Tools

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Guest posting and how to not get your links: The SEMrush case

It is one of our most loved SEO tools and a must for anybody who is serious about SEO: SEMrush. But in June 2020 some negative headlines made the news, or shall we better say, made Twitter?

Screenshot of a Tweet by John Locke on 3rd June about SEMrush guest posting services.

This reminds a lot of those emails we occasionally get from what we call a “link broker”. They are offering links that supposedly “look natural” on high-quality, authoritative websites… for a price. Some of that money is for the link broker himself, some is for the writer who creates a beautiful, natural article about playing poker games in between changing diapers and the rest is for the webmaster who manages the website that the link will be placed on. That is the very definition of a paid link!

What SEMrush claimed though is that they have a team of digital PRs that is reaching out to journalists, similar to an outreach agency. The statement also included that they wouldn’t pay the other website and that the payment is merely for digital PR services. But there is a but: If they reach out to journalists the same way we do at JBH, why do they charge per link and how do they guarantee certain stats? We all love the idea of that, but if you are doing outreach the natural way, you should get more than one link out of it and there will naturally be links from different websites with very different stats. Everybody who can guarantee that there will only ever be links from websites with a DR of 50+ and minimum 5000 visitors per month, is probably not doing it the natural way. Head over to our case studies if you’d like to get an idea of the results of a link building campaign that uses digital PR.

Paid links vs. unnatural links

“Natural” seems the new buzzword when it comes to link building. A few years ago, the main discussion in SEO was about paid links and non-paid links, now it is more about natural and unnatural. In his response to SEMrush, Google’s John Muller clearly classified unnatural links as being spam:

Tweet by John Muller about SEMrush guest posting on 3rd June

What this means is that even if you are not paying for a link, the moment it looks as if you might have paid for it, it could become a problem. This will either be a manual penalty, an algorithmic penalty (Penguin is still part of Google’s algorithm) or it simply won’t have any impact as the algorithm ignores such links. Is that worth the investment?  The money might be better spent by creating great content and using an outreach agency to promote that content. The journalists that see value in your content will link to it and promote it further.

The biggest difference here is the person who writes the piece of content that contains the link. In guest posting or services such as the one SEMrush was offering, somebody writes the content with the link based on clear instructions on topic and link embedding for that particular article. In natural outreach, a journalist writes the content and decides where and how a link might be included. The only guideline that is followed in that case is the editorial guideline of the website the journalist is writing for.

When looking at a link, ask yourself whether the whole article is written in the same style as the rest of the website. Is the topic standing on its own or does if fit in well with the rest of the website? Is the author mentioned and if yes is he or she a regular contributor to that website? Are there internal links in the article that connect it to the rest of the website? Does the link to your website look legit or shoe-horned? By answering these questions, you should be able to tell whether a link is natural or not.

The SEMrush controversy

We have not tested the SEMrush marketplace, why would we anyways? But we are suspicious of what SEMrush was offering at the beginning of June. We give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they might have just described their digital PR services in an unfortunate way, but it certainly caused some controversy within the SEO industry with headlines that read “SEMrush selling links”. The fact that their own backlink audit tool flagged such links as being toxic (as discovered and tested by Tom Rayner) shows that they know the difference between a good and a bad link:

Tweet by John Rayner about SEMrush guest posting on 3rd June

The case caused a controversy that led to SEMrush taking their guest posting service down after a few days:

Tweet by SEMrush about shutting down their guest posting service

It also led to Google’s John Muller clearly warning on guest posting for links. He repeatedly mentioned that such links should get a rel=nofollow and rel=sponsored tag. If done right, these links are useful to reach a wider audience and promote your business, but the value for SEO is highly questionable and in the worst case harmful.

How the blockchain in changing content mar
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How blockchain is changing content marketing

When you think of the blockchain you immediately think of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. While this is the most commonly reported use of the technology, as it was invented as a decentralised ledger for the currency, there are loads of other applications for it – including content marketing.

 

What is the blockchain?

The blockchain is one of those inventions like the car – you don’t need to know how it works to use it. But, as marketers having some basic knowledge of how the tech works can help you apply it in the best way.

