A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.
Topic: 2015 SEO & Content Marketing Roundup and Futurecasting
There have been a lot of changes and new trends in content marketing and SEO over the last year. Those changes, coupled with continued algorithm, social channel, and data availability changes, made for a challenging year in SEO and marketing. We talk about the changes we’ve made as well as updates that we feel will move marketers ahead of the curve.
Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics
Karen Scates, Manager Marketing & PR at GinzaMetrics
FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Karen: Hello. Welcome to this week’s edition of FOUND Friday. I’m Karen.
Erin: And I’m Erin.
Karen: Today we’re talking about some of the changes we’ve made in response to the industry as well as updates that we feel will move marketers ahead of the curve. There have been a lot of changes and new trends in content marketing and SEO over the last year. Those changes coupled with continued algorithms, social channel, and data availability changes made for a challenging year in SEO and marketing.
Let’s start with some of our big feature changes. Competitor Discovery was the first out of the gate in 2015. How are our customers using that feature to stay ahead of the market?
Erin: Competitor Discovery was really interesting. Being the first-of-its-kind tool that we released into the market, it combines this idea of your target keywords and the types of content that you’re creating with who else is creating content that utilizes those keywords, is targeting those keywords, and is also attracting traffic based on that.
One of the things that’s really important about Competitor Discovery is it’s telling you that even if it’s not somebody who is a direct competitor that is part of your traditional competitor monitoring set other places that you’re really losing traffic to when you’re doing your search and content marketing efforts. Marketers are using it to figure out a lot of different things. The first is obviously discovery of new competitors to the field or adjacent competitors that maybe they didn’t necessarily know about.
The next is being able to identify shifts in competitive landscapes. Are new people emerging? Are old competitors becoming less relevant? What we’re really looking at from standpoint of how many overlapping keywords do have with these folks? What kinds of overlapping content?
The next thing that people are using the Discover to do is to discover new topics to create new content about some additional ways that you may be looking at the relevance of your keyword list. It’s a really great place to do some of that.
Lastly, I think that a third area that people are using it for is new types of content. Not only are we surfacing this actual competing URL or competing place of content but we’re showing you things like search volume, CPC data, as well as a full list of overlapping target keywords as well as the content that correspond to those keywords. Which means if what you’re really trying to do is focus in on a keyword group when you’re looking for what types of content may resonate with your audience, you can actually use the Discovery feature to look at a full listing of the types of content that your competitors are creating and how much traffic and search volume they’re getting, which is a really good tool to have when you have to expend resources creating content.
Karen: I think we’ve done several blog posts and some FOUND Fridays about some best practices for using Competitor Discovery. I really think that a lot of times what happens is people end up with all this data and they’re like, “We know who are our competitors are. We know what they’re doing in the market. How else can we use it?” Important to be looking, like you said, at new topics for your own content and really see what’s resonating with your audiences and gain back some of your own audience share by using that data.
Another thing that has changed a lot in the last year is social media. We’ve developed some tools to answer some of those needs. What are some of the changes in that area?
Erin: Social media has changed a lot, not just in terms of the way that people are using social data but the actual availability of social data from the channels themselves – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. All these places continue to modify what data they make available, how they make it available – access by tools, access by users, things like that. As this evolves, tools really are trying to keep up with not just how the channels themselves are changing the availability of data but how marketers really need to be able to access that and then turn it into something functional.
This year we focused on a couple of different things. One of the things that we were looking at was how do we take this data and actually turn it into more usable information? Deeper social engagement data. And then also Social Trends and Social Share of Voice. Social Trends and Social Share of Voice were additions later in the year and what that really focused around was you versus your competition on a channel-by-channel basis. Things like for Facebook, whether it’s people who are following your page or have liked your page, likes for your amount of content, fans, things like that. For Twitter we’re looking at followers and following data and re-tweets and things like that. For all the social channels and that includes stuff like Pinterest, YouTube, SlideShare, a variety of different things, a few different factors where you can easily plot you versus your competitors there.
Including that in what has primarily been an SEO tool I think was really interesting move because we are trying to make sure that people who are responsible for SEO, organic marketing, content marketing and things like that have the really full picture of all things that are contributing to that overall what we call findability. Social continues to play an increasingly important role in that, so providing that data has been really key.
Share a Voice is a pie chart. You can definitely take a look at that in the tool. I know we have some blog posts on that. But it’s essentially for the kind of keywords and topics that you’re tracking based on followers and following, all these different metrics that there are for different things in your industry who has the most of those things. Essentially, who has the most followers? Who has the most pins? Who has the most tweets? Who has those different things?
