Archives for : September2015

Allen & Overy closes Toronto 'marketing outpost'

“It was never our intention to practise local law; it was always meant to be a marketing outpost,” Duquette says. In Toronto, Duquette's main duties …

Why Meaning Will Ultimately Determine Your Brand’s Content Marketing Success

Posted by ronell-smith

In 2009 Fletcher Cleaves was a top high school football prospect ready for the next level, eager to do in college what he’d done in high school: rack up yards as a running back. But before Cleaves could realize his dream of playing at the next level, a texting, distracted driver plowed into the car he was driving, forever changing his life’s trajectory.

Today, Cleaves, paralyzed from the chest down as a result of the accident, serves as a tragic reminder of something as seemingly harmless as texting and driving can alter lives. It’s impossible to watch the video below and not immediately realize three important facts:

  1. Texting and driving is a big deal.
  2. This young man was unfairly robbed of his future.
  3. This big brand nailed the messaging.

Telecommunications brands (and airline companies) enjoy some of the worst customer service ratings on the planet. And to make matters worse, their core messaging via print, radio and online ads is equally atrocious, doing very little to make would-be customers give them a second look.

However, with the latest iteration of the “It Can Wait” campaign, which is rich with stories and features stunning video recreation, AT&T did something all brands looking to make a mark in content marketing should copy: They delivered content with meaning.

The end of utility

We live in a world rich in information and teeming with data. The ability to analyze the results of our content marketing efforts, even in real-time, is as astonishing as it is mesmerizing and revealing. Our teams can know, before a word is written, a design delivered or a report is generated what the results should be based on the assigned key performance indicators (KPIs). The automation present in online marketing can make it feel as though the world we inhabit is more fantasy than reality, as if the press of a button will always lead to the results we expect.

Yet we still struggle with how to create content that commands attention, that nudges prospects to take immediate action, that leads to the vast majority of our customers moving from brand loyalists to brand ambassadors and advocates.

Why is this?

I propose that we’ve misread the tea leaves.

In the last three years, marketers (even this one) have sung from the rooftops that your content must be useful and relevant, have immediacy, and deliver impact. And if you followed this advice, you likely found a modicum of success, if only for a short time.

How could we expect any different when the customers we’re all clamoring for are being bombarded with thousands of messages every day? When that happens, even the most resonant voices get drowned out. And for those of us who’ve thrown our hats into the usefulness and relevance ring, we’ve largely committed ourselves to a life of struggle that’s tough to recover from.

This line of thinking occurred to me in July of 2014, as I finished Jay Baer’s book Youtility during the plane ride home from MozCon 2014. I agree with and applaud Baer for bringing to light the novel term, which he defines as “Marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers.”

But I’m afraid this ship has largely sailed. Not because usefulness is any less importance, but because the threshold was so low that every brand and their sister jumped online via websites, social media, forums, message boards and everywhere else with information that temporarily sated prospects’ appetites but did little to create a lasting impression.

If your desire is to create a brand whose content is sought-after and, indeed, clamored for, you must bake meaning into your content.

Without meaning, your brand’s content is adrift

Like many of you, most of my early content-creation efforts were centered around pleasing Google, whereby my inspiration was for thinking in terms of queries:

1: Informational: Where prospects are likely to look for information

2: Navigational: What prospects are likely to be looking for on those sites

3: Transactional: What prospects are ready/likely to buy

The result of this thinking (outlined in the graphic below) was the myriad 350-word posts that now clog the web.

There’s a better way.

It’s time your content led with meaning, and that process begins with a revamping of the thought process surrounding content ideation and content creation. Why is that important?

We cannot win otherwise, says Bill Sebald, founder of Greenlane SEO, a Pennsylvania-based SEO firm.

“Think about it,” he says. “Many brands are still writing low-quality articles that deliver little value and have zero impact to their customers or prospects. That’s bad enough, but when you consider the prevalence of these thin content pieces, is there any wonder how the Panda Update evokes fear in these same brands? Being useful is great. It can and does work fine, for a while. But what you want as a brand is lasting impact, people seeking you out, top-of-mind awareness. As it regards content marketing, that only happens when your brand is known for delivering content with meaning, which sticks in the gut of the folks who read it.”

