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Trust Factors: How Best Answer Content Fuels Brand Credibility

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How Best Answer Content Builds Trust

How Best Answer Content Builds Trust

Page one. Answer box. The top result. In the minds of marketers, these prime destinations have largely been associated with SEO success.

From the days of keyword-stuffing and algorithmic alignment to more nuanced modern approaches accounting for semantic voice commands, influencer integration, and search intent, edging competitors on that SERP has been a key source of aspiration. As it should be: heightened visibility on Google makes a big difference in terms of driving traffic.

But it’s a little short-sighted to think only about that first, fleeting interaction — the search, the discovery, the click. What about the deeper impact? As customer experience becomes a central focus for brands everywhere, we should be more considerate of what happens after a user clicks through that search result, and how it affects your brand.

We talked recently about how best answer content helps fuel strong SEO results. But as part of our new “Trust Factors” series, which examines practical ways for marketers to strengthen trust with their audiences, we’ll shift our perspective and break down the critical benefits of effective best answer content when it comes to building credibility and authority in your niche.

[bctt tweet=”As #CX becomes a central focus for brands everywhere, we should be more considerate of what happens after a user clicks through that search result, and how it affects your brand. @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #SearchMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Beyond the Click: The Lasting Impact of Best Answer Content

Brian Dean of Backlinko is a masterful creator of best answer content. He preaches, and practices, a quality-over-quantity approach. At the recent Social Media Marketing World 2019 conference in San Diego, Andrew Pickering and Pete Gartland (the hilarious speaker duo @AndrewAndPete) shared the story of how Dean decided on a plan of publishing one blog post every 4-6 weeks, investing huge amounts of time into making sure each of those pieces was as robust, useful, and comprehensive as possible.

To get an idea of what this output looks like, you can check out his SEO in 2019 or Link-Building for SEO, either by clicking those links or simply typing the basic terms into Google; his posts will show up near the top.

Using this approach, Dean reported his blog was receiving more than 200,000 unique monthly visitors with just 51 total blog posts, which is a pretty amazing feat. Obviously, the premium SERP placements have helped him achieve those gaudy numbers. But it’s the substance beyond the headlines and meta descriptions that really makes his content powerful.

Perusing one of his in-depth resources, you’re going to learn a ton. The posts are extensive but navigable; technical but understandable; fun but serious. They include videos and images to illustrate concepts and break up the copy. Most importantly, they answer pretty much every ancillary question a searcher could ask about their respective topics — accurately and actionably.

Backlinko's Definitive Guide to SEO

And that’s how Dean turned his SEO training company from a humble startup to a seven-figure business in five years. His credibility speaks for itself. People trust him and want to learn from him because of the content he creates — not because it ranks so well, but because of how it ranks so well.

How Best Answers Build Trust

He’s a great example, but Dean is hardly the one out there building trust through best answer content. At TopRank Marketing, this methodology is fundamental to our integrated strategy mix, and we’ve seen plenty of awesome results with our clients. As two examples, there was this content and strategic PPC campaign for DivvyHQ, and this SEO-driven content program for Antea Group.

While both of those efforts drove excellent results in terms of traffic and reach, what’s really heartening in both cases is the deeper business impacts.

“Lead quality has definitely improved,” said DivvyHQ Co-Founder Brody Dorland. “The prospects coming through our website front door are much closer to our ideal customer than they have been in the past.”

“We’ve been able to marry our field and digital marketing efforts together, resulting in numerous digital leads, real revenue opportunities to the tune of millions of dollars, and credibility with our clients, partners, and media as a go-to source for EHS&S information,” said Antea Group USA Solutions Marketing Manager Margaret Uttke.

As any sales team can tell you, prospects who are both well qualified and predisposed to respect your brand are vastly more likely to convert and become happy customers. Here’s how effective best answer content achieves these outcomes:

Demonstrable Authority

This more or less speaks for itself. When someone finds content on a topic they’re looking for and it gives them everything they need, expertly articulated, it paints your company as a trusted source: These people know what they’re talking about. They know how to present the info. They’ve done it well enough that Google’s algorithm — which now heavily weighs dwell time and quality inbound links — has elevated it above most or all others.

