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Over the past year, headlines have been flying around telling the story of “content marketing is replacing SEO” or “SEO is dead, content marketing has taken over”. In many situations, the two are made out to be total rivals – who will win: content marketing or SEO?

The reality is, there should be no showdown between the two, they should be working together seamlessly to boost your search marketing efforts and no business should be choosing one over the other.

If you choose to just create regular content without doing any SEO, you may have an incredible read that no one can actually find to share and engage with. Alternatively, if you have some great technical SEO but no content, then your audience isn’t going to be able to build a relationship with you.

As search marketers, it is important to bring the two together and blend them as part of an ongoing search marketing strategy.

Create Wiki Content

Wikipedia is incredibly powerful when it comes to generating traffic and, unsurprisingly, it ranks for almost any search term on Google. Comedy Central once gave a presentation on their marketing, which showed that they receive over 100,000 visitors from Wikipedia every single month.

Wikipedia often suffers from broken links due to the amount of pages and references it has. This is a fantastic opportunity to create content for a great SEO opportunity. It is easy enough to find dead links on Wikipedia just using Google, type [keyword] “dead link” into the search function and check out the results you get.

The key to this opportunity is creating a trusted account and making other edits first, so Wikipedia doesn’t just see you creating backlinks to your own site straight away. You can even take this strategy a step further by using Ahrefs to find the full list of sites linking to the dead link and contacting them in regards to swapping the link to your new relevant content.

Utilize Search Data

There is no point creating content people aren’t going to read, so make sure you are creating content your audience wants and needs, and will therefore share and engage with. Equally, you don’t want to be creating low quality content stuffed with keywords, as Google won’t like this and neither will your audience.

Find out first what keywords and phrases you need to be and make sure you create high quality content that will be useful to your audience and will help you to rank for your key terms.

You can also use trends as a focus for your content; this applies to both search engine and social media platforms. Use trending topics on Twitter to base your content on or use Google Trends to see currently trending topics that apply to your industry.

Grow Authorship

You can set this up using your Google Plus profile. Link your profile on WordPress to your G+ page and in the “contributor” section of your G+ link to your blog author page. You can also use rel=author in a line of HTML to link back to your G+ profile.

Although Google claims that Authorship does not directly affect rankings, it definitely gives authors more exposure and rich snippets allow you to capture the attention of your audience by using the micro data you want to be displayed.

Publishing and Promotion

Before you publish your content make sure it is optimized for SEO. Link to it from older blog posts and other parts of your site, and make sure you have included appropriate CTAs, so the content can be shared and linked back to. Set up an embed code with a link back to your site and make sure your social sharing buttons include your username.

There are two key elements of SEO when it comes to promoting and distributing content – links and social media. Link analysis comes in handy here; check out the link profiles of your competitors and see who links to their content, if these sites are authoritative they could be useful.

With regards to social media, engagement is key. Track conversations and reach out to influencers. Research your community well and reach out to relevant people who are already talking about the subject at hand. Use the Fresh Web Explorer tool from Moz to see which sites are already talking about your topic.

Analyze and Assess

Once your content has been created around relevant keywords, optimized, published and promoted, it is crucial to find out how successful it was. Without this you will have no clue if your search marketing strategy is working or whether you should be tweaking parts of your overall approach.

Use your analytics to work out how successful the content by looking at how many views it received, what the bounce rate was, how many shares it received, etc. Then determine how it ranks for the keywords it was created around and how much traffic is from organic search.

Use this analysis to tailor your next piece of content – learn what could improve your strategy and apply it.


Although content marketing and SEO require different skill-sets, this does not mean in they stand alone. Combining the two helps you to rank better and gain higher levels of search traffic, but also to grow your audience and reach. 

By combining the requirements of the search engine and the humans that use them, your business will be able to maximize your total marketing ability. When you next create a content marketing strategy, keep SEO firmly in mind when it comes to your research, production, promotion and analysis.

Image Credit: James Bell, My Social Agency

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How To Calculate The Roi Of Seo For Your Marketing Strategy

This post was sponsored by Semify. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

Have you ever wondered how beneficial SEO would be for your business, or how much of your budget you should invest in it?

Do you sometimes worry your SEO efforts won’t bring in enough profit to justify the cost?

56% of small businesses still don’t use SEO or aren’t sure if it’s part of their marketing strategy.

That means that 56% of small businesses are closing their doors to an evergreen, free traffic source.

Chances are, your competition may not be kickstarting their online presence with SEO, making the investment into search engine optimization a great way to get ahead.

But how can you demonstrate the true value of SEO?

We’ve created a powerful tool to take the guesswork out of the equation.

Today, you’ll learn how to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of SEO.

Why Is The ROI Of SEO Important For Businesses?

It’s hard to spend money if you’re not sure how it will benefit you down the road.

You may already know that SEO offers the lowest cost per lead of any marketing channel.

SEO also helps to crack the code on organic search.

The number one spot on Google search result pages (SERPs) receives at least a quarter of the organic traffic share, so investing in SEO can even the playing field against your competitors.

But while SEO is one of the most affordable marketing tools available, you may need to know if those costs will pay off.

We can conclude that better rankings equal more traffic and conversions, but how does that translate to a dollar amount?

As you can imagine, there’s no substitute for hard (or even estimated) data.

When you can prove with numbers – rather than theoretical concepts – that SEO is worthwhile, you’ll get the “Powers That Be” on board.

