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6 Top Marketing Challenges Solved by Influencer Content

Marketing Challenges Solved by Influencer Content

Whether you’re a new Marketing leader at a company in need of establishing wins quickly or part of a growing organization with ambitious revenue goals, the challenges within marketing today are greater than ever.

To help make sense out of these challenges, I’ve listed 6 of the top obstacles to brands achieving effectiveness out of their marketing and how collaborating with influencers on content help solve each problem.

1. Challenge: Ad Blocking

600 million devices are using ad blocking leading to a loss of $ 22 billion in ad revenue for publishers (PageFair). If buyers don’t ever see your ads, what chance do you have?

Challenge solved: Contrary to ads, influencers are liked and because people pay attention to the influencers they follow, shared brand messages are far more likely to attract and engage buyers.

When you subscribe to the idea that everyone is influential about something, especially with their friends, co-workers and social connections, this statistic from Nielsen (83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over advertising) becomes very powerful.

Collaborating with influencers on content that the influencers then promote to their subscribing community can become a powerful differentiator for any marketing program.

Of course not all customers use ad blocking and there are incredible opportunities to be realized with sophisticated ad targeting. That’s why when properly executed, influencer content can be leveraged for both organic and paid promotions.

2. Challenge: Information Overload

Consider this: 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years. That’s 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day (IBM). In fact, 74gb of media are sent to the average consumer on an average day (USC/ICTM).

The sheer number of choices faced by consumers and general distrust has turned brand marketing into noise for many customers.

Challenge solved: Influencers are Focused. One of the most compelling reasons a person is influential is because of the specificity in the topics they cover. Because of that specialization, buyers anticipate rather than ignore or feel overwhelmed by what their trusted influencers share.

While some influencers distribute their content on multiple channels, their personal brand focus plus consistency and trust equals a signal that buyers pay attention to.

3. Challenge: Google “Hates” SEO

Search Engine Optimization bloggers have been positing this question for 10+ years. With Google algorithm and platform updates including Florida, Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon, RankBrain, Mobile, Possum, Fred and the thousands of launches, live traffic experiments, side-by-side experiments and over 130,000 search quality tests, it makes you wonder: is this all for improving the customer experience or is some of it to thwart SEO?

Challenge solved: Google actually likes influencer content. Another key ingredient to why someone is influential is their credibility and authority. An influencer’s specific expertise and their ability to provide insights, answers and even research based perspectives all deliver on the Google’s expectation that content be useful.

Beyond influencer content being useful, there’s the practice of making content worth linking to. Influencers typically have a subscribed audience, many of which publish themselves. When influencers publish and promote content, it naturally attracts links.

By optimizing content for search and activating influencers, brands can create opportunities to help customers find trusted content and everybody wins.

4. Challenge: Buyers Don’t Trust Brands

Or ads. This is a hard pill to swallow: 42% of consumers distrust brands and 69% distrust advertising according to a study by (Ipsos Connect).

Challenge solved: Influencers are trusted.  A recent study by Fullscreen and Shareblee via MarketingCharts found that nearly 40% of 18-34-year-olds are more likely to trust what an influencer says about a brand than what the brand says about itself. Additionally, Twitter reports that users trust influencers nearly as much as their friends.

Collaborating with influencers on content can bring authenticity, credibility and trust to that content. When influencers share that content, the effect of their audiences’s trust goes even further.

5. Challenge: Content Doesn’t Scale

According to the annual study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, some of the top content challenges marketers included: 60% producing engaging content, 57% producing content consistently.

Challenge solved: Creator Influencers are experts at creating content. Influencer content creation and storytelling skills come in many forms: blogging, podcasting, video, images, and sometimes interactive.

Brands can extend the media creation skills of their marketing departments by partnering with creators with specialized skills. In addition to skill, creator influencers have an audience to promote the content to.

6. Challenge: Organic Social is Dead

Not only is Facebook organic reach down 52% (MarketingLand) but declarations that organic reach on Facebook is outright dead for brands are being stated by many credible industry publications, including Digiday.

Challenge (partly) solved: Influencers have optimized social popularity. Influencers create the kinds of signals that social network algorithms reward with higher visibility. Influencers understand what resonates with their audience in terms of topic, content type and promotion. Those same influencers also have an active audience that engages with their shared content. This is a powerful combination for triggering social network algorithms to prioritize influencer content in the feed.

Influencer Marketing is no silver bullet. Neither is content marketing or any kind of marketing approach.

But when influencers are intelligently researched, qualified and engaged during the planning phases of a content marketing program, the benefits of the collaboration can include improved content in a variety of ways:

  • Authenticity – Choose influencers that represent your customers and the resulting message will be a lot more genuine to what buyers actually care about.
  • Variety – Including experts beyond your marketing department can generate a greater span of content ideas.
  • Quality – Tapping expertise can boost the quality beyond what marketing department copywriters might be able to produce.
  • Quantity – Engaging a group of influencers on an ongoing basis can boost the volume of content. Factor in repurposing and you’ll create even more content options without increasing spend.
  • Reach – Trusted, credible experts promoting content can reach audiences that are very difficult to connect with through any other way.
  • Trust – The credibility, expertise and authority of influencers that collaborate with a brand over time can grow trust for the brand.

