Content Marketing 101 Series from Mindstream Media Group
What is this series all about? Our Content Marketing 101 Series will help multi-location and franchise brands improve their content efforts
What is this series all about? Our Content Marketing 101 Series will help multi-location and franchise brands improve their content efforts
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev’s original Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. To celebrate, Search Engine Land updated its popular take on Mendeleev’s work – the Periodic Table of SEO Factors. While Search Engine Land designed its version to apply to any type of business, we wanted to look at how it impacts SEO for multi-location brands.
But first, here’s a little background on the table itself. Search Engine Land originally published its Periodic Table of SEO Factors in 2011. Since then, it’s been a premier resource for search professionals looking to gain a better understanding of what it takes to build a winning SEO strategy. The original version has been downloaded almost 100,000 times by marketers in more than 70 countries and referenced by thousands of blogs and websites.
With this year’s version, the foundation has remained the same but the table’s creators added categories for toxic ranking factors and emerging verticals on top of the groups of successful SEO factors. Below, we’ll provide an in-depth look at how your multi-location brand can use the learnings from each group of success factors to guide your SEO strategy.
Now that we know what the table is, let’s dive in with our list of actionable tips for each group of elements as they pertain to multi-location brands.
The Content Group of the Periodic Table of SEO explores the facets of creating high-quality, in-depth content for your website and other digital properties. Here’s how your multi-location brand can optimize your site for this group.
Create high-quality content to help searchers learn everything they need to know about your products, services and locations. When it comes to SEO for multi-location brands, creating in-depth, high-quality and keyword-optimized pages for each of your locations is essential.
Start by researching and identifying the terms your target audiences are likely to use in searches for your products, services and locations. Include geo-specific keyword research to identify which terms your audiences are searching for across your specific markets.
Complement your product, service and location pages by continuously creating and optimizing thought-leadership pieces like blog posts and long-form content (e.g., e-books, case studies, infographics, etc.).
Develop high-quality multimedia content (images, video, audio content, etc.) to support and complement your other content pieces.
Create content that addresses popular questions your audiences ask in search results (use keyword research to determine these questions). For multi-location brands, FAQ pages can be a huge boost to search engine rankings and help you earn featured snippets.
For the Architecture Group, the overall learnings apply to SEO for multi-location brands the same as most other businesses. Here’s a look at a few of the most important elements in this group.
Make sure your site is easy for search engines to crawl so they can find all your product, service and location pages.
Make sure your site is optimized for smartphones and tablets. If you’re not sure if your site is optimized for mobile, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to find out.
Multi-location brands often have issues with duplicate versions of location pages. Make sure there is only one version of each of your webpages by using canonical URLs and 301 redirects.
Your webpages should load quickly on any device. If you’re not sure if your site’s speed is up to par, you can run it through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
This element group deals with the HTML tags your brand should include on its website. For multi-location brands, it’s important to make sure these tags include geo-modifiers to optimize the pages in local search results.
Include the city and state in the title tag in every location-specific webpage.
Add Schema Markup and other localized structured data to help search engines understand local information like phone numbers and business addresses.
Use geo-modifiers and market-specific keywords to optimize header tags (H1 – H6 tags) for each location page.
Last year, Google introduced an update to its algorithm that SEO pros dubbed the “E-A-T update.” E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. This group of elements speaks directly to those measures for both SEO for multi-location brands and other businesses.
Create content that will drive incoming links, shares and other authority signals to boost search rankings.
Create high-quality content to drive activity and engagement on your website.
Work on building trust over time. Sites that operate the same way for years carry weight in search engine rankings.
This group of elements has been a mainstay on the Periodic Table of SEO since the beginning and is as important as ever. According to Search Engine Land:
When Google burst onto the scene with its then-revolutionary PageRank algorithm in 2000, the company made clear that links were a factor in how well a website would perform in search. The higher quality and more relevant the sites that link to your own are, the better it is for your SEO.
In terms of SEO for multi-location brands, here’s how you can improve your incoming link portfolio.
Seek links from trusted, high-quality websites in your business vertical or from locally-focused websites and online directories.
Make sure your incoming links are from relevant pages and use your target keywords as the anchor text.
Work to build a robust stable of high-quality links naturally over time.
The way users interact with your site is crucial to search rankings. Search engines don’t like it when users click on a result and quickly bounce back to the results when they can’t find what they need. To make sure searchers don’t abandon your site, here are a few things you can do to optimize for the elements in the User Group.
