Tag Archive | "Strategy"

Cultivate Your Independence with Smart Strategy and Thoughtful Action

It’s Independence Day in the U.S.! Wherever you live, this week we invite you to take thoughtful action that promotes…

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Create a Marketing Strategy That’s Not Annoying, Says Bombora VP

“It’s really about customer experience,” says Nirosha Methananda, VP of Marketing at Bombora. “I think that is something fundamental to marketing. I feel like we have gone down this path of almost over automating and having to constantly pounce on people without necessarily being conscious and mindful of what their experience is on the other end. From my experience, it’s leading to me switching off and ignoring messages. I’m sure I’m not the only one. That’s basically why I’m passionate about creating a marketing strategy that’s not annoying.”

Nirosha Methananda, Vice President of Marketing at Bombora, discusses the challenges of marketing without annoying your potential customers by bombarding them with marketing messages in an interview with Logan Lyles on the B2B Growth Podcast:

Marketing Is Really About the Customer Experience

As a B2B marketer, I get marketed to a lot. It’s something that I have increasingly noticed and I’m probably not the only one. That’s just becoming part of the experience in terms of being inundated with different messaging and different calls and this, that, and the other. Use this, do this, buy this, whatever it is. It’s really not a great experience. It doesn’t necessarily provide value. Marketers are so busy as it is, and I know that is applicable across the board with everyone we are marketing to. Being able to cut through the noise and having an understanding of all these different things is very challenging. 

Having on top of it being inundated with this constant flow of messaging like meet me, meet me, meet me, is not very helpful. That’s one of the things that I’m passionate about. It’s really about customer experience. I think that is something fundamental to marketing. I feel like we have gone down this path of almost over automating and having to constantly pounce on people without necessarily being conscious and mindful of what their experience is on the other end. From my experience, it’s leading to me switching off and ignoring messages. I’m sure I’m not the only one. 

Create a Marketing Strategy That’s Not Annoying

It also leads to this annoyance and irritation which leads to distrust of brands and that’s not great for this industry. From a customer perspective those bad experiences, unfortunately, more than good experiences, they stay with you for longer and you remember that. Another thing that we don’t necessarily think of is that it’s wasteful. It’s wasteful of time and it’s wasteful of money especially for marketing and sales where money is a precious resource. It’s not something to be wasted. That’s basically why I’m passionate about creating a marketing strategy that’s not annoying.

As an example, our Intent Event was our first flagship event that we did last year. It was a closed event so we did have limited numbers and we were limited as to what we could do with promotion. What we did was try to have mindfulness around what we were sending out and ensuring that it was helpful. Making sure that the recipients, the people that we invited, were given all the relevant information, but there was brevity in the communication as well as encouraging them to participate without forcing them to be there. 

There was certainly some urgency around some of our communication but it wasn’t you need to attend this and this is why you must attend this. It was more about being a bit more subtle in presenting them the idea and the concept of what it was, why it would help them, and exactly the information that they needed. What that meant was not sending out multiple emails, being very controlled around it, really thinking about what the experience was before the event, to during the event, to after the event. We were really focused on the customer and making sure that all of the content and communication was educational and helpful.

Create a Marketing Strategy That’s Not Annoying, Says Bombora VP Nirosha Methananda

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Craft a Deliciously Effective Content Marketing Strategy with a Farm-to-Table Approach

If you’re in the mood for a special dinner and you have a farm-to-table restaurant in your city, it might…

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Technology and Innovation Powering Levi Strauss Growth Strategy, Says CEO

Levi Strauss began trading on the New York Stock Exchange this morning under the ticker symbol ‘LEVI.’ By mid-afternoon, the stock was at $ 22.66, substantially higher than the price offered to institutional investors. It’s clear that investors believe that Levi’s can leverage technology and innovation to successfully compete online and in brick and mortar stores.


Levi Strauss Soars in NYSE Debut

Charles Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss, discusses how technology and innovation are driving increased sales and market share in an interview with CNBC coinciding with their IPO:

We Are Denim and We’re the Market Leader Globally

We are denim and we’re the market leader globally. A lot of people as we were doing the (IPO) roadshow said aren’t you guys just riding the denim wave? We’re creating the denim wave. We’ve been driving the category with innovation across our men’s business and our women’s business. We’ve expanded to other categories. Last year we finished with 14 percent growth coming off of 8 percent growth the prior year. The business is really humming right now.

I believe this is sustainable for the long term. Maybe not double digits forever. But we’ve got clear runway for growth across the categories that we’re competing in. We’re building share in our core categories and expanding to new categories. Last fiscal year, when we finished the year our growth was really broad-based. If you looked at it in the categories where we competed we grew every single category. If you looked at it by geography we grew every single geography. If you look at it by channel we grew across wholesale, including US wholesale, which is a little bit of a melting iceberg right now. We grew in our own brick-and-mortar and ecommerce. It was very broad-based growth last year and we’re confident we can continue that.

We Have Built a Very Big Platform for Big Data

First of all, to be successful it does come down to strong brands. Consumers at the end of the day love an emotional attachment with their brand. We’ve recreated that that love for Levi’s. We have built a very big platform for big data. In fact just a couple of weeks ago we announced that we’ve hired a head of advanced analytics and machine learning who will sit on the executive team and report directly to me. We are mining the data that we do collect and really turning it into revenue.

