Reinclusion Afterlife


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The story of iAcquire's fall and rise through content strategy and reputation management.

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Reinclusion Afterlife

  1. 1. REINCLUSIONAFTERLIFEHow achampion wasreborn throughcontent strategymichael KingDirector of inbound marketing @ipullrank @iacquire
  2. 2. @iacquire
  3. 3. SHOUTOUT TO@RHEA DRYSDALEMy online reputationmanagement coachRhea is an awesome friend and she letme borrow her brain and experiencewhen I was trying to figure out the mosteffective tactics for ORM. @iPullRank
  6. 6. IN THIS CORNER: @iPullRank
  7. 7. I LOVE A challengeCHALLENGE ACCEPTEDI maybe love a challenge too much because I often put myself inplaces where the challenge is insurmountable like my previousposition at Publicis Modem.
  8. 8. WE NEED HELP WITH A little BIT OF CLEANUPIacquire was among a numberof companies that aggressivelycourted me
  9. 9. BUT IACQUIREWANTED MYVISIONA lot of companies wanted my “talents”but iacquire wanted my LEADERSHIP visionAfter interviewing at a ton of places iAcquire soundedlike it’d be the place that offered me the most latitudeto truly take an agency forward, innovate and dogreat work. @iPullRank
  10. 10. This isn’t an excuse, it’s just me explainingthat I didn’t understand the magnitude of thepaid link building until I did the quantifyingoutreach study which was literally daysbefore my official start date.
  11. 11. I was already scheduled to be in Australia,Arizona, Indiana and Montreal during myfirst 2 months at iAcquire so my goal wasto bring on more white hat clientele so wecould quickly transition out of paid links.
  12. 12. On may 21st, 2012 An Aprilfools joke came to lifebefore our very eyesI officially started at iAcquire on April 3rd after Ireturned from LinkLove London, but before I gotthere Joe, Robb and I played this joke on Jay andTR. Matt Cutts and Mike King = BFFS 4 EVER @iPullRank
  13. 13. IN Iacquire’s corner @iPullRankJoe Griffin Jay swansson John-paul barnychCo-founder Co-founder Vice President of RevenueTom rusling Cindy nieves Jeffrey nappiGeneral Manager Director of Operations Director of Technology @iPullRank
  14. 14. Our OLDProcessWe used to use money at thispoint as a motivator to get links.Protocol was not to talk aboutmoney unless the webmasterasks for it. @iPullRank
  15. 15. IN KANSAS
  16. 16. REJOICEDA lot of people came out of the woodwork todance on the grave of iAcquire including peoplewho are to this day actively selling linksthemselves @iPullRank
  17. 17. GOOGLE
  18. 18. The Actual Fortune Cookie JoeGriffin Got the day of thedeindexation
  19. 19. Internally: I lost my shitI wanted to respond right away with a very transparent explanation ofwhat happened. In fact I wrote it 3 times. The rest of the leadershipteam felt differently.
  20. 20. Externally:I was fairly nonchalantEarly on, it was pretty easy to not to lose it externally because I still had hope we would hash out a solid transparent response. @iPullRank
  21. 21. 8 DAYSMy voice was missing from that conversation because I hated it, butas a team player I lived with it
  22. 22. WE CHANGED OURBUSINESS MODELOVERNIGHTWe locked ourselves in a conference room for a fewdays and voila just like that Content Marketingbecame all that we did. There was no more link buyingat all.
  23. 23. An invite to speak at a SEMPO eventwas rescindedAn invite to write for SearchEngineLand nevermaterialized
  24. 24. Hooray!
  25. 25. There’s a lot more where this came from.On behalf of the people on my teamthat work hard everyday
  26. 26. iAcquire was never like these companies that are forever branded as a B charlatans. I personally don’t know what happened to these guys, but I do know…Aren’t we supposed to staydown now?
