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How agencies can provide clients with an integrated service given the increasing connection between brand, content marketing and SEO

After a couple of years of travelling and lifestyle consulting, I returned to the UK in 2012 with the goal of setting up a digital agency. I knew I wanted us to be very hands on and do transformative work with a limited number of clients I loved working with. But beyond that, I wasn’t sure what service I needed to create to do this!

It has taken me a year to work this out. But I’m there now and I’m inspired and it’s a journey of discovery I am keen to share.

First Steps: Recognising key developments in SEO and social media

I started this journey as a big believer in SEO having driven 50% of first business’s traffic Easyodds through natural search from 2005 – 2010. In the two years I’d been away from the UK though, the world of SEO had changed. The recent Google Panda and Penguin algorithm updates had led to major penalties for low quality links and content. What’s more it was clear that this was not a one-off as algorithmic updates were being announced on a weekly basis.

So high quality content was a must for SEO. But not just for SEO.

Source:Conductor

In the 2 years I was away social media usage had continued to rocket and Twitter in particular had started to mature as a content marketing platform. Various surveys and articles were telling me that over half of social media activity involved content sharing. What’s more as Google was on the hunt for new and improved data to verify quality and relevance, I thought social data must surely become a key part of its algorithmic ranking decisions at some point.

What better way to identify quality content than to measure relevant sharing and engagement levels as well as backlinks? So high quality content could lead to independent traffic and that traffic in turn could lead to better long term search results.

So now I knew that my service had to merge SEO with social media using high quality, targeted content as the binding ingredient. I believed this could also lead to long term stability. While natural search remained a monster short term line of traffic, Google was increasingly starting to fill its pages with its own products and data.

The launch of Google Knowledge graph, a potential Wikipedia killer seemed a giant leap further towards Google-owned search results. Likewise the social media giants of 2010 remained widely used but the marketplace was still evolving as the massive growth in Pinterest usage proved. But within that environment of change, creating great content and inspiring and engaging a targeted relevant audience – that seemed to be timeless marketing craft and as future proof as any service I could conceive.

Discovering the Brand Connection

Using their internal marketing data, we were able to identify some big additional natural search opportunities.

However once this work was complete, we discovered that there would be a negative brand impact from associating Borro with pawnbrokers which in turn created a reticence to strongly promote the directory. Although this is something we are still working on together and developing, the potential impact of our work in the early stages was diluted.

Great content may be the key to SEO and social media success but without full brand buy-in, great content can not prosper.

The Power of Brand Purpose and Passion

We spent time exploring the brand values that the founding team was implanting into the DNA of the new company and the passions that had caused them to create the business.

The fact that we were working so directly with the founders at such an early stage was very helpful in drawing these ideas out quickly and authentically.

Excited by this experience, we started to focus attention in other client work to discovering a brand’s core purpose and passion. The results were amazing.

Finding this core inspiration was like content strategy gold.

Now I’ve experienced this, it makes sense. To succeed with the mission of creating shareable, relevant content, one must find themes related to a company that are not self serving and that its people are passionate enough about to get involved in an authentic dialogue. This is made possible by tearing back the layers of every day activity and delving deeper into a Company to find its core purpose because at the heart of most brands is a passion that originates from something deeper than just making money.

These ideas are beautifully expressed by Simon Sinek in his brilliant TED talk. He talks about how focusing on ‘The Why’, the passion and purpose of a company, has been so instrumental to Apple’s success. He frequently repeats his mantra ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. Applying this to our service, we have discovered that finding ‘the why’ makes content strategy easy and effective.

Conclusion of connection brand, content marketing and SEO

As I said at the start of this blog, our core purpose is to do transformative work with a limited number of clients we love working with. It has taken a year of discovery to get to a service we feel confident can help us achieve our goals. It may take another year to test and refine our theories but are greatly looking forward to this next part of our journey. 

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How Content Marketing And Seo Work Together #Sejsummit

Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting is a pillar of the speaking circuit and regularly does videos and blog posts about SEO. He always has helpful insights and actionable steps for marketers to better their content and make it appealing to both the search engines and the users.

