Our Marketing Blog

Our industry is ever-changing. Get insights and perspective from our experts as we share our knowledge and experience on how to successfully navigate the marketing landscape.

Content Marketing: How to Develop an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

As digital marketers the ball is always moving'innovation is the norm and only accelerating. The constant challenge for brands and marketers is to evaluate this evolving landscape and take advantage of new opportunities. Historically, being a search guy has meant constantly testing new placement, creative, device and campaign management technologies as both paid and organic search have become more personalized to the end user and competitive among brands. This is even more pronounced on a broader digital scale ' the past year alone has witnessed the explosive rise of Pinterest, Google finally entering the social world (for real this time) with Google+ and of course Facebook's acquisition of Instagram. Content Marketing is yet another tactic that has been buzz worthy in the past year. Like social media, a content strategy can mean a variety of things depending upon ultimately the program's objectives and level of sophistication. To help make sense of this, I thought I'd share the hierarchy of how we're thinking about content marketing for our clients. The good news is that if you have a website, you're probably doing it already to some degree. Digital Asset Optimization This is the baseline starting point. In all likelihood, you have a website and within that site you have produced and posted some content elements from videos to press releases to perhaps a blog. That's great, a big step and the most important. Yet, the greater benefit is in activating that content to expand your digital footprint throughout organic search, social media and other earned channels. Digital assets should be keyword optimized according to your SEO strategy, placed appropriately on site, enabled for sharing and distributed to relevant social channels. Brand Publisher While digital asset optimization is the initial starting point for developing and activating your content strategy, an advanced Content Marketing program is strategic, comprehensive and ongoing. Strategic in that message, channel and velocity of content is driven by empirical audience research. This data will identify clear audience drivers and needs and opportunities through which to engage them. Comprehensive as content is developed in a variety of forms thus reaching your audience through their preferred channel of engagement whether that be via webcast, article, video, infographic or other. Ongoing ' this ultimately refers to the concept of brands as publishers in that the content program should be consistent over time. This will not only foster a relationship with your customer, but frequent new content will expand your brand's overall footprint and organic search profile. Brands as Story Tellers Brands that have nailed down the fundamentals of content marketing then move on to more robust strategies of truly becoming story tellers. These brands have a well oiled publishing and distribution operation of research, development, activation and measurement. The next step is then pulling this unique brand positioning into all forms of communication from sales and support to social media engagement. It means truly owning your niche and telling your story through all facets of your business. Adding Value A colleague and mentor of mine once advised me to add value in every interaction whether that be personal or professional. That advice has been invaluable throughout my career and is at the core of what content marketing is all about. Regardless of where your brand is in the hierarchy of content strategies, the fundamental principle is simple - provide engaging, valuable information to your customers, clients and constituents. Add value and they will not only be customers, they'll be advocates.