That’s really good at-a-glance view based on what metric you’re looking at as to who is participating the most in a channel and then often who has the most audience response from that channel. Again, this isn’t really, really deep. It’s not a social analytics platform. But what it is doing is it’s giving you this at-a-glance look alongside all of your search and content data of who in your sphere is actually engaging on these channels the most frequently. That’s really important.
Competitor Social Landscape is also part of this thing. I think that that’s another really good at-a-glance chart. I know that a lot of agencies are using it to give a quick overview of in the space who’s “winning” across a lot of different fields. Obviously, we layer in content insight into a lot of different social things and that has really been a big part of marketing channel chart. What that does is it allows you to click into different aspects of your marketing mix which includes stuff like e-mail display, paid mobile affiliate, including social clicking and actually see two different things.
First of all is a list of all the top performing social channels that are contributing so you can actually segment that by keyword group, content group. It’s really cool. The second thing you can see in a marketing channel chart view with regards to social as well as the rest of your marketing mix is the specific content that’s coming in that way.
I think that marketing channel chart is really interesting – and even though it’s not one of the things we did this year, we’ve made some improvements – it really tells you everything that’s coming inbound to your content how everything is actually getting there and then you can dive deeper and see on a more specific level exactly how people are finding that and then you can use keyword and content information and competitor information to hone in on what’s working.
Karen: One of the things I really like to use in our social media suite is when I’m looking at us versus our competitors and I see that someone has a lot more activity, maybe more engagement that week on Facebook, I can click in right there and see what are they saying on Facebook, what conversations are they in, what content are they promoting there, and get a really good idea of “This is what’s resonating right now,” and try to decide is that just a trend or is this really something that’s evergreen and we want to be talking about that topic too.
Erin: Yeah, that’s really important. It goes back to that interweaving of Competitor Discovery information. And all these elements needing to be combined is because if you’re going to focus on keyword and rank and position change and things [9:25 inaudible], it’s also important to know what people are talking about and how they’re talking about it right now and a really good place to figure out how people are describing their industry and their marketing needs or their needs from different tools is actually looking at the conversations that they’re having natively. Being able to dive in and seeing when there are really big pops in traffic, what exactly is contributing to that, what content or types of phrases or posts led to that situation can help SEOs and content marketers to draw out next steps.
Karen: People are talking a lot about using that semantic search, those long tail keyword phrases and that’s a good place to get it, I think.
Let’s talk about the importance of getting the data the way you want it, how you want it, and in a way that meets your budget. Why is that a continued issue for marketers and SEOs do you think?
Erin: We talk about this a lot with just the fact that all aspects of marketing are so different in terms of – every organization has unique needs and is set up a little bit differently so creating this one-size-fits-all solution is really complicated because people are oftentimes trying to find a best fit. We had a conversation about that towards the end of last year about how long should it really take to find a platform, what elements go into looking for that. We have some resources around finding the best platform for you.
But a lot of times I think that what happens is that people either go with the safe choice and pick something that’s really big and has been around for a long time and they’re like, “This obviously has a reasonable amount of what I need and it’s the biggest thing on the market, so I’ll just trust it because I trust it.” Or “We’ll go with the cheapest thing on the market or the free thing because it’s free or it’s super cheap. Even if it doesn’t work, we’re not really out a lot of money.”
What happens is there’s a lot of midrange players who have really, really good stuff that people should be considering. But in addition to that, what we’re talking about is is it going to give you what you need in the way that you need it?
So one of the things that we did – we’ve always been focused on this, but this year we tried to narrow in on it – is our Reporting Center and Custom Dashboard Creation area I think is different for a couple of reasons. First of all, we allow you to take every single thing in the GinzaMetrics dashboard as basically a module and then you can adjust the module. When I say you can adjust the module, it means you can essentially pick date range, keyword group, content group, granularity, daily, weekly, monthly, include competitors, don’t include competitors, clip rows, tables, all kinds of stuff. It’s so easy to do and it’s really fast. It’s something you can change and customize anytime and you don’t have to contact us. It’s not like this big, [12:26 inaudible], crazy Reporting Center that requires six weeks of training to learn to use. I think it [12:31 inaudible] six minutes of training.
Another thing that’s different about our Reporting Center is that everything in it is included at every price point and you can build all these reports as many as you want. You can embed them as HTML modules, which is new so that you can actually embed each individual report module in the e-mails, which is interesting.
You can export as PDF. If you create a cool template and you work for an agency and you really like this agency template that you’ve created, you can copy it to all your other sites so you don’t have to keep rebuilding stuff.
You can also white label everything. You can upload your own logos, your own headers, everything you want.
