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Hello, from Portland, Oregon. Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More. My guest is Steve Kearns, Head of Blog and Social Media Marketing for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

Today’s episode is about scaling global business with a centralized content strategy. We had such a great conversation while recording the show, so I decided to break it into two parts. So, if you want to scale your content across regions. Check out Part 2, to learn more about data-driven social media marketing strategy.

In this episode:

  • How does LinkedIn make money?
  • How can a brand consolidate several regional marketing blogs to a global marketing solution destination?
  • Why should a business centralize global content?
  • What does the centralized content strategy look like?
  • How to balance global efforts with content specifically tailored for cultural and language differences?
  • What is the right way to do the migration and what are the important steps to make it efficient and successful?
  • How to perform a proper content audit?
  • How to level centralized content strategy with SEO?
  • What is the role of a local content team in regional initiatives?
  • How to use content hub?
  • What content metrics to use and track content performance?

Quotes from the episode:

“One of the challenges we have, especially at a large company, is that when we migrate from one platform to another, that then throws off the tracking on everything. You essentially lose visibility for a given time.”

“We tended to give priority to the visual appearance, the user experience of the blog, because at the end of the day if that’s a mess, it doesn’t matter what we’re tracking.”

—————

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To expand your knowledge about how to scale your global business and use a centralized content strategy check out some of my previous podcast episodes, blog posts, and video.

Podcast episodes

Ask the Experts: Trends to Grow Your Business

How to Prepare for Editorial Success with Salesforce’s Director of Content Strategy

How to Make Sales Content a Competitive Advantage

Blog post

How to Use Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

7 Steps To An Effective Lead Generation Process

Video

How to Create a Scalable Global Content Marketing Strategy

TRANSCRIPT

Hello, from Portland, Oregon. Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More. In this show, I talk about everything B2B related.

And today, I have a special guest: Steve Kearns from LinkedIn. He is the Head of Blog and Social Media Marketing for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. I had such a great conversation with him that we broke this into Part 1 and Part 2. I hope that you can listen and learn from him – a lot of good nuggets if you want to scale your content across regions.

So let’s get started! Steve, welcome to my show!

Steve Kearns: Thank you so much for having me, Pam. I’m so excited to be here today.

Pam Didner: Awesome. Awesome. So, Steve, can you tell us what you do for LinkedIn? It’s a blog and social media, but I think it’s a bit more than that. So can you elaborate?

Steve Kearns: Absolutely. Uh, so long story short, one of the best, or, you know, most common questions that I get is how does LinkedIn make money? I get it from friends; I get it from family; I get it from, you know, even some folks who work in the B2B marketing space. And the primary way that LinkedIn makes money is through our native advertising solutions, uh, which we call LinkedIn Marketing solutions. So that is our primary revenue stream at LinkedIn, in addition to a number of other software as a service or SaaS, Businesses like LinkedIn Recruiter, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and LinkedIn Learning.

But again, the primary mode of revenue generation is through our native advertising programs. And that is the line of business or revenue stream that my team supports. The next question would be, well, how does my team support the ads business?

Pam Didner: Exactly. So are you doing it because you are writing a blog, a paid blog or an organic blog about LinkedIn’s products?

Steve Kearns: Yes. Organic blogs primarily. In addition to social media communications across owned channels and any web content marketing programs. Including any top of funnel programs that show up across our LinkedIn Marketing Solutions micro-site, my team is there to sit across those three functions. So again. Blog, social media, marketing, and web content marketing create top of funnel and middle of funnel content marketing programs that are priming the pump for sales conversations when folks talk to our reps on the phones about why they should be building their brand on LinkedIn. But then also for, you know, essentially, advertisers own learning journeys. So as people are figuring out how to advertise on LinkedIn, my team’s primary goal is to make sure that they have the tools and the resources. Through our blog, our social media properties through our web properties. They have the resources to do that and succeed with LinkedIn advertising.

