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How to automate your social media marketing

If you’re anything like me, finding the time to post regular updates to social media can be a struggle. At the same time, not doing so means that you are missing out on potential brand exposure and engagement with your audience.

I have developed a simple and effective way of automating your social media updates and I’m going to share this with you in this post.

Step 1 – Gather your content

We primarily share 2 types of content – content on our own site, and content from other sites that links back to us.

Gathering your own 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

Gathering external content – Open Site Explorer

If you don’t have one, 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

Onsite content – Once Screaming Frog has completed its crawl, 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 irrelevant 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 title of the page should be the most compelling and therefore the best to use for the content of your update.

External content – In your exported data from OSE, 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 you will not be able to share on Twitter. 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. Also, consider scheduling more than one update with a different message each time, and including any brands or individuals mentioned in your posts won’t harm your chances of those all-important likes and Retweets.

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 – Schedule updates using Hootsuite

There are many tools which can help you automate your social media activity. My preference is Hootsuite, due to its CSV upload functionality, which works very well with the content gathering process in steps 1-3.

To implement the method we use, you will need a Hootsuite pro account, which is $9.99/Month with a 30 day free trial – well worth the money.

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 > Bulk message upload > Download 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.

NOTE – you can’t send the same message twice, so you will need to edit the text for each tweet.

When you are done, save as a .csv file and upload at the same dialogue box where you downloaded. A word of warning – 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!

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.

 

Finished CSV file
Finished Hootsuite CSV file

What if I don’t have any content to share?

Don’t panic, there are plenty of opportunities to engage with your audience via content curation – sharing great content that has been produced by others. Klout is a fantastic tool for helping to find content that your audience will be interested in, and schedule this to be shared via your social profiles.

Enter 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.

Automate social media updates with Klout

What are your tips?

Do you automate the social media activity for your brand? If so, why not share your tips below…

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How to plan a seasonal keyword marketing plan

The chances are that you’re aware of special days in your calendar when there is a spike in sales or general user interest. But are you missing these predictable peaks as part of your SEO strategy?

Seasonal events are a golden opportunity to make extra sales and improve brand awareness. In order to do that, people need to connect the event with your business and land on your site. 

This is where seasonal keywords come in. Keywords are at the very heart of promoting organic web traffic. It only takes a few simple steps to tailor them to seasonal events.

The process doesn’t start weeks, or even months, in advance – it’s something you should be thinking about a year ahead.

Here is how to plan your seasonal keyword marketing plan effectively:

One year to go

In order to make things run as smoothly as possible, it’s a good idea to define some baseline points. Your checklist for things to establish at the ‘one year mark’ should look something like this:

Setting objectives


What are you trying to achieve through seasonal awareness? Are you after sales or brand awareness? How will you measure your success?

Budget

You may not be spending money to acquire traffic through ads, but producing content still can cost money. Establish how much are you willing to spend to see results, and start thinking about the kinds of offers you can make to entice customers.

Method

Where is your content going to be placed? Are you just using existing content or producing new pages? Will you need extra content producers? 

Making these points clear a year in advance will make it much easier to manage the subsequent stages; it helps clarify what you’re doing and where you stand.

Six months to go


This is when your keyword campaign needs to begin taking shape. To do this effectively, you need to become familiar with Google’s Keyword Planner. This is a free-to-use service designed for advertisers considering Adwords.

Getting to know Google Keyword Planner


In order to use this tool, you’ll need to set up an Adwords account with Google. It’s free to use, and there is no obligation to start a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to familiarise yourself with the interface. For seasonal info, focus on the ‘Get search volume for a list of keywords or group them into ad groups’ feature.



How to get what you need from Keyword Planner


Draw up a list of keywords that are relevant to the event in question. For example, if you sell chocolates, and your objective is Mother’s Day, search for ‘Mother’s Day flowers,’ ‘Mother’s day gifts’ etc. 

It’s not just about hitting the keywords that are directly relevant to your product, but also the most popular keywords for the event in general. These might not be as useful for direct conversions, but they show you the types of content that people search for in that period and the keywords you can target.

Make a list of the keywords that are relevant, and start thinking about the kind of content and promotions you can build around those topics. 

