FOUND Friday

A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.

EPISODE INFO

  • Topic: Tips for Elevating and Extending the Lifespan of Good Content – We discuss how to make sure that when you create awesome content it continues to be found by your target audience
  • Speakers: Ray Grieselhuber, Founder & CEO at GinzaMetrics; Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics

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FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Erin:  Hey, everyone. Welcome to FOUND Friday. Today we have Ray and myself on. No need for the introductions normally, but Ray is CEO and founder of GinzaMetrics and SEO and Content Marketing Platform. I’m Erin, COO of GinzaMetrics.
You can find us online on Twitter @GinzaMetrics or by using #FOUNDFriday. You can also visit the GinzaMetrics blog where we post a recap of the show. You can also go back and review the shows there, as well as on our YouTube channel. Any questions that you have during the show, Twitter and Facebook are the best ways to get a hold of us, and we’re going to kick things off.
Today we’re going to talk a little bit about something that we started talking about towards the end of last week’s show, which is if you create great viral content or things that you want to be perpetuating, keep being found, how do you go about doing that? When you create something really awesome and you don’t want it to just be a flash in the pan, how do you continue that? Conversely, if you create something or something happens that goes viral, let’s say something happens of an employee or a piece of content leaks, how do you suppress that a little bit to stop that from being at the top of search engines or going on?
To start off, Ray, for B2B brands, let’s set the stage a little bit from that perspective as to what’s considered viral content. Viral content for a B2B brand is typically a lot different than what somebody would consider a traditional B2C viral content piece.

Ray:  Yeah, for sure. B2B is something that when you think of something going viral, it has a lot more to do with word of mouth and product. The best form of viral B2B content is actually when either the entire product is so compelling that people are just inclined to tell people about it which is an ideal case, or they do huge in their release or some kind of new release that is significant enough to get some of the people talking about it. So, it’s much more product-focused.
Beyond that, there are many different types of content. HubSpot does probably a really good job of this work. They’re creating e-books all the time. They’re really good at copy, so if you look at a lot of the titles of their e-books, they’re the exact type of content that marketers would want to find themselves sharing amongst themselves because it seemed to provide the answers to a lot of problems that people are trying to figure out.

Erin:  If you create something that you originally are going to put out, either for lead gen purposes or press purposes or even just created an awesome new product feature that people seem to really, really like, and it starts to generate a lot of traffic for you, how do you make sure that that continues to keep going beyond maybe the initial pop?

Ray:  It’s a really good question. Unless you spend a lot of time on it, a single piece of content can pop like that forever. There are certain things that you can do such as try to optimize your initial distribution. But a lot of times that goes back to how compelling the content is by itself. There are things that you can do to try to prolong the life span of the way the piece of content is promoted over time, but there’s just going to be a natural drop-off. A lot of times, people will this huge increase in traffic initially. Things will peter out after a while and they try to figure out what they can do to re-boost that particular piece of content.
But a lot of times, I personally believe it’s better just to look at that as what that particular campaign may have ended and it’s time to get cracking out a new one. It’s always a trade-off between trying to figure out: should you be creating new content in order to keep boosting things or try to focus on keeping the distribution high in the original piece of content? There probably is going to be a natural life span on any piece of content that you’ve created and you’re probably better off focused on just creating new content that’s going to continue to be relevant for people.
That being said, there are things on the search side of things that if you are good at distribution initially where you selected the right audience and you’ve created some content that’s viral enough, you can keep it relatively producing some leads, but it’s never going to produce the type of traffic that you produced initially on launch.