What’s Challenging About Determining SEO Return On Investment (ROI)?

That being said, it’s not always easy to get that kind of granular data for the ROI of SEO.

For one thing, no one knows when or how Google will rank a given website. Even if you have all your ducks in a row, anything from algorithm updates to technical website issues can slow your progress.

Although we think we know what Google wants, we can’t control how quickly results occur – nor whether a campaign will perform the way we think it should. We can make predictions based on our experiences, but there are no SEO guarantees.

Isolating data can also be a challenge when you’re pursuing a multi-pronged digital marketing strategy.

Since most marketing techniques tend to work best in conjunction with one another, figuring out the source of your success won’t always be straightforward.

Finally, because SEO is a long-term solution, it may seem like progress is at a standstill. For folks who are accustomed to seeing immediate results, SEO can feel like a huge leap of faith.

So, you need to convince your leadership to stick it out by showing the ROI of SEO.

What’s The Best Way To Measure The ROI Of SEO?

At Semify, we’ve come up with a reliable tool that can show the potential impact of SEO over time – an ROI of SEO calculator.

When paired with up-to-date keyword research, you’ll be able to instantly learn how profitable your search optimization efforts could be!

Below, we’ll walk you through how to calculate your SEO return on investment.

Step 1: Download A Free ROI Of SEO Calculator

Your first step is to get a customizable ROI of SEO calculator that allows you to plug in your information and instantly learn how profitable your SEO strategy could be.

To make it easy, we’ve created an ROI calculator that includes 1-month projections and 18-month projections for a more realistic rankings timetable.

With these numbers in hand, you can set better expectations and show the value of SEO.

Step 2: Perform Keyword Selection & Ranking

In order to calculate the ROI for your SEO strategy, your ROI of SEO calculator will need to know:

Which keywords you’re planning to target.

What each target keyword’s monthly search volume is.

Once you have these two pieces of information, likely already in your SEO strategy, simply add them to the ROI of SEO calculator.

How To Discover A Keyword’s Monthly Search Volume

Today, we’ll pretend that we’re proving the ROI of SEO for a hypothetical local dentist.

To get the most accurate ROI, you’ll want to make sure that you’re selecting long-tail keywords that specifically match your prospect’s search intent and relevance.

So, instead of simply targeting [dentist], we recommend targeting [dentist rochester ny] instead.

Next, put [dentist rochester ny] into your favorite SEO keyword research tool to discover its keyword volume, or monthly searches.

The keyword [dentist rochester ny] has about 1,600 monthly searches.

CTR drops exponentially after the first spot.

Step 4: Add Your Average Conversion Rate

In this context, conversion rate refers to the percentage of visitors who come to a website and complete a desired action.

If you know your own conversion rate, based on your business goals, purposes, and desired visitor actions, place that into the CTR row on your calculator.

If you don’t know your average conversion rate:

Locate your industry on this conversion rate analysis chart.

Copy the percentage under the column, in the “SEO (Organic Search)” row. This number is your average conversion rate for your specific industry.

Paste this number into the CTR row on your calculator.

In our dentistry example, we focused on the average conversion rate for B2C SEO and compared that to data from DentistryIQ, which suggests that the typical dentist conversion rate sits somewhere between 1% and 2%.

In our example, we gave our dentist the benefit of the doubt with a slightly inflated conversion rate.

When you enter your own conversion rate data, we recommend you perform industry research and obtain a more exact figure for your business or client.

Step 5: Add Your Sales-Qualified Lead (SQL) Closing Rate

If this has already been added to your calculator by default, you can move on to the next step.

But for the most accurate ROI of SEO, it’s important to determine your true closing rate.

Though you can use our default, you’ll ideally want to obtain more precise information from your business or from a client for the most accurate calculations.

Step 6: Configure Lifetime Customer Value (LCV) & New Sales

Lifetime customer value is a measure of a customer’s profitability over the course of your relationship.

Although many businesses use a standard $10,000 LVC figure, we learned that dental industry experts estimate their sector’s average LCV at anywhere from two to four times higher than that. A higher LCV usually comes with a higher ROI, but we opted for the $10,000 number in our example to keep things conservative.

You’ll notice that changing your website conversion rate (as well as your keyword ranking and your CTR) will also affect your new sales field. This is an estimate, so you won’t need to provide this information.

Step 7: Add SEO Spend & Get Your Monthly SEO ROI

With SEO, you’ll typically get out what you put in. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend millions of dollars to see gains.

In our example, we guessed that our dental client might spend $2,000 per month on SEO. Feel free to play with that figure to see how it impacts the ROI over time in the 18-month view.

While the first few months may look a bit hairy even with a healthy SEO budget, the tide turns around six months in. As the client makes progress with their keyword rankings, those negative monthly ROI figures turn into positive ones.

After nearly a year, those numbers really shine – illustrating that good things come to SEO pros who wait.

Here’s Your Chance To Prove The Value Of SEO

As marketers, we know that SEO is worth the investment. But you’ll need a more convincing argument if you want others to buy in.

Personalizing the potential payoff can make marketing feel far more tangible. And when the potential payoff is clear, it becomes a whole lot harder to deny the power of SEO.

Featured Image: Net Vector/Shutterstock

Successfully Combining Paid Advertising And Organic Content For Facebook Marketing

Marketing professionals all around the world, whether online or offline will know that the marketing environment can change significantly at any given time. Social media is a notoriously flexible and changeable medium, as users and owners try to figure out how to best optimise the sites. Just recently we have seen Facebook introduce a new brand page layout.

