September 2013 Issue #3
SEO Study: Social Signals Now Key Factor for Google Ranking
Searchmetrics / Marketing Profs / Pamorama
A recent SEO study found a strong correlation between websites with top search rankings and high social activity. (Courtesy of Matt Montagne)
High-ranking websites on Google share one similar quality: they include a high number of social signals. Searchmetrics found a particularly strong correlation between URLs in top search positions and high social activity in its study of SEO Ranking Factors - Rank Correlation 2013
. The study answers the question, "What do web pages with high positions on Google have in common, and what distinguishes them from low-ranking pages?" The top three factors that influence high ranking: Google+1s, Facebook shares and the number of backlinks from external sites to the page.
The results prove good content is still king, Ayaz Nanji asserts in Search Ranking Factors 2013: What Does Google Look For?
Positive content factors include high word count, multiple multimedia integrations and internal link structure. Factors that have lost importance: keyword inclusion in the domain name and fast site speed. The latter is now a prerequisite rather than a search rank booster — so slow page-loading speed still hurts site ranking.
To ensure content is optimized for search and social, ask: Would your customers share the content? Writers can't be satisfied with content that has the right key words and photos, Jeff Woelker maintains in Social Now Is the Most Important Search Ranking Factor
. He encourages communications professionals to focus on content that's interesting and
that readers will want to share with others. By using media monitoring and measurement tools, companies can decipher what their consumers talk about, what resonates with them and what they are most likely to share.
With Google+ the strongest correlation factor named in Searchmetrics' study, Pam Dyer shares ideas to utilize the social network's tools in Google Plus SEO: The Business Benefits
. The larger your Google+ network, the more directly or indirectly you influence the search results of the people in your circles. Dyer recommends implementing Google Authorship and linking your Google+ page to your website. Another helpful practice for companies: Google+ Timing, an app that analyzes engagement on your posts and calculates the best time for you to share posts.
Insights and Trends on the Future of Content Marketing
Content Marketing Experience / iMedia Connection / Brian Solis
A channel-agnostic focus to provide the "best answer" to target audiences remains one of the main drivers that shape content marketing's future. However, new content trends continue to emerge, according to Lee Odden: The Future of Content and Content Marketing
. J-P De Clerck shares Odden's views on what's next for content marketing, referencing Odden's presentation at Content Marketing World 2013. Among the important trends: Converged media, fast reaction to real-time events and an integrated approach that tackles silo challenges. Technology, mobile and big data will play an essential role in how content is shared, especially with the invention of wearable devices like Google Glass, De Clerck reports. In fact, marketers should start their campaigns with mobile, as it is now truly the "first screen," according to David Shing of AOL in The Future of Brands as Content Creators
. Unique video campaigns boost brand awareness, so marketers should master video, Shing adds.
Some brands have already made innovative use of their content. In 25 Brands Redefining Content Marketing
, iMedia shows brands that go beyond simple blogs and social media posts and utilize unique approaches to storytelling. Examples include Ben & Jerry's, Campbell's Soup, Coca-Cola and Dunkin Donuts. All deploy exemplary videos and images on Vine, YouTube and SlideShare.
Google Link Scheme Guidelines Emphasize Earned Media
Google's recent link scheme guidelines for press releases
prove that editorial coverage carries more weight than self-promotion or links from paid media. The updates differentiate owned from earned links, Sally Falkow explains in Owned vs. Earned Links in Press Releases
. Google regards links placed in press releases as "owned," and sees linked anchor text as a way to manipulate search results. According to Google, all anchor text should be tagged "nofollow" so they do not help the brand's SEO. Falkow's conclusion: PR pros should strive for earned links from other sites that point to your content to boost search engine rankings. These links can be earned via blogger relations, media relations and social sharing. Bottom line: the best way to attract links and boost search engine ranking is to publish excellent content consistently.
PR Pitches that Convince Journalists
Target Marketing / Mashable
PR pitches have to conquer two obstacles: (1) get the journalist's attention and (2) convince the journalist the story is worth covering. Taryn Scher itemizes ways to solve both challenges in 11 Ways to Increase Your Odds of Getting Media Coverage
. Avoid trying to sell the media with promotions, flashy sales language and buzzwords, Scher instructs. An effective press release provides the "meat" of the story with key figures, spokespeople, images, bios and company info. Scher advises creating a top 20 list of media organizations and pitch them tailored to their readership and audience. Reminder: Drop everything when the phone rings. Don't expect a journalist to sit around and wait for you to call back.