On top of that, there are efficiency benefits. We have implemented influencer content campaigns where influencers have contributed anywhere from 20% to 80% of the content for the entire campaign.

Then there are the effectiveness benefits. For an organic influencer content campaign, achieving a 50% share rate amongst influencers is impressive. We’ve had many programs with over 100% share rate. Why? By communicating effectively, setting expectations and making content that contributors are proud to be a part of.

The reality is that influencer content programs can deliver value across the entire customer lifecycle, not just awareness. That means improved engagement and conversions.

There are many more challenges for marketing than the six above. I didn’t get into martech shock (too much tech), difficulty in finding qualified marketing candidates, measurement challenges or the implications of the lockdown on data represented by GDPR in the EU and recent attention being given Facebook by lawmakers. But addressing the six above should give the vast majority of marketers reading this an advantage.

Establishing relationships with qualified, capable influencers can bring a tremendous amount of value to a company’s content marketing effectiveness. When influencer marketing is thoughtful, ongoing and properly managed, it becomes a force multiplier that is difficult to duplicate.

Are you planning a content marketing program right now? Who are your best influencers? Who are your best employee advocates? Which industry media do you have the attention of? Which of your customers are most likely to advocate for your brand? Do you know if they are influential? Do you know which of your prospective customers are influential?

Answering these questions can open the door to content marketing success for your brand and mutually valuable relationships with the people that actually influence your customers.

 


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Fix This Writing Mistake to Engage Readers with the Right Challenges

In college, there are three kinds of classes. First, there’s the blow-off classes, where 80 percent of your grade comes from fill-in-the-blank worksheets. To pass, all you really have to do is show up. Then, there are the classes taught by “real hardasses.” These classes kept you up well past midnight, flipping frenetically through flashcards,
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Digital Marketing News: Alignment Challenges, Instagram’s ‘Collection’ & Amp for Email

The Top Three Reasons Sales and Marketing Alignment Is Off [Infographic]
Communication, broken processes and disconnected metrics are the top three reasons that sales and marketing alignment is off. Is it an issue of focus, priorities, or something else? MarketingProfs

Instagram Gives Brands New Way to Sell In ‘Collection’ Ads
Instagram launched “collection” ads, which allow users to shop and purchase directly through the Instagram platform. AdAge

Google Announces Amp For Email – Delivering Accelerated Mobile Pages Experiences To Your Inbox
The new spec is available today through the Gmail Developer Preview, with support in Gmail slated for later this year. MarketingLand

Instagram Tests Its Version Of The Retweet But Thru Stories
Instagram has begun testing a new feature that would allow users to share public posts from other profiles to their own followers through the Stories feature. MarketingLand

Nielsen Creates New Metric to Measure the Effectiveness of Product Integrations
Nielsen is launching a new metric that may help marketers and publishers standardize brand mentions across platforms, like TV, short-form video and subscription-video-on-demand services. AdWeek

Google Launches New Look For ‘People Also Search For’ Search Refinements
Go to a search result, click on a listing, and then click back to the search results page on Google to trigger this on Google desktop search. Search Engine Land

Breaking Up With Facebook: Users Confess They’re Spending Less Time
Mark Zuckerberg says recent changes have reduced the amount of time users spend on Facebook by 50 million hours each day, but those changes aren’t the only reasons, according to users. USA Today

How Facebook Is Changing the Way It Reports Organic Reach for Page Posts
A redesign of Page Insights began rolling out this week for iOS and Android, along with a more accurate way for page admins to determine the effectiveness of their organic posts. AdWeek

New Research: Account-Based Marketing Trends: Top Channels, Priorities, and Challenges
New research indicates that the top challenges and priorities for account based marketing are the same – aligning sales and marketing, attributing marketing efforts to revenue and scoring and targeting ideal accounts. MarketingProfs

Snapchat Is Opening Up Its Marketing Platform to All Ad-Tech Players and Agencies
Snapchat is opening up their API to allow companies more access to their ad buying platform, and potentially more data. AdWeek

Google Sets Deadline for HTTPS and Warns Publishers to Upgrade Soon
If you haven’t made the switch on your site from http to https, it’s time to get started. Google has set a deadline of July 2018, after which Chrome will begin warning users explicitly if a site is insecure. Search Engine Journal

Statistics on Personalized Content

On the Lighter Side:
Google Launches 2018 Winter Olympics Features Across Search ResultsSearch Engine Journal
McDonald’s Absurdly Lavish ‘Bling Mac’ Ring Could Be Yours, If You Love It EnoughAdWeek
Over 150 New Emojis to Be Released on iPhone and Android This YearIndependent

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:
Rachel Miller & Lee Odden – Top 100 Social Media and Marketing Influencers – Digital Scouting
Lee Odden -  37 Digital Marketing Conference Speakers Who Will Inspire Your Marketing Programs – Outbrain
Lee Odden – Who Were The Top CMO Influencers Of 2017?  – Forbes
Lee Odden – 16 Digital Rockstars you Need to Follow – neilmchugh

We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news! In the meantime, quench your digital marketing thirst by checking out TopRank Marketing on YouTube and Twitter!