What does this mean? Basically, it means that Facebook have effectively said that businesses will now need to ‘pay to play’. Business pages that want their content shown on their fans feeds will have to invest capital in boosting these posts and increasing their visibility.

Facebook do have a reasonable justification for this to some extent. Each user only has one feed, and on average they will have 250 people and over 50 brands competing for their attention on that feed. This can equate to content overload.

Marketers can expect to see drops of around 20% in their post engagement, a worrying figure since before the changes were announced it was estimated that only around 16% of your fans would see your content organically.

What does this Facebook change mean for marketers?

When determining whether it is worth having a Facebook page for your company there are several considerations that marketers need to consider:

Why was the Facebook page set up in the first place? If there were clear objectives at that point are they still being met and do they inform your objectives for your marketing plan and corporate objective?

What content do you post on your page? If you’ve already got an engaged audience you don’t want to throw them away.

What are the referral traffic analytics like? If people are already coming through to your website from your Facebook page you don’t want to close that channel.

Facebook’s changes don’t mean that your content will be completely invisible to your audience but it does mean harder work in terms of getting the content right. There will be much higher standards of content being produced by the larger brands, and much more research will need to be undertaken into your audience to determine what will work [see our section ‘Getting the content right].

Measuring ROI

Facebook insights provide a wealth of useful data for marketers and in conjunction with Google analytics can provide a realistic and workable ROI.

Top Tip: Ask your web developer to set up a bespoke report on Google that tracks referral traffic from social media sites to goal completions.

Photo Credit: Peter Forret via Compfight cc

Creating shareable content

As I mentioned above there is going to be a continued rise in the standard of content being created. Big brands will inevitably take the cake (smaller businesses can’t really afford to throw people into space like Red Bull, or fly across the Atlantic in a hot air balloon). But content is still king when it comes to social media and you should invest time into creating, useful, well-crafted posts and assets.

Big brands getting it right in 2013 included Volvo and their Van Damme video, which demonstrated the precision steering of Volvo’s trucks. The video has been watched over 69 million times and has become the most watched automotive commercial on YouTube ever.

A smaller company who got it right in 2013 was chúng tôi with a video about their one dollar razors that went viral and has had over 13 million views, boosting the company’s sales and brand awareness. You’ve probably seen it, but I still meet people who haven’t!

So what do you need ?

Research your audience: Who are they? What do they like? Use Facebook’s graph search to map the interest of your fans. Find your audience and reflect their interests.

What has worked before? Have a look at your Facebook insights and find out what posts have had the best engagement levels previously. Establish what it is about those posts that your audience liked, were there similarities? You could also look to recycle some of these posts.

Watch the competition. Firstly, let’s be clear, don’t copy! But get inspiration from your peers, research the market and look at what’s working for competitors. You’re going after the same markets so establishing what elements are working for them will help you to build your content strategy.

Move with the times. As the bar rises with content make sure you’re keeping up with social media trends. Do your audience read your blogs? Would a video be better? Video is quickly becoming the most prevalent form of content and is shared and engaged with more than any other type of content on social media.

Plan, measure, adjust. If you haven’t already, put a content marketing strategy in place. This strategy should sit alongside your overall marketing plan. It should have objectives, examine your audience, the demographic data of social media platforms and outline the content that you will be using. You can then measure the effectiveness of the content in relation to your objectives and adjust it accordingly.

Paying to promote your content should always come as the second step. You don’t want to pay to promote something that no one will engage with.

The changes to Facebook do not mean the end of business marketing on the site, and you can make a successful business page by combining paid and unpaid content. The biggest tip is to be informed through research, not just about your own audience but about the macro environment as a whole. Everything else will lead on from that.

Thanks to Harriet Thacker for sharing her thoughts and opinion in this blog post. Harriet is the Director of EHL Marketing, a Leicester based full-service  marketing company. Harriet specialises in social media and regularly contributes to the company blog and guest blogs externally for several companies. You can connect with her on LinkedIn

Top 10 Tools For Bulletproof Seo Content Strategies

Every SEO needs a fully stocked arsenal of tools to support day-to-day workflows.

Just as technical SEO tools help us to identify critical areas for technical optimizations, content tools help to identify key areas for content optimizations.

Choosing the right tool to add to your workflow largely depends on how you intend to use the data.

With content optimization, we all know that the first step is identifying the opportunity, but there is a second crucial step needed before executing against the opportunity: understanding the context.

In this article you will learn how to answer the question, “What type of data do I need?” and the best tools to source that data.

These tools provide data to evaluate the level of opportunity:

BrightEdge Data Cube: SERP features, keyword research, and competitor analysis.

Advanced Web Rankings (AWR): Share of voice and SERP visibility.

SEMrush: Quick, comprehensive organic overview.

Keyword Planner: Keyword research.

Ahrefs: Competitive content gap.

And these resources provide supporting evidence to strengthen insights:

Google Trends: Search trends and identifying search behavior shifts.

BuzzSumo: Trending social topics, questions, and related content.

Mintel: Consumer and industry insights.

eMarketer: Trends in media that may impact organic search or explain fluctuations in performance caused by non-organic factors.

Think with Google: Market research insights and data points.

What Type of Data Do You Need?

