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Case Study: How a Media Company Grew 400% and Used SEO to Get Acquired

Posted by Gaetano-DiNardi-NYC

Disclaimer: I’m currently the Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva, and writing this case study post-mortem as the former VP of Marketing at Sales Hacker (Jan. 2017 – Sept. 2018).



Every B2B company is investing in content marketing right now. Why? Because they all want the same thing: Search traffic that leads to website conversions, which leads to money.

But here’s the challenge: Companies are struggling to get traction because competition has reached an all-time high. Keyword difficulty (and CPC) has skyrocketed in most verticals. In my current space, Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS), some of the CPCs have nearly doubled since 2017, with many keywords hovering close to $ 300 per click.

Not to mention, organic CTRs are declining, and zero-click queries are rising.

Bottom line: If you’re not creating 10x quality content based on strategic keyword research that satisfies searcher intent and aligns back to business goals, you’re completely wasting your time.

So, that’s exactly what we did. The outcome? We grew from 19k monthly organic sessions to over 100k monthly organic sessions in approximately 14 months, leading to an acquisition by Outreach.io

We validated our hard work by measuring organic growth (traffic and keywords) against our email list growth and revenue, which correlated positively, as we expected. 

Organic Growth Highlights

January 2017–June 2018

As soon as I was hired at Sales Hacker as Director of Marketing, I began making SEO improvements from day one. While I didn’t waste any time, you’ll also notice that there was no silver bullet.

This was the result of daily blocking and tackling. Pure execution and no growth hacks or gimmicks. However, I firmly believe that the homepage redesign (in July 2017) was a tremendous enabler of growth.

Organic Growth to Present Day

I officially left Sales Hacker in August of 2018, when the company was acquired by Outreach.io. However, I thought it would be interesting to see the lasting impact of my work by sharing a present-day screenshot of the organic traffic trend, via Google Analytics. There appears to be a dip immediately following my departure, however, it looks like my predecessor, Colin Campbell, has picked up the slack and got the train back on the rails. Well done!

Unique considerations — Some context behind Sales Hacker’s growth

Before I dive into our findings, here’s a little context behind Sales Hacker’s growth:

  • Sales Hacker’s blog is 100 percent community-generated — This means we didn’t pay “content marketers” to write for us. Sales Hacker is a publishing hub led by B2B sales, marketing, and customer success contributors. This can be a blessing and a curse at the same time — on one hand, the site gets loads of amazing free content. On the other hand, the posts are not even close to being optimized upon receiving the first draft. That means, the editorial process is intense and laborious.
  • Aggressive publishing cadence (4–5x per week) — Sales Hacker built an incredible reputation in the B2B Sales Tech niche — we became known as the go-to destination for unbiased thought leadership for practitioners in the space (think of Sales Hacker as the sales equivalent to Growth Hackers). Due to high demand and popularity, we had more content available than we could handle. While it’s a good problem to have, we realized we needed to keep shipping content in order to avoid a content pipeline blockage and a backlog of unhappy contributors.
  • We had to “reverse engineer” SEO — In short, we got free community-generated and sponsored content from top sales and marketing leaders at SaaS companies like Intercom, HubSpot, Pipedrive, LinkedIn, Adobe and many others, but none of it was strategically built for SEO out of the box. We also had contributors like John Barrows, Richard Harris, Lauren Bailey, Tito Bohrt, and Trish Bertuzzi giving us a treasure trove of amazing content to work with. However, we had to collaborate with each contributor from beginning to end and guide them through the entire process. Topical ideation (based on what they were qualified to write about), keyword research, content structure, content type, etc. So, the real secret sauce was in our editorial process. Shout out to my teammate Alina Benny for learning and inheriting my SEO process after we hired her to run content marketing. She crushed it for us!
  • Almost all content was evergreen and highly tactical — I made it a rule that we’d never agree to publish fluffy pieces, whether it was sponsored or not. Plain and simple. Because we didn’t allow “content marketers” to publish with us, our content had a positive reputation, since it was coming from highly respected practitioners. We focused on evergreen content strategies in order to fuel our organic growth. Salespeople don’t want fluff. They want actionable and tactical advice they can implement immediately. I firmly believe that achieving audience satisfaction with our content was a major factor in our SEO success.
    • Outranking the “big guys” — If you look at the highest-ranking sales content, it’s the usual suspects. HubSpot, Salesforce, Forbes, Inc, and many other sites that were far more powerful than Sales Hacker. But it didn’t matter as much as traditional SEO wisdom tells us, largely due to the fact that we had authenticity and rawness to our content. We realized most sales practitioners would rather read insights from their peers in their community, above the traditional “Ultimate Guides,” which tended to be a tad dry.
    • We did VERY little manual link building — Our link building was literally an email from me, or our CEO, to a site we had a great relationship with. “Yo, can we get a link?” It was that simple. We never did large-scale outreach to build links. We were a very lean, remote digital marketing team, and therefore lacked the bandwidth to allocate resources to link building. However, we knew that we would acquire links naturally due to the popularity of our brand and the highly tactical nature of our content.
    • Our social media and brand firepower helped us to naturally acquire links — It helps A LOT when you have a popular brand on social media and a well-known CEO who authored an essential book called “Hacking Sales”. Most of Sales Hacker’s articles would get widely circulated by over 50+ SaaS partners which would help drive natural links.
    • Updating stale content was the lowest hanging fruit — The biggest chunk of our new-found organic traffic came from updating / refreshing old posts. We have specific examples of this coming up later in the post.
    • Email list growth was the “north star” metric — Because Sales Hacker is not a SaaS company, and the “product” is the audience, there was no need for aggressive website CTAs like “book a demo.” Instead, we built a very relationship heavy, referral-based sales cadence that was supported by marketing automation, so list growth was the metric to pay attention to. This was also a key component to positioning Sales Hacker for acquisition. Here’s how the email growth progression was trending.