Our strategies are working and one of the key strategic choices that we made seven years ago, shortly after I joined, was to become a leading world-class omnichannel retailer and it is working. The mix has shifted to omnichannel. When I joined the company it was about 20 percent of our business. Today, it’s almost a third. It is faster growing than our wholesale business and we’re continuing to invest in it. Most of our capital investment is going into retail and ecommerce and knitting that seamless consumer experience together.

Implemented New Instance of SAP and Investing in RFID

It (IPO funds) is going to go into continued investment in building out our omnichannel. So both brick-and-mortar retail as well as our ecommerce business and then knitting it together with technology. For example, we’re implementing a new instance of SAP and investing in RFID (radio frequency identification). We’ve implemented RFID across our business in the US and UK and that’s actually really turning into money. Every one of the products in our store is tagged with RFID.

I’ve actually had this experience happen to me myself in our new Times Square store. There was an item I wanted to buy and they didn’t have it in my size. A stylist came over and scanned the tag and she could see that my size was available in the back room. Just two minutes later I was in the dressing room trying it on. A year ago before our RFID that would have been a lost sale. That just wouldn’t have happened. It gives us instant clear visibility to the inventory in our store, both in front of house as well as back of house.

Levi’s Driving Market Share Through Product Innovation

Back in 2013 and 2014, the headlines were the death of denim. It was all about athletic tights and Lululemon tights. It became a throwdown moment for us as a company. We have an innovation center a couple of blocks from our office. We brought our suppliers, the mills that make denim for us, into that innovation center. We understood what women were really telling us by wearing tights. That used to be a denim occasion. They wanted soft stretchy comfortable material that made them look great and gave them confidence. That was what was driving that conversion. So we innovated around soft stretchy comfortable denim which we can now do. We developed proprietary four-way stretch so that women don’t get baggy knees, which is their biggest dissatisfier.

We relaunched our business in the middle of 2015 and we’ve grown 14 quarters in a row and in the last eight quarters at double-digit rates. It has been a huge part of our growth. We were under $ 800 million just on women’s bottoms about three years ago. We’re over a billion dollars today. We are number one globally with a nine percent market share, but we’re not number one in a number of markets including right here in the US. So I really do believe we can continue to grow at an accelerated rate on our women’s business. There are lots of what I like to call share donors out there for us to build share while we’re building the category.

We haven’t seen any (backlash to being an American brand). This brand stands for everything good about America. Freedom, democracy, and allowing people to express themselves. Authentic self-expression is what the Levi’s brand is all about. We’ve not seen any backlash. None. We think there are lots of opportunities still for us. I am not worried at all about denim. We are denim and we’ll continue to drive this category through great innovation and marketing that connects with consumers and sends them into our stores.

Technology and Innovation Powering Levi Strauss Growth Strategy

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10 Things Your Content Marketing Strategy Must Include

With last year’s sale of our StudioPress division, I found myself with something I hadn’t seen in a long time…

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The One-Hour Guide to SEO, Part 1: SEO Strategy – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Can you learn SEO in an hour? Surprisingly, the answer is yes, at least when it comes to the fundamentals! 

With this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we’re kicking off something special: a six-part series of roughly ten-minute-long videos designed to deliver core SEO concepts efficiently and effectively. It’s our hope that this will serve as a helpful resource for a wide range of people:

  • Beginner SEOs looking to get acquainted with the field concisely & comprehensively
  • Clients, bosses, and stakeholders who would benefit from an enhanced understanding of your work
  • New team members who need quick and easy onboarding
  • Colleagues with SEO-adjacent roles, such as web developers and software engineers

Today we’ll be covering Part 1: SEO Strategy with the man who wrote the original guide on SEO, our friend Rand. Settle in, and stay tuned next Friday for our second video covering keyword research!

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special edition of the Whiteboard Friday series. I’m Rand Fishkin, the founder and former CEO of Moz, and I’m here with you today because I’m going to deliver a one-hour guide to SEO, front and back, so that you can learn in just an hour the fundamentals of the practice and be smarter at choosing a great SEO firm to work with, hiring SEO people. 

A handy SEO resource for your clients, team, and colleagues

If you are already in SEO, you might pick up some tips and tactics that you didn’t otherwise know or hadn’t previously considered. I want to ask those of you who are sort of intermediate level and advanced level SEOs — and I know there are many of you who have historically watched me on Whiteboard Friday and I really appreciate that — to give this video a chance even though it is at the beginner level, because my hope is that it will be valuable to you to send to your clients, your potential customers, people who join your team and work with you, developers or software engineers or web devs who you are working with and whose help you need but you want them to understand the fundamentals of SEO.

If those are the people that you’re talking to, excellent. This series is for you. We’re going to begin with SEO strategy. That is our first part. Then we’ll get into things like keyword research and technical SEO and link building and all of that good stuff as well. 

The essentials: What is SEO, and what does it do?

So first off, SEO is search engine optimization. It is essentially the practice of influencing or being able to control some of the results that Google shows when someone types in or speaks a query to their system.

I say Google. You can influence other search engines, like Bing and DuckDuckGo and Yahoo and Seznam if you’re in the Czech Republic or Baidu. But we are primarily focused on Google because Google has more than a 90% market share in the United States and, in fact, in North America and South America, in most of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East with a few exceptions.

