Archive for October, 2012

PostHeaderIcon More Microsoft Hardware on the Way, Says Ballmer

Over the the past few years, Microsoft has tried to master the delicate art of vertical integration on several occasions, but none of those previous attempts quite measure up to the Surface in audacity. If the Surface succeeds, Microsoft stands to reap the financial fruits of vertical integration, but at the risk of estranging the many PC vendors with whom it has longstanding ties. So the big question at this point in time is: just how far is Microsoft willing to go?

While there are those who believe the Redmond-based tech giant is merely trying to stimulate the market for Windows 8 devices and it will eventually step aside for the sake of its hardware partners — an appropriate analogy would be a director making a guest appearance in his own film — comments Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made to the BBC tell a different story.

“Is it fair to say we’re going to do more hardware? Obviously we are… Where we see important opportunities to set a new standard, yeah we’ll dive in,” Ballmer told the BBC. “We have committed ourselves on a path where we will do whatever is required from both a hardware and a software innovation perspective and the cloud innovation perspective in order to propel the vision that we have.”

It is widely believed that the next own-brand device to roll out from Microsoft’s stable will be a Windows Phone 8 device, with some recent reports even claiming that such a Microsoft-branded smartphone is already in the works. But Nokia’s chief executive Stephen Elop isn’t too concerned. During a recent conference call, he told analysts that a Microsoft-branded handset would be “a stimulant to the ecosystem.”

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PostHeaderIcon How I Got a Link from the Wall Street Journal

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This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.

How I Got a Link from the Wall Street Journal

Want to know how to get a link from the Wall Street Journal?

No … I'm not talking about dropping some dopey, no-followed article comment or some black-hat trickery – those schemes don't count for anything and will probably land you in the Google SEO jail.

I'm talking about landing a real, legitimate editorial link from one of the most trusted and highest authority websites on the planet – it's an SEO's (or any marketer's) dream come true!! Sounds impossible?

It's not!

In my content marketing case study today, I’ll describe in detail exactly how my team and I recently did just that!

But first – this post reads best with the mission impossible theme song playing in the background, so, cue the Mission Impossible music!

1. Begin With the End in Mind

Every great content marketing operation starts with an objective. For this mission, I set a high bar. I wanted to try to acquire:

  1. Real, editorial links from the WSJ. But not just any link. Ideally, links in an article that:

    • In some way mentioned WordStream (my company) so that we could get a bit of media exposure out of this effort
    • Links to both our homepage and contained to a deep page on our site with relevant anchor text.
  2. Get links from least 500 other high value, unique business and IT publications, like Fox Business, the Motley Fool, or CNET, etc.
  3. Have the story go viral on Social Media Networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  4. Generate a huge spike in overall website traffic that month
  5. Create a 10% uplift in our overall steady-state traffic from SEO

With these seemingly impossible mission goals clearly defined, we realized that we'd need super-viral-grade content – something new and exciting, as well as a methodological plan to succeed!

Your Mission, should you choose to accept, is to acquire a link from the Wall St. Journal

Your Mission, should you choose to accept, is to acquire an editorial link from the Wall St. Journal!

2. Intelligence Gathering

The Wall Street Journal is not just any old news organization – it’s the finest business news organization on the planet!!

Therefore we would need to create a story more powerful than the typical 'how to' or 'X ways to succeed at Y' kinds of articles that we usually run on our blog. Those angles are great for daily blog content, but are hardly newsworthy of the Wall St. Journal, and just not the right tool for this ambitious content marketing mission!

We started our intelligence gathering effort by closely analyzing the objectives and by reviewing the kinds of articles the Wall St. Journal had covered in the past, in order to get a clear idea of the kind of content that we’d need to develop.

To achieve our lofty objectives, it was determined that we would need content that was:

  • Easy to Understand – We search marketers write about all sorts of dorky shop-talk about this signal or that metric. But since +99.99% of the readership of the Wall St. Journal aren’t search marketers, our story would have to be easily understandable to a broader audience of business people.
  • Unique – Our content would have to be based on new, original data and new insight. You cannot get the attention of the staff of the prestigious Wall St. Journal merely by rehashing old stuff that is already out there.
  • Newsworthy – new and unique is necessary but not sufficient. But is it newsworthy? Is the content timely in some way, such that it might merit coverage by the world’s most powerful business newspaper?
  • Easily Sharable – We would illustrate the key takeaways of our content in the form of an infographic, to enable easy sharing and make the content more visually appealing.

planning our content marketing operation

Planning our Content Marketing Operation…

3. Gear-Up!

In order to achieve our mission we would need the right gear for the job.

Our big idea was to conduct original research into what industries contributed to Google Revenues. We thought that this idea was both relevant to our core business (search marketing) yet sufficiently generalized to be relevant to the business readers of the Wall St. Journal.

Last year, Google made $37.9 Billion in revenues, of which 95% came from advertising. But Google doesn’t provide detailed insight into exactly what industries and companies make up all that money. So, we thought it might be interesting if we could provide an answer!

But how the heck are we supposed to know where Google made their money from if they don’t share that information?!

At WordStream, we have access to a ton of search marketing data that nobody else does, for example:

  • Our Free Keyword Tool which consists of over 1-trillion search queries – using this data, I can model what people were searching for in 2011.
  • Our AdWords Grader has collected some AdWords data including average cost per click data across different industries, etc.