    So, now that I’ve set the stage, let’s dive into exactly how I built this SEO strategy.

    Bonus: You can also watch the interview I had with Dan Shure on the Evolving SEO Podcast, where I breakdown this strategy in great detail.

    1) Audience research

    Imagine you are the new head of marketing for a well-known startup brand. You are tasked with tackling growth and need to show fast results — where do you start?

    That’s the exact position I was in. There were a million things I could have done, but I decided to start by surveying and interviewing our audience and customers.

    Because Sales Hacker is a business built on content, I knew this was the right choice.

    I also knew that I would be able to stand out in an unglamorous industry by talking to customers about their content interests.

    Think about it: B2B tech sales is all about numbers and selling stuff. Very few brands are really taking the time to learn about the types of content their audiences would like to consume.

    When I was asking people if I could talk to them about their media and content interests, their response was: “So, wait, you’re actually not trying to sell me something? Sure! Let’s talk!”

    Here’s what I set out to learn:

    • Goal 1 — Find one major brand messaging insight.
    • Goal 2 — Find one major audience development insight.
    • Goal 3 — Find one major content strategy insight.
    • Goal 4 — Find one major UX / website navigation insight.
    • Goal 5 — Find one major email marketing insight.

    In short, I accomplished all of these learning goals and implemented changes based on what the audience told me.

    If you’re curious, you can check out my entire UX research process for yourself, but here are some of the key learnings:

    Based on these outcomes, I was able to determine the following:

    • Topical “buckets” to focus on — Based on the most common daily tasks, the data told us to build content on sales prospecting, building partnerships and referral programs, outbound sales, sales management, sales leadership, sales training, and sales ops.
    • Thought leadership — 62 percent of site visitors said they kept coming back purely due to thought leadership content, so we had to double down on that.
    • Content Types — Step by step guides, checklists, and templates were highly desired. This told me that fluffy BS content had to be ruthlessly eliminated at all costs.
    • Sales Hacker Podcast — 76 percent of respondents said they would listen to the Sales Hacker Podcast (if it existed), so we had to launch it!

    2) SEO site audit — Key findings

    I can’t fully break down how to do an SEO site audit step by step in this post (because it would be way too much information), but I will share the key findings and takeaways from our own Site Audit that led to some major improvements in our website performance.

    Lack of referring domain growth

    Sales Hacker was not able to acquire referring domains at the same rate as competitors. I knew this wasn’t because of a link building acquisition problem, but due to a content quality problem.

    Lack of organic keyword growth

    Sales Hacker had been publishing blog content for years (before I joined) and there wasn’t much to show for it from an organic traffic standpoint. However, I do feel the brand experienced a remarkable social media uplift by building content that was helpful and engaging. 

    Sales Hacker did happen to get lucky and rank for some non-branded keywords by accident, but the amount of content published versus the amount of traffic they were getting wasn’t making sense. 

    To me, this immediately screamed that there was an issue with on-page optimization and keyword targeting. It wasn’t anyone’s fault – this was largely due to a startup founder thinking about building a community first, and then bringing SEO into the picture later. 

    At the end of the day, Sales Hacker was only ranking for 6k keywords at an estimated organic traffic cost of $ 8.9k — which is nothing. By the time Sales Hacker got acquired, the site had an organic traffic cost of $ 122k.

    Non-optimized URLs

    This is common among startups that are just looking to get content out. This is just one example, but truth be told, there was a whole mess of non-descriptive URLs that had to get cleaned up.

    Poor internal linking structure

    The internal linking concentration was poorly distributed. Most of the equity was pointing to some of the lowest value pages on the site.

    Poor taxonomy, site structure, and navigation

    I created a mind-map of how I envisioned the new site structure and internal linking scheme. I wanted all the content pages to be organized into categories and subcategories.

    My goals with the new proposed taxonomy would accomplish the following:

    • Increase engagement from natural site visitor exploration
    • Allow users to navigate to the most important content on the site
    • Improve landing page visibility from an increase in relevant internal links pointing to them.

    Topical directories and category pages eliminated with redirects

    Topical landing pages used to exist on SalesHacker.com, but they were eliminated with 301 redirects and disallowed in robots.txt. I didn’t agree with this configuration. Example: /social-selling/

    Trailing slash vs. non-trailing slash duplicate content with canonical errors

    Multiple pages for the same exact intent. Failing to specify the canonical version.

    Branded search problems — “Sales Hacker Webinar”

    Some of the site’s most important content is not discoverable from search due to technical problems. For example, a search for “Sales Hacker Webinar” returns irrelevant results in Google because there isn’t an optimized indexable hub page for webinar content. It doesn’t get that much search volume (0–10 monthly volume according to Keyword Explorer), but still, that’s 10 potential customers you are pissing off every month by not fixing this.

    3) Homepage — Before and after

    Sooooo, this beauty right here (screenshot below) was the homepage I inherited in early 2017 when I took over the site.

