Content Marketing For Your Business Events

You’ve posted on social media about your next business event, but no one is registering. Why isn’t your content working? Well you can’t do it haphazardly. You need a plan. Here, I list out some recommendations for content marketing before, during, and after your event. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

So you’ve added your latest event to your company’s calendar on your website. You’ve put it on Facebook, Eventbrite, and wherever else you can think of to list it. But why isn’t it working? Why aren’t people buying tickets? You need to know. I get it, I understand. 

Before, During, and After Your Event

Why isn’t your content working though? Like everything else with marketing, you can’t do it haphazardly. Your content marketing should support your event before, during, and after the event. Mull on that for a second. 

What have you done leading up to your event, in terms of content and other marketing efforts, that would urge your audience to attend your event? Maybe there isn’t a lot that you’ve done, but that’s okay. There’s always time to come back from that, and do it better next time. That’s the Kaizen principle, and the goal is always to do things a little bit better each time. That’s basically what we’re going to do for your content marketing. 

Content Marketing During The Pre-Event Phase 

Videos and Blog Posts

You can record videos, as well as write blog posts, about the event and the event topics. You could talk about the topics that your event will address. 

Let’s say it’s a small conference on digital marketing with the specific theme of virtual reality. You could create a series of blog posts/videos on virtual reality in marketing or where we think it’s going. 

You don’t want to make it sound like an ad though. Remember: this is content marketing, not traditional advertising. You don’t want to sit there and plug your event throughout the entire blog post. That gets irritating. 

Guest Posting and Podcast Interviews

At that point in time, it would also be a great time to do a guest podcast interview/video show/blog post talking about these topics and mentions. When you guest this way, the hosts typically allow for you to include a link back to your website. 

That’s valuable to you because you’re borrowing someone else’s audience and credibility, in order to get eyes on your content. Of course, you want to be worthy of that, but it’s a strategy you can use to bring in people who may not have normally heard of your event. 

Especially if you go on a podcast, where they’ll often ask you if there’s anything that you’d like to talk about or are excited for. 

And that’s when you say, “You know what? As a matter of fact, John, we are getting ready for an event at XYZ company. It’s a big business conference. We’re going to be talking about the future of digital marketing, things like augmented and virtual reality, and how those things may or may not play in our marketing space. And we’re just really excited about that.” 

John is probably going to respond with something like, “Oh yes, you know what? We’ll include a link to your event page in the show notes. Hey everyone, you definitely want to make sure you check that out and see if you can make it to XYZ company event.” See how this works? Now you’ve gotten some publicity and online PR. 

Content Marketing During The Intra-Event Phase 

Designate People for Different Tasks

How do you do content marketing for your event while it’s happening? This is typically a little faster.  It’s not going to be as polished, so you may want to designate some people ahead of time. 

If you’re the CEO of your company or if you’re the marketing events manager and you’re just running around taking care of everything anyway, maybe designate this task to someone else. That way, you don’t have to worry about it. 

You’re already doing enough as it is, but you want to plan ahead of time, so designate these people beforehand. 

Collect Video Testimonials

What you want to do is get short video testimonials. They should be recorded with somebody’s phone, so they can easily be uploaded to the company media repository. Video testimonials from people who have come for the first time, or who keep coming back are always fantastic. 

If it’s a recurring event, then you can share testimonials from before. You can schedule them, so it happens during the event. 

Encourage Attendees to Use a Hashtag

You also want to invite guests to use a hashtag. Oftentimes this is easily done by placing little cards or signs up on the tables. “Capturing a great moment at X event? Use this hashtag to share it with everyone!” Or whatever you want it to say. 

The hashtag is awesome because it’s user-generated content. And if social media users show that they’re having a great time learning a lot at your business event, that’s going to count for so much. 

User-generated content leads the pack in terms of what consumers see and what people trust. You want to cultivate and encourage it from your attendees after the event. 

Thank Your Attendees and Sponsors

You want to get on social media. Thank the attendees, and thank your sponsors for your event. One way to appeal to event sponsors is to guarantee that you’ll thank them and put their names out there. Don’t forget to thank your sponsors! 

You want to tag people: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. Tag your sponsors, attendees, speakers,  and anybody who contributed. If you’re a photographer on-site, share those pictures and tag the people who will get the word out about your events. 

Want to read more about appealing to event sponsors so you can hold bigger and better events? Read our blog post or watch the video here.

Content Marketing During The Post-Event Phase

Generate Buzz for Your Next Event

Now that we’re in the post-event phase, you want to get people excited for the next event. You want them to mark their calendars, so when you post about it, they’re like, “Oh yeah, let me add that to my calendar. I need to go to that. That was a great event.” Or even, “I missed out. I don’t want to miss out again.” That’s another thing that social media will do for you. 

You can send it out to your email list as well. There are people on your email list who did not attend your event. They missed out. Show them what they missed. Send an event recap. Create a great post with photos from the event if you can. Then share that article on social media and with your email list.

Did you have someone tasked with taking photos at your event? Create an album, and share that with your attendees via email. Those email’s are practically guaranteed to get high levels of engagement. People love photos of themselves.

That’s what your content can do. It can show everyone what they missed, and remind the attendees of the great time they had, how valuable it was to be there, and get those insights in person. 

You want to share those takeaways because it could be an inspiration for new podcasts, videos, images or art about the event. Share those takeaways, and please support your sponsors. 

Really, Don’t Forget to Thank Your Sponsors

Make sure you thank them, and that can’t just be the logo that you shared on the event page. Thanked them by email. Thank them personally. After the event, follow up and say thank you. Make sure that you deliver everything you said you were going to deliver. 

That’s a quick rundown of how you could use content to support your events and generate more buzz. Show your appreciation to the attendees, sponsors, and anyone who organized it. 

If you get any PR, make sure that you thank those media outlets for talking about your event. Don’t let that go unnoticed. You want to make sure that you thank everyone who supported you. 

Send Event Recaps, and Don’t Stop Your Content Marketing Yet

You want to use your content to support your goals at every stage: before, during, and after. Just because the event is over doesn’t mean that your content marketing for that event is over. 

I see that a lot, which is typically where it falls off. Event recaps are great things to send. You can also post them as blog articles. Go ahead and try that out! 

If you have an event coming up, and you want to sketch out a rough content marketing strategy, I’d love to check it out. I can’t create the whole content strategy for you (not for free anyway), but I’d love to check it out and give you a few pointers. 

Under the Microscope: XM Phone Cleanse

All right, we’re taking another campaign Under the Microscope! Today, we’re looking at Xfinity Mobile’s Phone Cleanse campaign. As a relatively new mobile service provider, Xfinity Mobile needed to increase their brand awareness. They needed to get their name out there and get people interested. And boy, did they ever! Learn more about this interesting campaign and its results.

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

If you missed our first episode of Under The Microscope, we looked at IBM’s Content Cantina campaign. Today, we’re going to talk about Xfinity Mobile’s digital health awareness campaign. 

A New Contender in a Dominated Marketplace

Xfinity Mobile is a relatively new mobile carrier in an incredibly dominated marketplace. I don’t want to say that it’s a crowded marketplace per se, but we know who the big players are and they’re firmly entrenched. We’d be surprised to see one of them fail. 

