May 10, 2021
Does this matter?
Let’s start by recapping what cookies are: Little bits of tracking info that your browser stores on behalf of sites you visit.
Cookies can be useful. One might store your username for a “Remember me” login box. But it might also store your demographic data for ads.
Third-party cookies take this one step further, storing data from sites you didn’t visit (at least, not directly). They have all the charm of a love note from someone you’ve never met.
So what does it mean that they’re going away?
- It will become a little harder to target ads, and they may get more expensive, too. That means organic channels (like organic search) will become more important.
- Getting your audience onto channels you control – like your email list – will become more important too.
- And in general, content marketing will play a bigger role in lead generation as paid search tactics become more convoluted.
This is good for privacy, too, right?
It’s not bad. But the ad industry is way too big to not track you. So what we’re entering into now is not a golden era of user privacy, but an arms race between advertising technology vendors and users – with Google kind of playing both sides.
April 22, 2021
📗 Field Note
Lots of marketing folks are singing the praises of A.I. copywriting tools like GPT-3. The copy it generates isn’t flawless. But it does occasionally pass the Turing test, and it’s improving rapidly.
Does this mean that copywriters and content marketers should be gearing up for a war against the machines?
Maybe? But more likely, smart content people will use tools like GPT-3 as levers, to automate away hard and boring stuff (like the first, not very good, draft) and focus their efforts where they can really deliver value.
You might want to start studying up on what it’ll be like to have an AI in your toolbox. This piece on the SEMrush blog is a good place to start.
Also, we experimented with A.I. video creation and the results were… fun.
April 5, 2021
In about a month, Google is scheduled to roll out new ranking criteria: page experience signals.
Basically, Google will be measuring your page’s speed and design consistency in more specific ways. It’s a technical issue that can have a big effect on how well your content performs.
What should you do?
For starters, type your domain into this new tool, and see how you score. If things are red, notify your web dev – they’re the person who will fix it.
(Or hit reply in this email if you want to talk more about it with us).
February 25, 2021
📗 Field Note
Are you the first marketing hire, and trying to get all of your programs running? Here’s a quick sketch of how to start.
- The first two people you need are product marketing and demand gen. If you have a demand gen background, hire a product marketer. If you have a product marketing background, hire demand gen. Both of these people will need to stretch into (or hire contractors for) adjacent areas. Your PMM will need to do a lot of writing, and your demand gen person will need to do some marketing ops and analytics.
- Next, figure out messaging and positioning and, depending on the company, some basic field enablement. A reasonable guess at messaging and positioning will make your content and demand gen programs much more effective and useful over the long term.
- Then, you’ll need a topic strategy. Here’s how to get from positioning and messaging to content. A topic strategy is your decision about what small number of topics you want your brand to be experts in. It will lay the groundwork for your content marketing.
- By the way, we’ve put together a rigorous, but simple, process for figuring out your keyword strategy. SEO should not solely determine your topic strategy. But you can use your keyword strategy to get started with your topic strategy.
- Next is to start producing content. Distributing your content will be a key part of this. Distribution means getting your website into a place you feel comfortable with, but it also means spinning up demand gen and community engagement experiments. Here’s more about how to do that.
Simple, right? Of course not, but we’re always happy to brainstorm about specifics, use the chat button if you’d like to set up a time.
February 22, 2021
📗 Field Note
If you’re publishing copies of your sites in multiple languages, you have several options for how to organize the site for your users. But you should probably use folders. For example, https://ercule.co/jp. Here’s why:
- Having all pages on the same domain usually corresponds to easier maintenance and deployment. And if you have separate domains, you’ll often end up with separate Wordpress installs, for example, to back each one. And that means inconsistency and poor user experience.
- Keeping everything on your main site means that all backlinks point to the same domain. That means everything on your site benefits from better link equity.
- Having all your sites on the same domains means that cookies can be shared across sites. For example, a visitor to ercule.co who switches to ercule.co/fr can still be retargeted and can be easily tracked with the same analytics trackers.
There are some alternatives, but we don’t recommend them.
- A different top-level domain, e.g. site.de. These domains can be hard to acquire in every relevant country, and their authority profiles have to be built up separately in Google.
- A different subdomain, e.g. de.site.com. While there is some debate, in our experience backlink equity is not transferred as well across subdomains.
- A URL parameter, e.g. site.com?lang=de. Google explicitly recommends against this.