    Fast forward six months later, and this was the new homepage we built after doing audience and customer research…

    New homepage goals

    • Tell people EXACTLY what Sales Hacker is and what we do.
    • Make it stupidly simple to sign up for the email list.
    • Allow visitors to easily and quickly find the content they want.
    • Add social proof.
    • Improve internal linking.

    I’m proud to say, that it all went according to plan. I’m also proud to say that as a result, organic traffic skyrocketed shortly after.

    Special Note: Major shout out to Joshua Giardino, the lead developer who worked with me on the homepage redesign. Josh is one of my closest friends and my marketing mentor. I would not be writing this case study today without him!

    There wasn’t one super measurable thing we isolated in order to prove this. We just knew intuitively that there was a positive correlation with organic traffic growth, and figured it was due to the internal linking improvements and increased average session duration from improving the UX.

    4) Updating and optimizing existing content

    Special note: We enforced “Ditch the Pitch”

    Before I get into the nitty-gritty SEO stuff, I’ll tell you right now that one of the most important things we did was blockade contributors and sponsors from linking to product pages and injecting screenshots of product features into blog articles, webinars, etc.

    Side note: One thing we also had to do was add a nofollow attribute to all outbound links within sponsored content that sent referral traffic back to partner websites (which is no longer applicable due to the acquisition).

    The #1 complaint we discovered in our audience research was that people were getting irritated with content that was “too salesy” or “too pitchy” — and rightfully so, because who wants to get pitched at all day?

    So we made it all about value. Pure education. School of hard knocks style insights. Actionable and tactical. No fluff. No nonsense. To the point.

    And that’s where things really started to take off.

    Before and after: “Best sales books”

    What you are about to see is classic SEO on-page optimization at its finest.

    This is what the post originally looked like (and it didn’t rank well for “best sales books).

    And then after…

    And the result…

    Before and after: “Sales operations”

    What we noticed here was a crappy article attempting to explain the role of sales operations.

    Here are the steps we took to rank #1 for “Sales Operations:”

    • Built a super optimized mega guide on the topic.
    • Since the old crappy article had some decent links, we figured let’s 301 redirect it to the new mega guide.
    • Promote it on social, email and normal channels.

    Here’s what the new guide on Sales Ops looks like…

    And the result…

    5) New content opportunities

    One thing I quickly realized Sales Hacker had to its advantage was topical authority. Exploiting this was going to be our secret weapon, and boy, did we do it well: 

    “Cold calling”

    We knew we could win this SERP by creating content that was super actionable and tactical with examples.

    Most of the competing articles in the SERP were definition style and theory-based, or low-value roundups from domains with high authority.

    In this case, DA doesn’t really matter. The better man wins.

    “Best sales tools”

    Because Sales Hacker is an aggregator website, we had the advantage of easily out-ranking vendor websites for best and top queries.

    Of course, it also helps when you build a super helpful mega list of tools. We included over 150+ options to choose from in the list. Whereas SERP competitors did not even come close.

    “Channel sales”

    Notice how Sales Hacker’s article is from 2017 still beats HubSpot’s 2019 version. Why? Because we probably satisfied user intent better than them.

    For this query, we figured out that users really want to know about Direct Sales vs Channel Sales, and how they intersect.

    HubSpot went for the generic, “factory style” Ultimate Guide tactic.

    Don’t get me wrong, it works very well for them (especially with their 91 DA), but here is another example where nailing the user intent wins.

    “Sales excel templates”

    This was pure lead gen gold for us. Everyone loves templates, especially sales excel templates.

    The SERP was easily winnable because the competition was so BORING in their copy. Not only did we build a better content experience, but we used numbers, lists, and power words that salespeople like to see, such as FAST and Pipeline Growth.

    Special note: We never used long intros

    The one trend you’ll notice is that all of our content gets RIGHT TO THE POINT. This is inherently obvious, but we also uncovered it during audience surveying. Salespeople don’t have time for fluff. They need to cut to the chase ASAP, get what they came for, and get back to selling. It’s really that straightforward.

    When you figure out something THAT important to your audience, (like keeping intros short and sweet), and then you continuously leverage it to your advantage, it’s really powerful.

    6) Featured Snippets

    Featured snippets became a huge part of our quest for SERP dominance. Even for SERPs where organic clicks have reduced, we didn’t mind as much because we knew we were getting the snippet and free brand exposure.

    Here are some of the best-featured snippets we got!

    Featured snippet: “Channel sales”

    Featured snippet: “Sales pipeline management”

    Featured snippet: “BANT”

    Featured snippet: “Customer success manager”

    Featured snippet: “How to manage a sales team”

    Featured snippet: “How to get past the gatekeeper”

    Featured snippet: “Sales forecast modeling”

    Featured snippet: “How to build a sales pipeline”

    7) So, why did Sales Hacker get acquired?

    At first, it seems weird. Why would a SaaS company buy a blog? It really comes down to one thing — community (and the leverage you get with it).

    Two learnings from this acquisition are:

    1. It may be worth acquiring a niche media brand in your space

    2. It may be worth starting your own niche media brand in your space

    I feel like most B2B companies (not all, but most) come across as only trying to sell a product — because most of them are. You don’t see the majority of B2B brands doing a good job on social. They don’t know how to market to emotion. They completely ignore top-funnel in many cases and, as a result, get minimal engagement with their content.