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How to Face 3 Fundamental Challenges Standing Between SEOs and Clients/Bosses

Posted by sergeystefoglo

Every other year, the good people at Moz conduct a survey with one goal in mind: understand what we (SEOs) want to read more of. If you haven’t seen the results from 2017, you can view them here.

The results contain many great questions, challenges, and roadblocks that SEOs face today. As I was reading the 2017 Moz Blog readership survey, a common thread stood out to me: there are disconnects on fundamental topics between SEOs and clients and/or bosses. Since I work at an agency, I’ll use “client” through the rest of this article; if you work in-house, replace that with “boss.”

Check out this list:

I can definitely relate to these challenges. I’ve been at Distilled for a few years now, and worked in other firms before — these challenges are real, and they’re tough. Through sharing my experience dealing with these challenges, I hope to help other consultants and SEOs to overcome them.

In particular, I want to discuss three points of disconnect that happen between SEOs and clients.

  1. My client doesn’t understand the value of SEO and it’s difficult to prove ROI.
  2. My client doesn’t understand how SEO works and I always have to justify my actions.
  3. My client and I disagree about whether link building is the right answer.

Keep in mind, these are purely my own experiences. This doesn’t mean these answers are the end-all-be-all. In fact, I would enjoy starting a conversation around these challenges with any of you so please grab me at SearchLove (plug: our San Diego conference is selling out quickly and is my favorite) or MozCon to bounce off more ideas!

1. My client doesn’t understand the value of SEO and it’s difficult to prove ROI

The value of SEO is its influence on organic search, which is extremely valuable. In fact, SEO is more prominent in 2018 than it has ever been. To illustrate this, I borrowed some figures from Rand’s write up on the state of organic search at the end of 2017.

  • Year over year, the period of January–October 2017 has 13% more search volume than the same months in 2016.
  • That 13% represents 54 billion more queries, which is just about the total number of searches Google did, worldwide, in 2003.

Organic search brings in the most qualified visitors (at a more consistent rate) than any other digital marketing channel. In other words, more people are searching for things than ever before, which results in more potential to grow organic traffic. How do we grow organic traffic? By making sure our sites are discoverable by Google and clearly answer user queries with good content.

Source: Search Engine Land

When I first started out in SEO, I used to think I was making all my clients all the moneys. “Yes, Bill, if you hire me and we do this SEO thing I will increase rankings and sessions, and you will make an extra x dollars!” I used to send estimates on ROI with every single project I pitched (even if it wasn’t asked of me).

After a few years in the industry I began questioning the value of providing estimates on ROI. Specifically, I was having trouble determining ift I was doing the right thing by providing a number that was at best an educated guess. It would stress me out and I would feel like I was tied to that number. It also turns out, not worrying about things that are out of our control helps control stress levels.

I’m at a point now where I’ve realized the purpose of providing an estimated ROI. Our job as consultants is to effect change. We need to get people to take action. If what it takes to get sign-off is to predict an uplift, that’s totally fine. In fact, it’s expected. Here’s how that conversation might look.

In terms of a formula for forecasting uplifts in SEO, Mike King said it best:

“Forecast modeling is questionable at best. It doesn’t get much better than this:”

  • Traffic = Search Volume x CTR
  • Number of Conversions = Conversion Rate x Traffic
  • Dollar Value = Traffic x # Conversions x Avg Conversion Value

TL;DR:

  • Don’t overthink this too much — if you do, you’ll get stuck in the weeds.
  • When requested, provide the prediction to get sign-off and quickly move on to action.
  • For more in-depth thoughts on this, read Will Critchlow’s recent post on forecast modeling.
  • Remember to think about seasonality, overall trends, and the fact that few brands exist in a vacuum. What are your competitors doing and how will that affect you?

2. My client doesn’t understand how SEO works and I always have to justify my actions

Does your client actually not understand how SEO works? Or, could it be that you don’t understand what they need from you? Perhaps you haven’t considered what they are struggling with at the moment?

I’ve been there — constantly needing to justify why you’re working on a project or why SEO should be a focus. It isn’t easy to be in this position. But, more often than not I’ve realized what helps the most is to take a step back and ask some fundamental questions.

A great place to start would be asking:

  • What are the things my client is concerned about?
  • What is my client being graded on by their boss?
  • Is my client under pressure for some reason?

