4 Major Signs You Should Invest in Sales Enablement

4 Major Signs You Should Invest in Sales Enablement

The sales landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade. Organizations are implementing sales enablement strategies in order to stay ahead of the market. These strategies help sellers improve productivity, accelerate the buyer’s journey, and ultimately reach their target sales goals faster than ever.

If these are all goals you’re looking to accomplish with your sales team, it might be time to invest in sales enablement. In this post, we’ll review five signs you might need to invest in sales enablement, and how your organization can work towards a successful journey today.

1. You Keep Sellers on a Tight Leash

If you’re in marketing or sales management, you may often feel like you have to keep tabs on your sellers, as you don’t want them going rogue and adding slides to their decks that are off-brand. Your organization likely spends a lot of time and energy creating engaging content for every stage of the buyer’s journey. So why are sellers still inserting dated slides that completely alter the company messaging?

If you’ve been trying to micro-manage your sellers’ content, this may be a telling sign you need a better sales enablement strategy. Sales enablement tools actually allow you to let sellers run wild (within reason!) without fainting. With sales enablement, you can empower sellers to choose the right content that’s resonating the best, based on high visibility, into how sales decks are performing across the organization. This gives them the edge they need to move prospects through the sales cycle quicker with content you know will resonate.

Sales enablement also allows sales leaders to implement best practices and ensure every seller always has the most effective materials at their fingertips. It also helps you spot content that’s being circulated with last year’s messaging, and easily find and kill dated content.

Don’t keep sellers on a tight leash. Empower them with the right solutions, and rest easy knowing they’re sharing the right content with the right audience.

Don’t keep sellers on a tight leash. Empower them through sales enablement.
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2. You Overspend on Content Creation

You’ve probably heard the grim statistic that 65 percent of marketing content is never used by the sales team. This means nearly two-thirds of your investment in marketing content is wasted, and the ROI of content that’s never used is zero. Yikes!

If you think you’re spending a lot of time creating content that isn’t getting used in the field, it might be time to invest in sales enablement. You can ensure you’re dedicating resources efficiently by measuring the business impact of your content. Sales enablement tools with analytics capabilities allow you to track content availability and usage at every sales stage, as well as measure and optimize your content performance. You can pinpoint what content is helping generate revenue and ensure you’re dedicating your resources appropriately to maintain high performing content with high ROI.

3. You Aren’t Sure Your Message Is Landing

If you’re spending all of your time in content creation, you want to ensure the message you’re arming your sales team with is resonating every time. If you don’t have the tools to measure your content effectiveness, you could be wondering why your prospects aren’t answering your emails and phone calls.

Sales enablement tools with analytics capabilities provide the data you need to gain actionable insight and create and maintain better content that will ultimately help sellers close more deals. Analytics not only allow you to track engagement of your sellers’ presentations, but also track open rates, downloads, and shares of all of your assets via email, your website, etc. This gives you the ability to track what content your customers are spending the most time on. It also provides a holistic understanding of what messaging is working and what isn’t across the organization.

This is invaluable and allows you to take the guesswork out of content creation and strategy, as well as help your marketing team align content for every stage of the buyer’s journey for each persona.

4. Sales Productivity Is Low or Flat

Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company or a growing startup, it’s crucial to ensure your sales team is working as efficiently as possible. If one of your sales reps meets with a prospect who’s interested in your product and wants to see examples of similar customer use cases and estimated ROI, you need to ensure your sellers have that data on the fly. But if your company doesn’t have an organized content repository, the chances of your sales rep finding the right content quickly are slim. This is where sales enablement comes in.

Companies can easily increase sales productivity by implementing sales enablement tools that include Content Management Systems (CMS) with granular search capabilities. In a recent study conducted by Highspot, 75 percent of respondents from companies using sales enablement tools reported that their company had increased sales over the past 12 months. Nearly 40 percent reported sales increased more than 25 percent.

It’s easy to put sales enablement on the backburner, but taking time to research the right tools for your team can make a huge impact on sales productivity and pipeline. Investing in sales enablement not only helps sellers identify the right content to improve customer conversations and increase sales readiness—it ultimately helps your organization create better content that resonates with consumers, closes more deals, and helps you generate more success.

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Will Instagram Be The Number One Platform From a Visual Content Perspective?

Will Instagram Be The Number One Platform From a Visual Content Perspective?

I have this curiosity to look for every top social network app on iOS and see where they categorize themselves in the App Store.