    There’s really so many areas of opportunity to exploit in B2B marketing if you know how to leverage that human emotion — it’s easy to stand out if you have a soul. Sales Hacker became that “soul” for Outreach — that voice and community.

    But one final reason why a SaaS company would buy a media brand is to get the edge over a rival competitor. Especially in a niche where two giants are battling over the top spot.

    In this case, it’s Outreach’s good old arch-nemesis, Salesloft. You see, both Outreach and Salesloft are fighting tooth and nail to win a new category called “Sales Engagement”.

    As part of the acquisition process, I prepared a deck that highlighted how beneficial it would be for Outreach to acquire Sales Hacker, purely based on the traffic advantage it would give them over Salesloft.

    Sales Hacker vs. Salesloft vs Outreach — Total organic keywords

    This chart from 2018 (data exported via SEMrush), displays that Sales Hacker is ranking for more total organic keywords than Salesloft and Outreach combined.

    Sales Hacker vs. Salesloft vs Outreach — Estimated traffic cost

    This chart from 2018 (data exported via SEMrush), displays the cost of the organic traffic compared by domain. Sales Hacker ranks for more commercial terms due to having the highest traffic cost.

    Sales Hacker vs. Salesloft vs Outreach — Rank zone distributions

    This chart from 2018 (data exported via SEMrush), displays the rank zone distribution by domain. Sales Hacker ranked for more organic keywords across all search positions.

    Sales Hacker vs. Salesloft vs Outreach — Support vs. demand keywords

    This chart from 2018 (data exported via SEMrush), displays support vs demand keywords by domain. Because Sales Hacker did not have a support portal, all its keywords were inherently demand focused.

    Meanwhile, Outreach was mostly ranking for support keywords at the time. Compared to Salesloft, they were at a massive disadvantage.

    Conclusion

    I wouldn’t be writing this right now without the help, support, and trust that I got from so many people along the way.

    • Joshua Giardino — Lead developer at Sales Hacker, my marketing mentor and older brother I never had. Couldn’t have done this without you!
    • Max Altschuler — Founder of Sales Hacker, and the man who gave me a shot at the big leagues. You built an incredible platform and I am eternally grateful to have been a part of it.
    • Scott Barker — Head of Partnerships at Sales Hacker. Thanks for being in the trenches with me! It’s a pleasure to look back on this wild ride, and wonder how we pulled this off.
    • Alina Benny — My marketing protege. Super proud of your growth! You came into Sales Hacker with no fear and seized the opportunity.
    • Mike King — Founder of iPullRank, and the man who gave me my very first shot in SEO. Thanks for taking a chance on an unproven kid from the Bronx who was always late to work.
    • Yaniv Masjedi — Our phenomenal CMO at Nextiva. Thank you for always believing in me and encouraging me to flex my thought leadership muscle. Your support has enabled me to truly become a high-impact growth marketer.

    Thanks for reading — tell me what you think below in the comments!

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    Salesforce CEO: Every B2B and B2C Company Is Becoming a B2B2C Company

    Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff says that every company is becoming a B2B2C company. “Every B2B company and B2C company is becoming a B2B2C company,” says Benioff. “What company does not have to directly connect with the consumer? You could be a traditional industrial company who’s selling to B2B resellers and you have to be ready in this connected digital revolution to be able to connect directly to your consumer as well.”

    Marc Benioff, co-CEO of Salesforce, discusses their recent high flying quarterly results and talks about how every company is becoming a B2B2C company in an interview with Jim Cramer on CNBC:

    We Just Had a Fantastic Fourth Quarter

    We just had a fantastic fourth quarter. We’re taking a look at those numbers right now and it was an amazing quarter. In fact, we beat our revenue estimates quite handily. As part of that, our co-CEO Keith Block closed the largest transaction in our history and the largest transaction ever in Barclays history. It was a deep nine digit transaction to help automate their 50 million customers. It really goes to show how the three major trends that are playing out in computing today, the cloud, broad digital transformation, and a focus on the customer, can really impact our company by creating a huge deal and also being able to support a huge transformation at Barclays.

    I feel great about our business. I’ve always felt great about it. We’re coming up on our 20 year anniversary this Friday. It’s been 20 years that have been unbelievable to us here. We are coming up on a year that we’re going to do $ 16 billion in revenue that far exceeds my expectation. I still have never been more excited about Salesforce than I am right now. When I look at the short term I see $ 20 billion right around the quarter and I see $ 30 billion right around the corner. In fact, we initiated a four-year guidance today of $ 26 to $ 28 billion.

    Every B2B and B2C Company Is Becoming a B2B2C Company

    You can look at a great deal that we did this quarter with Amgen, a tremendous biotechnology company. This is a company that’s really expanding with our health cloud. This is our vertical strategy to build products specifically for certain industries. In this case, our health cloud is going to help Amgen connect with their customers in a whole new way.  Every B2B company and B2C company is becoming a B2B2C company. What company does not have to directly connect with the consumer?

    Not just Amgen, everybody. You could be a traditional industrial company who’s selling to B2B resellers and you have to be ready in this connected digital revolution to be able to connect directly to your consumer as well. That’s a major trend that we’ve benefited from for so many years now and you’re going to see that continue to play out. That’s certainly something driving this relationship with Amgen as well.