Social media offers an effective outlet for PR pros to reach out to journalists, but only when PR respects The Dos and Don'ts of Pitching Journalists on Social Media
. Twitter can be a great place to pitch journalists, but PR pros should be mindful of their first approach. Don't ask them to immediately Direct Message you. Instead, Zoe Fox recommends including a link and @mention of the brand you represent. Other rules of the social media road: Facebook is for friends, and friends don't pitch friends; don't contact one journalist to get to his/her colleague; and don't mass-tweet pitches to several reporters and outlets.
Press Release Mistakes that Annoy Journalists
A good press release = an error-free press release. Those in PR should avoid the 10 Common Grammar Mistakes that Will Ruin Good Content
if they want journalists to consider their press releases for an article. The list includes the usual offenders, like "it's" vs. "its" and "your" vs. "you're," but also reminds writers to refrain from dangling modifiers and comma abuse. An editor's pet peeve: improper use of the apostrophe. Apostrophes designate possession; they should never be used to pluralize words. Author Yvonne Lyons adds that PR pros should own and use an AP Stylebook or The Chicago Manual of Style, both of which journalists use (depending on their organization).
Made by PR: Native Advertising
A number of major publications including the Washington Post
now accept editorial content containing native advertising, but differentiate it from journalist-written content. In 9 Tips for Successful PR Execution of Native Advertising
, Tony Silber observes that native advertising — paid media that attempts to match the form and experience in the publication or article — requires borrowing methods and skills from both PR and media buying. A key principle for success in native advertising: start small with products that align to your business goals. Effective content reflects the brand voice and its overall content strategy, Silber adds. Best news: paid content demands relatively modest investments and can deliver meaningful results.
Native Advertising Risks Credibility & Customers
The New York Times / Consumerist
Native advertising enables news organizations to earn online advertising money while producing storytelling content that people want to read. But publishers must tread lightly, ad man Joe McCambley warns in Storytelling Ads May Be Journalism's New Peril
. Properly executed, native advertising can provide value to both the reader and the advertiser. But if publishers lose control of inevitable product hype, native ads may undermine the publication's credibility and alienate customers — so both publishers and brands providing content lose.
While attempts have been made to establish disclosure regulations, Chris Morran acknowledges that advetisers are driven by the fact that readers are more likely to click on content without a "sponsored" label. In Feds to Investigate the Fuzzy Line Between Advertising & Editorial Content
, Moran reports the FTC will meet in December to discuss the challenges publishers face in maintaining the "wall" between editorial and sponsored content. No disclaimer = misled and misinformed consumers. Message to sponsors: Native advertising offers a credible new channel to reach consumers. Hype will kill it. Content should stand on its own as good journalism.
How to Grab a Blogger's Attention for Tech Products
If you're pitching a technology product, offer bloggers hands-on time or real photos. (Courtesy of Yutaka Tsutano)
How can PR pros interest bloggers to write about their tech products? Offer "hands-on" time, innovative uses for products, and eye-catching photos, Brian Pittman suggests in What Motivates Tech Bloggers? Four Ways to Grab Attention and Ink
. Products should also be tied to popular trends, especially those that the blogger has already written about. According to Leigh Geary, editor of Coolsmartphone.com, the best pitches are inventive with arresting images, include links to media rather than attachments (attachments go to the spam folder), and avoid technology jargon. PR pros should also be prepared to answer bloggers' follow-up questions immediately.
Measurement of Social Media to Validate Communications Strategy
International Public Relations Association
Many PR departments still fail to link their social media initiatives to business objectives. In Social Media: Effective, Measurable Evaluation Can Boost PR Industry Accountability
, Giselle Bodie presses media evaluation services to educate their corporate clients on more advanced measurement techniques that can assess return on investment based on business goals. In addition, PR pros and media evaluators must tear down the internal silos, engage in better dialogue, and have a shared goal to help organizations make greater sense of the impact social media has on their brands and corporate reputation. While an agreed set of social media measurement standards is vital, the need for such common language is only half the issue, Bodie contends. With a diverse nature of social media campaigns, no one-size-fits-all solution exists. Instead, measurement must venture beyond the technical and embrace human elements. Bodie's key message to PR: introduce media measurement while developing strategies for social media campaigns rather than bring it in as an afterthought. A social media strategy that incorporates measurement at the outset allows companies to set measurable business objectives and quantify social media outcomes.