I had a chance to interview Mark before our last SEJ Summit SEO conference of 2024, happening November 2nd in New York City. Check out his answers below:

Your SEJ Summit Presentation is about creating content that is also SEO and brand friendly. This is an area many brands seem to struggle in. Why do you think that is?

Brand content tends to be created with either SEO or reputation/brand-enhancement in mind, but rarely with both, as if they were mutually exclusive. It’s difficult to say why that happens in all cases, but in our experience with larger brands, it’s often a result of who has ownership of the content, and what their goals are.

It is possible, though, and we believe most desirable, to create content that both helps build SEO while at the same time creating real value for actual users of the site.

SEO and content marketing seem to be pitted against each other. What are the benefits of the two disciplines working together?

As I said in the previous answer, which of those is emphasized seems to depend upon who within the company (or which department) has ownership of the content. The sad irony is that there’s increasing evidence that high-quality content that does a good job of fully serving user needs actually enhances SEO, so there’s obviously benefit in bringing the disciplines (SEO and content creation) together.

For that reason, at Stone Temple we work hard to raise the vision of our clients for what content can do, and to support them in “selling” to their companies that higher vision.

I love the story of your start in digital marketing. You worked at an indie bookstore who was losing money due to Amazon and your boss pretty much said “Figure this out.” Over the years, what changes in our field surprised you the most?

My biggest surprise over the years has actually also been my biggest delight. When I was “inventing online marketing” (or so I thought!) for that small store, I thought at first that it was all a matter of learning a set of tricks. But I discovered that doing real marketing, the best stuff that always worked even before digital, actually enhanced and strengthened my SEO and e-commerce efforts. To my surprise and delight, because of the increasing sophistication of Google, those practices actually scale up to the huge brands that Stone Temple works with today.

Let me provide a couple of concrete examples from my bookstore marketing days:

Our store served a pretty geeky culture, people who were really into the kind of books we specialized in. In those pre-social-media days, bloggers ruled as far as influence, and we came to realize that a lot of our potential customers discovered new books via popular book review bloggers. So we reached out to those bloggers, building great relationships with many of them, resulting in them recommending and even linking to our store in their reviews. They came to love us because they realized we truly loved the books they and their readers loved, and that love fest resulted in a big jump in traffic and sales for our store.

The next step was nurturing a sense of community amongst our customers by creating a way for them to become qualified reviewers on our site, which led to many of them becoming mini-celebrities in our niche. We made heroes of our customers, and gained a lot of valuable user-generated content along the way.

Those early lessons have never left me. It’s why Eric Enge and I constantly preach that SEO and content are never stand-alones; to be successful they must be part of a complete marketing ecosystem.

It seems like content marketing is now starting to mature as a field, where do you think the future of content marketing is heading? What can we expect in the next 5 or 10 years?

I don’t think the emphasis on the importance of content will ever go away now. From the SEO perspective, it’s become obvious that search engines place increasing importance on the quality and usefulness of a site’s content. My hope, though, as I stated above, is that more and more companies will adopt a more holistic view of content, and realize that not only are SEO and traditional marketing goals for content not at odds, but they are most successful when they are in cooperation.

In your opinion, what is the number one under appreciated skill a digital marketer needs to succeed in 2024?

Without a doubt, it’s learning the fundamentals of traditional marketing. I’ll be the first to admit that I have big gaps in my own background in that area. The good news is that you can self-educate in marketing these days, if you’re diligent in uncovering the best information sources and dedicated to putting in the effort. I’m investing significant time into my own marketing education these days.

I still am thankful for my “thrown into the deep end of the pool” introduction to digital marketing. I learned a lot because I had to, and I honed those skills in the real battlefield of high-competition marketing. Now it’s time to “grow up” and dig deep into the accumulated wisdom of marketing that goes beyond technical SEO skills or the ability to create great content.

Great insight, Mark. It is always a learning game. Thanks for answering my questions. See you in NYC!

Don’t forget; you can still buy tickets and come see us in NYC Nov. 2nd at the TimesCenter in Manhattan.

