Think of all those great novels that turn into awful movies. Or, that amazing presentation you put together for the CEO who butchered it.
I recently watched a CEO on stage throw his staff under the bus because he didn’t understand the presentation. He started skipping slides and making stuff up. I felt all the feels for the poor team that put in so much work – only to watch it get botched.
A story’s success relies as much on the storyteller as it does on the elements of the story. Sometimes, even more.
For example, I just finished the first season of House of the Dragon. No spoilers ahead, I promise. But here’s the interesting thing: The audience already knows the ending.
House of the Dragon is based on George R.R. Martin’s book Fire and Blood, a companion to A Song of Ice and Fire, also known as the novels that formed the basis of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Chronologically, Fire and Blood is set some 100 years before the story Game of Thrones. So, Game of Thrones fans have a pretty good idea of how House of the Dragon ends even if they didn’t read the book.
That knowledge puts added pressure on the storyteller, who must find a way to keep the audience interested along the way to that inevitable ending.
In sales-enablement content, the audience almost always knows the ending. Every time a sales rep calls, emails, or relays some valuable piece of content, the audience assumes they know how that story is going to end:
When the content covers an industry challenge, the audience assumes the ending will involve a recommendation that benefits the salesperson’s company.
With content about a new solution, the audience assumes the content will end with an explanation of why the solution is right for them.
With customer case studies, the audience assumes the story will end with how well everything turned out for the featured customer.
And they’re right. That’s how all those content pieces will end.
How story-storyteller misalignment unites (and divides) sales and marketing
In the latest B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research, marketers say their top two challenges are “creating content that appeals to different stages of the buyer’s journey” and “aligning content efforts across sales and marketing.”
I can tell you from my experience with clients that sales teams share those top two challenges. But their frustration isn’t that the content or alignment doesn’t exist. They can’t find the content or figure out how to deliver it to the customer in a helpful way.
On the other hand, marketing professionals think the challenge lies in getting the sales team to use the most current and relevant assets.
Both teams struggle to align the story with the storyteller.
To solve the alignment challenge, content marketing teams must help sales teams become more knowledgeable about and proficient at delivering the most relevant, up-to-date content. Sales teams must agree to participate in training and to use available mechanisms to help them deliver content.
To put it simply: Great content marketing teams create both thought leadership and enablement content that helps sales teams become thought leaders themselves.
Is this training content? Yes.
Is this metadata? Yes.
Are these scripts? Yes.
But more than any of these content types, high-performing organizations need an ongoing process powered by collaborative technology to transform salespeople into powerful storytellers who can deliver a compelling narrative.
The process required involves creating and activating content about the content. It is a functional effort to create thought leadership or marketing materials and portfolios of insight (e.g., a talk track, scripts, deeper meaning behind the numbers, or even instructions on how to talk about the pieces) that enable more intelligent (and compelling) distribution of ideas.
Many people think of sales enablement content as high-quality content that helps the sales process. So, marketing teams create high-quality, impactful content and make it available to sales teams to distribute when customers or prospects ask for it.
Is it any wonder that modern buyers feel frustrated with sales teams? If a buyer’s conversation features a sales rep offering up a menu of content or asking, “Can I send you some more information?” the conversation is unlikely to end as well as it could. But if the dialogue between the sales rep and the potential customer is consultative, insightful, and helps the customer move their process to purchase along, then successful outcomes are much more likely.
A better form of sales enablement involves teaching salespeople to become high-quality storytellers.
You can begin to do this using three core approaches:
This might be an ongoing lunch-and-learn series with sales teams or an on-demand set of “classes” on the insightful messaging at each step. Put simply: Get your team and the sales team sharp about the value you need to deliver at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Change the nature of the content to enable the customer at each relevant stage. Create a natural exploration journey that goes deeper at each step. In other words, create a progression from “why you should change” to “how you change” and ultimately to “let us help you change.”
Create ongoing educational assets for every significant piece of content that feeds the sales-enablement process. For example, make sure your content development includes not only a white paper or ebook but also a sales primer on how that ebook (or the major takeaways) should be presented. This step helps the sales team improve their ability to tell the stories you create.
Ultimately, these approaches can become ingrained into the marketing and sales process. And they can provide a feedback loop, too.