Pam Didner: So, I did a little research before interviewing you. I know you just completed a massive project, consolidating several regional marketing blogs to a global marketing solution destination. If it’s a centralized blog, I don’t know, but can you tell us the story behind it? Why do you guys decide to centralize? And also, how do you go about doing the consolidation?

Because I was in a global role for a long time, it’s very hard to balance that headquarters’ needs vs the geography’s knees. And I understand a lot of time at the geo level. They want their content specifically tailored for the cultural and language differences. So, in terms of consolidation, how do you go about it? And how do you balance that?

Steve Kearns: Absolutely. It’s a great question. To give you a little bit of backstory and folks who are listening to a backstory on, you know, what happened with this project? So when I first took over our blog properties on behalf of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, this was about a year and a half ago. We had four different blog properties on behalf of our marketing solutions business. So we had a North American blog. We had a UK/English blog. We had a French blog, and we had a German blog. So not built with any rhyme or reason but based on the demand and the priority audiences our business had.

Pam Didner: It’s like grown organically.

Steve Kearns: Yeah, exactly. And I think, you know, there’s beauty in that at the time because it allows companies to, you know, scale and flex and meet the needs of their audiences. But over time, you know, what we realized is as we–you know, it’s a funny phrase that we’ll say a lot at LinkedIn is “what got us here, won’t get us there.”

Pam Didner: I like that statement!

Steve Kearns: This worked for the last five years. Now we want to create a centralized experience for our advertisers to understand how they can best use LinkedIn and where they go for anything from thought leadership to, you know, activation-focused content.

So we had to take those four blogs. They were all hosted on different platforms in different languages and rolled into one global blog. So I remember when my boss took me, you know, took me through this project and said, “Hey, Steve, like, you’re going to be the one to do this.” And I was like, “No, thank you. No, I don’t want this. Not for me.”

Pam Didner: “I’m busy enough! Why do I have to do that?”

Steve Kearns: Exactly. And this is something that we kicked down the road for years. We knew it was something that had to be ha had to happen. We knew it was something that, you know, would be a huge value add for our audiences. Still, it was such a technical challenge, especially when you work inside a big company, that we wanted to make sure that, uh, you know, we had the right people in place to do this. We had the right resources to do it.

Pam Didner: So, how do you do the migration and some of the big steps you took to make it happen. And how long did it take to eventually to the point, like you can say, “you know what, I won this battle, or this is like considered done?”

Steve Kearns: So I would say end-to-end, the project took about, uh, between six and nine months. So six months for the actual execution runway. Nine months for the end-to-end planning to optimization, reporting on the success. And, you know, to think about the main components of this project, again, when I first approached it, it seemed like an insurmountable challenge. How do we connect these disparate audiences, different content, pillars, content strategies, etc.? And what we got down to was: Hey, this gives us a unique opportunity to reset the direction of our content strategy. Reset the direction of our content program and our audience offering”.

So we did a couple of things. The first thing we did was a technical and content audit. So we looked at all. I want to say it was 6,000 posts that were published across, across

Pam Didner: like the four different, uh, like, uh, four different blog sites, right?

Steve Kearns: Yep, exactly. And we wanted to look for, number one, what is the traffic data? So definitely what posts are performing the best, what is not performing well? Are there any core themes we can identify? You know, because again, people have been creating content across a number of different themes across many different regions for years. What are the common threads that we can find regarding what could carry over to our next strategy?

Um, so we looked at those components. We also looked at what is performing from an SEO perspective.

Pam Didner: Yeah, keywords.

Steve Kearns: When we migrated the blogs, we wanted to ensure that we were not jeopardizing our SEO.

Pam Didner: So you don’t kill your SEO score if you will.

Steve Kearns: Yeah, exactly. So, you know, this audit took, I would say, took about one to two months, and that was just looking at, um, that traffic data.

Pam Didner: That’s not bad. For 6,000 blog posts, you do a content audit in about eight weeks. I would say that’s a huge success and moving pretty fast.