I’ve heard the idea that Facebook is not a social network but it’s a “media company”, but not the traditional media company, according to Mark Zuckerberg in an article from the Guardian.

Then on the opposite part, there is Snapchat (company name Snap.inc) that proclaim that is a camera company.  And let’s not forget about Pinterest that wants to be the world’s catalogue of ideas while Instagram is conquering the visual platform place.

But still, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ (exactly) and Pinterest are still in the Social Network category – while Instagram, YouTube, Musical.ly, and Snapchat are in the Photo and Video category. The one true social network that is different than the others is Twitter that found its place in the News category.

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How to Follow Instagram Hashtags for Business

Do you use hashtags on Instagram? Wondering how to see posts with specific hashtags in your regular Instagram feed and stories? In this article, you’ll discover how to use Instagram’s Follow Hashtag feature to monitor relevant topics and campaigns. #1: How to Follow Hashtags on Instagram To follow a specific hashtag on Instagram, you must

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The Biggest Mistake Digital Marketers Ever Made: Claiming to Measure Everything

Posted by willcritchlow

Digital marketing is measurable.

It’s probably the single most common claim everyone hears about digital, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen conference speakers talk about it (heck, I’ve even done it myself).

I mean, look at those offline dinosaurs, the argument goes. They all know that half their spend is wasted — they just don’t know which half.

Maybe the joke’s on us digital marketers though, who garnered only 41% of global ad spend even in 2017 after years of strong growth.

Unfortunately, while we were geeking out about attribution models and cross-device tracking, we were accidentally triggering a common human cognitive bias that kept us anchored on small amounts, leaving buckets of money on the table and fundamentally reducing our impact and access to the C-suite.

And what’s worse is that we have convinced ourselves that it’s a critical part of what makes digital marketing great. The simplest way to see this is to realize that, for most of us, I very much doubt that if you removed all our measurement ability we’d reduce our digital marketing investment to nothing.

In truth, of course, we’re nowhere close to measuring all the benefits of most of the things we do. We certainly track the last clicks, and we’re not bad at tracking any clicks on the path to conversion on the same device, but we generally suck at capturing:

  • Anything that happens on a different device
  • Brand awareness impacts that lead to much later improvements in conversion rate, average order value, or lifetime value
  • Benefits of visibility or impressions that aren’t clicked
  • Brand affinity generally

The cognitive bias that leads us astray

All of this means that the returns we report on tend to be just the most direct returns. This should be fine — it’s just a floor on the true value (“this activity has generated at least this much value for the brand”) — but the “anchoring” cognitive bias means that it messes with our minds and our clients’ minds. Anchoring is the process whereby we fixate on the first number we hear and subsequently estimate unknowns closer to the anchoring number than we should. Famous experiments have shown that even showing people a totally random number can drag their subsequent estimates up or down.

So even if the true value of our activity was 10x the measured value, we’d be stuck on estimating the true value as very close to the single concrete, exact number we heard along the way.

This tends to result in the measured value being seen as a ceiling on the true value. Other biases like the availability heuristic (which results in us overstating the likelihood of things that are easy to remember) tend to mean that we tend to want to factor in obvious ways that the direct value measurement could be overstating things, and leave to one side all the unmeasured extra value.

The mistake became a really big one because fortunately/unfortunately, the measured return in digital has often been enough to justify at least a reasonable level of the activity. If it hadn’t been (think the vanishingly small number of people who see a billboard and immediately buy a car within the next week when they weren’t otherwise going to do so) we’d have been forced to talk more about the other benefits. But we weren’t. So we lazily talked about the measured value, and about the measurability as a benefit and a differentiator.

The threats of relying on exact measurement

Not only do we leave a whole load of credit (read: cash) on the table, but it also leads to threats to measurability being seen as existential threats to digital marketing activity as a whole. We know that there are growing threats to measuring accurately, including regulatory, technological, and user-behavior shifts:

Now, imagine that the combination of these trends meant that you lost 100% of your analytics and data. Would it mean that your leads stopped? Would you immediately turn your website off? Stop marketing?

I suggest that the answer to all of that is “no.” There’s a ton of value to digital marketing beyond the ability to track specific interactions.

We’re obviously not going to see our measurable insights disappear to zero, but for all the reasons I outlined above, it’s worth thinking about all the ways that our activities add value, how that value manifests, and some ways of proving it exists even if you can’t measure it.

