If you missed today’s webinar “The Convergence of PR and SEO: Harnessing the Power of Content, Social and Search,” here are a few of the key points and highlights that you should know about. Led by Janet Driscoll Miller, President and CEO of Search Mojo and SpeakerBox’s own Elizabeth Shea, the webinar focused on how marketing and communications professionals can improve their PR, content marketing and SEO programs and how these elements should be coordinated.
The webinar kicked off with a focus on content – because after all, content is king. Unlike a few years back, PR efforts including authored articles and the like are now considered another form of content and utilized as such. And written content is not the only way to increase SEO either. If possible, incorporate webinars, images and videos on your Website. Videos in particular rank very high in Google search results.
Creating great content does not have to involve recreating the wheel each time either. In fact, content should be repurposed up to 5 times to gain maximum value. Have a great case study? Turn it into a press release. They key however, is to make sure the content varies enough to avoid duplicating. Google’s recent Panda update changed the algorithm of search results to reduce the amount of duplicate content. If you want all of your great content to continue to show up in search results – be sure not to reuse without rewording, to make sure it is substantially different.
Another key for increasing SEO value is ensuring content has links back to your site. These links act as votes of popularity for Google and help you to be known as an authority on a topic. So where do the best links come from? That is where PR can come in – as the best links are often from reputable news sites and blogs. If you have an article placed or comment in one, try following up with editors and authors asking for links back. Keep in mind, quality is more important then quantity, as a link from CNN is likely much more beneficial than 100 links from other sites.
New, but potentially highly impactful in the world of SEO includes Google Authorship. Google Authorship ensures you are getting the right ownership over your content. It provides a “rich snippet” in search results, helping your content to stand out amongst the other results and be more prominent on the page. While this may not seem like much, according to one study, the number of clicks increased by 150% once a rich snippet was added. You will need a Google+ profile to set up the authorship – so the first step is to make sure you have one set up. Check out the full webinar (the recording will live on our resources page) for details around how to set up Google Authorship for your blog and content. Google Authorship will also likely have an effect on PR, as the SEO value of a reporter may come into play when offering exclusives.
Janet and Elizabeth also discussed the use of social media when it comes to SEO. One of the key ways to use social to help with SEO is spreading links. By being social and sharing information, inbound links to your site will spread, showing Google that your company is talked about.
If there was one main takeaway from the webinar on how you can get your company primed for increased SEO – it would be to set up Google Authorship. It will help immensely in search results, putting your company right where you want to be – at the top of the page.
This is just a snippet of the discussion on today’s webinar. If you missed it, fear not, the full archived version is available here.
I hope you’ll join us on May 9 at 2:00 pm for our upcoming Webinar on “The Convergence of PR and SEO: Harnessing the Power of Content, Social and Search.”
The panelists will include SpeakerBox’s own Elizabeth Shea and Janet Driscoll Miller, President and CEO of Search Mojo.
If you’re a marketing or communications professional interested in improving your PR, content marketing and SEO programs and gaining a better understanding of how these three elements should be coordinated, this is the program for you.
Key topics will include:
- The 3 most important components of SEO and how they converge to drive successful search and PR campaigns
- What is Google authorship and why it’s important for SEO, content and PR
- Targeting and measuring your PR and content marketing efforts for maximum SEO benefit
- Why you should join Google+ and how you should maximize the social network
Please take a minute to register for this informative Webinar. I promise it will be time well-spent.
- Katie Hanusik
Over this past year SpeakerBox has made a real investment in inbound marketing, not just for our clients, but also for ourselves. So, excuse me for a moment while I get a little self-promotional and highlight some of the content we’ve worked on this year.
When developing our content program we wanted to touch as many areas of interest for our clients and potential clients as possible. Many members of the SpeakerBox team have contributed to these content items and I personally appreciate the time and effort that has gone into getting this program off the ground. We have been very successful in our first year and I’m looking forward to all of the content we’ll provide our readers in the future.
The links below will take you to the content that exists on our website and you can also find a full list that will continue to be updated in real time on the SpeakerBox resources page.