- Automatically serving different versions of the site to different users. This is very, very hard to do reliably and is also not recommended by Google.
You can see Google’s advice here, which has a little more detail but is very similar to what we said above. A couple of last notes:
- Don’t forget to use an appropriate hreflang tag on each page.
- You can use the International Targeting report in Google Search Console to troubleshoot.
February 1, 2021
📗 Field Note
You want your site to load as quickly as possible. Site speed is becoming an increasingly important factor in whether your site ranks. And it has a major impact on conversions, too.
A big culprit we’re seeing for slow site speed these days is – oversized images!
- Your 2,000 x 2,000 pixel Ultra HD author thumbnail
- Images that aren’t compressed at all, but could be, with no loss of quality
- A blog image with detail like a Hieronymous Bosch painting. (Actually, this would be cool, let us know if you do this)
These are easy mistakes to make. Fortunately, they’re also easy to correct. Here’s what you can do:
- Look through your CMS image library. Sort the images by size. Look for images that are larger than around 500kb and see if they really need to be that big. (And note that things like icons should be much, much, smaller).
- Most CMSes have plugins that ensure images have optimal compression. Or use something like Image Optim before you upload.
- Talk to your web dev. Ask: What are we doing to compress images?
- Talk to your graphic designer. Ask: Can you provide cropped and sized images, if you aren’t already?
- Build good habits. Whenever you add an image to a post from now on, make sure the dimensions aren’t any bigger than they need to be.
January 5, 2021
Seed keywords are critical for building an organic search strategy. But it’s important to pick the right seed keywords; otherwise you end up spending much more time on keyword research than you need to.
Good sources for seed keywords
Your site, particularly on your product and solutions pages, and in your marketing materials. Don’t just look in front page copy – blog posts can be helpful, too, and so can testimonials and landing pages.
For example, Dropbox’s site for Dropbox Business uses a bunch of important phrases in its value pillars. Dropbox’s reach is sufficiently broad that something like “team collaboration” may make sense for them to target.
Vidyard’s site also includes some useful language in its value pillars. Some of the pillars are too broadly written for a topic strategy, most likely. (This can also be an opportunity to use topic strategy as a way to drive clearer product messaging – what if all of these value pillars contained helpful topics?)
Here’s a testimonial from Zoey’s site that has a helpful phrase in it.
Landing pages, especially those that describe an asset, can be helpful, too. Here’s a Zylo landing page with a ton of helpful phrases on it. The PDF itself is a longer read, but likely to have lots more.
Competitors’ sites are also an important place to look. Braze’s library page has some great topic candidates, and there are additional ones on the front page of a competitor’s site.
Other important sources include:
- Sales calls. Use a tool like Gong to check out transcripts and important topics that you can potentially use in your content creation.
- Everyone else in marketing, particularly product marketing.
- Customer success and services. You can get lots of value from a good relationship with these teams.
- Sales enablement and sales, particularly development reps. Check out their call scripts for phrases that are resonating.
Put these in a spreadsheet, ideally something in the cloud so you can very easily collaborate on it.
Picking the right keywords
It’s important not to pick keywords that are too narrow, or too broad. There isn’t a hard and fast rule for this, but in the end, you’re going to focus on 3 - 5 topics at a time.
Can you realistically see your choices occupying one of those slots? Do you think that each of your seed keywords could potentially be a blog topic? If not, probably too narrow. Will people who use your keyword to search be likely to convert once they land on your site? If not, probably too broad.
Let’s imagine you run a company that sells software to help companies assess their customer satisfaction.
- We would probably include “customer satisfaction measurement” or “survey software”.
- We probably would not include “how sales reps should use customer satisfaction measurement software”, because it’s too narrow and unlikely to be a blog topic.
- But “customer satisfaction” is likely too broad. There are lots of reasons that people would be looking for this term that have nothing to do with what we sell.
Head keywords vs. long-tail
Long tail keywords are keyword phrases that are complex and relatively long – for example, “how to measure customer satisfaction for automotive companies” – that also have low volume but very high propensity to convert. Pursuing long-tail keywords can be extremely helpful, particularly for direct-to-consumer companies.
If you go after long-tail keywords, generate them after you’ve completed your final strategy, based on the head keywords you decided to prioritize. Looking through the lens of your overall strategy, long-tail keywords tend to be more of a tactical consideration.