Keywords in practice: SEO for b2b marketing

So, anyone dabbling in the area of SEO knows that selecting the right keywords is an important, but first step in designing a kick-ass b2b search engine marketing strategy, right? (If not, here’s a useful primer)

There is a lot of duff SEO advice online. Get back to basics and use the right keywords optimally around your site. This is a digital fundamental. Here are some quick steps to making sure they help your site rise to the top in search engine results.

Using keywords in practice

It is widely acknowledged that the first 200 words on any web page (especially the home page) are generally the most important on your website. Make sure the keywords for your page are placed in the first few sentences and also in the first heading (h1) tag on the page.

Much of this is covered in the SEO chapter of ‘Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing’ , where I use global compressor manufacturer Atlas Copco and compressed gases supplier BOC to illustrate this technique to promote keyword positioning on compressors, mining and construction.

 

Headings and subheadings

Place your primary keywords in your headings and sub-headings as these areas of content are perceived to carry greater weight in search engine ranking algorithms.

Use key phrases not just keywords

Sometimes if there are words with more than one meaning, it makes sense to use additional words to clarify the intended meaning. To help the search engine bot establish the meaning, use a ~keyword search in Google’s search bar. The results will have the words in bold that the search engine believes are most related to that word. This turns keywords into key phrases or ‘long tail’ to use the common name.

Think about about your own search experience. To navigate an increasingly irrelevant landscape, Internet users are using three words to refine their search so your SEO should follow suit.

Keyword density and distribution

You don’t want to use keywords too much in your displayed ‘on-page’ content, but you do want to make sure they are used at least twice in the body copy as an absolute minimum. Reference needs to be natural and within context. A keyword in every sentence looks forced. Ask your copywriters to use synonyms.

Optimising your meta data

1. Keep meta descriptions short.

If your meta description is longer than 150 characters, search engines may omit some of it. Keep the summary brief and loaded with your most relevant and important keywords to give readers a sense of what they’ll find on the page. To save you counting, the BOC example below is 58 words long.

2. Develop unique meta descriptions.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the meta description is to set the visitor’s expectations about what can be found on that page. This makes meta descriptions for every page a requirement.

 

 

3. Page in a sentance

Write a sentence that encapsulates what the page is about and what it will offer the visitor rather than providing a list of arbitrary keywords. The messaging in the search results are often the first experience of the brand.

4. Reuse elements

Reuse elements throughout the page in links, anchor text and other titles and tags. This increases relevance in the eyes of human and search engine visitors.

5. Order meta data in priority to suit search engines.

Although it is widely held that Google places a low rank on certain elements of meta data, it is good practice to order data in the meta of a web page in the order Title > Description > Keywords.

Applying a diligent approach to your on page SEO gives you a firm foundation to kick on with your online marketing promotion before you spend on link building, pay per click and other forms of advertising.

 

How to ensure you use the most relevant SEO keywords in your B2B marketing

Rightly or wrongly, the Internet is still built on text based code. So making sure your site is optimised with the right text customers are using to inform their search is a critical part of your digital marketing strategy.

Keyword based SEO is critical as it drives your messaging, content and success in search marketing. It’s important that there is a relationship between how your site is written and what browsers are looking for but it is very common for businesses to either do too little or too much which leads to keyword stuffing.

Keyword research isn’t a dark art. Do your homework.

 

Keyword research involves mapping what your customers and prospects are looking for and what you can offer them. There is an abundance of data available within the Google suite of webmaster tools even before you need to access more sophisticated software. You can still access the Adwords Keyword Planner tool which offers insight into which words and phrases are used more frequently than others as well as the relative competition in trying to rank top on them.

As a result, keyword research can be an involved and complicated process especially if you are promoting a number of elements simultaneously. In b2b terms, think about focusing on the following:

1. Focus of the page. Are you providing information or overtly selling? This plays on the position and mindset of the visitor in relation to the buying cycle. The words, language and tone change markedly from informational pages to product selling pages.

2. Pick a primary keyword for each page. Consider using a small number of keywords across your website to start. Using too many on a page will dilute the impact of individual words and mean the page has little authority when assessed by search engines.