But Xfinity Mobile is only available for Comcast subscribers. The advantage of using them is that you can bundle it with your other services. 

Comcast is the biggest cable and satellite provider in the United States, but Xfinity Mobile is new. They needed their Comcast customers to notice them. 

The bundling is very attractive for new subscribers as well. Not only do you get your internet, cable, and landline, you could also get your cell phone. On top of that, if you already have certain Comcast offerings, then it just makes sense for you to bundle and get Xfinity Mobile. 

But they needed people to know about them. 

Xfinity Mobile’s The Phone Cleanse

They called this digital health awareness campaign The Phone Cleanse. It was all about getting noticed, brand awareness, getting out there, and getting people to talk about them. 

Wow, did they ever succeed! It was amazing. They zigged when everybody else was zagging. They did something different than everyone else. 

What Xfinity Mobile Did Differently

Addressing Problematic Challenges Head-On

Yes, there are digital health apps out there, but they mostly just quietly stay on your phone. There isn’t a big fanfare about it or anything. 

This is similar to when tobacco companies were just standing idle and being quiet when scientists were beginning to prove the detriments of smoking and what it can cause. Yes, they slapped warning labels on their products, but did that do anything? 

On the contrary, Xfinity Mobile’s campaign reminds me of when alcoholic beverages companies do commercials that talk about safe driving or emphasize moderation. So they’re addressing the fact that their product does have some pitfalls, but if you want it anyway, be smart. 

The Creation of a Physical Book

Xfinity Mobile actually made an actual, real, physical book called The Phone Cleanse. It has a space in the center for your phone. You just put your phone in there and follow the instructions. 

It’s a 7-day phone cleanse, and you follow the instructions in the book every day. The reason why they did this instead of designing a digital app, is so people don’t have to flick back and forth between their phone settings, instructions, app settings, etc. They could just put the phone in the book. 

What Is the Purpose of This Campaign?

The focus is on cleansing someone’s life of clutter, notifications, bloatware, and all the unnecessary content lingering on their phone. 

All those notifications can cause anxiety. They put a little bit of pressure on your mind. You’re immediately thinking, “Oh, here are more things I have to deal with!” 

That’s why they created a campaign that helps people have a healthier relationship with their phones. 

Employing Various Influencers

They started it with influencers, which was perfect because they were talking about their experience to their audience. 

Then, the audience was saying, “Hey, what about me? Can I start doing The Phone Cleanse as well? I definitely need to do it.” 

And that’s when Xfinity Mobile made it available to everybody. Once again, they did something unexpected. 

The Results of The Xfinity Mobile Phone Cleanse

Not only were they talking about digital health, but they actually created a book vs. putting out a digital app as many would do. It takes us back to simpler times. 

This doesn’t just have the advantage of being convenient in the sense that you don’t have to fiddle with their phone settings and instructions, but it’s also something you can physically touch. 

It’s like an anchor here, in the real world, compared to everything you’re doing on your phone. I think they took some very interesting turns, and having an actual book was an excellent plan. 

The general public agreed, Xfinity Mobile got some great coverage, and there were some serious increases in awareness. Actually, I’ve got some specific numbers here: 

  • They saw an 11-point lift in top of mind awareness. In our very dominated market, their top of mind awareness is around 400% over the tech benchmark, which is very impressive. 
  • They also saw an 81% increase in social conversation about Xfinity Mobile, which is incredibly important because they’re a new mobile carrier and they need to get their name out there. Xfinity Mobile need people talking about them, whether they’re Comcast subscribers or not. 
  • They got earned placements in Fox Business News and the Washington Post, among other media outlets. That’s huge! What they did got them some earned media public relations, which is something we’ve been talking about a lot this season. What they did was interesting enough to get them into these big media publications. That’s not something you can pay for, and it adds to the legitimacy of the brand. It gets it out to people who may not have otherwise heard about the brand. 

Something Anybody Would Be Improved by

So that’s what I really liked about the Xfinity Mobile Cleanse. I think we should all cultivate healthy relationships with our technology, especially as it becomes more prevalent. We’re talking Google glasses, virtual reality, augmented reality, and everything else. 

Xfinity Mobile brought to light a topic that could have easily been shuffled to the side as their larger competitors did. They made it a point of interest and improving wellbeing. 

No matter who you are, whether or not you took part, whether or not you’re a Comcast or an Xfinity Mobile customer, you could take part in this campaign and you would be improved by it. I think that’s the sort of positivity that we want to see in marketing in the world. 

And that’s why I decided to bring the Xfinity Mobile phone cleanse to Under The Microscope. I hope you enjoyed this quick analysis of the mobile content campaign. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Did you take part in The Phone Cleanse? What did you think of it? Do you still have your book? Take some pictures of it, I’d love to see it. Otherwise, I’ll see you next time!  

Case Study: How Can Content Marketing Support Your Business Program or Event?

It isn’t enough to create an event or program landing page and expect attendees to flock to it. Especially if your program is new. The best approach is to create content that supports your program or event. If it’s a reoccuring program, all the better. After your first iteration, you’ll be able to use user-generated content, like testimonials to support your sales. But how can content support your business program or event?

By focusing on the why of the event, and creating the content your potential attendees need to make a purchase decision.

We Met a Company at Just the Right Time Who Wanted to Do Exactly This.

The Institute for Excellence in Sales (IES) serves as a center of actionable best practices, insights, tools, advisory services, thought leadership, and recognition that enable organizations to achieve high performance in sales. The company holds workshops in cities around the United States, bringing together top sales thought leaders and professionals.

IES Needed Content Strategy and Creation

Fred Diamond, President of IES, often searches for trusted partners for various business needs so he can concentrate on growing his company. He wanted to develop long term content marketing assets for the company’s reoccurring Women in Sales Leadership Forum. IES already produces a lot of content through the Sales Game Changers Podcast, but there was a need for specific content around this program. 

“Right as I identified the need for outsourcing, I received your email. Your portfolio impressed me, as did your diligence. I felt confident you could help me with this.”

Fred Diamond, CEO, Institute for Excellence in Sales

How DTSQ Developed a Strategy That Assisted in Program Sales

We developed a content marketing campaign to demonstrate how in touch IES is with women sales leaders’ widespread issues. Our strategy included: 

  • Topic cluster strategy development based on current content assets
  • 3 new articles for the company blog
  • Repurposing podcast clips for article quotes of admirable women sales leaders 
  • Repurposing of podcast clips for video snippets for social media
  • Ideation and design of several on brand social media graphics and posts

“We purposefully wrote the articles in an evergreen way. Fred explained that the Women in Sales Leadership Forum would be an ongoing program. Therefore, in order to offer the most value, we created assets that he could use time and time again, with minimal updating.”

Ruthie Bowles, Founder, Defy The Status Quo

Thanks to the vast library of content, and the many conversations women sales leaders have had on the Sales Game Changers Podcast, we had a wealth of content for repurposing and inspiration. We conducted keyword research to support our final selection of topics. We purposefully quoted influential women sales leaders who had been guests on the podcast to expand the reach and interest of each article. 

