Tag Archive | "Coverage"

How to Set Up Metrics to Optimize Your Digital PR Team’s Press Coverage

Posted by Ashley.Carlisle

Over the past six years, our team at Fractl has studied the art of mastering content marketing press coverage. Before moving into Agency Operations, I on-boarded and trained over a dozen new associates for our digital PR team within a year as the Media Relations Manager. Scaling a team of that size in a such a short period of time required hands-on training and a clear communication of goals and expectations within the role — but what metrics are indicative of success in digital PR?

As a data-driven content marketing agency, we turned to the numbers for something a little different than our usual data-heavy campaigns — we used our own historical data to analyze and optimize our digital PR team’s outreach.

This post aims to provide better insight in defining measurable variables as key performance indicators, or KPIs, for digital PR teams and understanding the implications and relationships of those KPIs. We’ll also go into the rationale for establishing baselines for these KPIs, which indicate the quality, efficiency, and efficacy of a team’s outreach efforts.

As a guide for defining success by analyzing your own metrics for your team (digital PR or otherwise), we’ll provide the framework for the research design, which helped us establish a threshold for the single variable we identified to best measure our efforts and be the most significantly correlated with the KPIs indicative of success of a digital PR team.

Determining the key performance indicators for digital PR outreach

The influx of available data for marketers and PR professionals to measure the impact of their work allows us to stray away from vague metrics like “reach” and the even more vague goal of “more publicity.” Instead, we are able to focus on the metrics most indicative of what we’re actually trying to measure: the effect of digital PR efforts.

We all have our theories and educated guesses about which metrics are most important and how each are related, but without researching further, theories remain theories (or expert opinions, at best). Operational research allows businesses to use the scientific method as a way to provide managers and their teams with a quantitative basis for decision making. Operationalization is the process of strictly defining variables to turn nebulous concepts (in this case, the effort and success of your digital PR team) into variables that can be measured, empirically and quantitatively.

There is one indicator identified to best measure your effort into a campaign’s outreach. It is a precursor to all of the indicators below: the volume of pitch emails sent for each campaign.

Because all pitches are not created equal, the indicators below gauge which factors best define the success of outreach, such as the quality of outreach correspondence, the efficiency of time to secure press, the efficacy of the campaign, and media mentions secured. Each multi-faceted metric can be described by a variety of measurements, and all are encompassed by the independent variable of the volume of pitch emails sent for each campaign.

Some indicators may be better measured by using more than a single metric, so for the purposes of this post, here are the three metrics to illustrate each of these three KPIs to offer a more holistic picture of your team’s performance:

Pitch quality and efficacy

  • Placement Rate: The percentage of placements (i.e., media mentions) secured per the number of total pitches sent.
  • Interest Rate: The percentage of interested publisher replies to pitches per the number of total pitches sent.
  • Decline Rate: The percentage of declining publisher replies to pitches per the number of total pitches sent.

Efficiency and capacity

  • Total days of outreach: The number of business days between the first and last pitch sent for a campaign, which is the sum of the two metrics below.
  • Days to first placement: The number of business days between the first pitch sent and first placement to be published for a campaign.
  • Days to syndication: The number of business days between the first placement to be published and the last pitch to be sent for a campaign.

Placement quality and efficacy

  • Total Links: The total number of backlinks from external linking domains of any attribution type (e.g. DoFollow, NoFollow) for a campaign’s landing page.
  • Total DoFollow Links: The total number of DoFollow backlinks from external linking domains for a campaign’s landing page.
  • Total Domain Authority of Links: The total domain authority of all backlinks from external linking domains of any attribution type (e.g. DoFollow, NoFollow,) for a campaign’s landing page.

Optimizing effort to yield the best KPIs

After identifying the metrics, we need to solve the next challenge: What are the relationships between your efforts and your KPIs? The practical application of these answers can help you establish a threshold or range for the input metric that is correlated with the highest KPIs. We’ll discuss that in a bit.

After identifying metrics to analyze, define the nature of their relationships to one another. Use a hypothesis test to verify an effect; in this case, we’re interested to find the relationship between pitch count and each of the metrics we defined above as being KPIs of successful outreach. This study hypothesizes that campaigns closed out in 70 pitches or less will have better KPIs than campaigns closed out with over 71 pitches.

Analyzing the relationship and determining significance of the data

Next, determine if the relationship is significant; when the relationship is stated as statistically significant, the relationship observed has a high likelihood of happening in the future. When it comes to claiming statistical significance, some may assume there must be a complex formula that only seasoned statisticians can calculate. In reality, determining statistical significance is done via a t-test, a simple statistical test that compares two samples to help us infer a correlation of the same relationships in future samples.

In this case, campaigns with pitch counts below 70 are one group and campaigns above 71 are a second group. The findings below define the percentage difference between the means of both groups (i.e., the campaigns from Q2 and Q3) to determine if lower pitch counts do have a desired effect for each metric; those that are asterisked are statistically significant, meaning there is a less than a 5 percent chance that the observed results are due to chance.

How our analysis can optimize your digital PR team’s efforts

In practice, the relationships between these metrics help you establish a better standard of practice for your team’s outreach with realistic expectations and goals. Further, the correlation between the specified range of pitch counts and all other KPIs give you a reliable range of what values you can expect when it comes to the metrics for pitch quality, timelines, and campaign performance when adhering to the range of pitches.