  27. 27. AccoladesWASDEINDEXEDCIRCA 2002*iCrossing went through a series of rebrandingsand ultimately has been regarded as one of thebest digital agencies by a variety publicationssuch as advertising age, forrester wave, ommaand ad week. There is life after deindexation. *According to Joe Griffin @iPullRank
  28. 28. This is when I realizedreputation management isJUST not about the serp @iPullRank
  29. 29. How we trained to get back on top
  30. 30. EVER
  31. 31. It was an unfortunate byproductof the processMany people on our outreach team were not prepared tomake the leap with us so we had to let them go.We did keep the team member who contacted the Kansasblogger, but ultimately the loyalty was not reciprocated.
  32. 32. we stopped buildinglinks with moneyWe said it was over. It was over. @iPullRank
  33. 33. C ReativityWE R EsponsibilityDEFINED OURPRINCIPLES A Cumen F OrtitudeiAcquire had already mastered the WHAT andthe HOW, but we needed the WHY. We’dalready had CRAFT, I repurposed it and used itto define what our brand stands for. T ransparency @iPullRank
  34. 34. We took the money from linkbuying and invested it in hiringcreativesWe hired writers, graphic designers, an animator and project managers to improveour processes through verticalization. @iPullRank
  35. 35. We invested in teachingour people aboutcontent strategyWe needed our people to feel confident inservicing and selling the new approach so we hadworkshops and book clubs around ContentStrategy. @iPullRank
  36. 36. WE MOVED Transition PlanCLIENTS FROMPAID LINKS TOCONTENT-BASED LINKSBeing that iAcquire is a business we couldn’tjust pull the plug on all of our links overnight, sowe set up transition plans for all clients and (DRAMATIZATION)gradually replaced the Paid links with content-based links. Naturally, there were those whochose to cancel rather than transition. @iPullRank
  37. 37. It was incredibly important that we reconnect with our client baseto encourage them to remain confident in our abilities to transition from paid links to free content-based links.
  38. 38. We investedTom harari Brittan Bright in strongSeo manager DIR. Of client strategy new talent These people have helped us transition from being a link vendor to a full SEO AgencyMegan Brown Norris RowleySocial media Strategist MGR. Market Research @iPullRank
  39. 39. SOME THINGSDIDN’T NEEDTO CHANGEWe were always transparent. These arescreenshots from the client-facing reporting ofiRank that is available 24/7 on-demand. @iPullRank
  40. 40. What exactly happened for us to get back in?
  41. 41. I met MATT CUTTS AT SMX ADVANCEDAND WE GOT REINDEXEDSorry, but this is another example of Correlation !=Causation. It didn’t make any difference, but we had apretty direct conversation about the iAcquire situation atSMX Advanced in front of a bunch of people. Matt said Matt Cutts + Mike King =he felt sorry for me because he knew I had nothing todo with it. BFFS 4 EVER
  42. 42. WE CHANGEDTHROUGH ANDTHROUGHInitially there was a disconnect betweenwhat was being communicated to clientsand what was being said publicly. Googlehad a problem with this so we alignedcommunication across the board. @iPullRank
  43. 43. WE REMOVED THIS POST Tom Rusling (with some editing help from me) wrote a post about how the Google Webmaster Tools messages weren’t something you needed to worry about and it was mentioned as a specific point of contention multiple times so we removed it.
  44. 44. WEWROTETHIS POSTAs a part of our earnest effort to show that we were committedto no longer offering paid links, joe griffin wrote a post about thesecond wave of the google webmaster tools unnatural linkmessages in support of google.@iPullRank
  45. 45. WE KEPT TRYINGTO OPEN THEDIALOG WITHGOOGLETHROUGHOUTTHE PROCESS.We showed public commitment to change and keptreaching out to Google in hopes that they would takenotice and ultimately on July 23rd, 2012 our pagesstarted to trickle back into the index.
  46. 46. What was the content strategy behind it all?