As sales teams tell compelling stories, they transform from a simple distribution channel to an insightful listening post. They can feed what they hear in these conversations back to the marketing team so it can develop better content.
When salespeople learn to tell better storytellers, customers may be surprised and delighted even when they know how the story will end. A compelling story well told will show them how their futures can be much better for taking part in it.
These are the engines you want to give extra consideration if you intend to expand internationally. They all have their own unique search algorithms that are in many ways as complex and developed as Google’s.
Why they matter and how to rank on them
If you’re like me a few years ago, a die-hard Apple fan remarkably repulsed by Microsoft’s products (I’ve now converted to the seamless team of PC), you might think prioritizing resources to optimize content for Bing or other engines is a waste of time. What I failed to consider then, and what you might be overlooking, is geographic segmentation.
Do you want to reach the American audience using voice search? Consider Bing.
Are you expanding into China? Check out Baidu.
Each search engine matters because of its unique user types. Regardless of how small that market share might look on a global scale, if there’s regional search volume from your target audience, it’s worth the optimization.
Bing Search, in combination with Yahoo, is without a doubt the strongest player after Google. Together, they have more than 10% of the global market share for desktop.
Now, some say that Bing’s market share will increase due to mergers and acquisitions, while others argue for its decline due to the death of Internet Explorer.
Still, all Microsoft browsers, such as Microsoft Edge Legacy and Chromium-based Microsoft Edge, have Bing as the default search engine, making Bing Search the natural choice for Microsoft product users. Yahoo, which is powered by Bing Search, is the default search engine for Mozilla’s browser Firefox, adding billions of impressions to Bing’s search results each year.
Although the algorithms differ, optimizing for Bing search results is not much different than optimizing for Google. With a bit of fine tuning, it’s more than possible to come up with a strategy that allows for high rankings on both.
To rank on Bing, and thus Yahoo, make sure to do the following:
1. List your business on Bing Places
Bing Places is the equivalent of Google My Business and is the fastest way to get your business ranking for local seo. Many even consider Bing Places to favor small business owners as Bing puts their information more prominently on display.
2. Upload an XML Sitemap using Bing’s Webmaster Tools
While the debate on how much sitemaps really do matter for Google SEO continues, uploading one with Bing’s Webmaster Tool for XML Sitemaps allows the algorithm to better categorize and manage your content, making it more visible and relevant to the search audience.
3. Match keywords in your content
Check that the exact keyword match can be found in your page titles, meta descriptions and overall content. It’s known that the impact of on-page tactics as a ranking factor is much greater in Bing than Google.
4. Keep your social media profiles up to date
Go social! Bing considers your social media presence more than any other search engine. The Webmaster Guidelines specifically states that Bing considers social signals from third-party platforms to rank your content. Bing might even extract certain information directly from your Facebook company page to your Bing Places display.
5. Use high-quality images to enhance your content
Bing’s image search is much more advanced than Google’s. If you want your landing page to rank, add high-quality design assets to showcase your offerings. If you want your blog to rank, attach too-long-to-read infographics to highlight your points. Like the one above.
While it looks a lot like Google, its algorithm is different in many ways. Most prominent is the way Yandex indexes pages. Unlike Google’s almost continuous indexation, Yandex indexes pages sporadically. That means that you might have to wait around for a while before your site shows up on Yandex.
Despite this, it is still possible to rank on Yandex. You just need to have a bit more patience.
While waiting for your site to be indexed, take a look at the following:
1. Focus on tags over internal site structure
According to The Ultimate Guide to Yandex SEO, your header tag, title tag and slug are way more important than your internal site structure. In fact, it was only recently that Yandex started to support hreflang tags. Before that, Yandex only allowed the <head> hreflang implementation.
2. Consider search intent to rank
Some argue that Yandex meets search intent better than Google. The modern ICS score, which replaced the Thematic Index Citation, is determined by how relevant a site is to the query. Yandex uses its own version of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) test to determine relevance.
3. Eliminate toxic links
Many do not know this, but Yandex was actually the first search engine to roll out a link-based algorithm. Already in 2005, 7 years before Google’s Penguin algorithm, Yandex introduced the Nepot filter, which specifically looked at the impact of toxic link exchanges and spam links.