The original theory — that a threshold for pitch counts exists when the relationship between pitch count and all other metrics of performance were compared — is confirmed by the data. The sample with lower pitch counts (less than 70) sees a positive relationship with the KPIs we want to decrease (e.g. decline rates, total days) and negative relationship with the KPIs we want to increase (e.g. placement rates, link counts). The sample with higher pitch counts (greater than 71) saw the inverse — a negative relationship with the KPIs we want to decrease and a positive relationship with the KPIs we want to increase. Essentially, when campaigns with less than 70 pitches sent were isolated, the numbers improved in nearly every metric.

When this analysis is applied to each of the 74 campaigns from Q3, you’ll see nearly consistent results, with the exception again being Total Domain Authority. Campaigns with up to 70 pitches are correlated with better KPIs when compared to campaigns with over 71 pitches.

Vague or unrealistic expectations and goals will sabotage the success of any team and any project. When it comes to the effort put into each campaign, having objective, optimized procedures allows your team to work smarter, not harder.

So, what does that baseline range look like, and how do you calculate it?

Establishing realistic baseline metrics

A simple question helps answer what the baseline should be in this instance: What was the average of each KPI of the campaigns with fewer than 70 pitches?

We gathered all 70 campaigns closed out of our digital PR team’s pipelines in the second and third quarters of 2018 with pitch counts below 70 and determined the average of each metric. Then, we calculated the standard deviation from the mean, which defines the spread of the data to establish a range for each KPI — and that became our baseline range.

Examining historical data is among the best methods for determining realistic baselines. By gathering a broad, sizeable sample (usually more than 30 is ideal) that represents the full scope of projects your team works on, you can determine the average for each metric and deviation from the average to establish a range.

These reliable ranges allow your digital PR team to understand the baselines they must strive for during active outreach when in compliance with the standard of practice for pitch counts established from our research. Further, these baseline ranges allow you to set more realistic goals for future performance by increasing each range by a realistic percentage.

Deviations from that range act as indicators of potential issues related to the quality, efficiency, or efficacy of their outreach, with each of the metrics implying what specifically may be array. We offer context into each of those metrics defining our three KPIs in terms of their implications and limitations.

Understanding how each metric can influence the productivity of your team

Pitch quality and efficacy

The purpose of a pitch is to tell a compelling and succinct story of why the campaign you’re pitching is newsworthy and fits the beat of the individual writer you’re pitching. Help your team succeed by enforcing tried and true best practices to enable them to craft each pitch with personalization and compelling narratives at the top of mind. The placements act as a conversion rate to measure the efficacy of your team’s outreach while interests and declines act as a combined response rate to measure the quality of outreach.

To help your team avoid the “spray and pray” mentality of blasting out as many pitches as possible and hoping one will yield a media mention, which ultimately jeopardizes publisher relationships and are an inefficient use of time, focus on the rates our teams secure responses and placements from publishers in relation to the total volume of pitches sent. Prioritize this interpretation of the data rather than just the individual counts to help add context to the pitch count.

Campaigns with a high-ratio of interest and placements to pitches from publishers imply the quality of the pitch was sufficient, meaning it encompassed one or more of the factors known to be important in securing press coverage. This includes, but is not limited to, compelling and newsworthy narratives, personalized details, and/or relevancy to the writer. In some cases, campaigns may have a low-ratio of interest but high-ratio of placements as a result of a nonresponse bias — the occurrence where publishers will not respond to a pitch but will still cover the campaign in a future article, yielding a placement. These “ghost posts” can skew interest rates, illustrating why three metrics compose this KPI.

Campaigns with a high-ratio of declines to pitches imply the quality of the pitch may be subpar, which signals to the associate to re-evaluate their outreach strategy. Again, the inverse may not always be true, as campaigns with a low ratio of declines may be a result of non-response bias. In this case, if publishers do not respond at all, we can either infer they did not open the email or they opened the email and were not interested, therefore declining by default.

While confounding variables (such as the quality of the content itself, not just the quality of the pitch) may skew these metrics in either direction and remain the greatest limitation, holistically, these three metrics offer actionable insights during active outreach.

Efficiency and capacity

Similarly, ranges for timeline metrics can give your associates context of when they should be achieving milestones (i.e., the first placement) as well as the total length of outreach. Deviating beyond the standard timeline to secure the first placement often indicates the outreach strategy needs re-evaluating, while extending beyond the range for total days of outreach indicates a campaign should be closed out soon.

Efficiency metrics help beyond advising the strategy for outreach, informing operations from a capacity standpoint. Toggling between tens and sometimes hundreds of active campaigns at any given point relies on consistency for capacity — reducing variance between the volume of campaigns entering production to campaigns being closed out of the pipeline by staggering campaigns based on their average duration. This allows for more robust planning and reliable forecasting.

Awareness of the baselines for time to secure press enables you and your team to not just plan strategies and capacities, but also the content of your campaigns. You can ensure timely content by allowing for sufficient time for outreach when ideating your campaigns so the content does not become stale or outdated.

