Sally Gurteen, June 2015

It’s been a while since I wrote my last article How To Win Bloggers and Influence People in 2013 and I wanted to come back and tell you how I was getting along all this time later, as well as looking at how to start aligning these ideas with achieving an integrated search marketing strategy.

“The relationship between PR and SEO is no secret affair. The whirlwind whispers it has stirred has whisked bloggers and online journalists into key, influential positions and placed them as integral figures in successful marketing strategies.

By this placement of bloggers as ambassadors and advocates of your product, the likelihood of an emotional connection between your brand and its demographic, increases in a world where the ‘human element’ plays a vital role in the future of marketing.

Through careful negotiation, persuasive and unique content can be generated by creative collaboration, and the nurturing of bespoke relationships that benefit brands, bloggers, and, ultimately, their audiences.

However, it is not a tactic to be cynically exploited. For a long term, sustainable strategy this human element cannot be faked. Instead, it must be forged; real relationships must be made.”

I would like to return to this premise, enquire why a lot of PR is still so ruddy chilly, and talk about the part where you see the fruits of your labour from being a more open brand: the results.

Infuriatingly enough, PR for SEO is often referred to as fluffy, or that the ROI is difficult to measure. Well, to those who say either of these things, YOU ARE CATASTROPHICALLY AND WHOLLY WRONG. What’s more, to those brands who are still hurriedly building links, good god darn luck to you. In that famous fable, who won? The tortoise, or the hare?

The Vain Jackdaw – Engage, Don’t Dictate

Working in particular with a quality tea brand, we came to the conclusion together that we needed to let go of the quantity approach and become purveyors of relevant, educational and quality content, as well as building fantastic, on-brand relationships. Together, we took the decision to move away from focusing on the acquisition of specific links, and instead created broader concepts that aligned with the brand values, seasonal activity and capitalised on current trends; telling stories that were relevant, on trend and human. We guided our journalists and bloggers to discover where and how these concepts resonated with them personally, engaged them with rich context, and left them to write, photograph and reference in any which way that felt natural to them.

All too often, being a blogger as well as a content specialist, I am approached by brands to tell a story exactly how they want it to be perceived, or with little more than a hello and a press release. Such faceless, impersonal vanity is not only off-putting but also uninspiring, as if I’m dying to write about every single brand that approaches me in this way.  If your objective is to secure rich, contextual and engaging content, be generous, inspiring and engaging with your writers and they will likely repay you the same compliment.

The Tortoise and the Hare

The North Wind and the Sun – Broader Measurement

With more efficient content, comes a bigger picture, and where before we watched our rankings like eager hawks, we now started to enjoy reading the content that began to gently pore forth and were liberated to measure metrics beyond those pesky rankings, such as:

  • The semantic context and the density of our concepts (Wordle is a great free tool for exploring this)
  • The time referred directly to the site from coverage
  • Social media engagement and comment analysis – looking for good sentiment and intent to purchase
  • Keyword visibility from within our concepts, and overall SEO visibility
  • Reach and impressions
  • Organic, direct and referral traffic and revenue

We also considered, and are considering:

  • Multi funnel journeys – what was the impact of our content within the user journey to conversion? Are customers influenced by our content inclined to spend more?
  • What about the products and key areas that weren’t part of our concept? How did they perform in comparison?

The Tortoise and the Hare blogger outreach

Creating quarterly reports gave us the ability to benchmark and gather data that we could contextualise, interpret and fuel core insights into our ongoing strategy, as well as wrapping up the season with a storybook that we could read with a good cup of Jasmine Silver Needle.

In our third quarter, we saw:

  • The likelihood of natural, repeat content up 400% quarter on quarter
  • A reach of approx. 2million, up 260% from the previous quarter
  • An increase in conversion on clicks referred directly from our bloggers’ and journalists sites
  • Our content consistently acting as a touch point within multi-funnel conversions, and often resulting in higher final conversions
  • Of 13 core keywords that fell within our concepts, those that were linked to, or referenced contextually, 4 of them between positions 20 -60 moved into 11-20, and 9 keywords in positions 11-40 move into positions 1-10, meaning that we were in a much better position for search within our concepts
  • Site-wide, longer-tail terms increased in visibility, meaning the majority of our keywords now sit in positions 11-20 rather than 20-50

Overall, a resounding and ongoing success. Top referring content to the main domain is rich, varied and educational. Moving into the next quarters, we anticipate integrating our marketing strategies more solidly, to tell a seamless story across all channels. Of course, we’d have loved to have done this before, but we’re tortoises, not hares, remember?

Next time, I’ll be discussing brands that get relationships and/or content right but completely forget about search optimisation. Forget about search? Are they mad? Stay tuned and I’ll reveal the head cases of digital 2015.

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