Steve Kearns: Yeah, it was, it was a very, very fast experience, I would say. Um, we did it with, uh, with some partners. So we were able to bring on someone to my team who was an expert in SEO and web marketing, who could spend 40 hours a week dedicated specifically to this project. And we also brought in an agency. So we worked specifically with Top Rank Marketing to ensure we had the right tools in place to do that. That analysis and the right heads in the room, the number of hours we needed to get that across the finish line. So it was certainly a group effort.

Pam Didner: May I ask one more question about the 6,000 blog posts? You probably killed quite a bit of them. What is the percentage of the blog posts you end up keeping?

Steve Kearns: Yeah, so we killed about 60% of our blog posts and kept about 40%. So–

Pam Didner: And out of that 40%, what not, how many categories did you end up creating?

Steve Kearns: Yeah, so we started with about 100 different topics. And those were externally facing topic tags. So when a marketer would go visit our blog, they would see 100 different things, which is a terrible experience.

Pam Didner: That’s terrible, right. You need to hit our whole taxonomy to solve that problem.

Steve Kearns: Yeah, exactly. So, where we landed were four key pillars. Within those four key pillars, um, at the maximum 21 different tags that were all focused on like several different lenses. So the first lens was LinkedIn advertising. So you know what people need to know about LinkedIn advertising.

Pam Didner: That’s bread and butter, right? So you want to make sure you have one pillar focus on that. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Steve Kearns: And then we looked at verticals. So what are the different verticals that our business services, where people would need to be delivered bespoke content? You know, healthcare, financial services, technology marketing, et cetera, et cetera, to where, again, we needed dedicated places for those marketers to learn about what’s relevant to LinkedIn advertising and what’s relevant in their industry.

And then we also looked at macro trends, you know, what are the trends going on in the world of work that we have for proprietary data on that we can share with you? Uh, what about diversity, equity and inclusion? Um, what about the jobs landscape for marketers? Looking at the different things that we can comment on at a thought leadership level that don’t necessarily have to do with our product and don’t necessarily have to do with the vertical, but they have to do with, “Hey, our target audience are marketers.”

Pam Didner: It’s adjacency.

Steve Kearns: Yup. Yup. So, you know, what was interesting is that we were really worried about the backlash we would get when we sun-setted 60% of our content.

Pam Didner: Internally that you are, you will very concerned about people are gonna like, “you know what, this is not acceptable and that you are killing the content. You are killing SEO.” And so, but what was the reaction?

Steve Kearns: The threshold we used was very, I would say what’s the right word for it. Minimal.

Pam Didner: Oh really? So people were like, “okay, you guys have done a lot of research.” And you know what, honestly, I think you got a push, you got very minimal pushback, had several reasons. Can I just analyze the whole situation? First of all, you did an extensive audit. And then, uh, so people understand that you did, you know, you did that. And the second thing is you were able to identify pillars that people can relate to. And then, once you have pillar identify and everybody agree with that, they will like, okay. So anything that doesn’t fit into any of those pillars, you should kill it.

That’s a natural thing. So I think once they agree on pillars, everything else is a very, very natural path. Right. And then third, I liked that. Um, you identify tags in a way, tags or tagging. The keywords, if you will like the subcategory of each, uh, or the editorial topics for each pillar. I like that a lot. I think that’s a very structured way of doing it. And then that makes a lot of sense to me. And you mentioned the four pillars–one is LinkedIn advertising, and then a yellow wire is vertical by industry. And then the third one is the thought leadership or marketing trends type of topic.

Steve Kearns: And I would say the fourth is calling pain point specific. Uh, so that is, you know, in the same way, that you, if you look at our products, you can say, “I want to use LinkedIn-sponsored content. I want to use LinkedIn Pages. I want to use, you know, LinkedIn lead gen forms.” There’s also, I would say, an objective-based thought process or journey that a customer, uh, you know, someone who visits our blog can take. Well, it’s two things. It’s your marketing function and the marketing objective.