Value First

Sometimes, content marketing can get away from its essential purpose: providing value. Pressured to show results — even if just vanity results — some practitioners blur the line between pull and push with strictly gated content or thinly veiled promotion.

Best answer content gets back to the basics. When done right, it’s all about delivering value and earning trust before you ask for anything. Dean spends weeks researching and composing his hefty Power Pages, which are freely available to anyone who visits. He even makes them downloadable in PDF form if you can’t consume all of that content in one sitting, and while the assets are technically gated, in that you must enter an email address to receive them, you aren’t required to fill out a long contact form.

[bctt tweet=”Best answer content gets back to the basics. When done right, it’s all about delivering value and earning trust before you ask for anything. – @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Competitive Positioning

Yes, it’s helpful to outrank competitors for key terms because you are more likely to bring in that search traffic. But there is also an important reputation element. When you outrank a direct competitor, the optics are compelling. And even if you’re not at the top, simply ranking in the vicinity of a giant company or reputed publication enables you to soak up some of that “second-hand trust.”  

It’s a simple psychological phenomenon, as Neil Patel explains on his blog: “This is not just a convenience issue for users. It’s a trust issue, too. When a result appears first, second, or third, users tend to trust it, believing that it is somehow more reliable, popular, or more legitimate than anything lower in the SERPs.”

Given that Google is increasingly structuring these SERPs based on indicators of query fulfillment, that’s a valid shorthand conclusion for searchers. And when your page delivers a definitive best answer to back up the ranking, you’ve made the right impression.

Organic and Inbound

It’s getting harder to build trust through ads. That doesn’t mean you should ditch the paid side by any means, but it does raise the stakes for organic content. As digitally native millennials grow to account for more and more of the buying population, we must be cognizant of their ingrained instincts. They are more likely to trust information they find themselves, as opposed to sponsored results or content that is (in truth or perception) pushed on them.

Gaining the Top Rank Is About More than Search Placement

Yes, it’s great to rank at the top of a SERP, for a variety of reasons. But it’s also vitally important to rank at the top of your audience’s mind for strategic topics, through content that satisfies their curiosities and provides legitimate value.

As Google’s algorithm continues to evolve and prioritize the most satisfying results rather than the most technically optimized results, you can trust that best answer content — which, when done right, covers both of those bases — is increasingly a no-brainer.

Want to learn more about TopRank Marketing’s best answer framework in action? Check out our CEO Lee Odden’s post on How A Best Answer Content Strategy Drives B2B Marketing Results.

The post Trust Factors: How Best Answer Content Fuels Brand Credibility appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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The 13 Best WordPress Live Chat Plugins in 2019

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Let’s be honest. No one wants to send a support email only to receive a (possibly automated) response 48 hours later. Similarly, no one wants to be put on hold for 30+ minutes while being told they’re the next caller in line. We live in a world of instant gratification. Your customers are busy and they want to speak to you on their own terms.

Live chat can provide a more immediate, personalized support system for your customers and prospects, even when you aren’t personally there to answer immediately.

Whether you use it for customer service or to close sales, live chat gives your customers the real-time interaction they crave, boosts your conversion rates, and improves customer satisfaction.

But with a fairly crowded live chat tool landscape, it can be difficult to know which tool should you select. In this article, we’ll take a look at 13 of the best WordPress live chat plugins to consider.

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1. HubSpot All-In-One Marketing

HubSpot’s All-In-One Marketing plugin offers various marketing tools for your website, including live chat.

HubSpot’s live chat tool lets you set up targeted messages for different pages or segments of your audience. If no one can respond immediately, you can enable an email capture form so your visitors can still get in touch. You can also set up a chatbot to personalize your conversations at scale.

Because it’s built on top of the free HubSpot CRM, you’ll know exactly who you’re chatting with and what pages they viewed on your website, be it a prospect, long time customer, or new contact. This makes for an excellent customer experience. You can take notes, send emails, make calls, schedule follow-up tasks, and create support tickets in one place, making following up an absolute breeze for your team

If you’re on the move a lot, HubSpot’s mobile CRM app lets you respond to chats on the go.