The biggest limitation of these metrics is a looming external variable often beyond our control — the editorial calendars and agendas of the publishers. Publishers have their own deadlines and priorities to fill, so we can not always plan for delays in publishing dates or worse yet, scrapping coverage altogether.

Placement quality and efficacy

Ultimately, your efforts are intended to yield placements to gain brand awareness and voice, as well as build a diverse link portfolio; the latter is arguably easier to quantify. Total external links pointing to the campaign’s landing page or client homepage along with the total Domain Authority of those links allow you to track both the quantity and quality of links.

Higher link counts built from your placements allow you to infer the syndication networks of the placements your outreach secured, while higher total Domain Authority measures the relative value of those linking domains to measure quality. Along with further specifying the types of links (specifically Dofollow links, arguably the most valuable link type), these metrics have the potential to forecast the impact of the campaign on the website’s own overall authority.

Replicating our analysis to optimize your team’s press coverage

Often times, historical research designs such as this one can have limitations in their cause and effect implications. This collection of data offers valuable insight into correlations to help us infer patterns and trends.

Our analysis utilized historical data representative of our entire agency in terms of scope of clients, campaign types, and associates, strengthening internal validity. So while the specific baseline metrics are tailored to our team, the framework we offer for establishing those baselines is transferable to any team.

Apply these methods with your digital PR team to help define KPIs, establish baselines, and test your own theories:

  • Track the ten metrics that compose the KPIs of digital PR outreach for each campaign or initiative to keep a running historical record.
  • Determine the average spread via the mean and standard deviation for each metric from a sizeable, representative sample of campaigns to establish your team’s baseline metrics.
  • Test any theories of trends in your team’s effort (i.e., pitch counts) in relation to KPIs with a simple hypothesis test to optimize your team and resources.

How does your team approach defining the most important metrics and establishing baseline ranges? How do you approach optimizing those efforts to yield the best press coverage? Uncovering these answers will help your team synergize more effectively and establish productive foundations for future outreach efforts.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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Posted in IM NewsComments Off

How to Set Up Metrics to Optimize Your Digital PR Team’s Press Coverage

Posted by Ashley.Carlisle

Over the past six years, our team at Fractl has studied the art of mastering content marketing press coverage. Before moving into Agency Operations, I on-boarded and trained over a dozen new associates for our digital PR team within a year as the Media Relations Manager. Scaling a team of that size in a such a short period of time required hands-on training and a clear communication of goals and expectations within the role — but what metrics are indicative of success in digital PR?

As a data-driven content marketing agency, we turned to the numbers for something a little different than our usual data-heavy campaigns — we used our own historical data to analyze and optimize our digital PR team’s outreach.

This post aims to provide better insight in defining measurable variables as key performance indicators, or KPIs, for digital PR teams and understanding the implications and relationships of those KPIs. We’ll also go into the rationale for establishing baselines for these KPIs, which indicate the quality, efficiency, and efficacy of a team’s outreach efforts.

As a guide for defining success by analyzing your own metrics for your team (digital PR or otherwise), we’ll provide the framework for the research design, which helped us establish a threshold for the single variable we identified to best measure our efforts and be the most significantly correlated with the KPIs indicative of success of a digital PR team.

Determining the key performance indicators for digital PR outreach

The influx of available data for marketers and PR professionals to measure the impact of their work allows us to stray away from vague metrics like “reach” and the even more vague goal of “more publicity.” Instead, we are able to focus on the metrics most indicative of what we’re actually trying to measure: the effect of digital PR efforts.

We all have our theories and educated guesses about which metrics are most important and how each are related, but without researching further, theories remain theories (or expert opinions, at best). Operational research allows businesses to use the scientific method as a way to provide managers and their teams with a quantitative basis for decision making. Operationalization is the process of strictly defining variables to turn nebulous concepts (in this case, the effort and success of your digital PR team) into variables that can be measured, empirically and quantitatively.

There is one indicator identified to best measure your effort into a campaign’s outreach. It is a precursor to all of the indicators below: the volume of pitch emails sent for each campaign.

Because all pitches are not created equal, the indicators below gauge which factors best define the success of outreach, such as the quality of outreach correspondence, the efficiency of time to secure press, the efficacy of the campaign, and media mentions secured. Each multi-faceted metric can be described by a variety of measurements, and all are encompassed by the independent variable of the volume of pitch emails sent for each campaign.

Some indicators may be better measured by using more than a single metric, so for the purposes of this post, here are the three metrics to illustrate each of these three KPIs to offer a more holistic picture of your team’s performance:

Pitch quality and efficacy

  • Placement Rate: The percentage of placements (i.e., media mentions) secured per the number of total pitches sent.
  • Interest Rate: The percentage of interested publisher replies to pitches per the number of total pitches sent.
  • Decline Rate: The percentage of declining publisher replies to pitches per the number of total pitches sent.

Efficiency and capacity

  • Total days of outreach: The number of business days between the first and last pitch sent for a campaign, which is the sum of the two metrics below.
  • Days to first placement: The number of business days between the first pitch sent and first placement to be published for a campaign.
  • Days to syndication: The number of business days between the first placement to be published and the last pitch to be sent for a campaign.