PR 101 For Startups
Leveraging PR for M&A and Capital Raises
Inbound Marketing: Getting Found with Creative Content
Analyst Relations 101: Influencing the Influencers
The Five biggest Flaws in your B2B Website
No More Hocus Pocus: A Beginner's Guide to Search Engine Optimization
Acronyms, GSA Schedules and Agencies, Oh My! A Primer on B2G Public Relations
The Blueprint – Social Media and Government
Everything is on the Record: The Pre-Interview Checklist
Yesterday, Potomac Tech Wire held their Social Media Outlook 2013 at the Gannett/USA TODAY Corporate Headquarters in McLean, VA. The event consisted of a keynote, panel and three speaker presentations all focused on bringing us expert viewpoints and analysis of where things stand with social media and where they’re expected to go in the upcoming year. You can check out the recap of the keynote, posted by my colleague Jennifer Edgerly here and get all the details from the panel below. Panelists hit on everything from Facebook to Tumblr and told us about the coolest social media campaigns they’ve seen this year. The panel was moderated by Potomac Tech Wire’s Paul Sherman and included the following industry thought-leaders:
- Leigh George – Director of Digital Strategy, R2integrated
- Rohit Bhargava (also the keynote speaker!) – Founding member of the 360 Digital Influence Group at Ogilvy and author of the best selling book “Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspring Action”
- Jodi Gersh - Director/Social Media & Engagement at Gannett
- Shashi Bellamkonda – Social Swami (otherwise known as Sr. Director, Social Media) at Web.com and Adjunct Marketing Professor at Georgetown University
Q: What’s going on with Facebook? I’ve heard that Facebook is losing its “cool” for younger generations.
According to panelist Leigh George, Facebook is now a mass media that has reached every demographic. She stated that the only real area of growth for the major social media platform is with baby boomers, which may be why it seems like it is losing its “cool” amongst the younger generations. Bhargava agrees, saying that one drawback to Facebook is that once your parents are on it, it may not be cool anymore. That said, he doesn’t think people will be fleeing the platform. He also noted, Facebook is the only way he is connected with many people and to ditch his account would mean to lose those connections.
Q: How are you advising clients to use Facebook right now?
George also weighed in on this topic, stating that Facebook is not a sales platform, if you want to engage with people here, as a company, you have to reach them through what people are talking about. Ads on Facebook are viewed as intrusive – you need to talk about topics like community involvement or recruiting, and not try to buy your way in. She says you must add value to your audience.
Jodi Gersh noted that the newest challenge with Facebook comes from their ad- ranking algorithm, which places a higher value on engagement than likes. This gives companies the new goal of not simply attracting more likes to their page, but getting those who like their page to engage with their content. She admitted to currently having a love/hate relationship with the platform. Bellamkonda stated that Facebook is the easiest publishing platform and it isn’t going anywhere. He noted that people will share content that provides them with value and recommends people holding social giveaways on fan pages that give away the companies’ own products.
Q: Startups used to have Facebook at their core, but now they appear to have more of an “at arms length” relationship with the platform. Is Facebook losing its “cool” with startups?
There was a time when you had an ecommerce site that you had to display openly that it was VeriSign secure, or people would be nervous to purchase. But, over time, everyone had one so sites didn’t feel the need to put it in the limelight – it was just expected that sites had it, explained Rohit Bhargava. He goes on to say that this is similar to the relationship between Facebook and startups, which used to have the platform front and center. But now, everyone just knows they are there. Continuing with the similes, he also compared Facebook to plumbing, saying that you don’t miss it until it’s gone.
George agreed that his analogy between the plumbing and Facebook was spot on. Hitting back on the younger demographic, she notes that the 18-24 demographic is really involved with the more visual social networks like Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram, and Facebook is the plumbing for all of them (meaning they are all interconnected and you can log in to these various platforms via your Facebook account). Most of these platforms are mobile and she thinks they will eventually catch on with the older demographics.
Shashi Bellamkonda added that as companies and startups integrate into mobile, whoever makes plugging-in easiest will be the most successful, and right now, integrating with Facebook is the easiest way to do that. Bhargava agreed the Facebook platform was simple, but also noted that the interface is looking pretty old and almost compares to that of craigslist. He’s super excited about the new MySpace platform, though, noting its horizontal scrolling.
