Feb 1, 2022
I had a great time talking to Steve Kearns, Head of Blog And Social Media for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. Our conversation lasted well over an hour, so I split it into several episodes. Part 1 explored how to consolidate country-specific blog sites into a global one. If you are working on global content marketing, you should definitely check it out. Part 2 is about social media marketing and how he goes about doing it.
In this bonus episode, Steve shares how his team evaluates internal and external blog submissions and he also creates content that will rank higher on SEO, and more. Let’s get started.
Pam Didner: How do you manage your writing staff? Are they in-house or outsourced? And do you have any suggestions to the listeners in terms of how to manage the writing staff for enterprises and also for small businesses?
Steve Kearns: Yeah, absolutely. So, um, I'll give you a quick overview as to how my team is structured. So I'm focused on leading the strategy kind of cross-functional relationships dot-connecting across, you know, the blog function, social media marketing function, and the web content marketing function. And then within my team, we have dedicated subject matter experts for each of those channels, so to speak. So I have a blog editor-in-chief whose sole job is to focus on running the day-to-day and really setting the vision for the topics we're going to talk about--the content strategy on the blog specifically.
So that is her name's Tequia Burt and she's been working in the B2B marketing space. She's incredible. Incredible. Um, so Tequia is now focused full-time on, uh, delivering sort of that day-to-day operations, but also content strategy and vision for the blog. And she works with a number of different partners across our business, both internally to source internal submissions --so where you'll have different stakeholders across the business, submitting content to her saying, “Hey, I want to write about X, Y, and Z. Is this a fit for the blog?” And we've actually pre-empted those submissions with what we're calling a style guide, because otherwise you, you get into a situation where the tail is wagging the dog with stakeholder submissions. We say, “Hey, here are the six things--six is an arbitrary number--but here are the six things that we talk about. And here are the six things that our audience wants to hear about. Here's a breakdown of what our audience demographics look like. Here's who visits the blog. Here are the here's the traffic data, here is the volume of subscribers we have access to” just so we give our partners a full picture of what it is they’re writing for, who it is they're speaking to et cetera, to make sure that we're actually getting productive submissions. So that's one lens.
Pam Didner: The submission is that external submission or a combination of internal and external submissions?
Steve Kearns: A little bit of both, I would say more toward internal, but that can also account for external as well. So really anything that's coming through other marketers in our organization or folks externally, that's going to go through that like style guide or submissionesque process where we inform folks who are writing for the blog. “Hey, this is what we're looking for. This is what good looks like, provide them examples, give them like image guidelines”; just like make it a really easy experience for them to be able to submit something that's optimized for the blog.
And then I would say the other lens that we look at is Tequia works specifically with an agency to produce all of our SEO-driven content. So, you know, we, you know, again are working with, with experts in the B2B marketing field to look at what are the keywords that our business wants to go after? And then also, you know, what topics among our target audience have the highest search volume?
So it's kind of triangulating between those two topics to figure out well, the other 50% of our blog content is going to be focused specifically on making sure we're ranking in Google effectively. Um, you know, one of the things when I first took over the blog that I was shocked by was that we weren't actually ranking for some things that we really should be ranking for, like on page one. So things like, um, like “how to market on LinkedIn?”
Pam Didner: Yeah, you should own that (laughs)
Steve Kearns: Exactly. So that was one of the mandates as we went into the migration, we said, well, part of the problem is that we've created ten different content pieces about how to market on LinkedIn that are all diluting the search volume and the search traffic. So what we need to actually start doing, and this is something that I say over and over and over again, to, to our cross-functional stakeholders is you need to take one blog post that you turn into like a power page and you update that periodically, so you continue to remind Google that that is the page that deserves the authority, and that becomes your primary page for which you funnel the majority of your traffic.
You can always link them off to sub pages, to microsites, to webinars, to, to advertising platform directly, but it's, again, consolidating that information, updating that information regularly and, um, you know, really making sure that we're, we're giving the search engine, the roadmap to prioritize our content effectively. So that is the other 50% of the content is focused on that like more. search engine optimization-focused content.
Pam Didner: So let me summarize very quickly. It sounds like your whole editorial in terms of managing your content there are two buckets, if you will. One is on internal, external submission, obviously that needs to align with the four pillars and 21 topics. And then the other one is you really, really honing on some of the things that say LinkedIn Marketing Solution well need to own, or some of the content that from your perspective, that really needs to rank on the first page of Google. And for that, you will be very, very specific and, um, you customize the content. Granted is still very much relevant to users' needs, but you will write a specifically for SEO, but the writing that kind of posts is you'll have to hone in in terms of SEO optimized type of content.
