Viral Bee founder Ann Smarty discusses content promotion and content marketing

Content Marketing, Content Promotion, E-A-T and Online Reviews

Ann Smarty highlights how online reviews can be used in content marketing, content promotion, and the value for SEO when it comes to E-A-T signals. Read More...
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at as well as the founder of 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:

  • Businesses that “get it” (i.e. how to encourage / curate / publicize reviews) are able to build an unbelievably effective competitive advantage (especially when competing with large brand and corporations, because they don’t usually move as fast or as effectively when it comes to community building and influencer marketing.)
  • Businesses become vulnerable to negative marketing tactics and trolling. Because online reviews have become so unbelievably important to getting sales, businesses can be black-mailed or attacked with fake reviews. I’ve seen a local business that was attacked by someone who initiated a Facebook attack by buying hundreds of one-star reviews. As of today, that issue hasn’t been fixed and Facebook remained unbelievably helpless.

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.

Here's why:

  • Social media mentions can be utilized / claimed as product reviews (e.g. your social media team should catch every positive mention and invite your happy customer to post it as a review on your site as well as price comparison / local platforms where your target audience lives.)
  • Social media is a great channel to curate and re-market all your product reviews to attract more leads to your site.
  • You want your positive reviews to rank: Here’s where the navigational search result management also comes into play.

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?

Ann: Absolutely.

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:

  • Curate (visual) social media testimonials from across the web. Social proof is great for on-page engagement which is what Google is using as one of their multiple ranking signals. Try tools like Photoslurp to collect pictures from across social networks
  • Aggregate all your product reviews on one page and optimize it for [company name reviews] search query: This is a great way to showcase your brand’s recent companies. There are lots of plugins to collect and structure reviews
  • Create a separate page for social media testimonials (nice tweets about your brand, Quora posts discussing your tool, video reviews, etc.)
  • Create a “Press” page where you can link to recent articles / blog posts about your brand or your product and include instructions how journalists can get in touch with you
  • Tell your founder’s story on a separate page. How and why was your brand created?
  • Set up a separate page to include all your brands’ awards and nominations
  • Create a separate page listing your future and past events (conferences, trade shows, charity events you’ve sponsored, etc.)
  • Finally, put all of the above together using your “About Us” page: You want that page to be an ultimate resource of your brand’s trust signals, both for search engines and people to be able to find those easily. If you have an established brand name (or you have a more established competitor), I suggest running this brand name through Text Optimizer which is a semantic analytics tool that extracts related concepts from Google’s search results:
example of extracting questions to answer: salesforce graphic with number of users asking the question

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:

  • Try and time your posts to trending hashtags (e.g. post some inspiring reviews on Monday with #MondayMotivation hashtag on Twitter)
  • Always create a visual version of your review. Canva (or these alternatives) lets you create branded visuals in the matter of minutes
  • Put many reviews in one video and slideshow (here’s how we did it here). Tools like Wave help you create beautiful videos quickly
  • Always tag your reviewers (if you can) : That’s how you build a stronger bond with them and get them to share the review with their friends

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:

  • Content marketing (blogging) as the foundation: You want all clicks from social media and emails to drive visitors to your site
  • Email marketing: Still beats social media in engagement (at least for me)
  • Social media: Especially when it’s done for relationship- and influencer marketing purposes. Tag everyone you mentioned in your blog post in your social media updates!

Garrett: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Ann!

About the Author

Garrett Sussman

Garrett is the Head of Marketing at, an online review management and marketing platform. When he's not crafting content, he's scouting the perfect ice coffee, devouring the newest graphic novels, and concocting a new recipe in the kitchen.