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Exclusive: Ginzametrics Seo Platform Gets New Features, Content Marketing Refresh

GinzaMetrics, one of the more comprehensive Enterprise SEO dashboards out there, has undergone a a pretty large feature makeover, adding new features along with improved usability and speed.

In a another sign that the SEO industry is becoming more and more about content, digital and social media marketing, GinzaMetrics made the changes with an eye toward not only delivering recommendations for site structure improvements and the like, but for optimizing content marketing too.  This comes a week after Moz changed their name and started focusing on analytics.

“The search and content marketing landscape is evolving quickly, and a healthy mix of data and creativity are required if you want to thrive,” said Ray Grieselhuber, CEO of GinzaMetrics. “We are thrilled to be a part of this revolution by helping our customers and agency partners discover the best content to create and optimize.”

The newly designed dashboard provides faster access to SEO and content recommendations. Users can spot the keywords that their content is ranking best for, as well as the content that is performing best or worst in search. This helps users make better decisions and reach a maximum target audience. It’s kind of a “to-do” list for web optimization.

“This new release includes a number of updates based on user feedback, and it’s aimed at making the consumer experience more enjoyable with the brands they engage,” Grieselhuber said.

One new feature helps users see problems in the internal structure of their sites. “Page Indexing and Internal Links Insights” provides recommendations across large websites and builds up graphs of internal links. The tool helps users see which pages have optimized links and which sections need improvements, such as HTTP errors, improper redirects and duplicate page titles.

“The ability to crawl a new site and quickly find duplicate page titles, HTTP errors, redirects and other issues in a prioritized, logical way, has long been a missing feature in enterprise level, cloud-based SEO platforms,” said Erin Robbins O’Brien, GinzaMetrics COO. “It will reduce the need to rely on additional platforms to access this relevant information, helping users save time and money.”

GinzaMetrics is one in a competitive field of SEO and content marketing analytics companies that continue to find users and raise millions of dollars. Some of Ginza’s top rivals include Brightedge and Conductor.

GinzaMetrics also offers competitor analysis so users can see how their keywords and social signals stack up with the competition. It lets users see shifts in their rivals’ search and content strategies. GinzaMetrics is also the only platform that crawls this information daily from search engines including Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex , Baidu, Sogou, and others. Those last two were added in April. The platform lets you customize stats by date range, search engine(s), keywords and more. You can also white-label the reports and the dashboard itself.

GinzaMetrics was founded in 2010 by Grieselhuber. Shortly after the company attracted seed funding from both Y Combinator and 500 Startups, a somewhat rare occurrence. The tool provides its features in more than 120 countries and 55 languages around the world.

Key Metrics To Track Your Content Marketing And Overall Digital Marketing Performance

You have put in huge efforts to create high-quality, relevant, and informative content. After thoroughly researching market demands, you have optimized your pages and articles using targeted keywords. What’s more, your content marketing team is also working hard to update your web pages regularly to rank higher on search engine results. Keep it up; you are doing a great job!

However, listen up! Are you sure your content marketing strategies are generating the expected results? Are your content marketing campaigns doing better and producing the desired ROI? Do you even track how well your campaigns are performing? What are you even trying to achieve from your content strategies in the first place?

If you don’t have a solid answer to these, it’s time to focus on measuring your efforts and tracking your results. After all, without having clear goals and marketing objectives, you cannot track how well your campaigns are performing and what results you are really looking for.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is an umbrella term that includes optimizing and marketing various content formats, like blog posts, web page content, email marketing, social media, eBooks, videos, and many more. There may be multiple activities involved while implementing content marketing strategies. However, the basic goal is to get your message to your target audience.

Your content creation team needs to stay updated on the latest content marketing trends and search engine algorithms to enhance higher customer engagement and conversions. In short, ensure your content is engaging and enables visitors to find the answers or products they are looking for.

The Basic KPIs You Need to Track for Content Marketing

To track whether your hard work is really paying you off, your team needs to identify the metrics and track them to measure your content performance. Start with measuring the following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to identify your success factors.

