In a rather unsuccessful attempt at escaping the bitter Chicago cold, I traveled to Texas for Digital Summit Dallas, a marketing conference focused on content, SEO, UX, strategy, and design. There were tons of great speakers from a wide variety of companies like Google, Cisco and Starcom. I was amazed at how much information they packed into two short days. Here are three quick insights, pulled straight from my 25 pages of type-written notes!
- Marketing is a massive fight for attention and we are rarely given permission. Keynote speaker and bestselling author Seth Gogin [google “Seth” to find his blog] explained how we are constantly vying for the attention of people online. The internet is the first form of mass media not intended for marketers but indefinitely abused by them. We demand a lot of our audience, with very little pay-off for them. Wouldn’t we be more effective if we talked to people who want to be talked to? Permission is letting your audience decide what is valuable to them and what is not. If you have the permission of people who a truly interested in what you’re selling, you can build a real and lasting relationship.
- Leverage your existing content to increase organic search traffic. 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search. Marketers can improve their organic search results by keyword-optimizing content already on their site. Vertical Measures Director of Marketing, Quinn Whissen, advises that you look at pages that are performing poorly and revitalize the content with 1-2 target keywords and a couple of synonyms (semantic keywords). Republishing pages is a great way to get a lot out of your marketing efforts, and timely content does better in search engines. Quinn astutely quoted John F. Kennedy’s “a rising tide lifts all boats” to illustrate the SEO benefit to your website from refreshing its content. Increasing the search value of your pages will go a long way towards generating more traffic and leads site-wide.
- The website should be the focal point of the marketing mix. A common goal of PR, email, social and SEO/PPC campaigns is to drive traffic to the website. If the onsite user experience is horrible, all your marketing efforts are essentially nullified. No amount of traffic is going to capture qualified leads when your users can’t figure out what your services are. Why spend time and money on a PPC campaign that directs users to an overwhelming landing page with outdated messaging? Make your website worth your users’ time. If conversions are low and exit rates are very high site-wide, it might be time to revisit your website strategy and UX.
Overall, the conference focused on improving the experience of users across all marketing channels and provided a good combination of tactical and aspirational insights. Anyone who is involved in marketing would benefit from this conference series; there are multiple U.S. events throughout the year. I am thankful for the opportunity to experience a new city and receive some great takeaways for the new year in digital marketing.
We’re pleased to announce that Clutch, a DC-based research firm, has named Walker Sands Digital among the leading San Francisco Digital Marketing Agencies and the leading San Francisco SEO services firms.
Clutch reviews hundreds of agencies in the digital marketing space and selects those to profile on its web site based on their ability to meet client needs. Their selections are driven not only by companies’ past experience and market presence but, most importantly, by what these companies’ customers have to say about them!
We’re thrilled to be recognized as a Top Chicago Digital Marketing Agency by Clutch, a research firm that identifies leading software and professional services. Walker Sands Digital is also listed among the leading Chicago SEO firms.
Clutch examined the selected companies based on several criteria such as services provided, portfolio items, key clients and industry awards and recognition. Clutch analysts then conducted case study-like interviews with some of our valued clients. The positive feedback we received from them was incredible.
|Don’t give up on lead generation. Your website and digital marketing have more potential than you know.|
I take pride in the ability of Walker Sands Digital to double, triple or often quadruple the number of leads that our clients get from their websites.
Companies that fail to get enough leads from their website have that problem in large part because they don’t know what they are doing. It’s a blunt explanation, I know, but it’s true.
To get leads from your site, you have to do a lot of things right. More importantly, doing one thing wrong can greatly diminish your site’s lead potential.
What It Takes to Get a Lead
Think about everything that has to go right for you to get a lead:
As Google continues penalizing websites using manipulative tactics to artificially boost their search rankings, PR pros should be jumping for joy. After all, the whole point of the year-old Penguin algorithm update is to reward websites that are producing valuable content on a regular basis by making them easier to find.
And that’s what we do for a living, right? Not so fast.
Ideally, the public relations industry should benefit from Google’s push for quality content. Instead of turning to manipulative SEO tactics to drive web traffic, more businesses will turn to PR and marketing agencies for well-written website copy, blog posts and other forms of content marketing. That’s the logical next step for companies that have been relying on keyword stuffing or spam link schemes to build their web presence.
But in order to benefit, public relations firms have to know how search works and make sure they’re not unwittingly contributing to the problem and getting their clients bumped down in results in the process. This SEO stuff isn’t just for web geeks; it’s incumbent upon PR pros to understand the evolving search ecosystem.
Look no further than the ubiquitous online press release as a case in point.
While it’s easy to dump a bunch of links into a web release and tell a client it’s good for SEO, there’s growing evidence that overly optimized press releases could be factoring into search penalties. In other words, you could be hurting your client’s rankings – not helping them – by distributing press releases overstuffed with links and keywords.
That’s not to say good press releases can’t help with SEO. They can still boost online visibility and help pages on your website rank higher. But they have to be written, optimized and packaged in a way that respects Google’s recent changes.
Here are some tips PR professionals should follow in order to keep their press releases from being classified as spam by Google:
- Use links sparingly: Linking to another piece of useful content such as a video or study is a good practice, but linking from a popular keyword to a product page looks like spam. Ask yourself whether the link really provides value to the reader. If you’re adding a link just to boost search results, it probably shouldn’t be there.
- Earn links, don’t build them: Create interesting and meaningful content that people want to find and share, and the links will come naturally. Stay away from an SEO strategy built around aggressive link acquisition.
- Choose a reputable wire service: It’s important to use a distributor that pushes your press releases out to all the major search engines and news outlets, but be wary of services that get your content posted on hundreds of random websites.
- Be newsworthy: While the Internet has allowed companies to communicate directly with their target audiences via search, even consumer-facing releases should have news value. Don’t jump to a press release as the default PR vehicle for everything, and be willing to take a stand and tell a client when something isn’t newsworthy.
- Write well: This one should be obvious, but it’s worth repeating. Google’s algorithm has gotten really good at separating quality press releases with real news value from drivel being churned out just to manipulate search results. Structure, grammar and spelling matter to Google.
- Focus on quality over quantity: While building links en masse used to be a good SEO strategy, it’s now far more important to earn a handful of high-value links from very relevant and authoritative websites. It’s much more difficult and time-consuming, but Google will reward the effort.
According to the SEO team at Walker Sands, press releases have always been discounted by a certain degree by the major search engines because they are considered “created” rather than organic content. When Penguin came along, however, Google introduced an element of risk that didn’t exist before.
It all comes down to this: We should be writing press releases for reporters and readers – not search engines. Focus on quality content, avoid shortcuts, and the rest will take care of itself.