Tag Archive | "Struggle"

5 Reasons Legacy Brands Struggle With SEO (and What to Do About Them)

Posted by Tom.Capper

Given the increasing importance of brand in SEO, it seems a cruel irony that many household name-brands seem to struggle with managing the channel. Yet, in my time at Distilled, I’ve seen just that: numerous name-brand sites in various states of stagnation and even more frustrated SEO managers attempting to prevent said stagnation. 

Despite global brand recognition and other established advantages that ought to drive growth, the reality is that having a household name doesn’t ensure SEO success. In this post, I’m going to explore why large, well-known brands can run into difficulties with organic performance, the patterns I’ve noticed, and some of the recommended tactics to address those challenges.

What we talk about when we talk about a legacy brand

For the purposes of this post, the term “legacy brand” applies to companies that have a very strong association with the product they sell, and may well have, in the past, been the ubiquitous provider for that product. This could mean that they were household names in the 20th century, or it could be that they pioneered and dominated their field in the early days of mass consumer web usage. A few varied examples (that Distilled has never worked with or been contacted by) include:

  • Wells Fargo (US)
  • Craigslist (US)
  • Tesco (UK)

These are cherry-picked, potentially extreme examples of legacy brands, but all three of the above, and most that fit this description have shown a marked decline in the last five years, in terms of organic visibility (confirmed by Sistrix, my tool of choice — your tool-of-choice may vary). It’s a common issue for large, well-established sites — peaking in 2013 and 2014 and never again reaching those highs.

It’s worth noting that stagnation is not the only possible state — sometimes brands can even be growing, but simply at a level far beneath the potential, you would expect from their offline ubiquity.

The question is: why does it keep happening?

Reason 1: Brand

Quite possibly the biggest hurdle standing in the way of a brand’s performance is the brand itself. This may seem like a bit of an odd one — we’d already established that the companies we’re talking about are big, recognized, household names. That in and of itself should help them in SEO, right?

The thing is, though, a lot of these big household names are recognized, but they’re not the one-stop shops that they used to be.

Here’s how the above name-brand examples are performing on search:

Other dominant, clearly vertical-leading brands in the UK, in general, are also not doing so well in branded search:

There’s a lot of potential reasons for why this may be — and we’ll even address some of them later — but a few notable ones include:

  • Complacency — particularly for brands that were early juggernauts of the web, they may have forgotten the need to reinforce their brand image and recognition.
  • More and more credible competitors. When you’re the only competent operator, as many of these brands once were, you had the whole pie. Now, you have to share it.
  • People trust search engines. In a lot of cases, ubiquitous brands decline, while the generic term is on the rise.

Check out this for the real estate example in the UK:

Rightmove and Zoopla are the two biggest brands in this space and have been for some time. There’s only one line there that’s trending upwards, though, and it’s the generic term, “houses for sale.”

What can I do about this?

Basically, get a move on! A lot of incumbents have been very slow to take action on things like top-of-funnel content, or only produce low-effort, exceptionally dry social media posts (I’ve posted before about some of these tactics here.) In fairness, it’s easy to see why — these channels and approaches likely have the least measurable returns. However, leaving a vacuum higher in your funnel is playing with fire, especially when you’re a recognized name. It opens an opportunity for smaller players to close the gap in recognition — at almost no cost.

Reason 2: Tech debt

I’m sure many people reading this will have experienced how hard it can be to get technical changes — particularly higher effort ones — implemented by larger, older organizations. This can stem from complex bureaucracy, aging and highly bespoke platforms, risk aversion, and, particularly for SEO, an inability to get senior buy-in for what can often be fairly abstract changes with little guaranteed reward.

What can I do about this?

At Distilled, we run into these challenges fairly often. I’ve seen dev queues that span, literally, for years. I’ve also seen organizations that are completely unable to change the most basic information on their sites, such as opening times or title tags. In fact, it was this exact issue that prompted the development of our ODN platform a few years ago as a way to circumvent technical limitations and prove the benefits when we did so.

