Blog Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:02:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 20 Must-Have Content Marketing Tools for Writing Better Blog Posts http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/08/20-content-marketing-tools-blog-posts/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/08/20-content-marketing-tools-blog-posts/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 10:30:30 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20879 Fans of high culture rejoice. We have finally realized our potential as a species. We have reached the pinnacle of creative expression. That’s right. MacGyver is getting a reboot. For those of you born in the 90’s, MacGyver was a TV show starring Richard Dean Anderson and his amazing mullet: Breathtaking, isn’t it? MacGyver was [...]

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20-content-marketing-tools

Fans of high culture rejoice. We have finally realized our potential as a species. We have reached the pinnacle of creative expression.

That’s right. MacGyver is getting a reboot.

For those of you born in the 90’s, MacGyver was a TV show starring Richard Dean Anderson and his amazing mullet:

MacGyver

Image via Telestar

Breathtaking, isn’t it? MacGyver was a secret agent who used the power of feathered hair (and an array of improvised gadgetry) to fight the forces of evil. Give the man a paperclip and some bubblegum, and he could make anything from a deadly weapon to a stylish evening gown.

Content marketers tend to be the MacGyver of the marketing world. We may not have the hairdo (or any hair at all, in my case), but we’re used to making miracles with an improvised toolkit.

To celebrate MacGyver’s triumphant return, let’s put away our tin-foil-and-dryer-lint contraptions and give our tools a much-needed upgrade.

Here are tools you can use in every stage of creating a blog post, from creating concepts to adding visual interest.

Concepting

Content marketing starts with audience and keyword research. After that, it’s time to take that research and turn it into actual concepts for individual posts. These five tools can help.

#1 – HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator

 hubspot topic generator

This little wizard is still the gold standard for simple idea generation. You can enter up to three topics, and it will put together sample headlines for you. The suggestions are based on HubSpot’s own incredibly successful blog. They may be a little on the generic side, but they’re a good starting point.

#2 – Portent’s Content Idea Generator

portent idea generator

Put in a keyword, get a single headline. It’s a simple little generator, but one thing sets it above some of the other tools I considered for this list: It’s a teaching tool. Each component of the headline gets its own little mini-rationale.

#3 – TweakYourBIZ Title Generator

 tweakyourbiz

Unlike the first two, this title generator spits out multiple lists of ideas, organized by type of post. You may notice a lack of variety, but with this many options available, you’re bound to find a few winners.

#4 – The Content Discovery Tool

content discovery tool

This tool is a unique little beast. It’s built entirely in Google Sheets, using XML commands, JSON scripts, and unicorn blood to pull information from dozens of sources. Type in a topic and the sheet populates with trending articles from around the web. You can dig in and customize it, but it works well even for non-tech folks like me.

#5 – Buzzsumo

 buzzsumo

Sometimes seeing the top performing posts on your topic is the best inspiration. For that, Buzzsumo is an extremely useful tool. Type in a topic and see the most-shared posts of all time, or the past year, six months, month or week. You can even see what posts are about to hit big on the Trending page. Buzzsumo has a decent amount of functionality for free. Pro accounts unlock a host of other features and start at $99/month.

Headline Optimization

The concept generators can give you a good idea of how to approach your topic. These tools can help you write a headline that gets people’s attention.

#6 – CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

 coschedule

This tool is a favorite around the TopRank Marketing office—my colleague in content Caitlin Burgess mentioned it in her post on writing compelling headlines. This list would be incomplete without it, though. It’s easy to use, informative, and educational.

#7 – Sharethrough Headline Analyzer

 sharethrough headline analyzer

Similar functionality to CoSchedule here, but it’s always worth corroborating results. This one focuses more on the emotional feel of the headline, too, so it can deliver insights that you don’t get from CoSchedule.

#8 – KingSumo Headlines

 kingsumo

After you analyze and optimize your headlines, this WordPress plugin can automatically A/B test them for you. Load it up with three different headlines when you post, and it will randomly serve them to visitors and monitor social shares. Over time, it can consistently deliver the best-performing headline. Nifty!

Drafting

Now comes the hard part, and the fun part: Actually drafting. There aren’t any tools yet that can do the writing for you. Which is good, because it means people like me keep pulling a paycheck. However, there are tools that can help you focus on getting the job done.

#9 – Freedom

Freedom

Freedom is a customizable distraction blocker. You can build custom blocklists for sites/notifications/apps you want to block, and on which devices you want to block them. Choose time limits, schedule your day, and get your productivity back. Free trial, plans start at $2.42/month.

#10 – FocusWriter

focuswriter 

This program is essentially a stripped-down word processor. It hides all its menus and widgets off the screen until mouseover, so there’s nothing between you and the words you’re typing on the screen. It also helps avoid the eye strain with soft gray text on a translucent background. $5 download.

#11 – StayFocusd

stayfocusd 

If you’re using Google Chrome, this is the productivity taskmaster you’ve been looking for. Set up a list of time-wasting sites and it will block them completely, after an amount of allowed time that you specify. So if you say 30 minutes, then spend 20 on Facebook and 10 on Twitter, you’re done for the day. It also features the “Nuclear Option,” which blocks every site on your blacklist for a set amount of time and can’t be undone without uninstalling. It’s merciless—which is exactly what a writer needs sometimes.

#12 – Zen-Cast

 zencast

Studies show a little ambient noise can help focus and productivity. This webpage is a simple, surprisingly customizable nature sound generator. Spend hours working by the seashore, in the rain, or under a waterfall, with insects and birdsong to boot. Although nerds (like me) might find this ambient sound more relaxing.

Cleanup

So your first draft is done. But unless this is your first rodeo, you know the first draft is the beginning, not the end. These tools can help you edit for the 4 Cs of quality content.

#13 – Word2CleanHTML

 word2

If you draft in Word and then upload to your CMS (like me), this little tool is a godsend. It strips out blank spaces, replaces proprietary tags with HTML standard tags, and converts special characters to universal ones.

#14 – The Hemingway App

 hemingway

This is another tool I have recommended before, but this list would be incomplete without it. The Hemingway App checks your writing for convoluted sentences, passive voice, and overuse of adverbs. It can even tell you what grade level you’re writing at. Just take the suggestions on sentence length with a grain of salt. Too many short sentences in a row makes writing feel choppy.

#15 – Readability Test Tool

 readability test

Similar to the Hemingway App, feed this test a URL or copy-and-paste your text in, and get a detailed analysis. This tool evaluates on a few more metrics than Hemingway does, and provides useful stats on average sentence length, percentage of complex words, and more.

Images

The right image can be a compelling visual headline for your piece. These tools can help you find and customize your images.

Finding Images:

#16 – Pixabay

pixabay 

This site is my go-to for royalty-free images. It features hundreds of thousands of photos and a robust search engine that can actually return useful results.

 #17 – Stocksnap

 stocksnap

Another collection of royalty-free images with a great interface for discovery. There’s a little overlap with Pixabay, but it has plenty of original content, too.

 #18 – rgbstock

 rgbstock

This site has a less intelligent tagging system than the other two, and the way it displays results isn’t the best. But it does have pictures the other two sites don’t have. It’s worth braving the interface to get fresh photos.

Editing Images:

 #19 – Pixlr

pixlr

This surprisingly feature-rich free web app has functionality to rival professional software. It’s good for everything from resizing images to in-depth layer-based composition.

#20 – Canva

 canva

Canva is the star player for creating social media images. It’s so simple, so intuitive, so easy to create cool-looking stuff. Make a free account and you get unlimited uploads, unlimited use of a big library of assets, and downloads in high-res and web optimized sizes. There are also huge libraries of elements you can buy for a dollar or two apiece.

Maximize Your MacGuyver Instinct

Content marketers are used to making the best of what’s around. But there’s no need to work with paperclips and chewing gum when there are dozens of free and low-cost tools to help with every stage of the process. From creating concepts to adding visual flair, these tools can help you make content as majestic as the mightiest mullet.

What are your favorite blog writing tools? Let me know in the comments.


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Boost Content Marketing Results & Learn How LinkedIn Grew Their Blog by 30X http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/08/content-marketing-linkedin-blog/ Wed, 03 Aug 2016 10:30:52 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20822 Conversations between digital marketers are always abuzz with the latest, greatest and most innovative content marketing techniques. Everything from different content types, to the newest ways to promote content are never far from their lips. There is no doubt that content plays an incredibly important role as part of an integrated digital marketing program. And [...]

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Boost-content-marketing-results-linkedin-blog

Conversations between digital marketers are always abuzz with the latest, greatest and most innovative content marketing techniques. Everything from different content types, to the newest ways to promote content are never far from their lips.

There is no doubt that content plays an incredibly important role as part of an integrated digital marketing program. And one of the most tried and true content marketing tactics that has stood the test of time is blogging.

In fact, 45% of marketers still say that blogging is the most important piece of their content strategy and marketers that use blogging as part of their strategy, generate 67% more leads than those that don’t.

The blog that you’re reading right now has been a staple of our content marketing for over 10 years and has produced a library of information for our readers, as well as providing us tremendous insight into what people want more (or less) of.  In addition to running our own blog, we’ve been able to help many of our clients increase online visibility, better connect with their audience and generate leads through blogging and amplification efforts.

How LinkedIn Grew Their Blog 31X (with Help From TopRank Marketing)

We have been fortunate to work with some amazing brands like LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. Over the course of our relationship, our two teams have found a rhythm for creating insightful, interesting and optimized content in a way that has proven to be attractive to LinkedIn’s audience.

Part of our program is focused on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog. We’re happy to report that our combined efforts have created some incredible growth for their blog in a short amount of time. In just 18 months their number of subscribers increased 31X, and in only 12 months they experienced an increase in visitors by nearly 50%.

Learn How to Grow Your Blog with Advice From LinkedIn

Sean Callahan, LinkedIn’s Senior Manager of Content Marketing and his team recently released an eBook that shares insights into lessons learned in the past 18 months that led to their blog’s growth. If you haven’t already, you should download How to Grow Your Blog by 30X or More: LinkedIn Shares the Tactics That Grew Its Blog at Hyperspeed.

To whet your appetite, here are some great takeaways from the eBook (that really only scratch the surface).

Always Focus on Audience Needs

First and foremost, the cadence, content and optimization of your blog must put the reader first. That means marketers must keep a close eye on their analytics, social shares and even survey the audience so that the blog aligns with need.

Our core blogging philosophy hinges on our readers; there’s simply nothing more important.”

By focusing on the topics that matter most to your readers, in formats that make it easy for them to consume and share the information you’ll find that you’ll attract more readers that fit your target demographic and create long-term affinity with readers that keep coming back for more.

Don’t Dismiss the Significance of SEO

Search Engine Optimization has evolved so far beyond actual search engine preferences and  instead favors the needs, habits and preferences of the search audience. Simply put, content MUST be optimized for the audience that you want to attract.

Specific to blogging, TopRank Marketing Vice President Jolina Pettice says:

“By leveraging the right data, LinkedIn and TopRank Marketing discover what the target audience is searching for online, and together create content to help them solve the specific problems illustrated by that search intent. We then monitor and adjust our content plan based on the overall performance of posts.”