How should we talk about value?

There are two pieces to the brand value puzzle:

  1. Figuring out the value of increasing brand awareness or affinity
  2. Understanding how our digital activities are changing said awareness or affinity

There’s obviously a lot of research into brand valuations generally, and while it’s outside the scope of this piece to think about total brand value, it’s worth noting that some methodologies place as much as 75% of the enterprise value of even some large companies in the value of their brands:

Image source

My colleague Tom Capper has written about a variety of ways to measure changes in brand awareness, which attacks a good chunk of the second challenge. But challenge #1 remains: how do we figure out what it’s worth to carry out some marketing activity that changes brand awareness or affinity?

In a recent post, I discussed different ways of building marketing models and one of the methodologies I described might be useful for this – namely so-called “top-down” modelling which I defined as being about percentages and trends (as opposed to raw numbers and units of production).

The top-down approach

I’ve come up with two possible ways of modelling brand value in a transactional sense:

1. The Sherlock approach

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Sherlock Holmes

The outline would be to take the total new revenue acquired in a period. Subtract from this any elements that can be attributed to specific acquisition channels; whatever remains must be brand. If this is in any way stable or predictable over multiple periods, you can use it as a baseline value from which to apply the methodologies outlined above for measuring changes in brand awareness and affinity.

2. Aggressive attribution

If you run normal first-touch attribution reports, the limitations of measurement (clearing cookies, multiple devices etc) mean that you will show first-touch revenue that seems somewhat implausible (e.g. email; email surely can’t be a first-touch source — how did they get on your email list in the first place?):

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Snapchat Rolls Out New Analytics

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore Snapchat rolling out new analytics with Carlos Gil, Pinterest updates with Jeff Sieh, and more breaking social

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of February 12

Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of February 12

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcasts around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Six Pixels of Separation

Six Pixels of Separation # 605: Next Level Negotiation Skills With Chris Voss

Have you ever had to negotiate as if your life depended on it? I know—it’s certainly not what you were expecting from a podcast recommendation column. But Mitch Joel’s latest guest, Chris Voss, has done it. In a former life, he was the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI and representative the National Security Council’s Hostage Working Group as a hostage negotiator. Yeah. INTENSE. These days, Chris teaches negotiation at USC and Georgetown University and wrote “one of the best books [Mitch] has read in a long time.”

Takeaways: Chris wants us master “no,” not “yes.” This flies in the face of traditional negotiation tactics, but Chris says “yes” is a trap. When people say no in any situation, especially in a negotiation, it makes them feel safe.

“We have been so battered by people trying to get us to say yes to something,” Chris says, “that it’s a ground-ball to get them to say no.” Intentionally going for no makes any interaction go much smoother, even though it may not seem the best way forward.

Chris finishes his point with a story of how a recent political campaign lead by one of his Georgetown students used the “no” approach with great success. The campaign called Republican voters using both “yes” and “no” methods as a means of an A/B split test. The results? The calls conducted using the “no” script yielded a 23 percent greater donation rate compared to the “yes” script. I think it’s about time we begin to master our “no!”

CONEX: How to Create a Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy

In their true “first” episode of the new Conex (which stands for Content Experience) Show, hosts Randy Frisch and Anna Hrach interview the show’s co-producer, Jay Baer.

Those of you reading this likely know Jay from all the things he does here on his home site. But you may not know that he’s co-writing a new book focused on the underrated power of word of mouth (WOM) marketing.

Given the sheer competitive volume that now exists through social media and content marketing, we as marketers and business operators need to find more cost-effective avenues to getting in front of our customers. Fortunately, Jay lays out the path to leveraging WOM marketing in 2018 and beyond.

Takeaways: According to Engagement Labs, 19 percent of all US purchases are driven by word of mouth, with up to 40 percent of these purchases influenced by WOM. These numbers are even higher in the B2B space, given the heavy pull that a trusted perspective can have on a very important business decision.

In order to make WOM work for your business—to give them a story, as it were—you have to do something outside of the frame of their current expectations. Jay shares a very cool quote from his co-author, Daniel Lemin, which states, “Same is lame.” It’s catchy, and it’s true.

When you do something original, something that will make you known (shoutout to Mark Schaefer), you create something worth sharing. This compels your current customers to tell their friends, which marks the start of an excellent WOM campaign.

Jay mentions this early in the podcast, but I believe it connects perfectly to what he describes later in the show: “If your content isn’t an experience, what’s the point of doing the content?