The answers to these questions should shine some clarity on the situation (the why or the motivation behind the constant questioning). Some of the reasons why could be:

  • You might know more about SEO than your client, but they know more about their company. This means they may see the bigger picture between investments, returns, activities, and the interplay between them all.
  • SEO might be 20% of what your client needs to think about — imagine a VP of marketing who needs to account for 5–10 different channels.
  • If you didn’t get sign off/budget for a project, it doesn’t mean your request was without merit. This just means someone else made a better pitch more aligned to their larger goals.

When you have some answers, ask yourself, “How can I make what I’m doing align to what they’re focused on?” This will ensure you are hitting the nail on the head and providing useful insight instead of more confusion.

That conversation might look like this:

TL;DR

  • This is a good problem to have — it means you have a chance to effect change.
  • Also, it means that your client is interested in your work!
  • It’s important to clarify the why before getting to in the weeds. Rarely will the why be “to learn SEO.”

3. My client and I disagree about whether link building is the right answer

The topic of whether links (and by extension, link building) are important is perhaps the most talked about topic in SEO. To put it simply, there are many different opinions and not one “go-to” answer. In 2017 alone there have been many conflicting posts/talks on the state of links.

The quick answer to the challenge we face as SEOs when it comes to links is, unless authority is holding you back do something else.

That answer is a bit brief and if your client is constantly bringing up links, it doesn’t help. In this case, I think there are a few points to consider.

  1. If you’re a small business, getting links is a legitimate challenge and can significantly impact your rankings. The problem is that it’s difficult to get links for a small business. Luckily, we have some experts in our field giving out ideas for this. Check out this, this, and this.
  2. If you’re an established brand (with authority), links should not be a priority. Often, links will get prioritized because they are easier to attain, measurable (kind of), and comfortable. Don’t fall into this trap! Go with the recommendation above: do other impactful work that you have control over first.
    1. Reasoning: Links tie success to a metric we have no control over — this gives us an excuse to not be accountable for success, which is bad.
    2. Reasoning: Links reduce an extremely complicated situation into a single variable — this gives us an excuse not to try and understand everything (which is also bad).
  3. It’s good to think about the topic of links and how it’s related to brand. Big brands get talked about (and linked to) more than small brands. Perhaps the focus should be “build your brand” instead of “gain some links”.
  4. If your client persists on the topic of links, it might be easier to paint a realistic picture for them. This conversation might look like this:

TL;DR

  • There are many opinions on the state of links in 2018: don’t get distracted by all the noise.
  • If you’re a small business, there are some great tactics for building links that don’t take a ton of time and are probably worth it.
  • If you’re an established brand with more authority, do other impactful work that’s in your control first.
  • If you are constantly getting asked about links from your client, paint a realistic picture.

Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, I’m really interested in hearing how you deal with these issues within your company. Are there specific challenges you face within the topics of ROI, educating on SEO, getting sign-off, or link building? How can we start tackling these problems more as an industry?

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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3 Simple Ways to Overcome Surprising Challenges of Working from Home

“Wow, you have the best job ever, getting to work from home.” “You’re so lucky. I wish I had that option.” Those are some of the comments I hear when I mention to others I work from home. Typically, I just nod and say, “Yes, it’s awesome.” I love working from home because I get
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SearchCap: Google AdWords Quality Score metrics, redirects & SEO challenges

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google AdWords Quality Score metrics, redirects & SEO challenges appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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A Different Kind of SEO: 5 Big Challenges One Niche Faces in Google

Posted by Alex-T

When it comes to brick-and-mortar storefronts, local businesses often struggle to compete with neighboring big brands. Statistics show that, even for a well-known local store that’s established a strong relationship with its customers and built a community through the years, having such a neighbor can be detrimental. But what about a newly opened business? Does it have any chance of competing with popular brands? My experience has led me to believe there’s only one way a locally owned business can overcome big competition: it needs to take advantage of local SEO.

Recently, in collaboration with Accuranker, I conducted a survey that touches upon the difficulties local businesses face when trying to become visible in Google’s local results. We analyzed more than 300,000 local SERPs across multiple industries (beauty, medical services, auto services, legal, shopping, etc.) to get a clear understanding of what the chances are for a local site to seem attractive to Google.

One of the more curious insights our research revealed is that the legal services niche is among the most competitive. Sure, this finding isn’t rocket science. In fact, I bet on some level you were aware of this (or at least you had a gut feeling). However, this issue is much more complex than it seems. The legal services niche far surpasses other niches in terms of competition and prices.

Does this mean that the legal services niche falls under radically different rules and requires unique SEO tactics? This is exactly the question I set out to answer, and you’re most welcome to follow me on my little investigation!

Gathering the data for this article

After reading this article, you’ll understand the biggest challenges that any legal website faces when trying to become visible in the SERPs. The data here will help ensure that your future strategies are based on informed decisions. Moreover, you’ll be able to streamline your creative process and find non-standard approaches that will cement your success in the legal industry.