The Importance of Amplifying Blog Content

So many brands have made the mistake of investing countless hours and dollars into creating great content, and then failing to promote it once it’s complete. Don’t fall into the trap of content creation without amplification!

We’re equal opportunity promoters, telling our audience about our most recent blog posts via email, via social, and in person.”

There are a multitude of ways to promote blog content, but how exactly you do that ties back to understanding who your audience is, where they spend time and how to best reach them.

Sage Advice for Increasing Your Blog’s Performance

Creating and maintaining a successful blog that helps meet marketing and business objectives takes work. It’s important to be thoughtful about who you’re creating content for, and how the content is optimized and amplified so that new readers can find and share it.

For more insights and tactical tips into how LinkedIn grew their blog substantially in only 18 months, download their new eBook: How to Grow Your Blog by 30X or More: LinkedIn Shares the Tactics That Grew Its Blog at Hyperspeed.

LinkedIn How to grow your blog


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Content Marketing: 5 Unexpected Places to Find Inspiration for Your Blog Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/02/content-marketing-inspiration/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/02/content-marketing-inspiration/#comments Tue, 16 Feb 2016 11:30:50 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=19966 Creative inspiration is like a butterfly: It’s beautiful from a distance, but full of weird insect parts up close. Sorry, let me try that again. Creative inspiration is like a butterfly: Sometimes it seems like no matter how far you stretch, it flutters above your head, beautiful but just out of reach. Sure, you could [...]

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content-marketing-inspiration

Creative inspiration is like a butterfly: It’s beautiful from a distance, but full of weird insect parts up close.

Sorry, let me try that again. Creative inspiration is like a butterfly: Sometimes it seems like no matter how far you stretch, it flutters above your head, beautiful but just out of reach. Sure, you could sit perfectly still and wait for it to land, but your editorial calendar beckons. Few marketers have the free time to truly find their creative space. At the same time, you know that content with that creative spark will be far more compelling.

The next time your creative butterfly just won’t sit still long enough for you to get a good look at it, grab your butterfly net of proactivity and go after it. Here are five ways to get inspired when you’re stuck.

#1 – Stock Photo Sites

When you’re looking for a metaphor that will make your blog post come alive, start with a compelling image and build from there. Fire up your favorite stock photo site—I like Pixabay and StockSnap—and take a look at the recently uploaded photos. Both sites present a grid of photos devoid of context, of widely varying subject matter. Even if you don’t find the header image for your post, odds are you will get the spark of an idea that will make your post more lively.

#2 – Twitter’s Front Page

Most of us hardly ever see Twitter’s home page. If you elect to stay logged into the site, Twitter just drops you straight into your feed, where hours of distraction await. If you log out, though, you’ll see a dynamic grid of trending tweets that you can customize by topic. See what’s capturing people’s imagination in real time, and you can use the inspiration to write a topical post. For example, this Taylor Swift-themed post on MarketingProfs captured an of-the-moment metaphor to give sound marketing advice.

#3 – Mashable

Like the front page of Twitter, Mashable’s home page is a direct line to the Internet’s subconscious. It’s like Reddit, only you won’t risk getting fired for clicking the wrong link. The three columns on the page show what’s most shared, what’s trending, and the most recent stories uploaded, giving you three vantage points for finding a creative angle. I spent just a few minutes on the site, and I’m already outlining my “5 Content Marketing Lessons from the Isle of Wight Triceratops” post.

#4 – Outside

The first three items in my list are designed to spark inspiration by data input. But sometimes, what you need is the opposite: less data, fewer screens, less fluorescent light. Sometimes you have to get up and go for a walk outside—even if, like me, you live in the frozen tundra of Minnesota. Leave your smartphone at your desk (unless your coworkers are exceptionally shifty) so you won’t be tempted to Facebook on your walk. Allow yourself to be a little bored, if need be; boredom is a rare and prized commodity in the age of distraction.

You don’t need to go on an epic vision quest, so save your PTO—a five minute stroll should be enough to clear your mind and get your creative juices flowing.

#5 – This Trippy App

All distractions aside, your butterfly of creativity really lives inside your own head. Sometimes all it takes to generate an idea is to put yourself in the right mindset for a few minutes and see what surfaces. My go-to tool for this kind of meditation is an app called Pulsate. Click the screen to create circles that expand and contract, playing gentle chimes when they touch. The simple, mesmerizing visuals and the random-but-pleasant sound can get you to your creative space post-haste.

Don’t Let Your Butterfly Flutter By

I can say from experience that when you feel uncreative, it’s tempting to dive into social media and vegetate. I mean, how can you do creative work when you’re not feeling creative? Surely that butterfly will land eventually…until then, I can take this quiz and see once and for all which Power Ranger I am.

The trouble with procrastination is that it leads to stress, and stress leads to feeling less creative, which leads back to procrastinating. It’s a vicious cycle, ugly as a close-up picture of a butterfly’s mouth (seriously). So instead of stagnating, use the tips in this article to catch your creativity and put it to work.

At TopRank Marketing, our team uses awesome content and killer strategy to get results for our clients. How can we help?

Header image via Shutterstock


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Building Your Blog Into A Survivable Source Of Income http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/01/making-money-with-your-blog/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/01/making-money-with-your-blog/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 23:00:44 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=16292 Blogging is easy. Write good content and people will read it. But how do you take the next step and make it profitable? What does it take to make it your full-time gig? In their New Media Expo 2014 session, The Honest Truth About Professional Blogging: How We Lost Readers and Money During Our First [...]

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Make Money Blog NMX

Blogging is easy. Write good content and people will read it. But how do you take the next step and make it profitable? What does it take to make it your full-time gig? In their New Media Expo 2014 session, The Honest Truth About Professional Blogging: How We Lost Readers and Money During Our First Year, Amanda Brooks, Carol Cain, and Paula Pant talked about how to monetize and become profitable as a blogger.

Get Started

There is no perfect pattern. Make it up as you go. That’s what they did. First they started writing. A lot. About what? Find a niche you’re passionate about and you should be able to write forever. Don’t just pick something you think will be profitable. If you don’t know the topic, that will come through in your writing. You have to LOVE your topic. You can’t be an expert in something you don’t know every detail about. Pick a topic and start writing. Promote through social and build a following. Until you have content, no one is going to pay you. You have to build it and show others what you’re capable of and merit getting that payday down the line.

Cash In On Freebies

Once you’ve been blogging and your writing starts to attract the attention of those in your topic industry, you’ll likely get offered free stuff. That’s awesome! You’ve been recognized as someone of influence and a company wants to send you their product for free, in hopes that you’ll review it and promote it for your following. While free stuff is great, you need to be careful. Don’t accept just anything. If you’re posting about products that aren’t related to your blog’s topic, your readers will not go for it and you’ll likely lose them. Not only do the products need to be related to your core focus but you need to give them honest reviews. Don’t just give them 5-stars because you got the product for free. This will only destroy your reputation and trust with your readers when they follow your bad recommendation and buy a crappy product. You can’t be afraid to say no if the product doesn’t align with what you’re focused on.

Get A Real Paycheck

So now you’ve got free products coming in, which give you lots of stuff to write about and reviews are a great traffic source. But how do you pay the bills? You certainly can’t pay them with free beer koozies, healthy snacks, and other freebies. It’s time to ask for actual money. This is hard the first time but it has to be done. Don’t fool yourself by thinking that after time they’ll see the value in your writing and want to pay you – it won’t happen. Why would they pay you suddenly if you’ve been working for free all this time? When a company offers you a freebie, in your reply simply ask them, “What’s your advertising budget?” The worst they can say is no and you get a free product anyways. Counter-pitch. They’re pitching you. Pitch right back.

You’ve asked a company to advertise and they’re looking like they will. So how much do you ask for? Don’t give them a number to start. Many times people throw out a number only to find that the advertiser very happily accepts it because they were willing to pay much more. Don’t sell yourself short. You’re valuable. It may only take a few minutes to write a great post for them but that fee isn’t just for the time spent writing that post. The fee is for the months or years you took developing your blog, developing your following, and developing your skill.

Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are another form of income for bloggers. Brands are looking to pay bloggers to post on their blogs. But be careful with your sponsored posts. If they come to you with cookie cutter content, that’s an advertisement.

  • Know Your Value – Remember what your blog is worth to you. You spent a lot of time and energy building greatness. Don’t hurt that with low quality sponsored posts.
  • Say No If It Doesn’t Fit – Don’t feel that you have to say yes just because you want to get paid. Your readers will respect that you respected them and didn’t post something that isn’t right for them.
  • Authenticity In Your Reviews Is Key – The content on your blog needs to be genuine. Put your voice in it. It’s OK to go back to them with a different idea or ask to write the post in your own voice.

What’s Next?

You’ve built a great blog that advertisers are paying you to be on. Now what? Grow that existing relationship. It’s much easier to work with an existing relationship than finding a new client. Come to them with ideas. Companies don’t always have a lot of time to think about new and interesting ways to promote their products – they’re too busy running their own business. Feel free to pitch them new ways you can work together to bring them (and yourself) more business.

The goal of every blogger is to get something out of their efforts. Be it validation, recognition, notoriety, or a ways to earn a living. For those looking to turn their work into a source of income and work for themselves, these tips can serve as a great guide to get started and make it pay. Build your blog into a great revenue source and let us know how it goes along the way.


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Want To Be A More Productive and Effective Blogger? Here Are 15 Social Media Tools To Help #NMX http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/01/social-media-tools-bloggers/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/01/social-media-tools-bloggers/#comments Sun, 05 Jan 2014 02:00:51 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=16244 If you’re a blogger or a social media marketer, you”ll undoubtedly end up multitasking. Multitasking doesn’t usually work very well.  We overwork.  There has to be a better way.  This is where the tools come into play.  In his New Media Expo 2014 session, Ian Cleary reviewed 15 Social Media Tools to Become a More Productive [...]

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Ian Cleary Presenting at New Media Expo 2014If you’re a blogger or a social media marketer, you”ll undoubtedly end up multitasking. Multitasking doesn’t usually work very well.  We overwork.  There has to be a better way.  This is where the tools come into play.  In his New Media Expo 2014 session, Ian Cleary reviewed 15 Social Media Tools to Become a More Productive and Effective Blogger.

Some are designed to help you find content to write, others to automate and monitor, or optimize. Regardless, they can all help make your social media life a little easier.

Finding The Best Content To Write

Social Crawlitics – This tool crawls through your blog and analyzes all the social shares and shows a chart based on those shares.  This lets you see content that gets shared more than others,  and what topics touch your audience.  Then you can focus your efforts on those topics and ideas. You can also look at your competitors. The page-level results shows which pages have the most shares, pins, LinkedIn posts and more.

Topsy – This tool can help you find content people are linking to already.  With Topsy, you can simply choose the ‘Links’ section and search for the topic you want to write about.  The tool will show you the content that got the most links. Then, you can look deeper at it and see why it was linked to so much.  Now you have the ability to make content that is more valuable than the top linked.  Once you’ve made your great content, see who is linking to other posts on the same subject and tell them about your new piece of content.  Chances are they’ll want to share.