So do you want to build brand awareness? Do you want to drive demand and generate more leads? Do you want to host an event, for example? Or, looking at your profession, are you a social media marketer? Are you a content marketer? Are you a demand generation marketer? So make sure that for every vertical that our customers sit in, every pain point they could have, and every LinkedIn product they have.

We have an answer and a content resource for them to visit. And that was, that was the full stop of, of the project.

You know, we didn’t go beyond that because we said, “Hey, as a marketing blog that LinkedIn owns, we don’t have anything else to talk about. We shouldn’t be talking about anything else that gives us plenty of runways to be able to create content against,” you know, again, 21 dedicated topics.

Pam Didner: 21 dedicated topics are 21 per pillar, always

Steve Kearns: 21 total. So four are the, like whatsits.

Pam Didner: Was the 21 topics?

Steve Kearns: It’s not.

Pam Didner: Okay. That makes a lot of sense. I was like 21 times 4. That’s a lot.

Steve Kearns: Yeah. So it’s only a few within each, uh, each pillar.

Pam Didner: That makes a lot of sense. So what, then you kill 40% of the content? That also makes sense to me. Do you slice and dice the information by languages as well?

Steve Kearns: Um, so it’s, it’s interesting. What we did was we– and this was a learning for me, as I learned more about SEO and web and whatnot as I went through this journey. When we started this journey, I assumed that most of the localization from a language perspective was done via AI. And you could just flip a switch, and all of a sudden, your blog was going to be translated into Spanish or French. And that is not the case.

Pam Didner: I am happy you said that. Because I talk about artificial intelligence at multiple different keynotes and emphasize that the current stage of AI is not taking your jobs away. The current AI technology is trying to help you, if nothing else, get your first draft ready, especially from a writer’s perspective. Yeah. Eventually, maybe the AI will be so sophisticated that it will replace us, but that’s such way down the road. But in the meantime—or the foreseeable future, next four or five years—it’s just to help out.

Steve Kearns: Right. 100%

Pam Didner: Yeah. And, it’s not like you can take what AI created and then call it done and publish it automatically. That doesn’t work.

Steve Kearns: Yeah. Right. And that was, you know, I think like being, you know, we work on global teams at LinkedIn being a marketer born and raised in the United States. I think we always have this very North American American-centric view. So this was a really interesting project in that, you know, I went into it thinking you could just flip a switch. You would have a blog in six different languages. And what I learned was you have to have the entire site translated.

Um, you know, it, maybe you can get the first step through by AI, but then you have to get a QA and checked by it by a native speaker.

Pam Didner: Oh my god! Music to my ears!

Steve Kearns: So, you know, what would it the record, what the recommendation came out to was “well, if you want to have a site that’s dynamic in six different languages or four different languages, you have to have this wildly sophisticated resourcing mix to be able to pull that off and pull that off well.” So we said “we are not ready to offer that we cannot offer that because we don’t have the headcount. We don’t have the-

Pam Didner: Budget and people to maintain or build a model to optimize it. It’s very expensive.

Steve Kearns: Right. We don’t even have the mandate from a business or revenue perspective. To say: “all right, we’re going to put ten people against this so they can maintain a blog in six different languages.” So what we said was we’re going to create a global English blog. So we’re going to take that UK English blog and the North American English blog. We’re going to merge those two, and then we’re going to create content hubs, which look the same as our blogs–they’re hosted on the same platform. We’re going to create content hubs that are localized, specific to languages.

Pam Didner: For that, do you have a local team manage it or somebody to central?