You might be thinking this is a rudimentary question but knowing what your data needs are can be tricky at times.

If you don’t evaluate the reason you are looking for data in the first place, you could potentially spend hours in the weeds without even realizing it.

So, think about your needs before spending hours going down a rabbit hole in a tool you didn’t actually need.

Start by asking yourself:

Do I Need Discovery Data?

Discovery data helps to evaluate areas of opportunity in a landscape through keyword research, site performance indicators, and competitive analyses.

Do I Need Supporting Data?

Supporting data strengthens insights found in discovery data by providing additional context and evidence in the landscape or target audience.

If you are trying to understand dynamics like the reasons why performance metrics dipped at odd times, the use of unexpected or unusual search terms or topics, evidence of shifts in traffic patterns, or other environmental factors that may have contributed to website performance, start here.

Once you understand the type of data you need, it’s easy to source it if you know where to look.

Let’s jump in and identify the 10 content resources we can’t live without in the new age of content SEO.

Tools for Discovery

Discovery is probably ingrained in everything you do, and you likely have a solid toolset that you use daily.

Before developing a content strategy, you need to use discovery data to help you understand the competitive landscape and available opportunities.

Here are our top five content tools and what we believe is the best use for each during the discovery process.

1. BrightEdge Data Cube

Key tool value: SERP feature analysis, bulk keyword research, and competitor analysis

If you are not sure what aspect of content you want to delve into, BrightEdge Data Cube may be the solution you need.

BrightEdge is one of our favorite comprehensive tools for keyword research, competitor analysis, and search engine results page (SERP) feature evaluation.

All you need to begin your discovery process is a relevant URL (we recommend yours or a close competitor’s).

Once you plug in your selected domain, you can view keyword rankings over time, page-level performance data, content opportunities, and SERP feature prevalence.

With an ever-changing SERP, it is important to keep a pulse on your site’s (and your competitors’) rankings in various locations in the SERP.

A useful feature that Data Cube offers is the Content Strategies tab.

The Content Strategies tab reports the historic performance of keywords for different types of organic SERP features, including images, quick answers, and People Also Ask.

You can also explore competitive opportunities by analyzing your competitors’ universal performance.

2. Advanced Web Ranking (AWR)

Key tool value: Share of voice and SERP visibility

Advanced Web Ranking (AWR) brings a new meaning to share of voice through its capabilities to schedule crawls of the SERP for different search engines, from different locations, and for different devices!

AWR makes it easy to measure the impacts of content changes over time.

Through AWR, you can set up keyword groups and schedule regular crawls of the SERP to monitor ranking changes for your set list of terms.

This automated monitoring provides you with the convenience to focus on other projects while measuring share of voice changes for your keyword groups.

AWR does not limit you to just measuring ranking changes for your website.

You can also set up competitors in the platform and measure SERP visibility for a keyword group across a variety of competing sites to see how you are performing against others in the space.

3. SEMrush

Key tool value: Quick, comprehensive organic overview for competition, keyword research, and performance

SEMrush is a one-stop-shop for analyzing your performance and comparing it against your competitors.

If you’re looking for a quick competitor comparison or high-level view of a site’s competitive positioning, your first stop is putting the domain into SEMrush.

First, the Domain Overview toolkit provides a summary tab with an Organic Search section that is useful in getting a quick, high-level view of your site’s performance in the overarching landscape.

Each one of the sections included in the summary tab has its own dedicated tab in the API. This allows you to dig deeper into those high-level insights quickly and easily.

Our second favorite go-to in SEMrush is the Keyword Gap toolkit. This feature is perfect for quickly reviewing opportunity keywords in a competitive landscape.

At a glance you can identify:

Weakest keyword areas.

Competitor overlap.

Device types.

Position filters.

Terms to include/exclude.

Search volume.

Competitor comparisons.

Finally, there’s the Keyword Magic toolkit.

There aren’t enough good things to say about this tool.

As we’ve mentioned, SEMrush is the place to go when you need insights fast, and the Keyword Magic tool proves our point.

The biggest time saver we find in the SEMrush Keyword Magic tool is the Keyword by Number/Volume table.

This allows you to easily identify the terms used most frequently and with the most variations in a specific, targeted landscape to help you home in on those high-value opportunities.

Another useful feature of the Keyword Magic tool is the Keyword Difficulty metric, which gives an easy, quick gauge on how hard or easy it will be to improve performance for that query.

4. Keyword Planner

Key tool value: Keyword research

If you have access to an active Google Ads account, Keyword Planner can be a game-changer when it comes to keyword research.

Using the API can be like drinking from a water hose of opportunity right from the Google fire hydrant, and that’s why we love it.

The API is easy to use and takes care of a lot of the cleanup work normally associated with keyword research.

For example, the API takes into consideration similar terms and groups them for a single average monthly volume that encompasses all similar terms (e.g., plurals).

We see other tools keeping keywords verbatim (not grouped), which usually inflates total search volume metrics and is a headache to clean up post-export.

The API allows for broadening or narrowing of topical keyword research and can even account for branded terms.

Another useful feature for supporting content workflows is that the exported data gives a full 12 months of search volume, in addition to average monthly search volume, which is great for understanding seasonality for content planning.

We suggest diving into Keyword Planner if you haven’t already. It’s more than just an ad planning tool for paid teams; it’s an SEO’s dream.