SEMrush – Most of us know of SEMrush.  Using this tool, you can enter a website address and it will give you analytics related to the site.  While it provides so much useful information, Organic Keywords is a spot of focus.  You can see where your competitors are getting traffic based on these organic keywords. This gives you an idea of what you can look to focus your content on and make more sharable/linkable content.

Help Create Content

Canva – People love to look at and share graphic content.  Images add interest to blog posts.  But hiring a full-time graphic designer can be very expensive.  Canva is graphic design without the need for a graphic designer. Cleary saw a 450% increase for his traffic since he started using it and says it’s super easy.  Select from a document, presentation, blog graphic, and more.  Then select your template.  Modify the text and add images (there are more than 1 million to choose from).  Bam, you’ve made great looking sharable graphic content.  Very simple, quick, and easy.

Piktochart – Most people have an easier time visualizing data than simply reading it.  This is why info graphics are so popular.  They offer a highly consumable way to digest information.  You can make great looking info graphics easily using Piktochart.  The tool provides a range of templates that you can then customize and publish. You can even make infographics.  This tool is very low cost and easy to use.

Automate and Monitor

dlvr.it – Save time sharing your posts from one social network with another network.  dlvr.it lets you list the source social network and the destination network.  It will then take any posts added to one platform and automatically post it to your other networks.  It’s a great way to automate the sharing of your blog posts. The tool also provides analytics on your posts.

SocialOomph – Write blog posts, let dlvd.it share your post to your other networks, then put it into SocialOomph.  On a regular basis, it will send out that post again.  Content useful now is just as useful in 6 months so why not share it more than once?  SocialOomph even lets you create variations for your messaging and automatically picks from a queue of your posts.  Guy Kowasaki posts everything 4 times and just look at the social success he’s seen.

Zapier – Automate over 250 web apps.  Take your posts from one source and send them out to other social destinations.  Create triggers for everything. Want a Buffer post made every time a video is posted to your YouTube channel?  Zapier can do that for you.

Friends+Me – While Facebook and Twitter let you schedule posts in advance, Google+ currently doesn’t.  This tool posts your updates from Google+ to your other networks.  Queue up great content and make sure it posts to G+ at the best times, even if you can’t be there to do it yourself.

DoShare – Like Friends+Me, this Chrome plugin allows you to schedule content for Google+.  While it may be a bit simpler than Friends+Me, the downside to DoShare is your browser does have to be open for your posts to go out.

Brand24.net – Low cost and very useful, Brand24 graphs mentions across networks.  It then allows you to zoom in and see where people are talking about you and your brand.  These are great interaction opportunities.  When it finds the mentions, it shows where they come from and you can break them down and sort and categorize to make it easy to manage.

Optimize Your Content

OpenSiteExplore.org – This one is great for finding the domain and page authority for a competitive page. It’s especially useful if you’ve found a page you want to overtake in SERP rankings.  If your site numbers are generally higher, you might be able to overtake them with a little work.

WordPress SEO by Yoast – This is one everyone that uses WordPress should be using.  It gives you a breakdown of the SEO items you’ve got covered and what is missing from your posts, making sure your posts give Google what it wants.

MozBar – This browser plugin shows domain rank and page authority of each page showing on the SERP of every search you do.  You can then see if there are low ranking pages that are ranking high in search.  This gives you a great idea of what you might be able to overtake.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool – This tool shows you all the page titles on your site.  You can then go back and look to update bad titles and optimize them all.

Great content alone won’t win the day.  Successful promotion of that content through social media will drive even more success for bloggers looking to be seen.  Using the these great tools, bloggers can bring their blogging efforts to the next level.  Give them a try and let us know if they bring you new success.  The goal is a little bit of craic.

 


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Stand Out Above the Noise – Blogging Tips From Chris Brogan #BWENY http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/06/blogging-tips-chris-brogan-bweny/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/06/blogging-tips-chris-brogan-bweny/#comments Thu, 07 Jun 2012 10:30:03 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13722 I must say the pre-keynote presentation was hilarious.  Tom Webster (@webby2001) from Edison Research shared some “feedback” his company had received from the post-session surveys that were sent out for evaluation of the speakers.  The comments were those that many bloggers experience on a daily basis: Poorly written, irrelevant, spam on your painstakingly written blog [...]

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"There are plenty of crappy photographers out there, that is why they invented Instagram." - Chris Brogan (touche Mr. Brogan)

I must say the pre-keynote presentation was hilarious.  Tom Webster (@webby2001) from Edison Research shared some “feedback” his company had received from the post-session surveys that were sent out for evaluation of the speakers.  The comments were those that many bloggers experience on a daily basis: Poorly written, irrelevant, spam on your painstakingly written blog post.

Tom’s commentary was the perfect seguay into Chris Brogan’s (@chrisbrogan) keynote presentation.  First off, Chris is hilarious, second of all he is not afraid to poke fun at himself.  This wasn’t the sort of presentation that is easy to live blog (plus there was zero Internet connection) so I decided to share the information like I consumed it.  In bite sized chunks that are easy to consume and easy to share.

Spoiler Alert
I’m taking some direction from Chris Brogan here and I’m going to share my most important point up front.  Chris said the number one question he is asked is: “how do you get more readers to your blog?”  The answer: write a post about someone who has recently passed, or is rumored to have passed.

Blogging Hurdle #1: OMG I am SO busy!

Stop! Everyone is busy.  No email should start or end with “god I have been so busy lately.”  Do you think anyone is ever going to say “I haven’t done anything all day.” Chances are they wont.  Lets face it, we all have things to do.

A helpful tip for bloggers is to create a framework for how you blog and use that same process over and over again.  You will notices that it will take you a lot less time to blog because it has become second nature.

First Places to Find Extra Time

  • Turn off the email “noise”
  • Ignore the little red circle
  • Try writing in small blocks of time
  • Take a couple minutes no matter where you are

Blogging Hurdle #2: I have nothing to write about.

According to Chris the top traffic sources to his site are topics such as “how to find blog topics” and “how to get more followers”  so he is most likely the right person to ask.  Bloggers are faced with a problem.  When we sit down and start writing we begin to worry about how our content sounds or what people will think of it.

Get Out of Your Own Way

  • Find inspiration in the small things
  • Take photos
  • Use other people’s photos for inspiration
  • Try and look at things differently

Blogging Hurdle #3: How can I make money blogging?

The problem with blogging, some people believe that you start blogging and instantly you’re rich.   Don’t hold your breath sitting with your bucket waiting for the money to fall.

  • Write about things that you care about
  • Treat your blog like a business
  • Try different things, it’s your website after all

Blogging Hurdle #4: Blogging seems like a lot work.

The reason blogging seems like hard work is because it is.  The only way you get better is by practicing on a regular basis.

  • Pride is worth less than hard work
  • There are a lot of moving parts, but you can do it
  • Always respond to fans comments

My Favorite Tidbits From Chris Brogan

“I use WordPress– its just a religious thing at this point.” @chrisbrogan #BWENY Tweet This

“We love to talk about software that we use for publishing.  Did anyone ask Hemingway what he wrote with?  Oh is that a special #2 pencil?” @chrisbrogan #BWENY Tweet This

“Try “time quilting” picking up little bits and pieces of time here and there to write your blog.”  @chrisbrogan #BWENY Tweet This

“Advertisements are not a good way to get money for your blog.” @chrisbrogan #BWENY Tweet This

“If you believe all of the praise people throw your way then you become “that” jerkhead.” @chrisbrogan #BWENY Tweet This

“You can do anything you want.  It’s your damn website.” @chrisbrogan #BWENY Tweet This

“Never suck up to the big guy – connect to the up and comers.” @chrisbrogan #BWENY Tweet This

“Smells really help me find blog posts.” @chrisbrogan #BWENY Tweet This

TopRank Readers Bonus

I had wanted to have some more exclusive tips but I know that Chris is busy and I am hoping that he will be able to share some answers with me in the future.  If that happens I will be sure to send an update out to our readers.  I do however have another form of bonus content for you.

Attendees who raced to the keynote and shoved their way to the front of the line (like myself) all received a copy of Chris’ book Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything.  If you haven’t had a chance to grab your copy or are still wondering what it is all about be sure to read my review written earlier this year.

Google+ for Business: 5 Things Marketing Professionals Should Know About Google+


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A Recipe for Better Blogging: Optimize & Socialize #bweny http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/06/recipe-for-better-blogging/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/06/recipe-for-better-blogging/#comments Mon, 04 Jun 2012 12:32:16 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13695 On Saturday I participated on a SEO panel at the first Minneapolis TECHmunch food blogger conference put on by Babette Pepaj with the help of local foodies like Stephanie A. Meyer. As prep for the event, I outlined a few things that I thought food bloggers might find useful for helping to improve organic search [...]

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better bloggingOn Saturday I participated on a SEO panel at the first Minneapolis TECHmunch food blogger conference put on by Babette Pepaj with the help of local foodies like Stephanie A. Meyer. As prep for the event, I outlined a few things that I thought food bloggers might find useful for helping to improve organic search traffic to their content. Of course these tips aren’t limited in their usefulness to food bloggers, they apply to anyone interested in creating awareness, attention, interest and engagement with themselves or their brand.

I will be giving a track keynote at BlogWorld this week on Thursday morning (9am) covering bigger picture topics and specific tactics to help attendees to better use blogs as content marketing tools. Here’s the presentation info:

Search, social media and content marketing are converging, and consumers are using numerous ways to discover, consume and act on content. In this session, you’ll learn how to use content marketing best practices to design information that inspires audiences to share, buy and recommend your brand.

Key Points
1. Learn the framework for an optimize and socialize approach to content marketing
2. Understand the framework for optimizing across the customer lifecycle
3. Know the difference between KPIs and business outcomes for web and social measurement

But back to the TECHmunch presentation, here’s a few of the tips I shared using the old, “Dinner Party” metaphor:

Audience – Who’s coming to dinner?
What makes your blog unique and how does that satisfy a need for a particular audience? What do they care about? What are they searching for? What topics relevant to your blog do they talk about on the social web? Empathize with their information needs and language to anticipate topics that will be interesting and sharable.

Keywords – What do they like to eat?
Take your understanding of what your target audience cares about and translate it into search phrases and social topics. Develop a reference document or keyword glossary with scores for popularity and competitiveness to serve as guide for editorial and SEO. Keyword use on the blog as well as with social sites helps relevant search visibility. Use of popular and relevant social topics can inspire sharing and interaction.

Content Plan & SEO – Which ingredients?
Create an adaptable editorial calendar to outline topics, titles, descriptions, keywords, tags, media types, promotion channels and ways to repurpose content.  Apply keyword glossary phrases in topic selection, post titles, post copy, file names and link text.  Write title tags for search engines and on-page titles for readers and social shares.  Think of the blog as a hub and build promotion channels as spokes around it. Create content that deserves to be the best answer to the questions your target audience are searching on or asking about on the social web. Make sure your blogging platform is configured as search and social media friendly using plugins such as AllinOneSEO and social sharing widgets like AddThis.

