Keeping on top of changes and trends in our industry is one of the most important tasks we can do for our clients and professional selves. Luckily for us, we work in an industry where there is lots of great content and smart people creating it.
Much like our Secret Santa gift exchange, this list of our favorite articles and blog posts from past year has become an annual end-of-year tradition. We asked team members to highlight content pieces that provided value to their day-to-day responsibilities, offered inspiration, or added to their professional development.
In a reflection of our growth as digital marketers and as a team, I’m happy to report that this year’s list features more contributors and articles than any previous year! Let’s get to it.
From Casie Gillette:
Many of our clients are in niche spaces, which means a very targeted audience. I love the breakdown KISSMetrics provides here and the tips on how marketers can do a better job of engaging customers in a real and valuable way.
Matt is one of my favorite marketers partly because he is so creative. This was a fun piece he did back in August on how to turn everyday life into content and on top of real examples, he gives us some tools he keeps handy. People think content, particularly visual content, has to be hard and Matt does a nice job showing that isn’t always the case.
In June, BuzzSumo released a study where they looked at 100 million headlines to determine which are the most effective. The study is really fantastic and while they note “there is no magic formula for creating a viral or popular headline,” there is still a ton of great info and it’s worth the read. (Editor’s Note: This was definitely a frequently bookmarked study in our office – three colleagues listed it among their favorites!)
From Andrea Cruz:
The improvements made to AdWords Customer Match will take Google’s ABM capabilities to a whole new level. With some good segmentation, as well as ads and landing pages personalization, you can create what will likely be very engaging campaigns.
This report brought together the big picture of what’s happening in the paid social landscape for me and made clear that Facebook and Twitter are no longer the only platforms to choose from. The report also showcases the importance of paid social, which was ranked as the third most important aspect in the digital marketing industry, right behind mobile and CRO.
Seer Interactive did a great job on this post by summarizing the changes made to exact match and they also listed a good quantity and quality of things to watch out for. My favorite piece of advice included is to be vigilant of how your search query report might have fluctuated – this impacted several client accounts. We had to develop and re-organize my keyword match types and the negatives keywords associated with them.
From Andrey Kozlov:
I found this to be a very useful article as it makes you think outside the box. The author provides great ideas on how to utilize extensions in a smarter way that can push potential competitors further down the results page and/or acquire more leads.
Another great article as it provides insights from both the client and agency perspective on problem solving. The article also walks through how to effectively communicate and prepare for a client call.
A nice article that answers a very interesting question in the paid search world. It is very good information to know because it’s a question that can easily come up with a client and not everyone has the right explanation.
From Derek Edmond:
While the marketing statistics by themselves were comprehensive enough to merit importance, the way that CoSchedule designed and laid out this article was what made it stand out. With so much noise online, it was refreshing to see this much effort and consideration put into the piece.
The level of detail and insight are what makes this annual report so valuable for digital marketers. I constantly find portions, if not all, of the data used as references (and SEO-friendly links) across a range of publications, blogs, and other platforms
I’ve become a big proponent of social media for B2B marketers, organic and paid. What makes this HBR article important is how it dispels the easy myths we read about social media while offering more impactful, and actionable, ways to make this channel effective for business.
User-friendly publishing platforms create more opportunities for marketers but make it difficult to diagnose technical SEO mistakes and their impact. SEMrush brings technical SEO back to the forefront and provides a great set of content marketing assets aimed at assisting in fixing important mistakes.
From Matt Diehl:
This is a great post on how a technical issue with a redirect (302 vs 301) prevented a piece of content from appearing in the search results from the original source and then went on to outline how a third-party site could capitalize on this technical SEO error to overtake search results.
It was great to read how the new technologies built on AI and machine learning, backed by big data, could benefit B2B organizations in key areas such as lead gen, sales, and customer behavior.
Not only does this post outline the misconception of what direct traffic is but walks through how the dark traffic hidden within this source can be further analyzed.
From Matt Vazquez:
When “doing” SEO it’s easy to get lost in tactics that the community is excited about, whether that be featured snippets, Google authorship, or whatever is next. What separates a good SEO professional from a great SEO professional is having a deeper understanding and focus on what Google is all about as a brand and enterprise. This helps us understand the why behind their tactics, and helps us understand their direction to anticipate what is coming next. This foundational piece is a great place to start.
Valuable research for content marketers about the state of the industry. Professionals that are focused on churning out tons of content at the expense of deep, meaningful quality are in for a rude awakening.
Although the title of this piece is a bit overstated (technically speaking, earning nofollow links is not “central” to SEO) the author uses it to get his point across effectively to SEO nerds that have lost sight of the broader picture. Pratik makes the point that “the primary thing to focus on is earning links that grow your traffic in a cumulative fashion” and breaks down that point for link-builders that have gotten lost in the weeds.
