The Convergence of SEO, Social, and How Product Development Fits in the Mix

This post explores the convergence of SEO, social and how product development fits in the mix.

It’s no secret that content marketing is becoming the number one method of marketing among lean, early-stage technology companies. Those that rule the Twitter streams and Google searches will have leads for decades. However, where’s the line when determining how focus your content so it provides the most value to the business?

Is a viral infographic with a logo of your company at the bottom the answer? Or perhaps a flawlessly penned and SEO’d piece on a keyword that can be won in month? Or of course, there’s always the long shot of a viral video. Where does a marketing department spend their time so its impact is the most valuable to the bottom line.

At Rivalry, we’re a one-man marketing and sales shop at the moment so we have to be as focused as possible and get the most out of our time and resources. To do this, we have an SEO-focused strategy with a layer of social at the end. Note: we’re believers that social is highly effective, but it’s best developed organically as your product, community, and customers grow.

The following is an example of how we make the decisions of what we’re going to write about.

Step 1: Figure out exactly what problem your product solves. In Rivalry’s case, the MVP of our product helps the small to medium size business owner setup salesforce. What normally takes a CEO 100+ of hours can be accomplished within minutes using Rivalry. Knowing this value prop, we’re able to hone our keyword search around a particular subject.

Step 2: Identify your target customer. This is where a lot of companies with small marketing departments get lost. Write for your customer – no one else. The moment your company gets to a size where “viral” and “brand” strategies make sense do it, but early on, stay very focused on the people who are going to pay for your product. In Rivalry’s case, we’re targeting the CEO/Sales Manager who just purchased Salesforce.com and says “now what do I do?”

Step 3: “Guess” which keywords your target customer is looking for. Since we help the CEO/Sales Manager setup their salesforce.com account, it’s probable the sales manager is researching ways to setup their sales process. One step in setting up a sales process is first mapping out the sales process. Someone new to the industry is likely going to find ways it’s done before. At Rivalry we made a guess that “sales process template” is a keyword that a resourceful sales manager would type into Google. The fun part about the internet, is this “guess” can be validated real quick.

Step 4: Validate your guess with Google’s Keyword Tool. In Rivalry’s case, we’ve bet that the keywords “sales process template” are worth the time to research it over at Google’s Keyword Tool. After finding estimated monthly traffic and the competition (for “sales process template” monthly keyword searches are 720 monthly global search and it’s competition is medium), we go on to the next step more informed.

Step 5: Decide on whether targeting this keyword is worth the time and effort.  This decision should be made with a few questions in mind:

– what’s the maximum benefit we could get with this keyword?
– what’s likely-hood we can show up on the first page?
– how much time would be required to write something that would generate valuable SEO
– is this topic exciting enough to garner social and viral
– is there another keyword that’s more valuable to our time

These are just a few questions of many to answer.

Step 6: Write or go back to the drawing board. Now is the time to decide. If you’re confident this is worth the time and effort, start writing and write with all your might. At Rivalry, we timebox it so 2 hours doesn’t turn into 5-6. If it’s not worth your time, add the keyword, it’s global monthly searches, and competition to a spreadsheet and come back to it when you have more resources. In Rivalry’s case we decided “sales process template” was worth our time.

Step 7: SEO the heck out of the post. We use the Yoast SEO plug-in. After you’ve written a great article, it has solid SEO, and you’ve shared it amongst your social networks, let it sit for a week or two. Use an “incognito window” on your browser when checking back to maintain consistency. It took a few weeks, but we currently sit 4th for the term “sales process template.”

Step 8: Have a carrot. It’s a shame to write a great post, SEO it flawlessly, get loads of traffic, and not convert them to anything on your site. In our case, we had a free sales process template that can be downloaded after a user submit’s their contact information.

Step 9: Keep track of your successes and improve. Google webmaster tools has a great breakdown of impressions, clicks, and average keyword position. Aim to improve these by updating the article or adding links around internet to it. For Rivalry, right now “sales process template” generates 320 monthly impressions with a click through rate (CTR) of 9%. Meaning, we get about 30 clicks a month from “sales process template” or on average a lead a day to our site. These are very high-targeted leads coming to our site.

Step 10: Go the extra mile and comment on competitor’s blog posts. This is where many marketing departments stop. Keep going. Right now, Rivalry is ranked on average 4th or 5th (depending on the day) for “sales process template.” Go to other blogs that rank higher than you and comment on them with a link back to your post on the keyword. For us, we left a valuable comment on Sandler Training’s blog. This not only let’s readers of that blog know we’re in the conversation, but it also helps Google find our post even easier.

This is a basic step-by-step guide to early stage marketing for companies looking to drive leads on the web.

To recap:
– keep the content focused on the value props of your product
– do your research
– social will come with organic growth of the product and community
– write a well-penned and SEO’d post and share it via social media
– have an “ask” at the post
– track and monitor results
– connect with other influencers

If you can conquer keywords that revolve around your product’s value, you’ll be reaping benefits for years. As more benefits develop from your product because of more features, starting owning those new keywords as well.

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