(image source)

In All Your Content Doesn’t Matter Without Meaning, Sebald shared five easy-to-follow questions he thinks brands should ask themselves as they work to create content with meaning:

  • Did I say anything new?
  • Did I say something that will get someone’s attention?
  • Is the content part of a strategy?
  • Am I really an expert in this topic?
  • Did my copy focus on relationships Google knows about?

Any brand committed to asking themselves at least three of those questions before any content is created is swimming in the deep end of the pool, having moved away from the pack and on the way to delivering meaningful content.

After reading Sebald’s post, I dug into my notes to discern what I think it takes to win the race for content marketings next frontier.

If your brand is looking to separate from the back, I’d like to share three ideas I’ve seen work well for brands of all sizes, even in boring verticals, such as HVAC and plumbing.

1. Be where your prospects are, at the time they need your information, with a message so good they cannot ignore you.

As a lifelong angler, I’m keen to compare marketing to bass fishing, whereby bait and location are pretty much all that matters. Or so I thought, until one day I got my hands on an underwater camera and could see fish swimming all around my lure, which they ignored.

(image source)

That’s when I realized bait and location are only as good as timing.

No matter how great the quality of my tackle or how well-placed was my lure, the fish must be ready to bite for me to find success.

How your brand can put this thinking to work: Personalize your company’s blog by adding bi-weekly or monthly interviews with people who’ve used your services/products, and who can share information that’s hyper-relevant to issues prospects are likely dealing with at the time.

For example, in the month of October a pool company might highlight a customer who maintains their own pool but who hires a pool company for winterization help. Or, in the same month, an accountant might share a video blog of a couple who owns a small business and does a great job of staying on top of expenses.

You might notice that I never said the person spotlighted mentions the brand or even uses them for service. That’s immaterial. What’s key is (a) the person shares a compelling story that’s (b) delivered on your blog and (c) is information they can use right away for where they are in the decision-making process. (It’s important that the content not appear salesy because too often the prospects who’re most likely to need your services aren’t even looking for those services. They’re simply suckers for a good story.)

2. Make them feel confident about what the brand stands for, not simply the purchase they might someday make.

One of my favorite words from college is ubiquity. Get to know this word if your brand is to produce meaningful content. Your brand should show up in all the places and for all the things prospects would expect to find you ranking for, conversing about and, more important, being shared by others for.

To instill your content with meaning, it must show up in places and for things prospects likely would expect t find it showing up for. This isn’t simply about ubiquity. It shows empathy.

A brand that does this better than most is Seattle-based REI. It’s amazing the range of terms they rank highly for. If they sell it, there’s a great chance REI shows up somewhere in or near the top of the SERPs for the category.

For example, I simply typed “snow goggles” into the search box, and voila, look who shows up. Also, look who they show up above. Better yet, imagine all of the large eyewear brands they’re outcompeting for this position.

By clicking on the query, you immediately see why they’re at the top of the SERPS: The content is rich in visuals and answers every question a prospect would ever have surrounding snow goggles.

I discovered the strength of REI’s content ideation and creation efforts in 2013, while completing a content strategy roadmap for one of the largest two-way radio manufacturers in the world.

Despite the brand’s heft, REI was always ahead of them in the SERPs, with social shares, in online conversations, etc.

When I visited with Jonathon Colman, formerly the in-house SEO for REI, at Facebook headquarters in

San Francisco, I understood why REI had content ubiquity: “From the start, they did something right that continues to [work in their favor],” says Colman, who works for Facebook in the areas of product user experience and content strategy. “They simply focused on creating and sharing the best content for their users, not on marketing.”

Those words resonated with me, as they should with you.

How your brand can put this thinking to work

Stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like a customer. I’ve written before about keeping and sharing a document that lists the questions and comments prospects and customers share during calls, on social media and via any any other platforms used to capture customer sentiment.

This document could form the basis for content that’s written and shared by your marketing team. However, your brand must go farther to deliver meaning through it’s content.

