Why Tangential Content is Crucial For Your Site’s Authority and Traffic by Amanda Milligan of Stacker Studio

Bernard Huang

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Amanda Milligan of Stacker Studio joined the Clearscope webinar to share why tangential content is crucial to a site’s success.

Amanda breaks down what tangential content is and why it deserves a place in your content strategy. Tangential content focuses on elevating your brand and expanding your reach. It should always resonate with your audience and industry.

Here are our biggest takeaways from Amanda’s talk:

  1. Tangential content comes after you’ve nailed your bottom of the funnel content. It’s more about building your brand.

  2. Tangential content needs to be relevant to your target audience and industry.

  3. Data is a great way to create tangential content (Amanda shares some tips for collecting data in the Q&A - watch here).

  4. Tangential content’s goal is not conversions. It’s a mix of brand awareness, brand authority, and high-quality backlinks.

During the Q&A, a member asked about a competitor of theirs who created a page full of celebrity news. The news was not in any way related to their business. Amanda agreed the strategy was not ideal for long-term success. She went on to say tying celebrity news to your audience and industry is wildly successful such as creating a celebrity’s pets post for a pet food company.

And check out the resources Amanda shared below:

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Watch the full webinar

About Amanda Milligan:
Amanda Milligan is the Head of Marketing at Stacker Studio. With a degree in journalism and a decade in content marketing, she’s spent her career helping brands harness the intersection of content and SEO. Her expertise has been published in Entrepreneur, Forbes, TechCrunch, Search Engine Land, Moz, and more, and she’s spoken at industry-leading events, including SMX, MozCon, BrightonSEO, SearchLove, and Pubcon.

Follow Amanda Milligan on Twitter: Stacker Studio:
Stacker is a data journalism newswire distributing stories to respected news organizations across the country, including Hearst, McClatchy, Newsweek, MSN, and more. Stacker Studio is their brand partnership wing, in which they underwrite stories on brands' behalf, distribute those stories, and earn the brands coverage and links.

Check out Stacker Studio:

Read the transcript

[00:00:00] Bernard: Amanda is the Head of Marketing at Stacker Studio. With a degree in journalism and a decade in content marketing, she spent her career helping brands harness the intersection of content and SCM. Her expertise has been published in entrepreneur for tech crunch search engine that MAs and demand anymore.

[00:00:22] She's also spoken at many industry-leading events, including SMX, Moz Con, Brighton, SCM, Search Love, and Pub Con. Stackers Studio is a data journalism newswire distributing stories to respected news organizations across the country, including Cursed, McClatchy, Newsweek, MSN, and more. Stacker Studio is their brand partnership wing in which they underwrite stories on the brand's behalf, distribute those stories, and earn the brands, coverage, and links.

[00:00:57] Amanda: Thank you so much for that intro and thank you to everyone for joining. So we're going to talk about tangential content today. Not only what it is and how you can create it, but why it's valuable, how it can build your traffic, and your brand's authority.

[00:01:12] Some of the amazing metrics that we as marketers love to improve. Let me open this chat bubble here. Awesome. All right. Have you ever been this person? Because if you have, I empathize content takes a lot of time, especially if you're a fan of clear scope, you know, how important it is to optimize that content, to create really high-quality stuff.

[00:01:37] But sometimes even when you're putting all that work in, you reached the point where you're kind of like plateau. You see your traffic plateau, or maybe you're trying to compete in really competitive spaces and you need a little something more. That's where tangential content could be very helpful.

[00:01:56] So before I get into like the tangential concept, the phrase, we're really talking about top of the funnel content here. So if all you have is the bottom of the funnel content, which you should, you should always, in my opinion, you start with the bottom of the funnel and make sure that you have everything like.

[00:02:10] To make the conversion make the sale, but if that's all you have. It's possible that none of the people know you exist. It's possible that your brand doesn't have enough authority to help you make those conversions of no one's heard of you or trust you yet. And it's also possible that people have only seen you try to sell.