Examples of the social media assets created for IES

Repurposing the Sales Game Changers Podcast episodes into bite-sized video clips for social media was a very important step in the strategy. It’s a given that people won’t always click through to your site. However, it’s critical to begin conversations where your audience is. Audio clips from longer podcasts can start important discussions. 

Turning audio into video clips can greatly extend the reach of content, which was our goal for IES. Video tweets are 10x more likely to get engagement that tweets without video. On Facebook, views of branded video content had increased by 258% in 2017. We considered it critical to amplify the great content IES already had at it’s disposal, while creating new content inspired from those topics. 

“I think the value is that you gave us a lot of material that complimented our outbound efforts. Our next iteration is in October [2019], and we plan to go regional in 2020. So the goal is to have more people learn about the program without us directly reaching out to them.”

Fred Diamond, CEO, Institute for Excellence in Sales

Reoccuring Program Has Long-Term Assets

As a client, we love IES’ mission and the work they do to help sales professionals improve their professional skills. It was very exciting for us to partner with them to move the needle in the right direction. In this case, that meant creating content for IES to get the word out about this new program. 

Our aim was to provide a smooth working process. We handled uploading all of the content to the site, and created a repository that IES can access at anytime to download and reuse their social media assets. Honoring IES’ trust was paramount to what we consider success, especially as this was their first time bringing in an outside consultant for content strategy and creation. 

“I wanted to offload this, and I appreciated the quality of your work and your respect for the deadline. I trusted you to deliver, and you did. I thought that your service was quality, and I’m pleased that we partnered. I would definitely recommend you to anyone in my network.”

Fred Diamond, CEO, Institute for Excellence in Sales

We’re very proud to have created content that will be used to promote subsequent iterations of the Women in Sales Leadership Forum. 

Measuring The Value of Content

Many people start with the content before establishing the value, but this ain’t the chicken and the egg. One of them definitely comes first. If you want to create high-value content that generates serious ROI for your company. Learn how to set clear expectations based off of business objectives to ensure no content efforts are wasted. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Today we’re going to talk about measuring the value of content. The reason why is because I know a lot of writers and content specialists who don’t understand the value of what they create. 

I know a lot of marketing directors, marketing managers, CEOs, you name it, who don’t understand how to measure the value of content. 

That’s what makes this such a critical topic. You cannot sell or buy something effectively if you don’t understand the value of it. 

The Goal of Your Content

The value of content really depends on why you created it (or had it created) in the first place. Before you go buying or selling anything, you need to understand the goal of the content. 

So whether you’re the content specialist or you’re the person looking for content, you need to understand the goal first. 

Why do you want this created? What is this blog post series meant to accomplish? Why do you want this white paper? What’s the goal of this case study? 

Created for Different Purposes

A blog post is the simplest one. That’s where most companies start. A blog post that’s meant to generate search engine traffic is going to be written and perform differently than a post that’s meant to interest prospects on your mailing list. 

Those are two different goals: generating interest from prospects on a mailing list and generating search engine traffic. 

The timeframe on those two different goals is going to be huge. Seeing an increase in search engine traffic can take months. My awesome SEO guru friend Jason Firch on Linkedin says that it can take up to 8 months to see search engine traffic coming in. 

This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. It also depends on the age of your website, the domain authority, and many other factors. When considering SEO, for a piece of content to do well, there’s a lot of things that have to happen. Time is a must.  

So you have to wait months to really understand the impact of a piece of content. Search engines can have an almost instantaneous effect, or it can have a more delayed effect. 

Generating interest from a highly engaged email list could generate more traffic to your site. However, you have to put in the work to build that highly engaged list!

Interpreting Your Content’s Success

Developing a Relationship

If you’re using an email marketing software, you’ll be able to see that people opened your email and clicked on it. If you’re sending an email, and you don’t have a CRM tracking or email marketing, you’re not going to be able to see these things. (Here’s the CRM and tracking software I use. <– Yes, that’s an affiliate link. I make a small commission if you choose to buy. But there’s the option to use the CRM for free too!)

But let’s say you’re using an email marketing software. So you’ll be able to see that they:

  • Weren’t interested
  • Don’t reach out to your sales team
  • Don’t reach out to you
  • fail to reply or take any action

Does that mean that piece of content failed? No, it means that it could be a step further in this buyer’s journey. You haven’t done anything wrong there. 

If they clicked on it, that means the next time you send them something, they’ll probably click and open and go further. That blog post could start a conversation. They reply, and now you’re emailing back and forth, and you’re developing a relationship with this potential client. 

That is critical. People don’t buy from people they don’t like. If they don’t like you, they’re definitely not going to buy from you. So sometimes a blog post is about starting a conversation. 

That’s what content marketing is about. Content marketing is about starting those conversations and giving you the opportunity to help your customer understand who you are and what you do. 

Building Credibility

If you offer services, you don’t necessarily have a product. You need to build your credibility, not just in the industry that you’re in, but in the industries that you specialize in. 

If you offer management consulting, you want to be seen as a forward-thinking company. Let’s say you decide that you prefer working with a particular industry of businesses, like technology. 

You want to make sure that you’re present there, and talking about how the best technology companies can manage their people and move their businesses forward. 

Creating Content That Helps With Outreach

You can create content that helps with outreach that improves your chances of success. So let’s say you write a blog post on a hot new trend in technology management. You’re able to use that blog post to reach out to podcast hosts who’ve talked about similar things. 

They read this blog post, and get introduced to your company. They get to know a little bit about you. Now, they see that you have some value to add to their podcast, and they may interview you. 

Maybe you get to guest blog or maybe feature in someone’s video on Youtube. You can use these pieces of content to reach out, and you should create content with that goal in mind. 

The more personalized you can make your content, the more effective it’s going to be for the people who’ve read it.

Establish Goals, Then Make Content 

What this entire episode is meant to say, is that content should be created with goals in mind. Establish the goals. Do not try to make your content fit the goal. 

Establish the goals first, and then create the content. Working from that goal, the value, and the ROI of the content will be more apparent because you’re working from a starting line. 

Work with the goal in mind if you want to be able to understand the value of your content, and generate ROI consistently from the efforts that you’re taking (or paying for). 

Outsource Content for Better Business Performance

Content marketing doesn’t seem like a big deal until you trip down the rabbit hole of keyword research or trying to tie your content to business objectives. Once you do, you’ll find that employees are more likely to abandon the project and never look back. Don’t let your company’s blog be one of those website fixtures that never gets dusted off. Learn why you should outsource content to a trusted partner and how this may bring you the success you were looking for. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

The Steps of Generating New Content

When I talk about outsourcing, I’m normally talking about content, because I’m a content consultant. That’s what we do at Defy The Status Quo. So we’re going to run with that as an example, but keep in mind that this applies to pretty much any type of service that you would consider outsourcing to a freelancer, company, or agency. 

Trying out Blogging

We’re going to go with blogging. I feel like that’s where most companies dip their toes in terms of content marketing. Blogging doesn’t seem like too big of an extra task. How much time can it take to write up a blog post? 