Start with business goals

So SEO is a tactic. It’s a way to control things. It is not a business goal. No one forms a new company or sits down with their division and says, “Okay, we need to rank for all of these keywords.” Instead what you should be saying, what hopefully is happening in your teams is, “We have these business goals.”

Example: “Grow our online soccer jersey sales to a web-savvy, custom heavy audience.”

Let’s say we’re an online e-commerce shop and we sell customized soccer jerseys, well, football for those of you outside of the United States. So we want to grow our online soccer jersey sales. Great, that is a true business goal. We’re trying to build a bigger audience. We want to sell more of these jerseys. In order to do that, we have marketing goals that we want to achieve, things like we want to build brand awareness.

Next, marketing goals

Build brand awareness

We want more people to know who we are, to have heard of our particular brand, because people who have heard of us are going to be more likely to buy from us. The first time you hear about someone, very unlikely to buy. The seventh time you’ve heard about someone, much more likely to buy from them. So that is a good marketing goal, and SEO can help with that. We’ll talk about that in a sec.

Grow top-of-funnel traffic

You might want to grow top-of-funnel traffic. We want more people coming to the site overall so that we can do a better job of figuring out who is the right audience for us and converting some of those people, retargeting some of those people, capturing emails from some of those people, all those good things. 

Attract ready-to-buy fans

We want to attract ready-to-buy fans, people who are chomping at the bit to buy our soccer jerseys, customize them and get them shipped.

SEO, as a strategy, is essentially a set of tactics, things that you will do in the SEO world to rank for different keywords in the search engines or control and influence what already ranks in there so that you can achieve your marketing goals so that you can achieve your business goals.

Don’t get this backwards. Don’t start from a place of SEO. Especially if you are an SEO specialist or a practitioner or you’re joining a consulting firm, you should always have an excellent idea of what these are and why the SEO tactics that you are undertaking fit into them. If you don’t, you should be asking those questions before you begin any SEO work.

Otherwise you’re going to accomplish things and do things that don’t have the impact or don’t tie directly to the impact that the business owners care about, and that’s going to mean probably you won’t get picked up for another contract or you won’t accomplish the goals that mean you’re valuable to the team or you do things that people don’t necessarily need and want in the business and therefore you are seen as a less valuable part of it.

Finally, move into SEO strategy

But if you’re accomplishing things that can clearly tie to these, the opposite. People will really value what you do. 

Rank for low-demand, high-conversion keywords

So SEO can do things like rank for low demand, things that don’t have a lot of searches per month but they are high conversion likely keywords, keywords like “I am looking for a customized Seattle Sounders soccer jersey that’s in the away colors.” Well, there’s not a lot of search demand for that exact phrase. But if you’re searching for it, you’re very likely to convert. 

Earn traffic from high-demand, low-competition, less commerce-focused keywords

You could try and earn traffic from high-demand, low competition keywords that are less focused directly on e-commerce. So it could be things like “Seattle Sounders news” or “Seattle Sounders stats” or a comparison of “Portland Timbers versus Seattle Sounders.” These are two soccer or football clubs in the Pacific Northwest. 

Build content that attracts links and influencer engagement

Or you might be trying to do things like building content that attracts links and influencer engagement so that in the future you can rank for more competitive keywords. We’ll talk about that in a sec. SEO can do some amazing things, but there are also things that it cannot do.

What SEO can do:

If you put things in here, if you as an SEO pitch to your marketing team or your business owners that SEO can do things that it can’t, you’re going to be in trouble. So when we compose an SEO strategy, a set of tactics that tries to accomplish marketing goals that tie to business goals, SEO can do things like:

  • Attract searchers that are seeking your content.
  • Control how your brand is seen in search results when someone searches for your particular name. 
  • Nudge searchers toward queries by influencing what gets suggested in the auto suggest or by suggesting related searches or people also ask boxes. 

Anything that shows up in the search results, nearly anything can be influenced by what we as SEOs can do.

What SEO cannot do:

Grow or create search demand on its own

But SEO cannot grow or create search demand by itself. So if someone says, “Hey, I want us to get more traffic for this specific keyword,” if you’re already ranking number one and you have some videos showing in the results and you’re also in the image results and you’ve got maybe a secondary page that links off to you from the results, you might say, “Hey, there’s just not more demand,” and SEO by itself can’t create that additional demand.

Build brand (by itself)

SEO also can’t build brand, at least not by itself. It can certainly be a helpful part of that structure. But if someone says, “Hey, I want us to be better known among this audience,”you can say, “Well, SEO can help a little, but it can’t build a brand on its own, and it certainly can’t build brand perception on its own.” People are going to go and visit your website. They’re going to go and experience, have an interaction with what you’ve created on the web. That is going to be far more of a brand builder, a brand indicator than just what appears in the search results. So SEO can’t do that alone. 

Directly convert customers

It also can’t directly convert customers. A lot of the time what we find is that someone will do a great job of ranking, but when you actually reach the website, when visitors reach the website, they are unsatisfied by the search, which by the way is one of the reasons why this one-hour guide is going to include a section on searcher satisfaction.

When Google sees over time that searchers are unsatisfied by a result, they will push that result down in the rankings and find someone who does a great job of satisfying searchers, and they will rank them instead. So the website has to do this. It is part of SEO. It’s certainly part of the equation, but SEO can’t influence it or control it on its own.

WORK OVERNIGHT!

