Category Archives: Content marketing

3 Tools to help you put social media on autopilot

Don’t have time to update your company Twitter, Facebook page or blog?

Here are 3 awesome tools that can take care of it for you!

Klout

Klout started life as a simple tool for measuring the effectiveness of your socal output, but now it actually helps you with that output as well.

Plug in your social profiles and some keywords which describe the subjects that you and your audience are interested in and it will throw up a feed with results that are relevant. You can then schedule these posts to go out at regular intervals.

Klout

IFTTT

I am a huge fan of IFTTT (If This Then That) which can automate pretty much any activity, from turning on your lights to organising your calendar.

In the case of social media, you can set it to ping out updates when selected sites add a new item to their RSS feed. Choose authority sites in your sector and every time they update, you update too!

IFTTT

 

Copify WordPress Plugin

The Copify WordPress plugin, when teamed with one of our monthly blog packages helps companies to automatically update their blog with quality, unique posts.

Give us your blog URL and some keywords and for a monthly fee (from £49/$69) we’ll deliver a number of posts each week. WordPress users can even have these posts pushed live automatically with an image!

A Blog using the Copify WordPress plugin

Ask an SEO – Stacey Cavanagh on building brand signals

SEO is a rapidly-changing game, with Google seemingly cracking down on every form of easily scalable link building tactic. We are rapidly approaching a time when the only links that will make a difference are those that are earned on their own merit.

Stacey Cavanagh

Stacey Cavanagh

Stacey Cavanagh of Manchester agency Tecmark has long been an advocate of doing it the right way – creating ‘brand signals’ in the form of useful, interesting and insightful content.

I was lucky enough to catch up with her recently and I asked her how you go about building these brand signals.

Q) Could you maybe start by telling us about yourself, how did you get into the weird and wonderful world of SEO?

A) I started out freelance copywriting back in 2007. More and more I was being asked for advice on “optimising content” and started teaching myself the basics of SEO. I realised very quickly that, firstly, this was right up my street! But most importantly, I knew there was way too much happening in the industry to just teach myself. I knew I wanted an agency side trainee role and I took one at Tecmark in 2009. So I was late to the game, for sure. But I learned quickly under the guidance of Kevin Jones, an awesome SEO who’d been working for some massive agencies and on some very campaigns prior to setting up Tecmark. And I’ve been at Tecmark ever since. I’m now Head of Search and I get to lead some great campaigns.

Q) You are a big advocate of using surveys to gain insights, which in turn, gain links. Could you give us some insight into how you come up with the ideas for the questions for these?

A) Absolutely. The thing I both love and loathe most about surveys is the unpredictable nature of them. You’re essentially asking human beings for something often based on their opinion and human beings can always surprise you. For example, a while ago I asked 1,000 Americans (tongue in cheek) to name a British City other than London. The top 10 included ‘Wales’ and ‘Paris,’ so it definitely had the surprise element! But it was light-hearted fun, made people laugh and made people want to share.

On the flip side, the follow up I did (asking Brits to name a US city) was boring. It was too easy a question and us Brits watch films named after US cities all the time etc. So the results were boring and it got no traction.

So wherever you ask humans anything, you can’t be sure you will get a shareworthy or newsworthy result. But the steps we take to try and make sure we do get something interesting are as follows:

Set clear, measurable objectives. What do we want from the survey? A piece of coverage on a certain website? 1,000 social shares? 10 links? We don’t opt for a survey unless we believe a survey can help us meet those goals.

We get a list together of people we think would be interested, develop personas for the type of people we think will share it etc.

The above guide our questions in terms of topic area and tone. But this also guides are decision as to who we are asking the question to.

Only when we have a clear idea on target respondents and target audience do we move on to the questions. We get a few people around the table (preferably a combination of people who are involved in the campaign and those who are not) and we outline the aims of the survey. Then between us we write down as many questions as we possibly can. Later, we whittle them down to a shortlist. From that shortlist, we make a list of potential stories (depending on how the survey goes) that might come out of the data. This is the key part – does each question have the potential (irrespective of the responses) to tell a story and is that story likely to be of interest to our target audience? The questions with the most promising potential stories are the ones we generally go with.