An approach I’ve recommended to clients and seen good success with works as follows:

  • Focus on creating one big piece of content per month: This pulls your team away from thinking about creating content for content’s sake. It also ensures that the team is able to marshal its resources to research, design, and create content with meaning. The goal with each big content piece is to answer every reasonable question and/or objection a prospect might have before doing business with you. For example, an SEO agency might, in month one, create a big content piece titled “How Small Companies Can Win With Personalized Content,” detailing in depth how becoming a popular local expert can earn the brand links, gain press attention and increase overall business. In month two, the same agency might go all-in on a post titled “How Your Mom and Pop Shop Can Beat the Big Guys,” whereby they outline an actionable plan for how to smartly use their blog, one social media platform and a small PPC budget to generate awareness, site visits, links and earned media. Prospects are likely to see the agency as the one to help get them over the hump.
  • Ignore the competition: Instead of checking the SERPs to see what’s ranking highest for content in your vertical on the topic you wish to create, look at the content that’s being shared outside your area by brands that have no relation to your vertical. You cannot win long-term by copying a strategy that your competition is better equipped to deploy, so don’t emulate them. Look at what non-competing brands are doing to deliver meaningful content. It could be a TV show, even, which you study for how characters are developed. Think of the regional car dealerships who grew to be household names in the late ’90s by delivering sitcom-style commercials and ads based off popular TV shows that meant something to the audience. Your brand can find similar inspiration by looking outside your area.
  • Make consistency a mainstay: REI wins at content marketing in large part because the brand is consistent. No matter where you find their content, it’s thorough and deserving of its place in the pantheon of content marketers. Don’t simply pour your heart into the big content piece, then allow everything else to fall by the wayside. Your brand must imbue every area, all departments and any content shared with meaning. This effort takes shape as the development, design and product teams placing users in the driver’s seat early on in the process; the marketing team only sharing information that, first and foremost, addresses the needs of the audience; the customer service team creating customer happiness, not quashing complaints; and sales team members frequently checking on prospects, even when no sale is imminent.

The goal here is to, as the saying goes, be so good they cannot ignore you.

3. Help your customers become the best versions of themselves

It’s likely you’ve seen the graphic below online before, maybe even on the Buffer Blog, which is where I found it. The image expertly sums up where I think the brands who ultimately win at content marketing will have to go: Turning away from their own interests and keying in on how the brand can better enable the customer to (a) better do what they endeavor to do and (b) become a version of themselves they never imagined possible.

(image source)

Sound far-fetched? Imagine the car commercials showing an average Joe who is all of a sudden a handsome hero admired by beautiful passersby because of his new wheels.

Your brand can become the means-something-to-prospects darling of its industry, too, with the adoption of three simple steps applied with conviction:

  1. Personalization — Develop people (at least one, but a few would be even better) in your company who can become the public face of the brand, who make it easier for prospects to form a connection with the company and more likely that content is shared and amplified more frequently as their popularity increases.
  2. Become a helper, not a hero Stop thinking that your content or your product or your service needs to be life-changing to get the attention of prospects. They desire to be the heroes and sheroes of their own journey; they simply need an assist from you to create a lasting bond they won’t soon forget about.
  3. Make users’ stories a core of your marketing efforts — Let’s get this straight: No one gives a damn about your story. Your brand’s story only becomes relevant when prospects have been made to feel important, special by you then desire to explore further the meaning behind the brands. How do you accomplish that task? By integrating the stories of customers into your marketing efforts.

How your brand can put this thinking to work

The importance of using an engaging personality to deliver meaning for your content cannot be overstated. In fact, it’s likely the shortest path to winning attention and garnering success.

I’ll use Canadian personal trainer Dean Somerset as an example. I discovered Somerset a few years ago when he dropped a few helpful knowledge bombs in the comments of a fitness blog I was reading. I then found a link to his blog, which I have now become a religious follower of. Over the years, we’ve traded numerous emails, interacted myriad times via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and I’ve even hired him for training assessments.


Aside from being brilliant, he’s a goofball who takes his work, not himself, too seriously.