Placement quality and efficacy

  • Total Links: The total number of backlinks from external linking domains of any attribution type (e.g. DoFollow, NoFollow) for a campaign’s landing page.
  • Total DoFollow Links: The total number of DoFollow backlinks from external linking domains for a campaign’s landing page.
  • Total Domain Authority of Links: The total domain authority of all backlinks from external linking domains of any attribution type (e.g. DoFollow, NoFollow,) for a campaign’s landing page.

Optimizing effort to yield the best KPIs

After identifying the metrics, we need to solve the next challenge: What are the relationships between your efforts and your KPIs? The practical application of these answers can help you establish a threshold or range for the input metric that is correlated with the highest KPIs. We’ll discuss that in a bit.

After identifying metrics to analyze, define the nature of their relationships to one another. Use a hypothesis test to verify an effect; in this case, we’re interested to find the relationship between pitch count and each of the metrics we defined above as being KPIs of successful outreach. This study hypothesizes that campaigns closed out in 70 pitches or less will have better KPIs than campaigns closed out with over 71 pitches.

Analyzing the relationship and determining significance of the data

Next, determine if the relationship is significant; when the relationship is stated as statistically significant, the relationship observed has a high likelihood of happening in the future. When it comes to claiming statistical significance, some may assume there must be a complex formula that only seasoned statisticians can calculate. In reality, determining statistical significance is done via a t-test, a simple statistical test that compares two samples to help us infer a correlation of the same relationships in future samples.

In this case, campaigns with pitch counts below 70 are one group and campaigns above 71 are a second group. The findings below define the percentage difference between the means of both groups (i.e., the campaigns from Q2 and Q3) to determine if lower pitch counts do have a desired effect for each metric; those that are asterisked are statistically significant, meaning there is a less than a 5 percent chance that the observed results are due to chance.

How our analysis can optimize your digital PR team’s efforts

In practice, the relationships between these metrics help you establish a better standard of practice for your team’s outreach with realistic expectations and goals. Further, the correlation between the specified range of pitch counts and all other KPIs give you a reliable range of what values you can expect when it comes to the metrics for pitch quality, timelines, and campaign performance when adhering to the range of pitches.

The original theory — that a threshold for pitch counts exists when the relationship between pitch count and all other metrics of performance were compared — is confirmed by the data. The sample with lower pitch counts (less than 70) sees a positive relationship with the KPIs we want to decrease (e.g. decline rates, total days) and negative relationship with the KPIs we want to increase (e.g. placement rates, link counts). The sample with higher pitch counts (greater than 71) saw the inverse — a negative relationship with the KPIs we want to decrease and a positive relationship with the KPIs we want to increase. Essentially, when campaigns with less than 70 pitches sent were isolated, the numbers improved in nearly every metric.

When this analysis is applied to each of the 74 campaigns from Q3, you’ll see nearly consistent results, with the exception again being Total Domain Authority. Campaigns with up to 70 pitches are correlated with better KPIs when compared to campaigns with over 71 pitches.

Vague or unrealistic expectations and goals will sabotage the success of any team and any project. When it comes to the effort put into each campaign, having objective, optimized procedures allows your team to work smarter, not harder.

So, what does that baseline range look like, and how do you calculate it?

Establishing realistic baseline metrics

A simple question helps answer what the baseline should be in this instance: What was the average of each KPI of the campaigns with fewer than 70 pitches?

We gathered all 70 campaigns closed out of our digital PR team’s pipelines in the second and third quarters of 2018 with pitch counts below 70 and determined the average of each metric. Then, we calculated the standard deviation from the mean, which defines the spread of the data to establish a range for each KPI — and that became our baseline range.

Examining historical data is among the best methods for determining realistic baselines. By gathering a broad, sizeable sample (usually more than 30 is ideal) that represents the full scope of projects your team works on, you can determine the average for each metric and deviation from the average to establish a range.

These reliable ranges allow your digital PR team to understand the baselines they must strive for during active outreach when in compliance with the standard of practice for pitch counts established from our research. Further, these baseline ranges allow you to set more realistic goals for future performance by increasing each range by a realistic percentage.

Deviations from that range act as indicators of potential issues related to the quality, efficiency, or efficacy of their outreach, with each of the metrics implying what specifically may be array. We offer context into each of those metrics defining our three KPIs in terms of their implications and limitations.

Understanding how each metric can influence the productivity of your team

Pitch quality and efficacy

The purpose of a pitch is to tell a compelling and succinct story of why the campaign you’re pitching is newsworthy and fits the beat of the individual writer you’re pitching. Help your team succeed by enforcing tried and true best practices to enable them to craft each pitch with personalization and compelling narratives at the top of mind. The placements act as a conversion rate to measure the efficacy of your team’s outreach while interests and declines act as a combined response rate to measure the quality of outreach.

To help your team avoid the “spray and pray” mentality of blasting out as many pitches as possible and hoping one will yield a media mention, which ultimately jeopardizes publisher relationships and are an inefficient use of time, focus on the rates our teams secure responses and placements from publishers in relation to the total volume of pitches sent. Prioritize this interpretation of the data rather than just the individual counts to help add context to the pitch count.