There are less heavy-duty options available — GTM can be used for a range of changes as the last resort, albeit without the measurement component. CDN-level solutions like Cloudflare’s edge workers are also starting to gain traction within the SEO community.

Eventually, though, it’s necessary to tackle the problem at the source — by making headway within the politics of the organization. There’s a whole other post to be had there, if not several, but basically, it comes down to making yourself heard without undermining anyone. I’ve found that focusing on the downside is actually the most effective angle within big, risk-averse bureaucracies — essentially preying on the risk-aversion itself — as well as shouting loudly about any successes, however small.

Reason 3: Not updating tactics due to long-standing, ingrained practices

In a way, this comes back to risk aversion and politics — after all, legacy brands have a lot to lose. One particular manifestation I’ve often noticed in larger organizations is ongoing campaigns and tactics that haven’t been linked to improved rankings or revenue in years.

One conversation with a senior SEO at a major brand left me quite confused. I recall he said to me something along the lines of “we know this campaign isn’t right for us strategically, but we can’t get buy-in for anything else, so it’s this or lose the budget”. Fantastic.

This type of scenario can become commonplace when senior decision-makers don’t trust their staff — often, it’s a CMO, or similar executive leader, that hasn’t dipped their toe in SEO for a decade or more. When they do, they are unpleasantly surprised to discover that their SEO team isn’t buying any links this week and, actually, hasn’t for quite some time. Their reaction, then, is predictable: “No wonder the results are so poor!”

What can I do about this?

Unfortunately, you may have to humor this behavior in the short term. That doesn’t mean you should start (or continue) buying links, but it might be a good idea to ensure there’s similar-sounding activity in your strategy while you work on proving the ROI of your projects.

Medium-term, if you can get senior stakeholders out to conferences (I highly recommend SearchLove, though I may be biased), softly share articles and content “they may find interesting”, and drown them in news of the success of whatever other programs you’ve managed to get headway with, you can start to move them in the right direction.

Reason 4: Race to the bottom

It’s fair to say that, over time, it’s only become easier to launch an online business with a reasonably well-sorted site. I’ve observed in the past that new entrants don’t necessarily have to match tenured juggernauts like-for-like on factors like Domain Authority to hit the top spots.

As a result, it’s become common-place to see plucky, younger businesses rising quickly, and, at the very least, increasing the apparent level of choice where historically a legacy business might have had a monopoly on basic competence.

This is even more complicated when price is involved. Most SEOs agree that SERP behavior factors into rankings, so it’s easy to imagine legacy businesses, which disproportionately have a premium angle, struggling for clicks vs. attractively priced competitors. Google does not understand or care that you have a premium proposition — they’ll throw you in with the businesses competing purely on price all the same.

What can I do about this?

As I see it, there are two main approaches. One is abusing your size to crowd out smaller players (for instance, disproportionately targeting the keywords where they’ve managed to find a gap in your armor), and the second is, essentially, Conversion Rate Optimization.

Simple tactics like sorting a landing page by default by price (ascending), having clicky titles with a value-focused USP (e.g. free delivery), or well targeted (and not overdone) post-sales retention emails — all go a long way to mitigating the temptation of a cheaper or hackier competitor.

Reason 5: Super-aggregators (Amazon, Google)

In a lot of verticals, the pie is getting smaller, so it stands to reason the dominant players will be facing a diminishing slice.

A few obvious examples:

  • Local packs eroding local landing pages
  • Google Flights, Google Jobs, etc. eroding specialist sites
  • Amazon taking a huge chunk of e-commerce search

What can I do about this?

Again, there are two separate angles here, and one is a lot harder than the other. The first is similar to some of what I’ve mentioned above — move further up the funnel and lock in business before this ever comes to your prospective client Googling your head term and seeing Amazon and/or Google above you. This is only a mitigating tactic, however.

The second, which will be impossible for many or most businesses, is to jump into bed with the devil. If you ever do have the opportunity to be a data partner behind a Google or Amazon product, you may do well to swallow your pride and take it. You may be the only one of your competitors left in a few years, and if you don’t, it’ll be someone else.