Pricing:

Live Chat is included with the Free HubSpot CRM. However, you can upgrade to a paid account to get access to more advanced functionalities such as if/then workflows and transferring chats to different team members.

2. SnapEngage

 SnapEngage is an omni-channel chat, meaning you can interact with your prospects and customers wherever they are, whether that is Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, or Zalo. Visitors can reach you via text message thanks to the SMS-to-Chat feature.

This tool also lets you see what your visitors are typing before they hit send, which allows for quicker responses. Users can also have one of your agents call them via the “Call Me” feature.

Pricing:

Plans start at $16 per user/month, with a minimum of 3 users. They also offer a free 7-day trial.

3. Tawk.To Live Chat

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Tawk.To is completely free, so you get all the features without having to pay. Rather than charging for the live chat tool itself, Tawk.To provides a service so you can hire their agents to respond to chats on your behalf.

This plugin offers a lot of features that normally come with a paid account with other products, such as automated triggers, canned responses for common questions, and file uploads.

You also get unlimited agents and active chats, ticketing, as well as integrations with translation plugins so you can chat with your visitors in their language of choice.

Pricing:

The plugin is free. You can purchase an add-on for $15 per month to remove the Tawk.To branding and you can hire their agents for $1 per hour.

4. Zendesk Chat

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Zendesk Chat offers beautiful, stylish customizable layouts and themes for your chat boxes.

Zendesk Chat lets you track your chat performance via powerful analytics and customer satisfaction data. You also get access to many chat triggers. For example, if a visitor is stuck on a page for longer than a minute, your chat window will pop up with an automated greeting, making it easier to engage with your prospects. You also get an AI bot to automate the process when your chat is offline.

Pricing:

For the most basic functionality, you can get started with the Lite plan for free. For larger teams, premium plans start at $14 per user/month.

5. Pure Chat

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Pure Chat has a super friendly user interface. You can customize your chat box with an endless range of colors, animations, and custom images. Its proactive chat triggers allow you to automatically start the conversation with your visitors and target them based on the pages they’ve viewed or the amount of time spent on them.

The Engagement Hub lets visitors choose from several contact options — live chat, email, phone, Twitter, etc. You can also set canned responses for frequent questions.

Pricing:

The free version includes three users and grants you access to full customization, the Engagement Hub, and unlimited chat history. Upgrades start at $39/month.

6. Drift

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Drift is a popular option if your goal is to engage with prospects to close a sale, rather than offer customer support.

Target users and initiate the conversation based on specific actions they’ve taken. For example, you can set an automatic greeting when a user has visited your pricing page multiple times. And when your chat is offline, prospects can send you an email so you don’t miss out on those leads.

Other features include automated sales sequences, account-based marketing, and an AI-powered bot for when you’re too busy to reply.

Drift comes with a dedicated iOS and Android app so that you can manage your chats from your phone.

Pricing:

The free plan is ideal for the most basic chat capabilities. For the more advanced features, paid plans start at $50/month.

7. Tidio Live Chat

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Tidio’s live chat plugin is easy to set up. Simply activate the plugin and your chat box is live. Choose from a range of three different designs and customize the colors to fit your branding. On top of managing your live chats, you can also manage your emails and Facebook Messenger responses in the same interface.

Tidio gives you the ability to improve your team’s efficiency with the use of automatic messages and chatbots. And when a visitor leaves the chat, you can continue the conversation via email.

If a lot of your visitors are non-English speakers, you won’t need to look for a translation plugin as Tidio supports many languages so you can talk to your visitors in the language of their choice.

Pricing:

Start free with up to three users and gain access to key features like email and Messenger integration and unlimited tracking. For more functionality, upgrades start at $15/month.

8. LiveChat

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LiveChat is one of the most veteran players in the WordPress live chat space. It has a very high focus on customer service and support.

Add surveys before or after your chat to collect user feedback and have visitors rate their agent so to improve your customer service. This plugin also lets your visitors submit support tickets during your offline hours. On top of initiating conversations and automatic greetings,you can transfer chats to other agents, set up canned responses, share files, and see what your users are typing in real time.

Pricing:

You can try out this product with a 30-day free trial. After that, you will need to select a plan, starting at $16 per user/month.