    Brunello Cucinelli and Lamborghini Using Salesforce to Connect

    Brunello Cucinelli is one of the great fashion brands in the world and we’ve completely transformed Brunello Cucinelli. He actually touches the customer in many different forms. He has a direct B2C relationship. He’s online with them. We run his website. You go into his stores. That’s a direct consumer connection. But did you know he’s a B2B company also? That’s because he’s selling to resellers who are reselling his products in some of the big retail stores around the world. He’s a B2B and a B2C company. We have to bring it all together with him and give him a single view of his customer. That’s the transformation he has to go through and has gone through and that’s why he’s had such great growth and we’re so excited for him.

    Another great example is Lamborghini. Of course, Lamborghini is actually traditionally a B2B type company. They’re selling to their dealers and they’re making sure their dealers are successful. some of those dealers are not even owned by Lamborghini but now they need to be able to connect with their customer in real time, all the time. They’re also a B2C direct customer. That’s why the new Urus, their new SUV, is built entirely on Salesforce. It’s the connected Lamborghini. That’s a vision for all car companies in the future that they can directly connect with you, not just connect with their dealer. That’s the B2C and B2B transformation that we’re talking about.

    The post Salesforce CEO: Every B2B and B2C Company Is Becoming a B2B2C Company appeared first on WebProNews.

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    Walmart CEO: Company is Becoming More Digital

    The CEO of Walmart Doug McMillion says that the company has a lot of work going on to change the company. He says that the company is becoming more digital and is changing how they work from within to get faster, more nimble, and adapt to what’s happening in retail. McMillion is a real advocate of change within the company, pointing out that what has happened to companies like Sears can happen to us too.

    Doug McMillion, CEO of Walmart, recently discussed how Walmart is becoming more digital and is adapting and changing in order to compete and improve the customer experience:

    Changing How We Work to Get Faster, More Nimble and to Adapt

    We’ve got a lot of work going on to change the company. The company is becoming more digital and we’re changing how we work from within to get faster, more nimble, adapting to what’s happening in retail. Those plans result in lower costs. We’ve been lowering prices for customers and we need to keep doing that. We’ve got to build this ecommerce business in a way where it delights customers all the time. We’re improving in many areas as it relates to that.

    Then kind of the magic of Walmart is how we put it all together. Grocery pickup has been really great for us, we’re learning how to do deliveries. There’s a lot in front of us in terms of what we control and what we can do and that’s what we’re focused on. There’s a transition going on and change that is happening inside of all businesses and across industries. It’s certainly happening within Walmart.

    We’re Learning How to Put Automation in Place

    We’re learning how to put automation in-place like floor cleaners that are autonomous, and also an industrial robot with a camera on it that’s looking at the merchandise in the aisle so we know where things are. It’s learning how to communicate with a device that goes up and down the aisle that checks to make sure that things are in the right place, that they’re priced right, looking to see if we have inventory above if it needs to be pulled down, and helping us as associates do our jobs better.

    I think over time automation will reduce jobs, there will be a period of disruption, but with our turnover in retail, we can manage through that. We want to train people, upskill them so that they can learn to do new things. As this change is happening now we’ve already seen new jobs like personal shoppers emerge, we’ve got about thirty thousand personal shoppers in the United States now that are picking grocery orders in the stores for pickup.

    Grocery Pickup Business has Grown a Lot

    One of the most popular things we’ve got right now is a grocery service where you can order on your mobile app, pick a time slot and on your way home from school with the kids swing through and we put it in your trunk and you take off. That business has grown a lot and there are people that now have new jobs creating that order for you. Folks come out to the car, put in the trunk for you, talk to you for a few minutes, and that’s gone really well.

    What I really think will happen is we’re going to find new jobs, delivery jobs, and jobs related to customer service in the stores. We want to improve the environment the stores, we want our fresh food presentation to be better, we want our retail presentation to be better. We will redirect some of those positions towards that.

    One Constant at Walmart is Change

    The truth is after learning from so many people, a little bit from Sam Walton, David Glass, Lee Scott, Mike Duke, and the leaders at Walmart. We know that retailers come and go. Businesses grow and they don’t change enough and they decline over time. Retailers do that on a bit of a faster cycle so we got a healthy paranoia and always have.

    If there were a group of Walmart associates around here right now and we asked them the only thing other than our purpose and values that are constant at Walmart they would fill in the blank with change. We adapt, we learn, we learn from competition, we focus on the customer, we’re always changing.

    People Are Rethinking What Walmart is as a Business

    I carry an app that’s got the top-ten retailers by decade back to 1950. There are company’s on here, TG&Y, E. J. Korvette, the rise and fall of Sears and others. It’s just a reminder that this can happen to us too. Part of what I do within the company is trying to make a case for change, point to a strategy and a vision for our associates.

    We’ve got great people and they rally and move and change. It’s now happening at an accelerated rate inside the company causing people to rethink what Walmart is as a business and it’s really exciting.

    The post Walmart CEO: Company is Becoming More Digital appeared first on WebProNews.

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    Billionaire Ron Baron: By 2030 Tesla Could be a Trillion Dollar Company

    Billionaire investor Ron Baron says that by 2030 Tesla could be a trillion dollar company. He says it’s clear that Tesla will be at $ 60 billion in sales within the next 3-4 years. Baron added, “It’s remarkable what Elon Musk has done.”

    Ron Baron, Founder of Baron Capital, discussed his bullish opinion of Tesla on CNBC:

    By 2030 Tesla Could be a Trillion Dollar Company

    It was a good quarter for Tesla. They had $ 6.8 billion in sales versus $ 4 billion, so it’s up 70 percent. They made a billion for cash flow in the quarter before they spent on investing. That means they’re at an annualized rate of $ 5.5 billion of cash flow before they spend them investing. The company is valued for $ 60 billion, so it’s 11 or 12 times earnings, that’s not bad.

