The second edition of the Digital Chai Pe Charcha in Bengaluru was held on 9th Dec, 2016. We had an audience of 25 including entrepreneurs, professionals, digital marketers and social media influencers taking active part in the discussion. The topic of discussion was achieving content marketing success in 2017 and beyond.
Optimising your website Google search results is probably one of the most important things a brand can do. This is usually called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and is one of the least understood concepts in the marketing world. While SEO has changed over the last 10 years, its fundamentals remain the same and I have highlighted what are the key things to keep in mind when getting started.
Understanding what your customer or users are searching for
The first step is to understand what kind of content your customers or users want. You could use the free Google Keyword research tool or a paid tool like Moz Explorer to get a sense of it. We also use interesting tools like Answer the Public, which groups search terms together to give you a better understanding. It might be also useful to use Buzzsumo to understand what kind of content consumers are viewing and sharing via social media channels.
It’s important to understand that content here doesn’t mean only written content – it could be in the form of infographics, videos, interactive graphs, tools/calculators etc. So do the research to understand what consumers are searching for or intuitively would want.
Creating content that caters to the user’s need
Virtually everyone in the digital marketing space has finally boarded the content marketing bandwagon. We know now that creating good content for a brand is the best way to get a good ranking in Google search results. So just writing ‘Good and Unique Content’ should do the trick right? Not any more.
Content marketing and blogging has risen by leaps and bounds in the last five to six years. The rules have changed and writing ‘Good and Unique Content’ is just not enough. Writing content that covers only the basic of any topic is very easy. A user may probably visit your blog and feel that they now know something about this topic and choose not spend more than a few minutes on it. Chances of such blogs, making into the top ten positions of the Google search results are very slim. The modern SEO’s demand are much higher and you need to have the best content in your category to make it into the top results organically. Take your regular content, make it 10X bigger and better. In fact, user experience also plays a big role in the ranking algorithm making it even more important for the need to move from ‘Good And Unique Content’ to a ‘10X Content’. Only then can you hope to try and rank for those keywords
Amplify the content to ensure it reaches the audience and it gets backlinks
The content is only as good as the number of people its able to reach. If you create 10X content you are likely to start showing up in search results in a few weeks (8-10 weeks for sites that have been around). Till then its key to amplify the content via social media, paid advertising, social bookmarking as well as link building requests.
Social media and SEO are two interlinked strategies as both are organic driven and is dependent on fresh content appealing to the viewers. There is no direct mention by Google that increase in social media followers will directly improve the rankings for a specific set of reason. However, Google always insists on quality links and content rather than the quantity of shares and links. Read this blog on why social media matters to SEO to get a better idea of how to leverage channels like Facebook and Twitter to amplify your content.
One common mistake we see brands and websites doing is ignoring the speed of the website, which accordingly to google is one of the most critical aspects in ranking. They even have new features like AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to help websites overcome this issue.
Having a website which is mobile and tablet responsive is again a given today. Users consume content across devices and the websites need to be user friendly across devices too. Brands need to leverage every mobile micro moment of consumers and for that you need an amazing mobile website.
Technical SEO elements
This involves some help from your digital team as it requires SEO knowledge as well as technology/development expertise to execute. This includes elements like headings, tags (to allow Google to understand what content/images that you have on your site), structured data (to tell Google what kind of content it is – e.g. whether it’s a receipe or a product review or just a blog article), implementing speed elements including AMP and redirecting old urls to new urls.
Track Results & be patient
It’s important to track your return on investment for such SEO activities and we usually do that by tracking not only the rank of your keyword (which is less important these days) but by tracking the growth of traffic from Google over a period of time. It takes about 4-6 months to see any substantive results. Regular creation of 10X content is key to growth in traffic from Google and that should be the focus area on an ongoing basis.
Below is the gist of the panel discussion on Making Content Marketing work for your Brand at the Digital Leadership Summit In Chennai In August 2016. We had two panellists moderated by Mr Prem Kumar Sivakumaran from The Smart CEO Magazine: Ms D Vijayalakhmi – Murugappa Group and Mr Rajasekar KS – matrimony.com.
Viji from Murugappa Group highlighted that content should be something that is interesting to all readers. Content that makes the reader feel good, look good and do good is a successful content marketing campaign. It should be lesser about the brand and more about the audience. For more detailed steps on creating high quality content check out our blog on 10 Ways To Create 10x Content.
Rajasekar expressed that content marketing is more about content and less about marketing. While most brands believe that it is about amplification, Raj said that it’s more about understanding the customer and their problems. He also said that when a company starts talking about customers problem, its business starts and when it starts talking about its business, its problems start. Content should engage the customers; then it can be a successful one.