The Steps of Writing a Blog Post

You have to consider the content plan and what you’re actually going to be writing about. In order to develop the content plan, we need to do keyword research. 

We should also be tying content to business objectives. Your marketing director is probably pretty clear on the business objectives, but it’s not always considered necessary to share those in detail with your employees. 

So now we’ve got:

  • Creating the content plan
  • Doing the keyword research 
  • Tying every single piece of content to a business objective. 

We should also probably also have a downloadable or lead magnet of some sort, like a white paper, an ebook, a research report, etc.

We covered white papers in Season 1 and a white paper can easily take 20-30 hours to finish. And that’s normally over the course of 6-8 weeks. Who’s going to do that? But I digress.  

Continuing on, now we need a distribution plan for our content. We’ve got the content plan, and we need to have a distribution plan. 

Once you write it, it’s not a case of “build it and they will come.” It’s a case of “build it and then distribute it, so people know about it, and then they will come.” So you actually have to have a plan in place for that. 

Also, who’s checking our analytics to make sure that everything is performing the way it should? Someone needs to check analytic sources, like Google Analytics. 

The Return of Investment on Blogging

At first, it seems very easy, but then it easily snowballs. People are asking questions about ROI. We have someone spending 10 hours/week on blogging. What’s the ROI to the business? We’re paying them for that! 

Getting real ROI from content takes time, but there are short term KPIs that you can measure to help predict how content is going to perform over time. 

Content marketing builds momentum, and that’s another way that it generates long-term ROI. But the level of content marketing that generates real ROI may take up more time than the people in your marketing department have. 

Everyone is Doing Something

What I’m saying is that, even if it seems like the people that you assign this to aren’t doing anything, they are doing something with their 40 hours. I’m assuming that your marketing employees work 9-5, Monday-Friday. 

They need to be able to fit in the content, so there’s going to be some juggling of responsibilities. It shouldn’t be a problem, but it is something new. 

Starting a New Project

New projects might only be taken up halfheartedly. Big projects can have many points of failure, like blogging, white papers, and case studies. 

Oftentimes, for employees who are only half-heartedly taking on a project, one failure is enough to put the project on the back-burner. Especially if nobody’s checking on them. 

Time Over Zeal

You may have to give a project to an employee, not because they’re the best fit, but because they’ve got time. 

Maybe your best writer or your best video person, or social media person is engaged in another marketing project. So this white paper’s gonna go to John Smith because he’s got time. 

Then, it kind of goes back to point #1 about employees taking up projects halfheartedly. John Smith doesn’t want to do a white paper. He would rather be updating his resume on Indeed, so he’s not going to be happy about taking on this project either. 

Why No One Points Out Your Bad Ideas

Employees aren’t always going to tell you when you’ve got a bad content idea. I have to be honest: one thing that most of my clients tell me in the discovery call is, “I don’t know this stuff. I just want somebody to tell me what we can and can’t do. That’s a good idea. That’s a bad idea.” 

So there are two reasons why employees might not tell you: 

  • Nobody likes to deliver bad news. They don’t. 
  • They may not know enough to deliver bad news. 

That’s what makes having somebody who knows enough to tell you that you’ve got a bad idea so important. 

When you’re spitting out these content ideas at your marketing meeting, you’re developing a self-reinforcing bias within your marketing department because they don’t have the expertise to tell you that it’s a bad idea. 

Assigning Content To Your Employees

So when you’re looking at assigning content to your marketing people, you need to check:

  • Have any of them received content training?
  • Do they understand writing for search engines, and writing for your audience? 
  • Do they understand the sorts of market research that they’re going to have to do? 
  • Are they well versed in the analytics, and are able to report to you on the ROI? 

Invest in Your Employees

If none of them have received that sort of training but you have people who are interested, then I would go for it. I would definitely develop those employees. 

When you invest in your employees’ education and help them grow in unexpected ways, they value that. It can increase employee loyalty and retention in your company. 

If All Else Fails, Outsource Your Content

If you don’t have people jumping up out of their seat for this, you’re probably going to want to outsource your content in order to create the best long-term assets. 

The best way to do that is through interviewing agencies or solo practitioners like myself. All of our professional knowledge will translate to your content. We’ll tell you everything you and your marketing team need to know to create the best content. 

Where to Find Content Ideas

Sometimes, you’ll feel inspired and all of the content ideas will come to you. Other times, you can’t think of a single thing to write about or make a video out of. Where can you find content ideas when you feel like this? Let me tell you where I find content ideas when my creativity has run a bit dry. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Write Things Down Immediately

Today we’re going to talk about where to find content ideas. 

I feel like I often just pluck them right out of thin air, which is an awesome ability to have. I have a ton of Google products, so I keep a running list in Google Keep. 

That allows me to write down content ideas when I’m driving, taking a shower, I’m cooking, just before bed or any other time. 

First of all, when you’re constantly thinking about content, ways that you can relate to your audience and help them relate to you, educating and entertaining, these ideas are going to start coming to you. 

You’re just going to be thinking about something and draw an interesting connection. So you want to have something on hand. Why? Because I promise you that you’re not going to remember it. 

Especially if the idea comes to you just before bed, you are not going to remember that idea in the morning. You’re going to remember that you had an idea and that’s what’s really going to get you. You’re going to remember that you had a wonderful idea, and it’s gonna mess with you for the rest of the day. 

What About When the Well Has Run Dry?

So what about when it seems like you actually don’t have any content ideas? Now, this is a rough one. You feel like you don’t have any content ideas, but you need to put out some new content. 

Maybe you need to create a Linkedin post or you need to put something up on Instagram. Maybe you need to create a podcast episode on IGTV. Anything. 

You need to do something. There are some go-to sources that I have. 

Use Interest-Based Feeds, Like Google News

One of the sources that I love to use is Google News or any other interest-based feed. You can set up your interests and get feeds from newly published content and news related to topics that you’re interested in. I think that is key. It allows you to stay up to date on things that matter. 

You can also set those interests based off of what matters to your clients and prospective clients. That’s a really big deal.

You want to make sure that you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on, so you stay informed and educated on issues that matter to your clients. 

Twitter is Like a Minute-By-Minute Newsreel

Twitter is a fantastic place to keep up with what’s going on. Don’t forget to take a look at those trending tags. Again, those interest-based feeds are trending for a reason. You want to make sure that you keep up with those things. 

Quora: Find Questions and Answer Questions

Quora is another place that I like to get content ideas from. There are people asking questions, and sometimes you can even get ideas from the answers. You could also answer a question and you generate a lot of feedback. 

That could be a great content idea because, not only did you answer the question, but if people respond to your response then it shows even more interest. 

The one thing you should do is always double-check that people are interested in what you have to say.  One of the ways we accomplish that is through keyword research. That’s where SEO comes in handy. 

Linkedin, Where B2B Thrives

Linkedin is a great place to check out. There is a column in Linkedin, on the right of your homepage, with the top 10 trending issues. You can get really good ideas there. 

If you’re going to do a Linkedin post, maybe you should include one of those topics. Don’t forget to check your hashtags. Just like on Instagram, you can follow hashtags and stay up to date, which is incredibly valuable if your industry is B2B. 