5. Ahrefs

Key tool value: Competitive content gap

Ahrefs is traditionally known for its backlink audit capabilities, but it also holds the secret to a quick competitive content gap analysis. Using Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool, you can analyze keywords for which your competitors are ranking but you are not, which will help you gain a better understand where there may be gaps in content on your site.

One of our favorite things about this tool is that you can perform content gaps that are as broad or as specific as you want, based on your competitor selection.

If you want a more specialized content gap, you can choose to analyze a competitor subfolder, rather than an entire domain.

Additionally, you can leverage Ahrefs’ Content Gap filters to find more specialized and longer-tailed keywords that your site could be targeting by adjusting the search volume and word count ranges for competitive keywords.

Tools for Supporting Insights

There is a big, ever-changing world out there that influences how our searchers decide to use their search bar, and supporting evidence brings SEO outside of its usual search silo.

To understand what content will resonate most, you must leverage insights that speak to what potentially influences the actions of your searchers outside of the SERP.

6. Google Trends

Key tool insight: Search trends and identifying search behavior shifts

Number 1 on our list of industry resources that support discovery insights is Google Trends.

It’s by far our favorite quick check and deep dive platform for understanding fluctuations in users’ search interests and identifying landscape trends.

And, bonus – it’s completely free.

The Google Trends API can seem surface level at first.

But, if used to the fullest extent, you can really uncover some hidden gems of opportunity.

For example, if you’ve used some of the aforementioned tools to identify opportunities to rank in video search, gathering supporting trend data from YouTube Search is easy, just by modifying the search type in the Google Trends API.

Other modifiable elements include region, time frame, and “category” (or industry).

Google Trends gives you flexibility in understanding different periods of high interest and periods of low interest relative to the specific time period.

It’s important to note that interest is trended relative to the highest point on the chart for a given region and time.

Another use case for Google Trends is understanding brand awareness and measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns in sparking user interest and raising awareness.

Evaluating the initiative time period by identifying peaks that correlate to the campaign push dates can help gauge how effective or ineffective an initiative may have been.

Two other useful features in the Google Trends API are “related topics” and “related queries.”

These modules allow you to get insights into other areas of interest within a given topic, besides the specific source search term.

We’ve just scratched the surface on the value Google Trends brings to supporting data-driven insights, and we encourage you to explore Trends data and see what creative ways you discover to leverage the tool.

You may be surprised just how far down the rabbit hole it takes you.

Good luck staying out of the weeds on this one!

7. BuzzSumo

Key tool insight: Trending social topics, questions, and related content

We know SEO doesn’t live in a silo, and understanding trending topics or viral events can go a long way in interpreting quantitative search data and shaping content strategies.

That’s why we like to diversify our research by homing in on the most trend-worthy medium: social.

BuzzSumo allows you to navigate your selected topic areas of interest from a different perspective.

This enables you to better identify what messaging, content types, and relevant sub-topics might resonate most with your users.

The Discover feature is a quick way to source ideas in a given topic area and even provides questions associated with the search term.

8. Mintel

Key tool insight: Consumer and industry insights

Mintel is a market research company that publishes industry reports, trends, and insights that can be leveraged to help you better understand the landscape and your target audience as you develop a content marketing strategy.

We like to use Mintel’s reports to layer additional data into landscape analyses to create a more comprehensive understanding of the industry and search environment.

In addition to providing data points and charts about the market, Mintel does a lot of the heavy lifting in its reports by analyzing the data to create tangible consumer and industry insights.

Mintel offers a broad range of report types that break down data to highlight the market, the consumer, and key trends.

Mintel’s platform even lets you filter for reports based on consumer demographics and “trend drivers,” or core influences on consumer behavior.

These report filters make it easy to find consumer insights that are aligned to your target audience to provide additional context for developing integrated content strategies that help you cover your bases and take a more holistic approach to marketing.

9. eMarketer

Key tool insight: Trends in media that may impact organic search or explain fluctuations in performance caused by non-organic factors

eMarketer is an industry research publisher that provides insights to help brands do business in the digital world.

Being in the organic search industry, it is critical to understand the digital world and the various factors that can affect performance, even outside of the organic channel, in order to make sense of fluctuations in performance and even predict future trends.

One of the most prominent uses of eMarketer is for insights around the holiday season.

Search is crazy during the holidays.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring some of the most stressful times for brands – and probably even more stressful for agencies.

During this extended weekend of buying frenzy, eMarketer publishes industry predictions in media and search behaviors and follows these up with a look back at how the landscape performed against those predictions.

This is always an easy reference to help support recommendations or understand performance during these times of increased attention on media channels.

10. Think with Google

Key tool insight: Market research insights and data points

Think with Google is one of our favorite market research tools.

New reports are consistently published, so you always have fresh insights to review.

However, our favorite part about Think with Google is that the reports come from a variety of industries and marketing channels, so its data can make it easier to develop an integrated strategy.

There is no shortage of insights in Think with Google’s repository, so we highly recommend checking it out.

If you are not sure how to get started, we suggest using its search feature to find research that is relevant to your project.

From there, you can filter the results to find the ones that best fit your needs and support your discovery data.

Additionally, its search functionality provides full reports and individual data points, so it easily caters to in-depth research and quick, high-level data needs.

In Summary

Just as it would be ineffective to rely on only one tool or approach for crawling, site latency, or mobile usability insights, turning to only one or two content research tools will limit the effectiveness of your content strategy.