Now that you have keyword content covered, use the ‘time period’ toolbar to see when the frequency of these keyword searches begins to increase. This tells you the exact time when you should stage your campaign launch.

Get seasonal keyword data and trends with Adwords keyword planner
Get seasonal keyword data and trends with Adwords keyword planner

Five months and counting…

You’ve established your list of keywords, and you know when people will start searching for them. At this stage you might have what looks like a three, or even four, month gap between your six-month countdown and when people actually start typing those keywords into a search query, but that’s no reason to get complacent.

The reason these campaigns have to start so early is that getting content to appear in the results of Google and other search engines is like turning sand into stone; it takes a lot of time and a critical amount of pressure which, in this case, is user exposure.

Giving yourself a good five month cushion also allows time to make revisions to your content. It’s often easier to see where things aren’t working once they’re online, and you don’t want that to happen close to launch.



What about time critical content?


You may have spotted a problem here. On the one hand, you’re planning a campaign that targets a specific event with time-critical offers and promotions, while on the other you’re being asked to get content up four to five months in advance, when there is limited interest. How is that supposed to land with customers? The answer is simple. Your early content is there to hold a place in the search engine results page (SERP).

There’s nothing wrong with putting in relevant, useful, placeholder content well in advance, then switching it to the actual promotional content once the event kicks off. That way you get to appear higher up the rankings and make your pitch as fresh as possible.


Two months to go


The time to start the launch on your promotion is either when you see that spike in keyword searches for an event or two months in advance, whichever comes first (you’ll find it’s usually one and the same).

 So what are you doing to promote your content?

Here is the checklist for the channels that your campaign should cover in addition to the content that you’ve been building up:

Social media

Ideally when the promotion launches, it will ride a wave of social mentions. To give this the best chance of happening, release a few hints early on, and consider reaching out to loyal customers by tweeting and sharing updates on Facebook so that they’re primed to respond at launch. You could even offer special discounts to this proved converter as a reward.



Subscriber emails

Hopefully you’ve been gathering leads and building a subscriber list. Again, give a hint of what’s on the way in your regular emails, and then release a dedicated newsletter that’s just for the event. This way when the promotion hits, it has the best chance of getting early conversions, which will in turn build awareness and momentum.


Use your connections

All those cultivated relationships with influencers and industry websites can come into play at this point too. Make sure you have some interesting content that’s tailored for each promoter, and then provide a link to your specific event, once you’ve got permission, either in the text itself or in your bio.



End game?


So to round up, in this year-long period, you’ve identified your objectives; gathered your keywords; used them to map your promotion launch date; placed your keyword-relevant content where it gets maximum exposure; and released your offers and promotions either through that content or other tailored release methods.

It seems like you’re at the end of what has hopefully been a successful campaign. However, it’s not over. Getting this kind of seasonal release right is a cycle, not a linear progression. Your content and landing pages may be irrelevant once the event has passed, but they’re still perfectly placed to perform the same role next year.

Salvage as much of this space as possible by changing landing pages to a more generic take on the special day in question and generalising content to make it relevant to the ‘event’ rather than ‘this year’s event.’

By taking this approach, you’ll make sure your content is in a prime position to perform well a year in advance of your next promotion. With that established, you can go back to your checklist and begin the process all over again!

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5 myths about content marketing and SEO

In this post, I’m going to debunk some of the myths surrounding content marketing and SEO.

Let’s start with some definitions:

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.  Content Marketing Institute

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of the traffic that you earn through the organic results in search engines.” Moz

As you can see from this, these are 2 very different disciplines. They do, however, have one thing in common, they are both intended to drive traffic and sales.

The changing landscape of SEO

SEO has changed beyond all recognition in the 8 years I have worked in the industry. When I started out as an SEO copywriter in 2008, SEO (specifically link building) was all about article marketing – creating crappy, keyword-stuffed content and throwing this mud at the wall in the form of article directories. Much of this content had little editorial integrity and was never read by anyone.

Google’s algorithm was not sophisticated enough to detect this rudimentary tactic, and as a result, it was reasonably easy to get a website to rank.

Fast forward to 2016, and it’s a very different story – to get results you need to produce quality content that earns genuine links due to the value and insight it offers. There are no short cuts and no easy answers.

The rise of content marketing

Content marketing has exploded in popularity over the past few years, as demonstrated by the Google Trend graph below.