Erin:  I’m with you on continuing to create new content. One of the things we’ve talked about in previous shows is once you figured out what your audience is looking for, whether that’s through a combination of keyword discovery, analyzing your existing content, what’s going on social, all these different methodologies, looking at what really drove a lot of traffic to your site and what types of content that is, is really useful.
Some examples from our own world: we have content that is over a year old that still drives hundreds of visitors a week that we don’t touch, which tells us that this is stuff that people care about. For me, this means that maybe we don’t necessarily need to attempt to keep driving a ton of traffic to that former piece but that what we should do is create more content in that specific area and then link those pieces together because maybe it’s part of a series.
For example, let’s say somebody writes a great cheat sheet for A/B testing on e-mail subject lines: “Hey, here’s a good way to figure if your e-mail subject line is going to work.” Everybody starts going to that and then they write, “Okay, this seems to be a really good thing,” so maybe you create another piece of content around testing header lines or something and you connect those pieces of content.
So what you’re creating is a content system that continues to be found because it’s around topics that people are already searching for and are naturally finding. To me, if people are still finding something that you created a year or two ago, it means you’ve created some really stellar content or that nobody else is doing. But it means obviously people are searching for it, so there’s got to be something there.
In addition to that, I’m not a big fan of paying to drive traffic to older content unless there’s a reason. You and I both talked about the fact that if people don’t naturally latch on anyway, that your traffic will stop once you stop paying for it. Paid is a great way to boost a little bit of what’s going on and to get some initial eyes, but if that doesn’t create some teeth to hold on to stuff, then it’s going to be some wasted money.
But I do think that there are ways to refresh old content. There are a lot of updates just in the industry that happened. Depending on whether terminology changes, whether there are new findings, whether that you change your approach, there’s a lot of existing content that people have worked really hard on. So depending on your resource allocation, there’s not always a need to go back and completely recreate everything every time. This is going back and looking at some archives and seeing what all you’ve done before.
If you should create some quick wins, if you sit around and you have to generate some new stuff, I think going back to some of your old blog posts in older landing pages, especially blog posts and landing pages that performed really well a year or two ago, go back and ask, “Hey, is this something that has changed that people are still interested in but they’re interested in newer version?”

Ray:  That’s a really good point. You can refresh your own content, you can create newer versions of your own content, and you can also look at what your competitors are doing. A lot of times, your competitors or sites that are similar to what you’re talking about in your industry are sites that you can learn from and create better versions of the content they have out there, as well. That’s one thing.
I was trying to think of another example when you were talking about that. A really good example of evergreen content in the B2B side of things is tools. Going back to HubSpot example, I think their Marketing Grader is a good example. I have something that they’ve created years ago. They do maintain it from time to time, but it’s not something they’re actively creating content for all the time. But basically that drives a ton of leads for them on an ongoing basis.
B2B marketers are always looking for new information, new insights, that they can use in order to start achieving whatever goal it is they’re trying to achieve which is usually for leads. Something like that particular tool is helpful for people because it shows them a way that they can make improvements to their website that is going to potentially have an impact on how many inbound leads come in to their site. It’s a pretty direct thing.
Those sorts of things I think are really good for B2B marketers. The only problem is there’s a relatively high barrier to create that content because it’s technical in nature. You need people who can create that. Probably if you were to measure them against other sources, they have a really high ROI.

Erin:  Let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about the B2C folks. One of the examples Laura and I were talking about last week on the show was Old Spice commercials and things like that where the content is going viral because of humorous advertising, methodology use, and all these different things. Let’s say you do stumble across a really great campaign for B2C, do you think that this has an impact SEO was? Are there things that marketers should really be paying attention to? Or do you think that this really falls more on the creative people side of just keep drumming up these bizarre ads that make people say, “Whoa!”?

Ray:  It depends to some degree on the type of content. Videos are probably the best example of viral content that will have this huge spike up front and probably get a long tail of traffic over the next year or two if they’re done right. But it’s not like a single video that we’re going to just get the type of traffic people are looking for.
The thing about videos, too, is a lot of times there are much more branding in nature. It’s not like they’re necessarily going to lead to a direct conversion at that time, but they do have a potential to really elevate the brand itself that you’re talking about. On that side of things, it’s best to view this almost like a commercial that you’re distributing online that you need to keep priming the pump.
Other forms of content from the B2B side of things that do tend to fare much better over the long term – if you are to take fashion B2C, for example, like any e-commerce site, anything that is going to be optimized well for research around things like, “These are the 12 new looks that you need this year/season,” that sort of thing is something that as people is searching for, ideas for new clothes to buy. They’re going to show up in the search results and they’re going to attract a lot of visitors that way.
Some of the direct things that I think are interesting. Pinterest has become a really interesting discovery platform for companies that are selling products. They just released a new search program as part of their overall product. I know that search has always been one of those untapped gold mines for them. They’re looking for inspiration when they go to Pinterest.
A lot of times, they want to find unique products that are high quality. I think that Pinterest is actually going to do really good towards customers for a lot of e-commerce companies that get good at creating inspiring content and inspiring views of the way people can buy products that are going to be unique to anything else that you would see, for example, Amazon or another traditional e-commerce site.