Need to set up your LinkedIn Profile to win new business? Check out our LinkedIn Profile Infographic!

Utilize Google Search Console for New Content Ideas

I touched on SEO very briefly just now, but Google Search Console will tell you queries that people use and when you appear in those search results. That’s called impressions, and it’ll tell you when people actually click on your result. 

You may want to look at:

  • Keyword phrases 
  • Where you’re getting impressions
  • Where you’re ranking
  • When people actually look at you
  • When people pass by your search listing. 

Some of the phrases you see there will tell you about gaps that are missing in your content, or just the things that are of interest that you may be able to speak about in an intelligent manner. 

Google Search Console is a fantastic place to look for keywords. 

Answer the Public Website

Another great place to look for keywords is You can take a keyword/keyphrase and it turns it into many different questions. 

So not only is this great for coming up with content ideas, especially for social media, but it’s also great for writing blog posts. 

If you’re writing a blog post and you feel like there are other ways you could approach a topic, but you’re not really sure how, pop your topic into, and that grumpy old man will turn your phrase into questions. 

You could take those questions and add them to your blog post, which would allow you to expand on the topic that you’re covering. 

Take Advantage of Scientific Journals and Publications

Let’s not forget industry publications and journals. Science journals are not just for science. There are journals for pretty much anything that anybody could conduct a study, experiment or observation on. 

You could use the latest research, and create content that helps connect the dots for your clients. 

I’m a content marketing consultant, but if something comes out in one of the marketing journals and it’s filled with jargon and it’s heavy on the marketing data, my clients may not find that very easy to digest. I could help so many people by taking that new research and turning it into a blog post, where I make it more digestible for people interested in what that research deals with. 

Also, don’t forget to regularly check your industry journals and publications. They’re very valuable and they may even help inform your own strategy and approach to your clients. 

Not to mention that new research is always a great reason to reach out to past clients as a way to ask them, “I thought you’d be interested in this. I just wanted to check in with you and see how things are going.”

That’s the second episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. You are going to love some of the topics that we’re covering in Season 2. And don’t forget, Jenn’s next segment is going to happen next week, so make sure you subscribe.

Interested in seeing what other professionals think? Here’s what my LinkedIn network had to say about finding content ideas and inspiration!

Whirlpool: A User Generated Content Case Study

My marketing class assignment this week is to evaluate a digital marketing campaign by a major brand, and then evaluate their current efforts. Because I published two posts on user generated content this week, I went with Whirlpool’s “Every Day, Care” campaign. This gives me an opportunity to further explore the points I made in this week’s podcast episodes with a real life example with real results. So, let me begin analyzing this user generated content case study.

Whirlpool’s Goal: Change the Way We Viewed Chores

Whirlpool dealt with a lot of customers, but often only when they had complaints (DigitasLBi, Crowdtap, Whirlpool, 2019). Whirlpool products are used to perform tasks most consumers don’t look forward to: chores. At least, I don’t look forward to them.

Interestingly enough, 62% of adults said that the key to a successful marriage was a chore system. It’s easy for one partner to take on more work and become unhappy about it (Klein, Izquierdo, Bradbury, 2016). That makes a lot of sense really, when I think about the arguments I’ve had about chores…

Whirlpool wanted to change the tone of the chore argument, er, conversation. That’s what inspired the “Every Day, Care” campaign. The work a stay at home parent does for their family each day (or working parents who split the duties, etc.) is valued at more than $160,000 (Juneau, 2019). So the value of these chores is huge for a family. Whirlpool wanted to put the focus back on that value.

Whirlpools Campaign Centered Around UGC

Whirlpool used Crowdtap to gather thousands of user generated content (UGC) stories. Why? They knew that no matter what story they told, nothing would be more effective that consumers telling their own stories. Research shows that over 66% of consumers trust UGC more than branded company content.

Whirlpool gathered more than 44,000 different types of UGC: text, images and video (DigitasLBi, Crowdtap, Whirlpool, 2019). Don’t forget, almost anything a consumer creates can be UGC. Whirlpool took these different pieces of UGC and created a content marketing campaign around them. They created a microsite as the hub of their efforts. The entire digital marketing effort incorporated paid, earned, and owned channels.

Business Impact of Whirlpool’s UGC Campaign

As a result of the campaign, Whirlpool experienced 12% year-over-year unit growth and a 6-6% increase in sales. The consumer view of of the brand also increased, from -.3 to 4.6 on a five-point scale (DigitasLBi, Crowdtap, Whirlpool, 2019).

Whirlpool was able to cause significant change in business metrics by helping their customers appreciate the value of the daily work they did for their families. By reframing the way customers viewed their tasks (which they used Whirlpool and competitor products for).

Did Whirlpool Continue to Ride the UGC Momentum?

After reviewing Whirlpool’s website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it appears that the campaign success didn’t convince Whirpool to change their social media strategy. Despite the measurable success and impact on revenue significant metrics, Whirlpool’s strategy seems to reflect many mistakes big brands often make.


This gives an opportunity to (predominantly unhappy) customers to complain about their product issues. It doesn’t appear that the social media management team is equipped to do more than pass the issue along to customer service. The responses are always canned, and don’t sound like a real person. They would do better to personalize these responses and sound more authentic.

Instagram and Twitter

They appear to use Instagram and Twitter as employee facing channels, promoting content that would likely be relevant to current and potential employees. This is definitely something I wouldn’t recommend at all. There is a lot of overlap in their target demographic in terms of who uses Facebook and who uses Instagram.

I’m seriously shocked that despite the huge success of the campaign, Whirlpool’s current channels don’t have a piece of UGC in sight. Definitely a disappointing end to this user generated content case study.


DigitasLBi, Crowdtap, & Whirlpool. (2019). #EveryDayCare – Whirlpool, DigitasLBi and Crowdtap. Retrieved from

Juneau, J. (2019, January 15). Study Finds Stay-at-Home Moms Should Earn More Than $160,000 for Caring for Their Kids. Retrieved from

Klein, W., Izquierdo, C., & Bradbury, T. N. (2016, June 20). The Difference Between a Happy Marriage and Miserable One: Chores. Retrieved from

SEO Backlink Image Scam

Today we are going to talk about an SEO backlink image scam. I searched online for it once I unraveled the mystery, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Nothing online about it. And so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to create an awesome piece of content that explains this scam to people and hopefully helps them avoid being scammed themselves. So let’s get into it.

What Are Backlinks?

First and foremost, what are backlinks? When someone links to your website, that’s a backlink. So you’re a website. I’m a website. I was on your website. I found awesome information. When I went back to produce my own content on my site, I linked to your website or your page as the source for that information.

Backlinks tell Google that a website’s content is valuable and reputable. So that’s why original research always gets a ton of backlinks. Especially if you’ve got research with numbers in it because people love statistics. When we craft our content stories, we can deliver a second solid punch with firm numbers supporting our analysis, our opinion, or just a particular feeling that we’ve had about a subject. 