He then goes on to pose his own question: Unless the content you’re creating for your audience is their “favorite”—favorite podcast, favorite YouTube channel, favorite newsletter, etc.—then why are you doing it at all?

Are your company’s story and content something worth experiencing?

Are your company’s story and content something worth experiencing?
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Marketing Smarts

Marketing Smarts: Personalizing Your B2B Marketing to Supercharge Lead Gen—Adobe’s Drew Burns

Host Kerry O’Shea Gorgone invites Drew Burns, the senior product marketing manager for Adobe Target, on the show to discuss the best ways to personalize website and business experiences for B2B companies. With Drew’s extensive background in content targeting and testing, he was the perfect selection for this terrific topic. In this episode, they dig into lead generation, personalization, and of course, how to optimize it all.

Takeaways: According to Drew, the B2B companies that will succeed are the companies that use personalization to their advantage. He is already seeing from his analysis that companies who are not implementing these personalized approaches are losing business. Customers are looking for something that speaks to them directly—and immediately. When they don’t find it, they move on.

Personalization can reduce the frustration a visitor experiences when they visit your site, especially that first time. By dynamically pulling in information from a generic Google search, your site may be able to guide the customer into an area more highly relevant to them than the homepage, creating a more effective experience.

Drew mentions that many of Adobe’s customers are seeing a massive, 25X return on their targeting and personalization investments. While it’s not always the sexiest work, it is damn effective and can yield remarkable returns when done correctly.

Does your site have the right personalization tools and strategies in place?

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter or in the comments below!

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How Marriott Built One of the Best Brand Newsrooms on Earth

How Marriott Built One of the Best Brand Newsrooms on Earth

Do you want to make a billion dollars? We’ll tell you how: Invent a drug that builds and sculpts every muscle in your body perfectly in one dose. One pill, and you’ll look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jillian Michaels.

If only it were that easy. The unfortunate reality of exercise is that even if you use steroids, you’re going to have to make working out a habit.

Storytelling is no different. Sure, you can change people’s minds with one story. You can reword a beggar’s sign and get people to give more money. But if you want to build a long-term relationship—as a business or in everyday life—you’re going to need to think of storytelling like going to the gym.

Every story you tell becomes a part of your overarching story, just like every workout at the gym helps build your physique over time. The best companies are adept at consistently telling their story in a variety of ways over time. The most intriguing people tell lots of stories. They answer questions with stories. They relate to people with stories instead of just saying, “Me too.”

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably convinced that you should be using stories more to build relationships. But it’s not always easy to convince an entire organization to start going to the gym, so to speak. Let’s explore a few specific ideas for how you can make the case for stories inside your company.

Want to build long-term relationships? Think of storytelling like going to the gym.
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Selling Storytelling Inside Your Organization

Ten years ago, it was possible for one person to make content work for an entire organization. That’s no longer the case. Today, you need real support internally. It won’t necessarily happen all at once, but it’s the first step you have to take. And while it’s not easy, it pays off.

Let’s look at how Marriott’s content marketing program got started. Nine years ago, Kathleen Matthews, the hotel giant’s executive vice president of communications, walked into Bill Marriott’s office with an idea. She’d spent 25 years as a reporter and news anchor for an ABC News affiliate in Washington, DC, and she knew the power of a good story, especially when it came from a compelling figure.

She wanted Marriott to have a blog. And she wanted Bill Marriott to write it.

“Why the heck would anyone want to read a blog from me?” Marriott, then 76 years old, responded.

Matthews quickly convinced Marriott he was the best person to tell the company’s story, even though he didn’t even use a computer. So they struck a compromise. Marriott would dictate a blog post once a week.

And so, Marriott’s digital storytelling journey began. It started with those simple blog posts, but over the next seven years, their efforts grew exponentially. Before long, they were operating a full-fledged global media company.

In the next three years, Marriott launched a popular digital travel magazine, Marriott Traveler, that covers cities from Seattle to Seoul. It has built content studios on five different continents. And it’s even won Emmys for its short films like Two Bellman and French Kiss.

Becoming a Media Company

When you walk into the ground floor of Marriott’s headquarters, it fittingly looks like the lobby of a modern hotel. There are chic white lounges and cozy pods. A friendly receptionist welcomes you. But then you notice something unexpected. In the middle of the lobby, there are nine flashing screens encased in glass walls, like a TV control room that’s been teleported from Hollywood to Bethesda, Maryland.