Erin:  You’ve brought up an interesting point when you were talking about writing content, the fashion example, which is “10 Wardrobe Essentials for Spring 2014,” or something like that. And that will come up when people are searching for what clothes to buy.
One of the things that’s really interesting to me is the use of taglines and memorable quotes from different things, or interesting or unique product names and product tag lines. This creates another interesting search situation which is people searching specifically for that tagline or product name should be led directly to your page. What they’re led to instead is a video. It’s like the circuitous route that they have to get to things.
Sometimes what happens is we flood people with so much content around this snappy idea or whatever it is. But it’s really hard to ever make a conversion because you have them jumping from place to place especially once they get lost in the social media video Pinterest realm of things. There’s so much going on there. If you don’t ever make those clear connections, I think it can be really hard.
I want to change gears a little bit here and talk about what happens when you have something that you want to go away and what we can do to help people out who may have stumbled across an unfortunate circumstance. Some of the stuff we were talking about last week was “United Breaks Guitars.” This is an older example from back in 2009.
What happened there was the musician guy got on there, United broke his guitar. They wouldn’t help him out. He got stuck in this never-ending loop of customer service stuff. Then by the time he forced his way through this never-ending loop, they told him that the amount of time that he would’ve had to do this had expired. It wasn’t even his fault.
Finally, what the news group did was make a music video called “United Breaks Guitars.” This went viral and it was really hard for them but it stayed around for a long time. You went to search United and this is what came up. A more recent example that actually was very timely last week – thank you, U.S. Airways – was one of their customer service people was replying back to someone via Twitter and tweeted a link that was a pornographic image back to the customer. That went viral.
Those are B2C examples. What you don’t want to have happen is something really bad occurs. I can name some other examples – I don’t want to make them mad because we’re on their platform right now – some stuff that happened with some people at Google, things like that. What can you do to try to minimize the findability of negative content?

Ray:  The first most important thing you need to do in any sort of situation like that is try not to be tone deaf and own up to whatever it is that happened in the first place. Those two examples that you brought up are really good examples.
The reason that United issue stayed out there for so long is because that company refused to acknowledge this guy’s problem. In the 80s and 90s that may have worked because there’s no real way for him to get exposure to the problems that he was experiencing. Obviously the biggest thing that’s changed now is that people have a lot more power than they used to and there is no such thing as just “burying an issue” anymore. If you work hard enough as a consumer, even if you don’t have many resources, you can really get a lot of people to listen to your problem.
It’s always astounding to me how many companies still don’t understand that that fundamental change has occurred. As a result, they try to actively engage in tactics that are basically geared at burying a story. That may have used to work, but it just doesn’t work anymore.
Every business has problems. Every business has customer service issues. Every business has staff that makes a mistake. The way that you deal with that is basically say, “We screwed up. This is how we’re going to try to fix it.” That’s the most effective way to eliminate those issues up front.
If you do that, then Huffington Post isn’t going to write about you – Jezebel and all these other sites. They’re going to start writing what an awful company you are and you can just get back to business. I think that’s probably the first most important step. If you don’t do that, then you’re probably going to be dealing with that problem for a much longer time.

Erin:  Here’s an interesting thought that I was discussing with somebody who works in the public relations industry a little while ago. What you mentioned is you can’t hide anymore because it used to be that if a newspaper or a magazine wouldn’t publish your story then there wasn’t really a way to get hurt. But now, social media, millions of blog sites, news, and all these other things, there are so many stories all the time that you naturally can’t stay at the top of the news feed for more than a few seconds, honestly, but likely days because something bigger and more sensational will come along. People will grab on to a new story. All these things will happen.
When I was actually talking to somebody who runs a PR firm, the commentary was more of – our job has gotten a lot harder in some ways because you have to be more and more sensational and fantastical to make the news originally. But it’s easier on the crisis side because nobody will focus on your news for very long. So if something horrible happens, wait 48 hours.
This idea of self-burying is interesting to me, especially when it comes to what people are searching for. Localized pops of coverage about negative things – let’s take this U.S. Airways example of porn tweet – if you hadn’t read about this on a blog or seen it somewhere because you’ve been busy that day when it made the news, then you went to search for U.S. Airways a day or two later, it’s probably unfortunately still there because they got a lot of traffic. So, now you know.
Do you think that there is any benefit to owning the story yourself and you owning the post and what’s going on and saying, “We’ll make our own announcement about this or do our own thing,” so that what shows up first is your version of the story, your narrative? And how might somebody go about doing something like that?