Steve Kearns: Yes. So what we used to have is it used to be this very strange partnership between my team and their team, where we have no language skills. We’re just like the gatekeepers for the channel. Yeah. What we did instead was instead of having a French blog and a German blog, we had a French content hub and a German content hub. So when you remove the word blog, you’re kind of removing that expectation of, okay, we need a newsletter. We need a publishing cadence…

Pam Didner: You have a much broader and a wider arrange of, uh, content formats, not just the blog by itself

Steve Kearns: Exactly. And, but, you know, by doing that, what it allowed us to do as we said, okay, you know, right now we only have content localized in French and German. Still, our Spanish and our Brazilian and Latin American teams are also interested in localizing in Spanish and Portuguese. So we said, okay, we have a model for you to maintain your content hub. It looks exactly like a blog, but there is no requirement around publishing. If you want to publish once a month relative to the needs of your market, go ahead. We don’t want to stymie you from doing what you need to do in your market. Still, we also want to make sure that if we’re saying this is a blog from LinkedIn that has a certain promise associated with it. So, you know, this has a publishing cadence, which is five times a week, uh, has a newsletter. It has a defined content strategy around it. The promise we deliver to our advertisers or the value we’re delivering to our advertisers.

Pam Didner: So when you say content hub, does that mean that a majority of the content is being created at the headquarters level, and then the local content hub can pick and choose which one they want to use and localize? Is that somehow the approach that you are going after?

Steve Kearns: Yes. So I would say that that’s the majority. Still, then there’s a, you know, the second subset of content that looks at entirely like regionally driven initiatives. So for example, things that like, we wouldn’t do. You know, event coverage posts in, in the region. Suppose they have specific webinars, like business moments that matter in Germany, that would not matter in the United States. In that case, those are things where they will take the lead and say, Hey, like you don’t even need to work with an out team.

Pam Didner: We will do it ourselves. We know we know all regions well. So can I also ask one more question? My experience working with a global team or my experience engaging with enterprises as my consulting projects. I have noticed that most of the content created, say the HQ level, naturally flows down to the regional level. Still, a lot of time to regional-specific content–and I know that multiple regions I worked with in the past will push their content to HQ and scale that to a different region. I found that very difficult to do. Do you run into that issue as well?

Steve Kearns: Yes, we do. I mean, I think it’s- and we haven’t cracked the code yet on how to get. Um,

Pam Didner: I don’t, I don’t think anybody did. I’m not kidding. And I work with many global enterprises. And it’s like it’s always a one-way street come down to the content distribution to a regional level. But I have to try to push some of the content, regional level up to the global level. To scale down to a different region, I found that very difficult to do that.

Steve Kearns: And I think the only thing we’ve done, that’s been successful in trying to, keep that two-way street, like you were talking about, Pam is aligning on what core themes and content pillars are going to be. So we said, Hey, you know, this year, we’re going to talk about two things: we’re going to talk about brand trust. We are going to talk about professional identity. Everything that falls within there is fair game. Once we get there. And once we have that alignment on a global level, it’s very easy to say, all right.

Um, you know, APAC team or Latin America team or AMEA team, you take this project, run on it, lead on it, and pull us in when you’re ready to go global. Then we know we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet, so to speak and that the content will be globally resonant.

Pam Didner: Even with that, the headquarter team has set up that guidance or guard rail. Does that make sense? The headquarter or the headquarter teams identify two or three themes to make sure that that’s common across all regions. And what I have, what I have done in the past, is, for example, like when I was working with China, sometimes they have a budget to pull a very heavyweight speaker.

Either, you know, somebody who’s a very, well-known like, you know, the Alibaba CEO, Jack Ma for example—ex-CEO, if you will. And, uh, and then they have an interview and have a great discussion and that kind of information because he’s so well-known. It’s very easy to pull that information from the content hub in China and then scale that across to different regions.

But I like your approach in identifying a couple of themes and, uh, preferably is, uh, uh, thought leadership. And it’s a common thing that can apply across regions. If they take the lead, you can take some of that content up-scale at the global level and then scale it to other regions. I like that a lot. Very smart.