Content marketing strategy
At Murugappa Group, it is predominantly about the brand itself. Viji spoke about how at Murugappa, they also think of fun and meaningful stories and try and connect with the target audience, even when it is about the B2B brands.
Raj spoke about their initiatives at happymarriages.com, a content marketing initiative set up by BharathMatrimony. He talked about how it was initially tough to create content around it because people were unwilling to talk about their expectations from marriage. So his team set about trying to understand what issues couple would face. After three months of research, they arrived at 500 themes and worked with authors, senior writers and an internal team to write engaging content that the audience could relate to.
While talking about strategies, one of the members of the audience asked an interesting question about with so much content out there, how do to stand out? The panellists agreed that crowdsourcing high-quality content is the answer. They also spoke about examples of organisations such as Amercian Express Bank, GE initiative that has done a great job in standing out. Prem also highlighted using a platform such as curata.com, a platform that curates content, which also enables marketers to scale content marketing to grow leads and revenue.
How do you measure success?
The panelists both agreed that although you can look at shares and likes, the success can be measured only when you get customer feedback. If a content piece has solved the customer’s pain points, then you have succeeded. They also urged any company using content marketing to use this as a metric.
Video is an effective marketing tool
The panellists spoke about how video is the most captivating of all channels, and each of them highlighted how they leveraged video in their organisations. Raj explained how his team went to five cities and interviewed 36 couples. They chatted with customers about relationships and aired these on national TV.
Viji talked about the Murugappa Madras Song. She highlighted how the company found a connect and used that to create a video that went viral. The video was so powerful that even a city-based league team requested the conglomerate to make an anthem for them as well.
The panellists also urged marketers to resist making a viral video for the sake of making one and asked marketers to keep their ears tuned to the customer.
Whatever be the industry, there is always a way create stories. The key is to understand the audience. Viji mentioned the farmer video that the Murugappa Group made. They asked a simple question, “What is the most important job in the word?” This emotional video stuck a cord with the public and was shared far and wide not only on social media but also on WhatsApp.
Integrating PR and content marketing
The panellists advised startups to leverage PR and stated examples of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and how they used their social media campaign to not only gain visibility but also get a lot of PR coverage as well.
Raj also spoke about Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Airlines jumping off a ten storeyed building and how the media wrote about it. He also asked marketers only to do these crazy stunts if it suits their personality and the brand. PR is the biggest pipe to the audience, and it can get customers. So whatever campaign a marketer does, it is important to leverage PR.
Content marketing is a must-do for all brands, and more brands are willing to spend money on it. Raj also spoke about how any marketing initiative is ultimately boiling down to content and about how marketing cannot exist without content. Content is the only pipe you can sell any product.
Prem also added that the first ever content market initiative was done in the early 1900s by John Deere, the tractor company when they created a magazine ‘Furrow.’ So the concept is not new only the term Content Marketing is.
It was an interesting evening spent at MDI Gurgaon with students of Consumer Behaviour. We were talking about the role of Communities, Content & Influencer Marketing on Consumer Behaviour. See the below slide share for details on the discussion we had.
While some might say that digital has opened the doors to online players and has blurred the existence of local retail stores, new research says that the relationship between digital marketing & in-store shopping is far more interconnected than that. Foot traffic & word-of-mouth which were the assets of offline retailers before digital & mobile entered the lives of people, are not anymore the only assets which can be relied on.
Local retailers, in general, believe that online marketing works only for e-commerce websites. But, digital doesn’t just drive e-commerce, it actually gets consumers into local stores.
Connecting offline retailers to the mobile users
We are living in “always-on search world”, where people are always able to search. When they want to buy things or when they do have a query, they turn to their smartphones. Consumers now spend more than 15 hours per week researching on their smartphones.
Impact of mobile on the store visit
There was a time when people would have to get to their computers. But now, searches on the desktop have dropped as mobile is always in reach. It is found that 21 percent of in-store shopping in urban India is influenced by digital and 18 percent is influenced by mobile. If you have a physical store, then mobile search is the new threshold to your store.
Store visits after online research
Most offline retailers in India are not aware of various mobile marketing techniques which they think are only for e-commerce players. This has led to them not making efficient use of the web to provide necessary information to the customer. Whereas, according to research customers are likely to go to an offline store when they find the store they are looking for listed in search results. It is found that 3 out of 4 shoppers who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores.
The retailers need to realize that consumers shop digitally before going into the store and they should make sure they provide all the information that customers are looking for online. Thus, retailers should have the right digital marketers as this will help to drive more customers to visit the stores.
Online Advertising Techniques To Create Online Presence
What most offline retailers lack is the right guidance how digital marketing can be leveraged to bring sales. There are many different ways in which the visits to their local store can be boosted.