The thing with surveys, though, is that human element. You can minimise risk of a “boring” survey, but you can’t guarantee getting the story you want out of it. You need some good people on hand to turn whatever data you get into the most compelling stories possible.

Q) What is the best platform for attaining survey data?

A) It really depends on your budget. Google Consumer Surveys is a great low budget offering (from around $0.10 cents a response). However, if you want data more quickly and, in my opinion, a better Analytics and reporting dashboard, Quick Surveys is great. Ideally, though, and if you have more budget to play with, it’s great to go a market research company like One Poll. These guys are offering a service rather than a tool and they’re experts in making sure your questions are written so as not to be leading and that the data will be as credible as possible. So if you’re looking at doing a serious study, that’s where you should be looking. For more light hearted, less intense stuff, I’d suggest the other two work just fine!

One Poll

One Poll – Great for surveys

Q) How can you be sure of the integrity of data? How do you know it hasn’t come from click farms or MTurk?

A) Data integrity can be a huge issue. Even if not necessarily manipulative answers, you have the issue with Google Consumer Surveys where people are being asked the question without opting in. They often answer it to get to their content, so you could argue that it’s rushed or they’re just saying any old thing to get rid of the question.

With Quick Surveys, you’re asking a panel of people being paid for their answers and all we can due is due diligence on the company behind it to see what measures they’re taking to ensure the panel is authentic.

With One Poll, similarly, they’re the experts. We trust they take steps to ensure the integrity of our data. But ultimately, I would say you just have to be clear with any survey data you publish just makes it clear where the data has come from and ensure you speak to suppliers about how they source their panels.

Q) So I have my survey data, what do I do with it?

A) You need to turn it into a story. A compelling one that resonates with the audience you’re targeting, or perhaps throws a spanner in the works of a widely accepted theory or maybe rides on the back of something topical.

But the key here is the story. You could deliver this in several different formats – an infographic, a text blog post, a video… the key is turn it into something someone somewhere gives a crap about.

In terms of outreach, it’s going to depend on your audience or goals. If you’ve made a good target list of influencers at the beginning and the final results haven’t changed your plans, then start there. If I have a newsworthy piece, I like to get in touch with journalists  who’ve written about it recently. Use sites like journalisted.com to find people who might care and who might be able to use it.

Paid discovery channels like Outbrain, Zemanta and even Adwords can be effective too.

Outbrain

You might like…

Q) There are lots of platforms for content distribution which are your favourite and why?

A) I’m a fan of paid content discovery platforms. I have tried Outbrain and Zemanta with similar results. I’ve also experiments with Reddit paid entries, paid Stumbleupon discovery, Facebook advertising and Google Adwords. The 2 I always go back to though are Outbrain and Adwords. But I’m always experimenting with others.

Wil Reynolds gave a great talk on this, outlining some figures from an experiment they carried out at SEER.

Q) What is the best platform for getting in touch with journalists?

A) I do rate HARO. I also like Muckrack and Flacklist. Journalisted.com is a good database. But honestly, I think you have a great shout on social media too if you have the names of the journalists you want to talk to. If you have a telephone number, even better. You’re harder to ignore on the phone. And journalists have busy inboxes. If someone is happy to take your call, it’s a better way to go about introducing yourself, I find.

Q) Asides from these signals, what other tips would you give to companies who want to look like a credible ‘brand’ online?

A) Social signals, evidence of real customers talking with you or two you online and things like that. A real business has real customers. And if you’ve left them with the warm and fuzzies, they’ll be talking about you online (unless you’re in a sensitive niche, of course!).

Real Company Shit” as Wil Reynolds refers to it is critical. Ultimately, if you want to look like a credible brand online, then be one.

Q) Are you still guest blogging after Matt Cutts recent announcement? And if so, how are you going about it?