The secret to optimizing your SEO content is selecting the right tools to help you identify, access, and use the data required to both evaluate your opportunities and understand the context within which your content strategy will be carried out.

Each of the tools featured in our top picks has its own strengths in driving optimization, and your own circumstances will help you identify the right combination.

This article was co-authored by my fellow Merkleite Angela Petulla. She is a Sr. Specialist at Merkle and has been in the search industry for two years.

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, June 2023

10 Tips In Link Building And Content Marketing

Visit our #SEJThinkTank archive to listen to other SEJ Marketing ThinkTank webinars.

For many in the SEO profession, the hardest part of optimizing sites for search isn’t the technical aspects of code – it’s the ongoing struggle to consistently obtain relevant, authoritative links. Sure, it may be tempting to take shortcuts, but SEO professionals who see the big picture have the opportunity to combine a mix of art and science to get great links the natural way.

This is done through savvy content marketing and promotion – what can also be called “real marketing”. An ongoing marketing and promotion machine that can create great pieces of content which resonate with viewers and accomplish a goal (usually information that reinforces a product or brand) can be the holy grail of SEO.

Great content gets shared, plain and simple, and in a world of constant, insatiable content consumption with millions of publishers vying for attention, the quality of said content needs to constantly improve.

Today, I am going to discuss some current trends in content marketing, for use both in creating real value for the user but also for the very important secondary role of link building.

Let’s jump in and learn more about how in-depth your content marketing efforts should be.

Building Super Links with Content Syndication

Everyone processes content in a different way. For the B2C crowd, you’ll find they are very dependent on blog posts to get links and traction. B2B, on the other hand, is more successful with eBook promotions. In determining what kinds of content to assemble, it’s best to look at the big picture. Think about your audience and the type of content they’re going to want to consume.

eBooks: Still a great format used mainly in lead-generation style businesses. Usually an eBook promo will get you an email address which you can use to continue the conversation.

Blog Posts: Great for breaking down thoughts and chapters of an eBook into more actionable steps (eBooks are full of nuggets that at times get lost). Many eBooks actually start as a series of blog posts that gets assembled later on.

Infographics: These still get a lot of love! The web is a visual medium with a short attention span. Compared to an article, a well-done infographic contains a ton of value not only in its content but in the process of creation – bloggers in particular are quick to share them.

Infograms: Not everyone has time to scroll those infographics, and the smaller and easier to digest infogram is a great way to break them down (much like a blog post is a chapter of an eBook). These work great in social media spaces, too.

 Other Overlooked Formats

Video: People learn from movies. Video is going to continue to become a dominant form of content marketing as production continues to become more affordable and easier. Did you know YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world?

Microvideo (Instagram, Vine): This emerging trend is finding a home among teens and millennial. Shorter video tends to be more social friendly (30 sec or 60 second vignettes) and is also very engaging.

Bonus: Consolidate your design efforts! You can create content in any of the formats listed above and repurpose it in another. Take a blog post and use it as script for video and then strip the audio for a podcast.

Strategize Versus Seeing What Sticks

Based on your key performance indicators, the next step is to determine themes that support these goals. Because there’s so many factors involved, we often try to do too much without actually putting a sound strategy in place. Before you start putting the content together, go through the following scenarios to help establish an outline: 

SEO Targets: Find the semantic modifiers of keyword buckets that drive context. For example, Starbucks might want to create content to target coffee pod keywords, but K-Cup keywords are just as relevant. This not only works with your own keyword strategy but also your links and citation building. Links are important, but links in content with relevant content are even more so.

Outreach Targets: What resonates with publishers in your target verticals? What are your customers reading/visiting? Find the influencers via social media, visit the links they post then add them and ask them questions, so later when you need to communicate with them they know who you are.

Social Sharing: What kinds of content or topics get the most interaction? Use tools like SharedCount to find out which specific pieces of content got hot and went viral. Research bulk content from competitors or industry sites and see what gets the most social sharing, then incorporate that into your current content strategies.

Social Influencers: Who is sharing this hot kind of content in your niche?- We’re not just talking about bloggers here; you’ll want to find the YouTube and Vine stars and, as previously mentioned, popular Twitter users.

Content Lifespan: Can this content live and breathe on its own? Your content should bring residual users forever (not just the short-term). Again, think about the bigger picture and how you can position this content is constantly drive value to the user.

Build Your Content Nucleus

 Your on-site goals may be different from content syndication or lead generation, so you’re going to want to have a solid on-site foundation to maximize your efforts. Remember, you’re not pitching a product here, you’re trying to get people to share your link. Consider the following when deciding the layout and design of the task at hand:

Infographic image files are great for syndication, but be careful. For example, WordPress users will want to use a Lightbox plugin for viewing the infographic, so people are not linking to image file itself. Create supporting content to go along with the infographic as well.

HTML 5 is a preferred and indexable way to support graphic assets and still be SEO friendly. Neil Patel’s QuickSprout is a great example of a site that uses indexable infographics in this manner.

Creating all of this awesome content and putting the time to plan everything accordingly is only half the battle. Once your content is finally produced and ready for consumption, your next task is finding people to consume it! This is where you’ll start building loyal audiences into your own brand evangelists.

Remember these steps when finding new eyeballs for your content:

Blogger Outreach

Target publishers during the final stages of design or completion and offer them an exclusive to be first to publish Email publishers and ask them questions – send PR out before an “official” release before you actually publish to create relationships and gather feedback.