[00:02:29] And maybe they're interested in seeing you as a brand contributing in other ways. These are three things that might not be every marketer's highest priority, especially when they're starting a program. But can be game-changers later on when you've already built a really strong bottom of the funnel content strategy, and you're looking to scale your success.

[00:02:51] Right? That's what, I mean, a lot of people come to us because it's like, we're plateaued. We don't know what to do. Like we've really created all this great content. So how do we elevate that? So these are some things to keep in mind and a little bit of the context as we get into this conversation. So, if you want to level up your your content program, creating more top of the funnel, content allows you to reach a wider audience because it's more widely relevant.

[00:03:17] So now you're building more just general brand awareness. Oh, they exist. That's nice. There's always these the classic marketing rules that have been around for decades. And I have no idea what the citations are, but it's like, oh, it takes like six to eight. Time somebody sees your brand before they trust you or buy from you or some iteration of that statistic, right?

[00:03:36] Whether it's six or eight or 12, but the point is, it takes more than once, nine times out of 10, especially if you're a B2B or anything that costs more than like $10. Like e-commerce is a different story, but people want to know who you are and trust you before they buy. So being able to do more top of the funnel stuff that's widely appealing also has a ton of SEO value.

[00:03:59] It's not just about brand awareness. If you're able to get coverage or earn any kind of attention, you're probably getting links or canonicals or something along those lines. That's solidifying that authority. It's saying that other third party people, publications, sites, trust what you're saying, and that has immense SEO value, which we'll talk about more.

[00:04:22] So before I launch into this whole thing, you're like, who am I, and why do I know about this? As Bernard mentioned, I'm head of marketing at stacker studio stackers. A Newswire kind of like the AP or Reuters where we create news stories and we syndicated to publications all over the country. Sacker studio is the brand partnership link of that.

[00:04:42] So we work with brands, create content for them and distributed out to our network. So we're very much in the realm of more top of the funnel, newsworthy, tangential content. I also worked at fractal for seven years prior to this, if you're familiar. And that was also about data journalism and pitching and getting media attention.

[00:05:01] Right. But top of the funnel stuff, not. Here's our product and we're going to pay for a sponsored post or something to try to sell it. That's not what we're talking about here. So I've done presentations on this as Bernard is talking about tangential content is a phrase that kind of emerged relatively recently, but it's probably something that you've already tried or seen done and admired that maybe happened deliberately used as part of your strategy.

[00:05:27] So let's get into defining that since I keep saying it's. To me, tangential content is literally just zooming out a little bit. So if you think about topical content, topical content is your product and your service talking about these things explicitly, or even your company culture, like things happening in your company, acquisitions, you know, whatever.

[00:05:52] Like if you're brand new, the press release cycle happens. These are really on topic for your company. Frankly, it's either for conversion purposes, like you're really trying to sell which you need to do or it's for more standard PR, but that's where you're dealing with the topical side of things. But this is a spectrum of content and a spectrum of intent.

[00:06:15] Right? So on the other side, you're getting more tangential. This is more about your overall objective as a company, not necessarily about the sale, but it's like, why do you exist as a company? Right. When I, when I talk about mission, there's a little, there's a lot of different versions of missions across companies, but I'm talking about like who or what audience are you trying to benefit?

[00:06:35] How are you trying to contribute to the world in one way or another through your mission? Your overall culture, your, their general goals, that appeal to a general audience, your industry, right? That's a little more tangential than talking specifically about what you offer. So we're going to lean more on the, on the right side of this today because of those benefits that I mentioned at the top, and I'm going to show you some examples, not only of like how to create this, but the types of results you can see if you do so on the topical side usually means more brand authority.

[00:07:08] With an asterisk more brand authority, just because you're talking specifically about what you offer. There are definitely authority benefits on the tangential side, but they're probably more in the SEO category. I'm also topicals way more likely to convert. I think a problem people have some times as they go into tangential content and they're hoping they're going to get conversions or really immediate referral traffic that converts.