Using this data, along with our proprietary keyword classification technologies, and other data available on the internet (such as spyfu, etc.), it would be possible to develop a fairly sophisticated data model to figure out what people were searching for in 2011, and how much revenue Google generated for clicks on searches in different industries, such as “Travel and Tourism” or “Finance and Insurance” and many other industries.

But our content was still in need of a newsworthy angle. Since Google was announcing their 2011 year-end financial results on January 19th, it was decided that we would have to conduct and publish our data analysis within a day or two of the official Google 2011 earnings announcement. Our content would explain where all Google's money came from!

Finally, we partnered with my colleague, Mr. Brian Wallace of NowSourcing and his crack team of infographic design aces to convert my data into a nice infographic that illustrated the Google Earnings data, in order to make it more visually appealing and easily sharable. Here's what it looked like (Click to Enlarge)

Where Google made Their Money

In a nutshell, we had developed content that was easily understandable to business readers, unique, newsworthy and sharable –perfect for our mission!

content marketing gear

Using the Right Gear (Content) for the Mission!

4. Mission Execution

Having set our goals, put a plan in place, and developing the right tools for the job, all that was left was to execute! We published our infographic just days after Google’s 2011 year-end earnings announcement.

And, as you probably expected, we were indeed successful in getting coverage of our story in the Wall Street Journal!!

Here's a snapshot of what that looked like:

we did it!

And we also got crap-ton of coverage from many other leading news organizations, including coverage in: Wired, CNET, Fox Business, The New York Times, Business Insider, Inquisitr, The Guardian, Inc Magazine – too many to list out. In total we counted over 600 of the world's leading news sites linked to our Google Earnings article, thanks in part to a domino effect of link building!

And the article spread internationally, too. We found pick-ups from news organizations in Japan, Germany, France, Canada, Spain, Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa, and dozens of other countries!

The story went viral on Social Media Networks – our article and infographic racked up a combined:

  • 2491 Twitter tweets
  • 1443 Facebook Likes
  • 554 Google +1’s
  • 697 LinkedIn Shares
  • Lots of traction on sites like Reddit, Stumble, etc.

We think that from an SEO perspective, the social shares are just as valuable as the link haul that we made off with!

All in, we estimate that nearly 1 million people saw our story, and we were fortunate to have achieved our all the goals that we set out to achieve.

Content Marketing Mission Accomplished

Content Marketing Mission Accomplished!

5. Mission Debriefing

Every time we do a content marketing project it’s a learning experience, so I’d like to share with the SEOmoz community, a few key ideas we learned from this time around!

In my example, I was using interesting data that we had at WordStream to develop some unique content. Now you might be thinking to yourself: what the heck do I do if I don’t have access to a trillion-keyword database or other proprietary ideas to draw original ideas from?

Here’s what you do: Think about what’s unique and differentiating about your business and/or your customers – what kinds of trends are you seeing, what’s changing, then try to measure that. Every company must have something unique about themselves – start brainstorming ideas from there!

Another big learning we stumbled on was that the big media outlets really love brands! The more you can mention major companies in your story, the more likely you will succeed. For example, we included paid search advertising spend data for big name companies in each industry (see screenshot below) and this greatly broadened the appeal of our content. The reporter at the Wall St. Journal and many other news outlets reported on rivalry between brands.

Google Earnings Data

Finally, don’t feel bad if you put in a lot of effort and your plan doesn’t quite come together. I definitely have had my share of content creation efforts that went absolutely nowhere. And sometimes you get incredibly lucky. Just keep at it, try to figure out what went wrong and plan to do things better the next time!

So there you have it. You can get a link from the WSJ, or New York Times, or whatever big news outlet you can dream of. No special tricks or hacks, just a lot of hard work, including planning, research, real content development, and executing on a plan, and of course, a bit of luck!

Copyright Notice: Mission Impossible is property of Paramount Pictures.

About The Author

Larry Kim is the Founder & CTO of WordStream, a provider of software & services for managing PPC. Larry helps out in both the Product and Marketing departments at WordStream.

He can be found on Twitter or Google+.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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PostHeaderIcon Take a Tour Through Google’s Closely Guarded Data Centers

Google Data Center PathThis. Is. Awesome. If you follow a rainbow all the way to the end, you’re supposed to discover a pot of gold, only no one ever seems to get that lucky. By that same token, if you were to trace the Internet’s many roads and highways, you’d find that many of them end up at one of Google’s data centers, and like that elusive pot of gold, you never get to actually see it. Until now.

Google, for the first, decided to crack open the doors to its data centers and provide the Internet community at large a rare and awesome tour of the Internet’s underbelly, and it’s every bit as magnificent as you might imagine. You can even take a tour of Google’s Lenoir, NC facility in Street View, where you can head inside the front door and zig-zag your way to the data center floor.

“Very few people have stepped inside Google’s data centers, and for good reason: our first priority is the privacy and security of your data, and we go to great lengths to protect it, keeping our sites under close guard,” Google explains. “While we’ve shared many of our designs and best practices, and we’ve been publishing our efficiency data since 2008, only a small set of employees have access to the server floor itself.”

Now you can, too, at least in virtual form. A gallery filled with high-resolution pictures takes you through the inner workings of Google’s data centers, and it’s a sight to behold. You’ll see lots of wires and colorful pipes, servers and engineers, and more. It’s truly amazing and well worth spending a coffee break to click through it all. Enjoy!

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