Leverage Relationships with Publishers

Can you invite them in the ideation process? Find out what kinds of content their audience is looking for and be the first to create it for them. Having content partners that you can provide consistent value for will allow you to piggy-back off of their brand and expose your own in the process.

Leverage Your Own Audience

Remember, this is a joint effort between you and those who started following you early on. Reward them, create very personal bonds with these individuals and give them the tools or direction they need to spread the word about your cause. Don’t be shy about asking your audience for a little love (so long as you’re giving it back).

Distribute Your Infographics

Precise targeting is more important than numbers alone – what’s the point of having visitors and eyeballs if they’re not real savvy users or influencers? Remember when syndicating content like infographics for link building you’ll want to find those who actually blog or tweet about this stuff. You’ll find many of them will discover content from these destinations:

Slideshare: Perhaps one of the most underutilized infographic channels. People share and embed SlideShare consistently, and as an added bonus it comes with LinkedIn integration. Set up branded channels here to gain some great backlinks. Bloggers turn to chúng tôi for content, which helps extend the life of your content – get links even 6-12 months later as bloggers pick up content from here.

Imgur: Believe it or not, Imgur gets more traffic than Reddit does. You won’t get any natural links directly but it’s a great source for social sharing, view count, and influence.

Pinterest: Especially important for B2C as they tend to love the service of pinning photos all day (think products). A great place to also get your infographic content – and don’t forget the paid options to boost exposure.

Next Level of Influencers

Now that we’re traveling down the rabbit hole of infographic syndication, there are a few more sites where other blogs and resources find content – these are some hidden gems with immense value.

Infographic Journal publishes the best infographics daily. If you can get featured here, not only will you get direct traffic and links, but there’s a good chance your post will go viral.

DesignTaxi & Content Geek

These site highlight the best design stories and content chúng tôi are very infographic friendly and after being published, bloggers will embed and share from DesignTaxi & ContentGeek. Both are such great channels, they both have been one of my secret weapons for quite some time. Note: Only submit or email the best of the best work to DesignTaxi & ContentGeek, especially in terms of data visualization.

Distribute Your Infograms/E-cards Facebook and Instagram Google+

Like Facebook, page shares result in page level signals. While nowhere near as popular, you’ll find some passionate and influential people hanging out in Google+ circles who tend to look for more meaningful discussions on their social media channels.


Simply put, Twitter cards increase engagement! Make sure you’re incorporating them into your Twitter postings as they are designed specifically to tease your posts.

Tumblr Distribute Your Videos

Everyone loves video and if done properly it can absolutely drive link signals. While Facebook and Twitter uploading options continue to emerge, the following outlets are still your best for gaining traction in your video marketing:

As noted earlier, this is the world’s second largest search engine. 40% of their traffic is mobile which will continue to grow as more of us spending time watching video on our phone. And let’s not forget that Google loves promoting its own videos in the SERPS. and Instagram

Two minutes is too long for most attention spans – especially the younger audience who uses these platforms most. Seven to sixteen seconds is perfect. Incorporate behind the scenes and “preview” style content, link to the source and syndicate.

Distribute to Your Customer

We’ve talked about third-party syndication efforts so far – but don’t forget your customers! This works especially well in e-commerce industries. Your established lists are your true brand ambassadors; expand their perimeters in the following ways:

Email: Tastefully bring your content to your customer in boxes. A great example: Someone buys an outdoor grill, then a week later gets an email guide on cooking the best burgers. It’s outreach and content like this that creates loyalty.

Industry: Bloggers, influencers, and social users follow and love your brand – don’t get lost in the numbers alone. Research who they are and connect on a personal level.

Press Releases: Good (even bad) PR gets better with visual assets – sites like PRWeb even allow you to upload images along with the text. Imagine how powerful a press release would be published alongside of an inforgraphic?

Consolidate Content Into One Page

Develop pages that have the best, most relevant content in your vertical – strive to have the best page in all the land. Create powerful content that places multiple sources of media all on one page (just like this presentation, with the accompanying video and embedded Slideshare).

 Here’s some quick bullets to remember:

Your on-site resource page can now start including the collateral you have just syndicated (infographics).

Include Slideshare hosted eBooks or infographics – You can use your own or find others to add extra video.

Embed video! Again either create the content yourself or see what’s out there that can benefit the user.

Instagram & Twitter embeds  – For example, embeds to others who have tweeted about you; this is a fairly simple task that can take a boring page of content and really spice it up.

User engagement goes up when you mix awesome content into one page – great if you’re in “newsy” type sites with “living” pages of content that get updated as news breaks. Just remember to make your resource offers the best user experience possible!

You can see here in this example how much social influences search – everything needs to work together for real success. Keep this in mind when developing your own assets and planning your content marketing initiatives for projects and clients.

This post is a recap of my webinar on the same topic. To review other SEJ Marketing ThinkTank webinars, check out our posts and sign up for our newsletter to be notified to sign up for the next one!

Featured Image: Unsplash via Pixabay

11 Tips For Building An Exceptional Content Marketing Team

When companies are craving long-term, sustainable growth, they need to think about content marketing.

Content marking is knowing how, when, and where to publish, how to organize information online with the purpose of reaching a specific audience, understanding SEO, incentivizing profitable customer action, and so much more.

And it takes a blend of marketing knowledge, artistry and creativity, and content talent to bring it all together.