9. Olark

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Olark easily integrates with your WordPress website through a simple copy/paste code snippet.

This product offers data reports, measuring chat frequency, operator responsiveness, and customer satisfaction. It lets you assign chats to specific departments and even group operators by team (for example, sales team or support team) for easier management.

Olark offers many common features like automatic messages, but a differentiating attribute is that it lets you view visitor data, including what items the visitor has in their shopping cart, to allow you to give faster and more informed responses.

Pricing:

There is no free version for this product (though you do get a two-week free trial). Plans start at $17 per agent/month.

10. Live Chat by Formilla

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This live chat tool starts you off with a free version which lets you install your chat box on one website but with only one agent. If you’re looking for a chat that can handle high user volumes, you will most likely need to upgrade, as the free version only lets you have 30 chats per month.

The paid plans give you access to dedicated mobile apps for both iOS and Android so you can reply to users straight from your phone. You get real-time visitor monitoring, chat queues for when operators are busy handling other queries, and an autoresponder to collect contact details.

Stay organized by prioritizing your chats, assigning tickets, and transferring them over to other agents when needed. You can also set up an email form for when your chat is offline. As most other plugins in this list, you get canned responses and have the option to initiate the conversation with your prospect. You also get multilingual support, so no need to install an additional plugin for that.

Pricing:

You can get started with the free plan, but for more functionality, premium plans start at $11.99 per user/month.

11. WP Live Chat Support

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WP Live Chat Support comes with six pre-defined chat box skins, which can be further customized and lets you manage everything directly from your WordPress dashboard.

With WP Live Chat Support, you get unlimited free chats, user targeting, as well as surveys and polls to collect user feedback before and after a chat. For a one-time fee, you can upgrade and get access to more features like real-time typing, proactive chats, analytics, and canned responses.

Pricing:

WP Live Chat Support is free, but you can pay a one-off fee of $49.95 for additional features.

12. Facebook Chat for WordPress

If your website or business is hugely reliant on social media, this plugin might just be the solution you’re looking for. Facebook Live Chat Plugin for WordPress lets you bring the Facebook live chat features over to your WordPress website so that your users can conveniently reach out to you using their Facebook contact information. You can customize the colors, so you won’t be limited to using the classic Facebook blue color.

This plugin gives you user profiles and has a Facebook “like” button to boost your social media following.

Pricing:

You can purchase a regular license for $25, which gives you six months of support from NinjaTeam.

13. Casengo Live Chat Support

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Last but not least, Casengo easily integrates with Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp so you can meet your users where they are. You can create your own knowledge base, a feature similar to canned responses, for your team to look up answers when replying to customers.

Stay aware of which customers are still waiting for an answer with intuitive case management tags and stay on top of your performance with analytic reports measuring your total resolved cases and average handle time.

Pricing:

You can get started with a 14-day trial before moving on to paid plans, which start at €29 per user/month (that’s approximately $33 USD).

The live chat plugin you choose will largely depend on your company needs.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to connect with your leads and build better relationships with your customers, check out HubSpot’s free WordPress plugin.

With HubSpot, all your chats are automatically stored in a universal inbox enriched with data from HubSpot’s free CRM, providing everyone on your team with the context they need to craft the perfect responses.

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Thank you for reading.

Advanced Linkbuilding: How to Find the Absolute Best Publishers and Writers to Pitch

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Posted by KristinTynski

In my last post, I explained how using network visualization tools can help you massively improve your content marketing PR/Outreach strategy —understanding which news outlets have the largest syndication networks empowers your outreach team to prioritize high-syndication publications over lower syndication publications. The result? The content you are pitching enjoys significantly more widespread link pickups.

Today, I’m going to take you a little deeper — we’ll be looking at a few techniques for forming an even better understanding of the publisher syndication networks in your particular niche. I’ve broken this technique into two parts:

  • Technique One — Leveraging Buzzsumo influencer data and twitter scraping to find the most influential journalists writing about any topic
  • Technique Two — Leveraging the Gdelt Dataset to reveal deep story syndication networks between publishers using in-context links.

Why do this at all?