    In addition to that, they are growing at 50 percent a year. I think that this year they did sales at $ 20 billion. We started in 2014 when they were doing $ 3.7 billion and this year it’s $ 20 billion, next year is $ 30 billion. I think that in 12 to 13 years, by 2030, this could be a trillion dollar company. I think it’s clear they’re going to be $ 60 billion in three or four years. This could be a really big company.

    Cash Flow Doesn’t Appear to be a Problem

    As the cash flow goes, when I look at the numbers it doesn’t appear to be the problem. Elon Musk says it’s not a problem, I take him at his word. He could have sold equity a year and a half ago at $ 370 to $ 380 a share, people were scrambling to buy, he chose not to. You have these businesses that they invest and when they’re investing they penalize profitability.

    When you build a faith factory and you spend $ 300 million on the factory and it’s built for 250,000 cars a year and you’re doing 20,000 cars a year or 30,000, you’re not going to be profitable with that. But all of a sudden, you get it to 250,000 cars a year, you’re making $ 150 million on a $ 300 million investment, then you can double it. You’re at the point now where incremental investments are going to be incredibly profitable. They are now doing 5,000 cars a week, they’re going to be able to do Model 3 for virtually no additional investment. They’re going to get to 7,000 cars a week.

    It’s Remarkable What Elon Musk Has Done

    They told Wall Street this quarter that just ended that they were hoping to produce a gross profit margin of 15 percent on the Model 3 and it came out over 20 percent. Internally, they were hoping for 20 percent and he kept calling meetings, you got to cut costs here, you’ve got to watch that. When you’re building something from the ground up it’s not easy, it’s not easy doing what he’s done, remarkable what he’s done.

    When he started making the Model S and Model X, those cars initially, when they were selling for over $ 100,000 a car, they had gross profits of 20 percent. Now they’re in the 90s for the car and the gross profits are 31 percent. Gross profits keep going up even though the price has gone down. The same thing is going to happen with this car. I think the gross profits on the Model 3 are going to be as good as they are on the Model S and X and I think the Model Y is going to be the best one they’ve ever had.

    The post Billionaire Ron Baron: By 2030 Tesla Could be a Trillion Dollar Company appeared first on WebProNews.

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    Google marks 14 years as a public company

    Today the search giant ranks as the world’s third most valuable company.



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    Search marketing software company WordStream acquired by Gannett for $150M

    Founded in 2007, the popular PPC management tool has been sold.

    The post Search marketing software company WordStream acquired by Gannett for $ 150M appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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    Selling SEO to the C-Suite: How to Convince Company Executives to Support SEO

    Posted by rMaynes1

    The implementation of a solid SEO strategy often gets put on the back burner — behind website redesigns, behind client work, behind almost everything — and even when it is taken seriously, you have to fight for every resource for implementation. SEO must be a priority. However, convincing the company executives to prioritize it and allocate budget to SEO initiatives can feel like scaling a mountain.

    Sound familiar?

    Convincing company executives that SEO is one of the most critical elements of a holistic digital marketing strategy to increase website traffic (and therefore customers, sales, and revenue) won’t be easy, but these steps can increase the chances of your program being taken seriously, and getting the budget needed to make it a success.

    Before you start: Put yourself in the shoes of the C-Suite and be ready to answer their questions.

    While it’s no doubt frustrating that your executives don’t understand the importance of SEO, put yourself in their shoes and consider what is important to them. Have solid answers ready to questions.

    CEOs are decision-makers, not problem-solvers. They are going to ask:

    • Why should we invest in SEO vs. ?
    • Is this going to be profitable?
    • Do you have proven results?
    • What does success look like? What are your KPIS?

    CIOs and CFOs will fixate on cost reductions. They are going to ask:

    • What will this cost us?
    • Can similar results be achieved at a reduced cost?
    • What level of spend will maximize ROI?

    CMOs want to ensure the organization’s message is distributed to targeted audiences in order to meet sales objectives. They will ask:

    • How many more qualified leads will this bring us?
    • What will this do to increase our brand exposure?
    • What is our competition doing?

    CEOs are unbelievably busy. In the nicest way, they don’t care about details, and they don’t care about tactics (because they simply do not have time to care). What do they care about? Results.

    For example, the CEO of a large insurance broker sits in his office and Googles the term “Seattle insurance.” Success for him is seeing his company listed at #1 in the organic results. He doesn’t want to know how it was achieved, but for as long as that’s the result, he’s happy to invest.

    Getting the support you need for your SEO strategy can be tough, to say the least, especially if there is no understanding, no interest, and no funding from the C-level executives in your company — and unfortunately, without these, your SEO plans will never get off the ground.

    However, executive-level buy-in is crucial for a successful SEO campaign, so don’t give up!

    Educate your stakeholders

    1. Start at the beginning: Define what SEO is, and what it isn’t

    It might sound like a no-brainer, but before you even start, find out your C-Suite’s SEO expertise level. Bizarre as it may sound, some might not even really fully understand what SEO is, and the concept of keywords might be entirely alien.

    Start from the very beginning with examples of what SEO is, and what it isn’t.