PR: Strategy vs. Tactics … and Why It's Important to Know the Difference
Storytelling expertise positions PR as the top contender to manage both content marketing and other marketing content. With new media, technology and marketing methods, communications departments need "project managers" to hold content together with a single narrative. But PR also faces a major obstacle: lack of strategy, Andre Fourie proclaims in PR Industry Faces Huge Opportunity…and Great Threat
. PR often falls flat in conveying how its efforts tie into long-term business goals. With a short-term, tactical approach, clients are happy with project results, but PR fails to prove its lasting value to the organization. The solution: establish goals to construct a strategy that prevents "blind" content from being created and published. Then, measure outcomes. Rule of thumb: a PR strategy succeeds when the story persists, even if the tactics faltered.
Marketing through Storytelling: Coca-Cola's Content Strategies
Coca-Cola uses storytelling techniques to reach their customers. (Courtesy of Jonas Nilsson)
Coca-Cola's marketing success stems from its ability to reach consumers through storytelling. Katie Bresnahan shares the best insights presented by a Coca-Cola marketing strategist at Content Marketing World 2013 in Content 20/20 - Jonathan Mildenhall on Coca-Cola's Content Strategy
. Mildenhall's key message: use storytelling to insert the brand into consumer conversations. Referencing case studies, Mildenhall explained how Coke built a social purpose into its storytelling, including a campaign where Coke machines contained webcams, and those who approached the machine could wave and interact with each other in different countries. Mildenhall believes marketing content should embody the 70-20-10 principle: 70% "safe" content, 20% innovation on what works well, and 10% high-risk content that has potential to be groundbreaking.
Content Ideas for Bloggers & Writers
Bloggers of all topics and subjects face a similar problem: a lack of fresh ideas for useful, engaging information. In How to Never Run Out of Blog Content Ideas
, Heidi Cohen offers several options for writers who seek content ideas. Articles that provide insights and fresh takes on research studies can establish the writer as an industry thought leader. Another idea: give your spin on the latest developments in the news — but avoid newsjacking
. To switch up the multimedia content in your blog, Cohen recommends translating information into charts, infographics and visualizations. Aggregate important industry trends and use that information as your highlighted data points.
10 Ways to Improve Marketing & Brand Websites
Marketers should omit clutter and provide a clear, simple message that describes what their company does and what visitors should do next, according to 10 Deadly Reasons Most Websites Fail
. Jessica Meher describes the most common problems that make up an unsuccessful website, including; no clear call-to-action; bad use of animation; and ads, pop-ups and videos that play automatically. The best websites steer clear of interrupting the user's experience, Meher reports. One requirement that some marketers still ignore: mobile optimization. It eases and accelerates the buying experience for customers — and, mobile-specific design reportedly boosts revenue.
B2B Product Pages that Convert Buyers
B2B purchasing decisions often require more information, research and decision-makers than a typical B2C purchase, Meghan Keaney Anderson explains in How to Build a Perfect B2B Product Page
. The first step to optimize your website for B2B buyers: research how visitors consume your product pages. Ask: Do users understand what your company sells? Where do consumers go to gather information about your company? Then, position your product so it's the very first thing visitors see on the page and fits well with visual components. Tip: avoid jargon like "best-in-class" and "revolutionary." Steps 3 through 5: create videos, product comparisons and case studies to promote the product. Finally, Anderson instructs marketers to measure page views, time on page and bounce rate to diagnose page effectiveness.
Simple & Effective Ways to Identify Influencers
Red Rocket Media
How to Find Social Media Influencers on Twitter
reveals the best ways to identify "the movers, the shakers, and the thought-leaders" who help push marketing campaigns forward. Chris Taylor recommends searching for lists that compile top blogs and influencers in your industry, such as CyberAlert's 30 Most Influential Bloggers in Public Relations
. To find influencers for specific subjects and topics, marketers can use Twitter apps like Twellow, a directory that sorts Twitter accounts into niche subcategories. Those searching for influencers should also utilize Topsy, which allows users to filter results by the number of mentions the influencer's Twitter account accrues.
Free & Low-Cost Tools to Manage Social Media
Managing content across multiple social networks and blogs can prove extremely time-consuming. Adam Connell offers the 13 Best Social Media Management Tools
that allow social media specialists to schedule, integrate and measure content without visiting every social profile individually. Connell names popular apps like Hootsuite, Buffer and TweetDeck, but also includes a handful of lesser-known tools. Commun.it, for example, helps users identify and engage with influencers. Manage Flitter, among other features, can determine if you're following fake profiles and assesses the best times to post updates on Twitter. Bonus: most of the tools are either free or require inexpensive subscriptions.
Demographics & Trends of Social Networks
Social Media Today
Demographics vary significantly across the different social networks, according to How Do Women and Men Use Social Media Differently?