Target specific cities or neighborhoods by including your addresses on location pages and specifying the markets you serve.
Make it easy for potential customers to find specific location pages with an easy-to-use store locator tool and a section on your website dedicated to finding nearby locations.
Create localized content that provides specific information your target audiences are searching for (i.e., content based on search intent).
Contact Mindstream Media Group and we’ll show you how our SEO and Content Marketing services can amplify your multi-location brand’s presence in search results.
No matter how groundbreaking and spectacular a website is when it’s first launched, it’s inevitable that the site’s design, SEO and copy will eventually become outdated. When this happens, it usually means the roller coaster thrill ride of a redesign is in your future.
If you’ve been through a massive site redesign, you understand the highs of seeing your beautiful new design come to fruition, as well as the lows of watching your website traffic stumble as search engines re-index your site.
This is the situation that The UPS Store franchise development team recently found themselves in. After launching a redesign of its website in 2017, the brand saw the site’s ranking in relevant Google search results fluctuate. Thanks to their well-established brand, the site didn’t experience substantial traffic losses, but organic search visits did drop from the previous year.
For high-volume websites, even a small decline in visits could represent a drop in thousands of leads. To reverse the trend and make sure prospective franchise owners could still find the site, we implemented a combination of SEO and Content Marketing efforts to:
Ranking well on Google demands an SEO strategy that optimizes all aspects of the website. For The UPS Store, we implemented a holistic SEO strategy focused on three main components.
Throughout 2018, we completed several major projects to improve these elements, including:
Since Mindstream Media Group started a backlink campaign for The UPS Store, the link profile has steadily improved thanks to guest posting, manual outreach and other white-hat link building efforts.
We updated the site’s internal linking structure, improved site speed, implemented title tags and meta descriptions backed by keyword research, added Schema Markup, updated much of the content and improved keyword rankings for several relevant high search volume keywords.
Google continuously updates its search algorithm to deliver the most relevant results. We monitored all the major updates for opportunities to optimize the site based on the latest SEO best practices. Here’s a look at some of the most significant Google updates in 2018.
Mindstream Media Group’s Content Marketing efforts included three main initiatives:
Our Content Marketing efforts went hand-in-hand with our SEO work. We used the keyword strategy and technical SEO tactics outlined in our SEO program to guide both webpage and blog content. This approach allowed us to create content that:
As we continued to implement our SEO and Content Marketing efforts throughout 2018, traffic to the website started to pick up.
Not only did the site’s traffic rebound from the redesign, but there were even more visitors than before.
In the fourth quarter of 2018, traffic to the site’s blog took off. We saw improvements in page views, time on site, entrances and bounce rate.
Thanks to our combined SEO and Content Marketing efforts, we exceeded our 2018 goal for SEO sessions by 8 percent.
This week, eMarketer released a study on the state of B2B Content Marketing that was packed with interesting stats for marketers. One of the study’s most significant findings was the overwhelming amount of B2B companies that currently use content marketing.
With almost nine in 10 B2B companies currently using content marketing, the practice may be reaching a saturation point. And, companies are using Content Marketing for a variety of business objectives. eMarketer kicked off the report by stating:
Content is more than an upper funnel, lead generation device. When crafted with purpose and intent, strategic content can influence audience behavior throughout the B2B customer journey.
I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, I recently gave a presentation at LSA19 about that very point (check out the SlideShare below).
Organic content is an effective way to inspire profitable consumer action throughout the journey when it’s done right. But when it’s done wrong, content can fall flat. Less pragmatic marketers may see initial B2B Content Marketing failures as an indictment against the practice itself, rather than a symptom of faulty tactics.
The truth is, despite this saturation, B2B Content Marketing efforts still haven’t hit full maturation. eMarketer also noted a study that asked B2B marketers about the level of their Content Marketing maturity, and the results were scattered across the board.
B2B Content Marketing pros aren’t the only ones to recognize the growing pains. eMarketer’s report also identified the biggest issues that B2B decision makers (i.e., your audience) have with the content they receive.
If your brand is still working on growing your Content Marketing efforts, here’s what you can do to avoid five of the pitfalls mentioned above.
In order to effectuate consumer action, Content Marketing efforts must create synergy and catalyze a paradigm shift across the organization.
Did your head hurt reading that sentence as much as mine did writing it? That’s because it’s a useless heap of fancy-sounding words incoherently meshed together. Regular consumers don’t want to read it and neither do B2B audiences. To keep your audiences happy, make sure the content you put out is free from fluff and jargon.