Ray:  Absolutely. I think the least effective way of doing that would be to make a PR statement. Make a press release about it. If you’re a public company, you may have to. Anything that you can do to respond in a way that seemed authentic about it is going to get people to refer to you as a source of things and just naturally from a search perspective, people are going to respond to you in a way that they’re going to treat you as the primary authority of that issue.
Was it U.S. Airways? I remember that week there were one or two examples of someone tweeting out porn accidentally. One of the companies said, “Oops! Yes, we screwed up.” But contrary to the way most companies respond to this, we’re not just going to fire the employee. We’re going to say, “We’re going to forgive them.”
I thought that that was really cool because it was obvious that that person did not intentionally do that. I think that companies tend to throw their own employee under a bus in situations like that. If there is obviously malicious intent involved then of course, that would probably not be a great strategy.
I never clicked on a story about someone tweeting porn out because I’m too busy, but I saw the headlines. The next headline that I saw was “U.S. Airways forgives employee who tweeted porn out.” To me, that says two things: (1) they acknowledge that it was a problem that they dealt with appropriately with the user and questioned, but also (2) they’re not going to overreact as well. That says to me a lot about the way that was handled.

Erin:  It also meant that they owned the narrative because you saw that story as a response as opposed to another negative story.

Ray:  Exactly.

Erin:  Whether people agree with their decision to keep the employee or not, I think one of the things that what this really points to is good content is very rarely created in a vacuum and bad content is very rarely created in a vacuum. So when something negative happens, it’s very rarely one person’s fault.
One of the examples I give – and it’s my crazy gun-toting anarchist problem – is the movie “Arlington Road.” This movie is pretty old. I don’t know if you remember it. It’s Tim Robbins’s great movie. Joan Cusack… crazy movie.  One of the things that comes up at the very beginning of the movie is this conversation that when something bad happens in the world that it’s always one person acting alone. Everybody perpetuates that it’s this one person acting alone so that everybody feels better, because you can deal with it like, “We caught him. He was brought to justice and it’s over now.” Everybody can be fine again.
This is the same approach that brands take. If something bad happens with the brand, it’s this one person, it’s this one employee, and we fired them and dealt with it. So now you can go back to buying our products. It’s not a problem anymore.
I’m thinking, “The employee exists in a systemic culture that allowed them to do whatever this bad thing was, so it’s on the rest of you too somehow. Did you need better checking? Should you have hired people better? Should you have seen that this person might do something crazy?” Lots of little things.
I think the same thing is true for good viral content. One person wants to be the creator of the great content and say, “I own that.” There’s a lot to be said for people’s attempts to create content that goes viral. There’s so much trying. One of the things we talked about last week is when tries go wrong and burying that a little bit. The example from last week was this. It was really missing the mark and alienating their core audience of women by promoting hair products, like hair removal products, in very uncomfortable situations.

Ray:  I haven’t heard of it.

Erin:  It was something about not being a dude. It put a lot of uncomfortable situations out there that made women not want to buy the product because they’re saying, “People are going to think I have all these problems,” and may not be necessarily be the thing. They were trying to be amusing. They were going for funny, they were going for edgy, and they just went slightly the wrong direction on edgy.
Some people found it funny. I would say that most of those people are probably men. I thought that was amusing, but that’s because I don’t personally have these problems. So I just said, “Ha-ha!” but I also wouldn’t want to go buy the product.
If you were Veet, what do you do now? Right now, you go to Google, you search for “Veet” or “hair removal” and what you see is this massive snafu. How do you get rid of this?

Ray:  I’m looking at Veet right now. I did that exact thing after you mentioned it. I’ve never heard of this thing. The story about Veet is well below the fold already.