Backlinks are also one of the top three SEO ranking factors. So more good backlinks mean you’ll rise in the search engines back. Bad backlinks can bring you down by association. It’s kind of like how a man or woman is judged by their friends. A website can be judged by its backlinks.

So what are backlinks? Backlinks are basically Internet street cred. That means the more you have, the better off you are, as long as they’re high quality backlinks. 

Ruthie Bowles, Defy The Status Quo

How Does This Backlink Scam Work?

They’ll target you based on an image that you’ve used on your website. How do they do this? With a reverse image lookup tool. So they’ll upload an image and this tool will spit out all the websites that it can match the image to. 

Then, they’ll send you a message asking them for a backlink to credit them because you took their photo. How dare you! The message likely sounds nonthreatening, which is great because you’ve probably just about lost your mind as soon as you read it. 

And then you paste the link on your site again because you don’t want to be sued. You’re relieved that they were so nice about it. Boom, SEO backlink image scam complete!

It Works Because No One Wants to be Sued

This scam works because you’re relieved they’re not suing you. They could’ve served you with a takedown notice and they can sue you right off the bat for infringing on their copyright. For a real photograph owner anyway. They don’t even have to warn you; they don’t have to ask. 

You’re just relieved that that is not what happened to you. Something like that could totally destroy small business and the scammers are taking advantage of that.

The Message Started an Investigative Process

So my client received the following message: 

Hi, it’s James here from I’m reaching out because I noticed that you used one of my images in this post [he provided a link to my client’s post]. 
I took this photo in 2014 and it’s copywriter belongs to me and my website. Here it is: [he provides two links that appear to go to his site]. 
Unfortunately you didn’t give me credit for the image. I’d really appreciate it if you were able to add a source link beneath the image, could you do this? 
James H. 

Investigative Process Step 1: Freak Out and Confirm Your Image Source

Actually, my pre-step was freaking out. I freaked out because I said, “No, this could ruin my credibility!” 

First of all, I only ever use royalty-free images or paid stock photo options, all right? I’m like, “Oh my goodness, please do not tell me that the royalty-free image sites are corrupted or something!” 

I confirmed that this image was taken from Pexels, which guarantees royalty-free images. So if this photo isn’t actually royalty-free, that’s Pexels fault, not mine. “Sue them”, that’s what I’m thinking.


But at the same time, Pexels entire business strategy is built on this. So why would they run the risk of having any unusable photos in their database? That’s when the scam alerts started going off.

The freak out part of this step is optional. Confirming your image source is not. 

Investigative Process Step 2: Evaluate the Message

So your next step is to evaluate the message that you’ve received. So there were some grammar errors in the message. The big one being a misspelling or improper usage of a word. He put “copywriter” instead of copyright. 

He also signed the message, James H. Well, I mean that’s better than John H., right? But that could be anyone, and he didn’t even include a contact phone number in the message. 

And the links are actually to the site’s media library. So it was www.pick That just means that you’ve uploaded images or media into your WordPress media library. I can upload anything I want into my media library without actually putting it on my site, but it does generate a link for it. 

So you’ll see companies do this sometimes with downloadable content. They’ll put it in the media library. You put in your information to download the ebook, you hit submit, and then you go to the “thank you” page. You can click that link it shows the media that you wanted. 

As I said, you can do that with anything without actually putting on your site, images, videos, documents, audio, all sorts of things.

Investigative Process Step 3: Vet the Company

My suspicions are sufficiently riled up at this point. Now, we must vet the company. I tried to look up Pick Comfort on social media. I also tried using Google and I couldn’t really find them anywhere. 

They didn’t have any social media accounts and only a basic contact form on the website. I also noticed that Pick Comfort actually links its products to Amazon product pages that don’t belong to them. Based on that, I concluded that it’s likely an affiliate site trying to generate revenue. 

Now for the next 48 hours (I think), anything you purchase, not just that item, Pick Comfort, will receive a commission. So now, of course, I have to avoid Amazon for the next 48 hours or else I’m giving Pick Comfort money.

Investigative Process Step 4: How Did They Find My Client?

Next, I needed to determine how they found my client. I’ve pretty much unraveled the method of attack and now I want to know how they even targeted us in the first place. 

They used a reverse image lookup tool. The entire process is free when you consider the images are also free. To duplicate the process, I uploaded the image that we used in our post into the reverse lookup tool that Google provides. I found my client’s blog post after page 5. 

They probably did the same thing and then sent the same message to every match that they could find for that image. All they had to do was change out the URL or the link to each company’s website and they would have a complete message pretty easy.

Reassure the Client and Calm My SEO Spidey Sense

Whew, finally done! Well, kind of. I still needed to reassure my client and confirm my suspicions. The best way to do both was to see if they’ve done this before. The average company will likely just give the backlink because they don’t have the SEO spidey sense.

Remember, most will be happy they aren’t getting sued.  I don’t blame them, especially if they’re just trying to create content and they don’t necessarily have the content marketing and search engine optimization background that someone like me has. So lucky for me, and lucky for you reading this post, I actually found three examples of them succeeding in getting the backlink for images that were not theirs. 

Checking a Site’s Backlinks

So how do you do this first step, check out their current backlinks? What I decided to do was use Neil Patel’s backlink tool.

His Backlinks tool is a free way to check out backlinks for your site or someone else’s site. Ahrefs also has a free backlink checker, which provides more results usually. The only thing you have to do is copy and paste the domain name into the search bar and hit enter and wait for the results. 

If you pay for SEMrush or another type of SEO tool that will let you check for backlinks, then, of course, you could use that instead. But this was the easiest option and it’s free and accessible to everyone. 

Successful SEO Backlink Image Scam Example 1

My first example was a real estate website that wrote an article on how to spruce up your bathroom, which is incredibly important for real estate. Especially when people are coming to view your house. You need to make sure that your bathrooms and especially your kitchen, those two areas look amazing. 

This image on the left, at the bottom, you can see the arrows that I drew. You can see that they hyperlink to pick comfort as the source for this image.

And so what I did in order to find it, I searched “small orchid in bathroom” and I found the image on the right on Unsplash. 

Successful SEO Backlink Image Scam Example 2

I felt that number two was really the nail in the coffin that I needed. The website is a news and trends website. Their article was about why you should wash your hands and sing at the same time. So probably singing happy birthday and washing your hands at the same time. 

This particular image on the left, you can see it says in the caption: “credited to James H, Pick Comfort”, and then Pick Comfort’s URL. Wow. Just put all of it out there. And so what I did was I looked for “bathroom sink” or “running faucet” or something like that. And I found the image on the right on Unsplash.

Now to be honest, after reviewing the website, I don’t feel like this particular image was really on brand. It’s incredibly dark and I feel like they probably should have picked a different one. But I digress. 

Successful SEO Backlink Image Scam Example 3

Finally, I found a gamer website. This actually attests to the accuracy of the reverse lookup tool. As you can see, the image on the left is actually altered. They put logos for different companies in the image. They’re going down the faucet cause the author was talking about leaks in the video gaming industry. 

Instead of putting just Pick, they hyperlinked the text “image source”. But if you click on it, it goes to Pick So again, I just looked up bathroom sinks and found the image on the right on Unsplash.