Brand Awareness

The primary target for every business is to place their brand’s name favorably in the market and let others do the talking. To convert your content strategies into visibility gains, you need to focus on building brand awareness by tracking your −

Pageviews and website traffic volumes

Brand mentions on different social platforms

Unique visitors during certain offer periods or seasons, and

The number of followers gained on your blogs, social pages, and newsletters.

Audience Engagement

After generating brand awareness, focus on improving audience engagement by measuring a few website metrics, including −

User engagement rate, that is, how long your visitors were interacting with your website content

Page time of your visitors to identify how engaging your content was for your potential buyers

Page or scroll depth that helps to determine at what points your visitors lost interest in your content

Organic Visibility

Therefore, to give your brand a voice through greater organic visibility, track the following metrics −

Organic website traffic that gives an aggregate of your overall traffic on a certain web page. It helps to track how many potential customers landed on your content from the search results.

Keyword rankings and volumes can be easily measured through keyword research tools like Ahrefs, Google Search Console, or Google Keyword Planner.

Backlinks generated from high-value domains, boost your website’s credibility.

ROI (Return On Investment)

Finally, your ROI is a key metric that lets you identify whether your content marketing strategies are paying off. Analyze the revenue generated over the past few years to determine your profits generated and the percentage of revenue increase after implementing content strategies.

How to Analyze and Measure Your Content Performance?

Now that you are aware of the KPIs you need to measure and work on, let’s proceed toward our vital step of analyzing and tracking how well your content marketing campaigns are performing. The following approaches would help you stay competitive with highly engaging content.

Revisit Your Goals

If you feel lost in a sea of information and ever-changing market trends, it’s time you revisit your business goals. What are the short- and long-term goals you wish to achieve? What are your organization’s vision and mission statements? Determine why you are putting efforts into content marketing in the first place.

Analyzing these answers from time to time is necessary to stay on track and ensure you are not getting diverted from your objectives and purpose. Besides, this era is witnessing a rise in purpose-driven brands. So, if your end goals are unclear, you cannot determine the right marketing approaches for your business.

Track Social Media Engagement

Focus on posting more attractive and visually appealing content that is either 100% text or a balanced mix of multimedia. And don’t forget to use trending and relevant hashtags.

Another way of promoting audience engagement and discussion is by creating polls and lists, introducing fun concepts and games, and starting debate-worthy topics. In short, get your audience talking and then, from their activities, measure their interests and chances of getting converted and spreading your brand name through word-of-mouth.

Track Your Backlinks

Backlinks play a vital role in boosting your site’s credibility and authority. Getting good quality backlinks from other creators and publications is a sign your content creation tactics are working and showing results.

However, remember to focus on quality rather than quantity and be consistent in your content creation schedule. It will help you receive more valuable backlinks from high-authority domains, giving search engines the impression that your content would create high value for visitors (and hence, the higher ranks!)

Conclusion

We hope the above techniques and methods help your content marketing team to identify the loopholes and fill the gaps for better decision-making. These principle KPIs and strategies will not only change your content marketing game but also take your overall digital marketing to the next level. Just make sure your efforts are not going to waste by tracking your content performances from time to time, thus leading you in the right direction.

The Growing Complexity Of Content Marketing

Can content marketing software ease the pain?

A new technology report by Rebecca Lieb at Altimeter has just been launched evaluating the software landscape for content marketing. You might read that as a “not for me” – doesn’t sound too exciting at first glance, but we’d suggest that it might be worth re-thinking that stance.

The $44Bn market: Content marketing is big and complex

Now valued at a whopping $44Bn, the creation and promotion of customer or branded content remains on a huge growth trajectory, and yet Altimeter finds 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy – marketers still have a scattergun approach to content.

“Content is the atomic particle of all marketing” Rebecca Lieb

[note: Seth Godin also said content was marketing’s last stand about 2–3 years ago]

The reality is that marketing is now a complex process, it involves multiple stakeholders throughout the organisation, outside agencies and suppliers, and multiple channels and media. It’s the growing channel and media complexity, driven by consumer behaviour changes, in turn increasing the adoption of content marketing, has given rise to a large, complex, and highly disparate content marketing landscape. A landscape which requires more intelligent tools, software that enables all, or elements, of the content marketing process from creation to promotion and governance, to be managed.