One way I see this play out all too often is when brands focus their content on a product’s features rather than its benefits. B2B companies have a habit of getting so wrapped up in how their products work that they forget why people buy them – for the benefits they provide.
I’m not the biggest fan of using random quotes to prove specific points but Seth Godin outlined an interesting way to look at this problem in his book This is Marketing:
Theodore Levitt, a Harvard marketing professor, famously said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole.” But we can take this further: someone wants the hole so they can put a shelf on the wall; which lets them keep their stuff tidy and on display; and, they want to feel good about doing it themselves.
In other words: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want to feel safe and respected.” They don’t want the thing you have made, they want what it will do for them and how it will make them feel.
If you serve multiple audiences (e.g., different target audiences for different product lines), you’ll probably end up creating content pieces that aren’t relevant to everyone. And that’s OK. The important thing is to try to segment your audiences so they’re only seeing the content that’s most relevant to them. For example, if you’re incorporating email into your B2B Content Marketing strategy (and you definitely should), group your email list by industry and create content for specific audience segments.
This is one I see frequently when brands farm out their content creation to freelancers. I’m not saying all freelancers are bad. I’m just saying you get what you pay for when it comes to content. If a freelancer comes to you with pricing that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you go outside your company for content, make sure to hire a reputable marketing agency or well-vetted freelancers.
Here’s a marketing paradox: what happens when an unstoppable force like marketing best practices crashes into an immovable object like consumer preferences? Well, first of all, that shouldn’t happen. Best practices should be based on what consumers want, but contact forms fall into somewhat of a gray area. Gating content allows B2B marketers to gather information from potential customers so they can contact them later on. But, sometimes business consumers just want to access a piece of content without having to surrender their personal information (and deal with the inevitable follow up emails and sales calls).
I’ve been on both sides of this and have some strong feelings on it, some of which may not sit well with other marketers. Here are a few of my thoughts on how your brand should handle this clash of interests:
In that spirit, if you’d like to learn more ways to improve your B2B content marketing strategy, fill out the form below. We’d be happy to start a conversation about how our Content Marketing solution can help amplify your brand’s content efforts.
It’s been just over a month since Google released a core algorithm update that sent shockwaves through the search engine optimization (SEO) industry. Originally dubbed “Florida 2.0” by speculators, Google promptly renamed it the March 2019 Core Update (ostensibly to make it easier for everyone to grasp).
We understand it can be useful to some for updates to have names. Our name for this update is “March 2019 Core Update.” We think this helps avoid confusion; it tells you the type of update it was and when it happened.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 15, 2019
Um… Thanks, Google?
Let’s be honest, Google’s clarification on the update’s nomenclature didn’t really provide much in the way of actionable insights for brand marketers. So, to help clear things up, let’s look at how the March 2019 Core Update has impacted a specific type of business – multi-location brands.
Every Google algorithm update has its share of winners and losers. To the victors go the spoils of increased search visibility, which inevitably leads to more site traffic. With the March 2019 Core Update, the winners appear to be websites with better engagement metrics like time on site, pages per visit and bounce rate.
Multi-location brands should work to optimize webpages across their sites – especially location pages. Provide all the information potential customers could need about your brand’s products, services and locations. Make sure your location pages include up-to-date hours of operation, contact information and links to get directions.
Optimizing your site with all the information a consumer could need is important. But it’s also important to take it up a notch by optimizing your site for user intent, especially post-March 2019 Core Update. This means making sure that the content on your site addresses specific queries searchers use to find answers related to your brand.
Start by analyzing the searches you want your site to rank well for and determining the intent and expectation behind each one. Then, make sure the content on your webpages matches those expectations.
Navigational searches: Queries where the searcher is trying to contact or visit nearby businesses. Increasing visibility in these searches is crucial for multi-location brands. To make sure your content matches searcher intent:
Informational searches: Queries where the searcher is looking for additional information about the products and services they’re interested in buying. Here are a couple of things you can do to make sure your site adequately answers these types of searches:
Transactional searches: These types of queries signal that a consumer is ready to make a purchase. To optimize for transactional searches, make sure your site provides a seamless path to purchase. (If your website doesn’t have a way for consumers to buy online, go back to the navigational optimization tips to make sure they can easily contact one of your locations.)
If you need help optimizing your website to improve your search visibility and attract more visitors, contact us to learn more about our SEO services.