SEO Buzzwords Explained through Real Life Scenarios

BUZZ WORD #1 ' LINK JUICE Lil' Wayne's juice gets him 'crunk,'? which means that after Lil' Wayne drinks his juice, he is able to perform to the masses at an optimal level. Lil' Wayne has been at the top of his game for the past 5 years, and maintaining the quality of his juice will be an integral element for future success. SEO Translation- Get your Website Performing at an Optimal Level: Paid links from 'spammy'? link directories are a thing of the past. Websites now rely on authoritative and highly relevant links from various respected sources. High quality, shareable website content, combined with active engagement and promotion is a key element in obtaining these natural links. The power of these links, which is known as 'link juice,'? is a key element in getting your website stronger visibility across the web. BUZZ WORD #2 ' PANDA UPDATE In 1983, the food court staple known as Panda Express changed the way Americans looked at 'Chinese Food'? forever. Their inexpensive and mostly unhealthy meals have helped contribute to high obesity levels in the United States. SEO Translation - Google doesn't want you eating Panda Express everyday: In 2011, Google rolled out their 'panda'? updates, which consisted of algorithm changes designed to penalize websites that offer low quality content. These updates specifically target content that provides little or no value to a user. In the past, Google users were force fed irrelevant search results from websites that pushed out low quality content in order to achieve higher search visibility. The game has changed. Just as we are seeing healthier food options in food courts across America, we are also seeing higher quality, relevant search results for our everyday queries. BUZZ WORD #3 ' SOCIAL SHARING We all have generous friends and cheap friends. This behavior becomes evident when you gather at a bar for drinks. There is always one guy that is never around when it's time to buy more drinks. Nobody likes this guy, and he is often ridiculed incessantly as the crew gets drunker. SEO Translation - Invest in good content and share it with the masses With search engines increasingly incorporating social media excerpts into search results, it's becoming more important to develop frequently updated, high quality content that people actually want to share through a variety of social channels such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google Plus. This search engine optimized content can be in the form of articles, videos, photos, infographics, and even social feeds. Web users will appreciate your site as a valuable source of information, while search engines will reward you for your high quality content sharing efforts. Search engines don't reward websites that fail to offer valuable content, just like non-giving people aren't rewarded with valuable friendships. BUZZ WORD #4 ' SPIDER ACCESSIBILITY The girl pictured above saved all her hard earned cash to buy her ideal Smartphone. Unfortunately that same day, her significant other made her go on a camping trip in the woods of Maine, where cell phone service is not only non-existent, but also frowned upon! Her brand new phone was completely useless to her at that moment. SEO Translation - Your expensive website might not be functional for search These days, many companies wish to have an attention grabbing website full of images, Flash, and animation components. While the website might look cool to a user, search engines aren't able to interpret any of the content that lives within these elements. It is important to make sure that websites are built with abundant textual components in order for search engines to be able to spider and index the site effectively. Much like the girl who couldn't use her Smartphone, there's no point in having a 'cool'? website if it isn't visible in search engines. BUZZ WORD #5 ' CANONICAL TAGS Remember when you could say that Matt LeBlanc was famous? I know it's hard to remember, but there was actually a time when he was on a level playing field with Jennifer Aniston. Since starring in Friends, Matt LeBlanc's 'illustrious'? credits include Ed, Lost in Space, and Joey- a Friends spinoff that spun off the air immediately. SEO Translation - Matt needs people to focus on his only role that ever mattered Canonical Tags are used with sites that house the same or similar content. In order to avoid a duplicate content penalty from Google, a canonical tag can be put in place to tell Google what the preferred version of the site should be. These tags are especially useful for commerce websites that feature similar product descriptions on multiple pages. They can also be used for websites that have different domains for multiple regions. For example, a business might have 3 separate domains for the United States, England, and Australia. All of the content on these 3 websites is in English, and it is very similar, with only slight regional variations. In order for Google to not penalize this business for duplicate content, the business might place a canonical tag on the United States domain, as they feel the domain in their home country is the most important. If Matt LeBlanc decided to start multiple 'Friends'? fan sites across the world, he would surely place a canonical tag on whichever site featured the largest picture of him with Jennifer Aniston. With this tag, he would be essentially telling Google, 'Since my acting career has been mostly disastrous, I want you to focus on a time when Jennifer Aniston acknowledged my existence.'?

The Effects of Semantic Search, Insights Lab Episode 6

Google recently announced its plans to give search a refresh via semantic search technology. What does this drastic announcement mean for search marketers? Find out in this week's Insights Lab episode, featuring Matt Jacobs, AMP's Director of Integrated Marketing and Joel Breen, Director of Digital Media.

Why Search Marketers Should Leverage Google's Ad Enhancements

The results you receive on Google's search pages seem to change with every query. As a search marketer, understanding this changing ad landscape is crucial in maintaining relevancy and gaining cost efficiencies. In recent years, Google rolled out extension options to expand Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad formats for a better user experience. By pioneering these features, Google has improved relevance for the user as well as performance for advertisers. The AMP search team took a proactive approach to evaluating these Google creative enhancements by testing them among our client campaigns. Shortly after leveraging Google's extension options, their value was clear. Campaigns experienced rocketing click-through rates (CTR) across all extension types. New creative treatments such as SiteLinks, Product, Location and Phone extensions delivered far more specific and relevant results to search queries. As a result, click volume increased substantially while Cost Per Click rates (CPC) lowered as well. Let's just say it was a win win. On Location Extensions alone, test campaigns experienced CTR's 400% higher and CPC's 25% lower than when the ad format was not showing. For that reason, the AMP team quickly incorporated Google's ad enhancements into our standard campaign best practices. Undoubtedly, Google's ad enhancements have revamped the aesthetics and functionality of paid search ads. While competitors, such as Bing, have been trying to catch up, Google remains the leader in creative options. The ease of implementation and tracking has made these features even more appealing for advertisers while relevance has become a better experience for searchers. Better products have translated into higher revenue for Google, a pretty simple business model that continues to work. Relevance remains fundamental to effectively delivering the service of search results to its customer base, whether those are searchers themselves or advertisers. Google's deep understanding of this component continues to drive the company to evolve and improve its product offering. As search marketers, it is critical to stay on top of these new releases while also being proactive in testing and measuring. Believe us, it will pay off!