Speaking of interface makeovers, have you checked out the new USA TODAY web page? Gersh says the new web page is super visual and almost “Pinteresty” with a new cover view option. I’m not going to lie, it looks pretty sharp!
Q: What campaigns/strategies have wowed you this past year and why?
Panelist: Leigh George
Reason: Leigh is fascinated by Coca-Cola’s embracement of becoming a social company. Last summer, they released their content strategy and people thought they were crazy for giving out their secret sauce. Leigh disagrees, stating that she thinks transparency is intelligent. Coca-Cola is also embracing social business, Leigh explains. They co-create content with their consumers via social by getting them to talk about their concept of “Opening Happiness.” Check out their “Happiness Is…” campaign on Tumblr.
Panelist: Rohit Bhargava
Campaigns: Toyota 100 Cars for Good and McDonalds “Ask Anything” Twitter Campaign
Reason: Rohit mentioned the cleverness of the Toyota 100 Cars campaign, which allowed social media users to select which charities received the free cars from Toyota. But he gave most of his praise to McDonalds, who challenged its customers to ask any question on Twitter and they would answer it. He noted this was the perfect way to engage people when they think you are “BSing” them. Check out some of the results.
Panelist: Jodi Gersh
Reason: Jodi gave kudos to Oreo’s recent Facebook campaign, in which they post photos regularly of Oreos that have been carved to look like different things. She says its brilliant because of Oreo’s complete understanding of Facebook as a platform. They are taking the cookie that everyone already loves and making something out of it to share. Check out AdAge’s coverage.
Panelist: Shashi Bellamkonda
Campaign: Network Solutions, Go Granny
Q: What is coming in 2013 for Twitter and Google+? What about “dark social?”
According to George, Google+ is a ghost town and will continue to be a place for the small, yet active older, male population. She says its great for SEO, but not broad engagement. But, Bellamkonda says it still plays a role, saying that everyone should have a Google+ button on every page of their website. He also noted the rise in predictive analytic-focused platforms like GoogleNow, which collects your data and gives you the info it thinks you want to see when you start your browser (i.e. local weather, favorite sports scores). The group didn’t have too much to say about Twitter, but Bhargava gave a final push to the new MySpace, calling it an exciting destination.
They wrapped-up the panel by talking about dark social, stating stats from an Atlantic article that showed half of the links we go to come from email, text, chat, etc. George said that we should look at dark social traffic and use it to help generate content. And, Bellamkonda recommended using a button tool such as AddThis to help track this data.
Earlier today, our very own Elizabeth Shea, CEO at SpeakerBox joined Matt Howard, Co-founder and CEO at ZoomSafer and D.P. Venkatesh, Founder and CEO at mPortal, in a webinar to share their inbound marketing success stories and the strategies that drove them. I thought I would share the short of it all with our readers who weren’t able to join in for the live presentation.
Whether you were an early adopter of inbound marketing, looking to revamp your current program or just thinking about inbound marketing for the first time, there were several great takeaways from the discussion. But, I’ll start you off with a great quote that was referenced:
“Not only do leads generated through social and content marketing cost half as much as traditional outbound-generated leads, they also close at higher rate” – Tom Pick, Business2Community (Check out Tom’s whole article on the subject here.)
According to Shea, inbound marketing is all about engaging and giving people or potential customers something they will find valuable. And, social networks have really given us the opportunity to provide this value on a two-way street, something Venkatesh agreed with, noting that the difference between one and two-way communication has really allowed his company, mPortal, to deploy inbound marketing in a way that has really changed things for them.
Howard, whose company ZoomSafer adopted inbound marketing as a start-up, compared initiating an inbound marketing program to joining a gym, stressing, “It’s not easy, you have to invest time everyday to see a payoff.” You can check out his entire blog post on the metaphor by vising ZoomSafer’s blog.
The Inbound Marketing Funnel
The presentation focused briefly on the use of a funnel-model for inbound marketing, which rallies interest near the top with search, content and social media efforts. Once interest is tracked through something like a click on a whitepaper, website visit or connection via a social network, a company can nurture the relationship by using the intel provided to start an authentic conversation or meeting that can help lead the interested party to a solution (hopefully via their product or service). Which then brings us to the bottom of the funnel, where the ultimate goal is to generate customers.