This is the most effective method to reach out to as many customers as possible as shown by recent statistics. Many big companies engage in Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. This is because PPC ads work in a way that brings best customer attention with minimal expenditure.
Brand Search Advertising reinforces the brand name, increases brand value and brings about brand awareness. These ads are so effective because they give the customer all the information he/she needs to know about the brand within a few lines. This way the customer does not spend a lot of time reading the ad, but manages to get the required information.
Also, ads can be shown to the people who search for the products using relevant terms. For example, one who is looking for a laptop store close to his location can be targeted using relevant search terms like laptop store near me, laptop stores in Chennai, which people normally use.
Another advantage of the PPC ads is that they can be targeted to the desired audience of a particular location, preferably places around their stores using Radius targeting. This way the ads are shown only to the people who might be interested in the product or service and more likely visit the store.
Since the retailer is charged each time these ads are clicked, showing these ads to a targeted audience will result in an increased conversion rate which will in turn result in an increased ROI. Where they appear is chosen by the retailer, but its ranking is decided by Google based on a number of factors.
Organic Search Listings
This is the most traditional method by which offline retailers can show up on a customer’s search field below top PPC ads without having to pay a penny. A link to the retailer’s website automatically shows on the customer’s screen when he/she searches for something relevant to the products offered by the local store.
Where the retailer’s website is listed is again decided by Google based on the relevance of content and other factors. What the retailer should ensure is to provide the right and relevant content on the website of the store so that it shows up higher in the organic search listings. Hence, by this way the store can get a few more customers to visit its website by making sure it has a user -friendly website.
Google Business Local Listings
An important feature that drags customers to stores near their current location is the store locator available on Google. Using this feature the customers can know exactly how far the store is located from their present location and they can head straight to the store with the navigation feature of Google maps. Hence it is essential that all stores add their location on Google using Business map locator.
When a customer searches for something like textile stores, a list of textile stores nearby his/her location shows up with the address information of each store. By clicking on any of these stores in the list the customer can know exactly how far the store is and how long will it take to get there with the help of Google maps. Hence, if a customer knows that a store is close by to his/her location, then it drives the customer to visit the store.
In order to track the source of the leads that we receive through the above advertising methods, it’s recommended to generate unique phone numbers for each advertising channel. This way we can measure the effectiveness of each channel.
Digital bridges the gap between customers and stores
Today the consumer’s path to purchase is becoming increasingly mobile. Retailers that provide relevant, local information online will increase both reach and sales. While helping to drive customer in-store it will also help to enhance the customer’s experience once he/she has entered the store. Mobile has reshaped the way the people shop, that is in a good way and retailers who make use of this in the right way will see themselves moving ahead.
Online Reputation Management has become an integral part of any brand’s digital strategy, as the online consumer base is constantly growing. According to a recent survey, 70% of Indians online prefer or have used Social Media for customer service or purchase recommendations at least once. With more and more consumers actively sharing and looking out for information online, it becomes crucial for brands to have a successful ORM strategy in place.
What is ORM?
It is the process of managing and improving your brand’s reputation through positive content promotion and prompt redressal of consumer complaints and grievances online. This customer-centric approach ensures credibility and helps monitor the brand sentiment online. In order to maintain a positive brand image, businesses need to constantly monitor conversations around their brand and the industry across social media, community forums, review sites, blogs and all over the internet. There are ORM tools available to track, analyse and manage online content, thereby making it easy for brands to streamline the process and carryout quality checks frequently.
Impact of Online Reputation Management
Understanding how Online Reputation Management can impact your brand identity and business objectives is important, no matter how big or small the enterprise is. Here are some pointers on the key aspects of ORM can make or break your brand:
• Listen or Lose: Knowing what your customers are talking about your business online is very crucial for customer retention and acquiring new prospects. Majority of the consumers today refer to reviews and recommendations on various sites and social media platforms before making a purchase decision. Witnessing negative feedback about your service or product online can lead to distrust and drop in sales.
• Respond to Regain Trust: One of the most common mistakes that brands make when it comes to Online Reputation Management is deleting or avoiding a customer complaint. Covering up an issue is never a solution, as customer stories tend to have a greater reach and impact. Consumers appreciate public signs of transparency and honesty; hence always respond to negative comments and take the issue offline if needed.
• Be Quick to Acknowledge Feedback: According to an average Internet user, a brand needs to respond to a consumer’s query or feedback online within 30 minutes or an hour. Prompt response with a relevant solution goes a long way in showing consumers that you are listening to them. It’s also one of the easiest ways to win back your customer’s trust and let them know you value them.