In a way, it has. Inside the control room—dubbed “M Live”—typically sit various media veterans tasked with seeing just how much a hotel brand could capitalize on the new opportunities digital media gave Marriott to tell their story.

“We are a media company now,” Emmy-winner David Beebe, then Marriott’s vice president of global creative, told us.

It’s a big statement, but one that Marriott’s content production backs up. Which raises the question: How did Marriott evolve from a single woman—Kathleen Matthews— storming into the CEO’s office and advocating for content to one of the most advanced content marketing operations in the world?

Well, after a few years, Bill Marriott’s blog took off. And before long, he was convinced that content was the answer to the challenges Marriott faced in telling the story of a company that spanned almost two dozen different hotel brands.

So in 2013, Marriott made a big bet and hired Karin Timpone away from the Walt Disney Company, where she had led the launch of successful digital products like WATCH ABC, so she could connect Marriott to the “next generation of travelers.” In June 2014, Beebe, who was also working for Disney, followed Timpone.

Beebe and Timpone got to work fast. By early 2015, Marriott had created a successful TV show, The Navigator Live; a hit short film, Two Bellmen; a personalized online travel magazine; and some exciting forays into virtual reality with Oculus Rift. These projects generated immediate returns, from high viewer engagement to millions of dollars in direct revenue and even content-licensing deals. They helped the company build stronger relationships with its customers.

“We’ve said it before—we have a very intimate relationship with our customers,” Beebe said. “They sleep with us, after all. It’s sort of a joke, but it’s true.”

After these initial wins, the company doubled down on storytelling even more and beefed up its in-house staff, bringing in folks from CBS, Variety, and other media powerhouses.

They also joined forces with a wide range of outside creators—(including Contently!)—from famed producers Ian Sander and Kim Moses to YouTube celebrity Taryn Southern, who stars in a web series called Do Not Disturb in which she interviews celebrities in their hotel rooms.

Beebe rejected the temptation to insert any overt Marriott branding. When he got the first cut back from Marriott’s wonderful short film, Two Bellmen, for instance, his first note was to take out most of the brand plugs.

“We don’t want to see any ‘Welcome to the JW Marriott, here’s your keycard,’ and then a close-up of the logo,” he said. “None of that.”

In other words, Marriott bet on having career storytellers lead their content marketing program—not career marketers.

The key to making this work, however, wasn’t by shutting marketing out. Instead, Marriott found success by breaking down silos and gathering marketers and content people around a common cause.

The key to that is M Live, its glass-encased content studio.

Launched in October 2015, the studio has nine screens showing everything from the social media campaigns of Marriott’s 19 brands to real-time booking information to Marriott’s editorial calendar. But what might be even more impressive—and instructive for other brands—are the eight swivel chairs. Each seat in the glass room represents a different department such as PR/Comms, Social Media, Buzz Marketing, Creative + Content, and even one for MEC, a media- buying agency that amplifies well-performing content at a moment’s notice.

Some marketers may dismiss this scene as a fad—a foolish brand playing media company. But in truth, it’s actually the sign of a great storytelling culture—one that embraces media as marketing.

At the time of this writing, although Marriott is very much building a media business—with plans to license short films and webisodes to places like Yahoo!, AOL, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon—M Live and the Marriott Content Studio are still very much a marketing initiative.

“We did not get this far by saying, ‘I want to build a media company,’” Beebe said. “First and foremost, [the goal] is to engage consumers. Get them to associate with our brands, build lifetime value with them. Content’s a great way to do that.”

A Culture of Storytelling

While M Live and the Marriott Content Studio are making great strides reaching people externally, they’re also having an impact on life inside the company. The content team has put in hard work evangelizing and explaining what they’re doing—part of the reason they built M Live smack in the middle of the lobby for all to see.

One executive, for instance, spent three months leading a project to create a guide that explains M Live and how anyone in the company can help if they have an idea or see a trending story. They’ve connected the M Live team to customer care to handle any complaints or problems, and each Marriott brand is getting deeply involved with the content creation process. “People are getting it,” Beebe said. “Now that we’ve done a lot, they’re starting to see the impact.”

Even Bill Marriott comes down to see what’s going on.

“He loves it, loves the idea of what we’re doing,” Beebe said. “He’ll just come sit down and chit-chat and pick up the phone. He’s actually gotten on Matthew’s computer and shown his wife stuff.”