So as you can see, these images are royalty-free and the person claiming that they took these photos lying. And that’s the point. And that’s why we go through this exercise of checking and confirming how these things play out. 

Don’t Get Taken in By This SEO Scam!

Make sure that you double-check any communications you receive about your photos or any original content that you’ve created on your website. Do your due diligence upfront when you’re producing content. What I mean by that is to make sure that your photos are royalty-free or you’re using paid stock photo options.

You have to be careful with websites like Flicker. They have great images, but oftentimes they don’t allow for commercial use. Just keep that in mind. If you outsource your content and you have content partners, make sure you vet your partners. You hire them for their expertise. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be aware of their processes, at least a high level. 

When they’re giving you images to use, just ask them where they came from. If anybody does reach out to you about photos, make sure that you can easily present the source. 

If you receive any information about your photos on your website, run them through this process or contact a trusted content professional and ask them to help you determine whether or not this is a scam. You don’t want to have any bad or erroneous backlinks on your site going to someone else that’s not related to what it is that you do. 

Have you heard of this scam before? Has someone reached out to you to get you to place their link as an image source? Let us know in the comments!

The Importance of Content Variety

Why should you worry about content variety on your website? Well, first of all, people don’t want to see the same stuff over and over. But certain types of content are more effective depending on where your client or customer is at on their buyer’s journey. That’s why we’re going to explore the importance of content variety.

One type of content goes from 73% effectiveness at the start of the journey, and drops to 6% at the end!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

And, of course, the transcript:

Hi, I’m Ruthie Bowles, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’re listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your daily 10-minute shot of business knowledge. So let’s get into it. 

Lately, I’ve been talking about the different types of content that’s out there. I focused on the show on two different types that aren’t quite as well-known: white papers and case studies. But I also wanted to talk about content variety, and the importance of content variety.

What I mean by content variety is the different types of content that you create and employ in your content marketing strategy. And the reason why this is important is because research shows us that different types of content have different levels of effectiveness based on the where; where your audience, reader, or lead is in the sales funnel. 

The Sales Funnel: An Inverted Pyramid

So, what’s the sales funnel, or sales cycle? 

The first level of the sales funnel, at the top, is the widest. So think of it as like an inverted pyramid. The top of the sales funnel is typically the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. The lead, customer, or client is aware that they have a problem, or they come across your top of the funnel content and become aware of the fact that they have a problem. 

The second stage is not as wide as the top, and it is in the middle of the inverted pyramid. That’s considered the consideration stage. Now the lead is considering their options in terms of solving their problem. So let’s take it back to the top. You become aware that you have a physical issue. Your consideration is maybe which treatment or doctor you should seek out based on your research. 

Then we move to the bottom of the funnel. That is the decision stage. That’s when people typically make a purchase decision. They go with a service provider or they purchase a product.

Transforming into the Sales Cycle

As people have started talking about the sales funnel, they’re starting to turn it into the sales cycle. The last portion of the sales cycle, which is added on, is the delight phase. I’m going to do a podcast episode on the sales cycle in order to really go over that in-depth.

The Most Effective Types of Content

At the Top of the Funnel

So what types of content are most effective? 

According to Content Marketing Institutes’ research on B2B content marketing, at the top of the funnel, blog posts are the most effective type of content, at 73%. So 73% of B2B marketers say that blog posts are the most effective for moving people from the top of the funnel to the middle of the funnel. Effective is, by their standard, moving someone from one stage of the funnel to the next.

The next most effective one was podcasts at 57%, which is great. That’s good news for me. 57% of marketers say that this type of content moves people from one phase of the buyer’s journey to the next.

Then ebooks, at 56%. This is interesting, because you can use a blog post to show someone your ebook and get them to download it, if they’re interested in what the blog posts and the ebook have to say. 

So, at the top of the funnel is where you’re going to get most of your leads to come in.

In the Middle of the Funnel

At the middle of the funnel, the clients are trying to evaluate their options. White papers are the most effective form of content for marketers, at 53% of marketers giving them the stamp of approval. 

The next most effective are webinars, which makes sense. Personally, I’ve had bad experiences with webinars, so a webinar for me isn’t a top of the funnel tool. When people are just starting to get to know me, it’s not my ideal. If I’ve been engaged with someone – let’s say I follow Neil Patel or Julia McCoy – and they sent me an email about a webinar that they were giving, I would be more likely to sign up for it because I already trust them. 

So it makes sense to me that webinars are very effective at the middle of the funnel. They represent a more serious constraint on my time, as most webinars are 60 minutes. If I trust you, then I’m more likely to give you my 60 minutes. I’ll have to do a whole podcast episode on webinars as well, so stay tuned for that.

Comparatively, while 73% of marketers said blog posts were very effective for moving people from one stage to the next, only 21% of marketers said the same thing at the middle of the funnel. 

At the Bottom of the Funnel

At the bottom of the funnel, 40% of marketers say that case studies are an effective form of content for moving from one phase to the next. After that, the numbers become pretty disparate. 

The next highest are in-person events at 32%. 

After that, it hits the 20s, and the teens, and the single digits. I think this is probably a reflection of the fact that we aren’t in control of our content marketing, or our customer’s journey. Like I said in a previous episode, we’re just not in control of it. So we aren’t always sure at which point customers convert, buy, or move to the next phase. Keep that in mind as we talk about these numbers. 

Similarly, 73% of marketers said blog posts were very effective at the top of the funnel, whereas 6% of marketers say that they’re effective at the bottom of the funnel. 

The white papers go from 53% vote of confidence to a 14%, which is actually a really big drop. It just really depends on your customer. 

Account for Your Customer’s Preferences

And that’s what I’m going to close with today. The most important thing to know when you think about content variety is covering your customer’s preferences. 

If you’re a successful entrepreneur, you likely don’t have a lot of time, so trying to get me to sign up for your 60-minute webinar is not going to work as well for me. But if you’re saying “Hey, here’s an ebook”, maybe even on the same topic, I’m more likely to download that ebook.

I’m more likely to interact with your content because I can skim an ebook at my leisure. I don’t have to sit down for an hour to listen to you talk. 

This is the same reason why on the website, we put the transcript and the video in the show notes for each podcast episode. I may not always have time to listen to a podcast episode or watch a video, but it doesn’t mean I’m not interested in what you have to say, or the content. So when you give me multiple options in terms of how I can consume your content, it makes it more likely that I will. 

The other thing to consider as well is that some people just don’t like watching videos. Video is the highest increasing content form that’s being created right now, and for good reason. People do enjoy videos, but we don’t always have time for them. 

In my case, I can read much faster than you can talk, so I would much rather read something most of the time instead of you drawing it out through a video. But again, it always depends. It depends on the topic, your client, or your customer. 

Your customer base may prefer video, which means that, while blog posts are great, you should be putting out video as well because it makes it more likely that they’ll interact with your content and absorb what you have to say. 

The Goal of Content Marketing

The goal of content marketing, at least the way I do content marketing, is to build industry credibility and client trust. In order for that to happen, people have to actually take in our content. So if you’re not paying attention to how they like to consume content, you are missing out on the credibility building and trust-building. 

