Selling the click

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My SEO and Growth Predictions for 2022

4. Brand strength becomes a success gateway

A strong brand has always been important. Long before the internet made marketing more measurable, brand marketing was all there was in marketing. Some people literally went through magazines and cut out press clippings. Data was sourced through surveys and focus groups. Not a bad idea, but not scalable either.

But today, we find ourselves in a stalemate. With only four scalable growth channels and consumer platform stagnation, three factors predict the success of a company: superior IP, more capital, or brand. In most cases, brand is the result of #1 and #2 and now it’s becoming an absolute must-have for success.

A strong brand strength can be a proxy for PMF and lead to significant market share gains. Every month only ~6K people search for “find a job” but 2.6M search for “indeed jobs” and 13M for “indeed” in the US.

Brand traffic is “free” and highly intentful. Google Search results prioritize strong brands even more in 2021, in part because Google wants to rank trustworthy sites higher to combat fake news and keep trust with customers themselves. Remember, Google’s market position is the direct result of how much searchers trust it.

Tesla spends almost nothing on Marketing and a lot on RnD. Brand is a moat you can build strong customer relationships and defenses on.

When looking at the search volumes for the keywords “macys” and “nordstrom” below, which one do you think has a higher chance of gaining market share over time?

In 2022, companies will invest more in building and monitoring stronger brands as a driver of higher ROAS (returns on ad spend), lower CAC (customer acquisition cost), and organic rankings.

Growth Memo: My SEO and Growth predictions for 2022

The growing pains of crawling the web

IndexNow provides many benefits. It allows webmasters to notify all search engines at once. It democratized indexing and leads to fewer resources needed by search engines to crawl the web.

Search Engines have been struggling with crawling for a while. Challenges include spam, javascript rendering, but also the increased use of nofollow tags, which is one of the reasons Google started treating nofollow more as a suggestion than a directive.

I don’t think web discovery through links is the best approach and expect more search engines to lean on webmasters to bring new content to them through APIs like IndexNow.

Kevin Indig, Growth Memo

Meaningful Partnerships with Influencers

Canadian Instagram influencer gets called out for using ‘Konnichiwa’ while in Thailand

Successful influencer partnerships are based on trust—not reach. They aren’t built on vanity metrics like follower counts. They’re focused on reaching their target audience with relevant content. By keeping this in mind, you’ll move beyond immediate short-term revenue gains and capitalize on all the other benefits the influencers, bloggers and micro-influencers have to offer.

Some common benefits include:

  • Audience Data – What demographic, geographic, psychographic and brand affinity data can you source from your successful influencers to learn about your customers?
  • Enriched Insights – What product shots, use cases, content types resonated the most with audiences that converted?
  • Audience Loyalty – How can you channel the loyalty the audience has for the influencer and connect it to your brand?
  • Branded Content – How can you repurpose the influencer content for other marketing campaigns to acquire new customers?

When you work with an influencer that truly believes in your brand and appreciates your product, the content that they create is gold.

It’s important to note which influencers are over-indexing with engagement. Those are the ones you want to do more with.

Brands that treat influencers as partners as opposed to paid marketing channels will see the value in their campaigns. To take this approach, brands need to work collaboratively and focus on long-term gains rather than short-term revenue.

Nik Sharma, Influencer Partnerships: How to Form Meaningful Partnerships with Influencers

Mindset Shift

From Keyword Research to TAM

Let’s say you work for an online stationery eCommerce site. You’re trying to persuade the company to invest in content. You could look at the existing content rankings, look at the next 50 pieces of content you might write – essentially try and model out some growth bottoms up – starting with what you have today.

But top down, we might try and find a reference point to see what the total opportunity is. Turns out Hallmark’s content hub ideas.hallmark.com gets 21m visits / year (~40% of all of Hallmark’s organic traffic).

Now there’s all sorts of reasons why this may or may not be a good analogy – and who knows how much of that traffic is revenue-generating. But if I’m an executive at company competing with Hallmark, I’m likely paying more attention to your pitch than I was before.

From competitive analysis to competitive advantage

If you’re going to make pages you need to think about your competitors not through the lens of competitive analysis but through the lens of competitive advantage.

Competitive analysis asks: what do we have and what do competitors have?

Competitive advantage asks: what can we do that competitors can’t?

Not simply asking how do we grow, but how do we build defensible growth – how do we build a moat around our business to create deeper value.

Often we look at strong brands with jealousy but a strong brand positioning can often lead to a more constrained strategy (that’s often the point!) – competing head to head with them is competing on their terms. Instead look to change the rules and play in areas they can’t.

Tom Critchlow from The SEO MBA

TRevenue

NOT ALL TRAFFIC IS EQUAL

You don’t want JUST traffic, you want the traffic which can potentially bring revenue.

