Tag Archives: content marketing

PR by the Seat of Your Pants – How to Get the Links & Mentions Your Content Deserves

Wild West Cowgirl

Image by J.C. Leacock Photography

The content marketing Wild West

Since Matt Cutts called the decay and fall of guest blogging, the new scalable “link building” tactic for many SEOs is content marketing, meaning investing in quality content assets such as tools, videos, PDF guides and games that engage audiences across the web.

The benefits are more social shares, more followers and more people aware of your brand – as well as links and mentions that may move the needle in terms of your SEO.

As Rand Fishkin points out, we’re still in the Wild West phase of content marketing, meaning there’s still a good chance of getting your content noticed in most niches. And you will also spend far less money than you would for the same exposure via paid channels. (See Rand’s post for why this may not always be the case, though.)

What can SEOs bring to the table?

What we can bring to the party is our particular ability to reach out to bloggers and arrange collaborations to get content featured around the web.

In this article, I share some of my favourite tips for optimising the content outreach process. I’ve called it “PR by the Seat of Your Pants” because most of these tips come from trial and error and experimentation, rather than from any background in the PR industry, so please don’t shoot me down, PR folks.

Outreach Spreadsheet

It’s a good idea to begin by creating an outreach spreadsheet where you can keep track of all your placement opportunities. This will help you to prioritise the easy wins, remember how far you’ve got and outsource any work to a colleague if necessary.

Here’s an example:

Outreach Spreadsheet

Domain: The site you’re planning to reach out to

Opportunity: The type of placement you think you’ll be able to get (news item, competition, guest post – more on this in the next section)

Approach: How you’re going to get the coverage (e.g. pitch them a story idea, follow them on Twitter, offer them coverage in return)

Difficulty: How easy will it be to get this placement? This is where you should use your Jedi powers SEO intuition to decide if it’s an easy win or not.

Progress: Keep track of how far you’ve got with the outreach process (e.g. “email sent, waiting to hear back”)

With this tool at your disposal, you should never miss a trick.

Identifying Opportunity Types

Think about all the possible ways that you could get your content featured on sites around the web. And remember, your content needs to be:

  • newsworthy – to get press coverage
  • cool, useful and authentic – to get featured on blogs
  • “on brand” and aimed at your potential customers

For example, here are some opportunities we identified for a travel video about East London. Yours will vary, depending on your niche and the type of content you’re making.

Press Coverage:

Press Coverage Example

Type of site: local newspapers / travel industry websites

How: Pitch your story to a newspaper’s news desk or to a specific journalist. If they like what they read, they’ll write a story about you (more on this in the next section). Simples.

Competitions:

Type of site: London blogs

How: Donate a prize for a site to giveaway in conjunction with running a news item about your content. This way, they get the extra traffic and shares from running a competition and you get additional exposure for your content. Everyone’s a winner.

Guest Posts:

Guest Post Example

Type of site: London blogs / urban travel blogs / creativity blogs

How: Think up some article ideas that would enable you to embed your content in the post. You can then write these articles and get them published around the web, thereby getting your content seen by more people.

This may sound a bit old-school, but what you’re doing is slightly different to traditional guest blogging; you’re asking sites to link to content they should be happy to feature, rather than to a commercial page which might compromise their integrity.

Here are some angles that might work for the East London video:

  • 24 Hours in East London
  • London’s Best East End Markets
  • Top 5 Places to Skate in East London
  • An Interview with the Filmmaker* 

*We found that many London sites were far happier to publicise the work of an up and coming local filmmaker than a travel company…

Press Outreach Tips

Once you’ve tracked down the opportunities, you’re biggest win (and most time-sensitive task) is to outreach to the press. Here’s what you should consider in your pitch:

  • Are you going to email the news desk or a particular journalist?
  • Are you pitching to the right journalist? (i.e. someone who covers similar stories)
  • Are you representing the company and using a work email address? Or are you contacting as an individual involved in the creative process using your personal address?
  • Can you contact the journalist beforehand, giving them an advanced preview or letting them be the first to cover it?
  • Can you also publish a press release on your website or via a newswire service such as PR Newswire or PRWeb? (No, not for the links but to refer the journalist to for additional information – it might also make your campaign seem more authoritative.)
  • Are you available by phone or in person for an interview? (This will inspire trust in you and enable the journalist to verify the story.)