Wrapping up

While a lot of the issues relate to complacency, and a lot of my suggested solutions relate to reinvesting as if you weren’t a dominant brand that might win by accident, I do think it’s worth exploring the mechanisms by which this translates into poorer performance.

This topic is unavoidably very tinted by my own experiences and opinions, so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Similarly, I’m conscious that any one of my five reasons could have been a post in its own right — which ones would you like to see more fleshed out?

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!


Moz Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

What’s the One Skill that Separates Well-Paid Freelance Writers from Those Who Struggle?

Everyone loves the part of the hero’s journey where our protagonist accepts the “call to adventure” and “crosses the threshold”…

The post What’s the One Skill that Separates Well-Paid Freelance Writers from Those Who Struggle? appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

5 Tips to Get Off the Content Marketing Struggle Bus & Create Content Your Audience Will Love

Posted by ronell-smith

(Original image source)

The young man at the back of the ballroom in the Santa Monica, Calif., Loews hotel has a question he’s been burning to ask, having held it for more than an hour as I delivered a presentation on why content marketing is invaluable for search.

When the time comes for Q&A, he nearly leaps out of his chair before announcing that he’s asking a question for pretty much the entire room.

“How do I know what content I should create?” he asks. “I work at a small company. We have a team of content people, but we’re typically told what to write without having any idea if it’s what people want to read from us.”

When asked what the results of their two blog posts per week was, his answer told a tale I hear I often: “No one reads it. We don’t know if that’s because of the message or because [it's the] wrong audience for the content we’re sharing.”

In fishing and hunting circles circles, there’s a saying that rings true today, tomorrow, and everyday: “If you want to land trophy animals, you have to hunt in places where trophy animals reside.”

Content marketing is not much different.

If you want to ensure that the right audience consumes the content you design, create and share, you have to “hunt” where they are. But to do so successfully, you must first know what they desire in the way of bait (content).

For those of us who’ve been involved in content marketing for a while now, this all sounds like fairly simplistic, 101-level stuff. But consider this: While we as marketers and technologists have access to sundry tools and platforms that help us discern all sorts of information, most small and mid-size business owners — and the folks who work at small and mid-size businesses — often lack the resources for most of the tools that could help flatten the learning curve for “What content should I create?”

If you spend any time fishing around online, you know very well that the problem isn’t going away soon.

Image courtesy of Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs

For small and mid-size business looking to tackle this challenge, I detail a few tips below that I frequently share during presentations and that seem to work well for clients and prospects alike.

#1—Find your audience

First, let’s get something straight: When it comes to creating content worth sharing and hopefully linking to, the goal is, now and forevermore, to deliver something the audience will love. Even if the topic is boring, your job is to deliver best-in-class content that’s uniquely valuable.

Instead of guessing what content you should create for your audience (or would-be audience), take the time to find out where they hang out, both online and offline. Maybe it’s Facebook groups, Twitter, forums, discussion groups, or Google Plus (Yes! Google Plus!).

Whether your brand provides HVAC services, computer repair, or custom email templates, there’s a community of folks sharing information about it. And these folks, especially the ones in vibrant communities, can help you create amazing content.

As an example, the owner of a small automobile repair business might spend some time reading the most popular blogs in the category, while paying close attention to the information being shared, the top names sharing it, and common complaints, issues, or needs that commonly arise. The key here is to see who the major commenters, sharers, and influencers are, which can easily be gleaned after careful review of the blog comments over time.

From there, she could “follow” those influencers to popular forums and discussion boards, in addition to Facebook groups, Google Communities, and wherever else they congregate and converse.

The keys with regard to this audience research is to find out the following:

  • Where they are
  • What they share
  • What unmet needs they might have

#2—Talk to them

Once you know where and who they are, start interacting with your audience. Maybe it’s simply sharing their content on social media while including their “@” alias or answering a question in a group or forum. But over time, they’ll come to know and recognize you and are likely to return the favor.

A word of warning is in order: Take off your sales-y hat. This is the time for sincere interaction and engagement, not hawking your wares.