Finally, last but not least, SEO cannot work overnight. It just won’t happen. SEO is a long-term investment. It is very different from paid search ads, PPC, also called SEM sometimes, buying from Google ads or from Bing ads and appearing in the sponsored results. That is a tactic where you can pour money in and optimize and get results out in 24 hours. SEO is more like a 24-month long process. 

The SEO Growth Path

I’ve tried to show that here. The fundamental concept is when you have a new website, you need to earn these things — links and engagement and historical performance in the rankings.

As you earn those things, other people are linking to you from around the web, people are talking about you, people are engaging with your pages and your brand, people start searching for your brand specifically, people are clicking you more in the search results and then having good experiences on your website, as all those great things happen, you will grow your historical engagement and links and ranking factors, all these things that we sort of put into the bucket of the authority and influence of a website.

3–6 months: Begin to rank for things in the long tail of search demand

As that grows, you will be able to first, over time, this might be three to six months down here, you might be able to rank for a few keywords in the long tail of search demand. 

6–9 months: Begin to rank for more and more competitive keywords

After six to nine months, if you’re very good at this, you may be able to rank for more and more competitive keywords.

12–18 months: Compete for tougher keywords

As you truly grow a brand that is well-known and well thought of on the internet and by search engines, 12 to 18 months in, maybe longer, you may be able to compete for tougher and tougher keywords. When I started the Moz website, back in the early days of Google, it took me years, literally two or three years before I was ranking for anything in Google, anything in the search engines, and that is because I had to first earn that brand equity, that trust, that relationship with the search engines, those links and that engagement.

Today this is more true than ever because Google is so good at estimating these things. All right. I look forward to hearing all about the amazing strategies and structures that you’ve got probably in the comments down below. I’m sure it will be a great thread. We’ll move on to the second part of our one-hour guide next time — keyword research. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Value Proposition: The right strategy beats a bigger budget

A small non-profit created a model with a value prop that coupled corporate employee engagement with community involvement resulting in 6 million+ meals for families in need.
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Affordable, Stat-Based Retail Strategy For Your Agency’s Clients

Posted by MiriamEllis

Retail clients are battling tough economics offline and tough competitors online. They need every bit of help your agency can give them. 

I was heartened when 75 percent of the 1,400+ respondents to the Moz State of Local SEO Industry Report 2019 shared that they contribute to offline strategy recommendations either frequently or at least some of the time. I can’t think of a market where good and relatively inexpensive experiments are more needed than in embattled retail. The ripple effect of a single new idea, offered up generously, can spread out to encompass new revenue streams for the client and new levels of retention for your agency.

And that’s why win-win seemed written all over three statistics from a 2018 Yes Marketing retail survey when I read it because they speak to motivating about one quarter to half of 1,000 polled customers without going to any extreme expense. Take a look:

I highly recommend downloading Yes Marketing’s complete survey which is chock-full of great data, but today, let’s look at just three valuable stats from it to come up with an actionable strategy you can gift your offline retail clients at your next meeting.

Getting it right: A little market near me

For the past 16 years, I’ve been observing the local business scene with a combination of professional scrutiny and personal regard. I’m inspired by businesses that open and thrive and am saddened by those that open and close.

Right now, I’m especially intrigued by a very small, independently-owned grocery store which set up shop last year in what I’ll lovingly describe as a rural, half-a-horse town not far from me. This locale has a single main street with less than 20 businesses on it, but I’m predicting the shop’s ultimate success based on several factors. A strong one is that the community is flanked by several much larger towns with lots of through traffic and the market is several miles from any competitor. But other factors which match point-for-point with the data in the Yes Marketing survey make me feel especially confident that this small business is going to “get it right”. 

Encourage your retail clients to explore the following tips.

1) The store is visually appealing

43–58 percent of Yes Marketing’s surveyed retail customers say they’d be motivated to shop with a retailer who has cool product displays, murals, etc. Retail shoppers of all ages are seeking appealing experiences.

At the market near me, there are many things going on in its favor. The building is historic on the outside and full of natural light on this inside, and the staff sets up creative displays, such as all of the ingredients you need to make a hearty winter soup gathered up on a vintage table. The Instagram crowd can have selfie fun here, and more mature customers will appreciate the aesthetic simplicity of this uncluttered, human-scale shopping experience.

For your retail clients, it won’t break the bank to become more visually appealing. Design cues are everywhere!

Share these suggestions with a worthy client:

Basic cleanliness is the starting point

This is an old survey, but I think we’re safe to say that at least 45 percent of retail customers are still put off by dirty premises — especially restrooms. Janitorial duties are already built into the budget of most businesses and only need to be accomplished properly. I continuously notice how many reviewers proclaim the word “clean” when a business deserves it.

Inspiration is affordable

Whatever employees are already being paid is the cost of engaging them to lend their creativity to creating merchandise displays that draw attention and/or solve problems. My hearty winter soup example is one idea (complete with boxed broth, pasta, veggies, bowls, and cookware). 

For your retail client? It might be everything a consumer needs to recover from a cold (medicine, citrus fruit, electric blanket, herbal tea, tissue, a paperback, a sympathetic stuffed animal, etc.). Or everything one needs to winterize a car, take a trip to a beach, build a beautiful window box, or pamper a pet. Retailers can inexpensively encourage the hidden artistic talents in staff.