Along with using this model as a guide for your inbound marketing program, Howard pointed to great technology platforms like HubSpot and Eloqua that can help automate the process in a cost effective way by generating great quality data for people already interested in your solution. Venkatesh agreed that those tools and the rich data they generate are helping mPortal to jump directly to the middle of the funnel with more targeted leads.
Search and Content
“Content strategy is about keywords being visible and tagged so you can be found,” said Shea. She also highlighted that content can be anything that adds value, including web content, articles by 3rd parties, eBooks, blog posts and comments, social media feeds and even this webinar (to name a few examples). And, the key to high search rankings? Good keywords, a dynamic, keyword-centric strategy and inbound links from high authorities.
You can check out some great whitepapers on content marketing from the Content Marketing Institute here.
When it comes to content, Shea advised that it is essential for companies to have a blog. Venkatesh stated, “It is no longer a question of ‘to blog or not to blog,’ but what to blog about and how often. Howard agreed, stating that it is impossible to blog too much. The key takeaway? BLOG. BLOG. BLOG.
But, what should you be blogging about? Avoid writing about your products and services, but instead speak broadly to topics and trends that will position you and your company as thought leaders in the space. Venkatesh suggested discussing a problem and pointing out how to solve it sans specific product placement. In his experience, it will most likely bring the reader back to the writer to ask how his/her company can play a role in the solution. And, when it comes to length of content, it was agreed that quality is everything, whether it takes a paragraph or two pages.
Implementing an inbound marketing program takes time and patience. Shea noted that a reasonable time for seeing results could be about 7-8 months. Utilizing a technology platform to assist your efforts can go a long way as well as a strong focus on SEO, blogging and social to funnel in leads. Lastly, Howard noted that it in order to be successful, a CEO must culturally embrace this type of campaign.
Full infographic available at:http://www.cmswire.com/cms/customer-experience/infographic-the-decline-of-outbound-marketing-013308.php
Our inbound marketing webinar is just four days away,
I'm toiling on the content so we'll have smart things to say.
I'm joined by my fun colleagues, Matt Howard and D.P.,
Who will have a lot more to add than just little ol' me.
What's inbound marketing, you ask? Oh geez, oh no!
It's the way to attract customers these days…say it isn't so.
Give them something valuable, something they can use,
To make their job easier, walk a mile in their shoes.
My friends D.P. and Matt are pretty funny guys,
You'll enjoy the conversation, thinking: "my how the time flies!"
Matt says inbound marketing is like going to the gym,
It's a consistent level of effort, it can't be just a whim.
D.P.'s company is ten years old, and it's really hit its stride,
He's getting to the next level with inbound marketing at his side.
Below are some great links we've found to get you in the mood:
Think of Inbound Marketing as a "New Attitude."
So come join us now on Wednesday, we'll give it all we've got,
To make sure you walk away with something really, really hot!
Thank you, I'm here all week.
--Elizabeth Shea, @eliz2shea
Register for the webinar if you'd like to come:
Wednesday, August 29th, 2:00 pm Eastern Time
D.P. Venkatesh, Founder and CEO, mPortal
Matt Howard, Co-founder and CEO, ZoomSafer
Elizabeth Shea, CEO, SpeakerBox Communications
Resources I enjoyed reading (feel free to add your own!):
72 Fascinating Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2012: By Tom Pick, Business2Community, July 23, 2012.
The Most Important Customer Review of HubSpot You'll Ever Read: By Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion.
Generate More Leads with B2B Social Media: By Jeffrey Cohen, Social Media B2B, March 29, 2012.
Conferences I found centered on Inbound Marketing Strategies (please add your own!):
Content Marketing World 2012 (Cleveland): Sep. 4-5-6
Inbound 2012 (Boston): Aug. 27-30
Inbound Marketing Summit (Boston): Oct. 23-24
Inbound Marketing Summit (New York): Feb 2013
Online Marketing Summit (Santa Clara): Oct 22-25
Search engine optimization (SEO) is something that many marketers seek to incorporate into their marketing mix, but only a few seem to truly and deeply understand. Many people still assume that simply incorporating a few keywords into a website will result in a #1 ranking on Google within a matter of a couple of days. Still others feel that SEO is akin to some form of black magic, having heard or experienced horror stories of sites that have been penalized for incorporating improper optimization or “black hat SEO” procedures.