Give them what they want

Just remember that the type of story you pitch will be very different depending on the type of publication you’re contacting. Consider these two possible headlines for the East London video:

A SKATER’S EYE VIEW OF VIBRANT EAST LONDON

TRAVEL COMPANY OFFERS NEW TWIST ON ONLINE TOUR GUIDES

The first could be from a local newspaper, while the second could be from a travel industry website. Two very different stories about the same piece of content.

The newspaper wants to know why you chose to highlight their local area, while the travel industry site cares more about what makes this video unique and how successful it has been so far.

Pitch to journalists the story their readers want to read, and don’t get bogged down in irrelevant details.

Bonus: Press Outreach Template

If you’re looking for more info on what to include in your pitch, check out this template (we advise sending an email, not a coffee-stained letter):

Press Outreach Template

Made using Writing Fonts

Targeting the Underserved Query

One last thing to consider: does your content target an underserved search query? This was brought to my attention by James Agate in his recent Moz post, who suggests that SEOs should target high volume queries in their content marketing, queries that are inadequately served by current search results.

This way, your content will hopefully rank for these popular phrases, which will generate a constant stream of organic search traffic, some of which may link and mention you. This means you can spend less time on the active outreach process outlined above.

In the travel sector, an example might be the phrase “best travel apps”, which gets loads of monthly searches and is only served by “top 10″ blog posts. You might be able to create an interesting piece of content in an alternative format (video or graphic) that serves this query more effectively and stands out by being different.

I think this combination of savvy keyword targeting and a winning idea is the Holy Grail of SEO-age content marketing.

# # #

So there you have it, I hope this post has given you some new ideas on how to outreach your content. 

People have been talking about making great content for years, but it’s only now that they’re starting to actually do it. Now’s your chance to be a pioneer in this underdeveloped landscape and to reap the rewards – while the West is still Wild.

If you have anything to add, let me know in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattELindley

 

Brighton on a Skateboard #Sk8seeing Campaign for HotelClub

We have just launched this video called ‘Brighton on a Skateboard’ as part of the #Sk8seeing campaign we are doing for our client HotelClub.com.

The video is a skateboarding tour of Brighton, taking in some of the spots in this fine city worth checking out including North Laine, Royal Pavilion and, of course, the beach.

We wanted to show off the city’s charms to a younger generation in an interesting new way, and skateboarding seemed like the natural fit.

After all, they’ve just opened a new skatepark at the Level. And Brighton is renowned for its alternative atmosphere, with people of all stripes from skaters to surfers, thinkers, artists and dreamers making it the amazing place it is today.

Check out the video below, and look out for future instalments on Sydney and East London coming soon!

Video credit: #Sk8seeing – Brighton on a Skateboard by HotelClub Brighton

SES London 2013 – Day One

Day One of SES London 2013 has successfully ended and offered valuable insights on Social Media, Content Marketing and Data Analysis.

During my first ever attendance at SES, I was able to experience great talks, meet people from different markets and companies; and last but not least enjoy the awesome drinks and refreshments. ;)

Smart? Phone? Really, this device is dumb!

Back to the event … the Morning Keynote by Dave Coplin was a great starter to a bright and wonderful day. It was an entertaining talk discussing the paradox of the role of technology in our modern society for consumers and brands/ companies. However, both parties perceive this fact differently. To us consumers technology already has been integrated to our everyday love, whereas for companies the focus increases on the modern technology. Hence, B2C companies should ask themselves this subtle question, when they provide a service or a new product: ‘What do your customers want? – JUST ASK THEM!’ So easy and yet so true as many would try to find different strategies or research into previous data. Forget that, be human and just ask your fan base this question. You’ll be stunned about the response!