To conduct proper research on what SEO strategies local businesses employ in the legal services niche, I took the following steps:

  1. I made a list of keywords unrelated to any brand (which could hardly be classified as local).
  2. I identified the most competitive places in the US for this industry in order to analyze how legal sites build a presence in this extremely aggressive environment

The first step was simply to do keyword research, which involved a bit more manual work than usual — I tried my best to filter out branded keywords and ones that weren’t relevant to local searches.

With the help of Statista I was able to get a list of the states in America that have the highest employment rates in the legal niche:

states with the highest employment in law.png

This graph shows US states with the highest number of employees in legal occupations in the United States as of May 2014. Source: statista.com

You can see that California, New York, and Florida have the highest number of employees in this industry, hence these locations are the most “densely populated” by law firms and lawyers, and, as a result, the competition in these states should be higher than in other states. After I made a list of the most competitive locations, I was ready to move on to the next step — analyzing the domains that appear in SERPs for the keywords I had previously selected.

Now let’s see what my findings revealed.

The top 5 SEO challenges for the legal niche

The extreme competitiveness of the legal services niche might be explained by the fact that this market generates more than $ 248 billion USD in revenue (according to a recent report provided by Statista) with only a relatively small number of searches.

To give you a better understanding of the size of the legal services industry in the US, let’s compare it with a bigger market: for instance, if we look at ecommerce, we can clearly see that the revenues generated by the two niches in question are nearly the same (ecommerce sales surpass $ 256 billion USD), despite the fact that ecommerce traffic share figures are four times greater than in legal services. It’s safe to say that the legal niche has turned out to be a ridiculously competitive market, because it’s an outrageously profitable one. I’m also certain that the success of any SEO activity depends on a deep understanding of how the industry and its major players work.

In the next section, you’ll learn about the main challenges that legal businesses face.

#1. Online legal business are dominating local SERPs

Statistics from an IbisWorld report confirm that the online legal services niche was able to generate $ 4 billion USD in 2015. Moreover, in recent years this niche has been steadily expanding due to the fact that consumers are interested in getting legal services online. That’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise that a company named Rocket Lawyer generates more than 30,000 searches monthly (according to Google Keyword Planner) by helping users deal with their legal issues online. This number of searches proves that online legal services are gradually becoming popular, and people don’t want to spend their time scheduling an appointment with a lawyer anymore.

Now you’re probably wondering how this trend is affecting local SEO, right?

Knowing that New York, Miami, and Los Angeles are among the most competitive locations for the legal niche, I decided to find out which sites are the most visible in local search results there. I took into account more than 500 different keywords related to legal services and compiled a list of the domains that most appeared most frequently for those keywords. And here are the top three domains that remain visible in local search results in all three cities:

  • Findlaw.com
  • Avvo.com
  • Lawyers.com

After making this list, I double-checked these websites to make sure that all of them belong to the online legal services niche. I also decided to dig deeper and manually checked the top twenty domains that were most visible across all the locations I analyzed, in order to understand what kind of legal services they provide. I found out that 55.6 percent of the sites I analyzed belong to the online legal services niche. That means that local businesses now have to compete not only with global businesses, but also with online legal businesses that, by default, have better positions in SERPs, as the main goal of their business is to increase their online presence by getting more organic traffic from Google.

#2. Google doesn’t give priority to local legal businesses in organic search results

Apart from the strong presence of online businesses in local organic SERPs, I was struck with the steady visibility of the top twenty websites that appear in local search results in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. The shocking truth I discovered about Google local SERPs is that less than 20 percent of sites were unique across all the studied locations. This means that search results are occupied by global and online businesses in 80 percent of cases. Furthermore, the top three most visible domains remain the same in all three cities, and they are as follows:

  • Findlaw.com,
  • Avvo.com, and
  • Lawyers.com.

I also discovered that all three of these websites belong to the online legal services niche, and, despite SEO visibility, have a good number of backlinks. I am of the opinion that local businesses have no chance of competing with them whatsoever.

As I studied the 20 percent of websites that are unique, two curious cases of locally based businesses caught my eye — Injurylawyers.com and Cellinoandbarnes.com. Let’s take a closer look at these two websites.

From Injurylawyers.com’s “Contact” page, I learned that it operates mostly in Florida. However, I don’t think that the reason it ranks so highly in local search results in Miami is because of its physical presence there. Even at a quick glance, it becomes clear that Injurylawayers.com is ranking so high in local results because of its website’s overall performance. As you can see from the screenshot below, its website has a good number of referring domains, as well as a decent amount of organic traffic:

Source: ahrefs.com

Another site that caught my attention — Cellinoandbarnes.com — has a branch based in New York. The history of this legal company begins over 50 years ago, and without any doubt Cellino and Barnes is a well-known and trusted bran. Plus, Google recognizes it as a brand. The very fact that its brand name is being searched for more than 6,000 times a month speaks volumes about the trustworthiness of this legal company:

All these facts show that Cellinoandbarnes.com’s visibility in New York SERPs is because of the domain’s general performance in Google US organic search results:

Source: spyfu.com

My quick research proves that, in practice, Google doesn’t give priority to NY-based legal companies and still mostly relies on general ranking factors. And it seems obvious now that any online business can easily outperform an offline SMB legal company by increasing the number of backlinks, brand mentions, and site visits it receives.