If you are unsure about something, it is always better to inform your customers that you are looking into the issue and will get in touch shortly regarding the corrective action. Because, more the time taken to respond, severe the damage is. If you are a B2C brand where the consumer engagement rate is high, opt for ORM tools that can help you streamline this process.
While Facebook already has ‘Responsiveness’ badges on Brand Pages, Twitter is testing it out on select accounts
• Climb the Search Engine Ladder: There are close to 91 Million searches performed on Google each day. How many of those do you think could be about your brand? Big or small, leverage on SEO to make positive content dominate the Google Search results and push down the negative references about your brand. Promoting fresh, useful and positive content on various web pages about your brand can help in outranking negative comments over a period of time.
Most brands also take an integrated approach to effectively use Influencer Marketing in order to create positive word-of-mouth. This includes creation of blogs or reviews across community platforms, online review portals and social media.
• Customer Delight Made Easy: Being available online and making customer interactions meaningful helps in exceeding their expectations. A happy customer likes to share positive experiences and eventually becomes a brand loyalist. Businesses in the servicing industry can take the ORM route to dominate the competitive marketplace and demonstrate their trustworthiness & commitment to customers.
In order to achieve this, brands need to actively track brand mentions and follow conversations online to respond and initiate conversations. Being proactive not only helps to keep negative sentiments at bay, but also helps in building a positive brand perception.
JetBlue is an airline company in United States, well known for its customer service. When Twitter user Alexa Burrows randomly tweeted about the end of her holiday and jokingly asked the airline company for a welcome home parade, JetBlue did go that extra mile to delight the customer and created a positive brand experience.
• Establish your Brand Personality: Even though most brands are online and making efforts to improve customer experience, only few stand out. A unique approach towards addressing concerns and encouraging conversations helps in building the brand and differentiating yourself from the competitors. Online Reputation Management also serves as an opportunity to showcase your brand persona and cultivate a social media voice that will amaze your consumers.
Being witty and creative is one of the easiest ways to get noticed and make an impact on digital media platforms. Below is an example of Ola’s quirky response to a customer.
Online Reputation Management could be the missing piece in your digital strategy if you’re looking to create a difference and delight customers, but not there yet. Have you deployed effective ORM strategies for your brand and witnessed how it’s making or breaking your brand? Do write to us in the ‘Comments’ section.
Micro Moments has become a buzzword in the digital marketing environment in recent times. Especially, after Google’s content marketing team, Think with Google, came up with this phrase, more and more digital marketers are trying to utilize the micro moments to benefit their brands.
To start with, more and more consumers are using smart phones for most of their browsing. According to two different Google consumer surveys, almost 68% of smart phone users say that they check their smart phone within 15 minutes of waking up every morning; also, 30% of these users admit that they actually get anxious, when they don’t have their smart phones with them. In most countries, searches happen more via mobiles than desktop computers. This means that digital marketers, who intend to make an impression with their clients, should adapt mobile first strategy religiously.
According to the often quoted KPCB Internet Trends Report, it is said that most people check their phones about 150 times a day and they spend 177 minutes on an average with their phones per day. This means that, on an average, a mobile session lasts for just 70 seconds. Apart from texting their partners, sharing their selfies or travel pictures, commenting on their friends’ photos, there is a specific point of time where people look at their smart phones to get influenced by brands. These small moments where the consumers look for information on their phones are the micro moments that every digital marketer should utilize.
Four types of micro moments
According to Think with Google, these micro moments can be classified into four, namely:
I-want-to-know moments: More and more users are looking up for information online. On the go, many users search for different information ranging from routes to their destination to deals in ecommerce sites. The amount of such consumers have increased significantly in the past few years.
I-want-to-go-moments: More than ¾ of users use their smart phone users use search engine via their phone to look for any local store or company. Even to look up for something as trivial as an electrician or florist, people use their smart phones. According to Google Trends report, in the year 2014-2015, there is 2x increase in “near me” based search interest.
I-want-to-do moments: While doing a task, most users use their smart phones to look see instructions. Be it any DIY craft or a simple day-to-day recipe, people use their smart phones to check how to do what they want to do.
I-want-to-buy moments: This is the most explicit micro moment. Before purchasing a product online or offline, more than 80% people actually look up their phones for consultation before buying. Also, mobile conversion rates for ecommerce sites have significantly increased in the recent times.
These are the four micro moments that are crucial for any business. With consumers’ online attention span being very low, i.e. as low as few seconds, to leverage these micro moments of consumers, brands must adapt mobile first strategy.
Four ways to leverage consumers’ micro moments:
To grasp your consumers’ micro moments, a brand must refine all its contents to be mobile responsive and follow these four approaches.