Campaigns with a high-ratio of interest and placements to pitches from publishers imply the quality of the pitch was sufficient, meaning it encompassed one or more of the factors known to be important in securing press coverage. This includes, but is not limited to, compelling and newsworthy narratives, personalized details, and/or relevancy to the writer. In some cases, campaigns may have a low-ratio of interest but high-ratio of placements as a result of a nonresponse bias — the occurrence where publishers will not respond to a pitch but will still cover the campaign in a future article, yielding a placement. These “ghost posts” can skew interest rates, illustrating why three metrics compose this KPI.

Campaigns with a high-ratio of declines to pitches imply the quality of the pitch may be subpar, which signals to the associate to re-evaluate their outreach strategy. Again, the inverse may not always be true, as campaigns with a low ratio of declines may be a result of non-response bias. In this case, if publishers do not respond at all, we can either infer they did not open the email or they opened the email and were not interested, therefore declining by default.

While confounding variables (such as the quality of the content itself, not just the quality of the pitch) may skew these metrics in either direction and remain the greatest limitation, holistically, these three metrics offer actionable insights during active outreach.

Efficiency and capacity

Similarly, ranges for timeline metrics can give your associates context of when they should be achieving milestones (i.e., the first placement) as well as the total length of outreach. Deviating beyond the standard timeline to secure the first placement often indicates the outreach strategy needs re-evaluating, while extending beyond the range for total days of outreach indicates a campaign should be closed out soon.

Efficiency metrics help beyond advising the strategy for outreach, informing operations from a capacity standpoint. Toggling between tens and sometimes hundreds of active campaigns at any given point relies on consistency for capacity — reducing variance between the volume of campaigns entering production to campaigns being closed out of the pipeline by staggering campaigns based on their average duration. This allows for more robust planning and reliable forecasting.

Awareness of the baselines for time to secure press enables you and your team to not just plan strategies and capacities, but also the content of your campaigns. You can ensure timely content by allowing for sufficient time for outreach when ideating your campaigns so the content does not become stale or outdated.

The biggest limitation of these metrics is a looming external variable often beyond our control — the editorial calendars and agendas of the publishers. Publishers have their own deadlines and priorities to fill, so we can not always plan for delays in publishing dates or worse yet, scrapping coverage altogether.

Placement quality and efficacy

Ultimately, your efforts are intended to yield placements to gain brand awareness and voice, as well as build a diverse link portfolio; the latter is arguably easier to quantify. Total external links pointing to the campaign’s landing page or client homepage along with the total Domain Authority of those links allow you to track both the quantity and quality of links.

Higher link counts built from your placements allow you to infer the syndication networks of the placements your outreach secured, while higher total Domain Authority measures the relative value of those linking domains to measure quality. Along with further specifying the types of links (specifically Dofollow links, arguably the most valuable link type), these metrics have the potential to forecast the impact of the campaign on the website’s own overall authority.

Replicating our analysis to optimize your team’s press coverage

Often times, historical research designs such as this one can have limitations in their cause and effect implications. This collection of data offers valuable insight into correlations to help us infer patterns and trends.

Our analysis utilized historical data representative of our entire agency in terms of scope of clients, campaign types, and associates, strengthening internal validity. So while the specific baseline metrics are tailored to our team, the framework we offer for establishing those baselines is transferable to any team.

Apply these methods with your digital PR team to help define KPIs, establish baselines, and test your own theories:

  • Track the ten metrics that compose the KPIs of digital PR outreach for each campaign or initiative to keep a running historical record.
  • Determine the average spread via the mean and standard deviation for each metric from a sizeable, representative sample of campaigns to establish your team’s baseline metrics.
  • Test any theories of trends in your team’s effort (i.e., pitch counts) in relation to KPIs with a simple hypothesis test to optimize your team and resources.

How does your team approach defining the most important metrics and establishing baseline ranges? How do you approach optimizing those efforts to yield the best press coverage? Uncovering these answers will help your team synergize more effectively and establish productive foundations for future outreach efforts.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Posted in IM NewsComments Off

Creating Influencer-Targeted Content to Earn Links + Coverage – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Most SEO campaigns need three kinds of links to be successful; targeting your content to influencers can get you 2/3 of the way there. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers the tactics that will help your content get seen and shared by those with a wide and relevant audience.

How to create influencer-targeted content - Whiteboard Friday

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about how to create content that is specifically influencer-targeted in order to earn the links and attention and amplification that you often need.

Most SEO campaigns need 3 types of links:

So it’s the case that most SEO campaigns, as they’re trying to earn the rankings that they’re seeking, are trying to do a few things. You’re trying to grow your overall Domain Authority. You’re trying to get some specific keyword terms and phrases ranking on your site for those terms and phrases.

So you need kind of three kinds of links. This is most campaigns.

1. Links from broad, high-Domain Authority sites that are pointing — you kind of don’t care — anywhere on your site, the home page, internal pages, to your blog, to your news section. It’s totally fine. So a common one that we use here would be like the New York Times. I want the New York Times to link to me so that I have the authority and influence of a link from that domain and, hopefully, lots of domains like them, very high-Domain Authority domains.

2. Links to specific high-value keyword-targeted pages, hopefully, hopefully with specific anchor text, and that’s going to help me boost those individual URLs’ rankings. So I want this page over here to link to me and say “hairdryers,” to my page that is keyword targeted for the word “hairdryers.” Fingers crossed.