Feeling stuck? The Internet is full of free retail display tips, design magazines cost a few bucks, and your clients’ cable bills already cover a subscription to channels like HGTV and the DIY network that trade on style. A client who knows that interior designers are all using grey-and-white palettes and that one TV ad after another features women wearing denim blue with aspen yellow right now is well on their way to catching customers’ eyes.

Aspiring artists live near your client and need work

The national average cost to have a large wall mural professionally painted is about $ 8,000, with much less expensive options available. Some retailers even hold contests surrounding logo design, and an artist near your client may work quite inexpensively if they are trying to build up their portfolio. I can’t predict how long the Instagram mural trend will last, but wall art has been a crowd-pleaser since Paleolithic times. Any shopper who stops to snap a photo of themselves has been brought in close proximity to your front door.

I pulled this word cloud out of the reviews of the little grocery store:

While your clients’ industries and aesthetics will vary, tell them they can aim for a similar, positive response from at least 49 percent of their customers with a little more care put into the shopping environment.

2) The store offers additional services beyond the sale of products

19–40 percent of survey respondents are influenced by value-adds. Doubtless, you’ve seen the TV commercials in which banks double as coffee houses to appeal to the young, and small hardware chains emphasize staff expertise over loneliness in a warehouse. That’s what this is all about, and it can be done at a smaller scale, without overly-strapping your retail clients.

At the market near me, reviews like this are coming in:

The market has worked out a very economic arrangement with a massage therapist, who can build up their clientele out of the deal, so it’s a win for everybody.

For your retail clients, sharing these examples could inspire appealing added services:

The cost of these efforts is either the salary of an employee, nominal or free.

3) The store hosts local events

20–36 percent of customers feel the appeal of retailers becoming destinations for things to learn and do. Coincidentally, this corresponds with two of the tasks Google dubbed micro-moments a couple of years back, and while not everyone loves that terminology, we can at least agree that large numbers of people use the Internet to discover local resources.

At the market near me, they’re doing open-mic readings, and this is a trend in many cities to which Google Calendar attests:

For your clients, the last two words of that event description are key. When there’s a local wish to build community, retail businesses can lend the space and the stage. This can look like:

Again, costs here can be quite modest and you’ll be bringing the community together under the banner of your business.

Putting it in writing

The last item on the budget for any of these ventures is whatever it costs to publicize it. For sure, your client will want:

  • A homepage announcement and/or one or more blog posts
  • Google Posts, Q&A, photos and related features
  • Social mentions
  • If the concept is large enough (or the community is small) some outreach to local news in hopes of a write-up and inclusion of local/social calendars
  • Link building would be great if the client can afford a reasonable investment in your services, where necessary
  • And, of course, be sure your client’s local business listings are accurate so that newcomers aren’t getting lost on their way to finding the cool new offering

Getting the word out about events, features, and other desirable attributes don’t have to be exorbitant, but it will put the finishing touch on ensuring a community knows the business is ready to offer the desired experience.

Seeing opportunity

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a client meeting and things will be a bit flat. Maybe the client has been disengaged from your contract lately, or sales have been leveling out for lack of new ideas. That’s the perfect time to put something fresh on the table, demonstrating that you’re thinking about the client’s whole picture beyond CTR and citations.

One thing that I find to be an inspiring practice for agencies is to do an audit of competitors’ reviews looking for “holes” In many communities, shopping is really dull and reviews reflect that, with few shoppers feeling genuinely excited by a particular vertical’s local offerings. Your client could be the one to change that, with a little extra attention from you.

Every possibility won’t be the perfect match for every business, but if you can help the company see a new opportunity, the few minutes spent brainstorming could benefit you both.

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What a Two-Tiered SERP Means for Content Strategy – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by willcritchlow

If you’re a big site competing to rank for popular head terms, where’s the best place to focus your content strategy? According to a hypothesis by the good folks at Distilled, the answer may lie in perfectly satisfying searcher intent.

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

If you haven’t heard the news, the Domain Authority metric discussed in this episode will be updated on March 5th, 2019 to better correlate with Google algorithm changes. Learn about what’s changing below:

Learn more about the new DA


Video Transcription

Hi, Whiteboard Friday fans. I’m Will Critchlow, one of the founders at Distilled, and what I want to talk about today is joining the dots between some theoretical work that some of my colleagues have been doing and some of the client work that we’ve been doing recently and the results that we’ve been seeing from that in the wild and what I think it means for strategies for different-sized sites going on from here.

Correlations and a hypothesis

The beginning of this I credit to one of my colleagues, Tom Capper, THCapper on Twitter, who presented at our Search Love London conference a presentation entitled “The Two-Tiered SERP,” and I’m going to describe what that means in just a second. But what I’m going to do today is talk about what I think that the two-tiered SERP means for content strategy going forward and base that a little bit on some of what we’re seeing in the wild with some of our client projects.

What Tom presented at Search Love London was he started by looking at the fact that the correlation between domain authority and rankings has decreased over time. So he pulled out some stats from February 2017 and looked at those same stats 18 months later and saw a significant drop in the correlation between domain authority and rankings. This ties into a bunch of work that he’s done and presented elsewhere around potentially less reliance on links going forward and some other data that Google might be using, some other metrics and ranking factors that they might be using in their place, particularly branded metrics and so forth.