It’s not any additional cost. For a long time what happened was if you wanted a really cool, nice looking report and you wanted to change, remove the company’s logo and instead add your own, what would happen was somebody would say, “Sure, we can do that. But that will be an extra $1000.” It’s free. It has always been free at GinzaMetrics, which I think is really interesting. It’s something that we’ve always focused on for our users.
The other part of that that we added this year is custom dashboards. Custom dashboards, in my mind, is one of the coolest things we do and potentially the most usable way to get data when you’re talking about this day-to-day marketing necessity. Because I said everything in GinzaMetrics platform is like essentially a module so you can grab and add all these different modules into reports and what you can do is you can save any report as a custom dashboard.
That means that you can actually have dashboards for all of your social stuff, all of your competitor stuff, or you can do it by campaigns. So you can do a keyword group, a content group, a social group, goal completions, and a traffic summary, all this stuff. And you can just hone in on all those like specific keyword and content groups for that campaign and then you can have dashboards for every campaign. You can slice and dice this data however you want. You can do it geographically, you can do it however you want and then you create all these different dashboards.
You can also use it across your organization, so there can be an executive summary dashboard for people who may not have time to dive in to all the rest of this. It gives them an essentially an interactive report, which is really fun. Your social team does use the social analytics platform but we provide some different data. Maybe you can give them access to a custom dashboard of just usable data for them.
There’s a whole bunch of different ways. Agencies obviously really love this because what they can do is they can create a custom dashboard for every client and then they can just give the client the link to that custom dashboard which essentially is just like, “Hey, you can see the information that you need here and we’ll deal with all the rest of this stuff.” That’s one of the things I’m really excited about.
There are going to be a lot more improvements in this as we kick off 2016 and it’s probably one of the areas that I’m most excited about because it prevents people from being forced into a giant platform situation that either they don’t know how to use, can’t create usable workflows in or can’t share with teams outside of their own specific area.
Karen: We made a lot of additional features available in our reporting suite including what you talked about – the embeddable reports, sortable reports, the custom dashboards, and also custom daily reports for maybe organizations that are a little smaller and can’t really invest right now in the whole tool. Do you want to talk about that just a little bit?
Erin: Yeah. This goes back to not one size fits all. We want good information to be accessible to everybody regardless of budget. I mentioned that a lot of people say, “We just go with the biggest, oldest solution because we have the budget for it and it’s playing safe,” or it’s “I’ll go with the free thing because nobody has ever gotten in trouble for not paying for something.”
One of the things that we tried to do this year was say, “If you really want this data or you just need it one time for a client presentation or a new business pitch and you just want to try it out, we’ll actually do a custom one-time data report for you and you can pick some modules and things. We’ll run a bunch of data and we can send that to you.” That starts around $200 and then if you don’t want to use it past that, you’re not looped into a big $1000, $5000, whatever a month contract. You’re not put into a yearly plan. Nothing. You can get in and get out and give it a try.
We also allow people to do 30-day trials at half price. When I say 30-day trial at half price, what this means is for 30 days you can use every single part of GinzaMetrics and do anything you want and get a bunch of data for up to 10 sites. At the end of 30 days, if you decide that this isn’t the platform for you, there’s no risk. It’s just this on-time kind of deal but you still have 30 days worth of data that you can take with you. We like to give people the opportunity to play with it with their own data.
I know that some folks do this sandbox environment that allows people to check it out. There are a few reasons that we don’t do that. To me, one of the biggest is because every organization’s data is so different that if we gave you fake trial data, it would not be indicative of how your actual experience would be inside the platform and we wouldn’t want you to have an experience other than your own before you make a decision.
Karen: I think that’s important because if you’re looking at somebody else’s data and you’re playing around in a sandbox that has been created in the perfect environment, you’re not really going to get a sense of what a tool is going to look like when you start using it. I think that’s something important for people to think about as they’re choosing tools.
At the end of this year I’ve been reading a lot of predictions for content marketing and SEO for 2016. All of them mentioned the importance of local search and mobile-friendly content. We developed integrated local and mobile features in response to customer request. How have those features improved our customers’ efforts?
Erin: Local and mobile are such short words for such big issues. I feel like it’s always funny when people say, “Local and mobile, local and mobile!” There are so many facets to what “local” actually means because there are multiple types of local search and local search data that when somebody asks, “Do you do local search?” I’m like, “What do you mean?” If they don’t know what they mean, I’m often kind of scared. Why would you ask if you weren’t sure?