3. Links to my domain from other sites, in my sector or niche, that provide some of that topical authority and influence to help tell Google and the other search engines that this is what my site is about, that I belong in this sphere of influence, that I’m semantically and topically related to words and phrases like this. So I want appliancegal.com to link to my site if I’m trying to rank in the world of hairdryers and other kinds of appliances.

So of these, for one and three, we won’t talk about two today, but for one and three, much of the time the people that you’re trying to target are what we call in the industry influencers, and these influencers are going to be lots of people. I’ve illustrated them all here — mostly looking sideways at each other, not exactly sure why that is — but bloggers, and journalists, and authors, and conference organizers, and content marketers, and event speakers, and researchers, and editors, and podcasters, and influencers of a wide, wide variety. We could fill up the whole board with the types of people who are in the influencer world or have that title specifically, but they tend to share a few things in common. They are trying to produce content of one kind or another. They’re not dissimilar from us. They’re trying to produce things on the web, and when they do, they need certain elements to help fill in the gap. When they’re looking for those gap-filling elements, that is your opportunity to earn these kinds of links.

Content tactics

So a few tactics for that. First off, one of the most powerful ones, and we’ve talked about this a little bit here on Whiteboard Friday, but probably not in depth, is…

A. Statistics and data. The reason that this is such a powerful tool is because when you create data, especially if it’s either uniquely gathered by you, unique because you have it, because you can collect it and no one else can, or unique because you’ve put it together from many disparate sources, you’re the editorial curator of that data and statistics, everyone like this needs those types of statistics and data to support or challenge their arguments or their assertions or their coverage of the industry, whatever it is.

  • Why this works: This works well because this fills that gap. This gives them the relevant stats that they’re looking for. Because numbers are easy to use and easy to cite, and you can say, “Feel free to link to this. You’re welcome to copy this graph. You’re welcome to embed this chart.” All those kinds of things. That can make it even easier, but much of the time, just by having these statistics, you can do it.
  • The key is that you have to be visible at the time that these people are looking for them, and that means usually ranking for very hard to discover, through at least normal keyword research, long-tail types of terms that use words like “stats,” “data,” “charts,” “graphs,” and kind of these question formats like when, how much, how many, number of, etc.

It’s tough because you will not see many of those in your keyword research, because there’s a relatively few number of these people searching in any given month for this type of gap-filling data, so you have to intuit often what you should title those things. Put yourself in these people’s shoes and start Googling around for “What would I need if I had to write some industry coverage around this?” Then you’ll come up with these types of things, and you can try modifying your keyword research queries or doing some Google Suggest stuff with these words and phrases.

B. Visual content. Visual content is exceptionally valuable in this case because, again, it fills a gap that many of these folks have. When you are a content marketer, or when you’re a speaker at an event, or when you’re an author or a blogger, you need visual content that will help catch the eye, that will break up the writing that you’ve done, and it’s often much easier to get someone else’s visual content and simply cite your source and link to it than it is to create visual content of your own. These people often don’t have the resources to create their own visual content.

  • Why this works: So, for everyone who’s doing posts, and articles, and slide decks, and even videos, they say, “Why not let someone else do the work,” and you can be that someone else and fill these gaps.
  • Key: To do this well, you’re going to want to appear in a bunch of visual content search mediums that these folks are going to use. Those are places like…
    • Google Images most obviously, but also
    • Pinterest
    • SlideShare, meaning take your visuals, put them up in some sort of slide format, give some context to them and upload them to SlideShare. The nice thing about SlideShare, SlideShare actually reproduces each individual slide as a visual, and then Google Images can search those, and so you’ll often see SlideShare’s results inside Google Images. So this can be a great end around for that.
    • Instagram search, many folks are using that especially if you’re doing photos. You can see I’ve illustrated my own hair drying technique right here. This is clearly Rand. Look at me. I’ve got more hair than I know what to do with.
    • Flickr, still being used by many searchers, particularly because it has a Creative Commons search license, and that should bring up using a Creative Commons commercial use license that requires attribution with a link is your best bet for all of these platforms. It will mean you can get on lots of other Creative Commons visual and photography search engines, which can expose you to more of these types of people as they’re doing their searches.

C. Contrarian/counter-opinions. The last one I’ll cover here is contrarian or counter-opinions to the prevailing wisdom. So you might have an opinion like, “In the next three years, hairdryers will be completely obsolete because of X.”

  • Why it works: This works well because modern journalism has this idea and modern content, in fact, has this idea that they are supposed to create conflict and that they should cover both sides of an issue. In many industry specific sorts of fields, it’s often the case that that is a gap that goes unfilled. By being that sort of challenger to conventional wisdom or conventional thinking, you can fill that gap.
  • The key here is you want to either rank in Google search engine for some of those mid or long tail research type queries. These can be competitive, and so this is challenging, but presenting contrarian opinions is often great link bait. This is kind of a good way to earn links of all kinds in here.
  • Second, I would also urge you to do a little bit of comment marketing and some social media platforms, because what you want to start is to build a brand where you are known for having this contrarian opinion on this conventional topic in your space so that people point all these influencers to you when they’re asked about it. You’re trying to build up this branding of, “Well, I don’t agree with the conventional wisdom around hairdryers.” Hairdryers might be a tough topic for that one, but certainly these other two can work real well.