3. Assess the competition. What are the competition doing with keywords and are some more prevalent than others? A simple right click and View Source will display the company’s keywords included in their meta data. Consider, though, that they may have the mood very wrong and also competitors vying for rankings for the same keyword phrase.

4. Use a keyword analysis tool. Free tools like the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool are perfect for initial research and help to establish the relative relevance and value of keywords, giving an indication of searches over time and regionally (global vs local). Make sure you use ‘exact’ matching to give you better, more refined results.

 

Q: How do you ensure you are using the right SEO keywords? Share your tips and tricks below.

Image: Crystal ball image 

Ten ways to breathe new life into your B2B marketing blog

An infinitely credible approach to driving customer engagement with your brand is through repackaging your expertise as helpful advice. This blog post looks at ways to re-energise your blogging and content marketing.

For me, the intricacies of the B2B decision making process coupled with the often long gestation period demand an integrated approach.

Carefully crafting a blog that regular provides useful insight and advice sits at the heart of the modern B2B marketing agenda. Great blog content provides for social and CRM rocket fuel and can be packaged at the end of the month and delivered to opted in subscribers as a newsletter and used for press release purposes.

Sometimes we can’t get started. Sometimes we can’t maintain momentum. Sometimes we need a jump start. Whatever the reason, it’s useful to have an agreed number of topics or styles to pull off the shelf in order to avoid writers block and to continue to deliver.

Here are ten things you could plan to do over the next week or so to give your blog fresh impetus. Do let me know how you progress – keep in mind the twin aims of delivering help and advice in a way that keeps visiting audiences interested.

1. Repurpose a piece of existing content into a new format – press release to blog, upload a presentation, create a manual/data sheet download.

2. Comment on a news story affecting your industry – even better if you can find an industry watering hole in which to do it.

3. Comment on a current piece of research or data.

4. Write a round up and publish at the end of the week.

5. Provide an industry resource list – this could in fact be a great evergreen piece of content that with incoming links could return traffic to your site for years.

6. Report on an event, conference, trade show or seminar.

7. Write up a customer case study.

8. Diagnose and solve an industry problem.

9. Offer a distinguished industry voice a guest post opportunity (and reciprocate).

10. If all else fails, take a provocative stance on something that needs to change.

Image: http://www.nothingtoblogabout.net/

Help – I’m a content marketer!

It may well have passed you by, but there are two revolutions taking place that will have a devastating effect on your ability to effectively market your business.

The first is the rise of citizen journalism. The era of 24-7 real time news has meant that everyone now sees themselves as a journalist and commentator on the news as it happens. How often do we see news stories break with a whirlwind of comment, hyperbole and analysis before the facts of the story come through confining all previous activity around the story to the bin?

The second is the reality that everyone (and every business) can and should become a publisher. Adopting a publisher mindset in how you being to redefine your relationships with customers and prospects brings enlightenment as you focus more specifically on their needs than your own. Media owners, by definition, have to provide their audiences with what they want or they go elsewhere – and the title into terminal decline.

Content marketing, as I taked about at length at the recent On the Edge digital marketing conference in Birmingham, is the method by which we repackage our expertise and counsel in a way to make what we do truly helpful to the people we want to serve.

It’s a hot topic as everyone is reading, writing, talking and thinking about it. But examples of people doing it well across a wide variety of sectors are few and far between.

If you’re a content marketer and don’t know where to start, my slides [and video] should help.

I’ll be posting a lot more on content marketing over the coming weeks, but for now consider these five steps to getting an effective content led inbound marketing campaign off the ground.

1. Assign a managing editor to own and determine tone, messaging, platforms, topics, calendar. Impossible for the new graduate arrival to have the gravitas to do this and engage the necessary stakeholders.

2. Research what customers want/need by visiting industry watering holes – trade media, Linkedin groups, trade press and events.

3. Review what assets you have in the business and repackage them. Go back twelve months if you need to. Press releases, presentations, news, brochures, video can all be repackaged to power a blog, email outreach and social media accounts.