Links & Social – How will we invite our guests and help them spread the word?
Participate in and grow social networks daily. Tweet, RT, Plus, Pin, Like, Update and Comment where it makes sense to the audience you’re trying to reach. With your blog as the hub, many of your spokes will be social media and network websites that you can promote content to. Monitor mentions of your blog or keywords on social sites for interaction opportunities using social media monitoring services as simple as socialmention or Trackur or try these search queries replacing toprankblog.com with your own blog’s domain name:

  • https://twitter.com/search?q=toprankblog.com
  • https://plus.google.com/s/toprankblog.com/posts
  • https://www.google.com/search?&ie=UTF-8&q=site%3Afacebook.com+inurl%3Aposts+%E2%80%9Ctoprankblog.com%E2%80%9D
  • http://pinterest.com/source/toprankblog.com/

Make it easy to share posts and inspire social sharing within the networks your active on. If you contribute content to other blogs or websites, always ask for an author link back to your website.

Tools – Which cookware, dinnerware?
Evaluate competitors rankings with SEMRush.com, Validate your blog with Google Webmaster tools, Manage your SEO efforts with Raven Tools, Research keywords with Google AdWords Keyword Tool, Research social topics with socialmention.com or Radian6, Measure blog content performance with Google Analytics, Monitor inbound links with Majestic SEO.  Leverage a social media management platform like HootSuite to organize, schedule and publish social content.

For more good resources on optimizing your blog for better performance on the search and social web, check out Google’s new Webmaster Academy and of course if you want a deep dive, get a copy of Optimize.


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Online Marketing News: Say NOPA to SOPA, Google+ Strikes Again, Coca Cola “Gets It”, Twitter Gobbles Up Summify http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/01/online-marketing-news-jan202012/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/01/online-marketing-news-jan202012/#comments Fri, 20 Jan 2012 12:31:18 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13253 The Social Job Seekers The social media job market is hot! This infographic visualizes the 2011 Social Job Seeker Survey that was conducted by Jobvite.  It examines who the job seekers are and how they are utilizing social media to find jobs.  Some interesting statistics you may not be aware of: 61% of all employed Americans [...]

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Using Social Media to Find a New Job

The Social Job Seekers

The social media job market is hot! This infographic visualizes the 2011 Social Job Seeker Survey that was conducted by Jobvite.  It examines who the job seekers are and how they are utilizing social media to find jobs.  Some interesting statistics you may not be aware of:

  • 61% of all employed Americans are open to a new job or actively looking for a new one.
  • 4 out of 10 job seekers are “Super Social” and have 150+ contacts on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.
  • 1 in 6 job seekers found their last job through an online social network.

This Week in News About Google

“How to Get Actionable Data Out of Google Analytics”  Proper goal setting is second to none when running a website or blog.  If your goals are not properly setup then you are missing out on the most actionable metrics of your website.  This article provides some great tips on setting up and measuring your website goals.  Via KISSmetrics.

“Pages With Too Many Ads “Above The Fold” Now Penalized By Google’s “Page Layout” Algorithm”  Do you shove lots of ads at the top of your web pages? Think again.  The “page layout algorithm”  takes direct aim at any site with pages where content is buried under tons of ads. Via Search Engine Land.

“Google+ Now Lets You Share Straight From Search Results”  Aimed at making it easier for users to join or start discussions on particular topcis, Google+ has recently beefed up their search capabilities.  Additionally, Google+ will automatically attach search terms to your posted items.  Via Mashable.

“Google Real-Time Insight Finder”  This tool helps users make sense of data and spot emerging trends more quickly.  It also allows companies to gain insight in to attitudes, perceptions, and needs of your consumers so that you can adjust your strategy quickly to meet their needs.  Via YouTube.

“Google+ brands growing faster than brands on Twitter?”  A statistical comparison by Socialbakers shows that brands are growing their fan bases faster on Google+ than brands on Twitter.  How is this happening?  Read on to find out.  Via Socialbakers.

Connect with TopRank on Google+

Content Marketing for the Masses

“3 Content Marketing Ideas You Should Steal from Coca Cola” Heavy hitter Coca Cola has realized that a 30 second advertisement will no longer cut it.  They have instead turned to content marketing , which aims to double Coca Cola worldwide consumption by 2020.  Via copyblogger.

“3 (more) business blogging tips for beginners”  If you are one of the many bloggers with a new years resolution that includes doing more with your blog, then this post is for you.  What is the first step?  Be realistic!  Via SEO Copywriting.

“How to Overcome the 7 Most Crippling Blogging Challenges”  Time to take the “but’s” out of blogging.  This article does a great job of providing solutions for many of the excuses would be bloggers have today.  Via socialmediatoday.

The Social Media Beat

“7 Ways To Improve Your Social Media Skills and Influence” Social media sharing is still a very new role for many employees.  This article helps prepare newbies and social media dabblers for life in a social world.  Via Forbes.

“9 Small Business Social Media Success Stories”  Case studies speak for themselves.  Applying a real life example of success can make a large impact on your perception of a tactic or marketing strategy.  This post provides 9 great examples of how social media has helped small businesses grow.  Via Social Media Examiner.

“Facebook Expands Service That Lets Users Share Online Activities”  Facebook announced this week that they are adding over 60 new partners to a service which will allow users to let their friends know what they’re doing online from listening to music to news articles they are viewing.  Via Bloomberg.

“Twitter Acquires Social Aggregation Start-Up Summify”  Following Twitter’s other recent acquisitions it was announced today that Summify, a social news aggregation service has also been acquired.  If you’re a Summify user beware! Services will shut down in a few weeks.  Via Wired.

From the TopRank Newsroom

Alexis Hall – “Average Viewer Watched 23.2 Hours of Online Video Content in December”
According to the latest research from comScore Video Metrix, the average viewer watched 23.2 hours of online video content in December 2011.  That is a lot of time people are spending online, engaged with this channel. This post from Search Engine Watch discusses the impact of this research on marketers, including the reach of video advertising on YouTube.  Via Search Engine Watch.

Brian Larson – “PIPA and SOPA Co-Sponsors Abandon Bills”
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is on the minds of many marketers. From image sharing and content curation, to linking and keyword research, SOPA has the potential to drastically change the way we create, share, promote and optimize content. With the co-sponsor’s abandoning the bill, is this a sign that the public outcry was heard?  Via Mashable.

Ken Horst – “Twitter is adding 11 new accounts per second and could pass 500 million in February, says report”
If anyone is still holding out on starting a Twitter account, now would be the time to start thinking about it.  When Twitter hits 500 million, it will be very hard not to acknowledge Twitter as a strong channel for online marketing.  The trick is how to leverage Twitter and you can learn that by reading our post from earlier this month; 4 B2C Examples of How Companies are Using Twitter to Attract & Engage Customers.  Via The Next Web.

Emily Conley – “Yahoo’s Co-founder Jerry Yang Resigns”
Just weeks after the announcement of new CEO Scott Thomson joining Yahoo, the company’s co-founder Jerry Yang has announced his resignation.  Thompson called Yang’s 17 years with Yahoo a legacy of innovation and customer focus for the iconic brand.  2012 is shaping up to be an eventful year for Yahoo.  It will be noteworthy to follow how these changes trickle down to impact the world of SEO!  Via Search Engine Land.

Time to Weigh In:  What do you think of Google’s new search tactics?  Have they taken it too far?  Also, what other newsworthy items did you read this week that you think should be shared with our readers?


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Blogging On A Budget: 3 Tips for Bigger Impact http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/11/3-tips-for-better-blogging/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/11/3-tips-for-better-blogging/#comments Tue, 29 Nov 2011 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13031 Blogging is one of the top sources of online content creation for many companies. Blogs are a great vehicle for interacting and engaging with current and prospective clients.  Blogs are also an effective way for prospects to associate stories, anecdotes, and personalities with a company or brand. Taking on a blog can be a large [...]

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Blogging is one of the top sources of online content creation for many companies. Blogs are a great vehicle for interacting and engaging with current and prospective clients.  Blogs are also an effective way for prospects to associate stories, anecdotes, and personalities with a company or brand.

Taking on a blog can be a large undertaking.  There are many things that should be considered including cost, availability of resources, strategy creation, time commitment, and measurement.  Simply creating content and expecting instant success is not realistic.  If you have recently decided that you would like to start a business blog, or have started a blog and are not seeing the success you had anticipated then the tips below are for you.

Tip #1 – Become a Blog Follower

Starting in the mindset of a consumer is key in determining need.  I recommend you take a look at the list of blogs that you read and ask yourself some questions about why you read them.  If you aren’t currently following any blogs I suggest that you see if some of the newsletters, magazines, or newspapers that you are already reading have a blog.  This will help you kill a couple birds with one stone.  You are still consuming the information that you already enjoy but you are also doing some research for your own blog.  What are some questions you should ask if you are looking to start a blog?

  • What blogs do you follow?
  • Why do you enjoy them?
  • Do you believe they help solve a problem for you as an end user?
  • Does the blog have one or multiple voices?
  • How often do you read these blogs?

Tip #2 – Work Smarter Not Harder

In a tough economy marketers are being forced to do more with less.  The same strategy can be applied to business blogging.  If you have an understanding of content that works well and the mindset of your target audience you can easily create different forms of blog content to keep information updated regularly and efficiently.

Newsworthy items can be a great source of blog content.  You are presenting your audience with information that is important to their business while utilizing statistics and content that has already been created.  Reviewing current business blogs is also a great vehicle for creating content.  This allows you to create a scoring criteria and share with readers what you like and dislike about the blogs that are being reviewed.  Interviews and guest posts can also be a source of content curation for your blog. If you can convince others within your industry to participate in your blog they will be likely to share it with their audience as well.  Guest blogs also add some additional creativity and voice to a business blog.

Tip #3 – Tap Into Available Resources

There may be members of your team that could be a great addition to your company blog.  Contributors from different departments can position themselves subject matter experts and your readers may look forward to the variety that is being provided in the blog content.  While the overall responsibility of the blog may fall on the shoulders of one person or department, that doesn’t mean that other team members cannot contribute.  Multiple authors allows you to tap into multiple networks and is much more sustainable from a content creation perspective in the long run.

While business blogging is not always easy it can be a great project to inspire creativity, teamwork, engage your audience, and improve your brand visibility.  If you are interested in more tips on business blogging please take a look at some of the following posts from the TopRank Online Marketing blog.

I am curious to learn a little bit more about the experiences of our readers.  What are the biggest challenges that you have faced as an online marketer as it relates to business blogging.  What are some additional areas of blogging that you may not understand and would like TopRank to provide more information on?