[00:07:32] And it's not real, it's not designed for. So setting that expectation up front is really helpful. Tangential is much more about brand awareness as I'd mentioned, and a greater reach. And when you're able to do that, you can leverage that and get some more SEO benefit and start building your brand authority.

[00:07:51] Especially if you use the strategy that I'm going to talk about. But again, I said brands. Mission, not your product, your service or your company culture. We're gonna stay away from that. Just reiterating that. So the method that I want to talk about is the newsworthy content, because this is kind of a way of getting the authority that comes with topical and adding it to your tangential.

[00:08:19] The reason for this is if you're creating top of the funnel content, that's being picked up by new sites that is very authoritative. If somebody sees your brand name being mentioned on a really respected site, That sends a signal, right? It's hard to measure that you kind of inherently know like, Hey, we were in the Chicago Tribune.

[00:08:37] That's cool. Like people inherently know that that's valuable, but it's because you're sending this awareness signal in addition to the SEO benefits. So what I've focused on in my career and what we do at stacker studio is more on the newsworthy content side of things. It's top of the funnel. And appeals to a wider audience and increases your awareness and your authority.

[00:09:00] And then it drives those follow links that everybody is so desperately after. So with the content you should be creating should look like is the in-between of your general brand mission or industry and some typical newsworthy element. If it overlaps between those two things, you're really setting yourself up for success because you're doing something that's still relevant to your general audience, but as appealing to respected publications and sites and influencers or whoever you're going to decide to move forward with this.

[00:09:40] So let's look at some real examples, cause I can talk about the nebulous concepts forever, but it's a little easier when you have something to look at. So I just, I have no affiliation with Redfin. I just use their blog as an example. These are both honestly pretty newsworthy. I don't think, I think that they do a pretty good job in general, but I wanted to show some examples of how pieces of content can be on this topical retention.

[00:10:02] Kind of range it's on the left. I mean, Redfin is all about the housing market. So we're talking about the rent market tracker, the rental market target. That's very on brand for them. Right. That's very relevant to them. This is like a report they put out regularly and makes sense for them to do.

[00:10:19] However, on the right side, we have one in seven recent movers refused to live in a place where abortion is fully legal. Just listening to that. You're like, whoa, right? Like that. That's going to be interesting to people in a lot of different ways. So it's not just going to be interesting to people who are looking to rent, right.

[00:10:35] That's going to be interesting to a much wider audience. So that's when I ask which one do you think is more newsworthy? If you've had to pitch one of these. If you yourself were assigned, pick one of these, I go pitch it to a publication. Which one would you pick? Probably the one on the right. I might be wrong.

[00:10:53] It'd be really good at pitching in the housing market. And you have some ties, but I would pick the one on the right, because you're talking about that whole industry plus the political slant and that just adds a whole lot more interest in general. Right? So. This is what I want you to thinking about as like homework, if you're really into this topic, every time you look at a blog, kind of ask yourself, where do I think this falls on the topical or tangential range?

[00:11:19] And you'll start seeing how most brands use a mix of both and set different objectives for each type. All right. So another example, this is one that we worked on everyday. Yeah. Listen, politics that are a whole different story. I don't tend to dabble in that area. And if we do dabble in it and I'll speak for sacker.

[00:11:45] It's much more objective. Like we just only report on data and that's one way to get into more controversial topics. It's not about taking aside. It's about reporting on data and letting people do with it, what they will. It's a little side. Okay. So another example that's much less intense because we're talking about B2B and like the workplace.

[00:12:02] And I think all of us, you know, it's a little more general and applicable to basically every. So Penn is one of our brand partners and they do internal communications with employees. So instead of only talking about internal employee communication, which would live with us pretty, pretty dramatically, and you'd run out of content pretty soon and they probably have that on their site already.

[00:12:27] Anyway, as they should we take a tangential approach. So we did a story, 10 aspects of remote work that employers and employees disagree on, so we can get into why this works. First of all, it's not specifically about internal business communication, but it's still interesting to their target. And it appeals to a more general readership.