4. Curate industry news, information, insights, research and use it to drive your content programme.

5. Above all, focus on customer problems and helping them. Does your content add value by informing, educating, inspiring, entertaining?

How do you go about structuring, informing and implementing your content marketing efforts?

Putting your expertise to best use for your business

If this summer is anything to go by, I’m convinced UK PLC is powering gingerly back into life. At my agency, we’ve had a crazy busy period with an unrivalled number of tenders, pitches and proposals for new client prospects as well as clients entering early stage planning for new campaign periods.

What has been clear is that the wheels of business in a range of sectors that have struggled for several years, have finally started turning. Marketing, as we know, is often one of the first casualties of recession, so an increase in tenders, pitches and proposals is a real barometer of confidence.

But marketing is getting ever more challenging as a discipline. Buyers have greater choice than at any time previous and are much more aware of those choices.

Standing out has never been more important or more urgent. But how you do it determines how successful you’ll be. Tapping into the search mentality of the modern buyer and their quest for problem solving information is one of the most credible and engaging ways to do this.

Check out my current article for Smart Insights on how to make the case for inbound content marketing here.

Book your place at my next conference presentation for On the Edge on 19th September in Birmingham on “Help! I’m a content marketer – 15 easy to implement content tips you can start using tomorrow!”

Digital marketing trends in mobile, social content and search [infographic]

Posted originally on visual.ly by DCI, I thought this infographic updating us on the latest trends in mobile, social, content and search was worth a share.

Whether you’re a digital native or a digital newbie, it offers some interesting statistics (admittedly most US based) on the “key tools and technologies that will define the digital marketing landscape this year”.

The infographic looks at overall use across B2B and B2C and how tools are being used to help ensure marketers make the most of mobile marketing, social media, content marketing and author rank, to deliver high quality content across a range of platforms and devices.

I think, for one, modern marketers are dead in the water if they don’t start embracing responsive design and really building user experience into their marketing.

What do you think?

 

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B2B SEO – the ferrari parked in the garage

The number of consultancy discussions I have about b2b websites not designed with search engine optimisation in mind leaves me hopping mad.

It seems inconceivable to me that SEO isn’t a fundamental element of the website design process. Yet, there are still scores of company sites that have been designed,  built and launched without due consideration for their online visibility.

Why on earth invest time, money and effort in something and then not let it flourish? To me, it’s tantamount to buying a ferrari and keeping it in the garage – not driving it, showing it off, enjoying it.

As commercially-minded marketers, we need to remember how important search engines are in reaching prospects and customers. In previous posts, I’ve discussed how professional buyers are using the Internet to search for suppliers at all stages of the buying process.

It is no longer desirable, it is essential, not least because of competition from global inter-connectedness. Your business doesn’t compete in your city or county any more – your competition is coming from savvy businesses much further afield.

It’s a word game.

Content remains king in SEO. But whilst the amount of content grows exponentially, the quality deteriorates. Browsers now have unparalleled and unlimited choice and no time to waste. The trick to getting and staying found lies in relevance and frequency.

So, in preview, to a series of upcoming posts on the SEO and B2B websites, here is a primer on some of the big picture thinking around why thinking and investing in SEO is imperative.

Think:

1. Relevance. Picking the right words is key. Not what you think customers are using but what they are using. Use the Adwords tool and interrogate it. Visit competitor websites and View>Source to check their meta data. (Future posts will explain some of this). It’s also important to consider combinations and longer tail search to avoid competition and get to the heart of what they want.

 

2. Timeliness. Website content ages quickly. It might be that your company has entered new sectors and markets or left some behind. You may have new products or services to promote, or legislative changes to share. Or there may be a requirement to communicate with other stakeholder groups such as distributors, agents and investors, as well as customers and prospects. All these opportunities give rise to the concept of ‘content in context’ and an opportunity to review how you promote and optimise this content.

3. Consistency / accuracy. Uniform use of keywords on page and in code is critical to success in SEO and returning in search results. Simple things like spelling and grammar can have a big impact too.

4. Engaging. Good performance in SEO can also be achieved by use of more interactive or ‘sticky’ content. Video, for example, not only offers a powerful way to demonstrate product features and benefits, and bring a corporate entity to life, if hosted on YouTube or Vimeo and on your website it can dramatically improve site visibility, ranking and inbound traffic.