Once you have a rapport with some of the members and/or influencers, don’t be shy about asking if you can email them a quick question or two. If they open that door, keep it open with a short, simple note.

With emails of this sort, keep three things in mind:

  • Be brief
  • Be bold
  • Be gone

Respect their time — and the fact that you don’t have enough currency for much of an ask — by keeping the message short and to the point, while leaving the door open to future communication.

#3—Discern the job to be done

We’ve all heard the saying: “People don’t know what they want until they’ve seen it.”

Whether or not you like the bromide, it certainly rings true in the business world.

Too often a product or service that’s supposedly the perfect remedy for some such ailment falls flat, even after focus groups, usability testing, surveys, and customer interviews.

The key is to focus less on what they say and more on what they’re attempting to accomplish.

This is where the Jobs To Be Done theory comes in very handy.

Based primarily on the research of Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) is a framework for helping businesses view customers motivations. In a nutshell, it helps us understand what job (why) a customers hires (reads, buys, uses, etc.) our product or service.

Christensen writes…

“Customers rarely make buying decisions around what the ‘average’ customer in their category may do — but they often buy things because they find themselves with a problem they would like to solve. With an understanding of the ‘job’ for which customers find themselves ‘hiring’ a product or service, companies can more accurately develop and market products well-tailored to what customers are already trying to do.”

Christensen’s latest book provides a thorough picture of the “Jobs To Be Done” theory

One of the best illustrations of the JTBD theory at work is the old saw we hear often in marketing circles: Customers don’t buy a quarter-inch drill bit; they buy a quarter-inch hole.

This is important because we must clearly understand what customers are hoping to accomplish before we create content.

For the auto repair company preparing to create a guide for an expensive repair, it would be helpful to learn what workarounds currently exist, who are the people experiencing the problem (i.e., DIYers, Average Joes, technicians, etc.), how much the repair typically costs, and, most important, what the fix allows them to do.

For example, by talking to some of the folks in discussion groups, the business owner might learn that the problem is most common for off-roaders who don’t feel comfortable making the expensive repair themselves. Therefore, many of them simply curtail the frequent use of their vehicles off-road.

Armed with this information, she would see that the JTBD is not merely the repair itself, but the ability to get away from work and into the woods on the weekend with their vehicles.

An ideal piece of content would then include the following elements:

  • Prevention tips for averting the damage that would cause the repair
  • A how-to video tutorial of the repair
  • Locations specializing in the repair (hopefully her business is on the list with the most and best reviews)

A piece of content covering the elements above, that contains amazing graphics of folks kicking up dirt off-road with their vehicles, along with interviews of some of those folks as well, should be a winner.

#4—Promote, promote, promote

Now that you’ve created a winning piece of content, it’s time to reach back out the influencer(s) for their help in promoting the content.

First, though, ask if what you’ve created hits the threshold of incredibly useful and worth sharing. If you get a yes for both, you’re in.

The next step is to find out who the additional influencers are who can help you promote and amplify the content.

One simple but effective way to accomplish this is to use BuzzSumo to discern prominent shares of your amplifiers’ content. (You’ll need to sign up for a free subscription, at least, but the tool is one of the best on the market.)

After you click “View Sharers,” you’ll be taken to a page that list the folks who’ve re-shared the amplifier’s content. You’re specifically looking for folks who’ve not only shared their content but who (a) commonly share similar content, (b) have a sizable audience that would likely be interested in your content, and (c) might be amenable to sharing your content.

As you continue to cast your net far and wide, a few things to consider include:

  • Don’t abuse email. Maintain the relationships by offering to help them in return as/more often than you ask for help yourself.
  • Share content multiple times via social media. Change the title each time content is shared, and look to determine which platforms work best for a given message, content type, etc.
  • Use engagement, interaction, and relationship to inform you of future content pieces. Don’t be afraid to ask, “What are some additional ideas you’d be excited to share and link to?”

#5—Review, revise, repeat

The toughest part of content marketing is often understanding that neither success nor failure are final. Even the best content and content promotion efforts can be improved in some way.