It’s that support from Bill Marriott and CEO Arne Sorenson that’s pushed the ambitious content operation forward so it can keep transforming the company.

“That’s really what our goal is,” Beebe said. “To take all the brand marketers, all the brand leaders and teams, and turn them into great storytellers.”

Not every company needs to build a sophisticated content studio like Marriott to build a great culture of storytelling, but if they want to succeed as storytellers in the future, they do need to embrace what that studio represents—the destruction of silos and the shared goal of using stories to build relationships and make people care.

Which is, of course, is what marketing is all about.

The Storytelling EdgeThis is an excerpt from the Amazon #1 New Release, The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You” by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow, available today.

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Webinars: How to Market and Sell Using Webinars

Looking for a proven way to sell courses and consulting? Interested in boosting webinar attendance and conversions? To learn about selling products and services via webinars, I interview Amy Porterfield. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers,

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

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Using the Cross Domain Rel=Canonical to Maximize the SEO Value of Cross-Posted Content – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Same content, different domains? There’s a tag for that. Using rel=canonical to tell Google that similar or identical content exists on multiple domains has a number of clever applications. You can cross-post content across several domains that you own, you can benefit from others republishing your own content, rent or purchase content on other sites, and safely use third-party distribution networks like Medium to spread the word. Rand covers all the canonical bases in this not-to-be-missed edition of Whiteboard Friday.

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Using the Cross Domain Rel=Canonical to Maximize the SEO Value of X-Posted Content

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about the cross-domain rel=canonical tag. So we’ve talked about rel=canonical a little bit and how it can be used to take care of duplicate content issues, point Google to the right pages from potentially other pages that share similar or exactly the same content. But cross-domain rel=canonical is a unique and uniquely powerful tool that is designed to basically say, “You know what, Google? There is the same content on multiple different domains.”

So in this simplistic example, MyFriendSite.com/green-turtles contains this content that I said, “Sure, it’s totally fine for you, my friend, to republish, but I know I don’t want SEO issues. I know I don’t want duplicate content. I know I don’t want a problem where my friend’s site ends up outranking me, because maybe they have better links or other ranking signals, and I know that I would like any ranking credit, any link or authority signals that they accrue to actually come to my website.

There’s a way that you can do this. Google introduced it back in 2009. It is the cross-domain rel=canonical. So essentially, in the header tag of the page, I can add this link, rel=canonical href — it’s a link tag, so there’s an href — to the place where I want the link or the canonical, in this case, to point to and then close the tag. Google will transfer over, this is an estimate, but roughly in the SEO world, we think it’s pretty similar to what you get in a 301 redirect. So something above 90% of the link authority and ranking signals will transfer from FriendSite.com to MySite.com.

So my green turtles page is going to be the one that Google will be more likely to rank. As this one accrues any links or other ranking signals, that authority, those links should transfer over to my page. That’s an ideal situation for a bunch of different things. I’ll talk about those in a sec.

Multiple domains and pages can point to any URL

Multiple domains and pages are totally cool to point to any URL. I can do this for FriendSite.com. I can also do this for TurtleDudes.com and LeatherbackFriends.net and SeaTees.com and NatureIsLit.com. All of them can contain this cross-domain rel=canonical pointing back to the site or the page that I want it to go to. This is a great way to potentially license content out there, give people republishing permissions without losing any of the SEO value.

A few things need to match:

I. The page content really does need to match

That includes things like text, images, if you’ve embedded videos, whatever you’ve got on there.

II. The headline

Ideally, should match. It’s a little less crucial than the page content, but probably you want that headline to match.

III. Links (in content)

Those should also match. This is a good way to make sure. You check one, two, three. This is a good way to make sure that Google will count that rel=canonical correctly.

Things that don’t need to match:

I. The URL

No, it’s fine if the URLs are different. In this case, I’ve got NatureIsLit.com/turtles/p?id=679. That’s okay. It doesn’t need to be green-turtles. I can have a different URL structure on my site than they’ve got on theirs. Google is just fine with that.

II. The title of the piece

Many times the cross-domain rel=canonical is used with different page titles. So if, for example, CTs.com wants to publish the piece with a different title, that’s okay. I still generally recommend that the headlines stay the same, but okay to have different titles.