1. Being there for the users always
One of the interesting facts about most consumers is that they might not be rigid on what brand they want. If they are looking at their phone for information or merely browsing, they might be more interested to buy your products if the information you provide interest them. Especially, while looking for information, users pick the business that are there in their search results and that have the most attention-seeking content.
By being there always in their smart phone, via both paid and organic methods, you stand a more chance than your competitors to convert them into your customers. One may think that by merely being there in the social media, how can a brand make the smart phone users become its consumers. The true fact is that by being there when users need some information, your brand is helping customers in their decision journey.
Also, at this point, mobile first strategy plays a major role. Since most of the searches happen via mobile phones, your website, landing pages, ads, posts, and any content should be mobile responsive. Also, it must be interesting and crisp to be read within those micro moments.
2. Providing users the information they need
While you can make an amazing first impression with the first approach, to make the users your clients/customers, you need to do something more; in fact, you must do something more powerful. Bounce rate of many sites and uninstalling of many apps are on a rise; the main reason for this is that most of these brands fail to be useful to their customers in the four micro moments explained above.
If your consumer is on a search engine searching to buy a product related to your brand, he or she is more likely to pick your brand over a hundred others when your content is useful than the others. We have a detailed strategy on how to create 10X better content than your competitors. With mobile first strategy, you are in a good spot because it allows you create and showcase more pertinent content in these micro moments. This is why in our view a blog is important for every business. Using information like their past search history, location, time of search, and keywords, one can efficiently decide what to showcase to which user.
For example, if you are a brand that has multiple products, based on the target group, their preferences, you can use retargeting to showcase products/creatives that are useful to them. Rest assured, you would have definitely leveraged their micro moment.
3. Catching up with users’ speed
If your mobile site or app takes a long time to load, the users are more likely to leave your site/app for other that of other brands. All your efforts of providing useful content and being there goes waste, if the speed at which your information loads is slow. To optimize your mobile site and app speed to suit the speed of your customers, you must follow these steps:
Keep it simple: Having too many forms, additional or redundant steps, etc. makes your customer bored. Have a one step sign up form, i.e. via Facebook or Google. Also, enable click-to-call options, instead of displaying phone numbers. Similarly, all addresses must be linked to GPS to open via maps directly. This way, the users will be able to do what they want to do without any hindrances.
Foresee users’ expectations: From predictions to drop down menus, from enabling auto-fill option to getting past browsing history, try everything that will speed up the process. You can also display products/services on the app based on their past search history.
Combine the best UI with simple design: As much as an attention-seeking UI is important, it will be of no use, if it takes too long to load. Therefore, the app/mobile site must not only be designed to be user-friendly but must also be designed in a way that it loads quickly.
Blogs are no longer just an expression of an individual or a platform to share one’s ideas and thoughts. Blogs have started to be one of the most influential and useful tools in the market space. It’s an excellent way to showcase thought leadership as well as keep consumers updated on what’s happening in the company and with the products/services. It is important to note that, in business blogging, the blogs must be related to the key area of the business and needs to be engaging for the readers. That being said, there are still a lot of businesses that are not very active in the blogging in spite of the inherent benefits of blogging. This blog aims to bring out the importance of business blog!
Increases traffic to your website
A website is a great asset to any company and anything that brings traffic to the site only doubles the asset’s value. The traffic on a website is very crucial, which indeed serves in achieving the objective of the site. One of the main reasons why people don’t return to a brand’s website is because it is idle and inactive. Blogs give the internet users a great reason to visit your site and increase the traffic. According to a HubSpot survey, 60% of the brands who have constant blogging on their websites acquire more customers than the others. Blogs help people or potential customers discover your website amongst million others. This happens when the blogs are informational and also related to what users would like to read from your website. It is also said that blogging shows a professional approach for the brand business. By providing useful information, it attracts people to visit the site even repeatedly. Who wouldn’t like more visitors to their website, anyway?
Increases Search Engine traffic
To appear in SERP #1 is a dream! And to get there, you need to really work hard . There are more than 200 aspects which determine your rank in Google. But, nothing like some good content! Blogs are now a vital part of Search Engine Optimization and can be leveraged upon in two ways. One, include it as just an additional index page to your website which Google then identifies and eventually will garner organic search results. Another way is to include targeted keywords and links which will help in increasing the ranking of the site by getting you noticed more in the search results. This exercise becomes easier with the help of SEO plug-ins. By using an SEO plug-in like Yoast which calculates the density of the appearance of the focus keyword in the blog will check whether the right keyword is used on the blog. Research shows blogging increases inbound links by 97 percent, the most important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. Quality content and regular updates are an indication to Google that the website is active with a routine content flow! Explore some of the latest SEO hacks, here.