Search Engine Giant Baidu to Invest Millions to Launch the SEO industry in China

China is getting ready to take on SEO in a major way and is ready to invest major dollars towards a fast growing industry according to the latest report released by Nasdaq. Baidu, the biggest search engine in China which holds a massive 84% market share is reportedly investing as much as $470 million dollars now through the end of 2015 into search engine optimization (SEO). Baidu plans to develop an industry which will train as many as 100,000 new search engine specialists as part of the game plan. The ultimate goal is to help both small and larger companies expand and grow their businesses through adaptation of SEO. With 485 million users in China, there is a huge opportunity for growth in an emerging market and Baidu (www.baidu.com) expects that by planning the adaptation of SEO, it will help raise awareness and increase usage for its online paid advertising services. This news is certainly quite interesting. It's pretty amazing how much the SEO industry has evolved over the years versus what it used to be at the very early stages. What used to be an underground, rarely talked about approach to simply making websites rank higher in Google, has transformed to a whole new level of mainstream. The demand for SEO in the United States has been growing fast, as competition keeps growing and getting tougher. Search engine marketing is a crucial element in 2011 and will continue to become even more important throughout the years, no matter what type of business you operate. Baidu is recognizing the need and wants to set the standard in China. And with such an enormous market share, I have no doubt they will accomplish what they intend, while creating thousands of new jobs in the industry.

Simpler Ways of Connecting Online May Leave You Vulnerable to Hackers

It's hard to imagine the digital world pre-Facebook and Google, but as I remember it that time was filled with usernames and passwords. When I was in high school I remember having a piece of notebook paper that listed all of my secret codes; it told me what I needed to log into my Netscape email and my Disney account, among a list of other websites. If that piece of paper was lost, access to my little online world went with it. Times have changed though. Now when visiting new websites, more often than not, you can simply sign in with your Google or Facebook username and password. No more guessing games to see if a username is already taken or tying every combination of 'johnny4799,'? 'Johnny040799,'? and 'joHnNy4799'? to remember the right password. Now it's one and done. Logging into a website with Facebook (aptly called Facebook Connect) makes life so much simpler. Not only is it one fewer password to remember, but it makes sharing content with friends all that much easier too. Love an article? Hit the 'like'? button and it goes right to your friends' newsfeeds. Are you on Google+ too? Give an article a +1 and it goes right to your account! The idea of connecting to websites through Facebook began in 2008, and by 2009 over 60 million people a month were doing it and over 80,000 websites and devices had this option available. Google+ has joined that ranking too with an estimated 10 million users in July alone, giving them the ability to hit the +1 button (similar to a Facebook 'like'?). I've lost my little piece of notebook paper but the simplicity of signing into multiple accounts with one username has made it unnecessary. Still though, the ease at which people can compromise my identity because of this is alarming. With so many users connecting to websites with their Google and Facebook passwords it's easy for things to get compromised. Sure it's easier for you to remember your password if it's your name and birthday, but it's just as easy for someone else to guess your login too. If you've connected to several websites with your Facebook or Google account and that password gets compromised, it's not just that account that's in trouble, but the rest of them too! To address this issue, several new guidelines have been put in place to protect your many identities online. Some of the tips include: Do not use any words, numbers or phrases associated with you as your password. That means the name of your dog and the year you were married are not the smartest options. Include a combination of upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers and basic punctuation. That means a password such as 'Car0L!n3s'? will make a better choice. Make your password at least nine characters long. Tougher passwords to crack may make your accounts safer but Mark Burnett, author of the book Perfect Password, says as long as a password is longer than 15 characters it no longer matters how random it is. Extremely long passwords have so many additional characters, the time it takes to hack increases compared to that of a smaller and more complex password. So next time you check out a new website should you feel comfortable signing in with your Facebook or Google account? Probably. Unless of course your password is 'johnny0781.'?