If you are interested in generating high-value links at scale, these techniques provide an undeniable competitive advantage — they help you to deeply understand how writers and news publications connect and syndicate to each other.

In our opinion at Fractl, data-driven content stories that have strong news hooks, finding writers and publications who would find the content compelling, and pitching them effectively is the single highest ROI SEO activity possible. Done correctly, it is entirely possible to generate dozens, sometimes even hundreds or thousands, of high-authority links with one or a handful of content campaigns.

Let’s dive in.

Using Buzzsumo to understand journalist influencer networks on any topic

First, you want to figure out who your topc influencers are your a topic. A very handy feature of Buzzsumo is its “influencers” tool. You can locate it on the influences tab, then follow these steps:

  • Select only “Journalists.” This will limit the result to only the Twitter accounts of those known to be reporters and journalists of major publications. Bloggers and lower authority publishers will be excluded.
  • Search using a topical keyword. If it is straightforward, one or two searches should be fine. If it is more complex, create a few related queries, and collate the twitter accounts that appear in all of them. Alternatively, use the Boolean “and/or” in your search to narrow your result. It is critical to be sure your search results are returning journalists that as closely match your target criteria as possible.
  • Ideally, you want at least 100 results. More is generally better, so long as you are sure the results represent your target criteria well.
  • Once you are happy with your search result, click export to grab a CSV.

The next step is to grab all of the people each of these known journalist influencers follows — the goal is to understand which of these 100 or so influencers impacts the other 100 the most. Additionally, we want to find people outside of this group that many of these 100 follow in common.

To do so, we leveraged Twint, a handy Twitter scraper available on Github to pull all of the people each of these journalist influencers follow. Using our scraped data, we built an edge list, which allowed us to visualize the result in  Gephi.

Here is an interactive version for you to explore, and here is a screenshot of what it looks like:

This graph shows us which nodes (influencers) have the most In-Degree links. In other words: it tells us who, of our media influencers, is most followed. 

    These are the top 10 nodes:

    • Maia Szalavitz (@maiasz) Neuroscience Journalist, VICE and TIME
    • Radley Balko (@radleybalko) Opinion journalist, Washington Post
    • Johann Hari (@johannhari101) New York Times best-selling author
    • David Kroll (@davidkroll) Freelance healthcare writer, Forbes Heath
    • Max Daly (@Narcomania) Global Drugs Editor, VICE
    • Dana Milbank (@milbank)Columnist, Washington Post
    • Sam Quinones (@samquinones7), Author
    • Felice Freyer (@felicejfreyer), Boston Globe Reporter, Mental health and Addiction
    • Jeanne Whalen (@jeannewhalen) Business Reporter, Washington Post
    • Eric Bolling (@ericbolling) New York Times best-selling author

    Who is the most influential?

      Using the “Betweenness Centrality” score given by Gephi, we get a rough understanding of which nodes (influencers) in the network act as hubs of information transfer. Those with the highest “Betweenness Centrality” can be thought of as the “connectors” of the network. These are the top 10 influencers:

      • Maia Szalavitz (@maiasz) Neuroscience Journalist, VICE and TIME
      • David Kroll (@davidkroll) Freelance healthcare writer, Forbes Heath
      • Jeanne Whalen (@jeannewhalen) Business Reporter, Washington Post
      • Travis Lupick (@tlupick), Journalist, Author
      • Johann Hari (@johannhari101) New York Times best-selling author
      • Radley Balko (@radleybalko) Opinion journalist, Washington Post
      • Sam Quinones (@samquinones7), Author
      • Eric Bolling (@ericbolling) New York Times best-selling author
      • Dana Milbank (@milbank)Columnist, Washington Post
      • Mike Riggs (@mikeriggs) Writer & Editor, Reason Mag 

          @maiasz, @davidkroll, and @johannhari101 are standouts. There’s considerable overlap between the winners in “In-Degree” and “Betweenness Centrality” but they are still quite different. 

            What else can we learn?

              The middle of the visualization holds many of the largest sized nodes. The nodes in this view are sized by “In-Degree.” The large, centrally located nodes are disproportionately followed by other members of the graph and enjoy popularity across the board (from many of the other influential nodes). These are journalists commonly followed by everyone else. Sifting through these centrally located nodes will surface many journalists who behave as influencers of the group initially pulled from BuzzSumo.