Customer Acquisition and Lead generation
The ultimate goal for every business, big or small is to generate revenue and blogs help you do that. Regular blogging, as mentioned earlier increases the traffic to your website. Small businesses with blogs are said to generate more leads by 126%. The increase in traffic will result in more people taking note of your business and eventually exploring the rest of your website where all your business services are listed. This is a great way of acquiring customers without bombarding them with self-promotional content. While creating content you should keep in mind that every person who visits your website has the potential to be a customer. When your target audience finds your blog interesting, they may be more interested in your business than they were before and the chances of conversion are higher.
Content creation for social media platforms
Another reason why blogs are important to your business is that they create a huge content value for Social Media Marketing. It is almost mandatory for brands to have an identity on social media and the only differentiation is content. Content defines your brand identity and helps you stand apart from the rest of the crowd. Creating quality content in the form of blogs and sharing them on the social media channels can help get more reach. The number of likes, shares, retweets will testify for your content. Here’s an interesting and informative blog post that was shared on social media for amplification.There are many other ways to amplify your content online. Click here to read about it.
Helps in building the brand
Branding is the core element to develop your business. Every business is striving hard to create a brand for them and to make people see them as THE BRAND and not just any brand. Blogging is a huge opportunity for you to build a brand for your company. It is, after all, the most organic method of getting people to notice your brand online. The key is to create a blog which adds value and is unique in its content approach and style. By creating specific, targeted content, you may focus more specifically on your target audience leading to increasing your exposure among people. Learn how Content Marketing is one best way to give your brand an image!
Establishes authority and expertise
A good blog always answers a question, solves a problem or gives something valuable for a takeaway. When a brand constantly shares blogs that are useful to the customers, it develops an authoritative image in their minds. For example, for a group of angel investors, blog topics like- Tips for entrepreneurs, How to grow as a startup etc. along with other business strategies are going to be of some value to their readers. The ultimate aim is that when a user reads your blog, he/she should finish it with some value-addition. When people find answers or solutions on our blog, they are more likely to become your follower and they start seeing you as a source of information. Here are 10 ways to create better content for your readers.
Increases customer interaction
It is important for any brand to stay connected with their audience. The underlying factor behind the success of any business is the concern to satisfy the end customer and not just run your firm for money. To do so, brands should establish a good rapport with the customers. To improve on the customer interactions front, brands need to establish higher recall. The question is how do blogs help in this aspect? A higher recall can be established for your brand when you provide knowledge to your consumers and this, in turn, improves the relationship your brand has with the customers. It helps build trust which turns into brand loyalty eventually.
In a world where content speaks for itself and does half the job of a brand, blogs are the most crucial thing to look upon as a marketer. When blogging becomes a strategy in your marketing plan, you get a powerful tool to fight against your online competitors. If your company hasn’t started blogging, this piece is an indicator that it should!
Was this blog useful? Share your thoughts on other reasons you started blogging!
Social media and SEO are two interlinked strategies as both are organic driven and is dependent on fresh content appealing to the viewers. There is no direct mention by Google that increase in social media followers will directly improve the rankings for a specific set of reason. However,Google always insists on quality links and content rather than the quantity of shares and links. This article will be a guiding tool to realise how social media matters the most for SEO in a very specific technical context in contrast to other articles available online to show how all these strategies work in real time to improve the search rankings.
Social media helps in improving quality dwell times
As per Google patent: Document ranking based on document classification, 17 July 2012, we find that Google has invented algorithms to determine dwell times, which is a term used by Google to determine the engagement rate of the visitors to your website. This means that the time spent by visitors on your website must grow from first time to the second time and so on. Otherwise, Google will assume that your content is becoming stale. How do you do this? Of course,social media is going to play a vital role in improving your dwell times by constantly posting external inbound links to the content of your website. But the most important hidden factor, which Google is trying to tell here, is that growing the number of followers in social media alone is not going to work out. To satisfy the criteria of dwell times, there must be quality followers who really want to follow your content. Otherwise, even though you have 10,000 followers your search ranking is not going to improve.
Facebook and Twitter are the best platforms to increase your dwell times due to their popularity and the presence of huge user database.It is a good idea to post quality content onyour website,Facebook and twitter pages. Posting atleast two quality blogs per week and publicising the blog in your social media pages will gain you more organic leads and catch the eyes of Google. Another method to improve the number of quality followers can be to announce special offers in social media space. Contests, games and gifts attract the most and hence brands have resorted to this method as the next criteria for attracting visitors. Hence it is recommended to organise regular interesting contests and announce winners in social media and make a leader board of frequent visitors in your page to gain more visibility. Gain ranks on link based criteria with the help of Social Media
As per Google patent: Document scoring based on link based criteria, 27 August 2013 we find that earning links is going to be an important strategy for SEO. But the earning must be steady and not altogether. For instance, Google algorithm does not count the aggregate backlinks but counts your backlink earnings over time. If you have a content published today and the number of backlinks is more this week than the upcoming weeks, then it is not considered fresh by Google. Fresh backlinks are something, which has steady demandeven after months after the date of sharing.