[00:12:48] I mean, at this point after COVID how many people are working remotely and how many people have opinions on that. So a lot of people are involved in a story like this and would be interested to click on it and. As a result, the distribution network was very excited about it and it got like nearly 200 pickups.

[00:13:09] Right? So again, that's because it was applicable to a wide audience. If we were only talking about like internal comms tools, there's no way that you would get nearly the number of pickups, but that's not what you would be creating it for. So we went through some of those examples. Let's talk about the impact that.

[00:13:31] Strategy has why you're going to invest money, time, effort into doing something like this when it's not bottom of the funnel, the first thing is increasing your brand authority. So as I mentioned, when you create newsworthy content, you're able to sneak in this authority benefits to your top of the funnel content.

[00:13:51] When you look at something in Newsweek and you see that stacker, compiled this list. That sends a very interesting signal, right? It's like, well, sacker put this together, but Newsweek thought it was good enough to republish it and fold it's vouching essentially for the site that it's sourcing and is why backlinking is a thing in the first place, right?

[00:14:12] Like the reason why Google uses it as part of its algorithm is it's trying to approximate a reputation system online. So whether it's a backlink or a canonical, this builds so much authority. To readers. And also for the algorithm, Google is able to see this link and we'll talk more about links, but say, oh, this means that Newsweek thinks that this site is pretty legit, but they created something that was worth talking about or republishing.

[00:14:42] So. This is a crucial part of this, the greater audience reach. So we've talked about how, when you do do a tangential content and you're appealing to a wider audience, you're able to reach far more people than you would be if you were trying to rank for a bottom of the funnel keyword, right. Again, different objectives.

[00:15:02] So we have we district distributes. I can, I can talk distribute. Our stories to thousands of publications, right? And on average, each story gets picked up like 150 to 200 times. So we're able to take a piece of content that otherwise would just live on and reach the audiences of all these publications all over the country.

[00:15:26] That is a different ball game in terms of reach. It's always great to have your own content and media, but if you're able to leverage. The audiences that exist, that have been built over time by these really respected entities. It's definitely a win for you in terms of brand awareness. Your brand's authority.

[00:15:48] The other thing I wanted to say about this, we're coming back to this is the actual domain authority or the domain rating or whatever metric you want to use for your site tends to go up over time as you build those back links. So this is an example, I believe this is pan again, and I'll show more examples of actual data we've gotten with our relationship with them.

[00:16:07] But as you start to build really authoritative backlinks, And we're talking again about that signal that Google is picking up, that, you know, what you're talking about, then the overall site authority starts to increase if you're doing this on a regular basis, if you do this one, so then you decide never to do it again, probably not going to increase your domain rating, but if you invest in this as a strategy, Here is an example of the backlink their backlink portfolios increase for us in particular, because we're able to do this at scale.

[00:16:38] We started working with them in August, so you can see how it kind of spiked up pretty quickly. But when you do this type of work and you're really invested in. The newsworthy content and the promotion of that content. And you're earning that, that coverage and those links, your backlink portfolio will look tremendously better if you had never done anything like that before, not just in terms of volume, this is only looking at volume, which is not a fair assessment of somebody's backlink portfolio.

[00:17:03] Right? This is only one piece of that, but also the quality of that portfolio. So getting. Links from domain ratings of 50 plus for example, is really great and different from a lot of the other links. You're probably building naturally

[00:17:22] more ranking pages as a result. So let's talk about this for a second. Part of the strategy that we use for earning links to this piece of content that we created. Right. We don't just stop there. We utilize internal linking. So usually you're not. Building a lot of people will come to me about link building.

[00:17:42] They're like, okay, but I want links to this like product page or this high converting page or our money pages. How do we do that? You probably can't in a, in a white hat way, at least, or in a way that's going to be really effective over time. However, what you can do is earn those links to a page that has the story that you're telling.