#3. The local pack is still a saving grace for local businesses

One year ago, Google implemented a major change that dramatically minimized local businesses’ chances of becoming visible in local packs: Google replaced the 7-pack in SERPs with a 3-pack. And I was quite interested to figure out what kinds of businesses now hold these three positions in the legal niche, and whether these results are local.

Despite the fact that local organic SERPs are fully occupied by big online businesses, the local pack still is the best way to remain present in Google for locally based legal companies. My research revealed that 67 percent of sites that appear in local packs for legal services are hyper-local and local. To arrive at this percentage, I analyzed the domains that appear in local packs in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles in terms of their SEO performance in Google US (to do this, I used Serpstat’s Batch analysis tool).

I was also curious what share of online presence the local legal businesses that appeared in the local pack had, along with the breakdown by states. To mark sites as local, I checked their their traffic with the help of the Serpstat’s Batch Analysis Tool. (I’d like to note that I find Serpstat’s figures most relevant for such purposes, as they parse raw data from Google US. You can easily spot which sites are global and which are local.) And here’s what I found:

  1. Miami – 60% of legal websites appear in the local pack
  2. Los Angeles – 35% of legal websites appear in the local pack
  3. New York – 15% of legal websites appear in the local pack

This was quite an insight, since I assumed that California would be the most competitive location for the legal niche, because — as you may recall from the beginning of this post — it’s the state most densely populated by law firms. Also, it’s surprising to find New York only at third place in this list. Yet, as you can see, Miami has the greatest number of local sites that are present in local pack. Therefore, I believe that being featured in local search results in New York requires a lot more resources than it does to achieve the same visibility in Miami. And this is something that every SEO expert should be aware of.

#4. You can’t stand out without a site — even in local pack results

It’s a well-known fact that Google’s local pack provides businesses with the opportunity to appear at the top of Google SERPs even without a website. According to my previous research, which I conducted in collaboration with the AccuRanker team, the local pack works much better for less competitive niches. What I tried to clarify here is whether you can stand out in a local pack without a website in such an unconventional and competitive niche as legal services. Unfortunately, no, you cannot.

To prove this, I analyzed 986 local SERPs in order to figure out if legal brands can appear with or without a website. My findings showed that 86 percent of legal businesses that pop up in local packs have a website. This means that even if your business is visible in local packs without a website, in a majority of cases, it’ll be considered by potential clients as less trustworthy, since users usually expect to see a link to a particular domain.

Without a link to a professional-looking website, your business will seem less credible — not only to potential clients, but also to Google. Nevertheless, it’s not unusual for large, global companies to be trusted more than small, local ones. Therefore, small companies need to instill confidence in their potential clients by having a website.

#5. There’s no correlation between a legal website’s ranking number one in a local pack and its number of reviews

I’m certain that every business owner understands the importance of customer reviews. It’s a no-brainer that a level of trust is instantly established when a potential client sees that a local business has reviews. And it definitely increases the likelihood of said client to convert. Also, the very presence of Google native reviews is thought to be among the Top 50 local search ranking factors.

However, this study of legal services has already revealed that there are quite a few peculiar ranking factors that business owners need to keep in mind in order to succeed in this niche. That’s why I was curious to know whether there’s any correlation between a site’s number of customer reviews and its ranking #1 in a local pack.

With the help of the AccuRanker team I was able to get the sum of reviews that show beside each result in local pack. Afterwards, I analyzed more than 2,000 local SERPs in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. And here’s what I found:

There’s no correlation between ranking in the first position in a local pack and your number of reviews.

For instance, in New York local pack results, the companies that appear in the third position have 824 total reviews. Those that appear in the first – 732. Moreover, I noticed a good number of cases in which a company that had a solid number of reviews was ranked in the third position, while a business that hadn’t even been reviewed yet was ranked in the first.

Another striking insight I gained: most legal sites never show their potential visitors more than 2 reviews. Based on this data, I can say that this represents an overall industry trend of a lack of native Google reviews. That’s why Google ranks businesses that haven’t been reviewed so highly. Even if you have a significant number of customer reviews, it won’t help your business rank higher in local pack results.

One final note

Without any doubt, the legal niche presents a lot of unique local SEO challenges that other industries hardly ever face. The high penetration of online legal services into the existing legal market is changing the current business landscape — in particular, it’s drastically affecting local results. Online legal businesses are stealing an outrageous amount of web traffic from local companies, without giving them even a slim chance of ranking as well in local SERPs.

