As a journalism major in college, I often found myself thinking about the dreaded question: “What do you want to do with your journalism degree when you graduate?” Or, as I interpreted it: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” While I had aspirations of becoming a world-famous sports writer (far-fetched), I didn’t realize the potential of applying my journalistic skills to B2B marketing until I interviewed for a content role here at KoMarketing, and then the light bulb lit up.
I soon realized all the journalism skills I had acquired in college could be applied to the SEO-side of marketing. In other words, I had an opportunity, along with my colleagues, to put my skills to good use and bring a news-room feel to B2B online marketing.
Working in an agency setting requires the ability to wear many hats and learn quickly. One of the tasks we have as a content team is to execute timely, relevant industry news articles for our clients. While every client is different, we have a basic framework in place for creating news articles from start to finish, which ultimately results in getting our news buzzing within the appropriate industries. Here’s a look at the 8-step process we use to get our industry news to the top:
(Note: This strategy is not strictly for agency purposes. With some tweaking to the following verbiage, this process could be beneficial for building any industry news program from the ground up).
1. Developing a Client Questionnaire
One of the first things we do after onboarding a new client with interest in our industry news services is develop an in-depth questionnaire to better understand their brand and objectives. We ask clients to provide an overview of their business, messaging keys, and keywords that they would like to focus on in the industry. Identifying these keyword themes allows us to shape our strategy and hone in on the areas of the industry that are most relevant to the brand.
Once we have an understanding of the company and core keywords, we need to then identify our audience (a critical component of successful writing). In order to do this effectively, we ask clients to share with us who their target buyers are (role, years of experience, etc.). Gathering this information allows us to better understand our readers and provide them with news that they will find valuable to keep them engaged throughout the sales cycle.
While the client discovery questionnaire provides us with a high-level look at the client’s brand and the industry, it’s critical to develop a much deeper understanding of the industry before starting the industry news process. In order to do this, we make sure to devote sufficient time to the research process. This includes reviewing and understanding the client’s existing marketing collateral (blogs, whitepapers, webinars, etc.) as well as the collateral of competitors in the space.
3. Aggregating Resources
Without a solid repository of resources and an understanding of the client’s industry, creating news that will interest readers will be extremely challenging. Aside from creating Google Alerts for keywords and relevant topics, we also make sure to leverage news aggregator applications such as Feedly (this is our replacement to Google Reader).
When setting up a Feedly content stream, we either browse by category or enter some keywords to identify resources that could be beneficial for news creation. As seen in the screenshot above, searching for a term like “B2B marketing” will return a number of results which then can be added to the stream by clicking the add button.
Once you feel like you’ve exhausted avenues for the client, begin referring to this feed on a daily basis to keep a beat on the industry’s happenings. Other news reader sites to consider include:
4. Getting the Program off the Ground
After you’ve executed the above steps, it’s time to launch the program. While page views and readership may be at a minimum to start, it’s important to remain calm and recognize that setting a solid foundation of content goes beyond clicks and visits; it serves as a tool to establish credibility with search engines as well. As always, be sure to adhere to grammar and punctuation guidelines, stick to the facts, and create SEO-friendly tags and titles for each news article.
Bonus tip: When possible, set up Google Authorship. As seen in one of our previous articles covering its introduction, Google Authorship “Could vastly change the content marketing game, as it would lend transparency and credibility to writing published online. This helps valuable information stand out in the sea of content produced every day, and also exposes contributors publishing spammy or untrustworthy materials.”
5. Submitting the Site to Google News
After the industry news program foundation has been established and starts to attract some attention, it’s time to pitch to Google News. Google currently controls 67% of the United States search market and its news service provides its massive user-base with relevant stories. Much like its broad search functionality, Google uses an algorithm to determine what publications are crawled for news consideration.
Google has published an extensive set of guidelines to consider before pitching to its service. Here’s a reader-friendly version of what they say to include:
- Offer timely, knowledgeable reporting on matters important to the audience
- Be original and provide honest attribution
- Adhere to journalistic standards and be grammar-conscious
- Create unique URLs
- Include HTML links with anchor text
- Stick to news—Google WILL remove your publication in its entirety if news-focus is lost
- Implement meta tags
As a journalist, it’s my duty to remain non-biased and check several sources, so here a few other resources that speak to Google News’ guidelines:
When you’re comfortable these guidelines have been met, it’s time to submit your site: Good luck!
6. Leveraging News Results Appearing in Search
As the industry news process starts to gather some momentum and the reader base grows, it’s not uncommon to face some pressure from C-level executives who want to see results…fast. Google’s SERPs offer a quick-fix for this issue. Search result pages for terms that have a large search volume will often display top news stories around that keyword on the first page.
Use the Google Keyword Planner tool to identify some keywords with large search volumes that relate to the industry. Once a list of keywords has been identified, enter some search queries to see if news results appear. Finally, draft a news story (make sure it’s relevant!) around that keyword to get your publication its 15 minutes of fame! Appearing on the first page for a search term with high volume will certainly impact traffic numbers and increase brand visibility.
7. Promotion of Content
No matter how intriguing a piece of content is on its own, it still needs to be able to cut through the online clutter (i.e., the vast amount of material published across the web on a daily basis). Promoting content and establishing networks where the content will resonate is a critical step in the process of gaining traction as a news publication. Social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn) are a great place to start, as they provide an excellent opportunity to share content and engage with others in the industry.
If you want to become an expert on content promotion, we recommend taking a look at BuzzStream’s “Advanced Guide to Content Promotion,” which provides readers with a 75-page step-by-step walkthrough of how to handle content promotion from launch to setting goals to targeting tweets.
8. Measure Success…Lather, Rinse, Repeat
After it’s all said and done, be sure to keep a pulse on how your news articles are performing. Use tools like Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to track page views, referrals, and more. Don’t forget to do the same with social success, as retweets and mentions from industry-leaders can bring content to the next level of recognition.
In order to perfect a news strategy and begin to see results, you must be willing to learn by trial and error. Don’t be afraid to be original, and lather, rinse, and repeat the process.
This brief guide is by no means the only resource to leverage when it’s time to implement a B2B industry news strategy, but we hope it provides some valuable insight into how we approach industry news content strategies for our clients.