Although Facebook and Twitter platforms too help you score back links, the presence of the most recent option in the news feed and the limitation in number of friends who can view your posts will restrict the back links score. Quora and YouTube are the ideal platforms for this.For example, Quora is going to help you gain back links even after months from the date of posting. The reason behind this is people visit Quora for their queries and if you can manage to give quality answers with appropriate backlinks, then there are high chances for your content being visible even after a month or year. The same is in the case for blogs and YouTube videos.
Let us look into how backlinks in Quora works as a SEO strategy.
Quora is the only platform where students, investors, marketers etc. easily connect with each other without any restrictions. Beyond a Q&A search engine, Quora has become a tool to increase web traffic. Let us take a case study of how companies promoting credit card business use Quora as tool to market their product:
A person searching for answers for best credit cards in Quora not only has answers of various options but also tends to come across back links to the websites. When they click the links, the organic traffic to the website increases and becomes a basis for free lead generation.
Social Media has now become a Search Engine on its own
People do not view social media as a sharing platform alone anymore. It acts as a search engine too. For example, if someone wants to know more about a company or a person then they look into Facebook and Twitter activities as well apart from doing just a Google search. This way the organic searches in these platforms present a pool of opportunities for companies to capture and improve their visibility in digital space.
As a result of this, Facebook and Twitter pages/YouTube videos too appear in search engine results!
Google crawls through social media pages too for the content posted. Google claims that every Tweet/Facebook share/comments are content for them rather than features and hence they are able to crawl. Similarly if a Facebook or Twitter page appears in search results then it means that it is solely for the content in that particular page. Hence companies with optimised high quality social media pages are found to earn greater benefits from social media accounts in Google SERPs. For example when you type Coca Cola in the google search, you can find the links to social media pages in the search results. This is a clear indication that social media pages too matter in Google search.
What does research and experts say?
“Social media and SEO are somewhat integrated” – Quick sprout
Very recently an infographic released by quick sprout caught the attention of many digital marketers. The survey report clearly reveals that social media marketing is definitely one of the factors for the new SEO strategy with 50% of the companies saying that social media marketing and SEO are somewhat integrated.
“Social media as a SEO strategy is still a weak factor” – Moz report
However,Moz released a report on Search Engine Ranking factors 2015 which says otherwise. According to the report,social media is still less influential from SEO point of view. However engagement rate and content still being in one of the top factors can be indirectly related to social media. Hence we can expect that high quality content and engagement rate in social media will continue to give signals to Google.
How each platform impacts the search ranking?
Let us now check out how each social signal affects the search engine ranking based on the research reports of search metrics on “Search ranking factors for 2016” Facebook:
The research by search metrics shows that signals from Facebook are high for the brands in Top 10 ranks of Google search and maintains a positive correlation. From the below graph we can see that there is a distinct difference between top 5 and the rest. We can also see that there is a drastic fall after rank 1, which means that top rank guy is distinct in the way he handles Facebook as a medium to drive traffic as compared to the one in second place and hence he continues to dominate.
The number of tweets and retweets too has a positive correlation with SEO strategy.However in 2016, the percentage has decreased and hence the down arrow. But twitter signals do matter in determining Google search rank positions.
Compared to other social media platforms, Pinterest has increased across all rank positions in the year 2016 and is expected to increase even in the years to come. This tells us that almost all the rank positions are having more or less similar strategies using Pinterest and the one who is going to come up with a different way of using Pinterest will have high chances in sending dominating signal to Google.
So how do we leverage social media signals effectively for search?
From the above observations, we can see that social media does send signals to Google, although it is not a direct SEO strategy just like a Television. In television, good quality interesting program high attention, number of viewers increases with the buzz and finally gets high rating and people mark these channels as most viewed. Similarly quality contents and videos in social media send signals to Google with increasing views and Google ranks in their search engine accordingly. Thus we can call social media as a broadcasting platform.
Here are 5 essentials you must definitely do to leverage various social mediachannels.
1. Create a blog for your website
2. Post regular content
3. Share the articles in different social media platforms
4. Optimise the post with catchy taglines, infographics and videos
5. Update latest events happening in the company to get local attention and increase local searches for brand awareness, which may ultimately be a signal to SEO.