IMG_1693

Morning Keynote

Right after the great Expo Hall opened officially with stands from different companies offering SEO/ Content/ PPC services/tools from all over the world, such as Linkdex or Brightedge .

And it’s finally time for the first talk I have attended:

First Session: Beyond Engagement: Harnessing the Power of Social Media

Krista Neher began with a great introduction into Social Media and explaining the importance of social engagement and increasing social proof through more likes, shares or retweets.

Perfect balance of customer engagement (social interactions – like, comment, retweets) and brand value is vital for a successful and monetary social campaign – For instance, a brand about dogs has a great interaction with its Facebook community on their page, sharing several photos of dogs. Although many people find those dogs really cute and like the pictures, not everyone knows actually what that company does. This is a good example of the lack of brand value, besides their high social interaction.

Social Media is not a great way for selling a product online – A social media plan shows you that social media will drive awareness and interest (maybe desire) of costumers, in order to the ultimate goal of purchasing the product/ service.

Social Proof: If they like it, I like it … – It is proven that 80% of people are more likely to like a page based on a friend’s suggestion. This is the case on Facebook under the recommended pages section. Hence, it will be vital to get more visibility on the second level connection and appearing on that ‘recommended page’. This will automatically generate more traffic and increase the trust of this brand. Imagine, if your friend liked a brand on Facebook and this interaction is exposed on your Newsfeed. A normal reaction would be to check that page out, because it seems trustworthy as your friend liked it. So friends AND friends of friends will turn into high influencers in Social Media.

Heather Healy presented a case study of their client ‘Maxinutrition’ and their different social approaches to engage customers.

Four Keys to Successful Engagement:

o Ask people what they want? (What kind of interaction?)
o Plan ahead, but be spontaneous and expect the unexpected, such as replying to tweets in a sudden
o Show your customers real passion and showcase other people’s (big influencers) passion

Social Media Tools:

o Experian Hitwise provides you all the sites people have visited before and after your site, in order to determine, what your customer might want.
o Followerwonk helps you explore and grow your social graph, in terms of finding interesting analytics and follower segmentation from your Twitter profile.
o ManageFlitter gives you precise Twitter analytics and finds you relevant people to connect with.

Second Session: Creative Content Marketing: Winning Hearts, Minds and Wallets

Lee Oden managed to hold an outstanding speech about content marketing and how it has been increasing since last year. Moreover, in the future creative content marketing will generate more money, hence this is why people have begun to increase their budgets for content. The key will be to create valuable and interesting content

Content + Social Media – One major aspect will be to receive more and more social shares on your content. Lee showed a really nice ‘Content Marketing Maturity Model’ on how content writers are changing. Old school writers will still write their boring and useless article and try to place it, which is all visualized by a guy just standing in the model. However, at the end of the model the guy starts to walk and subsequently to jog. This shows the change of content writing – Content Marketing isn’t about throwing a bunch of blog posts each month; it’s about architecting a story and narrative.

COntent Marketing Maturity Model

How to Earn Visibility & Links Through Killer Content Strategy

Research global trends – Sites, such as socialmention.com, ubersuggest.com and semrush.com, will provide you with important data, which you can all export to a big CSV file and let it pass through wordle.net, which is a nice data visualization tool. Moreover, your frontline staff will have to interact more with the fan audience, in order to answer questions immediately. Secondly, act like a publisher and ‘borrow’ ideas from magazines, TV or newspapers. The customer journey will have to be reconsidered and should be used to find out better keywords to target and more sociable topics.

