Fast changing trends and serious competition has digital marketers chasing the latest and greatest tactics like hamsters on exercise wheels.
Good advice is both hard and too easy to come by. Search “social media marketing” on Google and there are over 1 billion results.
All the scrambling often means core skills are overlooked. In fact, one of the easiest things a company can do to improve online marketing performance is to stop sucking at the basics.
When it comes to optimizing for search and social media, well implemented basics are as good for search engines and social networks as they are for your customer’s user experience.
Here are a 8 fundamentals worth applying to your organization’s daily content creation, amplification and optimization process.
1. Be the Best Answer: Start by answering a few questions of your own:
- What does your brand want to be known for?
- Is that thing what your customers really care about?
- Do you deserve to be known for that thing?
Look at leaders and authorities for the topics that matter most to your business and observe the deep and meaningful resources they provide. Tap into what makes others so authoritative and incorporate those characteristics in your own marketing. Start the journey to become the first choice amongst your customers for those topics that matter most.
2. Win Friends & Influence People: People are social and so too, should your online and search marketing. Some social networks are better than others as stand alone communities for brands, but make no mistake, social signals matter for people and search engines. That means creating, engaging and promoting brand content on social networks to inspire shares and links from people with authority on topics you want to be known for.
Use social search and influence scoring tools like Traackr, Kred, Klout, Little Bird and FollowerWonk to triangulate where the influencers are, topics that matter and incorporate that insight into your content, PR, social and optimization.
3. It’s Not About You, Or Me Or Us. And Definitely Not Them: With content for the web or social, avoid overuse of personal pronouns like “I,” “you,” “she,” “he,” “it,” “we,” “you,” “they” and objective pronouns “me,” “you,” “her,” “him,” “it,” “us,” “you,” and “them”. Instead, use more descriptive keyword phrases where social sharing widgets will copy your message and where Google is looking in page titles, file names, text links between pages, image alt text and in body copy.
Keyword use is also a fundamental that should not be overlooked. But remember, the priority is on optimizing for people and the experience they have with your content. Copy should flow smoothly and not read like it’s unnaturally using keywords. Find out what phrases your competitors are using to attract search traffic by using SEMRush, SpyFu or Keyword Spy.
4. Facts Tell, Stories Sell: Figure out why customers buy and create keyword optimized content that tells stories about how and why your products solve customer problems.
Talk to sales staff and ask them about how they are so successful and about the discussions they have with customers. Those stories are a goldmine of ideas for great content that matters to people who want to buy your products and services. Content sourcing and ideation can be challenging, but tapping into the Q and A around topics that matter during the sales cycle reveal a never ending source of meaningful ideas.
5. Optimize for Search & Share: While a lot of optimization emphasis is placed on creating web pages and media (images, video, audio) around topics and even specific keywords that customers are actually searching for, it’s also important to make social sharing compelling and easy.
To do that, start mastering the art of title writing to catch people’s attention but also include search phrases. Example, “10 Essential [keyword phrase] Tips & How to Boost [keyword phrase] Performance.
Also be sure to include social sharing widgets in your content and experiment with the best formats and networks for your audience. Most of optimization is simply about making it easy for people to do what you want them to do. Finding and sharing your content is certainly near the top of the list.
6. Links Are Like Electricity: Light up useful content on your website by sharing with topically relevant social networks, through blogging and byline articles in industry publications. Find out where your competitors are getting their links by using tools like Majestic SEO, AHerfs or Open Site Explorer.
Do not underestimate the power of media relations and PR for getting into industry publications that also result in links. Whether through feature articles or guest blog posts, contributing content or insight to respected publications that also include a link to your brand’s social or web assets helps brand credibility, sends traffic and influences search visibility.
7. Tune Up Your Engine for Search Engines: Have your website audited by a SEO professional to ensure keyword targeting in content, technical friendliness to Google and Bing, inbound links and social shares. Pages that load fast for people and search engines is good user experience and good SEO.Web Developers and content management systems can be your worst enemy if left unoptimized for search.
8. Live the ABO: Always be Optimizing: Optimization is a continuous process of creating and promoting keyword optimized content on social networks, through industry media and online communities, then monitoring performance through analytics and making refinements.
Be sure to allocate resources for monitoring social networks (Trackur, SproutSocial, or Sysomos among many others), tracking and evaluating web analytics and applying conversion rate optimization best practices to ensure your findable and sharable content is influencing action.
The blocking and tackling of online marketing may not be the most glamorous, by why leave so much marketing opportunity on the table with skills and tactics we all claim to be so good at? Optimized marketing requires a solid foundation and if your organization is having difficulty scaling performance, then maybe it’s time to take a look at the fundamentals.
I think Optimize is a book that covers these fundamentals pretty well, so be sure to check it out.
What are some of the online marketing basics that you see often overlooked?