What’s more, even if your content enjoys otherworldly success, it says nothing about the success or failure of future efforts.

Before you make the commitment to create content, there are two very important elements to adhere to:

1.) Only create content that’s in line with your brand’s goals. There’s lots of good ideas for creating solid content, but many of those ideas won’t help your brand. Stick to creating content that in your brand’s wheelhouse.

2.) This line of questioning should help you stay on track: “What content can I create that’s (a) in line with my core business goals; (b) I’m uniquely qualified to offer; and (c) prospects and customers are hungry for?”

My philosophy of the three Rs:

  • Review: Answer the questions “What went right?”, “What can we do better?”, and “What did we miss that should be covered in the future?”
  • Review: You’ll need to determine the metrics that matter for your brand before creating content, but whatever they are ensure they’re easy to track, attainable, and, most important of all, have real meaning and value.
  • Repeat: Successful content marketing efforts occur primarily through repetition. You do something once, learn from it, then improve with the next effort. Remember, the No. 1 reason we have less and less competition each year is many aren’t willing to pay the price of doing the little things over and over.

This post is, by no means, an exhaustive plan of what it takes to create effortful content. However, for the vast majority of brands struggling with where to start, it’s exactly what the doctor ordered.

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!


Moz Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

20 Stats That Explain Why Marketers Still Struggle to Measure Social Media ROI [Data]

strugglingintroductory3

When it comes to social media, many marketers are still figuring things out as they go. This is especially true in terms of justifying their investment of time and money into social media marketing efforts.

But LinkedIn launched 9 years ago. We’ve had 8 years to get to know Facebook, and 6 to wrap our heads around Twitter. So why are so many of us still struggling to report on the value of social media? For quite a few reasons, it turns out. We’ve compiled data from a handful of different recent studies to break apart this question and zero-in on the key challenges social media marketers are struggling overcome. Let’s dive in.

Marketers’ Social Media Usage & Measurement

1) 84% of B2B marketers use social media in some form. (Source: Aberdeen) Tweet This Stat

2) The majority of marketers (59%) are using social media for 6 hours or more each week. (Source: Social Media Examiner) Tweet This Stat

3) 83% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business. (Source: Social Media Examiner) Tweet This Stat

4) 53% of social media marketers don’t measure their success. (Source: Awareness, Inc.Tweet This Stat

5) 52% of marketers cite difficulties in accurately measuring ROI as their biggest source of frustration in social marketing. (Source: Adobe) Tweet This Stat

6) 96% measure number of fans and followers, 89% measure traffic, 84% measure mentions, 55% track share of voice, and 51% track sentiment. (Source: Awareness, Inc.) Tweet This Stat

What These Stats Say About the Struggle to Measure Social Media ROI

For one thing, they say that marketers are scrappy. We’ll use any tool within reach to assess our effectiveness and help us move from a gut feeling to a proven method. But the reason fan, follower, and traffic volume are at the top of the list has far more to do with ease of measurement than with priority. Social media channels come equipped with a handful of useful metrics to measure reach and engagement, but what’s missing is something that ties that activity to a marketer’s core business and bottom line. We’ve identified three core reasons why this is the case:

Reason #1: Lack of an Integrated System

7) By 2013, lead management campaigns integrating 4 or more digital channels are expected to outperform single- or dual-channel campaigns by 300%. (Source: Gartner) Tweet This Stat

8) 60% of businesses do not have an integrated social media strategy. (Source: SatmetrixTweet This Stat

9) 50% see the need for tighter integration between social and the rest of marketing and 35% see the need for better integration between marketing and the rest of the business. (Source: Awareness, Inc.) Tweet This Stat

10) 56% of companies struggle to efficiently capture and analyze information from multiple social media channels. (Source: Gleanster) Tweet This Stat

11) 54% of marketers said the leading difficulty in measuring social media ROI is the inability to tie social media to actual business results. (Source: Awareness, Inc.) Tweet This Stat

12) When asked why they struggle to tie social media to business results, 54% of respondents said it’s hard to analyze unstructured social media data. (Source: Awareness, Inc.) Tweet This Stat

13) When asked why they struggle to tie social media to business results, 50% of respondents said it’s hard to integrate disparate social media data resources. (Source: Awareness, Inc.) Tweet This Stat

What These Stats Say About the Struggle to Measure Social Media ROI

There is tremendous potential in connecting social media data to your overall marketing analytics and relationship management software. And yet, according to multiple reports we found, integrating social media — particularly social media data — into an overall marketing strategy is among the toughest challenges out there. A lot of this is because social media tools tend to be isolated from the rest of marketing tools.