(image source)

But most important, the core of every post he creates or video he shares or every Facebook Q&A he offers is helping others become better at physical health and physical fitness than they ever imagined they could.

The result is that, in a relatively short time span, Somerset has become one of the top young minds in the fitness industry, in no small part because he creates heroes with nearly every piece of content he shares. (If you doubt me, watch the video below.)

Don’t think for a second that your brand can’t do the same:

  • Look for members on your team who have personality and who are uniquely qualified to create content (e.g., video, text, SlideShare, etc.) on topics readers care about. Empower them to share, converse and engage around this content, whether locally (e.g., Meetups) nationally (e.g., conferences) or online (e.g., blogs, social media, etc.).
  • The script these experts must work from, for everything they share, should begin with the question, “How can this [blog, video, etc.] help at least one person do something better tomorrow that they cannot yet do today?” Answer this question, and you won’t simply create meaning for your content, you’ll create meaning, relevance and top-of-mind awareness for the brand as well.

It’s hard for a brand to escape being successful if this mindset is ever-present.

The last area we’ll look at is storytelling, which is very popular in content marketing. And almost no one gets it right.

Yes, people do love stories. They eat them up, especially compelling, heart-wrenching stories or, even better, tales of tremendous uplift.

However, people are not interested in your brand’s story — at least not yet.

The only story brands should be telling are those of their users. The brands who have realized this are leaving the brand storytellers in the dust, while turning up the dial on meaning and significance to the audience.

A great example is Patagonia and their Worn Wear video series. Instead of creating ads showcasing the durability of their products, they filmed actual customers who’ve been using the same Patagonia products for years and who wouldn’t trade the brand’s products for those of any other company.

These are rabid fans, loyal to the nth degree.

Don’t drink the brand storytelling Kool-Aid. Tell the stories of your users.

Identify a handful of ardent fans of your product or service, then reach out to them via phone to ask if they’d mind being part of a short-video series you’re doing to showcase people and brands doing great things. (I mentioned a similar approach earlier, which is ideal for the smallest companies. I think this effort plays into a much broader strategy for larger brands.)

Depending on your budget and their location, you could either have a small camera crew visit their office or walk them through how to shoot what you need on their mobile devices. You could also provide them with a script.

Here’s the kicker: During the video, they are not allowed to talk about your brand, product or service in any way shape or form.

The goal is to get video of them going about their day, at home and at work, as they share what makes them tick, what’s important to them, who they are and why they do what they do.

This is their story, remember? And as such, your brand is a bit player, not a/the star. Also, the lack of a mention washes away any suspicion viewers might have of your brand’s motives. Most important, however, you get a real, authentic success story on your website and domain, so the implication is that your brand was a helper in this heroic journey.

If this post accomplishes anything, my wish is that it makes clear how necessary and how realistic it is for your brand to create meaningful content.

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SearchCap: Google App Indexing API Boost, AdWords Audience Insights & Google News SEO

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. The post SearchCap: Google App Indexing API Boost, AdWords Audience Insights & Google News SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

SearchCap: Local Marketing Automation Tools, App Indexing May Change SEO & Mars Google Doodle

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. The post SearchCap: Local Marketing Automation Tools, App Indexing May Change SEO & Mars Google Doodle appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

ISU Students Assist Local Businesses With Marketing/Branding

Sheldon, Iowa — A group of twenty Iowa State University seniors are in Sheldon today, meeting with local businesses to assist them with marketing, …

Million Dollar Content – An Analysis of the Web’s Most Valuable Organic Content

Posted by rjonesx.

As much as we like to debate content vs. links, sometimes great content just seems to dominate. I don’t mean to say that great content doesn’t get great links, or that the purposes of creating great content is not to get links, but simply that some content on the web seems to shine through the SERPs.

Content might not be king, but it has lot of sway in Google’s kingdom.