Facts Sell – Stories Tell – There are four different types of content, which can be generated:

o Evergreen Content – This type of content will always be time relevant, such as ‘How to’ guides.
o Repurpose Content – This means reusing the topic and generating new content on another platform, For instance, getting an audio script of a YouTube video and turning that into an article.
o Curated Content – Short snippets, such as industry news will have a huge social engagement.
o Co-created Content – This will include getting high quality content by top influencers in that particular market.

Find how to solve problems with creative content – This is where the $$$ lies. The main focus should be on optimizing the consummation and the actual action of buying the product. The latter part you will have to find out how to inspire that ‘action’ feeling. The consummation part discusses which type of content or media people want to read or see. Hence, it is a never ending cycle on creating user experience and providing high quality information.

Brand leadership – It is vital to take a leadership position with your content marketing strategy, as your customers don’t know, what they want. They don’t know that they don’t know. Moreover, standing out to customers and above the competition is the essence to great content marketing.

Winning creative is about results, not awards

Third Session: The Age of Big Data: The Modern Marketer

James Murray kicked off right after lunch and introduced his data tool Experian Hitwise, which can provide you with useful search data of customers. Experian knows 500 things about 49 million people across 24 million households. That’s how accurate it is.

Most searched product during Christmas? – Onesies. This shows that data can always surprise you. 12% of the searches were ‘male onesies’ and the most popular onesies type was a giraffe.

When do people buy contact lenses the most? – Apparently in October during Halloween.

Family travellers are more likely to search for the TV series Dr. Who – You see that there is no shortage of data. However, raw data is useless, until somebody processes that data.

Cognitive Dissonance – Everybody lies in surveys, which is a fact. People do tend to fake answers, in order to make them feel better. What can you do against it? – Get used to it!

Jon Myers then showed how vital it will be in the future to engage with mobile.

1 in 3 clocks in the US paid search will be mobile by the end of this year

1 in 3 searches will have a local intent

Mobile CPC (£0.28) are currently cheaper than desktop CPC (£0.30)

Don’t focus on CTR if you have a product – set optimized revenue!

Last Session: How to Earn Visibility & Links Through Killer Content Strategy

How to Earn Visibility & Links Through Killer Content Strategy

How to Earn Visibility & Links Through Killer Content Strategy

Kevin Gibbons released the big news everyone knew already in the beginning – Old school content without any human or social engagement is totally useless.

Google Signals 2013 – Google will care more if bounce rates are high on landing pages, or decrease the quality of a link if it comes from a directory. Moreover, authority and authorship come more and more into play as well as social signals and your brand reputation.

Educating Clients – One big issue will be to educate your clients on how the strategy has changed from ‘quantity counts’ to ‘quality over quantity’.

Give your audience a reason to talk about your content – Create a creative angle and be passionate about it! This is the essence on why people will share it.

For outreach results you need an audience – You will have to build an audience, which will eventually fulfill the whole potential of a link.

Our proud Head of SEO Max Brockbank used his years long of journalism experience and showed classic comparisons of link building in the modern era and ‘back in the days’ newspapers. It does add up – Link Building is more or less the same as writing a newspaper article. People want to read regularly interesting stories by trusted authors .

People buy stuff, because they read good content about it.

Local angles – It is more and more important to target Google+ local and mobile devices as they are increasing massively.

“rel=author” – Very important signal in the future to outsource trustworthy and good writers.

Search snippet – This is the first point of conversion! You can compare this to the newspaper, which includes the title, headline and a bit of the body. Hence, if your search snippet isn’t informative or exciting, people tend to click much less on that link.

Good writers can be taught, but the best writers are born – The key is to hire good techies, but hiring better writers.

Better links come from better sites – Better sites have better content – Better content comes from better writers

Yes, as you can see the first day had already so much to give. But now I’m out … It was a long day! See you on day two – fresh and ready to go ;) #seslon

*UPDATE*: The most awesome takeaways of Day Two and Day Three by Matt Lindley and Josie Sampson :)