Software options appear to make the complex more complex?

If we accept that content marketing is complex, then the current suppliers of software appear to make it much worse, that’s according to Altimeter – though I’d agree for what it’s worth.

What’s creating the issues and driving the need to change?

Organisations lack a cohesive, coherent, strategic approach to content

Creating and publishing content is hard, unrelenting work

Lack of ownership by one team or division

Lack of integration with other softwares and processes

Misaligned buyer needs vs planned investments

A tangled software landscape

Altimeter’s focus in the report is that software is the key to making the complex much simpler, yet currently there are too many solutions (110 suppliers), many of them small players all whilst the market itself is evolving. We are however seeing the giants, such as Adobe and Salesforce, changing (and buying) the market to create ‘marketing clouds’ – is this the future?

“By 2024, there will be ‘content stack’ offerings in the marketplace — end-to-end solutions akin to ad stacks.”

Altimeter believes that the content marketing tool landscape will begin to consolidate by 2024, that there will be “content stack” offerings — end-to-end solutions akin to ad stacks. Currently, no single supplier has an end-to-end solution. Logically we might accept that a few will partner, merge, acquire, and/or collaborate to create a total solution.

Altimeter Group’s Content Tools Stack Hierarchy

How to define your content marketing tool stack

Much like any other area of business and software, Altimeter Group approaches the content marketing tools problem from the perspective of marketing challenges and needs first, highlighting three steps to best determine your content marketing tool stack:

1) Determine your content marketing use cases.

Altimeter highlights eight over-arching use cases that fall into one of three phases of scaling complexity. Feed the beast might be how it feels for many yet to some extent we’re all in a process of refining and bringing in a robustness, forming roles outside of creation, such as analytics. The third phase of maturity is around governance, a phase where teams grow and regulatory requirements need to be met.

Three phases of maturity

Altimeter recommend that we’re certain to solicit stakeholders and end-users for requirements, input, and collaboration.

“You can’t retrofit activities to the tool; you have to align the tool with your activities.” Kristina Halvorsen Founder & CEO, Braintraffic

2) Plan for integration and evolution.

Altimeter highlight that future-proofing software selection requires a plan, and that integration is tripartite:

Systems integration. Such as CRM, data and analytics

Integration with the organisation including internal communications and corporate intelligence

Integration with structure, workflow and processes – including internal and external teams or partners

Common integration points vs use cases

3) Identify and prioritise suppliers based on those use cases.

Much like any other process of vendor selection. The above two steps enable the priorities and filters to be easily understood and so a checklist created.

Other key areas of best practise that we’d recommend would be enabling scale and phasing development for speed. Of course, the big one is always finding and developing the right team – all the software power in the world simply cannot replace people.

Want to know how those 110 suppliers (or vendors) compare? Check out page 15 of the report right here.

How Brand Marketing Can Increase Your Candidate Attraction Efforts

If you want to secure the top talent in 2023, you need to position your company as an employer of choice

As a marketing professional, you’ll be well adept at maximizing your brand in order to attract new customers. But have you considered how brand marketing can increase your candidate attraction efforts too?

After all, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for organizations to entice candidates out of their current roles, with the ONS reporting that UK employment hit another record high at the end of last year.

As such, if you want to secure the top talent in 2023, you need to position your company as an employer of choice. With this in mind, below we explain how brand marketing can increase your candidate attraction efforts and what you need to do to get in front of potential employees.

What does your brand say about you?

Before you get started, ask yourself, what does your brand say about you as an employer? If you were a potential candidate, what would you think about the organization if you were to visit your website?

Your brand isn’t just your company logo and website. It’s how you interact with customers and candidates, and the type of information you put out into the public domain.

With this in mind, think about how you want to position your brand and how you want candidates to view you as a potential employer. For example, while you might adopt a formal tone with potential customers, you may choose to speak to candidates in a more ‘human’ manner.