A) Yes, I am. And I’m still running guest editorial on my own blog as well. Particularly with the amendment after his post, Matt Cutts made it clear that what he is calling out is crap guest blogging.  I wrote about how badly this has led to people misinterpreting Matt Cutts. I think if you’ve always had quality at the centre of your guest editorial, then carry on! That’s my view.

300 Seconds

300 Seconds

Q) You have spoken at a few SEO events (Search Love, BrightonSEO) do you have any tips for aspiring conference speakers about how to go about it?

A) I’d suggest starting by attending a few conferences. Get to grips with the topics, the formats and meet some people. Then get involved in some small events just to get some experience under your belt. There are some great opportunities for women in the UK in the form of a series of small conferences by 300 Seconds where women new to the scene can get a 5 minute talk under their belt in a comfortable environment. They can then reference this in future pitches (there will be a version on Youtube for you).

When you feel ready, pitch on of the conferences that has an open pitching policy (SES and SMX both do). My first big conference was SMX London in 2013. That led to invites from BrightonSEO and SearchLove.

Getting the slot is only half the battle though. If your content isn’t right or you miss the brief, the chances of a repeat invite are slim. So really do set out every single time to deliver the absolute best you possibly can.

Q) Lots of SEO agencies and professionals have been rebranding themselves recently, do you think that SEO is becoming a dirty word?

A) I think it has dirty connotations to it, yes. SEO is evolving and in order to compete effectively now, there are more skill sets required than were required, say, 5 or 10 years ago.

But I think the way to overcome any dirty connotations when talking to prospects or clients is an education session on where SEO was and where it’s at now – the role of content marketing and so on.

Q) I’ve got a site I want to SEO, but I have literally no budget, what is your number one, free SEO tip?

A) Start by researching all possible ways in which someone looking for your site might find you. Focus on the long tail – tools like UberSuggest.org are awesome for that. Use this data to populate your site with useful content tailored to the different ways in which people might look at you.

Invest a LOT of time getting the on site content absolutely spot on. And in terms of link building, network, make friends and engage with others online. It’s through contacts you’ll find yourself invited to contribute on others’ websites and being talked about online (which results in links).

A good quick win method for existing businesses with a decent offline offering is to do a search for mentions online that don’t have links. That’s a nice freebie!

Q) What are your favourite SEO tools?

A) I use loads. The ones I use most are Screaming Frog, the Moz suite, Search Metrics, Majestic SEO and Buzzstream.

Q) Who would be your dream SEO client and why?

A) Disney, mostly just because I’m a massive fan. But they have this huge engaged market, so much scope for content marketing and so many avenues where online traffic and sales can be measured (from park bookings to the sale of soft toys, for example).

Q) Who are your favourite ‘SEO rockstars’?

A) Love to hear Wil Reynolds speak at any conference. He’s always informative and engaging. Similarly, Kelvin Newman is incredibly knowledgeable, so too is Aleyda Solis. And one of the most insightful people I’ve ever spoken to about outreach is Gisele Navarro.

How to actually DO some great content marketing, for free

**DISCLAIMER** This is not your typical content marketing post. It won’t help you to create a content marketing strategy, or create a Gantt chart of activity that will never get completed, or even come up with ideas that will eventually get sh*t-canned at the 10th content strategy stakeholder meeting.

This post will actually help you to DO something useful, something that will help you to get more shares, links and likes for your content.

Here’s the deal

Like many people, I struggle to promote our content as much as I would like. Using Hootsuite, together with the Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Open Site Explorer I have managed to find a quick and easy way to gather content and automate the creation of updates on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus etc to increase the level of engagement in this content.

It’s completely free and should take no longer than half an hour. Read on to find out more:

What you’ll need

– A site with some shareable content and/or a site with some inbound links going to it.
– Twitter/Facebook/Google Plus/LinkedIn accounts.
– A Moz Account.
– Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
– Hootsuite.
– Spreadsheet.