In short, many still do not understand that SEO is a legitimate marketing strategy that can help raise an organization’s online awareness. If done correctly, that is.
But is there a correct SEO method? Like every other type of communications device, there are several different approaches to SEO, and these can vary based on many different factors (the size of a site, for example, or the types of products and services that are being promoted). And while it’s true that search engines like Google will change their search algorithms on a regular basis in order to keep their search results fresh and honest (thereby keeping website owners and SEO experts continually on their toes), there are certain basic rules and guidelines that can safely be followed to form a sound foundation for any burgeoning SEO program.
These guidelines will most likely always come back to the same tenets: keywords, content, and links. Since time eternal (well, since Google began indexing sites, anyway), these have seemingly been the backbones of any successful SEO program.
There’s more, of course. Much more, in fact. And we’ve attempted to lay at least some of it out for you in a new white paper: No More Hocus Pocus: A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization.
This white paper is designed to give a perspective on some of the building blocks that should be considered when embarking on a SEO effort. It provides information and examples on effective site optimization -- as well as providing some perspective on what not to do.
In 2008, Google posted that it had indexed 1 trillion web pages simultaneously. Google no longer issues such information, but if that was four years ago, consider how many pages the Web giant is indexing in 2012! That will give you an idea of how much competition is out there online for site visitors. That’s an indicator that SEO is no longer a “nice to have;” instead, it should be considered an imperative part of an online strategy if you’re expecting your site to get discovered.
This SpeakerBox SEO white paper and guide is designed to get you pointed in the right direction.
Vocus kicked off its Friday's Vocus Users Conference schedule with a compelling and passionate speaker, Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, who discussed why PR people should care about content marketing and how to optimize content, search and social to drive business.
His talk centered around the intersection of PR and marketing, which is a topic near and dear to my heart since we've been touting this migration for years now. I was able to briefly speak to him before the session (thanks Frank Strong) and he is an early pioneer on the topic: he saw the need to incorporate search into public relations strategies over ten years ago. At SpeakerBox, we have seen first hand how the integration of marketing and commuincations discplines create better results, so it was a treat to learn more about his methodology and approach. The audience was captivated, one attendee actually tweeted:
@: I am too busy listening and taking notes to tweet often! Sign of a great presentation! @.
He has published a book, Optimize, which includes many of these best practices. I'll share some of the takeaways that I was able to capture in this session (full disclosure, if i paraphrase his points inaccurately or didn't capture the essense perfectly, I take full responsibility!):
It all starts with search: Again, he saw the connection years ago and now, with a stated 12 billion searches conducted monthly in Google, he hammers home the point about how people virtually always start with search when make buying decisions. Fleishman Hillard conducted a 2012 Digital Index Survey and found that 89% of purchases made initially started with search engines. So why should PR care about content marketing? Because content marketing is one of the only pure, authentic ways to drive search, especially with the new algorhythms Google continually improves. He even questions the audience, "what are you hiding from if you aren’t incorporating search into everything you do?"
Furthermore, as he relates search to the PR Professionals in the room, he cited a statistic that 95% of journalists use search in their research for sources, so being found for your area of expertise is critical in getting inbound journalist inquiries.
Search+Social+Content: A mantra that will not die, and shouldn't! We've been saying this for years, and we believe the combination of these three disciplines is what gets people to engage and convert. But content that is created must have a purpose, a strategy behind what's created and where it is distributed, etc. He spent a lot of time on this and shared many detailed methodologies which are also available in his book.
Don’t spray and pray: Be incredibly disciplined in the development of your content, what you say, what you deliver, and where you deliver it. He shared the term “Info-tain” which is the process of creating a positive, entertaining experience for those in the buying cycle. This could be in the development of infographs, videos, photos, etc., that entertain while they educate. But again, follow a plan to develop content your audience wants and plan the best way to deliver that content to your audience.
