5 Ways SEO Can Shine a Light on Your Unseen B2B Content

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Hidden Content Image

“Look, marketers. Everywhere the light touches is content beloved by customers.”

“But what about that shadowy place over there?”

“That’s our unseen content. We worked hard to create it, but nobody ever visits it.”

“That’s really depressing.”

“That’s life.”

Okay, sorry to bring the room down. And I’m also sorry to say that it gets worse. A recent study found that 69% of all web content is not seen by consumers.

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The remaining 31% is our kingdom.

Fortunately, there are many ways to create content that beats the odds. For example, you can co-create with influencers, or experiment with interactive content that inspires social media sharing. But what about the content you have already created? The really good stuff that never caught on with an audience?

With the right search engine optimization, you can shine a light on that content and help it earn organic traffic. Here’s how we do it.

Ungate the Good Stuff

Five years ago, the best practice for marketers was to gate your most valuable content. It makes sense: You’re offering something great, so people should be willing to offer their contact info in return for it. It’s a simple value exchange.

The flip side, though, is that your most impressive and useful content is now being seen by a smaller audience. You’re intentionally introducing a barrier between your target audience and your most persuasive content. 

I’ll grant that the debate of “to gate or not to gate” is ongoing, and marketers are seeing results with either tactic. But especially for SEO purposes, we recommend trying an ungated approach. 

For example, this asset from client SAP has it all: influencer participation, stats, eye-popping interactive visuals. It’s ungated, and the container page is optimized for search. Keeping this substantial piece of content ungated makes it more crawlable, findable and sharable. As people discover and share it, it gets even more SEO juice. And as an added bonus, the included influencers are far more likely to share an ungated asset.

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Ditch the PDFs

Everybody loves PDFs, but… okay, so nobody really loves PDFs. Their popularity is really a holdover from the old days of the web. You didn’t want to take a beautifully-designed piece of content and try to recreate it in clunky HTML. So the PDF made sure people would see the content exactly as it was designed.

Now, however, you don’t have to be a web designer to create something beautiful on a regular web page. And since plain text is crawlable and PDFs are not, turning that PDF into a web page is a solid SEO move.

Our client Prophix just published original research in their CFO Benchmarks Report. Instead of making a landing page with an ungated PDF embedded, we turned the report into a long-scrawl web page, then offered a PDF download at the bottom. That way, the content is crawlable by search engines and more easily accessible to potential readers. What’s more, the content is now optimized for visually impaired users as well.

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Consolidate Posts by Topic Clusters

It’s standard SEO practice to combine thin content that addresses the same keyword into one comprehensive post. If you’re not doing that type of repurposing yet, that’s a good place to start. 

To take it to the next level, think beyond individual keywords and consolidate posts around topic clusters. For example, your outdoor gear company might have a post for the best hiking shoes, one on how to pick the right backpack, one on the best shirts to wick away sweat, and so on. 

Even though these posts have different keywords they’re aiming for, they all fall under a cluster: Best hiking gear. Combining all the posts into a mega post with navigation elements gives you a more valuable asset for search engines and humans. People will likely spend more time on the page, and be more likely to share and link to your comprehensive resource.

Build a Web of Internal Links

Another common cause of hidden content is that it’s minimally accessible through your site’s navigation. This is especially true if you’ve changed your site architecture over time — and who hasn’t? Content can end up with only a couple links to it, or even none at all.

Content architecture is one way that search engines can better understand your site and which content to recommend to searchers. An orphaned page with few or no links is unlikely to pass muster. 

This guide from Search Engine Journal can help you find your orphaned pages. Once you identify them, add links to and from relevant pages throughout your site. The goal is to build a logical link structure that helps users and bots understand which content is the most important.

You may also find that these orphaned pages are ripe for consolidation and optimization into more substantial content pieces, too.

Build External Links 

The end goal of our first four points is creating assets that are substantial, valuable, easy to find and share, and optimized for SEO and humans. This type of content is perfect for ethical link building. 

Backlinko has an excellent, comprehensive linkbuilding guide (ungated!) that’s well worth your time. But here are a few quick strategies to get started:

  1. Write guest posts for relevant industry publications and include links back to your content.
  2. Identify posts that are linking to similar, but outdated content and suggest updating with a link to your piece.
  3. Promote your content with paid and unpaid social media posts — those shares will indirectly influence your ranking, and can lead to more backlinks as well.

Let Your Little Light Shine

It can be demoralizing to think that 69% of your content is stuck in the dark. But think of it this way: You have a massive resource of already-written content that can find an audience with just a little SEO illumination. Make your content more accessible, easier to find, and more substantial for your audience, and you can bring that forgotten content into the light.

We can help bring your content out of the dark. Request an SEO audit to get started.

5 messaging tips to help brand marketers navigate the pitfalls of coronavirus

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While listening to one of my favorite podcasts on Friday, an ad came on, telling me in a cheery voice about the range of craft beers and I could enjoy at a leading chain of sports bars. It would be completely un-noteworthy, except for the fact this ad went out at a time when we’re all being told to stay at home and practice social distancing so as to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Of course, it’s most likely that the advertiser had paid for this spot weeks or even months ago, before all of the safety measures. But hearing it while many bars and restaurants have been forced to close meant it came off as tone-deaf. Not just to its would-be customers, but also to staff and other operators in the hard-hit hospitality industry.