Steve Kearns: Yeah. Yeah. It’s an ongoing conversation because, you know, at the end of the day, the whole idea of one-size-fits-all is very tough. So it’s the question of how you create enough of a strategy. The strategy is malleable to translate across different regions of the world where we have going on, economic, political, and the public health crisis. All of that informs how your marketing needs to show up and how you can handle your messaging strategy, what you should say as a brand, especially a brand, the size of LinkedIn.

We also want to make sure to leave enough space. The regional experts can be experts in their market and lead messaging strategies that make sense to their audiences. What may resonate with a marketer in New York City may not make a ton of sense to a marketer in Singapore.

Pam Didner: Yeah, I hear you. So, you know, it sounds like you got a lot of things, right? When you are doing that migration and leading the effort. Now looking back. What are the one or two things that you look back and say, you know, what, if I had to do this over again, I would do it completely differently?

Steve Kearns: I would say that the biggest thing that we, I would say could have done better, or maybe kept a closer pulse on, was the pre-and post-migration metrics. So one of the challenges we have, especially at a large company (but I think this happens across any sector or size of the company), is that when we migrate from one platform to another, that then throws off the tracking on everything. Uh, you essentially lose visibility for a given time.

Pam Didner: Yes, I 100% agree. And also have to do this 301 redirecting and all that stuff. It’s incredibly tedious. Incredibly technical.

Steve Kearns: Yep. So I would say, one of the things we’ve recently discovered is that um, a lot of the tracking mechanisms that we used to employ are no longer working and have to be rebuilt. So, you know, I think there was something where the physical appearance of the blog went pretty flawlessly. And then there’s the behind the scenes, which, again, it’s hard because we know that metrics are very important as marketers. Those will be things we look at quarter over quarter, year, over year, et cetera. But we tended to give priority to the visual appearance, the user experience of the blog, because at the end of the day, if that’s a mess, um, it doesn’t matter what we’re tracking…

Pam Didner: And perception is reality anyway, right?

Steve Kearns: Exactly. So I think we could have done a better job of when the migration happened, we said, boom, okay, we’re done. The new platform is live. It’s a success. Uh, it looks beautiful. People are really happy with the new experience. Where we should have started asking questions a little bit earlier–like even before we flipped the switch–was okay, well, what’s going to happen when we flip that switch?

Pam Didner: We’re probably going to see a dip, how long, and also, you know, all the tracking that was in place, what is the impact? Yeah, I hear.

Steve Kearns: And then, you know, the, especially at a big company, the question is around, like, how do you manage those? Because once you—

Pam Didner: Yeah, we have a big dip, and the managers are like, “what’s going on?!? I don’t understand!”

Steve Kearns: Exactly. So, um, you know, now we’re in the process of rebuilding those, uh, you know, that tracking infrastructure, which is time-consuming. We could have spent some more time in advance thinking about how we, how we were gonna manage that.

Pam Didner: You know, honestly, I, I, Steve, I hear you loud and clear, but we don’t know why we don’t know. Do you know what I’m saying? Like all of us who have been doing this for a long time, even though I manage data migration for my blogs, I re-did my website at least four times, four times. Whenever I have a problem with tracking, no matter what I’m trying to do, the web developers, how much time they spend on it – it’s always because it’s the technology and there’s so much data.

And when you migrate, there are always glitches. There’s not much you can do about it. I have come to realize they are just glitches. Every time you do a technical migration like that, you learn something because we are not technical.

But now you go through it one more time. Next time you do what you were like, okay. Backend, you know all those nitty-gritty details? We just need to make sure that everything is tied up. Right. It’s kind of like a design for a machine. We know what that will look like, and we know the functionality of machines, but we don’t design it. And then, once you are in the trenches of designing it, you will not know how everything is connected. I hear you loud and clear, but I still think you should pat yourself, you know, on your shoulders, and they, you did a great job.

Steve Kearns: Thank you.

Pam Didner: I know how hard it is. And, uh, I help my clients do data migration from time to time. I always tell them, you know, what we’re going to do this two or three times. The first time is going to be a disaster. Everybody just expects that. Okay. Just expect that

Steve Kearns: Exactly. We did it about three times.