Step 1 – Grab your content

There are 2 types of content you can use, content on your own site, and content from other sites that link back to you.

Your site’s content – Screaming Frog

The excellent Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool can help you to grab all of the URLs and associated data from your chosen site. Download it and enter the URL you would like to crawl.

Use Screaming Frog to Crawl your site

Use Screaming Frog to crawl your site’s pages

External content – Open Site Explorer

If you don’t have one, to create a free Moz account to access the export functionality required to produce your updates. Once you have done this, go to opensiteexplorer.org and enter the URL of the page/domain that you would like to find links to. Once you have done this, click the option to ‘Export to CSV’. This will then produce a spreadsheet with amongst other things, the URL and title of all pages linking to your site.

Export links from OSE

Export links from OSE

Step 2 – Sort your content

First up, Screaming Frog. Once you have completed the crawl (could take a few minutes for big sites) you can export the data and sort it using a spreadsheet.

Find the pages that you want to tweet by sorting them alphabetically. On our blog, for example, posts start with: /post/, so I can quickly find these and delete all of the other, irrelevant pages.

Next, delete any of the irrelvant data to leave you with the URLs and the Page Title/H1 tag. Depending on how your site is set up, you may be able to use either of these, if you are doing this correctly, the H1 tag, which is the title of the page, should be the most compelling and therefore the best to use for the content of your Tweet/status update.

Open Site Explorer data – Delete everything except the first two columns. Filter out any pages that you don’t want to include and if you have time, edit any page titles that you think could be improved.

Sort your data in a spreadsheet

Sort your data in a spreadsheet

Step 3 – Check and edit your updates

Once you have your data in the 2 columns, use the following formula in a third column to check that the character length will not exceed Twitter’s limit of 140 characters: =LEN(A1&B1)

If there are any that exceed this, edit the copy to ensure that they are under this limit, otherwise Hootsuite will not be able to process the file. If you have any spare characters, add a hashtag or two for even greater exposure. The more time you spend editing your updates to make them as compelling as possible, the better the end result of your sharing.

If your site is anything like ours, you will probably need to remove any pages that are not ‘evergreen’, For example, I have removed any blog posts mentioning Google Panda and Penguin updates as these are not relevant any more.

Step 4 – Import into Hootsuite

If you’ve not already got a Hootsuite account, create one, login and configure with your Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn account details.

Next, in the left hand column of the dashboard go to: Publisher > Scheduled and download the sample CSV.

Once downloaded, you will find a 3 column sheet with following:

Column A – Date – in mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm or dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm format
Column B – Tweet Copy –  Page title or H1 tag
Column C – URL

Copy and paste the data from your sheets into columns B and C and then edit Column A to send this out at an appropriate time. You could trial, for example, sending out the same update on 3 different days at different times – or sending out a different update at the same time every day for a month.

When you are done, save as a .csv file and upload at the same dialogue box where you downloaded. NOTE – Hootsuite can be picky about the type of files it accepts, taking a few minutes to read this before you upload could save you a lot of time.

Finished CSV file

Finished CSV file

Step 5 – Monitor and refine

Hootsuite can show you how well your tweets do in terms of engagement. Now that you have the raw data, it’s easy to tweak your messages and the time of day etc. when they go out for maximum impact.

BrightonSEO – Tony Samios – Actionable content marketing and strategy

tony1Marketers use content marketing as a means of achieving various different marketing goals.

Steps of planning content marketing campaigns:

– Understand objectives, benchmark, review existing content and landscape.

– Understand audience and their personality and specific likes/dislikes. What are their purchasing habits, skills, pain points etc.

– Identify gaps – what content do you already have, what is required?

– Try and get inside customers needs and give them something that they want and need.

– Outline standards and consistency in style, meta data, keywords, call to action etc.

– Build and army of contributors

– Identify a workflow – who will produce/own/promote content.

– Repurpose content  – reuse and recycle wherever possible.

– Build content.

– Make content easy to share.

– Do something different.