This got me thinking about the coronavirus pandemic, and how the resulting lockdowns have created a challenging environment for brand marketers who need to figure out how to position their messaging in these unprecedented times.

Of course, when getting in the mood to write about these issues, it also helped to receive emails from every company I’ve ever given my address to, telling me and thousands of other subscribers how deeply they care about what we’re going through.

At the same time, many brands are also falling into the trap of “virtue signaling,” with so many of these emails going on and on about the health and safety of their employees being their top priority, which is why they’ve implemented home working policies. Many of these companies operate purely digital customer relationships, so if I didn’t need to know about their home working policies a month ago, I certainly don’t need to know now.

But setting aside the SaaS exceptions for a moment, those more mainstream industries need to do better. Particularly in those sectors hardest hit – travel, hospitality, parts of retail – how can you keep your brand in customer’s minds without doing more harm than good? Even the mighty Google withdrew its annual April Fool’s Day pranks amid concerns it would be perceived as insensitive.

Might it be best to say nothing at all?

A study from Marketing Week and eConsultancy found that over half of brands are considering delaying their campaigns and slashing budgets, as they figure out what exactly they’re facing. But keeping quiet could create even worse risks than putting a foot wrong. Currently, we have no idea when or how the virus will subside or how the various restrictions will be lifted. It may be gradual, taking place over months.

If your brand is maintaining radio silence now, at what point is it no longer insensitive to start putting out messaging again? If it takes until the fall for things to start feeling “normal again,” your customers could forget about your brand entirely.

A far more pragmatic approach is to work out how to keep messaging going, but sensitively and thoughtfully. In doing so, you could actually enhance your brand image by demonstrating empathy with what customers are going through.

Audiences are glued to their devices and ready to engage. Here are a few practical tips.

1. Audit all content across all channels

Firstly, review all current messaging and channels to make sure that what you’re saying isn’t tone-deaf to the current situation.

If you’re in the travel or hospitality sector, this may mean pulling everything to start again.

If you’re in ecommerce, particularly selling products that may be of high value in a crisis – think garden, toys, or hobby products, for example – it may simply be a matter of checking there’s nothing that could be deemed insensitive.

2. Be clear about what you are and aren’t offering during the crisis

Make sure customers know whether you’re open for business and how you’re navigating any issues.

If a brick-and-mortar location is closed but customers can still order online, put it on the front page of your website and start pinning dedicated social posts. If there are restrictions on what people can buy, make sure they know what they are and why they’re in place.

Source: https://www.easyjet.com/

Also, make sure your messages are aligned across different channels. For example, the EasyJet website is currently promoting cheap flights for 2021. At the same time, the company has also been quoted in the press saying that its entire fleet is now grounded, and it doesn’t know when it will start operating again. Continuity error.

3. Make sure your messaging hierarchies are right

Almost every company has sent emails to customers explaining how they’re addressing the crisis, but most contain no useful information. If you’re going to communicate, make sure it’s relevant, and use the opportunity to differentiate. Put helpful information at the top of the email where most people are likely to read it.

For example, I received an email from my bank a few days back that started by encouraging customers to use its online banking portal and listing out all the services that can be accessed online.

A few paragraphs down, the email listed out some information about new free overdraft limits that would be critical for many customers right now. Which piece of information will people likely care about more?

4. Don’t be afraid to highlight your efforts to help

If your company or staff can and is doing something to address the crisis, then make sure this is at the forefront of your messaging. But only if you’re actually doing something cool.

For example, Lush Cosmetics ran an excellent campaign early in the crisis, encouraging customers to come in store to wash their hands. Estée Lauder is one of many companies using its manufacturing facilities to make hand sanitizer.

Empty of guests, many hotels are opening their doors to house homeless people. These are all meaningful acts that consumers are likely to remember once the crisis abates.

5. At all costs, avoid profiteering

This is an absolute no-no. Amid stories that some suppliers have hiked prices on essential protective equipment and disinfectant product, consumers will be heavily deterred from any brands attempting to profit from the crisis.

However, several companies are taking an opportunity to offer their services and products to customers in a way that’s sensitive yet remains aligned with marketing goals. For example, Zoom is offering free services that will increase new signups without coming off as exploitative. Their blog explains this in a way that puts the customer at the forefront, even if the reality is a little different.

Source: https://www.mattel.com/en-us/playroom

Similarly, toy manufacturers, including Mattel and Hasbro, have introduced online initiatives aimed at helping parents find new ways to play with kids bored at home. Although the company’s products feature, there is no hard sell, and the initiatives are well-positioned as a means of reducing screen time.

Think about the people

The coronavirus crisis undoubtedly means that brands have to think carefully about how they position their message during these times.

However, by taking an empathetic approach that actually takes into account what audiences are going through, there are still plenty of ways to ensure that your messaging resonates.

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

Published April 5, 2020 — 13:58 UTC

Supermassive black holes: How did they grow so fast?

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Whilst astronomers are fairly certain that supermassive black holes, billions of times more massive than our  Sun, dwell at the center of almost every galaxy in the Universe, they are still unsure how these cosmic monsters reach such tremendous sizes.

The problem seems to be one of time, the Universe is 14 billion years old, and recent observations seem to confirm that such black holes were already present when it was just 800 million years old — thus in its relative infancy. How could these black holes have accrued so much matter to supermassive status in such a, relatively, short space of time?