Erin:  It’s been two or three weeks. Like I said, it will self-own. I have my huge monitor but it’s above the fold for me. “Don’t Risk the Dudeness” – it’s the Washington Post story.

Ray:  Mine is number seven in the front page. It’s the Washington Post as well.
This is an example of, is it really tone-deaf campaign to begin with? I get the attempt to be funny, but there’s so much sensitivity right now about the way things are marketed to women that I can never see how that would have been a good idea to launch a campaign.

Erin:  Similar to where you probably wouldn’t joke around with men about erectile dysfunction and try to make them feel really bad about it.

Ray:  That’s a whole ‘nother discussion. That’s just something that’s a really tone-deaf campaign to begin with. To some extent, the damage has been done. It’s already far down under results page.

Erin:  But you noticed that one of the reasons that it looks like it’s far down, actually at least on my browser, is it looks like Veet has paid for ads to cover it. I see like six paid ads here.

Ray:  Yeah, it’s a good point. All of mine are on the side.

Erin:  Maybe this is a tactic. It’s like, “I’m just going paid ad my way below the fold.” I see Facebook, Amazon, and Veet. Two different Veet things – Veet U.S. and Facebook. It’s pretty far down now.

Ray:  They almost need a new campaign that would be directly addressing this issue in a humorous way and acknowledging that they screwed up, but then turning it around to something that is interesting and engaging to the users. It’s a tough problem because I’m not that guy to tell you how to do that. But that would be my recommendation. Try to create some new interesting content about that. It may not go viral but at least show up higher than that Washington Post story, or at least be a response to that story.

Erin:  This goes back to admitting that you messed up helps because you can then help control some of the narrative. But at the same time, you don’t want to create a six-month long campaign about it because you don’t want to keep reminding people that you messed up. At some point, this idea of self-covering news will really help you because the story will bury itself.
The lesson here is: respond quickly. You want to be in the response at the same time the news is still news. If you wait two or three weeks, it’s way too late. People have forgotten about it and all you’re really doing is reminding them.
This is like an SEO and PR-type issue that we’re talking about here. We should drive Leslie from Hotwire PR to this conversation with a little webinar about it.
What we’re talking about is to respond quickly so that your answer is there and shown in the same search results or being discussed at the same time that the original story is there. Then try to respond in a human way. If the problem was yours, be humorous if you can.
Laura and I were talking about how it would have been really funny from the United Breaks Guitar story if the CEO would have played the cymbals or a harmonica or something and replied back with a funny song as an “I’m sorry.” People would’ve remembered that and thought, “They’re not taking themselves too seriously and they get that they messed up.”

Ray:  I would’ve had the CEO in the backroom deliberately smashing a bunch of guitars and then people come around and say, “No, no, no. You can’t do that.” They show him being stopped but that must have solved the problem.

Erin:  A lot of what happens especially for larger companies and in the B2B world too to some extent – I’ve seen startups be funny in responses or very, very quick response – is employees don’t feel empowered to make a reply, so they feel like they have to go up the chain of command. That chain of command takes a long time. Whether there’s a legal team, a brand team that they need to get involved for everything – one of the things that you and I talked about before which is really important when it comes to SEO and content – you need some primary guidelines so that employees feel like they’re empowered to make the right response quickly.
Any response quickly is hopefully better than the right response way too late. Because at that point, not only have you messed up but you’ve messed up and you don’t care or you don’t trust your employees enough to let them fix things or you think that the people that you’ve hired aren’t smart enough to fix things. None of those things is good.
An action plan in place of what you might be able to reply with depending on the circumstances or how to handle it and be able to get things up and down the chain a lot faster, to me would do wonders for the searching content space.
I would really like to continue a conversation around this link between SEO and PR because I think that there’s a lot of interesting stuff to be explored here as public relations continue to both affect and be affected by what’s found and content that other people are creating specifically the interesting dynamic of employee-generated content and how that requires an interesting system of checks and balances, and when you’re creating news. As you said, don’t just throw out a press release because that’s not going to be the best way to get found. A press release very rarely ranks.
Maybe that’s where we’ll go next week. I’ll see if I can persuade Leslie to give us a join. If not, we’ll make sure that we’ll schedule it for some other time.