But Tom saw this drop and had a hypothesis that it wasn’t just an across-the-board drop. This wasn’t just Google not using links anymore or using links less. It was actually a more granular effect than that. This is the two-tiered SERP or what we mean by the two-tiered SERP. So a search engine result page, a SERP, you’ve got some results at the top and some results further down the page.

What Tom found — he had this hypothesis that was born out in the data — was that the correlation between domain authority and rankings was much higher among the positions 6 through 10 than it was among the top half of the search results page and that this can be explained by essentially somewhat traditional ranking factors lower down the page and in lower competition niches and that at the top of the page, where there’s more usage data, greater search volume and so forth in these top positions, that traditional ranking factors played less of a part.

They maybe get you into the consideration set. There are no domains ranking up here that are very, very weak. But once you’re in the consideration set, there’s much less of a correlation between these different positions. So it’s still true on average that these positions 1 through 5 are probably more authoritative than the sites that are appearing in lower positions. But within this set there’s less predictive value.

The domain authority is less predictive of ranking within this set than it is of ranking within this set. So this is the two-tiered SERP, and this is consistent with a bunch of data that we’ve seen across the place and in particular with the outcomes that we’re seeing among content campaigns and content strategies for different kinds of sites.

At Distilled, we get quite a lot of clients coming to us wanting either a content strategy put together or in some cases coming to us essentially with their content strategy and saying, “Can you execute this? Can you help us execute this plan?” It’s very common for that plan to be, “We want to create a bunch of big pieces of content that get a ton of links, and we’re going to use that link authority to make our site more authoritative and that is going to result in our whole site doing better and ranking better.”

An anonymized case study

We’ve seen that that is performing differently in different cases, and in particular it’s performing better on smaller sites than it is on big sites. So this is a little anonymized case study. This is a real example of a story that happened with one of our consulting clients where we put in place a content strategy for them that did include a plan to build the domain authority because this was a site that came to us with a domain authority significantly below that of their key competitors, also with all of these sites not having a ton of domain authority.

This was working in a B2B space, relatively small domains. They came to us with that, and we figured that actually growing the authority was a key part of this content strategy and over the next 18 months put out a bunch of pieces that have done really well and generated a ton of press coverage and traction and things. Over that time, they’ve actually outstripped their key competitors in the domain authority metrics, and crucially we saw that tie directly to increases in traffic that went hand-in-hand with this increase in domain authority.

But this contrasts to what we’ve seen with some much larger sites in much more competitive verticals where they’re already very, very high domain authority, maybe they’re already stronger than some of their competitors and adding to that. So adding big content pieces that get even more big authoritative links has not moved the needle in the way that it might have done a few years ago.

That’s totally consistent with this kind of setup, where if you are currently trying to edge in the bottom or you’re competing for less competitive search terms, then this kind of approach might really work for you and it might, in fact, be necessary to get into the consideration set for the more competitive end. But if you’re operating on a much bigger site, you’ve already got the competitive domain authority, you and your competitors are all very powerful sites, then our kind of hypothesis is that you’re going to be needing to look more towards the user experience, the conversion rate, and intent research.

Are you satisfying searcher intent for competitive head terms?

What is somebody who performs this search actually looking to do? Can you satisfy that intent? Can you make sure that they don’t bounce back to the search results and click on a competitor? Can you make sure that in fact they stay on your site, they get done the thing they want to get done, and it all works out for them, because we think that these kinds of things are going to be much more powerful for moving up through the very top end of the most competitive head terms.

So when we’re working on a content strategy or putting our creative team to work on these kinds of things on bigger sites, we’re more likely to be creating content directly designed to rank. We might be creating content based off a ton of this research, and we’re going to be incrementally improving those things to try and say, “Have we actually satisfied the perfect intent for this super competitive head term?”

What we’re seeing is that’s more likely to move the needle up at this top end than growing the domain authority on a big site. So I hope you found that interesting. I’m looking forward to a vigorous discussion in the comments on this one. But thank you for joining me for this week’s Whiteboard Friday. I’ve been Will Critchlow from Distilled. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Using STAT for Content Strategy – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by DiTomaso

Search results are sophisticated enough to show searchers not only the content they want, but in the format they want it. Being able to identify searcher intent and interest based off of ranking results can be a powerful driver of content strategy. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, we warmly welcome Dana DiTomaso as she describes her preferred tools and methods for developing a modern and effective content strategy.

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

Video Transcription

Hi, everyone. Welcome to Whiteboard Friday. My name is Dana DiTomaso. I’m President and partner of Kick Point, which is a digital marketing agency based way up in Edmonton, Alberta. Come visit sometime.

What I’m going to be talking about today is using STAT for content strategy. STAT, if you’re not familiar with STAT Search Analytics, which is in my opinion the best ranking tool on the market and Moz is not paying me to say that, although they did pay for STAT, so now STAT is part of the Moz family of products. I really like STAT. I’ve been using it for quite some time. They are also Canadian. That may or may not influence my decision.

But one of the things that STAT does really well is it doesn’t just show you where you’re ranking, but it breaks down what type of rankings and where you should be thinking about rankings. Typically I find, especially if you’ve been working in this field for a long time, you might think about rankings and you still have in your mind the 10 blue links that we used to have forever ago, and that’s so long gone. One of the things that’s useful about using STAT rankings is you can figure out stuff that you should be pursuing other than, say, the written word, and I think that that’s something really important again for marketers because a lot of us really enjoy reading stuff.