While the site is available worldwide, the site predominantly favors simplified Chinese. So before taking any other steps, hire a native speaker to help you along the way. To win at global, you have to ditch translations.
Here’s a few steps to get your content ranking.
1. Localize your keywords and content appropriately
As with all multilingual SEO, you need to work with a native language expert to ensure proper keyword localization and content optimization. If your site experiences high bounce rates, Baidu will tank your rankings immediately. As with any search experience, localization matters.
2. Position relevant content and keywords to the top of the page
Baidu favors a completely opposite layout than the Westernized one. The sooner you get to the point the better. Therefore, it is important to position your keywords as early as possible in the text and introduce all relevant content already in the top of the page to rank.
3. Obtain a verification level and get certified
By registering and paying a small fee you can obtain a verification level to improve your domain authority and rankings on Baidu. If you want to secure top ratings, you can get certified and obtain an ICP license, which is much more difficult than getting verified.
Top alternative search engines by data privacy
While most of the search engines mentioned above are tied to big corporations or political forces, global initiatives are setting the stage for more privacy-focused search engines. Among these is DuckDuckGo, the forefront runner with over 130 billion searches processed since launch.
Why they matter and how to rank on them
In many ways, the movement is a response to Google’s invasiveness on privacy. Many are fed up with how they are capitalizing on personal data and controlling the narrative with targeted search.
Consequently, this attracts tech-savvy experts with a lower bounce rate. Once they commit to a search, they stay.
Here’s how to optimize for it:
1. Sharpen Your User Experience
UX continues to make an impact on SEO, not to mention for DuckDuckGo. Make your content easily scannable and stay away from intrusive pop ups that harm your users’ experience and ease of navigation.
2. Focus on High-Quality Backlinks
As with any SEO, high-quality backlinks play a huge role for ranking. If you already have a solid backlink profile from your Google strategy, you should be good to go. If your backlink profile has a high level of toxicity, do some cleansing.
3. Rethink Local SEO
Since there’s no location tracking available for searches, location-specific searches such as “services near me” don’t work. If you like to rank for these types of searches, include a specific location in your keyword strategy. Otherwise, you won’t be able to optimize for local seo.
Startpage could be my personal favorite among the alternative search engines. It basically is Google without the tracking.
And while many consider DuckDuckGo to be the forefront runner of the privacy-focused search movement, many forget how Startpage ‘blazed the trail in 2006’. Offering a search experience without IP recording or tracking back when it was more or less unheard of. Now, it is the common denominator among all privacy-safe search engines.
So, how do you rank in Startpage? Simple. You rank in Google.
There are many more privacy-safe alternatives to search engines than the two mentioned above. Perhaps one without equal is SwissCows – a search engine that prides itself on being the only family-friendly, privacy-safe semantic search engine available on the web.
This means that any intrusive search results, like adult entertainment or offensive content, is naturally censored from the search results. At the same time, they never store any data nor track user specific information.
SwissCows SERPs bring up organic results and paid ads directly from Bing so in order to rank in SwissCows, you need to rank in Bing. Just make sure to omit any content that’s not PG-13.
What do they all have in common?
In the end, none of these alternative search engines can replace Google. As an SEO, I’ll never advise starting out with anything other than a Google strategy.
But when you are ready to branch out and extend your reach, give these alternatives a try. Analyze where your target audience hangs out and optimize thereafter.
Many of the privacy-focused search engines require little optimization as they pull their search results directly from other sources anyways. Simply do a quick check to see how you rank on each one.
And who knows, perhaps Microsoft will continue to steal more of the global search landscape. If that happens, you’ll be there — ranking in first position, ready to reap the rewards of your diversified efforts in an ever-changing search landscape.
For your team, screen recorders can be used for several reasons — from creating tutorials for your website to recording a recurring tech issue to sending your marketing team a quick note instead of an email.
Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, businesses worldwide face lots of uncertainty.
One thing will remain constant throughout this period — customers expect excellent experiences when interacting with a brand. According to Acquia’s latest CX Report, businesses plan to prioritize customer retention over the next 12 months: 56% plan to improve customer experience, and 58% will focus more on customer service.
This should be a common goal. To weather a potential storm, businesses must keep customers by meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for CNBC.com and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.