[00:18:02] And then in an organic way, link to another page on your site from that page. That you can funnel some of that link equity that you're building to. Okay. So if you incorporate that as part of your strategy you can start tracking those pages to see if their rankings are improving. And that goes back to the point I made at the top of the webinar, which is if you're finding that you're stagnating and that you can't reach that ranking that you want to rank, even if you've already done all the legwork, something like this can really help you just overcome that last hurdle, but also.

[00:18:35] I like to think that a rising tide raises all ships. And if your domain ratings going up and increases the chances that all of your pages will rank better because you as a brand and as a site are now deemed more authoritative and people are probably clicking on your stuff more. And it all works together in this wonderful way.

[00:18:54] And then finally, if you're succeeding at that, if you're getting these lengths, you're distributing the link equity or domain authority is going up your organic traffic. A few months later, this there's a delay in the organic traffic impact caveat will start to go up. And that's ultimately why you do this.

[00:19:10] It's for the authority. It's for the awareness, but it's for the traffic to, and it's traffic. That's hopefully pretty relevant to what you are looking for. Bernard. I saw you dropped a note here. Yes. So let's talk about that at the end. Cause that's, that's a whole thing and I agree. That's probably a question.

[00:19:29] A lot of people have. Okay. I talked about this a little and I apologize for the confusing diagram. There's a lot happening here, but just so you understand, kind of like how we do this. So at stacker, we create a story, a data-driven newsworthy story, they publish it on and we distributed out to all of our partners, right.

[00:19:51] It's also on our brand partners. So that's where it gets a little confusing it's on the brand partner site. Then we syndicated first on and then we send it out to our newsroom, but we have it so that everyone in our news network it's a built-in do follow and canonical. So all of that goes back to our brand partners sites.

[00:20:12] So the brand partners page gets all these follow links. All of these canonicals pointing toward it being the source of this information. That's being repeated. And then, as I mentioned at link equity gets distributed to other internal sites using internal linking. So this is the way that we do it, but it's a hundred percent also something you can do.

[00:20:33] If you're promoting content and you're trying to figure out, okay, well, how can I better distribute this link equity? Or how do I make the most of all this authority that I'm driving to the site? Alright, I've talked a lot about the benefits and the strategy, but how do you actually create tangential content?

[00:20:50] So let's get into some of the nitty-gritty. This is a fun little diagram I put together that hopefully is at all helpful. So let's take an example of pin again and say, employee communications is the industry you work in or not even the industry, but like that's the topic that you cover as a company.

[00:21:11] That's too specific. If you want to create tangential content let's first zoom outs. So employee communications zooming out, maybe that's company culture. I mean, we're talking about how people relate to each other at work. A broader topic could be company culture, right? That does feel much broader and encompasses a lot of topics.

[00:21:29] Also employee communications is related to workplace productivity. I mean, a part of the reason you have these things is that people can better talk to one another and understand what they're working on and become more. So the word general topic might be workplace productivity. So as a result of this exercise of zooming out, you can have these two buckets, like, ah, let's try one of these two.

[00:21:50] Now it's time to zoom back in what in company culture could be interesting to write about. You can talk about transparency. There's been a lot of conversation around this in terms of salaries, right? And then posting jobs. And whether you should include salaries. Transparency is a very interesting topic related to company.

[00:22:06] Your work friendships, that could be a fun one that a lot of people can relate to. Almost everybody has had a friend at work and like, what does that dynamic like? And then on the workplace productivity side, you can talk about things like time tracking which is controversial. You can talk about the a four day workweek has been really trendy these days, right?

[00:22:27] So like how much time should you actually be working? And what is, what actually is the most productive is an interesting debate that's going on. And then within both of these categories is remote work, which I'm realizing is why we've done a lot of stories on remote work for Pitt. Because it kind of falls into both buckets.