Consider all the ways searchers like to consume content

Maybe you’re watching this video. Maybe you’re reading the transcript. You might refer to the transcript later. A lot of us are readers. Not a lot of us are necessarily visual people, so sometimes we can forget stuff like video is really popular, or people really do prefer those places packs or whatever it might be. Thinking outside of yourself and thinking about how Google has decided to set up the search results can help you drive better content to your clients’ and your own websites.

The biggest thing that I find that comes of this is you’re really thinking about your audience a lot more because you do have to trust that Google maybe knows what it’s doing when it presents certain types of results to people. It knows the intent of the keyword, and therefore it’s presenting results that make sense for that intent. We can argue all day about whether or not answer boxes are awesome or terrible.

But from a visitor’s perspective and a searcher’s perspective, they like them. I think we need to just make sure that we’re understanding where they might be showing up, and if we’re playing by Google rules, people also ask is not necessarily going anywhere.

All that being said, how can we use ranking results to figure out our content strategy? The first thing about STAT, if you haven’t used STAT before, again check it out, it’s awesome.

Grouping keywords with Data Views

But one of the things that’s really nice is you can do this thing called data views. In data views, you can group together parts of keywords. So you can do something called smart tags and say, “I want to tag everything that has a specific location name together.”

Opportunities — where are you not showing up?

Let’s say, for example, that you’re working with a moving company and they are across Canada. So what I want to see here for opportunities are things like where I’m not ranking, where are there places box showing up that I am not in, or where are the people also ask showing up that I am not involved in. This is a nice way to keep an eye on your competitors.

Locations

Then we’ll also do locations. So we’ll say everything in Vancouver, group this together. Everything in Winnipeg, group this together. Everything in Edmonton and Calgary and Toronto, group all that stuff together.

Attributes (best, good, top, free, etc.)

Then the third thing can be attributes. This is stuff like best, good, top, free, cheap, all those different things that people use to describe your product, because those are definitely intent keywords, and often they will drive very different types of results than things you might consider as your head phrases.

So, for example, looking at “movers in Calgary” will drive a very different result than “top movers in Calgary.” In that case, you might get say a Yelp top 10 list. Or if you’re looking for “cheapest mover in Calgary,”again a different type of search result. So by grouping your keywords together by attributes, that can really help you as well determine how those types of keywords can be influenced by the type of search results that Google is putting out there.

Products / services

Then the last thing is products/services. So we’ll take each product and service and group it together. One of the nice things about STAT is you can do something called smart tags. So we can, say, figure out every keyword that has the word “best” in it and put it together. Then if we ever add more keywords later, that also have the word “best,”they automatically go into that keyword group. It’s really useful, especially if you are adding lots of keywords over time. I recommend starting by setting up some views that make sense.

You can just import everything your client is ranking for, and you can just take a look at the view of all these different keywords. But the problem is that there’s so much data, when you’re looking at that big set of keywords, that a lot of the useful stuff can really get lost in the noise. By segmenting it down to a really small level, you can start to understand that search for that specific type of term and how you fit in versus your competition.

A deep dive into SERP features

So put that stuff into STAT, give it a little while, let it collect some data, and then you get into the good stuff, which is the SERP features. I’m covering just a tiny little bit of what STAT does. Again, they didn’t pay me for this. But there’s lots of other stuff that goes on in here. My personal favorite part is the SERP features.

Which features are increasing/decreasing both overall and for you?

So what I like here is that in SERP features it will tell you which features are increasing and decreasing overall and then what features are increasing and decreasing for you.

This is actually from a real set for one of our clients. For them, what they’re seeing are big increases in places version 3, which is the three pack of places. Twitter box is increasing. I did not see that coming. Then AMP is increasing. So that says to me, okay, so I need to make sure that I’m thinking about places, and maybe this is a client who doesn’t necessarily have a lot of local offices.

Maybe it’s not someone you would think of as a local client. So why are there a lot more local properties popping up? Then you can dive in and say, “Okay, only show me the keywords that have places boxes.” Then you can look at that and decide: Is it something where we haven’t thought about local SEO before, but it’s something where searchers are thinking about local SEO? So Google is giving them three pack local boxes, and maybe we should start thinking about can we rank in that box, or is that something we care about.

Again, not necessarily content strategy, but certainly your SEO strategy. The next thing is Twitter box, and this is something where you think Twitter is dead. No one is using Twitter. It’s full of terrible people, and they tweet about politics all day. I never want to use it again, except maybe Google really wants to show more Twitter boxes. So again, looking at it and saying, “Is Twitter something where we need to start thinking about it from a content perspective? Do we need to start focusing our energies on Twitter?”

Maybe you abandoned it and now it’s back. You have to start thinking, “Does this matter for the keywords?” Then AMP. So this is something where AMP is really tricky obviously. There have been studies where it said, “I implemented AMP, and I lost 70% of my traffic and everything was terrible.” But if that’s the case, why would we necessarily be seeing more AMP show up in search results if it isn’t actually something that people find useful, particularly on mobile search?

Desktop vs mobile

One of the things actually that I didn’t mention in the tagging is definitely look at desktop versus mobile, because you are going to see really different feature sets between desktop and mobile for these different types of keywords. Mobile may have a completely different intent for a type of search. If you’re a restaurant, for example, people looking for reservations on a desktop might have different intent from I want a restaurant right now on mobile, for example, and you’re standing next to it and maybe you’re lost.