After sifting through tons of SERP data to find million dollar answer boxes (answer box results that rank at the top for keywords driving millions of dollars in traffic), I decided to dig deep to find content just like it across the web. But I wanted to do something different, something harder. I wanted to find content that didn’t have huge Domain Authority. Sure, it is easy for the Wikipedia’s and YouTubes of this world to rank for huge keywords, but what about the little guy? Are there any pieces of content out there bringing in millions of dollars of traffic coming from domains with Domain Authority around 50 or lower? And if so, what sets this content apart from the rest? Let’s find out!

First, I needed a little help in deconstructing exactly what makes this great content tick. I enlisted the SEO greats – Garrett French of CitationLabs who essentially wrote the book on linkable content, and Mark Traphagen, Internet social guru extraordinaire from Stone Temple.

So let’s begin.

Finding great content

I didn’t want to start with any assumptions. I didn’t want to assume that great content was pretty, or thorough, or authoritative. I wanted to judge content by its results, not its features. I set 3 distinct qualifications:

  1. The content URL couldn’t be a home page.
  2. The domain couldn’t have a Moz Domain Authority above 55.
  3. The content URL had to earn more than $1,000,000 a year in traffic based on a recent click through model, traffic volume, and estimated CPC of the keywords for which it ranks.

With those parameters set, I went digging. With SERPScape and the MozScape API, we quickly uncovered dozens of contenders out of just a sampling of the data set. So, what did we discover? What patterns did we find across the board? What set this content apart?

Feature #1: On-point

One of the most obvious trends was simply how perfectly and thoroughly the top content answered the users queries. It wasn’t that the content was necessarily long (although in many cases it was). However, the content was highly relevant, regardless of its length. Take for example this “bed sizes” web page on

Most webmasters would be content with just throwing up a quick intro paragraph and dimensions, but the SleepTrain site provides it several different ways…

  1. An overlay comparison image with Dimensions
  2. A textual table listing of sizes
  3. Several separate images showing people placement on the different mattresses
  4. A textual analysis of common bed sizes describing who would and would not fit by their height.

Now, I know what you are thinking. This isn’t all that great!, but everything must be seen in context. Look at the next several listings. Wikipedia is a nightmare of text, BetterSleep is just text, bedding experts is a little better, but doesn’t have the first overlay chart, SleepCountry only has the overlay chart… No other page in the top 10 answers all of a user’s questions as thoroughly but succinctly as the SleepTrain site.

But don’t take my word for it, we saw this over and over again in the data. We know that good, thorough content can rank well, and we saw just that. The average topical relevancy scores of our Million Dollar Content pieces were significantly better time and time again than the average competition in the SERPs.

In fact, some pages had scores that were truly mind blowing. One particular page on resume templates hit 99.96% relevancy! To get that level of precision, not only do you need to be highly thorough, you also have to be highly restrictive to prevent the addition of content that isn’t relevant. That means no filler. Subsequently, this one particular page ranked for over 2,000 related keywords!

Feature #2: Bold

Conventional wisdom rarely helps you win in a competitive atmosphere. If you do what everyone else thinks should be done, you are predictable, and predictable is beatable.

For a few years now, one of the items on my regular audit list has been page speed. We know that TTFB (time-to-first-bite) correlates with search rankings, that fast download speeds correlate with increased conversions and better user engagement, and we even have an official announcement from Google that page speed matters for rankings.

Well, StyleGlam gives Google a giant middle finger when it comes to page speed. The page is bold, image-laden, and is even filled with ads.

The page clocks in at a turtle’s pace of 24.9 seconds to load and an elephant’s weight at 7.49MB in size! But maybe that is the point.

The game of SEO is all about compromises. When you make a page load quickly, you often have to compromise on images, text, and thoroughness. When you make a page informative, you might have to compromise on conversion rates. In this case, the webmasters came up with a completely different balance. They chose not to compromise on thoroughness, information content, conversion points (look at the ads!) and instead let page speed die a horrendous death. But the trade-off worked!

StyleGlam wasn’t the only site we saw throw page speed to the wind in order to go big. Sites in the resume space, calendar, degree and health care spaces often took refuge in being big before being quick.

But we also saw the opposite true. Paired-back resources that answer one question very quickly, very easily, very simply can also win. What seems to never make its way to the top though is conventional content on a conventional sites. If you aren’t a big brand, you better be different, be better, be bold.