This has been an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, in which we talked about the importance of content variety. I look forward to seeing you next time.

Ranking #1 on Google Isn’t as Important Anymore

Yes, I hate to tell you, but ranking #1 on Google isn’t as important as it used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I think dedicated businesses can get there for many keywords. However, there are a lot of other considerations you need to take into account before you pay that SEO company to get you to the “top”.

Here is today’s podcast episode:

And the video:

And, of course, the transcript:

Hi, I’m Ruthie Bowles, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’re listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your daily 10-minute shot of business knowledge. 

So what are we talking about today? Google rankings. They’re not as important as they used to be. I know. And that’s unfortunate, because there’s a bajillion companies out there right now just waiting to spam your email inbox promising to get you to the #1 rank. But are you actually #1, even when you show up that way? That’s the real question. 

Can You Really Be Number One in the Google Search Results?

The Featured Snippet

So, there are a lot of things taking away from search engine rank even when you do have that top spot. The first one that I’d like you to consider is the featured snippet. The featured snippet is that relatively new box that pops up with the answer that you were looking for. You often see it with things like recipes, or when you need a list of something, or if it’s a really simple answer, maybe it’s math or the definition for a word. 

But what it means is that you can get on the search engine results page, see the answer, and you no longer need to click through to go to a website. So the person who is ranked number 1, or number 2, or number 3 doesn’t matter. You’re already looking on the page and you’ve got your answers. 

You just close your phone, close your computer and move on. So even if you are number one, that featured snippet is taking away some of your stuff. 

Featured Videos

One of those things Google has been rolling out is featuring videos. That’s the next thing that we’re going to talk about. 

This will typically pop up with your how-to questions, and those how-to questions used to be some of the easiest phrases to rank for. That’s just not the case anymore because of the video features. 

If I say like the following, Google’s almost certainly going to feature videos from Youtube and other places too answer my question: 

  • “How do I install the Yoast plugin on my wordpress website?” 
  • “How do I plant tomatoes?” 
  • “How do I make jam?” 
  • “How do I milk a goat?”

When people ask how-to questions, they often want to see someone doing it. So those video features pop up right at the top on the search engine. Again, kind of pushing down and making the top ranking webpages not as noticeable. 

The Ads

And then of course, the thing that’s been there since forever. The ads. Ads always show up first, and what do we do? We scroll past them. In episode 19, I talked about ad blindness. 

We scroll past them, but what we’re not scrolling past is the featured snippet. We’re not scrolling past the box of “People also ask”, we’re not scrolling past the video features because they could answer our questions. So we have to give them even a little bit of time to review them. 

Consider, with things like video features, featured snippets, “People also ask” boxes… You are looking at all the things that can push search engine results further down the page. 

Snippets as a Point of Contention

The featured snippets themselves are kind of a point of contention between Google and content creators. You’re thinking “Why? They answer questions, they’re so helpful.” 

They’re a point of contention because what Google is essentially doing is taking content that’s not theirs, copying it, and presenting it on their page. Is that technically most helpful to the user? Sure. Especially for easier questions to answer. 

For something like on my website, if I ever popped up in a featured snippet, people will most likely click through to see the rest of what it is that I have to say, because my topics aren’t math questions, they’re not easy to solve, they’re not recipes. 

But Google is still copying content and presenting it on their website, and they didn’t ask anybody if they could do that. So that’s where the point of contention comes from. Google cares about user intent. It used to be that when somebody entered in something on the computer and they were looking for something, Google took those exact words and that’s what they were looking for. 

Focused on User Intent: The Where and How Matters

I don’t know if you remember… Maybe you’re not old enough to remember and maybe it’s just me, but I would have to type in different approaches to my key word to try to get the answer that I was looking for. If you’re a Millennial or older, you might remember that.

if you’re Gen Z, you’re like “Oh, what are you talking about? Google’s always known what I wanted”. That’s what I used to do. I used to change my search query to try to get what I actually wanted. Google noticed people doing that, and so they changed the algorithms because that way it could focus more on user intent. 

Your Ranking Worldwide

Google accounts for location of the people using their search engine. So, if you’ve been working with a search engine optimization agency and they just told you that you ranked #1 for “small business accounting” in Baltimore, you’re not going to rank #1 for “small business accounting” in New York or Miami. 

Other businesses there are going to rank for that. Even though you could render your services completely online, you do not rank #1 for “small business accounting” all over the world. Even if you do rank #1, where do you rank number one? That’s the next question. 

These search engine optimization agencies would say “Oh, we’ll get you to #1, pay us all this money, we’ll get you to #1”. 

You ranked number one where? You ranked number one under what context? Google cares about context. So if I look for restaurant reviews and you have a blog that’s all restaurant reviews, is your blog going to come up? 

Probably not, because it’s going to present Google reviews, Yelp reviews, and Travel Advisor reviews before you. Getting to the top rank amongst that competition is almost impossible, unless you have as much money as Google to pour into the endeavor. 

Making the Shift into Topic Clusters

So, if ranking number one is so hard, why are we still doing content marketing? Because content marketers like myself have made the shift to what we call topic clusters. So it’s not just about the one blog post that you’re going to put up. It’s about the five or ten that you’re going to put up about one particular topic. 

We’re going to take a concept, like filing annual taxes, and we’re going to write 5 to 10 blog posts surrounding that topic. They’re all going to link together. Also, they’re all going to link to a main post on filing your annual taxes as a small business. 

What that does is it communicates to Google that you are presenting a comprehensive education on this particular topic. It also allows you to rank for smaller, lower volume keywords that are easier. 

We’re not getting precise Google keyword volume anymore from Google Keyword Planner. These topic clusters can help you get a better idea of the sorts of traffic that you’re getting and where it’s coming from. You’re better able to analyze a topic cluster than you are one single keyword anymore, because Google’s kind of masking the data. 

Clusters, in addition to building your search engine market share, also build thought leadership and credibility for you. By thought leadership, I just mean your perception of authority. So when you present something comprehensive like that to people, they appreciate it. 

Can Giving Too Much Detail Hurt Your Business?

Even if you were to tell me all the ways that I could file my own taxes, I’m still not going to do it. But because I read everything and now I know for sure that you know how to file my taxes, I’m going to contact you, because I trust you. Because you told me already. 

There’s a variety of reasons why you would give that level of detail. One of the biggest ones is that, just because you’ve given that much detail, it doesn’t mean that people are just suddenly going to start doing it and you’re going to lose business. As a matter of fact, you may increase your business. 

Show your mastery of a topic through topic clusters, and worry a little bit less about your Google search engine ranking, especially if your website is new. It’s going to take a while before you get there. 

So, that’s what I wanted to cover with you today. You should not trust those people who say they will make you rank #1 on Google. 

If you enjoyed this episode, I’d appreciate you leaving me a review or a comment wherever that you heard it or watched it. If you’re watching this on IGTV or Youtube – and I will see you next time. 

This has been an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. Go ahead and leave us a review or a comment and we’ll try to answer your other business and marketing questions in future episodes.