B2B is no different: When specifically treating B2B relationships, he states that the relationship building is even MORE important than perhaps on the B2C side, since he believes a "romance" has to happen in B2B for people to buy. Delivering right content is the right way at the right time is the key to making that happen.
Some other good nuggets, and tweetable soundbites (you can follow tweets from the conference at #vocus):
- Customers today pull themselves through 70% of the sales cycle. Be there with content for them while they are in that process.
- Content fuels the word of mouth that has been the best marketing engine since the dawn of conversation.
- Content marketing is not about you. It’s about your customers and what information they want to consume.
- After you know what your people want to hear through your content, how do you want them to feel? Don't leave out this important buying consideration.
- Don't forget to optimize your content (and your website), for mobile devices. Look at your analytics to determine what percentage of your inbound visitors are coming via mobile devices.
- Look at journalists like a customer. Consider it a successful sale if they write about you or your client in a positive way.
- Have a storyline for your tweets, otherwise it’s like a one-night stand!
And my favorite quote from him when asked by clients to get them into the Wall Street Journal..."well, first you have to deserve to be there!" Content can help make that happen.
--Elizabeth Shea @eliz2shea
So, we’ve all heard it before… the press release is dead.
It’s really not – we use it all the time. While how it’s used has changed, it’s certainly still used – often.
It seems that for the past few years, experts have been very quick to deem things dead when in fact they’re used all the time.
On top of the press release being dead, I’ve heard through some reputable sources (wink, wink) that email is dead too! Who knew?? I understand where these people are coming from when new or more efficient means of communication come about, but declaring the number one means of communication as dead just seems a little unreasonable.
The kicker for me, though, happened earlier this month. I was on the phone monitoring a media interview for a client, and this popped up in my inbox: “Is The Phone Interview Dead?”
I just had to click on it.
Ok, so the article talks about how increasingly interviews are being done over email – I agree. But it also says that they are regularly conducted over Facebook, Twitter and Skype… I’ve never seen that happen!
Other items on the deceased list…in case you didn’t know:
In person media tours, Facebook, Twitter, Pheniece’s computer, public relations, MySpace, social media (thanks for the heads up James Franco), SEO, blogging, landlines, advertising, books, newspapers and more.
Ok, so maybe I’m taking this a little bit too literally in some cases. I just think we should all stop and think before we declare something that is still in use to be dead.
Image source: Leo Reynolds
It’s the end of the year, and you know what that means – top 10 lists! Google has done its part by releasing its Zeitgeist 2011 list, which catalogs the top 10 search terms/subjects over the past twelve months.
This year’s list is a true smorgasbord, comprised of everything from tech products to celebrities – there’s even a nuclear power plant in there. Topping the list is Rebecca Black (I have no idea who this is, by the way, but then again, I’m an old dude). It also includes Google+, Steve Jobs, and the videogame “Battlefield 3.”
At number six, the iPhone 5. I find this one particularly interesting from a public relations perspective, primarily because it’s a product that technically doesn’t exist. You remember the media fervor leading up to the new iPhone announcement, right? And the corresponding letdown that took place when the iPhone 4S was finally unveiled (incidentally, the iPhone 4S didn’t make the Zeitgeist list)?
Of course, this attests to the power of Apple to drum up huge interest in just about anything it does, but it also speaks to the power – and potential pitfalls – of building hype. Developing momentum around a major product announcement can be fantastic, but you also have to deliver upon that momentum through the actual announcement itself. In the iPhone 4S case, you could make the argument that Apple didn’t stoke the fires that were lit prior to that product’s introduction. But, surely they must have understood the expectations that came along with it, expectations that – Siri aside – may not quite have been met.
I’m not saying the iPhone 4S is a dud; clearly, it’s a huge hit. But as the Zeitgeist list shows, it’s perhaps not in the same stratosphere as the elusive iPhone 5. And while Apple can get away with subverting expectations, most companies can’t. Building a drumbeat about an upcoming announcement is great, but paying attention to what’s being said and written pre-announcement can help companies manage expectations when the big reveal occurs.
- Pete Larmey