This underscores a much larger problem in the marketing field. As new channels have emerged and become more dominant, marketers have adopted a collection of different tools to manage them. You have an email service provider for email marketing. A social media tool for social. And website analytics for all that happens on your site. But the true story of your customer experience and your marketing strategy exists in the intersections between these channels. Without sharing data between the tools, marketers get a fragmented view of their marketing.

The good news is, now that the problem is clear, a number of software platforms are moving to solve it. HubSpot now integrates all of your marketing data in one place. HootSuite has been moving to integrate with multiple analytics providers. And piece by piece, other tools are starting to connect through API integrations.

Reason #2: Lack of Agreement on Purpose and Goals

14) The Social Media Examiner found that respondents most often saw the key business benefits of social media marketing to be increasing exposure and traffic to their site. Tweet This Stat

15) Awareness, Inc., on the other hand, found that 78% of respondents listed “better customer engagement” as their top goal. Tweet This Stat

What These Stats Say About the Struggle to Measure Social Media ROI

Another reason some marketers struggle with measuring social media ROI is the lack of certainty around goals. We find that when we ask marketers about their goals for social media, their answers range broadly. Sometimes marketers focus on qualitative goals like engagement or brand affinity. Other times, they align closely with what they can definitively measure like follower count or traffic. The challenge, however, is that too often social media goals reflect the core functionality of the channel rather than the core needs of the business. 

Reason #3: Difficulty Interpreting First Touch vs. Last Touch Attribution Data

16) Last-click attribution is the most common measurement model used by marketers to evaluate social media results. (Source: Adobe) Tweet This Stat

17) Adobe found that using first-click attribution instead of last click resulted in social media ROI data that was nearly twice as high (88%). (Source: Adobe Digital Index) Tweet This Stat

What These Stats Say About the Struggle to Measure Social Media ROI

It’s called last-click attribution because conversions are measured based on the most recent channel that brought a visitor in before they converted. Think of it like giving your most recent date credit for leading to your wedding engagement rather than your first date. The problem with measuring social media through last-click attribution is that social channels tend to engage people at the top of the sales funnel rather than right before they buy. Even for marketers who manage to integrate their social media channels into their overall revenue and customer acquisition analytics, there are still decisions to be made about how to interpret that data.  

Some Good News in Social Media ROI

18) In the next 5 years, marketers expect to spend 19.5% of their budgets on social media, almost three times more than the current level. (Source: The CMO Survey) Tweet This Stat

19) Fewer than 30% of large organizations will block social media in 2014, vs. 50% in 2010. (Source: Gartner) Tweet This Stat

20) According to a survey of 700 marketers, 75% intended to increase social media spending this year. (Source: WildfireTweet This Stat

What These Stats Say About the Struggle to Measure Social Media ROI

Social media began for many as a nights-and-weekends project. Without years of historical evidence as to its effectiveness, many companies were slow to dedicate budget to it beyond just a little bit of staff time. The good news is, research is beginning to show a gradual reversal of that position.

Despite the current challenges to measuring social media ROI, there is some meaningful movement in the space. All-in-one software platforms and analytics integrations are making a single view of marketing data more possible, and investments in social media measurement seem to be on the rise.   

What about you? What are your key ROI goals for social media and what, if any, limitations are standing in your way to achieve and measure them?

Image Credit: Zach Klein




crush-competitors-social-media




like-what-youaposve-read-click-here


mqlbanner_ima


HubSpot's Inbound Internet Marketing Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off


Advert