I call it TRevenue (Traffic + Revenue)

In order to create TRevenue with blog posts, you need:

Step 1: Define topics that are related to the products your online store sells

Step 2: Validate the topics by conducting keyword research

Step 3: Write the copy and include at least one in-text link to the product (products) sold in your store. No, just buttons in the sidebar don’t count. No, just a link from the navigation bar doesn’t count either. It should be an in-text link (in addition to the above-mentioned, of course). 

Step 4: Never skip the steps above

SEO Shop Up

“What Is It About Now?”

Steal This Book Infographic

Brand Mentions + SEO

Brand Laddering / Positioning

“Tim Cook led the iPhone 12 event with privacy.

If you walked around the Apple HQ and asked what should Apple lead with in their marketing, I don’t think anyone would say “privacy”. But they are leading and have led with privacy.

Why?

It comes down to a basic concept in brand strategy called “laddering”.

When you make a marketing statement, when you promote a feature of a product or service, you are not only highlighting a strength, you are immediately raising that dimension for public scrutiny and thereby ideally depositioning your competition.”

“It’s toasted.”
5G, Disney+, and All Things Social Media
Also, “…we can say anything we want.

“The Biggest Threat to DTC”

One Impression At A Time…

“We anecdotally know that Google is continuously testing content and shuffling the search results, but it’s tough to find hard data about it.

Google tests new content on different positions for all queries it deems relevant. Interestingly, this understanding is very imprecise at first and then gets better over time. Content first ranks for many queries on lower positions, and then for fewer queries at higher positions if the content is of high quality.

Competitive and high-volume queries often have a sort of “probation period”. About two weeks after publishing, the article starts to rank for high-volume queries. Sometimes, they start on page 10, sometimes on page one.

For some queries, Google can identify the relevance and authority right away and rank a page high.

Once they “grooved in”, rankings don’t fluctuate as much anymore. Google has made a decision where the page fits in for a keyword and sticks to it until the page gains more links or someone else published a piece of content that competes with it (or Google updates its understanding of entities).

I observed that It takes Google 3-4 days to figure out where content should rank initially. From there, Google keeps testing how the piece of content would perform for different keywords throughout its lifecycle, one impression at a time.

Content needs to prove itself; nothing is guaranteed.

How Google tests new content in search results

Relations Publiques – l’art et la méthode

“…the basics are easy, but the execution is an art and a science.

Basics:

  1. Find the right publications to pitch (what they write about, what their audience wants, and how much authority they have as a domain.
  2. Find the right writers at those publications to pitch. People who have written similar content before.
  3. Write a pitch that is undeniably well researched, proves you are not a bot, and clearly connects your pitch to something the person you are pitching previously wrote.
  4. Pitch something worth writing about. If it isn’t newsworthy (usually meaning relies on some new data or data analysis), it isn’t worth pitching, and wont be interesting to the person you are pitching.

Success is predicated on all of the above things being done well.”

@kristintynski

“…it’s best to start with those basics and then fail cheaply the first 3-5 times, iterating and getting better every time and building that muscle.”

@josephrobison

“Which metrics do we use to prioritize search modifiers?”

“…there are two buckets – traffic and intent. The intent bucket is more important. The idea is to get more dollars, more sales, and more qualified leads in the short term. We’re going to optimize from tail to head. Backwards – from low traffic high conversion to medium traffic medium conversion to high traffic, low conversion.

It’s more important to get the leads and conversions in the door now, and then work towards scaling up traffic by creating relevancy from long-tail terms into the head.”

Prioritizing New Product Launches

How do you consider prioritizing the launches for new products? For example, your new online design consultation service? 

“By collecting customer feedback research. You don’t have to be perfectly scientific, you don’t have to hire McKinsey. Just talk to your customers, do focus groups, get on the phone with them, and do surveys.

We do surveys all the time. People love doing them and you don’t have to offer some huge reward. We offer the chance to win a free throw blanket. So you know that people aren’t doing it for the possibility of winning a blanket, right, they’re doing it because they care about the brand and they want to give their input. And how cool would that be if you gave feedback to a company and they used that feedback to create new products for you?

For a lot of founders, and people in general, you’re afraid to ask because you’re afraid of what the answer might be.

What if they don’t like what we’re starting to develop? What if they don’t like it what do we do? Well, wouldn’t you rather know that now than launch it and have them not like it? You should perfect products as much as possible before launching. You’re not going to figure out all the kinks, but I think doing any sort of customer research upfront is incredibly valuable. People are more willing to give their opinion than folks might think.”

Burrow CEO Stephen Kuhl shares his playbook for direct-to-consumer businesses.

Link Graph & Relevancy Thread