Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com as well as the founder of ViralContentBee.com. Ann has been into Internet Marketing for over a decade, she is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable.
Ann is also a frequent speaker at Pubcon and the host of the weekly Twitter chat #vcbuzz.
You can read more about Ann, here. I had the privilege of speaking with Ann about content marketing and promotion. She had some awesome insights. Read the lightly edited interview below!
On online reviews as a form of content for businesses
Garrett: You are the content expert! Content creation, promotion, user generation content, you name it. Where do online reviews rank for businesses when it comes to content?
Ann: It may depend on the niche, but in some industries (local business, SaaS business, etc.) online reviews can make or break a business.
This sword is also double-edged:
Garrett: Do you believe that online reviews will become as important for B2B businesses as they are for small local businesses? Why or why not?
Ann: Isn't it the case now?
I always Google any tool or service I am considering to buy and I always read through reviews and price / feature comparisons.
I am pretty sure most decision makers within any company are doing the same, which makes reviews as important for B2B sector as they are for local businesses.
On reputation management versus review management in 2019
Garrett: You have also provided educational course on reputation. What is reputation management in 2019? How does it differ from review management?
Ann: Reputation management is the broader marketing term that includes navigation (brand-driven) search optimization as well as mention- and review-management. I wouldn't even separate the two because they are so inter-connected.
As you see above, all the separate tactics inside the broader reputation management strategy can (and should) inform, direct and help one another.
On the interplay of E-A-T, SEO, and online reviews
Garrett: When it comes to reputation and reviews for SEO, E-A-T continues to grow in importance for websites. Do you think Google reviews and other review signals are impacting rankings? Do you believe that online reviews will continue to contribute to Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness? How so?
Google's Quality Raters' guidelines [PDF] give a great deal of insight into what Google is trying to do in terms of quality assessment. Quality raters are encouraged to find the business / product online and evaluate their reviews.
It doesn't necessarily mean that Google's algorithm is already doing that though but it evidently shows what Google is working on to achieve in the future.
They want their search engine to be the ultimate answer, and aggregating reviews from all over the place to evaluate each product is one great way to assess the product quality and predict whether their users will be happy to find it.
We know for sure that reviews are playing a decisive role in ranking local businesses. And there's a lot of reasons to think that reviews are important ranking signals in other sectors too.
Garrett: What other content recommendations would you make for businesses to capitalize on the growing importance of E-A-T? As information trickles out from Google, are there any insights you can provide on which strategies SEOs can execute to build additional trust signals?
Ann: Do whatever you can to better showcase your worthiness is my general recommendations but of course there are tactical ideas:
The tool will help you build a search-optimized "About" page that includes all the related terms and answers all the related questions.
On sharing online reviews via social media
Garrett: When it comes to sharing reviews on social media, which channels tend to be most effective?
Ann: Every channel may be effective depending on how you use it. The more creative you get, the more effective your strategy is likely to be.
Besides, it's not really the matter of a choice: You can cross-promote your reviews on all the channels, with almost one click of a button.
A few ideas:
On content promotion, Viral Content Bee, and niche influencers
Garrett: One of your businesses, Viral Content Bee, helps with content promotion, what type of community are you building there? How can a small business or a local business use these types of niche influencers to build their brand?
Ann: Viral Content Bee has one simple idea behind it: You don't have to have a huge social media network to get your content shared.
In most cases, when you share your content from your channel, the exposure is limited to your following. VCB is taking your content beyond that echo chamber and let's you get your content published by social media accounts you are not yet connected to.
This increases your reach and improved your chances to go viral.
We do have strict content quality standards, so a business willing to use the platform needs to have useful content to put up there. That's the only requirement: We want to drive genuine sales, so we need share-worthy content there.
Quick fire: where do you stand on some of the most pervasive content debates?
Garrett: Short form versus long form?
Ann: Long-form mostly
Garrett: Production versus promotion?
Ann: Promotion, i.e. do the most of promoting your existing asset before creating a new one.
Garrett: Content Marketing (Blogging specifically) versus Social Media versus Email Marketing?
Ann: All of the above in this particular order:
Garrett: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Ann!