Feature #3: Fresh

Can content survive in high spam, high value keyword niches? You bet it can. I was shocked when I came upon this one, as it was just a well managed blog post that was now several years old. It was surrounded by the latest entrants into a niche that was notoriously getting shut down and cleaned out: free streaming movies.

So how does a simple blog post on the best free movie sites manage to bring in $1,000,000+ in traffic not just this year, or last year, or the year before but for years and years on end?

Well, one thing we noticed about it and many others was content freshness. I can’t tell you how many times a client has been scared to update their content that already ranks. “But what if I break it? What if I lose rankings?”

Not updating your content IS breaking it.

The truth is that if you are not updating your content regularly, Google will have to assume that your content is losing its reliability. So why not? Over time, you will build up a great backlink profile by sheer longevity, while at the same time keeping content as fresh as new competitors entering the space.

The author here found a great opportunity. People wanted to find these sites, they kept disappearing, and someone needed to keep an up-to-date record of the best ones. Now, the webmaster didn’t create it once and leave it, or update it annually. They updated it regularly. The net result?

This piece of content has enjoyed long-term, million-dollar rankings while competitors have come and gone. They have ranked for thousands of keywords for several years by simply creating great content and keeping it fresh.

Linkable million-dollar pages

I am now going to turn this study over to Garrett French. Garrett is the founder and chief link strategist of Citation Labs, a link-building agency and campaign incubator. He’s developed multiple link-building tools, including the Link Prospector and the Broken Link Finder. He also co-wrote The Ultimate Guide to Link Building with Link Moses himself, Eric Ward. Garrett and his team lead monthly webinars on enterprise content strategy and promotion from the Citation Labs Blog.

Only 34% of the content studied has at least 1 link in OSE. That’s right – there are tons of pages getting $1,000,000+ worth of organic search traffic yearly that have few if any external links. A lack of links does not necessarily demonstrate a lack of linkability, but I will say that overall these pages don’t seem “designed” for linkability.

Before we get to individual examples of linkability though (they do exist in this set!) I’d like to outline some basics on how we evaluated these pages.

  • At Citation Labs, we divide linkers into “curators” who collect URLs for a single existing resource page and “editors” who publish new topic pages. Tactically speaking, the curators support broken link building and “link request” efforts, while editors support PR and guest posting campaigns.
  • We believe that it’s primarily the linkers themselves who define a document’s linkability – both by their decision or not to link and how many potential linkers there happen to be.

URLs Linkable to Curators

Linkable Document – Timberline Knolls

Drug addiction, a subcategory of mental health, is one of the single most linkable topics we’ve encountered in our work thus far. This URL provides clear and comprehensive information for concerned loved-ones of a potential heroin user. These concerned loved-ones are a “linker-valued audience.”

To get a quick read on how many curators might be out there for this topic, search for this query heroin inurl:links.html. We use the inurl:links.html portion of the query to get a sense of volume. There’s a ton out there for this document which makes it not only linkable but worthy of further promotion on its own.

Curators are – relatively speaking – quite rare. The existence of curators seems to be topically-driven and are especially prevalent across health and education.

Linkable Document – Wixon Jewelers

I would examine the potential for a broken link building campaign in the “birthstones” area for this URL. In addition, it appears (based on this query: birthstones inurl:links.html) that there are enough potential opportunities to support a request campaign as well.

Birthstones probably won’t get curators linking quite like addiction will. That said, they remain embedded in our collective psyche and if a related URL happens to be dead this could be a great candidate for a linkable page.

URLs linkable to editors

Linkable Document – SMU Mustangs

I’m not a sportser, but this URL stood out in our analysis because it had 60+ root linking domains. This seems to be a hub for SMU’s football team, complete with a calendar. Bloggers, sports journalists, opponents, local events websites, all of these folks should be interested in linking to and supporting this team. Businesses could consider starting a competitive football team to replicate this effort 😉

But seriously, one takeaway, especially for local, is supporting the beloved local sports teams and events.