Mobile data is also a huge thing. We’re spinning everything from what types of devices are people using, what’s the difference between what they’re searching for on mobile versus not mobile, different UI experiences for all of these different things. Obviously, we’ve been including some of this data for a while and one of the things that we’re really, really focused on is integrating things appropriately into the dashboard so that it’s not just “Yes, we have this local solution. It’s an extra $500 a month. Tack it in here.” Instead what we do is local is included at all price points and it is woven into the existing platform as actual data side by side with the rest of your data. It’s not like this Frankenstein secondary piece.
Some of the stuff that we’re really focused on doing is looking at local ranking for different keywords, how your performance tracks up and down. We also have really cool interactive map version of that. If you want more information, definitely check out the blog post on it because it has a lot of really cool in-depth stuff. Mobile we’ve been working on for a while including things like device level filtering al throughout the dashboard so you can always filter different views by device type for keyword and content.
Another thing that we do is we actually allow you to pick specific devices alongside search engines in your original search engine selection. Let’s say you wanted to track Google U.S. but then you also want to do iPhone U.S. and Android tablet U.S. You can do that in GinzaMetrics. We allow you to actually mix and match some of that stuff location-wise. This is actually a funny thing that people don’t really think about when it comes to location: being able to mix and match different locations and search engines in your actual results.
Instead of having to do Google, Yahoo, and Bing or all U.S.- focused stuff inside your dashboard, you can be like, “I want Google U.S.,” “I want Google U.K. and Google Australia,” or something like that. Or you can do Google U.K. Baidu, and Naver. You can pick and choose all these different formulations that match how your business is set up. Because a lot of people have really different business configurations and some of it is based on sales goals or different purchasing styles or e-commerce issues. Why not let you configure all of this on your own?
Karen: A lot of what we do with the platform and the features that we introduce come from what our customers are saying they need. It’s also based on some key trends in both SEO and content marketing.
Can we talk a little bit about what trends we’re going to be focusing on for 2016?
Erin: Yeah. Obviously, it’s really early in the year and I don’t like to make a lot of promises or predictions super early mostly because I like to leave us open for things to change and I also like to leave things open for feedback and evolution across a lot of different things. A couple of things that I know that we’re focused in on right now are obviously enhancements for location-based search features and additional data around mobile.
Another thing that I do see a lot of work coming into is a more action-oriented recommendation system. Essentially, one of the things that I believe is really important for successful marketers today is to not just be given a lot of data but to be told, “Based on this data, I would recommend that you do this,” or “A next good step might be this,” or “Here is information that we have gleaned from this.” Truly smart marketing intelligence across things like search, content, and social, weaving all those things in together.
In November, Twitter changed the way that access to their data is provided and that affected a lot of folks, so obviously Social Trends and Social Share of Voice came out around that time. We did that to make sure that audiences and our users still had the data that they need. But obviously social channel data and how that affects overall findability is really important to us.
Another thing that we are working on that I’m really excited about and that I think is going to be really helpful for marketers is this idea of being notified when you need to check in on something. A lot of folks you can’t necessarily spend all day in an SEO and content platform. You have to actually do other things. Or for really large teams or folks who wear a lot of hats, it may not be feasible for you to spend all of your time just staring at the screen and waiting to see something happen or check in 10 times a day every day.
So one of the things that we want to make sure people have is a notification that “Hey, traffic has really spiked in this particular content group,” or “Hey, this keyword group has taken a real hit and your ranking has dropped. You may want to dive in and check out and see what’s happening.” Being notified to win that kind of stuff happens, one, it gives you some peace of mind and allows you to have some separation to go work on some other stuff when you need to, but it also gives you that feeling that you can be ahead of the curve because you’re going to be first to know. We think that that’s really important because daily crawls have been a huge part of GinzaMetrics since day one.
It’s like the fabric on which we were built and it’s one of the reasons that we can keep costs lower, it’s because we were built to do that. But it’s also one of the reasons that we can make sure that you get that information ahead of everyone else. It’s because we know every day and because we’re going to check in because we’re going to tell you “You might want to look at this.”
Those are some things that I think are coming down the pipe for 2016. I’m sure that there will be a lot more. I’m sure I’ve missed a few things that we’re working on, but those are the ones that are fresh in my mind and top of my excitement list today.
Karen: I think that marketers and SEOs should be excited especially about those notifications because I know as a person who wears many hats in an organization, sometimes it’ll get to be mid-morning and I’m like, “I really need to go in and check in on this while I’m working on other projects.” That’s something to look forward to.
If you have any questions, you can e-mail either of us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Join in the conversation live on Twitter at #FOUNDFriday. Have a good weekend and we’ll see you next week when we discuss more topics of interest for marketers and SEOs.
Erin: Bye, Karen, see you next week.
Karen: Bye, Erin. Okay, bye-bye.