So using these tactics, I hope that you can go reach out and fill some gaps for these influencers and, as a result, earning two of the three exact kind of links that you need in order to rank well in the search results.

And we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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4 Tips for Producing Great Event Coverage – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by kanejamison

Conferences and trade shows can be sources of wonderful ideas, and covering these events in a way that spreads some of those ideas around is common practice. Not all event coverage is created equal, though, and in today’s Whiteboard Friday, Kane Jamison details four areas you should keep in mind as you spread the wealth of knowledge.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

4 Tips for Producing Great Event Coverage Whiteboard

Video transcription

Hey, Moz fans. My name is Kane Jamison. I’m the founder of Content Harmony, and today I want to talk to you about four tips for producing really great event coverage. Specifically, I’m thinking of going to trade shows, conferences, those types of events and doing coverage for your company that’s focused on your industry, your clients, or whoever you might be wanting to attract.

1) What type?

The first thing when you get into this that you really need to decide is what type of coverage you are going to focus on. What most people first think of is doing live tweeting or live blogging. Both of those are all right. I have a couple of problems with them. Live tweeting is really short-lived. It’s great. You can build some followers, but unless you put it into Storify and then a blog post or something of that nature, it’s gone. It’s just in your tweet history.

Live blogging has a different problem. It’s there. It’s easy to access, but it’s your notes, and it’s not fun to read other people’s notes. Unless you are really good at encapsulating what the speaker is saying and putting it into a narrative as you’re typing, which most people are not, then it’s just going to look like a bunch of bullet points and somebody’s notes. I don’t really enjoy reading those a lot of the time. I have done them both in the past and come across these problems.

2) Prepare everything!

The next stage that a lot of people will think of is what I would call a value-added recap. This is after the event, you go back and you write a narrative of what the themes were for the event that you were at, where your industry is trending, and you recap some highlights from individual speakers. This works really great. But usually after three days at a conference, I’m really lazy. I want to catch up on sleep that I’ve missed. I don’t want to spend time writing 2,000 words about what happened at a conference that I just attended and putting all of my notes into a blog post. These can work out great. I’d refer you to Matt Gratt’s, from BuzzStream, 2013 MozCon Recap. That’s a favorite of mine for somebody who did a good job of pulling a lot themes together on an event recap.

What I prefer doing, and what we’ve done for MozCon at Content Harmony the last two years, is what I’d call live visuals or a visual recap. Live visuals, I mean Twitter images that are coming out on Twitter almost live with what the speaker is saying. A visual recap, another method we’ve used is putting quotes and speaker highlights into a SlideShare deck for each day of the event, so that users can look at those slides, paw through them, and see the event highlights in a visual format rather than trying to read a long form blog post. That’s my favorite and what I’m really going to focus on today.

There’s another fourth format that I have less experience with, but want to highlight, because if you have the manpower to tackle it, it’s another great way to produce some visibility for you and your company, and that’s just broader event coverage. A great example of this would be going to an event and filming Q&A and interview sessions with event attendees and maybe speakers as well. You might be talking with the speakers about what they are talking about on stage and kind of continuing it off the stage in a more casual format. You could just be asking people about their take on the speakers. Really, you’re doing coverage that’s less focused on what’s being said on stage and more focused on who is there and what they think about everything. That’s great, and it’s a good way to meet people you want to talk to at the event as well.

As you’re getting into something along the lines of live visuals or a visual recap post, you want to do your best to prepare everything that you can in advance. Specifically, you want to prepare everything except for what the speakers will actually say on stage. Anything that can be known in advance, you want to have that done, so that when you get there the first day, you can sit down, start typing notes into whatever your medium is and hit “Publish.” You don’t have to worry about formatting and all these other little quirks that come along with content assembly and creation.

The first thing, especially if you’re going to be doing anything visual, is to have all of your graphics prepared in advance. For our coverage for MozCon 2014, we did live Twitter images. We had all of our Twitter images, everything except for the actual quote from the speaker, prepared in advance the week prior that we worked on with our graphic designer.

If you don’t have a graphic designer, that’s great. That’s okay. There are easy ways to get around that without having a lot of design skills. My favorite is to just open up PowerPoint, use a nice looking color and big white or black font for your titles. Just type whatever you want into the slide. Right click on it, click “Save as Picture,” and you can save that slide as a 4×3 JPEG, which works great for Facebook and Twitter, without having to pull some graphic designer in to help you. So it makes it really easy to produce nice looking visual coverage on the spot, save it, publish it, and you’re good.

The next thing you want to do is pre-build your post. We like to host everything on one URL that people can tweet and share and come back to after the event. If you’re doing this in WordPress or whatever blog, CMS, you want to pre-build everything that you can. For MozCon, what we’ve done is we’ll have an introductory text about what it is. We’ll have our image in the top right. We will have H2s down the page, marked up for the titles for every speaker name, their session title, and we’ll have jump links created like you would see in a table of contents on Wikipedia. Somebody can go to the post, click on the speaker name, and they will go right down to whatever the notes or highlights are for that speaker.

We can build all of this the week in advance. We know what the speakers’ names are. We know when they are going to be talking. We usually know the name of their session or what they’re presenting on. All of this can be built out before we ever get in to the city or town where the event is actually happening. Getting all that done makes it a lot easier to sit down, start taking notes, and really do what matters, which is recording what the speakers are talking about.