Linkable Document – The Best Schools

At first pass, my strategy would be to promote via PR, ideally in conjunction with the ranked schools to help them get the most out of their top ranking. Secondly, I’d run a low-scale branded guest posting effort. Guest posting topics could cover “following dreams,” “seizing the day,” “increasing your income,” “going back to school as a parent”, etc. If you repackage the data for a linker-valued audience (Best Online Colleges for Seniors) you could potentially build out a link request campaign too.

Linkable Document – Top 10 Home Remedies

The title – “How to Get Rid of Pimples Fast” – makes this one a tough pitch to skin health curators. That said, I think it could be a fantastic citation opportunity in a guest posting campaign. Target blogs that are more lifestyle oriented – makeup blogs perhaps, dating advice blogs etc – and build out titles that are not necessarily directly related to pimples or blemishes themselves.

Here are a couple more in that same vein – they could work well as supporting citations in a guest posting effort:

StayGlam: Nail Designs for Short Nails

Hair Style On Point: Top 10 Short Men’s Hairstyles in 2015

Most editors would not think twice about allowing those links to live so long as they fit topically and have potential appeal to the reading audience.

Linkability takeaways

The majority of these million dollar pages are not purely linkable, but many could support link building campaigns. Pay close attention to the link profile of the entire domain for link building campaign guidance – the ranking pages may not be there based on their individual link earnings.

Shareable million-dollar pages

So how do these million dollar content pieces actually perform in the very different context of social media? We’ll let the venerable Mark Traphagen, Senior Director of Online Marketing at Stone Temple Consulting and give us some insights on how this high performing content makes out in the world of social media. Mark is a world traveler, speaker, consultant and is actually a Klout Top 10 Expert for SEO & Content Marketing, meaning he actually does know how to make this social stuff work.

Just as Garrett revealed above that million dollar content does not necessarily have to have a lot of external links (or even any at all), so I found that there is little-to-no correlation between the number of social shares and whether or not content will win Russ’s million dollar prize.

45% of our sample group had no social shares at all (according to Buzzsumo) and 66% had fewer than 300 shares.

Of course, just like having a lot of good links “sure can’t hurt,” having a lot of social shares certainly increases the chances that your content will do well organically. In fact, the page with the highest number of social shares in the sample group (it had over 1 million) also has the lowest domain authority of the group (21). Moreover, 60% of the pages with 1000 or more social shares have a DA of 40 or less.

Now I’m not suggesting that this proves that the million dollar status of those pages was driven directly by their social popularity. In fact, I consider it unlikely that social popularity is a direct ranking factor at the present time. However, it is likely that wide exposure via social media increases the chances of activity that very likely does factor into Google’s ranking algorithm.

Before I take a deeper look at the most-shared content, I have to share two interesting tidbits from my examination of the pages Russ sampled for this study:

  • Facebook is as killer for this type of content as most people think it is. For those pages with at least 100 social shares, a whopping 92% had the vast majority of those shares occur via Facebook. For most of those, almost all the social sharing happened on Facebook.
  • None of the pages that had zero social shares had visible social sharing buttons. To be fair, several of them were simply landing pages linking to other content, and thus not really shareable. But most of the rest have characteristics that typically make content more attractive to shares, yet they provided no easy opportunity for visitors to take that action.

The shareability winners

Let’s examine the factors that most likely made the three most-shared pages in our sample set so shareable.

80 Nail Designs for Short Nails – 1 million shares

This page is almost embarrassingly easy to analyze, as Buzzsumo shows that all but about 800 of its 1 million+ shares came from Pinterest.

If there ever were a textbook example of “made for Pinterest,” it’s this page. The entirety of the content is 80 dazzling images of colorful and exotic nail designs, such as the following:

The images are fashion-centered, brightly-colored, and oriented toward a female audience, the perfect trifecta of Pinterest shareability.

Here’s the kicker: those 1 million Pinterest shares happened in spite of the fact that the page has no social share buttons! This serves as clear proof that if your content is amazingly shareable, and in particular well-adapted for a particular social network, visitors will share it even if it isn’t easy to do so.