Fortunately, local legal businesses still have priority in local packs, but the highly competitive environment is forcing them to improve their online presence by creating a website. Since a majority of the companies that appear in local packs have sites, your potential clients’ expectations are ratcheting up. In fact, this trend may reinforce searchers’ opinions that businesses without a website are untrustworthy. Furthermore, it seems that Google also prefers to show users local legal businesses that have a site, rather than those that don’t. The only good news is that your number of reviews doesn’t really influence your rankings in local packs.

Still, if a local legal business is interested in attracting clients via the Internet, it shouldn’t hesitate to look for alternative ways of generating traffic in both organic and paid search channels.

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SearchCap: Google My Business API, challenges faced by agencies & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google My Business API, challenges faced by agencies & more appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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The Powerful Resource You’ve Always Wanted When Presented with Creative Challenges

how to avoid copycat content

In the fall of 2008, I had every aspect of running my online copy editing business carefully mapped out — but the unpleasant reality that callously illuminated my pretty little map was that there wasn’t much of a business to run.

I had a few clients to keep me busy, but I put way too much hope in my bare-bones website.

At the time, I thought that the mere presence of a website would make clients flock to me and graciously ask for writing help. I’d have a steady flow of clients who were happy to pay me substantial fees, and to pass the time between copy editing work, I’d recline comfortably, eat bon bons, and file my nails.

I was incredibly disappointed and frustrated not only because that scenario was not my reality, but also because I didn’t know the most effective ways to promote my online business.

I pressed on and remembered that a former co-worker once mentioned a blog about online marketing called Copyblogger.

Customize your content marketing

After discovering that content marketing seemed like a great way to promote my online business, I realized I had a lot of work to do.

What was I going to write about?

If I just copied what other freelance copy editors wrote about on their blogs, my writing wouldn’t stand out.

I didn’t want to invest time creating content that would just be ignored.

As I carefully studied all of the online content I consumed, I discovered that you can observe and implement best practices without duplicating other content.

There is a truly-you version of what someone else does. You don’t need to duplicate their style to get their results.

In fact, someone else’s approach probably won’t work for you, because when you write in someone else’s voice, the content sounds lackluster. Copycat content reeks of inauthenticity.

How do you know when you’re going in the right direction?

I always say there should be people who hate your writing. When everyone likes your writing, you haven’t made enough impact.

For instance, there should be someone who thinks it’s really dumb that you wrote about the serendipitous way you discovered your favorite recipe for an organic, non-toxic bathroom cleaner.

Because for every person who thinks it’s dumb, there is another person who is delighted you shared your recipe; it’s exactly what he was looking for — and he feels a connection with you because your story is his story.

Since you contributed a personal anecdote rather than just listing the ingredients in the recipe, you’ve helped a reader get to know you. Now, he values you as a resource. It’s these individual moments of connection that help you build your audience.

So, don’t aim to please.

Aim to connect.

Aim to show you are an individual who has a unique perspective that can help others.

Once you stop being afraid of showing all of the personality quirks that make you you, your writing will shift.

It will begin to become an effortless extension of yourself. That’s how you develop your own writing voice over time.

Writing advice for the digital age

You don’t necessarily want to follow the advice, “Write the way you speak.” When you write the way you speak, your text may be a convoluted mess.

Your lumpy, raw message needs to be revised into razor-sharp, intentional content that guides your readers in a way no one else does.

That’s why people will visit your site for advice. That’s why they’ll sign up for your email list.

When you become the Editor-in-Chief of your own digital media platform, your content plays a central role in your business and allows you to be a mentor — the same way Copyblogger was my mentor during my online business journey.

Ultimately, your content will help you achieve your business goals.

Craft your individual marketing story

If I was going to write about the same topics discussed on many other websites, I had to intentionally infuse my content with my personality and interests outside of copy editing and proofreading in a way that could provide value for readers.

I have a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, so I created an environment on my blog that was more than just writing and editing tips.

My marketing story treated “writing” as the choices you make in life, and “editing” as the ability to stay vigilant about the changes you can implement to improve anything you do — in any part of your life.

And that story has evolved into the content on my podcast Editor-in-Chief.

Warning: there’s a fine line between “personality” and “train wreck”

On a recent episode of Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer, Sonia Simone beautifully summed up an important disclaimer I have to make about infusing your personality into your content.

Sonia said:

Personality matters, but train wrecks die broke.

While you want to utilize your personality in a way that makes your communication engaging, you don’t want to just vomit the minutia of your daily life in an unfocused way.

That activity may be therapeutic for you, but those musings work best as private content. They’re different from the type of strategic content you want to publish for your business.

Balance thoughtful, useful information about a topic with your distinct worldview

Every time I sit down to write, it’s still a constant challenge to create not-to-miss, valuable, unique content that will benefit my readers — and the answer to how I do that is still me.

For your content, it’s you.