    Include:

    • How people search for your business online with non-branded industry keywords. Use analytics to show that this is what people are actually searching for.
    • Show what happens when you conduct a simple search for a related keyword. Where does your business rank and where do your competitors rank?

    If you want to go into a bit more detail, you can show things like where keywords appear in your page content, or what meta-data in the titles and description fields look like. Gather as much valuable insight as you can from the CMO to help tailor your presentation to fit the style the CEO is used to. It will vary from CEO to CEO. Same story — but a different approach to getting the message across.

    Remember, keep it high-level. When talking to your C-Suite about SEO, it’s important to talk to them in a language they’ll understand. If your presentation includes references to “schema,” “link audits,” or “domain authority,” start again, scrapping the technical jargon. Instead, talk about how SEO helps businesses connect directly with people who are searching online for the products and services that are being offered by the company. Highlight how it’s a powerful business development tool that aligns your business with customer intent, one that targets potential customers further down the sales funnel because it attracts traffic mostly from people who are in the market to convert. Focus on the purpose of an SEO program being to build a sustainable base of monthly quality potential customers by generating additional traffic to the website.

    Use hard facts to support your points. For example:

    • 72% of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
    • 71% of B2B researchers start with a generic search. (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
    • Conversion rates are 10 times higher on search than from social on desktops, on average. (Source: GoDaddy 2016)
    • Half of search queries are four words or longer. Not including long-tail keywords could mean losing potential leads. (Source: Propecta 2017).
    • Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published 0–4 monthly posts. (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

    2. The meat of your presentation: Why SEO is so important

    Once you’ve shown what SEO is, you can move onto why it’s so important to the organizational goals. Sounds simple, but this is probably the most difficult part of convincing your executives of the need for an SEO strategy.

    C-Suite executives are not interested in the how of SEO. They want to know the why (the value, the return on investment), and the when (how long it will take to see the results and the ROI of this endeavor). It’s almost guaranteed that they’re not going to want to know the minute details and tactics of your proposed strategy.

    Outline the project at a high level, and don’t get bogged down in the details. If the CEO is well-educated in other channels (like paid search, offline marketing, print marketing, or display advertising), try to use SEO examples that can be understood in a relative way to how these other channels perform.

    Note: To sell SEO to the C-suite doesn’t necessarily mean you’re committing to doing all of this work yourself. You might be pitching for the budget to use an SEO agency to do all of this for you.

    Break out the proposed project into 4 sections, each with a “what” and a “why.”

    1. SEO audit:

    Your website is a business development tool, and so the SEO audit is focused on assessing how well the site is performing currently. Talk about how you’ll assess the website in several areas to understand any problems impacting site performance and identify any potential optimization opportunities to make it more search engine-friendly, and to align it to business objectives both from a technical and content perspective.

    2. Recommendations:

    From the audit, determine what needs to be done and when. Not all tactics will work for all organizations, and as an SEO expert, you’ll be able to review the business and draw on your past experience to determine what’s going to earn the highest ROI. Prioritize recommendations and have a case to present for each, proving how it’s more important than another recommendation, and how it will impact the overall business if implemented. Ensure that those critical SEO components that will expedite the results are implemented first. Be sure to address these questions:

    • What combination of tactics is going to work best for this organization?
    • What is going to have the biggest impact now, and what can wait?
    • What should be a top organizational priority?
    • Do you have access to the internal resources and knowledge to be able to implement the recommendations, or do you need to consider using an external agency?

    3. Implementation:

    Whether this is an internal project or you’re engaging an SEO agency, the project lead should be very hands-on, making SEO recommendations and guiding the IT team through the successful implementation of as many of them as possible so as to have the biggest impact on organic search. At times it can feel like you have to jump through hoops to get the smallest recommendation implemented, and that’s understandable. However, if you endeavor to understand the internal IT processes, you can customize recommendations to fit the IT team’s schedule. You’ll see more success that way.

    This is one of the biggest obstacles that Mediative, as an agency, runs into. We conduct SEO audits and provide recommendations for success, in priority order — but getting access to internal IT resources and getting your SEO recommendations into the implementation queue can be incredibly challenging.

    We worked with a Fortune 500 company for four years on SEO, covering the major areas of site architecture and site content, with the ultimate goal of increasing site traffic. At any given time, there were 40+ active SEO initiatives — open tickets with the client’s IT department — all of which had an impact on the SEO of the client’s website. However, they represented only about 20% of the total open tickets for all IT service requests in this client’s IT department; as a result, vying for precious IT resources became a huge challenge. A great SEO agency will learn to adapt tactics to fit in with whatever sort of IT procedures your company already has in place.

    4. Goals and measurement of results:

    HubSpot has presented the core metrics that CEOs care about the most; you should address these metrics with benchmarks and informed predictions (not vague guesses) for how SEO can improve them. Unlike channels such as paid search, it can be difficult to give the exact cost and the exact number of leads or revenue SEO can generate. The key here is to get the understanding of the CMO to help present your case to the CEO. SEO or organic search traffic (when measured properly with analytics) can be the biggest driver of low-cost traffic and quality visitors to your website.

    1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – This is the total cost of acquiring a customer in the organization. If you can show how SEO acquires customers below the company average, you’re already winning.
    2. Time to Payback CAC – This is the number of months it takes you to earn back the CAC you spent to get a new customer. Again, if you can show that SEO reduces this number, it will increase the likelihood of your program getting the thumbs up.
    3. Marketing Originated Customer % – This ratio shows what percentage of your new business is driven by marketing efforts, a sure-fire way to secure more SEO budget if you can prove exactly how many new customers it’s driving.