Buying Your Way to the Top with Social Media

With the popularity of SEO, social media, and the boom of the online industry, competition is becoming fiercer than ever. It is no longer common to find someone outside of the marketing world who doesn't understand the basic fundamentals of search engine marketing. Back in 2001-2002, all you needed was a website utilizing basic SEO elements and a few links and Google would love you and you could outrank your competition. Fast forward to today, the game has completely changed. Now, Google will likely ignore you until you're able to prove your website deserves to rank in their search results based on their criteria. With over 100 factors taken into account into the Google search engine algorithm to determine how a website is ranked, this has lead to new level of abuse and capitalization from certain individuals and companies to try to game the system. Search engines are constantly changing the way their algorithm works in order to fight spam and tactics that violate their guidelines. Violation of these terms can lead to a website being penalized or in worst case scenario, banned. Social media has become a key player in influencing the impact of search engine marketing and Google has openly stated they are now considering social signals in their ranking algorithm. With the popularity of social media networks such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, the introduction of Google+, the level of abuse is rising from underground groups to manipulate and find ways to trick search engines. Most recently, new social media company Plussem.com began offering a service where they utilize a group of people to vote for the website of your choice on Google+ in exchange for a fee. Looking for 50 votes? It'll cost you just 20 bucks. Want 2,000 votes? You can get it by paying the equivalent cost of an XBOX 360. While this idea sounds enticing, and may work for a short time frame, the MIT engineers behind the scenes at the Google Plex are most likely working day and night trying to figure out a way to prevent abuse from such services. My thought on this topic is, if you do get any type of benefit, it will be short lived. This type of manipulation is nothing new. Dig further around the web and you will find all kinds of paid services where you can buy social media love. Let's take a look at the service Subvert and Profit as an example. This site offers everything from paid YouTube to Twitter votes. Not only can advertisers benefit from this, but social media users can also make money from it. Want your message to be spread across Twitter? You can do that too, with a service like Sponsored Tweets. The rise of these types of services is here to stay. While these services can make you appear popular to your audience, participating in these networks will not give you a long term benefit or a spike in search engine traffic or rankings. Focus on building buzz-worthy and interesting content your audience will naturally react to. Utilize SEO best practices, participate in social networks to build your networks and you will build your reputation online as an authority on your topic. Remember, content is KING.

Buying Your Way to the Top with Social Media

With the popularity of SEO, social media, and the boom of the online industry, competition is becoming fiercer than ever. It is no longer common to find someone outside of the marketing world who doesn't understand the basic fundamentals of search engine marketing. Back in 2001-2002, all you needed was a website utilizing basic SEO elements and a few links and Google would love you and you could outrank your competition. Fast forward to today, the game has completely changed. Now, Google will likely ignore you until you're able to prove your website deserves to rank in their search results based on their criteria. With over 100 factors taken into account into the Google search engine algorithm to determine how a website is ranked, this has lead to new level of abuse and capitalization from certain individuals and companies to try to game the system. Search engines are constantly changing the way their algorithm works in order to fight spam and tactics that violate their guidelines. Violation of these terms can lead to a website being penalized or in worst case scenario, banned. Social media has become a key player in influencing the impact of search engine marketing and Google has openly stated they are now considering social signals in their ranking algorithm. With the popularity of social media networks such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, the introduction of Google+, the level of abuse is rising from underground groups to manipulate and find ways to trick search engines. Most recently, new social media company Plussem.com began offering a service where they utilize a group of people to vote for the website of your choice on Google+ in exchange for a fee. Looking for 50 votes? It'll cost you just 20 bucks. Want 2,000 votes? You can get it by paying the equivalent cost of an XBOX 360. While this idea sounds enticing, and may work for a short time frame, the MIT engineers behind the scenes at the Google Plex are most likely working day and night trying to figure out a way to prevent abuse from such services. My thought on this topic is, if you do get any type of benefit, it will be short lived. This type of manipulation is nothing new. Dig further around the web and you will find all kinds of paid services where you can buy social media love. Let's take a look at the service Subvert and Profit as an example. This site offers everything from paid YouTube to Twitter votes. Not only can advertisers benefit from this, but social media users can also make money from it. Want your message to be spread across Twitter? You can do that too, with a service like Sponsored Tweets. The rise of these types of services is here to stay. While these services can make you appear popular to your audience, participating in these networks will not give you a long term benefit or a spike in search engine traffic or rankings. Focus on building buzz-worthy and interesting content your audience will naturally react to. Utilize SEO best practices, participate in social networks to build your networks and you will build your reputation online as an authority on your topic. Remember, content is KING.