The third thing you want to have handy while you’re working is what I’d call a notes clipboard. This is just a quick, one-page text document that has all of the hashtags that you’re going to use, all the URLs, like the short Bitly links to the posts that you’re writing, and then finally micro-copy, so maybe 40 or 50 character type little bits that you will keep copying or pasting into Twitter or wherever else that you are sharing content. You know you’re going to use this throughout the day.

The example for our recent MozCon coverage would be “See more MozCon coverage at” and then the short link to our post. MozCon was already a hashtag, so I know that it’s going to be seen in that feed. Everything is all pre-built. All I have to do is around a hundred characters of custom content, add the photo, paste in our little suffix to the tweet, hit “Publish,” and I’m good to go. I can move on to the next one. Having all of this prepped makes things a lot easier when you’re actually there and live.

3) Buddy system (or automation if you don’t have buddies with you)

The third thing you want to think about is how exactly you’re going to take notes and record everything across a few days of speakers talking. The best way to do this to use a buddy system. Have one person that’s taking notes, recording everything that’s going on, taking down URLs, taking down quotes and tools mentioned by speakers, and have an opened, shared Google doc between the two of you so they can be taking notes in a bullet, and you can be taking those notes and publishing them either to the blog or to Twitter or wherever you might be doing the event coverage.

The backup option, if you don’t have the buddy system, or even if you do and you want more comprehensive notes, is to automate the process. Zapier is a great tool, very similar to If This Then That, which most of you are familiar with from past MozCon content. Zapier allows you to take tweets for a specific hashtag and push them to a Google doc. Every time there is a new tweet, it will push it into a new row of a spreadsheet, and you’ve got full, live, automated robot notes coming through Twitter. If you miss a link that’s shared, if you miss a quote, you can capture that from somebody else. If you do this, I highly recommend thanking the people on Twitter that helped you push through those notes, mentioning them in your posts.

The final thing, regardless of whether you’ve got a buddy or whether you’re automating the process, is to just grab the speaker slides while they’re talking. It’s kind of cheating, but as long as you don’t get ahead of yourself, it’s a really easy way to rely on what the speaker’s putting out in their slides. Whether they’ve tweeted a SlideShare link or mentioned a Bitly link on stage or whether the event has actually published a link to it, you can grab these, follow along while they’re talking.

If you do this, you have to be careful not to get ahead of yourself and just start copying things from slides. You’ll be sitting there. It’ll seem easy to do so because it’s right there and it’s easy for you to get ahead. The problem with this and the danger is that you’ll miss the context of what the speaker is actually saying. If you start putting out notes that are based off of the slides and not based off of the speaker and what they’re actually saying, that’s the fast track for danger and getting called out by somebody for publishing something that the speaker didn’t intend, from what their slides may look like they meant to say. So be careful with that. Don’t abuse it. But it’s a great way to get backup notes while you’re trying to take live quotes and coverage.

4) Optimize for the medium

The fourth and final thing that you need to focus on is optimizing for the medium. Specifically, the example I want to use is Twitter images, since that was our most recent focus. In advance, you want to create some kind of personal or fake Twitter account that you can do some testing on. You want to make sure that visuals are sized exactly the way they should be. After a lot of testing with our graphic designer and reading blog posts about ideal Twitter sizing, what we settled on, for MozCon 2014, was 880 pixels wide by 660 pixels tall, a 4×3 ratio, and an image that would scale down nicely on Twitter and look good.

What we did with that is create a header and footer that had information on MozCon and information about the speaker title and a URL to go find more information. In the center, we had the actual quote from the speaker, the speaker photo, and name. The reason we did this is from these cut lines you see, in feed when somebody is scanning through a hashtag or their own feed, they will see a smaller, cutoff version of the image that is more like a two to one ratio of width to height. We designed it in a way where they would see a nice slight border on the top and bottom of the image. The only thing they would see in their feed is the speaker, name, photo, and the actual quote from the speaker. The real substance, we’re not forcing the MozCon imagery or our own logo and links on them each time they’re looking through their feed. They’re only seeing new stuff, even if they’re seeing a lot of these images.

If they do click on the tweet or if somebody links them to the actual tweet URL, they’ll see the full header and footer. They’ll know where it came from. They’ll know what the event was, and they’ll know where they can find more similar images.

Another nice part about 880×660 for us was that this image size worked well on LinkedIn. It worked well on Facebook. So we could reuse the same image on other mediums as we were going as well.

The other part about other mediums is even if you’re focusing on one, like Twitter, you need to optimize your actual posts across a number of mediums. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest all have their own graph metadata that goes into a post. You need to make sure, before the event even starts, that all of this is perfectly optimized in your CMS and that when you share this on different social networks, it’s going to look great. People are going to want to share this content for you, and you want to break down all the barriers that are in their way to doing so. Make sure that all the descriptions look nice, titles aren’t cut off, images are properly sized for each social network, and you’ll have a lot better time getting coverage from industry peers and people that want to share that content.

Thanks for your time. I’d love to hear more feedback on what you think could improve a live event coverage and other tips and ideas in the comments, and have a good one Moz fans.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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