III. The navigation

IV. Site branding

So all the things around the content. If I’ve got my page here and I have like nav elements over here, nav elements down here, maybe a footer down here, a nice little logo up in the top left, that’s fine if those are totally different from the ones that are on these other pages cross-domain canonically. That stuff does not need to match. We’re really talking about the content inside the page that Google looks for.

Ways to use this protocol

Some great ways to use the cross-domain rel=canonical.

1. If you run multiple domains and want to cross-post content, choose which one should get the SEO benefits and rankings.

If you run multiple domains, for whatever reason, let’s say you’ve got a set of domains and you would like the benefit of being able to publish a single piece of content, for whatever reason, across multiples of these domains that you own, but you know you don’t want to deal with a duplicate content issue and you know you’d prefer for one of these domains to be the one receiving the ranking signals, cross-domain rel=canonical is your friend. You can tell Google that Site A and Site C should not get credit for this content, but Site B should get all the credit.

The issue here is don’t try and do this across multiple domains. So don’t say, “Oh, Site A, why don’t you rel=canonical to B, and Site C, why don’t you rel=canonical to D, and I’ll try and get two things ranked in the top.” Don’t do that. Make sure all of them point to one. That is the best way to make sure that Google respects the cross-domain rel=canonical properly.

2. If a publication wants to re-post your content on their domain, ask for it instead of (or in addition to) a link back.

Second, let’s say a publication reaches out to you. They’re like, “Wow. Hey, we really like this piece.” My wife, Geraldine, wrote a piece about Mario Batali’s sexual harassment apology letter and the cinnamon rolls recipe that he strangely included in this apology. She baked those and then wrote about it. It went quite viral, got a lot of shares from a ton of powerful and well-networked people and then a bunch of publications. The Guardian reached out. An Australian newspaper reached out, and they said, “Hey, we would like to republish your piece.” Geraldine talked to her agent, and they set up a price or whatever.

One of the ways that you can do this and benefit from it, not just from getting a link from The Guardian or some other newspaper, but is to say, “Hey, I will be happy to be included here. You don’t even have to give me, necessarily, if you don’t want to, author credit or link credit, but I do want that sweet, sweet rel=canonical.” This is a great way to maximize the SEO benefit of being posted on someone else’s site, because you’re not just receiving a single link. You’re receiving credit from all the links that that piece might generate.

Oops, I did that backwards. You want it to come from their site to your site. This is how you know Whiteboard Friday is done in one take.

3. Purchase/rent content from other sites without forcing them to remove the content from their domain.

Next, let’s say I am in the opposite situation. I’m the publisher. I see a piece of content that I love and I want to get that piece. So I might say, “Wow, that piece of content is terrific. It didn’t do as well as I thought it would do. I bet if we put it on our site and broadcast it with our audience, it would do incredibly well. Let’s reach out to the author of the piece and see if we can purchase or rent for a time period, say two years, for the next two years we want to put the cross-domain rel=canonical on your site and point it back to us and we want to host that content. After two years, you can have it back. You can own it again.”

Without forcing them to remove the content from their site, so saying you, publisher, you author can keep it on your site. We don’t mind. We’d just like this tag applied, and we’d like to able to have republishing permissions on our website. Now you can get the SEO benefits of that piece of content, and they can, in exchange, get some money. So your site sending them some dollars, their site sending you the rel=canonical and the ranking authority and the link equity and all those beautiful things.

4. Use Medium as a content distribution network without the drawback of duplicate content.

Number four, Medium. Medium is a great place to publish content. It has a wide network, people who really care about consuming content. Medium is a great distribution network with one challenge. If you post on Medium, people worry that they can’t post the same thing on their own site because you’ll be competing with Medium.com. It’s a very powerful domain. It tends to rank really well. So duplicate content is an issue, and potentially losing the rankings and the traffic that you would get from search and losing that to Medium is no fun.

But Medium has a beautiful thing. The cross-domain rel=canonical is built in to their import tool. So if you go to Medium.com/p/import and you are logged in to your Medium account, you can enter in their URL field the content that you’ve published on your own site. Medium will republish it on your account, and they will include the cross-domain rel=canonical back to you. Now, you can start thinking of Medium as essentially a distribution network without the penalties or problems of duplicate content issues. Really, really awesome tool. Really awesome that Medium is offering this. I hope it sticks around.

All right, everyone. I think you’re going to have some excellent additional ideas for the cross-domain rel=canonical and how you have used it. We would love you to share those in the comments below, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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