Invented by someone (or someones) under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, the blockchain is one of the most significant technological innovations of the last decade.

The blockchain is a digital ledger that cannot be corrupted. It is a public log in which data between users is stored in a secure, verifiable and permanent way – making it unhackable.

Once a record is in the blockchain, it cannot be altered or deleted and can be made available for anyone to see. Each new transaction or addition to the ledger gets stacked on top of the last making it impossible to hack as you would need to access millions of databases. This provides an accurate and accountable ledger for data where no one person or entity is in control.

Still confused about the blockchain? Check out this great TED talk by Don Tapscott.

 

How does the blockchain effect content marketing?

Content marketing has evolved a lot over the last decade. From ads and articles in magazines and newspapers to SEO, video content, blog posts and more. These days almost all the content marketing we do is digital, allowing us to instantly access our audience and reach new customers. Online content also has better analytics, giving us an understanding of our customers so we can keep creating content they love.

Learn everything there is to learn about content marketing with our Complete Guide.

 

That doesn’t mean that content marketing doesn’t have its issues though. Plagiarism, fake news and low-quality content are rife on the internet and lead to misinformation circling social media and websites.

 

Fake News

Content marketing: Blockchain can help stop the spread of fake news

 

As the blockchain is entirely secure It can be used to tackle the issue of Fake News. Fake news can be disproven by tracing back statements and data to their original sources. By looking at the facts that have been presented from the source you can have confidence in the legitimacy of any articles or news you wish to share online.

 

Plagiarism

Content marketers all know the pain of spending hours labouring over a campaign only to have it copied and published by someone else. While there are some ways to deal with this and Google can penalise duplicate content, often by the time it is published, the damage is already done and your time and work will not see the results you were hoping for.

Content creators who use the blockchain will no longer have to dispute the origin of their work or worry about someone plagiarising it as the block will show where the content came from and serve as proof that the content creator was the original author.

 

Analytics

The way the blockchain keeps track of all changes makes it useful for reviewing the type and amount of engagement a piece of content gets. Although there are loads of great analytics tools out there, the data you would get from the blockchain would be far more detailed and accurate, giving you a more precise direction to go in on future pieces of content.

 

Transparency

Most content marketers have probably spent some of their campaign budgets on paid ads before. When you set up your ads, you usually pick a demographic of people who you want your ads to be shown to – choosing from things like gender, age, location and interests.

 

You may have wondered a few times when doing this if you can be sure that your ad is actually being shown to these people. The ad networks own the placements of where the ads are, so there is no way for you to be 100% sure that your ads are getting in front of your desired audience.

 

Once the blockchain enters paid ad space and is used to re-broker ads, you will be able to track the placement of ads as well as verify that they are going in front of the audience you have targeted.

 

The Future

The blockchain is still a relatively new technology and is only just starting to be used by many industries and in the process revolutionising how they work. Content marketing is no exception – as blockchain continues to develop it will likely be adopted by more and more marketer who want to use the safe network to put out trustworthy content with facts that can be traced back to their original source.

 

Keeping pace with the latest content marketing trends isn’t easy so to keep up check out our list of exceptional content marketing thought leaders to follow.

 

 

Digital PR apps
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Want to be a digital PR pro? These 5 apps will help

When it comes to digital PR, no two days are the same…

Whether it’s researching opportunities, putting together proposals, finding the right media contacts, or keeping track of campaigns, you’ve probably got an ever-changing to-do list that shows no signs of getting any smaller.

But this is where you need to work smarter, not harder. More so than ever before, PR professionals are able to call upon a cavalcade of tools to not only manage their everyday duties, but also improve and optimise them for the very best results.

Here are 5 of our favourite apps for digital PR pros…

 

1. Trello

Free to $20.83 per user/month

This all-in-one organisational platform enables you to organise and prioritise projects with the greatest of ease. Trello’s uncluttered dashboard provides a transparent overview of what you’re working on, who else is involved, and what stage the project is at.

