and customers.

Credible Content Creation and Promotion can be a force multiplier for your marketing performance for multiple reasons. First, influential experts can extend the output of your marketing department by helping you make content. Second, those same experts can add credibility to brand content with quotes, insights on entirely influencer generated content. Third, the investment in content creation by those influential experts can also inspire them to promote that content to their trusted networks through social shares, inclusion in industry publications or cross published to influencer media (podcasts, livestream video, recorded video, blog posts, etc).

Like all marketing efforts, its important to identify your SEO and influencer marketing goals: improved organic search visibility, increased click through rates from Google to your site, improved time on site, increased click throughs from SEO landing pages to deeper content, and conversions referred from organic search.

Because influencers are involved, you can also benchmark and monitor the brand share of voice on social networks for the influencers you are working with, the social reach and impressions of their social shares, the referred traffic and conversions from their shares.

If the influencers you are working with publish their own content and you are able to engage them to cross-post or create original content aligned with your campaign, you can track the search visibility of your brand mentions on their websites. Doing so can help you manage achieving multiple positions within search results on the same query.

To help you get started towards realizing the marketing multiplier effect of integrated SEO and influencer marketing, here is a checklist of considerations in 5 sections:

Step 1 – Create Your Target Customer Profile

  • Describe your customer – demographics, psychographics, firmographics
  • What search keywords matter to this customer?
  • Which types of influencers matter to this customer?
  • What content topics and types are important for this customer?
  • What questions does this customer want answered?
  • Which social platforms does this customer use?
  • Which publications, podcasts or “shows” does this customer subscribe to?

Step 2 – Identify Influencers for SEO Topics

  • Leveraging SEO keyword research and an understanding of the content to be created/optimized, research 5-10 on-topic influencers using BuzzSumo, Traackr or other influencer marketing software.
  • Identify influencers creating on-topic content with great search visibility (Consider influencers recognized by Google with a Knowledge Panel).
  • Evaluate influencer’s link attraction rate when they publish or contribute content.
  • Align search keywords and corresponding influencers with content intended to function at the appropriate stage in the customer journey: Top, Middle and Bottom of funnel.

Step 3 – Activate Influencers to C0-Create Optimized Content

  • Use the Target Customer Profile to document specific content types and content sources (social platforms, media, blogs, newsletters, podcasts, YouTube channels etc) that matter to your customer.
  • By topic, map relevant influencers to specific content assets for activation.
  • Engage influencers and invite them to provide content for their assigned topics in the format preferred.
  • Use SEO topics in influencer interview questions to inspire SEO-friendly answers.

Step 4 – Inspire Content Promotion & Links

  • Identify opportunities to engage individual influencers for content promotion. Examples include: podcast, webinar, report contribution, social shares, quotes for blog posts, 3rd party editorial, newsletter or brand social channels.
  • Create UTM codes for URLs of content provided to influencers to share so they can be tracked in your analytics.
  • Provide influencer creators with topic clusters they can organically use in content and social shares.
  • Identify pre-launch influencer engagement opportunities – provide prewritten social shares.
  • Create an announcement blog posts, social promotions and engage influencers to create blog, video and social network content.
  • Create a series of promotional emails.
  • Support blog, social and earned media with targeted online advertising.
  • Post launch, repurpose influencer content on brand social networks, blog and in contributed articles.

Step 5 – Implement Ongoing Optimization & Influencer Engagement

  • Monitor the group of influencers you are working with for brand & keyword mentions on social networks and engage appropriately.
  • Repurpose influencer quotes in ongoing content: newsletters, presentations, contributed articles to publications, ebooks, infographics, etc.
  • Share updates with the influencers you are working with on the status of the campaign they participated in, updates to relevant technology or solutions and about your influencer program.
  • Find ways to connect influencers with each other: host an influencer happy hour on Zoom, create a LinkedIn or Facebook group, create channel on Slack.
  • Surprise and delight influencer contributors with feedback, tokens of appreciation and thank you’s.
  • Consider providing influencers with SEO audits of their blogs so they can improve their organic search visibility.

Topics that drive SEO and topics that guide influencer identification and content collaboration are a natural fit and can expand the impact of your organic search visibility as well as the advocacy about your brand amongst trusted voices in your industry. As effective organic search visibility requires ongoing care and optimization, influencer relationships also require ongoing care and nurturing.

Organic SEO is a form of “always on marketing” that works 24/7 and a small ongoing investment can pay big dividends when your B2B brand content is presented by Google at the very moment the buyer is looking. The same optimism about influencers can be said when it comes to brand advocacy and a trusted industry expert organically recommends your brand.

I hope this checklist has provided you with some direction that will help you get started with a search optimized and integrated influencer marketing strategy. There are many levels of process, tools and deep expertise that can make implementing an effort like this successful in a reasonable amount of time. If you have any questions or need help, the masters of SEO and Influence at TopRank Marketing are happy to help! Visit our Influencer Marketing Services resources or contact us directly.

Source: SEO blog