  47. 47. fixing the social contractrequires a focus on the whyThe golden circle is what separates winning brandsfrom losing brands. Shoutout to @joannalord, andIan Lurie who talked about this yesterday. @iPullRank
  48. 48. Chrysler turned it around by focusingon the whyDuring the Superbowl Chrysler launched a highly-effective commercial with Eminem, focusing on the whyof their brand and the city of Detroit. @iPullRank
  49. 49. I PERSONIFYOUR SOCIALCONTRACTTransparency. Innovation. Brand humanization.Brand positioning. New offering launch.For iAcquire I am a walking reputation managementcontent strategy, simply because I am transparent,innovative, authentic and I lead the expansion of ourofferings. Anything I do that is positive galvanizesiAcquire in that direction. @iPullRank
  50. 50. Introducing The “roadto reinclusion” contentstrategyI developed a content strategy called “The RoadTo Reinclusion” wherein the core strategy was: “We will offer a transparent look at our transitionto a content marketing agency that is in fullcompliance with Google’s Webmaster guidelineswith a focus on regaining the trust of thecommunity, clients and Google.” #R2R @iPullRank
  51. 51. ROAD TO REINCLUSION PERSONASCLIENT CARLA Grouchy Googler Supporter Sam Hater HarryMAIN FOCUS Secondary Focus Tertiary FoCus Not a FOCUS
  52. 52. TRANSPARENCY.Share what you are doing exhaustively, people will respect yourefforts. and more far more prone to believe that you and your brandhas changed.@iPullRank
  53. 53. INNOVATION.We continue to invest in free marketing toolssuch Broken Link Index and Authora with plansto rebuild LinkDiagnosis from scratch.COST: Authora / BLI- $10K @iPullRank
  54. 54. BRANDHUMANIZATIONGetting our people involved in content effortsallows us to introduce our audience to thepeople behind the brand and understand theiAcquire culture.COST: Canon 7D and accessories: $3000 @iPullRank
  55. 55. Show off the creativetalents of the teamMy MozCon talk wasn’t just about me showingoff my talents as an emcee, it was also aboutshowing off iAcquire’s Creative team. KyleBastian did the kinetic typography video in a fewdays and Robb Dorr designed the deck (andthis one). Cost: 20 hours of internal Creative @iPullRank
  56. 56. THE CRAFTAWARDSWe wanted to celebrate the seo communitywith a content marketing awards ceremonyWe planned and spec’d out a CRAFT ContentMarketing Awards ceremony and party for SMX East2012 which would have featured celebrity host, DJ andmusical act as well as the distribution of awards for thebest content developed by agencies. @iPullRank
  57. 57. Knowem.comOnly 67 out of 300 profiles were indexed even after using a Bulkping tool. None of the profiles ever ranked for [iAcquire]. Linksfrom these sites support @iPullRank
  58. 58. IACQUIRETWEETS.COMWe have nearly 100 people at iAcquire andmost of them use Twitter, so it was pretty easyto make a microsite that just aggregates all thetweets with the #IACQ hash tag.COST: 10 hours of coding/design + $100domain/hosting. @iPullRank
  59. 59. SHAKESHACKCAMERA.COMWe launched a camera for the Shake Shack fast foodrestaurant across the street from our office and placedpost-it art in my windows with a CTA for tweeting while youwait in line.4 days later Shake Shack called us and asked us totake it down. COST: $500 + 20 hours of Creative @iPullRank
  60. 60. HELPINGPEOPLE ISFREE.What scales the best is helping people out anddelivering something of value on a regular basisas we do with Cliff Notes Tuesday, Live SiteAudits and Lunch Break. @iPullRank
  61. 61. DOUBLE-SERVED PAIDSEARCH ADS.I was initially against doing these because it’sobvious that they are for reputationmanagement, but gave in in interest of owningeverything above the fold. FYI – Double-servingads is against the Adwords rules. @iPullRank
  62. 62. STREAMLINEDLINKEDIN JOBDESCRIPTIONS…and made sure every employee is followingthe iAcquire company page .The iAcquireLinkedIn profile consistently ranks in the top 5. @iPullRank
  63. 63. POSTED JOBSON HIGH DAJOB SITESCareerbuilder, SimplyHired, Indeed. None ofthem ever ranked. @iPullRank