Handy features like checklists and deadlines ensure you’re always on top of everything, while the ability to collaborate and communicate with others is invaluable. You’ll only need to use Trello a few times before it becomes the very first app you open.

Digital PR app - Trello

 

2. Meltwater

Pricing on request

Whereas some digital PR apps prevent our minds from going mad, others do what the human brain is simply incapable of. Take Meltwater for example, which decodes billions of digital documents from the industry’s largest database of global media, social media, and online content to deliver big picture trends.

In other words, you’ll receive all of your media mentions in one place, which are backed-up by intuitive dashboards, invaluable insights, and one-click reports.

You’re also given the tools to connect with key influencers and generate ready-made reports.

Digital PR app - Meltwater

 

3. Canva

Free

Even the most unimaginative or unartistic PR pro can create visually stunning graphics with the help of Canva. It’s also incredibly easy to use thanks to a drag-and-drop system for layouts, elements, texts, and uploads.

Next time you need to grab your audience’s attention with an Instagram post, impress stakeholders with an internal presentation, or excite attendees with an event invitation, head over to Canva.

Digital PR app - Canva

 

4. PressReader

Free (From $1 per paper)

PressReader is one of those apps you’ll find yourself using outside of work again and again. Along with delivering an endless stream of relevant news stories to your smartphone, it also enables you to keep track of client mentions in the print publications you don’t receive.

It also eliminates the need to manually clip articles (hang your head in shame if you’re still doing this). Simply search the name of your client, select the publications you’re interested in, and capture those all important press clippings.

Digital PR app - PressReader

 

5. Buffer

Free to US$399 per month

Quite possibly the easiest, most efficient tool for social media management. Buffer is a one-stop-shop for scheduling, posting, and switching between your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.

But that’s not all. You can also create social media calendars, schedule custom posts for each platform, track your top-performing content for future repurposing, and give your followers visual stimulation with native support for video and GIFs.

Digital PR app - Buffer

 

Need additional help? Check out our digital PR services to see how you could gain more relevant, authoritative links.

Dog looking for content ideas
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Stuck for content ideas? These 5 tools will help

So, you need to write a new piece of content but are stuck for ideas? Don’t worry, you’re not alone…

In an overcrowded online space, it’s not easy thinking of a new angle or fresh take on subjects your audience would be interested in.

Even when you’ve identified a killer idea, writer’s block could threaten your plans for creating captivating content that resonates with readers.

With this in mind, we’ve created a list of 5 awesome tools to help you discover novel content ideas and put your thoughts into words without too much creative anguish.

 

1. Moz Keyword Explorer

First of all, it makes sense to find relevant yet realistic keywords based on your subject matter. Although popular keywords attract a wider audience, chances are your content will get lost among a sea of similar efforts.

Moz’s Keyword Explorer is excellent at breaking down the numbers surrounding your chosen keyword. By working out how many searches it receives, how difficult it would be to rank for, and organic click-through rates, Moz gives you a priority score out of 100 along with possible long-tail suggestions for more effective targeting.

Moz keyword Explorer Content Marketing

 

2. BuzzSumo

A perennially popular resource for marketers everywhere and one of our favourite tools in the office, BuzzSumo is the go-to site for unearthing the web’s most shared content. Here, you’ll get a sense of what your target market is talking about on social media and how to position your content accordingly.

Not only does BuzzSumo display shares and engagements by social network, it also gives you an ‘Evergreen Score’ and the ability the find key influencers who could promote your content.

Search Buzzsumo for content ideas

 

3. HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator

If you’re not overly concerned with keyword opportunities or trending topics and simply want to give your audience some entertaining content, head over to HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator.

All you need to do is enter three words, wait a few seconds, and before you know it, you’ll be given a week’s worth of blog topics.

Not all ideas will be applicable or appropriate, but it’s bound to get your creative juices flowing. Even if you just use it to create more clickable blog titles!

Hubspot Blog Idea Generator for Content Marketing

 

4. Quora

The question-and-answer site Quora is a relative goldmine of content ideas. By browsing target keywords and setting up email alerts, you’ll always know what your audience is talking about or wanting to discover.