Another winner of the March 2019 Core Update appears to be sites with strong brand profiles that focus on broad topics. Which means the losers here are smaller, niche sites focused on sub-topics. Based on this trend, Google seems to be favoring sites that adhere to the Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) guidelines that were central to a previous core update.
Building consumer trust in your brand involves a lot of different efforts, some of which we already touched on – like creating website content that matches searchers’ expectations. The goal of these efforts should be to position your brand as the go-to resource on topics related to your products and services.
One way to do this is to create a wealth of high-quality content around all the topics related to your brand. Don’t settle with just creating product and service pages for your website. Instead, own related topics by creating a library of content like blog posts, e-books, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc. for each of your products and services.
If you need help creating this content, contact us to learn more about our Content Marketing solution.
While the tips above will help your website’s visibility post-March 2019 Core Update, there’s so much more you can and should do. Given that Google relies on hundreds of ranking factors and has a variety of types of search results, improving your brand’s overall visibility requires a comprehensive search marketing strategy that encompasses a variety of paid and organic efforts. If you want to learn more about what it takes to crush the search game, contact Mindstream Media Group to talk to one of our local search, SEO or paid search experts.
Congrats! A new customer just bought something from your brand, and guess what? You lost money.
Yep, you read that right. Studies have shown that a lot of brands don’t make money on first-time buyers. In many cases, initial purchases simply recoup some of the money brands spent turning those consumers into customers.
Bain & Company studied this conundrum by identifying customer value over time across several e-commerce industries. The study had a number of interesting takeaways for marketers:
In the loyalty stage of the buying journey, the relationship between your brand and first-time buyers is fresh, so there’s ample opportunity to strengthen the relationship. The key is to reach your new customers with the right messages at the right times.
To accomplish these goals and objectives, here’s a three-step Content Marketing strategy to help your brand boost customer loyalty.
Don’t assume that just because someone buys your product that they know exactly how to use it or that they’re aware of all the bells and whistles. Instead, create content pieces that help your new customer get the most out of your products.
For example, let’s say your brand sells iPhones. Some of your customers could be lifelong iPhone fans who know how to use every feature before they get the device out of the box. But, you’ll also have plenty of customers who aren’t very tech-savvy and might be using a smartphone for the first time.
For the latter group, you have a premium opportunity to build lasting relationships and create a fresh crowd of loyal customers. So, rather than letting them figure out their new phone on their own (and risk losing them when it’s time for an upgrade), create content pieces designed to teach them how to use specific features and proactively address their common questions.
When a customer makes a purchase, encourage them to sign up for email alerts or e-newsletters. Not only does this get the content directly to your customers, but you can monitor the relationship in your CRM. With a CRM, you can track micro-conversions (small steps customers take toward a purchase), macro-conversions (major steps toward a purchase or actual sales) and the lifetime value of the customer.
One brand that does a great job with this strategy is Amazon Alexa. Amazon regularly sends out product updates and reminders about popular features to help customers use Alexa and start using other Amazon products. These emails often link to other content pieces (like those we covered in the first step) to help customers learn more.
For customers who don’t sign up for your email lists or who don’t interact much with emails, there are other ways to get this content in front of them. Publishing the content on your blog and optimizing it for search results is a good start, but you also want to get it out on other channels – like social media.
For an example of this, let’s go back to Amazon. The Facebook post below is just one example of the content Amazon shares about its Alexa device. The post promotes a piece of content the company created that gave customers a look at a day in the life of Alexa. The content piece was both entertaining and informative, showcasing many of the tasks Alexa can perform for users. By promoting the content on social media, Amazon was able to get this piece of content in front of the product page’s 600,000-plus followers.
This is the final post in our series explaining how to use organic content throughout the consumer buying journey. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the previous posts below or contact Mindstream Media Group today to learn how our Content Marketing solution can help you build awareness, nurture leads, drive sales and build customer loyalty.
Overview: Learn how your brand can use organic content like blog posts, product webpages, social media posts, infographics and video to deliver the information consumers need throughout the buying journey.
Overview: In the awareness stage, consumers are just starting their buying journey and often have a lot of questions about the purchase. When done right, organic content pieces can help your brand answer those questions and build a rapport with consumers.
Overview: In the consideration stage, shoppers are conducting specific research about an upcoming purchase and narrowing down their list of options. Check out this post to learn how your brand can reach the top of those lists by delivering the information shoppers need.
Overview: In the decision stage, buyers have made a purchase decision, but that doesn’t mean they know where or how to buy. Check out this blog post to learn three Content Marketing strategies that help brands deliver buyers the right information at the right times.