              So, if you had a campaign about a niche topic, you could consider pitching to an influencer surfaced from this data —according to our the visualization, an article shared in their network would have the most reach and potential ROI

              Using Gdelt to find the most influential websites on a topic with in-context link analysis

              The first example was a great way to find the best journalists in a niche to pitch to, but top journalists are often the most pitched to overall. Often times, it can be easier to get a pickup from less known writers at major publications. For this reason, understanding which major publishers are most influential, and enjoy the widest syndication on a specific theme, topic, or beat, can be majorly helpful.

              By using Gdelt’s massive and fully comprehensive database of digital news stories, along with Google BigQuery and Gephi, it is possible to dig even deeper to yield important strategic information that will help you prioritize your content pitching.

              We pulled all of the articles in Gdelt’s database that are known to be about a specific theme within a given timeframe. In this case (as with the previous example) we looked at “behaviour health.” For each article we found in Gdelt’s database that matches our criteria, we also grabbed links found only within the context of the article.

              Here is how it is done:

              • Connect to Gdelt on Google BigQuery — you can find a tutorial here.
              • Pull data from Gdelt. You can use this command: SELECT DocumentIdentifier,V2Themes,Extras,SourceCommonName,DATE FROM [gdelt-bq:gdeltv2.gkg] where (V2Themes like ‘%Your Theme%’).
              • Select any theme you find, here — just replace the part between the percentages.
              • To extract the links found in each article and build an edge file. This can be done with a relatively simple python script to pull out all of the <PAGE_LINKS> from the results of the query, clean the links to only show their root domain (not the full URL) and put them into an edge file format.

              Note: The edge file is made up of Source–>Target pairs. The Source is the article and the Target are the links found within the article. The edge list will look like this:

              • Article 1, First link found in the article.
              • Article 1, Second link found in the article.
              • Article 2, First link found in the article.
              • Article 2, Second link found in the article.
              • Article 2, Third link found in the article.

              From here, the edge file can be used to build a network visualization where the nodes publishers and the edges between them represent the in-context links found from our Gdelt data pull around whatever topic we desired.

              This final visualization is a network representation of the publishers who have written stories about addiction, and where those stories link to.

                What can we learn from this graph?

                This tells us which nodes (Publisher websites) have the most In-Degree links. In other words: who is the most linked. We can see that the most linked-to for this topic are:

                • tmz.com
                • people.com
                • cdc.gov
                • cnn.com
                • go.com
                • nih.gov
                • ap.org
                • latimes.com
                • jamanetwork.com
                • nytimes.com

                Which publisher is most influential? 

                Using the “Betweenness Centrality” score given by Gephi, we get a rough understanding of which nodes (publishers) in the network act as hubs of information transfer. The nodes with the highest “Betweenness Centrality” can be thought of as the “connectors” of the network. Getting pickups from these high-betweenness centrality nodes gives a much greater likelihood of syndication for that specific topic/theme. 

                • Dailymail.co.uk
                • Nytimes.com
                • People.com
                • CNN.com
                • Latimes.com
                • washingtonpost.com
                • usatoday.com
                • cvslocal.com
                • huffingtonpost.com
                • sfgate.com

                What else can we learn?

                  Similar to the first example, the higher the betweenness centrality numbers, number of In-degree links, and the more centrally located in the graph, the more “important” that node can generally be said to be. Using this as a guide, the most important pitching targets can be easily identified. 

                  Understanding some of the edge clusters gives additional insights into other potential opportunities. Including a few clusters specific to different regional or state local news, and a few foreign language publication clusters.

                  Wrapping up

                  I’ve outlined two different techniques we use at Fractl to understand the influence networks around specific topical areas, both in terms of publications and the writers at those publications. The visualization techniques described are not obvious guides, but instead, are tools for combing through large amounts of data and finding hidden information. Use these techniques to unearth new opportunities and prioritize as you get ready to find the best places to pitch the content you’ve worked so hard to create.

                  Do you have any similar ideas or tactics to ensure you’re pitching the best writers and publishers with your content? Comment below!

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