Meanwhile, many prominent SEO agencies have rebranded, losing any mention of SEO from their names. This reflects both the shift in mindset of those within the industry and the growing demand for more holistic online marketing, which encompasses a range of services, including not just content marketing and SEO, but also CRO and social media.

One of the biggest drivers of this growth and shift in focus from SEO to content marketing has been the diminishing, or in many cases negative impact of traditional SEO link building tactics such as article marketing. These have now been largely replaced by content marketing.

Myth: Content marketing has replaced SEO

This argument is flawed for a number of reasons:

• If there is no consideration of SEO, specifically keyword and link placement in content, there will be no tangible SEO benefit to even the best content marketing.
• The impact of content marketing without any thought to SEO will arguably have much less of an impact than it might with SEO.
• Content marketing cannot fix technical SEO issues with your website.

Myth: Content marketing is the new SEO

SEO as a discipline has been around for less than 30 years, Content marketing has been around for over 100, so how can content marketing be the new SEO?

Content marketing is an important part of the savvy SEO’s playbook, but it is not a silver bullet and is certainly not the new SEO.

Myth: SEO guys should do SEO, content marketing guys should do content marketing

The mistake that many people make when considering SEO activity is to treat it in silo, rather than as a key part of the whole marketing mix. We’ve seen brands historically do this with copywriting, social media and PR.

To be successful, you need all departments to work together, as Copyblogger’s Brian Clark explains:

At Copyblogger, we don’t have sales, social, marketing, media, or SEO departments. We have an editorial department, and editorial makes all of those things happen (and more) as part of one seamless process.

Myth: I should spend my entire budget on content marketing

As great as content marketing is, it can’t be denied that the ROI from it can be difficult to measure. You should spend a decent chunk of your marketing budget on content marketing, but don’t neglect other areas that can also drive traffic and sales.

Myth: SEO is dead

Google processes over 1 trillion search queries every year and 15% of these are queries it has never seen before. SEO is definitely not dead!

Conclusion

If done correctly, content marketing and SEO can be complimentary, but they are not one and the same, you need to do both. Content marketing has not replaced SEO, SEO is, and will continue to be as important as it has ever been.

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SEM-Tool.com Review

There are hundreds of SEO tools out there, each with different features and pros and cons.

One of the most in-demand features right now is keyword research and ideation. As Google continues to refine its algorithm, and reward those who are regularly publishing quality, relevant content, SEOs are increasingly looking to create this content on a regular basis.

Finding the phrases that people are commonly searching for when creating this content is a constant challenge, and a new platform, SEM Tool, has been designed specifically to help with this. In this review, I’ll look at the product in more detail.

SEM-Tool.com homepage
SEM-Tool.com homepage

First impressions

The site has a clean design and a clear user interface with a box to enter your desired head search term, as well as check boxes for various different search engines and other sites. Users can search for results on the following sites:

Google
Bing
YouTube
Amazon
DuckDuckGo
eBay
Google Play
Qwant
Wikipedia
WolframAlpha
Yahoo
Yandex

Users can also filter results by country. To test out the tool I entered the term blog writers.

Free vs. paid features

For free, users can search for keyword ideas based on data from the sites above. For an additional fee, they can see search volume, estimated cost per click and view their domain’s position for the terms listed in the results.

Shortly after signing up, I received an email from an account manager informing me that I had received some complimentary free credits to use some of the paid features on the site, which was a nice touch and enabled me to try out some of the paid-for features.

SEM Tools results page
SEM Tools results page

Accessing and using the data

Once you have performed a search, you can view the results in a series of columns, which can be toggled to view data in ascending/descending order. You can also download the results in a .xls/csv spreadsheet, which enables you to manipulate the data further.

Summary

As I started out by saying, there are hundreds of SEO tools on the market, many of which contain the features of SEM-Tool.com and more. Whether or not this product will be able to compete given its fairly limited functionality remains to be seen – the addition of a more detailed Rankings Tracker and ‘Potential Analysis’ features listed on the site as ‘coming soon’ may broaden its appeal.

This is a simple, useful tool, which will be a great help to those in need of keyword ideation for content marketing. It won’t, however, replace your chosen suite of SEO tools just yet.

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