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BlogWorld LA: Optimize & Socialize For Better Business Blogging http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/10/blogworld-la-optimize-socialize-for-better-business-blogging/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/10/blogworld-la-optimize-socialize-for-better-business-blogging/#comments Mon, 24 Oct 2011 14:41:40 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=12884 After a successful Blog World Expo New York, I’m very much looking forward to BlogWorld Los Angeles in just under 2 weeks.  Judging from the conference agenda, there’s an impressive roster (275+) of experts, pundits and long time bloggers presenting on just about every relevant topic you can think of. Blogging has been cited as [...]

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optimize socializeAfter a successful Blog World Expo New York, I’m very much looking forward to BlogWorld Los Angeles in just under 2 weeks.  Judging from the conference agenda, there’s an impressive roster (275+) of experts, pundits and long time bloggers presenting on just about every relevant topic you can think of.

Blogging has been cited as one of the most effective forms of social media marketing for achieving top visibility in search and on the social web and corporate investment in social media is growing significantly. This is as true for agencies like TopRank Online Marketing as it is for any business with a good story to tell. We’ve promoted blogs as the centerpiece of a hub and spoke model that has been adopted by many other agencies and corporate marketers.

While there are numerous success stories and sources of best practices, most companies handle their business blog in a way that disappoints. Even those corporate blogs that do manage to implement a customer-centric editorial plan, neglect to leverage key discovery and engagement channels like content optimization for search engines and social media optimization.

On November 5th, I’ll be giving a presentation to help business bloggers solve that problem and more, with “Optimize & Socialize for Better Business Blogging“. This presentation  will identify key principles and specific tactics that I’ve learned over the past 8 years of blogging here and for other sites, plus working with numerous client blog consulting projects. The session will provide hard won insights into leveraging SEO and Social Media as key tools for blog content planning, creation and promotion from the editor of the only 3 time #1 ranked Content Marketing Blog (Junta 42), #2 Social Media Blog (Social Media Examiner), top marketing blog (Advertising Age).

Key takeaways for the session include:

1. Plan your way into an infinite number of compelling and relevant content ideas that boost search traffic & engage readers
2. Create campaigns that incorporate blog content with other marketing tactics for extended search & social visibility
3. Promote blog content that inspires social sharing, link building and search traffic

In each area I’ll break it down into:

Blog Content Ideas & Planning

  • Key Problems:  Running out of ideas, Lack of effective ideas, Difficulty in sourcing contributors
  • Solutions: Tapping into front line staff, community and the competition using a feedback loop that will boost effectiveness and motivate others to join in.

Blog Content Creation

  • Key Problems:  Corporate narcism, inconsistent publishing and quality as well as content that does not result in the desired outcomes.
  • Solutions: Audience empathy and guidelines for content strategy that result in content that inspires action and sharing.

Blog Content Promotion

  • Key Problems: Great blog content with low subscriber counts and poor engagement.
  • Solutions: A process to integrate blog content distribution and syndication as well as engagement that will leave readers waiting to see what will come next.

As I’m prone to do, I’ll pack as much actionable information as possible into the session and provide a copy of the PPT deck to attendees. I hope to see you there!


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Content Marketing Optimization: 8 Content Ideas for Business Blogs http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/08/content-marketing-optimization-8-content-ideas-for-business-blogs/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/08/content-marketing-optimization-8-content-ideas-for-business-blogs/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2011 16:49:05 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=12482 At the SES conference this week I gave several presentations on Content Marketing: “Content Marketing Optimization” and “The Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing”.  In the CMO session, I provided SEO tips for each spoke in a hub and spoke model. The hub in this situation was a blog and one of the most common [...]

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Blogging ContentAt the SES conference this week I gave several presentations on Content Marketing: “Content Marketing Optimization” and “The Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing”.  In the CMO session, I provided SEO tips for each spoke in a hub and spoke model. The hub in this situation was a blog and one of the most common issues with business blog success is fresh content. In fact, one of the most common reasons companies don’t start a blog is over their concerns with creating useful content.

I can empathize with that concern and have addressed it with many companies over the past 7+ years that I’ve been blogging here on TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog. To help anyone interested in ideas for creating business blog content, check out the following 8 tips. They’ve worked for us and for many of our clients and may very well work for you too.

Oreo Cookie News Posts – Set up Google Alerts for keywords you’re tracking and when an article or blog post surfaces that meets your editorial criteria, excerpt in a blog post using your own intro and conclusion. That’s the “oreo cookie”, sandwiching a portion of the Google Alert with your own copy setting up why it’s important and your own conclusion or opinion.  Always cite the source of course.

Short Lists – (Like this one) Create short lists of tips according to keyword themes, especially information that is in high demand but short supply. You can also focus on the kind of information that could help customers during various stages of the buying cycle:  5 Tips on How to Buy a New Widget, 5 Tips on Getting the Most Out of Your New Widget, 5 Things You Can Do With Old Widgets, 5 Common Problems with Widgets and How to Solve Them, etc.

Large Collections – Compile large collections of resources according to a search keyword or social topic theme. If you can find disparate resources that don’t normally get included together, it can really resonate as a unique and useful content object that will get bookmarked and shared. Long form and media rich content will often get bookmarked  more because readers aren’t likely to consume it in one sitting.

Really relevant, unique and useful collections of resources can be hard to compile in one sitting, so set a task to collect such resources a few at a time, over time. A few minutes a day over 3 weeks is barely noticed compared to 2 uninterrupted hours in one day.

Interview Industry Influentials – First you need to define what influential really means to your particular industry. Those with the most subscribers, friends and fans (in social media terms) may not be the people who can be the most cooperative and giving.  When approaching really well known industry people, it’s often easier to ask 10 people 1 question and compile the answers. That makes it easy for them to participate and when they see who else is involved, it can motivate them to participate. That means starting off with a few “internet famous” people that you know will participate, and reference them in requests to others you don’t know as well.

When interviewing subject matter expert “unsung heros”, use more questions and think about using keywords in the questions themselves, structuring the questions so that they might result in keyword rich answers. Of 10 questions asked of 10 people, make sure 2 or 3 questions are very tactical. Aggregate those tactical responses from the 10 interviewees later in a new post. There’s so much more you can do with repurposing content in original ways, but you get the idea. The key is to plan ahead.

Curate Comments – Aggregate the best comments from your blog or even other blogs according to a particular topic.  Identify important blogs in your industry, especially those with active commenters.  When you cite another blog, the content doesn’t need to be limited to the blog post. It can also include the comments from other blogs. You can chose to organize those comments according to keyword topics (citing the source blog of course) or a particular position that you’re taking.

You can also compile some of the best comments from your own blog as a way to recognize community participation.

Crowdsource Content – Think about doing surveys, polls & contests that result in content. Give readers an incentive to participate in a promotion where entry into the contest is based on some kind of content: short articles, images or video. Enable your blog readers to rate entries and promote the winner.  Don’t just do this once, because if it works well at all, you can build momentum by running the promotion annually or quarterly depending on the volume of interest and participation.  I recently posted about crowdsourcing content on ClickZ.

Answer with Subject Matter Expertise – Many subject matter experts and business executives are too busy to write blog posts. But if you ask them a question, they’ll talk your ear off. Use that behavior to your advantage and get business blogging staff to ask subject matter experts in the organization questions verbally – in person or on the phone – and use the answers in corporate blog posts.

Frontline Answers – Another goldmine of content for blogs is from frontline employees that interact with prospects and customers.  Customer support staff and sales people answer questions all day long. Find a way to harvest that knowledge into edited FAQ’s for your blog.  Always make sure you give feedback to whoever helps provide content to your business blog. That will contribute to their feeling of contribution and can help motivate future participation.

These ideas are just an excerpt from one slide of my solo presentation on Content Marketing Optimization. There are many other things you can do to create interesting content for your business blog, especially if you’ve done homework with customer profiles, search keywords and social topics.  We’ve created processes around content calendars for blogs and other content marketing efforts that makes this a very straightforward process. Lists like the one above can certainly fuel an initial content calendar to either start a business blog or introduce new content to an existing blog.

Are you facing challenges with your business blog? What’s stopping you from launching a new blog or with content creation?  What creative content ideas have you seen on other blogs that you’d like to share?


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Blog Marketing Strategy: 7 Steps to Social SEO Success http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/05/blog-marketing-strategy-7-steps/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/05/blog-marketing-strategy-7-steps/#comments Thu, 26 May 2011 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=12269 At BlogWorld Expo in New York this week I presented a session about Dominating Your Niche with Social Content and SEO.  It was crammed with information and I know there are many online marketers looking for practical advice on business blogging and blog marketing that didn’t attend.  Based on the blog marketing we do here [...]

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Blog Marketing Social SEO At BlogWorld Expo in New York this week I presented a session about Dominating Your Niche with Social Content and SEO.  It was crammed with information and I know there are many online marketers looking for practical advice on business blogging and blog marketing that didn’t attend.  Based on the blog marketing we do here at Online Marketing Blog and in the consulting that I do, here are  7 practical steps online marketers can take for social media and SEO success with a blog.

All marketing efforts should start with a goal and means for measuring success, so I do not get into specifics on those tasks in this list, but focus more on the content and promotion.

1.  Social SEO Personas

Personas Social Media SEO

While blogging evolved out of personal expression, business blogging is less about corporate egocenticism and more about empathy with customers. Customer centric content for blogging is more relevant and does a much better job of engaging. In the way that direct marketers segment customers by key characteristics, online marketers that blog can create buyer personas to create more relevant experiences for their readers.

Personas are customer profiles (preferences for information discovery, consumption & sharing) that represent groups of customers that a brand wants to engage and do business with.  Information from Personas drives keyword research & optimization, content plan and promotion. More about persona creation here. So one of the first things a blogger should do after defining objectives and general audience, is to understand who they’re trying to reach by developing personas.

Collect data through reader / customer surveys, analytics, social monitoring and other tools to form a profile. That profile represents topics, behaviors and preferences that can translate into search keywords, social topics, social channels, editorial calendar and promotion plans.

2.  What is your unique selling proposition?

USP - unique selling proposition

When people (or search engines) visit your website, is the primary topic crystal clear? With the increased competition in search and for attention in social conversations, it’s essential for blogs to stand out.  Being able to articulate your Unique Selling Proposition helps distinguish your content the value of your blog content for people and search engines. The screenshot above shows a blog that is crystal clear in it’s focus. The result is reflected both in popularity and search visibility (#1) for highly competitive phrases like “digital photography“.

Developing a Unique Selling Proposition for your blog (h/t SEOBook) is pretty straightforward: Identify the key benefits of your blog’s content and how you will address customer/reader pain points. As you communicate your USP, be specific, concise & show proof. It’s also important to live your USP so that it’s a key component of your messaging.

3.  Search & Social Media Keywords

Keywords SEO Social Media

Personas and your USP represent the intersection of customer interests and the goals for your blog. In order to activate your blog content for effective discovery via search and social media channels, it’s essential to create a search phrase keyword glossary for Search Engine Optimization purposes and a social media topic glossary for Social Media Optimization.

SEO Keywords: Resources like Google’s keyword research tool are a great start for finding which words and phrases are in demand, relevant to the content you’re publishing on your blog. It’s tempting to be egocentric and use whatever language you want, but if there is an expectation to attract significant search traffic and an interest in using language that resonates with a community in search of what you have to offer, keyword optimization of content is very appropriate.