The metrics which matters the most for Social media as SEO strategy:
For businesses, results are the major area of concern. The number of likes and followers can no longer be shown as KPI by social media managers. Hence from SEO point of view, there are lot of metrics and analytics behind to prove that social media is indeed helping in SEO and ultimately increasing the profitability of the business. Let us now see the various metrics used to measure the ROI on a particular campaign:
This tells us the number of replies or comments, which we get from the audience for a particular post.
Amplification rate is the rate at which your content is shared regularly on different social media platforms. For twitter it is calculated by number of retweets, on Facebook or Google+it is the number of shares. On YouTube, the number of share clicks per video gives us the amplification rate.
Appreciation rate or applause rate:
As the word indicates, it gives us the extent of appreciation for our post.It is nothing but the number of likes on Facebook/Twitter/Youtube and +1s in Google+.
Number of leads for the cost spent:
Tools such as Facebook business manager, Google analytics and Twitter analytics have inbuilt analytics to find out the number of leads from a particular campaign.It also gives the total cost spent for the selected time period so that you can calculate the cost per lead from a particular campaign and compensate the price accordingly in the upcoming sales.
If all the above metrics are good, then search engine rank is also found to be higher for a particular page.
Tools that help you track and measure the metrics:
Target audience: Includes location, demography, behaviour, new vs returning visitors, mobile conversion % etc.
Acquisition: Takes into account the different channels, SEO landing pages from where organic traffic is maximum, campaign data like number of sessions etc.
Behavior details: Includes the page views, traffic, pagewise speed data etc.
Conversions:Include location based conversions, product based conversions, platform based conversions etc.
A dashboard which gives the overall summary
2. Use Google Webmaster Tools to determine top destination pages :
Using Google Webmaster tools, one can determine the top pages under a particular search category and can plan out new content campaigns accordingly. You can also get an insight on which content gets more visibility and search engine conversions by viewing the destination pages displayed in the SERPs.
3. Use smart link managers to determine the quality links:
There are various link manager tools like raven link manager, which guide you to build possible referral links in your social media posts for building more traffic. Not only that, they automatically send you a report on the links, which get converted for smarter traffic building and better SEO.
4. Use BuzzSumo to find out the top shared articles and top influencers:
Buzz sumo is one of the most important content marketing tools that has the ability to identify what content is doing well in your field of interest. Also this application gives you details of top bloggers and influencers who you can leverage for making social media campaigns effective.
5. Moz research tools to determine the traffic and page ranks:
Moz is a tool that gives you details such as page rank, number of active visitors and the traffic to your website. Moz rank of 41 or above is considered to be good as per industrial standards.
On the whole, although social media is considered as a weak strategy by experts like Moz and there is no direct mention by Google, it is always an important area from SEO perspective. We recommend marketers who have not yet realised the importance of an active presence in social media platforms to pull up their socks, keeping in mind the above mentioned facts.
“Page abandonment increases with every second longer it takes for your website to load”
You just created the sleekest website on WordPress that has a super responsive user interface and killer content, but you’re not getting any conversions! It all boils down to page load time at the end of the day. No matter how wonderfully you craft your website, if your page loads slowly, your visitor will navigate away. They’ll navigate to an uglier website with terrible content but that loads quicker. You don’t want that.
Page abandonment increases with every second longer it takes your website to load. All hope is not lost, however. With just a few simple and easy to implement ideas, take your tortoise of a webpage and give it a turbo boost.
Before reading any further make sure you have a good server and has servers based in India (if you are targetting the Indian market. We would recommend Bluehost for a shared Linux hosting or a WordPress optimised hosting if your site is on WordPress.
So you’ve run the test for your website and it’s pretty slow. What next? Check out these scientifically-backed tips to improve your website’s speed.
1. Be lazy
Yes, implement LazyLoad into your website design to improve the amount of time it takes for your site to load. With LazyLoad, you can cut back on the page load time, and allow users to save their bandwidth. Win-win for all!
2. Compress images
Images (in sizes) are indirectly proportional to any website speed. Bigger the image, slower the loading, best solution is to compress images without losing quality. You can use free image compression tools like Caesium to compress images without losing much of its sharpness & clarity. In wordpress, there are plugins like Smush.It or Ewww Image Optimizer which use lossless/lossy method to optimize the images. The great thing about these plugins is that they work in the background every time you upload a new image you can also run it retrospectively on all of the images uploaded to your media library. They come with limitations that the base image should not be more than 1mb in size (so Caesium can be used to compress initially).
3. Free it Up
The WP-Optimize plugin allows you the freedom to optimize your MySQL database with just a click!
4. Cache them all