    Look at simpler metrics as well, such as:

    • Traffic to your website.
    • Number of leads generated.
    • Decreased bounce rates.

    Inform your executives that you’ll be measuring these metrics in conjunction with other metrics, such as average ranking position, to see the overall impact of your SEO efforts.

    • Use industry research to put a monetary value on ranking higher. For example, the fictional company Acme Shoes sells shoes online. The company website recently ranked #4 on a desktop Google search for [women’s shoes].
      • A #4 ranking sends the website 20,000 unique visitors per month.
      • The average value of a website visitor has been calculated at $ 20, therefore ranking at #4 is valued at $ 400,000/month.
      • Research has shown that, on average, the #4 ranking gets 7.3% of Google results page clicks, and the #1 ranking gets 32.8% of page clicks — 4.5x more. Therefore, it can be estimated that increasing ranking to #1 will lead to 90,000 monthly unique visitors.
      • The estimated revenue from ranking #1 for [women’s shoes]: $ 1.8m/month.
    • Present different scenarios. For example, what would happen if no SEO efforts are made over the next 12 months? Now in contrast, what do you predict will happen with $ X of investment, and how that would increase even further if doubled? Be sure to have a few options available, not just all-or-nothing.
    • Be very specific about the goals at each level of investment. Find examples of SEO strategies that have had great results. Best case would be results from your own tests in preparation for a larger project, but sometimes even small SEO tests are not approved until the C-suite has bought in. In this case, find case studies from your industry, or research/results of similar tactics to those that you want to implement. The C-Suite want tangible, real-world solutions that are proven to work, not vague ideas.

    Tip: A lot of SEO is “free” — it just takes time, knowledge, and resources (which is where it gets expensive) to make it successful. Use the word “free” as much as you can. For example, an online listings component of an SEO strategy may utilize free directory listings.

    In summary, an SEO project may address all 4 sections listed above very well, but the key is communication. Great SEO agencies are strong communicators with all stakeholders involved — the marketing team, IT teams, content writers, designers, code developers, etc. It’s important to remember that following best practices, executing SEO tactics in a timely manner, and measuring the results all require clear and concise communication at different levels of the organization.

    Congratulations! You’ve perfectly pitched SEO to your C-Suite. You’re almost guaranteed to get the green light! So what now?

    Manage expectations from day one.

    Basketball player Michael Jordan was once quoted as saying: “Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you. That’s truly about the game, and in some ways that’s about life, too.”

    He could have been talking about SEO.

    SEO is a commitment. To reap the long-term benefits, you have to put in the effort with minimal gains at first. Make sure your C-Suite knows this. They might get frustrated that after 3 months of effort, the results are not prominent. But that’s how SEO goes. SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” tactic. It’s an ongoing program that builds successes with time and consistency.

    By setting realistic expectations that it will take several months before results are seen, there won’t be pressure to try other tactics, like paid search or display advertising, at the expense of SEO. Of course, these tactics can complement your SEO efforts and can provide a short-term benefit that SEO can’t, but don’t be swayed from SEO as a core strategy. Stay the course, and keep focused on the long-term benefits of what you’re doing. It will be worth it!

    Continually measure and track performance

    You should be ready at the drop of a hat to provide up-to-date results with performance measured to key metrics (to the last month) of how your SEO efforts are stacking up. You never know when cost-cutting measures might be implemented, and if you’re not ready with solid results, it might be your program that gets cut.

    Show how your SEO efforts compare to other programs in the company, such as social media marketing or paid search. Search is always evolving, so keep up and be seen keeping up. 
Never stop selling!

    In the case of our Fortune 500 client, we were able to implement all of the key SEO initiatives by prioritizing and building cases for implementation. After several months, organic search traffic and revenue was leading all other digital marketing channels for this client — more than PPC and email marketing. 
Organic search generated approximately 30% of all visits to the client’s site, while maintaining year-over-year growth of 20–25%. This increase was not simply from branded traffic, however — year-over-year non-branded traffic had increased approximately 50%.

    These are the kind of results that are going to make the company executives sit up and take SEO seriously.

    To conclude:

    
As the proponent for SEO in your organization, you play a critical role in ensuring that the strategies with the quickest and biggest impact on results are implemented and prioritized first. There’s no magic bullet with SEO – no one thing that works. A solid SEO strategy — and one that will convince stakeholders of its worth — is made up of a myriad of components from audits to content development, from link building to site architecture. The trick is picking what is going to work for your organization and what isn’t, and this is no mean feat!


    For more SEO tips from Mediative, download our new e-book, The Digital Marketer’s Guide to Google’s Search Engine Results Page.

    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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    Eric Schmidt stepping down as Executive Chairman of Google parent company, Alphabet

    Longtime Google executive will transition to role of technical advisor.

    The post Eric Schmidt stepping down as Executive Chairman of Google parent company, Alphabet appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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    Customer-First Marketing: The customer is always right … but not always right for your company

    Customer feedback can be extremely valuable. It is, essentially, business intelligence direct from the person who most impacts your company’s success. However, just because customer feedback CAN be valuable, that doesn’t mean it’s always the case. Read on for tips to help you separate the signal from the noise.
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    SearchCap: AdSense exploit, Google local links and UK boots fake Google company

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

    The post SearchCap: AdSense exploit, Google local links and UK boots fake Google company appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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