5. Connected. It’s important that all links within your site are checked regularly, particularly as the site grows. Updating or removing content leaves the site at risk of being littered with errors and broken links.

Ready, to take that Ferrari of yours for a drive?

 

Image: http://hdwallpapers4desktop.com

What to do when blogging becomes a chore

I’ve been away for a while. This is a personal blog. It’s time to get personal.

I took my eye off the ball. What I have been doing has been important, but I’ve not been following my own advice.

I’ve been busy doing a whole load of interesting things. Set goals for the financial year ahead. Delivered some great work for existing clients. Won some new clients. Did some talks. Chaired some conferences. Read alot of stuff. Tweeted alot of stuff. Networked. Alot. All of it would have found a great home here on the blog and would have probably informed, entertained and even amused one or two readers.

But while I often thought about the blog, I couldn’t find the inspiration to get started. Blogging had become a chore.

Lost momentum

Which is strange because I’ve got a rich body of my own content to draw on – weirdly I wrote a book before writing a gazillion blog posts and then seamlessly turning them into a book. I’m opinionated. I follow a bunch of interesting people online and read extensively.

In losing momentum, I’ve probably lost subscribers. At its height, this blog was hitting 1,000 visits a day (before syndication and social really went mainstream in 2011). I know that a lost audience is a very hard one to gain back. If this has arrived in your inbox today and you read it before deleting it, thanks for your time.

‘Moment of clarity’

I’ve had a moment of clarity, one aided by what I’ve seen online in recent months. And I’ve learnt much through not blogging – perhaps more than I did when I was actively pushing out posts 3-4 times a week (or more).

So, if, like me, you want to develop a blog based content asset, rich in relevant SEO and customer material, but have either run out of gas (like I have) or don’t know where to start, this one’s for you.

What to do when blogging becomes a chore

I’m not going to make any sweeping statements or grand pronouncements about what is to come. But here’s the way I’m going about it from now on.

1. Face it head on. Accept it slipped and put a plan in place to get it going again. Tell someone about it. I’m telling you.

2. Be realistic about how to get going. I’m not going to get back on the horse and write 5x a week. I have commitments, plus as you’ll read later, 5x a week may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

3. Focus on a specific topic. I’m not going to try and write about everything under the sun. Being a specialist is better. Pick a subject and stick to it, selecting relevant keywords to build it around. Calendars and mindmaps help organise a blogger’s thoughts. I’ve also used RSS feeds to stay up to date with news and comment in specialist areas, but now need to shop around. Always used Paper.li to condense my Twitter feed once a day and tools like Evernote to help capture ideas when on the go. Just need to make more of them.

4. Write frequently. Not every day like Seth Godin or Michael Hyatt. They’re professionals, yes, but I get their daily emails and don’t always read them! And also not every day or twice or three times a day like big brand US content marketing sages suggest. I’m going to write frequently enough for it to have a positive impact on readers and frequently enough to rebuild the platform.

5. Write evergreen pieces. Ever wonder why, when you run a long tail search, you generally get an article that might be a year or more old? It’s because it is relevant and because people (probably in your Google+ or social circles) liked it. Evergreen pieces avoid the trivial, topical day-to-day and focus on meatier issues that are more likely to stand the test of time. They are also a good deal longer and need time spending on them so they are of greater value to readers. So, I’m going to write less, but write better.

6. Deliver rich content. We know what makes for a richer experience online and we know search engine bots and people like photos, video, audio, animation, infographics, slides and more. Mix it up a bit, remembering you don’t have to be Sam Mendes directing the next Bond movie.

7. Embrace social. I’m not done when I’ve written and posted. This amazing content needs to be seen. I’m going to get back to putting it out through social networks and syndicating it to popular article sites like Yahoo! Contributor Network, trade websites, trade associations and more. I’ll see a surge in traffic from unlikely places – so will need to update my enrolment and subscription call to actions here on the blog!