Another thing I would like to ask specifically is in terms of the updating and refreshing the blog post, given that you have so many blog posts right over thousands of them, how do you manage that? How do you determine which one to refresh and update and to do you look, what kind of data do you look at?
Steve Kearns: Yeah. So we've just, we've actually just started our like refresh and SEO optimization workflow, um, because we wanted to do the migration first and then once we had the infrastructure in place, we said, okay, let's turn our attention to SEO. So the direction that I gave my team was--and this is a lot of guidance that, that came from, from our agency partners, as well as like--well, let's focus on the stuff that's on fire right now. So what is on fire posts from 2016 or 2017 that talk about how to advertise on LinkedIn. That is where the majority of our search traffic is going to, and they show outdated screenshots, they talk about products that don't exist anymore, a complete mess. So we wanted to make sure that we dealt with those posts first.
So in this first wave of optimizations, which you'll actually see re-publishing across our blog in the next couple of months, you're going to be seeing a lot of posts that focused on how to advertise on LinkedIn, uh, posts that are focused on key search terms like demand generation, lead generation, content marketing, social media marketing. Etc. And those are going to be us taking our highest traffic posts and bringing them into the modern age. That is top priority because you know, again, you have to look at like, what is the most critical thing to prioritize. Then once we get past that wave of posts and there's probably say top, top priority, about a hundred posts, you know, secondary priority, maybe 250 out of all of them.
Pam Didner: That makes a lot of sense to me too. I mean, it's in general, you really follow that 90-10 rule or 20-80 rule, like 3000, 10% of them. Yeah. How many of them? Yeah.
Steve Kearns: And then you can get to a point where, you know, right now we're being reactive, but then we're going to move into a phase where we become proactive. So once we get to a place where our highest performing content, you know, over X number of page views is all recent, i.e.has been updated in 2021 or 2022, then we can move to, okay, you know, it's like similar to what we talked about of our, um, you know, topic tagging structure on the blog, you know, looking at specific pain points and then looking at specific advertising products and creating a power page for each of those needs.
Pam Didner: When you say power page, can you be a little bit specific? Is that mean that you actually had the landing page of its own or a power is still a blog page, but it's a long form. How do you define that?
Steve Kearns: Yeah, so the latter, definitely. You hit the nail on the head, Pam. Really just, it's a longer blog post that's going to be updated periodically. So that's like a phrase we use at LinkedIn, but I'm glad you asked me to define it because that could totally be, be confusing for someone who doesn't work in the context of, of the LinkedIn corporation.
So, you know, we really look at these long form blog posts that we're going to be updating periodically time over time--usually it's going to be on a quarterly or a bi-annual basis. And you know, what we want to do there is we want to make sure that every single time someone is searching for a B2B marketing keyword or a B2B marketing pain point or objective, or if they're searching for one of our products specifically--if they don't necessarily know that you know what their objective is, but they know they want to use LinkedIn sponsored content--in either of those unique instances, they're going to have one microsite page they land on, and one blog post that they land on. So that you, again, you know, are like, uh, coalescing that organic search traffic around one page on the microsite one page on the blog. And what that allows us to also do is say, okay, maybe that's only a hundred pages and we have to make sure that those 100 pages are near perfect.
Pam Didner: They are solid. Yeah.
Steve Kearns: And we have to make sure that the reporting and tracking is right on those pages. We have to make sure that they're updated consistently and that's a much easier charter for my team and for cross-functional teams than, okay you have 6,000 blog posts that are sort of updated.
Pam Didner: Yeah, you are fantastic. I love it. Very, very useful. And you go down to kind of like the detail part of it, to tell people how to do that. I think that's very critical. A lot of people tend to focus on high level, but really the B2B marketers or people who listen to my channels, they kind of want to know the know-hows.
Steve Kearns: Right. 'cause I, you know, a lot of the folks I imagine are probably sitting there and, and, you know, in a similar position that I would be in to say, “okay, you've just been tasked with doing this thing. So how do I do it? How do you, what do you think about what are the dependencies?”
Pam Didner: Very good. That’s a wrap! I’m so glad for Steve to share his knowledge and insights of managing global content. It is not easy. I hope you enjoy the 10-minute bonus episode. Again, if you haven’t checked out part 1 it’s about global marketing through and through. Look for Part 2 about LinkedIn Marketing Solution’s social media outreach. I highly recommend having a listen. Take care. Bye!