Pam Didner: Yeah. I’m not surprised. Yeah. My date on migration was never successful, ever the first time. Never. I want people who listen to understand that if you ever do any data on migration, you have to manage it. You have to manage the expectation and expect to do it multiple times.

Steve Kearns: A hundred per cent.

Pam Didner: Thank you for sharing the whole experience with us. That’s fantastic. I love it

BONUS episode Transcript

Steve shares how his team evaluates internal and external blog submissions in this bonus episode. 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 for the listeners regarding managing the writing staff for enterprises and small businesses?

Steve Kearns: Yeah. So, I’ll give you a quick overview of how my team is structured. So I’m focused on leading the strategy kind of cross-functional relationships dot-connecting across the blog, social media, and web content marketing functions. And then, within my team, we have dedicated subject matter experts for each of those channels. So I have a blog editor-in-chief whose sole job is to focus on running the day-to-day and 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. 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. She works with several 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?” We’ve pre-empted those submissions with what we’re calling a style guide because otherwise, 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’s the traffic data, the volume of subscribers we have access to”. Just so we give our partners a full picture of what they’re writing for, whom they’re speaking to, et cetera, making sure that we’re 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. So anything coming through other marketers in our organization or folks externally will go through that like style guide or submission 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 image guidelines, and make it an easy experience for them to submit something 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 experts in the B2B marketing field to look at 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 will be focused specifically on making sure we’re ranking in Google effectively. Um, you know, when I first took over the blog, I was shocked that we weren’t 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

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 start doing, and this is something that I repeatedly say to our cross-functional stakeholders, is you need to take one blog post that you turn into a power page. You update that periodically, so you continue to remind Google that that is the page that deserves the authority. That becomes your primary page for which you funnel most of your traffic.

You can always directly link them to sub-pages, microsites, webinars, and advertising platforms. Still, it’s consolidating that information, updating it regularly, and making sure that we’re giving the search engine the roadmap to prioritize our content effectively. So that is the other 50% of the content 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 are two buckets, if you will. One is on internal, external submission. Obviously, that needs to align with the four pillars and 21 topics. Then the other one is to hone on some of the things that LinkedIn Marketing Solution needs to own. Or some of the content that needs to rank on the first page of Google from your perspective. And for that, you will be very, very specific and, um, you customize the content. Granted is still very much relevant to users’ needs. Still, you will write 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 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? What kind of data do you look at?

Steve Kearns: Yeah. So we’ve just, we’ve 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 came from our agency partners –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 most of our search traffic is going, and they show outdated screenshots and 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 see re-publishing across our blog in the next couple of months, are posts focused on how to advertise on LinkedIn. Posts 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 the top priority because you know, again, you have to look at what is the most critical thing to prioritize. Then once we get past that wave of posts, 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 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. Once we get to a place where our highest performing content, over X page views, is all recent, i.e. has been updated in 2021 or 2022, we can move to what we talked about. You know, topic tagging, structure on the blog, 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 specific? Is that mean that you actually had the landing page of its own, or power is still a blog page, but it’s long-form. How do you define that?

Steve Kearns: Yeah, so the latter. You hit the nail on the head, Pam. Just, it’s a longer blog post that’s going to be updated periodically. So that’s like a phrase we use at LinkedIn. Still, I’m glad you asked me to define it because that could be confusing for someone who doesn’t work in the context of the LinkedIn Corporation.

So, you know, we look at these long-form blog posts that we will be updating periodically over time. Usually, it’s going to be on a quarterly or a bi-annual basis. 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 – event 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: We have to make sure that the reporting and tracking are 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 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 the detail part of it, to tell people how to do that. I think that’s very critical. Many people tend to focus on a high level, but the B2B marketers or people who listen to my channels want to know the know-how.

Steve Kearns: Right. ’cause a lot of the folks I imagine are probably sitting there 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 that Steve shared 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!

 


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