8. Above all, I’m going to make it personal. I was as guilty as most other bloggers when I set out, opting to fill a hub crammed with the express intention of creating mass. The reality is most of the content on the web, uploaded and shared on a daily basis is sh*t. It serves no relevant purpose to most readers but gives the publisher the critical mass they crave whilst providing the masses content to curate –  helping to build connector profiles. A vicious circle of sh*t content consequently becomes the norm.

Not for me. I want to make this blog matter. Make it my home on the web. Make it a force for better marketing and an outlet for ideas, thoughts, initiatives and more.

Maybe it’s a grand pronouncement afterall. Thanks for waiting for me.

Q: Have you had a ‘chequered’ blogging history that you now want to kickstart? What ideas do you have to overcome blogger’s block? Please share below.

 

Image www.laundrycompany.co.uk

Your invite to an exclusive “7 steps to brilliant digital B2B marketing” webinar with Silverpop

The lovely people at Silverpop have asked me to be the second speaker in their Silverpop Book Club initiative. On Thursday 11th April (14:00 GMT), join me as I discuss some of the concepts and thinking contained in my book Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing – which is available for Kindle Readers and any device with the free Kindle app from the Amazon store.

The webinar on Thursday, hosted on the BrightTalk platform offers lots of tips and pointers – as well as an unusual array of B2B digital case studies – in areas including digital strategy, websites, search, inbound marketing, social media, CRM and analytics and evaluation.

Register for the webinar here. I understand Silverpop are planning to gift 20 attendees the book for free. At 330 pages and costing less than a large Domino’s Create Your Own pizza, it remains a snip even if you elect to buy a copy.

I do hope you can find the time to join us and learn more about the book…especially if you haven’t already ‘Looked Inside‘.

 

Why RSS still matters and how to react to the impending demise of Google Reader

Google has been getting bad press about plans to retire its popular Google Reader RSS platform, in operation since 2005. Here’s my personal take and some tips on how to manage without it.

Google ignited a real storm online recently when announcing that it’s popular RSS platform, Google Reader, will be retired in July as part of a major ‘spring clean’ to enable a focus on new projects.

There’s no doubt that the user numbers on RSS  are probably in decline, due in large part to the rise in social networking and sharing sites, apps and technologies. There are so many other ways to access real time news. Yet, there is something so simple and effective about RSS and so powerful about being able to house all your feeds in one place – especially if that place happens also to log you into a range of other services including your blog, website analytics, subscription services, advertising and more.

Inspiration

I first used Google Reader around 2008, and I quickly amassed a list of over 150 site feeds I was interested in. As an agency b2b marketer, keeping on top of a range of disciplines, sectors and companies required an approach where I could quickly and easily find information in a real time way. This situation became more pressing when I started blogging, as I looked for insight and inspiration online. Google Reader is now in the first four websites I fire up every morning – alongwith Yahoo!, Hootsuite and Linkedin.

I add 4-5 new bloggers to my list every month to keep my feed fresh – as it powers my Twitter activity too. RSS is a great way to easily scan through literally hundreds of information resources in one hit.

Being able to export your RSS data and take it elsewhere might be easy but that, to me, isn’t the point. Yes, Google have given people like me four months to find something else, to export our data, and to let our subscribers know that the blog will no longer be available via Google on RSS. It’s still going to put a lot of people out.

Commercial over community?

And for what? So they can spend more time on developing products that deliver greater revenue – like prehistoric advertising products? Or commercialising Google+ perhaps, establishing paid Hangouts? Or maybe it’s about bankrolling the Google Glass concept (note: long scroll to video at bottom of page) and other prototype technologies that have a Minority Report feel to them – and a niche audience and price tag to match?

Sorry Google, you got this one wrong. This decision, even despite 100,000s of protests, is going to inconvenience everyone who uses it (many who don’t even know they do), driving people elsewhere for their news and information. As the leader in “organizing the world’s information in order to “make it universally accessible and useful”, it feels totally at odds with your mission.

Make sure you take action today. If you enjoy the latest Marketing Assassin posts via RSS, switch to the email subscription above. It’s free and quick to set up and any new content should land in your inbox around 7am GMT on the day of post.