What kind of intent is behind the search results?

You really have to think about what that intent means for the type of search results that Google is going to present. So for AMP, then you have to look at it and say, “Well, is this newsworthy? Why is more AMP being shown?” Should we consider moving our news or blog or whatever you happen call it into AMP so that we can start to show up for these search results in mobile? Is that a thing that Google is presenting now?

We can get mad about AMP all day, but how about instead if we actually be there? I don’t want the comment section to turn into a whole AMP discussion, but I know there are obviously problems with AMP. But if it’s being shown in the search results that searchers who should be finding you are seeing and you’re not there, that’s definitely something you need to think about for your content strategy and thinking, “Is AMP something that we need to pursue? Do we have to have more newsy content versus evergreen content?”

Build your content strategy around what searchers are looking for

Maybe your content strategy is really focused on posts that could be relevant for years, when in reality your searchers are looking for stuff that’s relevant for them right now. So for example, things with movers, there’s some sort of mover scandal. There’s always a mover who ended up taking someone’s stuff and locking it up forever, and they never gave it back to them. There’s always a story like that in the news.

Maybe that’s why it’s AMP. Definitely investigate before you start to say, “AMP everything.” Maybe it was just like a really bad day for movers, for example. Then you can see the decreases. So the decrease here is organic, which is that traditional 10 blue links. So obviously this new stuff that’s coming in, like AMP, like Twitter, like places is displacing a lot of the organic results that used to be there before.

So instead you think, well, I can do organic all day, but if the results just aren’t there, then I could be limiting the amount of traffic I could be getting to my website. Videos, for example, now it was really interesting for this particular client that videos is a decreasing SERP for them, because videos is actually a big part of their content strategy. So if we see that videos are decreasing, then we can take a step back and say, “Is it decreasing in the keywords that we care about? Why is it decreasing? Do we think this is a test or a longer-term trend?”

Historical data

What’s nice about STAT is you can say “I want to see results for the last 7 days, 30 days, or 60 days.” Once you get a year of data in there, you can look at the whole year and look at that trend and see is it something where we have to maybe rethink our video strategy? Maybe people don’t like video for these phrases. Again, you could say, “But people do like video for these phrases.” But Google, again, has access to more data than you do.

If Google has decided that for these search phrases video is not a thing they want to show anymore, then maybe people don’t care about video the way that you thought they did. Sorry. So that could be something where you’re thinking, well, maybe we need to change the type of content we create. Then the last one is carousel that showed up for this particular client. Carousel, there are ones where they show lots of different results.

I’m glad that’s dropping because that actually kind of sucks. It’s really hard to show up well there. So I think that’s something to think about in the carousel as well. Maybe we’re pleased that that’s going away and then we don’t have to fight it as much anymore. Then what you can see in the bottom half are what we call share of voice.

Share of voice

Share of voice is calculated based on your ranking and all of your competitors’ ranking and the number of clicks that you’re expected to get based on your ranking position.

So the number 1 position obviously gets more ranks than the number 100 position. So the share of voice is a percentage calculated based on how many of these types of items, types of SERP features that you own versus your competitors as well as your position in these SERP features. So what I’m looking at here is share of voice and looking at organic, places, answers, and people also ask, for example.

So what STAT will show you is the percentage of organic, and it’s still, for this client — and obviously this is not an accurate chart, but this is vaguely accurate to what I saw in STAT — organic is still a big, beefy part of this client’s search results. So let’s not panic that it’s decreasing. This is really where this context can come in. But then you can think, all right, so we know that we are doing “eeh” on organic.

Is it something where we think that we can gain more? So the green shows you your percentage that you own of this, and then the black is everyone else. Thinking realistically, you obviously cannot own 100% of all the search results all the time because Google wouldn’t allow that. So instead thinking, what’s a realistic thing? Are we topping out at the point now where we’re going to have diminishing returns if we keep pushing on this?

Identify whether your content efforts support what you’re seeing in STAT

Are we happy with how we’re doing here? Maybe we need to turn our attention to something else, like answers for example. This particular client does really well on places. They own a lot of it. So for places, it’s maintain, watch, don’t worry about it that much anymore. Then that can drop off when we’re thinking about content. We don’t necessarily need to keep writing blog post for things that are going to help us to rank in the places pack because it’s not something that’s going to influence that ranking any further.

We’re already doing really well. But instead we can look at answers and people also ask, which for this particular client they’re not doing that well. It is something that’s there, and it is something that it may not be one of the top increases, but it’s certainly an increase for this particular client. So what we’re looking at is saying, “Well, you have all these great blog posts, but they’re not really written with people also ask or answers in mind. So how about we go back and rewrite the stuff so that we can get more of these answer boxes?”

That can be the foundation of that content strategy. When you put your keywords into STAT and look at your specific keyword set, really look at the SERP features and determine what does this mean for me and the type of content I need to create, whether it’s more images for example. Some clients, when you’re looking at e-commerce sites, some of the results are really image heavy, or they can be product shopping or whatever it might be.

There are really specific different features, and I’ve only shown a tiny subset. STAT captures all of the different types of SERP features. So you can definitely look at anything if it’s specific to your industry. If it’s a feature, they’ve got it in here. So definitely take a look and see where are these opportunities. Remember, you can’t have a 100% share of voice because other people are just going to show up there.

You just want to make sure that you’re better than everybody else. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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