Buying Your Way to the Top with Social Media

With the popularity of SEO, social media, and the boom of the online industry, competition is becoming fiercer than ever. It is no longer common to find someone outside of the marketing world who doesn't understand the basic fundamentals of search engine marketing. Back in 2001-2002, all you needed was a website utilizing basic SEO elements and a few links and Google would love you and you could outrank your competition. Fast forward to today, the game has completely changed. Now, Google will likely ignore you until you're able to prove your website deserves to rank in their search results based on their criteria. With over 100 factors taken into account into the Google search engine algorithm to determine how a website is ranked, this has lead to new level of abuse and capitalization from certain individuals and companies to try to game the system. Search engines are constantly changing the way their algorithm works in order to fight spam and tactics that violate their guidelines. Violation of these terms can lead to a website being penalized or in worst case scenario, banned. Social media has become a key player in influencing the impact of search engine marketing and Google has openly stated they are now considering social signals in their ranking algorithm. With the popularity of social media networks such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, the introduction of Google+, the level of abuse is rising from underground groups to manipulate and find ways to trick search engines. Most recently, new social media company Plussem.com began offering a service where they utilize a group of people to vote for the website of your choice on Google+ in exchange for a fee. Looking for 50 votes? It'll cost you just 20 bucks. Want 2,000 votes? You can get it by paying the equivalent cost of an XBOX 360. While this idea sounds enticing, and may work for a short time frame, the MIT engineers behind the scenes at the Google Plex are most likely working day and night trying to figure out a way to prevent abuse from such services. My thought on this topic is, if you do get any type of benefit, it will be short lived. This type of manipulation is nothing new. Dig further around the web and you will find all kinds of paid services where you can buy social media love. Let's take a look at the service Subvert and Profit as an example. This site offers everything from paid YouTube to Twitter votes. Not only can advertisers benefit from this, but social media users can also make money from it. Want your message to be spread across Twitter? You can do that too, with a service like Sponsored Tweets. The rise of these types of services is here to stay. While these services can make you appear popular to your audience, participating in these networks will not give you a long term benefit or a spike in search engine traffic or rankings. Focus on building buzz-worthy and interesting content your audience will naturally react to. Utilize SEO best practices, participate in social networks to build your networks and you will build your reputation online as an authority on your topic. Remember, content is KING.

The Adoption of Google+

Google has posed the first viable threat to Facebook's monopoly on our digital social lives. Skimming through my news feed, it's clear that a threat to the current system is appealing to my generation'a small revolution against the Zuckerberg regime. As Facebook has grown to ubiquity over the past several years, there's been a simultaneous feeling of dependence upon and resistance against the network. However, I'm pretty confident that there will not be a mass migration of the nearly seven hundred million Facebook users tomorrow. Fresh out of school, I've been taught how to quickly and easily predict the fate of Google+. (And you can too: a lesson from Wikipedia on Rogers Five Factors.) I've amassed enough debt; here's what I've learned. Google+ has several valuable relative advantages over Facebook. Most notably, the developers try to mimic real world social organization by allowing users to categorize people: Good Looking Friends, People I Shouldn't Over-Share With, Bad Dates, etc.* Google+ also allows you to own and download your data. For those who have collected several years' worth of content on Facebook, a data back-up seems comforting. There's also an improvement on privacy settings, a constant issue for some Facebook users. (You may recall they failed miserably at securing user privacy the first time around.) Facebook may own half of my digital content, but Google conveniently owns the other half. The integration of Google+ with all the other Google applications that I use daily makes the new technology compatible. Another check off Rogers' list. As for the element of complexity, the Google+ interface seems intuitive if you have familiarity with any of Google's other products. The only exceptions are a couple of buggy interactions, which we can't criticize'this is Google+ Beta, after all. Many of my friends are already experimenting with the platform's trialability. It's easy to try, if you have at least one nerdy friend to invite you. And lastly, Google+ is sparking conversation and reactions, not surprisingly, all over the established social networks. (Rogers called this observability.) According to this scholar, Google+ appears to be a strong Facebook rival on paper. What does your intuition tell you? In my opinion, people could make room for a third social network. A friend of mine segmented the networks nicely: Facebook is a large arena to keep in touch with past acquaintances, Twitter is a platform to form potential relationships, and Google+ is, perhaps, a more intimate environment to regularly communicate with current friends and contacts. On the other hand, six million Americans deleted their Facebook accounts in May. Maybe, rather than a Facebook supplement, there's a desire for an alternative. And if you don't want to have to choose, check out this plug-in. *I think Google has 'borrowed'? this idea from Diaspora.

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