Once you’ve figured out how you want to get your brand across, you can start to explore different ways of using your brand to increase your candidate attraction efforts.

Maximizing social media

When it comes to marketing your brand, having a social media strategy is vital. With the potential to reach thousands of users, it’s important that you’re not only pushing your products in front of prospects, but also using these platforms to boost your candidate attraction efforts.

So, consider the messaging you want to put out there. A mix of different content is the best approach. You might want to promote specific vacancies in your company, pulling out the key perks of each specific role. For example, you may include the names or details of exciting clients or projects they could be working on, the software they’ll use and any bonus schemes they may benefit from.

You may also want to push positive images around internal events, employee promotions, or successful campaigns that individuals have worked on.

Alongside this, another way to showcase your brand is to publish employee testimonials. Ask your employees why they wanted to join the company and what they enjoy most about their job and working for you. Then, write these up into short, snappy posts and use images to help bring them to life.

This is something that we do at CV-Library and it gives a nice snapshot into what it’s like working in certain departments. We’ll then link these posts to the relevant section within our careers page.

Responding on employee review sites

One thing to be aware of with social media platforms and employee review sites is that while they’re great for employees to promote your company in a positive light, they also open up the potential to be targeted by disgruntled employees, past or present.

So what should you do if you get a negative employee review online? It might be tempting to shy away in the hope that no one will see it. But, it’s likely that with a quick search on Google, candidates will find it some way or another.

As such, use these platforms to take control of your brand marketing. Address any concerns that are raised and show that you’re taking a proactive approach to bettering your workplace. In doing so, potential candidates will see that you’re committed to keeping your staff happy, only helping to improve your candidate attraction efforts.

Considering your careers page

Whether it’s called ‘Work for us’ or ‘Careers’, having a dedicated area on your website that explains the benefits of working for you is crucial. As mentioned above the vast majority of potential recruits will research your company online, so make sure you’re giving them the insights they need.

Your careers site should be the hub of all of your recruitment marketing efforts. Especially as candidates will go to your company website first. So, be sure to include relevant images, employee testimonials, details of your vacancies, interesting stats and information on the key perks you offer.

What’s more, you could also include information on any awards you’ve won. Essentially, it needs to give the ‘wow’ factor, making candidates want to join your company, immediately.

Understanding SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is now a huge part of recruitment and the good news is, you’re likely to be one step ahead in this area if you work in marketing. With this in mind, consider how you can utilize SEO in your brand marketing efforts, particularly when it comes to your careers site.

For example, if you have a company blog, make sure you’re using it to publish insightful content that people within the industry are going to want to read. That might include posts such as ‘A day in the life of a content marketer’, or ‘What’s it like to work in content marketing’.

It’s extremely important to be competitive and if you’re seen to be a marketing thought leader, potential candidates will be more familiar and engaged with your brand.

Again, SEO is important nowadays as most candidates start their job search on Google, so think about what you can do to make to work for you. That includes optimizing your job posts by using the correct keywords and including important details such as salary and location.

Interacting with candidates

A huge part of brand marketing comes into play when you’re speaking with potential recruits. Nowadays, candidates are king and you need to ensure they have a positive experience of dealing with your company. With this in mind, ask yourself the following:

How long are you taking to get back to candidates that you want to bring in for interviews?

Are you giving constructive feedback after you meet candidates?

How long are you taking to make a job offer?

These are just some examples and certainly not an extensive list, but it should get you thinking about how you’re interacting with candidates and whether it could be impacting your attraction efforts.

After all, individuals that feel as if they’ve been waiting around for too long, or that have multiple offers on the table, will likely go for the opportunity where they feel most valued.

Are you using brand marketing in your candidate attraction efforts?

If you’re looking to grow your workforce in 2023, ensuring that you understand how brand marketing can boost your candidate attraction efforts is extremely important.

So, be sure to make the most out of social media, your careers site, and SEO, as well as practicing good communication, and you’ll stand a much better chance of securing the best recruits this year.

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