The infographic reveals that 40 million more women visit Twitter each month than men. Men spend nearly twice as much time per week watching YouTube videos. The report also illustrates how each sex uses social media networks differently; women participate in more than 60% of Facebook shares, while men primarily use LinkedIn to research other companies and reconnect with former business associates. Conclusion: Brands should adjust their promotions and social media strategies to align with the interests of each social network's user demographics.
Video Marketing: Exemplary Brand Vines
Many brands stayed committed to Vine's 6-second video length despite Instagram's 15-second video feature released in June. Many brands continue to find creative ways to use Vine to connect with their audiences, including those named in 15 Brands Kicking Butt on Vine
. Target's "roulette" idea: flash a list of different summer activities and instruct users to click on the video to pause it and see which activity to do next (all the activities come complete with items sold at Target). Volkswagen utilized a popular trending topic, Shark Week, and responded with a Vine and hashtag of its own, #VWSharkWeek. Another idea: use Vine to inspire your audience with interesting ways to use your products. Oreo's Vine illustrates a man who crumbles Oreos into a pepper grinder and grinds the cookies into a bowl of ice cream for "Oreo sprinkles." Bottom line: Vine remains the leading channel for brand videos. Users notice brands that create unique, shareable videos.
Creative Ways to Break Creative Blocks
To escape a creative block, put all your ideas — obvious and odd — out in the open. Write them down and try to smash a few together. The initial mash-up may seem ridiculous, but one of them may create inspiration, according to Don't Stop: 6 Tricks for Beating Creative Blocks
. Other ideas: change your surroundings or browse sites you've never visited on the Internet for new ideas. Our favorite suggestion: "think strangely." View your surroundings through a "new set of eyes" by pretending you're a child or an alien. This (weird) exercise might result in creative descriptions for products or headlines.
How to Remember Names, Dates and Details
Memory matters in business; people respect (and admire) those who remember names, appointments and other important details. 7 Tricks to Help You Remember Anything
offers ways to improve your memory. Mike Michalowicz advises converting a task into pictures, as we naturally remember visual cues better than words. If you need to submit a proposal to a client at 10 p.m., for example, visualize the proposal as a stack of papers and an alarm clock that reads 10 p.m. A similar practice works on names: when you meet someone for the first time, associate a picture with their name. If you meet a Richard, you might picture him with a crown on his head for Richard the Lionhearted. One added idea: one of the most famous bankers of all time kept an individual note card on everyone he ever met. Each card included a picture, all relevant work and family information, and details of previous conversations and other contacts. Each morning, he reviewed the cards of all the people he was going to meet that day. Assistants did the data entry.
Factoids of the Week:
of companies that optimized their website for mobile increased sales. (Econsultancy)
— Tweet this Stat
7 of the top 8
SEO factors associated with high search rankings are social in nature. (Searchmetrics)
— Tweet this Stat
of Internet users have taken security steps online, 21%
have had an email or social networking account compromised or hacked. (Pew Research Center)
— Tweet this Stat
Quotes of the Week:
"Done is better than perfect." — Mark Zuckerburg
"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new" — Steve Jobs
Upcoming Conferences and Webinars
SMX East 2013
, hosted by Third Door Media, will be held Oct. 1 in New York, NY. The cost to attend is $1,695.
Digital PR Summit
, hosted by PR News, will be held Oct. 16 in New York, NY. The cost to attend is $895.
Word of Mouth Marketing Summit 2013
, hosted by Word of Mouth Marketing Association, will be held Nov. 18 in Nashville, TN. The cost to attend is $1,295 for non-members and $995 for members.
Recent White Papers and eBooks
PR & Marketing Job Openings
The listing for this issue includes PR job openings and marketing positions — with detailed job descriptions for each. Readers are invited to submit job postings to email@example.com
Best of Previous Issues
Determining Your Media Monitoring Needs
Print News Monitoring Vs. Online News Monitoring
Broadcast Monitoring for TV & Radio News
Selecting a Social Media Monitoring Service
F.r.e.e & Low-Cost News Release Distribution Services
|CyberAlert 5.0 - local, national, and worldwide news monitoring and press clipping service monitors 55,000+ online news sources in 250+ languages each day.
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ONLINE SOCIAL MEDIA MONITORING
|BlogSquirrel - blog monitoring service monitors 7+ million new postings each day in 75+ million blogs worldwide.
||CyberAlert VDO - monitoring of consumer-generated video clips in 200+ online video sharing and news sites.
|Netpinions - consumer discussion / word-of-mouth / buzz monitoring service monitors 100,000+ online message boards, forums, and Usenet news groups.
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