  65. 65. MADE ABRANDEDIACQUIRESLIDESHAREI put my MozCon and SMX Advanced Toolsdecks on there. It consistently ranks in theTop 20. @iPullRank
  66. 66. What else are we rolling out?ROUND V: COMING ATTRACTIONS @iPullRank
  68. 68. THE MAINFOCUS IS THEWORK.Above the fold on the site you have casestudies and the sliding hero thatshowcases work we’ve done for our clientsfollowed by our USPs (our WHY). @iPullRank @iPullRank
  69. 69. MORE BRANDHUMANIZATIONAS YOU GODOWNThe further down the homepagethe user goes the more you get toknow the actual people that workat iAcquire. @iPullRank @iPullRank
  70. 70. EVERY PAGEIS LINKWORTHY &SHAREWORTHYEach page on the new site incorporatessome element that make it worth linking soour site can be a shining example of whatwe’d like our clients to be doing. @iPullRank @iPullRank
  71. 71. AIR-TIGHTSEOWhen we re-launch I will issue a challengeto the world to poke holes in the SEO If you can find something wedidn’t do well we’ll give you $530. @iPullRank @iPullRank
  72. 72. SOCIAL PROOFON ALL THETHINGS!These will act as our Twittertestimonials similar to what@mikecp talked about. @iPullRank @iPullRank
  73. 73. USERGENERATEDCOMICSThe marketing team is the smallest team atiAcquire and while our founders don’t want tobuild a community around our brand I shouldn’tbe the only one having fun with Gary &Cogswell. @iPullRank
  74. 74. BRANDINGREFRESHSince we’ve made a substantial change fromlink vendor to full-blown strategic SEO partner Itis important that we appear as though we havechanged. We’ve updated the brand style andguidelines to reflect that. @iPullRank
  75. 75. Has any of it done anything yet?ROUND VI: RESULTS @iPullRank
  76. 76. SENTIMENTIMPROVED.The conversation around iAcquire across thevarious channels has improved by 18%. Wehave effectively changed the conversation. @iPullRank
  77. 77. SERPIMPROVED.The number of positive results in the SERP hasimproved 27% (including Paid Search) @iPullRank
  78. 78. THECONCERNEDNETIZENUPDATED HISPOSTThe author of our outing post updated that postto give attention to the explanation of our newbusiness model. @iPullRank
  79. 79. More discovery calls, more overviewpresentations and less cancellations Turns out there is life after reinclusion after all.
  80. 80. What can you learn from our mistakes?ROUND VII: KEY TAKEAWAYS @iPullRank
  81. 81. No brand is completely immune to a meltdown. Always have a planfor crisis content strategy ready to launch.
  82. 82. Check out this checklist to determineyour risk quotient
  83. 83. MONITORYOURREPUTATION.Use Social Mention, Amplicate, GoogleAlerts, turn the SERP into an RSSfeed: or use ournew Reputation Tracker: @iPullRank
  84. 84. SIDEBAR:The powers that be don’t see thevalue in the tools I createPlease help me show that value bysigning up for the launch of ReputationTracker otherwise I can’t continue tojustify the creation of free tools.Reputation Tracker:
  85. 85. RESPONDPROMPTLY.Distilled and SEOmoz are greatexamples of brands that respondpromptly and own the blame fortheir mistakes. @iPullRank @iPullRank
  86. 86. DON’TTie the hands of your spokesperson.Choose your spokesperson wisely and then don’t holdthem back from getting the job done.
  87. 87. Your reputation is yours to fix. Don’t involve other brands until you haverecovered yourself. We made this mistake with Shake Shack.
  88. 88. I made the mistake of getting wrapped up in the sensation of the SEOecho chamber rather than focusing on the content that made me popular.
  89. 89. It is very easy for people to tell when a fix just cosmetic. Fix things from the inside out and you are insulated from most negative responses.
  90. 90. MAKE NEWSWITH THECHANGE.Very few people are going to care about the positivethings you are doing. Be sure to position your positivechange as newsworthy.@iPullRank
  91. 91. FOLLOW THEULTIMATEGUIDE TOORM.@MattMcGee was on to something… @iPullRank
  92. 92. An Actual Fortune Cookie TomRusling Received @iPullRank
  93. 93. wwww.iacquire.comThank You / Q&AMichael kingDirector of inbound