Another excellent aspect of Quora is its level of quality control, helped by a team of moderators that limit noise and maintain standards. Informed and well-written content is rewarded with exposure and engagement.

Quora Content Ideas

 

5. RescueTime

Even with a plethora of content resources to choose from, the conception and development process is often halted by writer’s rut or mental block. It’s something every creative has experienced from time to time, but help is at hand…

RescueTime runs in the background of your desktop or mobile to eliminate distractions, measure productivity, and ensure you’re always on track. Open this handy little tool before you start researching content ideas and you’ll already be one step ahead of the game.

Rescue Time Productivity Tracker

So there you have it – 5 essential tools that will make you the most productive and creative content marketer out there.

If you’re after even more inspiration then head over to our tinder infographic where we match content with brands (yes you read that right), content ideas can come from almost anywhere!

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5 of the Best B2B Content Marketing Platforms

We talk a lot about how brands can reach consumers but what about when you’re working B2B?

According to the sixth annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends— North America report 2016, less than half (44%) of B2B marketers are clear on what content marketing success would look like in their organisation.

What’s more, only 30% consider their organisation effective in terms of its content marketing efforts – way down from 38% in 2015. While these statistics are somewhat worrying for B2B brands looking to commit to content marketing, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Respondents who felt their content marketing efforts were successful reported well-documented processes, good communication, experience and a clear understanding of success.

This might sound easier than said than done but au contraire – there are a wealth of ingenious tools and platforms out there dying to help you with your B2B content marketing.

Here are five of our favourites.

 

  1. Promoboxx

Designed to provide marketing support to independent stores, Promoboxx “connects and aligns national brands and local retailers to drive sales.” This means that advertising and content from the top-level can be processed by Promoboxx and then sent through to ground floor channels for promotion across social, email, websites, and mobile.

“We believe that by aligning with your local retailers, you’ll increase local awareness and drive sales, all while making your retailers better marketers,” says Promoboxx. “By creating better marketers, you in turn are creating better business people.”

 

  1. Kapost

Used by some of the biggest names in technology and telecommunications (IBM and AT&T, anyone?), Kapost is one of the most popular B2B platforms available. It claims to be the “only system designed to support, planning, executing, distributing, and analysing the full-funnel content that delivers real business results.”

Kapost allows you to make the most of collaboration through shared calendars and workflows, meet every deadline with its scalable project management, ditch messy shared drives with an intuitive content repository, and score individual assets by revenue generated and conversion metrics.

 

  1. HubSpot

Another prominent industry player, HubSpot has three different pieces of software available to B2B brands. With what it calls the ‘HubSpot Growth Stack,’ you can “grow like a company twice your size while connecting like a real human being.”

HubSpot’s first offering is a free CRM that enables you to easily align sales and marketing for better organisation. The second is a marketing platform to grow traffic numbers and convert more visitors into customers. Last but not least, its sales software can increase productivity and close more leads with less work.

 

  1. LookBookHQ

Sold as the only “always-on” content engagement platform, LookBookHQ believes that attention is gold. With that in mind, the platform has developed a way for B2B prospects to self-educate at their own pace. Inspired by the way TV viewers binge-watch their favourite shows, this behaviour-driven marketing model empowers your clients to discover and convert more by arranging content in a personalised and interactive way that prompts them to want to find out more by clicking deeper and deeper.

“We’ve entered a new era of content engagement in which attention is a rare commodity that marketers can’t afford to waste,” says LookBookHQ. This is why it has designed a system that eliminates dead-end experiences and accelerates engaged prospects through the funnel.

 

  1. Curata

With a content marketing platform as well as its well-loved content curation software, Curata has every B2B base covered. Claiming to “eliminate your content blind spots,” some of Curata’s high profile customers include J.P. Morgan, Symantec, and Cisco.

Curata’s content marketing platform enables you to track published content, discover more about its influence on the funnel and analyse all relevant metrics.  Its content curation software uses a self-learning engine to unearth the best content, which can then be organised, annotated, published, and promoted.