Social Topics: Social topic tools that work like a SEO keyword tool are very rare and a to really get into useful source information, there’s a lot of manual research necessary. However, to get started, tools like socialmention.com offer a list of social keywords (bottom left of search results page) that can be downloaded as a CSV file for use in your Social Topic Glossary. Social keywords represent topics of interest to the people your blog is intended to reach and engage. By researching these topics and the specific language the community uses to express their interest, your blogging can be more effective at being relevant and shared on the social web.

The SEO Keyword and Social Topic glossary provide guidance towards editorial plans and specific phrases/topics can be mapped to content for search and social media optimization. It’s a great management tool that keeps SEO and SMO efforts accountable.

4.  Create a Content/Editorial Plan

Editorial Plan

Keywords inform content and documenting an Editorial Plan for your blog can ensure that content is true to the goals of the business and interests of the community that reads it. An content plan also offers ideas and guidance, months in advance, which is priceless when bloggers hit creative roadblocks. This is inevitable, and after 7+ years of blogging myself, I can’t vouch enough for the guidance of an Editorial Plan.

Keep in mind, such a plan is a guide – not a set of hard and fast rules.  It’s effective to schedule recurring themes with posts, like “Thought Leadership Monday”, “Practical Tips on Tuesdays”, “News Roundup on Fridays”. But it’s also important to allow for wildcards, because opportunities will come up spontaneously based on events within your company or the industry that require blogging. And you don’t want to delay publishing important news or a reaction to news, just because it wasn’t planned for that day.

The Editorial Plan defines the application of keywords in topics to be covered, categories, titles, tags and how/where/when the posts will be promoted. It also allocates for the future repurposing of appropriate blog posts.

5.  Search & Social Media Optimization

SEO Social Media Optimization

Optimizing content for search on websites like Google and optimizing social content for ease of discovery and sharing within social channels is essential for reach and engagement of blog content. Optimizing for search & social media is the one two punch of blog marketing. If SEO efforts are initiated with an existing blog, then a SEO audit would be completed, including a review of the blog templates and configuration, existing content, internal links and links from other websites. If you’re starting a new blog, then SEO would be baked in to the editorial plan via the keyword glossary.

Optimizing for search is about helping search engines do a better job of connecting readers with your content. It’s not about tricks or manipulations. It’s about providing search engines and people what they need to find, consume and be inspired to share your blog content.

Optimizing for social media is about search as well, as in the search that’s possible within Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc. But SMO is also about optimizing content editorially to resonate with social audiences. It’s about ease of discovery and sharing through things like feed distribution and widgets that make it easy to ReTweet or post to the reader’s favorite social sites.

SEO and SMO are about making life easy for both search engines and people to connect with, interact and share your blog content.

6.  Links: Internal and External Acquisition

SEO Link Building

Links between pages and links acquired from relevant websites in the industry provide a good user experience and strong signals for search engines when they crawl, index and rank web pages. Following best practices for internal linking is one of the most impactful things a blog can do to help website realize SEO benefit.  For example, a tips blog that cross links the keywords relevant to specific products being sold gives readers and search engines a quick and relevant way to move from editorial about how to use and get benefit from a type of product to a page that actually sells the product.

Attracting links from other relevant websites as pictured in the diagram above is essential for attracting new visitors to your blog, directly and indirectly because of the effect relevant links have on search engine visibility.  What’s important to remember is that links to your blog home page are important, but relevant links into specific category or individual blog posts is essential  External link sources that are relevant to broad topics that link to your home page or category pages provide the user (and search engine) with a very relevant connection.  Links from niche sites to your specific blog posts do the same.

There are myriad ways to attract links for blogs ranging from commenting and guest posting to creating content that attracts links from other bloggers and the media.

7.  Content Promotion

Content Promotion

Content isn’t great until it gets shared. A lot. That doesn’t mean a blogger should aggressively promote every post. It does mean that when a particular post is especially promotable (you would know this because you planned for it in your Content Plan) then it warrants special attention.  Blog content can be promoted in a variety of ways and effective promotion is tied to the quantity and quality of the networks you’ve built. That includes readers and subscribers of your own blog, an email list, Facebook Fan page, Twitter, LinkedIn and other relevant sites where people with common interests interact and share.

Some content promotion is automatic, like RSS feeds, syndication of blog posts to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or content syndication partnerships. Other content promotion might be tied to the content itself, like using industry thought leaders to crowdsource insights into a topic (your keywords) of importance to your readers. Those participants will often help you promote the post. You can also reach out to your network and suggest or share relevant posts they might be interested in. Commenting and being social on/offline are also effective promotion methods.

The bottom line with content promotion is that great content that isn’t promoted vs. mediocre content that is promoted in a relevant way, will often lose in terms of traffic and therefore meaningful engagement with a greater number of readers. The amount of content being published on a daily basis creates levels of competition never before experienced, so promotion is essential to stand out and get noticed. But it has to be content that’s WORTH promoting.

Summing it all up.

The implementation and refinement of these steps is a work in progress. The web continues to change in terms of technology and how people use it. It’s essential that companies follow an adaptable online marketing strategy when focusing on the social web and search engines. Opportunities will reveal themselves in web analytics and social media monitoring and the promotion efforts outline above apply to those real-time marketing situations just as well as tasks included in a Content Plan. Hopefully these guidelines are useful to you and if you need more specific information, you’ll likely find it in blog posts we’ve published in the past. At TopRank Marketing we do this kind of consulting on a daily basis so there’s a lot of rich information published in our archives.

What other types of insight about blogging and blog marketing would you like to see? What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve had (and maybe overcome) when it comes to implementing blog marketing tactics like those mentioned in this post?


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Dominate Your Niche with Social SEO & Blogging – BlogWorld Expo New York http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/05/dominate-your-niche-social-seo-blogging/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/05/dominate-your-niche-social-seo-blogging/#comments Mon, 23 May 2011 14:33:22 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=12262 BlogWorld Expo is holding it’s first conference in New York this week and I’ll be presenting “Dominate Your Niche with Social SEO & Blogging” on Tuesday at 10:15am as part of the Social Business Track. This post is a light preview of that session and I hope to see you there. Is blogging dead? A [...]

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Social Media SEO & BloggingBlogWorld Expo is holding it’s first conference in New York this week and I’ll be presenting “Dominate Your Niche with Social SEO & Blogging” on Tuesday at 10:15am as part of the Social Business Track. This post is a light preview of that session and I hope to see you there.

Is blogging dead? A number of high profile bloggers and news media sites from Scoble to Wired to the New York Times have opined the demise of blogging as a consequence of growing social destinations like Twitter and Facebook.

The reality is that like many other forms of media, blogging is evolving and with the right strategy, highly effective. Short attention spans are served by short form content like Tweets and status updates. When it comes to influence on business, longer form content like that found on blogs serves an essential purpose. Rather than displace the most valuable attention spent on blogs, social sites like networks, microblogging, media sharing, news and bookmarks facilitate awareness and engagement with blog content.

Smart online marketers see this and are putting their budgets and priorities where it matters. According to eMarketer, 1 in 3 businesses publish blogs for marketing and HubSpot’s recent  2011 State of Inbound Marketing reports that more companies rated blogs as “critical or important” (62%) than any other social channel. These investments are paying off: AdWeek’s “Changing Scope of Advertising” infographic cites blogs as the leading source of customer acquisition over any other social channel.

TopRank Social Hub

Key Messages of Your Niche Provide Focus for Content Promoted from the Blog to Networks and Channels of Distribution.

Blogs are perfectly suited as social media information hubs for companies or individuals that want to dominate their niche online. Blogs can play an essential role in an integrated search, social media and content marketing strategy that directly influences consumer information discovery, consumption and sharing. But with literally millions of blogs published online and mainstream media getting involved, how does a blog stand out, let alone dominate their niche?

The first step is to understand what your niche is.  Formalize your unique selling proposition (USP):  How is your content unique and how does it serve the needs of the people you’re trying to reach better than any other blog?  What does your blog stand for?  What specific can you focus on that represents demand (search keywords) and topical discussion (social)?

The mechanics of a coordinated blogging effort that leverage search, social and content marketing involves:

  • Goals & objectives
  • Key message and differentiator – USP
  • Persona development
  • Search and social keyword research
  • Editorial plan mapped to search and social content
  • Optimization
  • Link analysis
  • Social channel development
  • Intersection with online PR, media relations, advertising
  • Content promotion
  • Real-time, adaptive
  • Monitoring, measurement & refinement

Whether you’re frustrated with the performance of current blogging efforts or you’re starting a new blog and want to maximize effectiveness, following a coordinated online marketing approach with a focus, can force multiply the effect of a company’s ability to “Be where customers are looking” (search), “Be where customers are talking” (social) “Be a source of influence, trust and engagement” (content). The result? You dominate your niche because all signals of credibility point to your social hub whether it’s via search, social, media – push or pull.

For the full presentation, you’ll have too attend BlogWorld New York this week. Hope to see you there.

Sometimes I like to open presentations common questions people have on the topic. What questions do you have about making more out of your business blogging effort? What challenges do you have in your efforts to dominate your niche?

 


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5 Tips: Content Sharing Beyond Facebook http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/01/content-sharing-beyond-facebook/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/01/content-sharing-beyond-facebook/#comments Fri, 21 Jan 2011 13:30:59 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=11916 Alright, you’ve just come up with a brilliant and revolutionary idea that will forever change the face of your industry. So what do you do now? If you’re like a lot of people, you run to Facebook and share it with your friends, colleagues, and anyone that will listen. Is that a bad strategy? Not [...]

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Alright, you’ve just come up with a brilliant and revolutionary idea that will forever change the face of your industry. So what do you do now?

If you’re like a lot of people, you run to Facebook and share it with your friends, colleagues, and anyone that will listen. Is that a bad strategy? Not necessarily, as Facebook and Twitter can be great places to reach large audiences. In fact, Facebook continued to grow even stronger in its use as a sharing site in 2010.

However, you can’t safely assume that Facebook is the only or best method of content distribution. Social media is a hot market right now and use of these channels are not a bad thing. Though a strategy of a few tweets and a fan page update will not get you to your goals. Ultimately there is no singular model that is always the ideal for any company but a few points to consider include:

Audience – I lead with this one as it should always be the first step in creating any marketing or communications plan. Who are you trying to reach and where are they? If you want customers that are highly engaged on mobile devices then Facebook could be a good fit with over 200 million people accessing the social media giant via their mobiles. If you’re seeking long-term content placement that might be reviewed in-depth, consider SlideShare where the demographics indicate  81 percent medium to heavy internet users and eight minutes spent on the site looking at content.

Influencers – After establishing your target audience you should move to identifying who has the ear of the audience you want to reach.  Spend some time researching terms and keywords that connect to your topic. Take advantage of the many tools out there like Google blog search, Alltop, PostRank and see who shapes the views of your audience.