It’s probable, though, that the vast majority of those 1 million shares weren’t made directly from the content page. The most likely scenario is that a few influential Pinterest users did the initial sharing, and then thousands upon thousands of other Pinterest users repined those shares.

How to Get Rid of Pimples Fast– 73,300 shares

People love to share “how to” content that they think will be helpful to their social connections. Why? Social psychology tells us that the feeling of being helpful to others conveys as much benefit to the giver as to the receivers, and often more.

A HubSpot study found that content with the word “how” in the title is among the most shared on Twitter.

Furthermore, this content piece speaks directly to a very common (and embarrassing) problem with quick, easy fixes, exactly what people in such a situation seek. The page also has several easy-to-understand infographics, which undoubtedly make it even more appealing to share. The Open Graph image tag is properly set so that the most appealing of those images appears in shares on networks like Facebook and Google+.

Finally, this piece of content, like the previous, exemplifies that highly-shareable content will be shared, even if the site itself does not make sharing easy. In this case, the page does have share buttons for Twitter and Facebook, but they are at the bottom of the page, and below ads and other navigation. Nevertheless, once the content found its way to Facebook (where almost all of its shares occurred), it took off.

Positive & Inspirational Life Quotes– 15,800 shares

Frankly, this page has very little going for it other than the one thing that probably earned it 6.3K shares on Facebook and another 1000 on Twitter. It is well-optimized for a very popular sharing category on both those networks: quotations.

According to a New York Times commissioned study, people share content to satisfy any of four psychological needs. Those needs are:

  1. Entertainment
  2. Self-definition
  3. Relationship building
  4. Self-fulfillment

Inspirational quotes fulfill at least 1, 2, and 4 of the above, and probably help contribute to #3. They are entertaining in that they fit the kind of light, easily-digested, feel good moments that many people turn to Facebook and Twitter for. Quotations also help us define ourselves to our tribe. They are a quick “tag” to aspirations that are likely shared by others in our social circles. Finally, quotes provide self-fulfillment, as sharing them makes us feel like we have contributed something positive to the world (and with very little effort!).

Out of our sample group, this was the only content that had a volume of Twitter shares worth mentioning. Most likely that was because a number of the quotations used a “click to tweet” feature, where a Twitter user can, with one click, share the quote to her Twitter stream. Even though the previous two examples show that highly-sharable content can get shared even without the site providing an easy way to do so, making that content one-click sharable can boost the share volume even higher.

Shareability takeaways

  • Social shares are not necessary to achieving million dollar content status in search. However, in some cases having them may improve your content’s chances in that regard.
  • Content that meets the criteria of being highly shareable sometimes needs little or no boost from the publishing site itself, as long as enough visitors take the initiative to share it themselves. A recent Buzzsumo study published here on the Moz Blog found that “surprising, unexpected and entertaining images, quizzes and videos have the potential to go viral with high shares.” However, the study showed that those content types typically earn few links, even if they are highly shared. This confirms Garrett’s findings above.
  • While making content easy to share (by providing easy-to-find share buttons, for example), while not necessary, can boost the number of overall shares, and/or get the content shared to other networks where an influencer hasn’t done the work already.
  • Despite all the negative press about how much Facebook has reduced the ability for brand content to get organic reach, it remains by far the most “viral-ready” social network. If your content can get a good toehold there by being shared by some influencers, Facebook can still provide organic reach magic. Of course, paid boosting of content can vastly accelerate the chances of that happening, and this study did not examine whether any of the content was supported with paid social advertising.

Overall takeaways

So what are the takeaways? What makes something million-dollar content? I think there are a few standouts…

  1. Go big and bold. You have to stand out from the crowd, and if you can’t do that with your domain authority, you have to do it with your content.
  2. Stay relevant, both in freshness and thoroughness. Know what your user wants and deliver it.
  3. Some sites just get lucky, but other sites make their luck. There were certainly a number of pages that still seemed to rank inexplicably, with average content, few social shares, and even fewer links. Don’t bank on that. Do the leg work and you too can create million dollar content.

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