How do you build out an exceptional content marketing team – one designed and equipped to meet your organization’s content marketing goals and needs?

Put these 11 tips to work for you as you build yours.

1. Determine Your Marketing Objectives

Knowing your “why” or the vision is the most crucial step in your marketing strategy as this is how your company will promote itself to the public.

It’s also important to set goals for your content marketing program, which will help align the team, understand the purpose, and measure progress and success.

This is also an important first step as it’s the backbone of building the best team to execute the strategy and objective. It’s going to be awfully tough to get top talent to buy into your vision if you aren’t quite sure what it is yourself.

2. Start From The Top

In large organizations, two important leadership roles are the Chief Content Officer (or also known as Director of Content Marketing) and the Content Marketing Manager.

The Chief Content Officer (CCO) is the person who oversees every facet of the content program to ensure that the company’s content marketing strategy is on point and meeting its business goals. This role is the backbone of the team, as the decisions and hiring will trickle down from here.

The Content Marketing Manager will report to the Chief Content Officer. This person focuses on laying out the roadmap for the team once the vision and/or strategy have been defined.

In smaller companies, these roles might be combined into one.

This will help the hiring process and recruiting for these specific roles, not to mention keeping the team organized and on track.

3. Document Processes

In order for the content marketing team (or any team for that matter) to be successful, companies must document working processes and “standard operating procedures” or SOPs.

Without solid documentation, attempts to scale your content marketing team will result in chaos and unsure ownership and responsibility.

Standard operating procedures provide your team a set of go-to instructions to guide their efforts so you can easily replicate successes and scale your content marketing campaigns.

4. Know Your Style

Establish the tone of voice, writing style, and messaging preferences that will be carried throughout your content.

Have a style guide and document the tone of voice and communication style so every person on the content marketing team represents the brand with the same integrity, values, and tone.

This is an important part of ensuring that each and every prospective customer has a similar experience with your brand.

It will also help you determine whether content team candidates are a good fit, as you compare their portfolio and writing style against your own.

Learn more about how to create a style guide (with examples).

5. An Editor Is Everything

The content editor is responsible for developing and implementing processes that ensure content quality and keep the brand out of hot water with copyright issues.

They edit the content so it is as clear, concise, engaging, and close to error-free as possible.

Editors also provide direction to the writers to ensure that each piece of content meets its objectives.

Look for an editor who is organized, meticulous, punctual, and proactive. 

6. Keep Innovating With A Content Strategist

In smaller organizations, ongoing content strategy and planning might be handled by the Content Marketing Manager or Director.

This content professional has their finger on the pulse of your industry’s competitive landscape.

They are constantly considering and testing new content types and formats.

The content strategist brainstorms, ideates, and challenges the status quo. They’re always on the hunt for gaps in your customers’ journey and innovative content to fill it.

When larger companies look to hire a content strategist, they should search for someone who knows how to create exceptional content, has a big picture view of the industry, and understands the vision for the company’s future.

7. Prioritize Brand Design

Hiring a designer for your content marketing team is crucial.

Research has found that 65% of the general population are visional learners, meaning they need to see information in order to retain it.

Furthermore, studies have shown that the brain can process images and videos 60,000 times faster than text, so it’s important that you have a designer on hand to create high-quality visuals to augment your written content.

The best content tells a story that evokes an emotional reaction or entices your site visitor to take action. Design is an essential element in creating those experiences.

8. Hire Experienced Writers Who Care

The best writers are also gifted researchers, so you don’t necessarily need to find a writer with a lengthy portfolio in your exact topic.

But it’s critical that you find writers who are passionate about the topic in order to create authentic, exceptional content.

According to Matthew Brew, Head of Marketing at EduMe,

“In-house content resources are crucial. Writing is very revealing – you can read someone’s level of interest in what they’re writing about. That’s why you need people all in on your mission to be true brand guardians, to really embody (or craft) your tone of voice.”

Whether you’re building an in-house team or hiring through an agency, seek out writers who believe in the company’s mission and content strategy.

9. Diversify Your Team

Each person on your content team will have their strengths and weaknesses.

For example, some writers are great at producing highly informative and educated pieces, but may lack humor and cannot produce satire, and vice versa.

Your customer base is diverse and your content team should be, too.

Have content team members inventory their interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Use these insights to inform future job postings and seek out talent with complementary skills and attributes.

10. Define Career Paths For Ambitious & Motivated Team Members

What skills will they need to develop, and how will you ensure they have the time and resources to do so?

Make sure your team is constantly growing as individuals and know that they are valued enough for internal promotions and opportunities.

Promoting internally tends to cost less than hiring externally, and creates organizational loyalty and a higher employee retention rate, as well.

11. Face-To-Face Training & Communication Are Important

New hires need real-time communication and training, whether through video conferencing or in person.

People will get to know individuals much better when you can hear their voices and see their facial expressions versus communicating through chat or by phone.

Asynchronous training videos can help team members in different timezones get up to speed, but it’s important to make time for regular 1-on-1s between managers and their direct reports.

Regular team meetings can help keep everyone connected and moving in the same direction, as well.

Building out a content marketing team can be daunting, but the payoffs are well worth it.

When you have a cohesive, energized team constantly pulling in the same direction and turning out their best works in your company’s name, you’ll realize your content goals – and then some.

Featured Image: Pits vec/Shutterstock

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