Stone Temple is one of the top authorities when it comes to deep, insightful SEO research explained in a thoughtful way. Articles like this make it clear how important the pursuit of high quality links should be to every digital marketing professional.
This personal narrative from Wil Reynolds resonates with me. It touches on the the busy (and often obsessive) career of a digital marketing professional, and the forks in the road that cause us to confront what our values are.
From Kristen Vaughn:
As search evolves and users’ behaviors change, online marketers must find new strategies to keep up. With increased mobile usage and now voice search, SEOs need to consider ways to optimize websites for search engines that allow users to search with spoken words. Google voice search is changing the way we handle search queries, how users search for the information they need, and even users’ attitudes towards search engines in general. This article provides more details around recent growth in voice search and tips on how search marketers can prepare.
Chatbots can be used to help improve your SEO tactics and broader business strategies in many ways. They can provide marketers with insight on the information users are looking for on their website. This article goes over some of the best uses of chatbots for digital marketing – driving traffic, growing your audience, providing better customer support and more.
This article reminds us of the importance of balance between numbers and the human experience in SEO and link building. While data and analytics are critical, at the end of the day, humans are who we want clicking on and finding value on our sites.
This piece explores how to engage with target audiences and gives new strategies for thinking about the type of content we share on social channels. Additionally, the article stresses the need for creativity and offers insightful new ways to think about B2B social media marketing.
Bringing an innovative mindset to the workplace everyday by thinking like an entrepreneur is important to stay motivated, continue learning, and to grow professionally. This article breaks down five ways to do just that.
From Amanda McGuinness:
This is a great article for content creators in the B2B space. While the way these marketers go about writing an article to their client is a good lesson, it is not always doable. Where I get the most value from this article is the first section, which calls out common pitfalls for content marketers. It struck a chord with me. I try to measure my content against this section to make sure I am not making these mistakes for my clients.
We have all completely skimmed over a glaring typo in our own writing because we know what we are trying to say. This article serves as a good refresher for what to keep in mind when editing your own work.
In my experience, it is easy to get bogged down in research and rewrites to achieve the perfect blog post. I enjoyed reading this post, as it reminds me to keep a streamlined process while creating good content. I try to find the happy medium between the “perfectionist” and “pragmatist” methods outlined here for the best content within my deadline.
From Ryan Young:
As a content marketer, I’m always curious to learn more about what others are doing in the space, and specifically, what successes and challenges are most commonly faced. In my opinion, the “B2B Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America” report is a must read each year for exactly these reasons.
When looking to improve content marketing results, you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Refreshing existing content can be just as effective as creating something new, and I suggest those interested in doing so take a look at this post for quality tips.
From Nancy White:
I found this piece useful because sometimes you can do everything right – and still be wrong (and not get the results you were looking for). For content marketers, it provides a framework on what to look at to determine what may have gone wrong and how to use that information to create a more impactful piece of content.
I love numbers because they often can help you tell a more compelling story. This is a great page to bookmark because it’s updated throughout the year. It’s a nice little capsule of current trends in B2B marketing so a quick look can sometimes give you a new idea or thought to start building off of for a blog post, client work, or strategy development.
As the way people search changes and Google changes the way they deliver search results accordingly, marketers need to adjust their strategies. This SEMrush study analyzed 1.6 million featured snippets and 80 million keywords to really get some data behind how to earn the coveted featured snippet spot.
From Jenna Bessemer:
As an English major myself, I like that this post makes the case that quality writing style can improve content marketing success. As Mark and Eric note during their video, “good style in writing removes barriers to message communication. It helps to build trust, and it contributes to a pleasant atmosphere around the message.” They go on to say that a classic style, which leads the reader on a journey and engages them in a conversation, is what content marketers should strive for. As a bonus, this post gave me a new book recommendation!
This piece from Content Marketing Institute takes a look at the future of the content marketing industry. With 25 predictions from experts, it’s sure to spark a few ideas you can apply to your own content marketing strategy – whether it’s something you implement today or work toward in the future. The author projects that personalization, inter-departmental collaboration, and the evolution of formats will have a significant impact on content marketing strategy over the next five years.
This Search Engine Journal article is pretty high-level but raises a few good points to keep in mind when thinking about the future of search and how to ensure your role and strategy stay relevant. The tips the author highlights are ones I think professionals in any industry should heed: Stay up-to-date on trends and changes, have technical experience, learn new skills if needed, and always communicate the value of your work.
We’re grateful to work in an industry that has so many professionals and organizations that take on big questions, offer insights, share experiences, and generally have a focus on always improving. It makes each day – and each year – exciting.
Thank you to all the authors, journalists, publishers, and teams that were a part of the above articles and content. It’s great work and we’re better marketers because of your contributions.
Let us know your favorite content from 2017! What gems are in your bookmarks? Connect with us on Twitter.
Happy New Year and wishing you all the best in 2018.