Blogs – The benefits of a blog as a central hub of content are quite well established in terms of SEO for companies. Yet another benefit of a blog for many organizations is the simplicity of updates which can be made easily. Use your blog as a point of entry for beginning a dialogue. Engage here and you’ll begin to identify the content that your audience is actually seeking. Use it as a research tool to understand your audience further: check out the sites of those that leave comments on your blog, review your analytics to identify changes in referral sources, and offer opportunities for readers to share their questions with you.

Email – Don’t forget about a core (if not as sexy) tool that works well and is still a top source of content sharing. Develop an email newsletter to communicate with prospects and others interested in your content. The content you create for your email newsletter can be a jumping off point to create interesting blog posts, which can then include surveys or interactive content to transform a single piece of content into a discussion between you and your audience. In concert with other tools, it facilitates a continual cycle of engagement with your audience.

Syndication – Services that offer the potential of extended reach and content syndication are excellent resources that are often being too easily dismissed in my opinion due to the alleged “death of the press release.” Aside from the use of press release distribution services for trying to reach journalists, syndication will improve your reach to end-users and potentially appear in a number of locations and offers a number of share options for well written content that is relevant to your target audience. With the syndication you also have the opportunity to get your site in front of potential customers with anchor text links back to your own pages.

Consumers, across industries, expect greater personalization than ever before. Any singular content distribution channel will ultimately miss an important part of your target market. Take advantage of the communication tools available to create an experience that each user feels was made for them by taking the time to understand them and offer a variety of channels that fit their needs.


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Can Geotagging Blog Posts Increase Local Search Marketing Performance? http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/10/geotagging-blog-posts/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/10/geotagging-blog-posts/#comments Fri, 01 Oct 2010 11:45:18 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=11603 This post is one of a series of liveblogs from the 2010 MIMA Summit. When you think of geotagging, or checking in, what do you think of? Probably GPS, FourSquare, Facebook Places or letting a photo site like Flickr know where a photo was taken. But it can also be done for blog posts. Geotagging [...]

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This post is one of a series of liveblogs from the 2010 MIMA Summit.

WordPress GeoTagging When you think of geotagging, or checking in, what do you think of? Probably GPS, FourSquare, Facebook Places or letting a photo site like Flickr know where a photo was taken. But it can also be done for blog posts.

Geotagging in blog posts is still relatively new, but it well on its way.

WordPress.com already supports geotagging on profiles and posts so that you can let others know where you are posting from. They will also soon launch a Geo Search feature that will allow people to find posts based on their location.

If you have a WordPress hosted blog, this functionally isn’t built-in yet, but there are a few plugins that can enable it. GEOTag, OSM and Geolocation all claim to add geo information to blog posts and are worth checking out.

So how does this tie back into local search marketing? Easy. Local search is all about finding the right match for a user based on their location. So when I search for “Audi dealers in Minneapolis”, it filters out any results in Los Angeles, Seattle or New York.

Now imagine that same search in regular search. Search engines will still put local results at the top, but then list out what it believes are the best matches based on their algorithm. If you have geotagging setup, that can be another indicator to search engines that your post is targeting (or most relevant for) searchers the Minneapolis area, and it may then rank better for that specific search.

Search engines are all about giving the best search results to their searchers and location is increasingly important. Not all users know to search Google Maps for local results, so search engines have to interpret local intent and the location of the searcher into regular search results as well. If you are geotagging your blog posts, this can be one more indicator to search engines that your content is a good match for a geographically specific search query.

As geotagging continues to evolve, chances are that search engines will roll that into their algorithm as well as the other geolocation signals currently considered. It’s also very possible that location specific search engines will start popping up and show results based purely on geotagging. Getting geotagging setup now might help get your blog content ahead of the game.

This post idea was sparked by the I <3 WordPress discussion with Peter Fleck and Toby Cryns at the 2010 Mima Summit.


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Recipe for Blogging Success at BlogWorld New Media Expo http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/09/recipe-for-blogging-success/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/09/recipe-for-blogging-success/#comments Tue, 28 Sep 2010 05:56:30 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=11591 Marketers like formulas and what better metaphor for successful online marketing with blogs than a recipe? At the upcoming BlogWorldExpo conference in Las Vegas, I’ll be giving my recipe for success using Social Media and SEO in two ways: First, I’ll be doing a solo presentation on Social Media SEO, giving bloggers a tested methodology [...]

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social media SEO recipe for successMarketers like formulas and what better metaphor for successful online marketing with blogs than a recipe?

At the upcoming BlogWorldExpo conference in Las Vegas, I’ll be giving my recipe for success using Social Media and SEO in two ways:

First, I’ll be doing a solo presentation on Social Media SEO, giving bloggers a tested methodology for making the most of their content and social networks.

This presentation will focus on the value of combining SEO best practices with social media marketing to amplify the reach and traffic for blogs. I’ll outline and share examples of how to  build a Cycle of Social Media Interaction.  Specifics will include:

  • How bloggers can leverage keyword research to develop a blog editorial calendar
  • Best practices on creating and promote optimized content
  • How to increase exposure through social channels of distribution
  • Tips on organic growth of  fans/friends/subscribers and inbound links
  • How to increase search and social media traffic
  • How to mine community conversation data to further refine content strategy that continues the cycle

To see the detailed presentation, you’ll need to get out to Las Vegas  October 14-16 for BlogWorld New Media Expo 2010. In the meantime, here is a short version of the presentation I’ll be giving using the aforementioned recipe metaphor.

Second, I’m literally going to talk about SEO for recipes to food bloggers, “The Art & Science of Recipe Writing” on a panel with Jennifer Perillo, John Shiple and Sean Percival as part of the TECHmunch track. I believe it will be livestreamed so be sure to check in with @toprank for the link.

BlogWorld New Media Expo is a unique event bringing together online marketing professionals from a variety of disciplines ranging from public relations to SEO to affiliate marketing to food and military bloggers.  Be sure to subscribe for liveblogging coverage and video interviews during the event.

Now back to our metaphor: What’s your recipe to blogging success?


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Social Media SEO Success with Blogging http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/08/content-marketing-social-seo/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/08/content-marketing-social-seo/#comments Tue, 31 Aug 2010 11:06:00 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=11478 My presentation on how to leverage Social Media SEO to improve the reach and effectiveness of blog content for marketing at OpenCa.mp DFW this weekend ended up being a lot of information in a very short period of time. The use of a video interview I did with Brian Clark as the segue into my [...]

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Army Golden Knights

Army Golden Knights: SFC Dave Herwig (@gkdave), SGM Steve Young (@gksteve), LTC Joe Martin (gkjoe)

My presentation on how to leverage Social Media SEO to improve the reach and effectiveness of blog content for marketing at OpenCa.mp DFW this weekend ended up being a lot of information in a very short period of time. The use of a video interview I did with Brian Clark as the segue into my presentation ate into some of the 30 minutes I had to present plus I simply had too many slides.

(Thanks to Lt Colonel Joe Martin for the photo taken right after the presentation. His team were literally sponges for information at the event.)

The good news is that there’s Slideshare, so I’ve embeded a copy of that presentation below. Chris Pirillo and Brian Clark gave witty, informative and entertaining presentations on blogging and copywriting for blogs before me, so the stage was set to talk about marketing that blog content.

Marketers familiar with “Push and Pull” can relate to Social Media being the push, where (along with listening & engagement) you syndicate, update and share your content via social channels. The pull is SEO, where you optimize that content with customer centric keywords they can use on search engines to easily find your content ahead of the competition.

Social Media SEOMy presentation shared a model that I call the Cycle of Social & SEO that starts with creating, optimizing and promoting content along with listening to and growing social networks. As the relevant content gets shared socially and others link to it, the exposure and traffic builds momentum to a point where search traffic and the social community you’ve fostered provides priceless data via social media and web analytics on what content to create and share on a go forward.

Guessing what keywords and what social channels your customers are connected to is the reason why so many companies don’t see an impact from their efforts. Being smart from the start and planning on developing a cycle that continues to provide value and refine effectiveness at meeting customer search and social media needs is a win for all.

Companies in the marketing space like Marketo, PRWeb and our own agency at TopRank Marketing have made strong commitments to content as well as SEO and Social Media with the payoffs coming in the form of competitive search visibility and growing social communities.

We’ve recently been engaged by another well known company in the online marketing space that sees the value in both our strategic marketing & implementation expertise, but more importantly, is making a commitment to content and it’s role in customer acquisition and customer retention through Social Media & Search Optimization.

Check out the presentation below and let me know what you think.

Better Blog Marketing with Social SEOView more presentations from TopRank Online Marketing.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2010. | Social Media SEO Success with Blogging | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Smarter Ways to Get Content Ideas for B2B Blogs http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/07/ideas-b2b-blogging/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/07/ideas-b2b-blogging/#comments Tue, 06 Jul 2010 15:34:39 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=10732 One of the most common challenges of business blogging is sourcing content. The range of things that can interrupt content creation are important obstacles to overcome because without content there is little reason for readers to return.  Blogs are fairly easy to start and if you’ve been a reader of this blog, chances are pretty [...]

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One of the most common challenges of business blogging is sourcing content. The range of things that can interrupt content creation are important obstacles to overcome because without content there is little reason for readers to return.  Blogs are fairly easy to start and if you’ve been a reader of this blog, chances are pretty good that you have started your own blog (personal or for biz) at some point in time.

Many of the companies TopRank Marketing consults with have either started business blogs and need help or want to start a new blog to advance a variety of business goals. In fact, in our blogging survey earlier this year, 95% of respondents indicated they incorporate blogs as part of their search engine optimization efforts. Many others use blogs for public relations, customer service, product support and recruiting.

Whatever the reason for starting a blog, long time content creation with B2B blogs requires creativity, social participation and a smart feedback loop. Here are a few specific ways to generate content ideas for business to business blogs:

Editorial Calendar Smart B2B bloggers treat their blogging effort as an editorial endeavor. Publishers of newspapers, magazines and other news media operate, in part, based on a calendar of topics. For business bloggers, this means creating scheduled blog posts according to topics that support the intersection of customer interests and the value the company can provide to those customers.  If a company sells red widgets then the editorial calendar will schedule blog content around the needs of customers that buy red widgets.  For example:

  • Widget reviews
  • Tips on buying widgets
  • 100 uses of widgets
  • Widget industry news
  • Interviews with authorities on widgets
  • Liveblogging widget conferences, webinars, podcasts
  • Lists of widget facts, statistics and resources
  • Archived widget Twitter chats
  • Widget book reviews
  • Weekly widget Q/A
  • Widget surveys
  • Widget industry event calendar
  • And so on

The editorial calendar can schedule ongoing post formats as well, such as Widget Reviews on Tuesdays and Widget Tips on Thursdays so that content can be created in advance and scheduled to post. This allows a other days for spontaneous, reactive and on-demand content outlined in the next few tips.

