Back to SEO Basics: Owned, Earned & Paid

As we strike out on a new year of business with all the possibilities, it’s time to check our foundation. It’s a good time to ask before we execute a master marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, do we have the basics down?

In this blog, we take you through the key things to consider in your sales, marketing, and SEO strategy. We are getting back to the basics of B2B marketing and how SEO factors into it. We’ll take a look at the three main channels of media: owned, earned, and paid and how to integrate all three into your SEO and marketing strategy.

Three Types of Media: Owned, Earned & Paid

While there is always an influx of new terms in digital marketing (like programmatic advertising, marketing automation, influencer marketing, etc.), it’s best to start with the three major channels of digital marketing and SEO.

Although Forrester presented the marketing mix of media types back in 2009 and Search Engine Watch had a great article on Integrating Owned, Earned & Paid for Better SEO in 2013, the mix of three types of media is still very relevant when looking at the fundamentals of your marketing and SEO plan today.

You Own It: Owned

Owned media is the digital media you have control over and can direct the messaging and branding on that channel. Owned media includes things like your website, your mobile website, your Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Google+ company pages. You can log in to all these media channels to update things like your logo, descriptions, images, etc.

These channels can also be optimized according to your SEO strategy, should be integrated into your marketing strategy and must be consistent with your branding.

Something Borrowed: Earned

Earned media is typically the result of outbound efforts and outreach. This type of media includes things like word of mouth (think Yelp), referrals, testimonials (Google+ and Facebook reviews), and shares/mentions/reposts. Content that is earned is not always positive and can harm your company if not handled properly. Great customer service and sharing excellent content on social media can earn your company excellent exposure; however, poor customer service and sub-par content shared on social media will earn your company negative attention.

A major mistake a company can make with their B2B marketing and SEO plan is to ignore or undervalue earned media. Earned media can be one of the most credible and far-reaching types of media in terms of digital marketing. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away; it exists without your support or interaction.

For example, did you know that a disgruntled or happy customer can create a profile for your company on Yelp without your permission? Your firm’s reputation is often communicated through earned media, so it’s important to pay attention and allocate resources to managing earned media.

It’s Gonna Cost You: Paid

The paid media channel is often the most straightforward of the three categories. Paid media includes Google AdWords, Bing ads, retargeting ads, banner ads, sponsorships, all paid directory listings, and advertising. This is the “pay-to-play” arena, where all listings and ads (even in search engine results) will cost money.

What Media Channels Should You Include in Your Strategy?

All of three types should be included in your B2B marketing and SEO strategy. It’s a simple answer, but it’s true. In order for one of these to provide great results, they must all be utilized effectively.

Your 3-Tiered B2B Marketing & SEO Strategy

If you are just getting started with your marketing and SEO strategy, you can take a three-tiered approach.

  1. Start with what you own, can easily control, and can optimize. Create a professional, high-quality B2B website and blog platform. Set up your company profiles on the relevant social media platforms (don’t try all of them, focus on the 3-4 you can easily manage).
  2. Next, share helpful information on social media and take control of all the review platforms available. Claim your Google listing so you are notified when a client leaves a review and do the same with Yelp and Glassdoor. Implement a social listening tool and set up an alert to tell you when people are mentioning your company online.
  3. Once you have established your owned media and are paying attention/trying to get earned media, create a paid advertising budget. Determine if there are any paid directories that are relevant to your industry that you must be listed in. Create a Google AdWords and Bing Ads accounts, set budgets, and start running search and display ads.

There you have it: the basics of marketing and SEO essential to creating an effective digital marketing strategy. This is a high-level view of the nitty gritty involved in creating, running, and evaluating a successful B2B marketing strategy, but it should help get you started. Check out our other blogs on creating SEO and content marketing strategies today.


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