Here’s your task:

First, balance thoughtful, useful information about a topic with your distinct worldview, and then synthesize your ideas through a cohesive, focused lens that keeps your readers interested from the first word in your headline through the last word on the page.

About the author

Stefanie Flaxman

Stefanie Flaxman is Copyblogger Media’s Editor-in-Chief. Don’t follow her on Twitter.

The post The Powerful Resource You’ve Always Wanted When Presented with Creative Challenges appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

The Powerful Resource You Always Have When Presented with Creative Challenges

how to avoid copycat content

In the fall of 2008, I had every aspect of running my online copy editing business carefully mapped out — but the unpleasant reality that callously illuminated my pretty little map was that there wasn’t much of a business to run.

I had a few clients to keep me busy, but I put way too much hope in my bare-bones website.

At the time, I thought that the mere presence of a website would make clients flock to me and graciously ask for writing help. I’d have a steady flow of clients who were happy to pay me substantial fees, and to pass the time between copy editing work, I’d recline comfortably, eat bon bons, and file my nails.

I was incredibly disappointed and frustrated not only because that scenario was not my reality, but also because I didn’t know the most effective ways to promote my online business.

I pressed on and remembered that a former co-worker once mentioned a blog about online marketing called Copyblogger.

Customize your content marketing

After discovering that content marketing seemed like a great way to promote my online business, I realized I had a lot of work to do.

What was I going to write about?

If I just copied what other freelance copy editors wrote about on their blogs, my writing wouldn’t stand out.

I didn’t want to invest time creating content that would just be ignored.

As I carefully studied all of the online content I consumed, I discovered that you can observe and implement best practices without duplicating other content.

There is a truly-you version of what someone else does. You don’t need to duplicate their style to get their results.

In fact, someone else’s approach probably won’t work for you, because when you write in someone else’s voice, the content sounds lackluster. Copycat content reeks of inauthenticity.

How do you know when you’re going in the right direction?

I always say there should be people who hate your writing. When everyone likes your writing, you haven’t made enough impact.

For instance, there should be someone who thinks it’s really dumb that you wrote about the serendipitous way you discovered your favorite recipe for an organic, non-toxic bathroom cleaner.

Because for every person who thinks it’s dumb, there is another person who is delighted you shared your recipe; it’s exactly what he was looking for — and he feels a connection with you because your story is his story.

Since you contributed a personal anecdote rather than just listing the ingredients in the recipe, you’ve helped a reader get to know you. Now, he values you as a resource. It’s these individual moments of connection that help you build your audience.

So, don’t aim to please.

Aim to connect.

Aim to show you are an individual who has a unique perspective that can help others.

Once you stop being afraid of showing all of the personality quirks that make you you, your writing will shift.

It will begin to become an effortless extension of yourself. That’s how you develop your own writing voice over time.

Writing advice for the digital age

You don’t necessarily want to follow the advice, “Write the way you speak.” When you write the way you speak, your text may be a convoluted mess.

Your lumpy, raw message needs to be revised into razor-sharp, intentional content that guides your readers in a way no one else does.

That’s why people will visit your site for advice. That’s why they’ll sign up for your email list.

When you become the Editor-in-Chief of your own digital media platform, your content plays a central role in your business and allows you to be a mentor — the same way Copyblogger was my mentor during my online business journey.

Ultimately, your content will help you achieve your business goals.

Craft your individual marketing story

If I was going to write about the same topics discussed on many other websites, I had to intentionally infuse my content with my personality and interests outside of copy editing and proofreading in a way that could provide value for readers.

I have a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, so I created an environment on my blog that was more than just writing and editing tips.

My marketing story treated “writing” as the choices you make in life, and “editing” as the ability to stay vigilant about the changes you can implement to improve anything you do — in any part of your life.

And that story has evolved into the content on my podcast Editor-in-Chief.

Warning: there’s a fine line between “personality” and “train wreck”

On a recent episode of Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer, Sonia Simone beautifully summed up an important disclaimer I have to make about infusing your personality into your content.

Sonia said:

Personality matters, but train wrecks die broke.

While you want to utilize your personality in a way that makes your communication engaging, you don’t want to just vomit the minutia of your daily life in an unfocused way.

That activity may be therapeutic for you, but those musings work best as private content. They’re different from the type of strategic content you want to publish for your business.

Balance thoughtful, useful information about a topic with your distinct worldview

Every time I sit down to write, it’s still a constant challenge to create not-to-miss, valuable, unique content that will benefit my readers — and the answer to how I do that is still me.

For your content, it’s you.

Here’s your task:

First, balance thoughtful, useful information about a topic with your distinct worldview, and then synthesize your ideas through a cohesive, focused lens that keeps your readers interested from the first word in your headline through the last word on the page.

About the author

Stefanie Flaxman

Stefanie Flaxman is Copyblogger Media’s Editor-in-Chief. Don’t follow her on Twitter.

The post The Powerful Resource You Always Have When Presented with Creative Challenges appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

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