Search Marketing Keywords – As a blog develops a body of work published to the web and the business incorporates a mix of marketing and PR tactics to drive traffic to the blog, the web analytics in place to measure visitor activity will reveal many useful content opportunities.  The low hanging fruit here is referring keywords. Whether the blog is optimized for a set number of keywords or not, any kind of crawlable content that has quality links to it will achieve some level of visibility within search engines. Watching the keywords that send traffic to a business blog can be insightful and help inform what customers are interested in. Keyword referring information can be analyzed across different time intervals, entry/exit pages, goal pages and conversions to determine weighting of importance and potential impact on blog goals.

Social Media Keywords – I’ve been promoting the idea of social media keyword research for over a year at conferences, in my presentations and in various blog posts. Monitoring real-time news for editorial opportunity is something public relations professionals have been doing for years. With search engines’ improved ability to crawl, index or syndicate and then publish real time streams of information from the social web, there exist numerous opportunities to monitor and tap into content ideas.

In the way that media placements and prominent advertising drive search traffic, so do social conversations. Monitoring trending keyword topics from social participation such as blogging, comments, Q/A sites, tags, Tweets, status updates and similar sources can reveal opportunities to create content on a BtoB blog. If customers are talking about a particular topic that intersects well with your company’s products/services on social media sites with increasing frequency, then it makes sense to leverage a blog to publish and syndicate via RSS what they’re looking for.

Offer contrarian views, concrete research or more compelling points of view and you can capture readers that are researching.  Social media monitoring tools are the most likely way to capture what social keywords are trending, but I have yet to find a service that does this well and none that interact with search keyword research tools. At least not yet.

Repurpose Content – The social web for the most part, has a short memory.  That does not mean you should re-publish content from 2 years ago in a “Blast from the Past” format. But it does mean that you can revisit topics that were previously well received to update them for today’s business environment or simply to update information. We’ve covered re-purposing content a number of times and here are a few specific tips:

  • Turn Powerpoint decks into articles/blog posts
  • Use email interview Q/A with journalists that didn’t get published
  • Break up a long article you’ve had published into a series
  • Rewrite press releases in a conversational or blog post format
  • Aggregate specific tips on a topic from numerous old posts

Exposing Your Thought Leaders – Doing interviews with industry thought leaders is a great way to create interesting content and tap into their audiences f0r exposure.  What’s also important is to connect with and interview internal thought leaders, whether they are business leaders that the PR department is pitching to the media or product managers and engineers. Interviews with these busy people can be done via phone and then transcribed into text. This makes it easy for the interviewee and also provides both audio and text versions of content. Questions can be keyword optimized and responses can inter-link using anchor text to support your SEO efforts.

Bonus! Content Curation – A fast emerging area of content marketing, especially in the B2B space is the notion of content curation. We interviewed 10 content marketing industry thought leaders on this topic recently that give insightful definitions as well as where curation and creation fit within an online marketing mix.  Syndicating content from other topical sources into a central location can help companies create a destination of value to readers where they can go to get industry news.  Some software systems can manage all of this or you can construct this type of site using RSS and RSS to HTML tools like CaRP.

What creative ways have you found to keep the content creation machine alive with your business blog? Have you found success in repurposing content or sourcing ideas from keyword referring data? Have you tried real-time content sourcing through social keyword monitoring?


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2010. | Smarter Ways to Get Content Ideas for B2B Blogs | http://www.toprankblog.com

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The Power of Blogs & Social Media in B2B Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/06/b2b-marketing-social-media-blogs/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/06/b2b-marketing-social-media-blogs/#comments Wed, 16 Jun 2010 11:30:05 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=10478 54 Million. That’s what Forrester Research predicts for US B2B Social Media Marketing spending by 2014. As a living example of a B2B company that fully leverages blogging and social media in our online marketing, TopRank Marketing has a lot of first-hand insight that we can share with clients. I know there are many B2B [...]

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B2B Social Media Marketing54 Million.

That’s what Forrester Research predicts for US B2B Social Media Marketing spending by 2014.

As a living example of a B2B company that fully leverages blogging and social media in our online marketing, TopRank Marketing has a lot of first-hand insight that we can share with clients. I know there are many B2B marketers that are uncertain about their place on the social web and over 6 1/2 years of B2B blogging experience can provide the companies we work with a unique perspective.

Working smarter with developing and implementing blogging strategy, content planning, promotion, SEO and the intersection with other online communications channels such as PR and social networking saves time, resources and improves results.

Am I biased towards blogging as part of a B2B marketing strategy? Absolutely. Is blogging appropriate for every B2B company? Not by a long shot.

According to the 2010 SEMPO Study, 35% of B2B companies integrate social media marketing with search marketing. At this stage of the Social SEO game, that percentage shows a lot of opportunity for growth.  However, companies we’ve worked with like Marketo have made substantial progress towards dominating their industry and experiencing explosive business growth, in part, due to the effects of blogging and SEO.

Deciding whether to start a B2B blog or have an existing blogging effort audited is worth thoughtful consideration. Did you start a blog because the competition is blogging? Are interns managing the blog content and promotion? Are your blog contributors experiencing burnout or boredom?  Are there a lack of comments and engagement?  There are many reasons B2B blogs fail, but that doesn’t mean a blog isn’t right for your company. Get insight from companies that are successful to see what you missed or if blogging really isn’t a good fit.

For the businesses that are getting mileage out of blogging and social media, the Business.com Benchmark Study shares the most popular metrics used to measure B2B Social Media Success:

  • Website Traffic – 68%
  • Brand Awareness – 61%
  • Engagement with Prospects – 60%
  • Engagement with Customers – 52%
  • Brand Reputation – 47%
  • Prospect Lead Quality – 40%
  • Revenue – 38%
  • Prospect Lead Volume – 37%
  • Useful Product Feedback – 26%

With the right plan and guidance, affecting these KPIs as well as lead generation is a reasonable expectation through B2B blogging and social media.

Three things B2B Marketers can do to get the ball rolling with social media:

1. Establish a Listening Program: Brand monitoring is the most common dimension social media monitoring efforts focus on, but extend your efforts to Audience Analysis and Social Keyword Research as well to get a handle on the community you’re trying to engage with. Trending keywords can facilitate real-time marketing or longer term editorial planning and SEO.

2.  Give to Get with Content: Commit to aligning content with searcher personas that also meets your marketing objectives. Information and education have their place with B2B marketing. Understand those needs of your target audience and develop content (optimized for keywords of course) that meets those needs but also facilitate your prospecting pipeline.

3. Leverage Social Media Marketing campaign tools across channels to promote optimized social content. Creating multiple media and content for a single promotion to a mix of social destinations is very time consuming and inefficient unless you use tools. Examples of social media marketing campaign management tools with corresponding analytics include: Awareness, SWIX, Sprout, Pop.to, WildFire, Objective Marketer, Spredfast and Socialtalk.

Many B2B marketers go through the motions with social media, but they’re not really being social.  Adam Singer and I were just talking yesterday about the world of difference between content produced by a copywriter that’s good at writing and someone that knows an industry, writes well and especially has experience as a participant with that industry’s social networking and blogging community.

B2B marketers don’t need to “do social”, they need to “be social” and that means time and resources for participation, analysis and action. Customers can tell the difference and everything from measures of engagement to leads generated will show the difference as well.

Event: B2B Search Summit June 23rd San Francisco
I will be speaking at this event on why Blogs and Social Media should be part of every B2B Marketers toolkit and why it might be the easiest way to generate customer ambassadors and gain more quality leads. Register using the code TOPRANK and you’ll get $300 off.


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Setting and Measuring Goals for Business Blogging http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/04/goals-business-blogging/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/04/goals-business-blogging/#comments Thu, 08 Apr 2010 21:07:48 +0000 http://toprankweb2.mn2.visi.com/?p=9551 As companies that realize the value of online marketing understand the need to publish engaging content, one of the most common considerations is a company blog.  Blog software is fundamentally one of the easiest content management software systems to install and use. Of course the software isn’t magic. The content and ability to reach and [...]

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As companies that realize the value of online marketing understand the need to publish engaging content, one of the most common considerations is a company blog.  Blog software is fundamentally one of the easiest content management software systems to install and use. Of course the software isn’t magic. The content and ability to reach and engage with customers is a big part of what makes a business blog successful.

For those companies that are thinking of starting a blog or reinvesting resources into a company blogging effort that has gone stale, some of the most important questions to ask are:  Have you identified specific goals for the blog? How will you measure success?

In sports you can’t score if there isn’t a goal and it’s no different with business blogging.  There are a variety of reasons why publishing ongoing communications that allow readers to interact adds value to a business. Add to that the distribution via RSS that extends the reach of your message and  it’s easy to see why so many companies start blogging. The failure for many business blogs is centered around not making a connection between business goals, blog specific objectives and most importantly, how meeting customer needs leads to the first two.

Here are three key questions to consider as you design your plan for business blogging success:

Why start a business blog? What end goals or outcomes can you reasonably expect?

There are many good reasons to start a blog. But are those reasons good enough to start and stay blogging for the long haul? Our survey on blogging and SEO showed 90% citing blogging as important, significantly important or a primary SEO tactic. 94% of bloggers reported seeing measurable SEO benefits from blogging within 12 months.

  • Initiate and foster customer engagement
  • Improve coverage by media and bloggers
  • Improve search engine visibility
  • Increase mentions on other blogs, social networking, news, bookmarking and media sites
  • Build thought leadership
  • Provide an informative communication channel
  • Recognize employees, clients, marketing partners and especially brand evangelists

How will you know your blogging efforts are successful according to those goals? How are you measuring blogging success?

We ran a poll last year with our readers that ranked their most important measures of blogging success. Here is the distribution:

  • Engagement: comments, links 36%
  • Improved brand recognition 31%
  • Build thought leadership 31%
  • Search engine rankings 31%
  • Better communicate with customers 30%
  • Traffic to the blog 27%
  • Coverage by media and other blogs 18%
  • Traffic to the corporate web site 16%
  • Sales leads 16%
  • Industry Recognition 13%
  • Sell products 2%
  • Improved customer satisfaction 11%
  • Page views 9%
  • Time on Site 6%
  • Ad revenue on the blog 5%

What tools are you using to measure blog performance?

Goals for business and the blog are great but it’s essential to have the right tools in place for analytics. One of the biggest mistakes is to rely on things like Google Alerts.

  • Web analytics (Google Analytics, Woopra, Clicky, etc)
  • Feedburner
  • Social media monitoring tools
  • Link analysis tools
  • Comment tracking tools
  • Clipping services
  • Forum conversation tracking tools

It’s fundamental, this notion of setting goals, understanding outcomes and the tools needed to measure. But you know the saying, “Common sense is the least common thing on Earth.”  Companies can achieve great return on investment with the right plan and leadership in a blogging effort. The key is to do the baseline work to build a foundation upon which it can grow and succeed.  Stay the course and leverage both listening and engagement tools to guide content. Develop networks and distribution channels to grow readership and reach. Take the time to really understand the impact of data provided by reporting tools and create reports for executives that highlight business goals.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with setting, measuring and reaching business goals through corporate blogging? Have you started a business blog only to shut it down? Have your company blogging efforts been successful beyond expectations?


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