[00:22:44] Your company culture is dramatically impacted by whether you're in office or working remotely or a mix of both. And there's conversations around how productive people are when they work from home. Right. So it's a great example of both. So this is just an example of how you take a topic of his specific topic that you're in, that your company is focused on.

[00:23:03] Zoom out first, zoom back in, and now you have a, a sort of. Of subtopics. Then you can start brainstorming about that. Aren't specifically your product or service offering, but they're also not too far removed. And that's the other key here. You can't just be like, we're going to talk about pet insurance.

[00:23:21] It's like, that makes no sense. And nobody will ever pick that up because why are you talking about that? Still relevant to your target audience is still relevant to your general industry.

[00:23:32] So once you have the subtopics. That's the start, because those aren't necessarily content ideas. They're just categories. You can talk about the four-day work week, but people are already talking about the four day work week. So what can you uniquely add? So these are three questions that I recommend adding to your brainstorming strategy.

[00:23:52] So the first one, and we're going to dive into each of these, so we'll talk more about them, but the first one is how you can be of service to your audience. Again, that speaks to outside of your specific brand and it kind of gets you thinking about what else you can offer. Number two is what is the greater context you can add to trending topics?

[00:24:13] I think the four-day work week is a great example of like where that's a challenge that has been at least all over LinkedIn that I've seen the last several months. What can you add to the conversation that's different than what's already being talked about? And then number three, what data can you analyze?

[00:24:28] Or present in a new way to provide a new perspective. So if you're able to use these questions as a framework, at least for your brainstorming, it'll put you in the right direction to come up with an idea. That's going to meet the criteria that I talked about and gets you some of these results that we are all looking for.

[00:24:47] It's all break down each one. How can I be a service to my audience? So when I joined stacker, this was like the big, one of the biggest things I learned. Previous that I didn't really think about it in my previous jobs because service journalism is a thing. And I hadn't heard this phrase. So service journalism is literally those pieces of content that are like.

[00:25:07] You know, here's how to change your tire or here's how to figure out how you should be investing in your retirement, right? They're literally designed to help you accomplish something. We see this a lot in marketing. Actually, you see the, how to posts are very popular. But to think more specifically outside of maybe even keyword research and more like general some people do that kind of keyword research.

[00:25:29] If you've only done more bottom of the funnel keyword research that won't help you. But if you've done more top of the funnel keyword research as well, That's could be where this comes into play. If you're looking at how tos that are more general. So as an example, if we talk about business insurance, a topical question, your audience probably has is how do I get it?

[00:25:47] Or how do I pick the right business insurance? For me, those are bottom of the funnel questions where tangentially, if you're doing question research or keyword research, you might get questions. Like, what does it take to start a business? That's a very different question that appeals to people who will seemingly will eventually start a business and then be interested in business insurance.

[00:26:08] So it's not too far out of the realm, but it also probably has a higher volume of searches. I think a lot of people have thought what goes into this process and giving that information to somebody in a clear way where it's very useful to them is an example of service journalism in a tangential way. So just wanted to note some tools you can use in order to do this spark Toro.

[00:26:34] If you take the spark Toro. It basically allows you to see where certain audiences are consuming other information online. So if you're like, oh, am I industry, this podcast is super popular. You can see where people who listen to that podcast are also consuming information and you can see what kind of content they're publishing.

[00:26:50] And it's a good way to just see the types of topics that are being covered in your industry. Obviously things like Google news and exploding topics are more about just seeing what's topically happening. But maybe questions are forming or. But then you get into more specific, like answer. The public is literally gathering.

[00:27:07] Excuse me, gathering questions from all over the internet and presenting them to you. But actually, but Sumo is the one that's gathering them all over the internet answered the public is doing. Auto-complete so whatever it is, any tool that's collecting questions and presenting them to you is these are questions that are being asked online to potentially you can answer and keyword search for whatever keyword research tool or plugin of your choice.

[00:27:27] Again, more top of the funnel approach. So not a bottom of the funnel approach. So thinking what are people searching in general in my area?

[00:27:38] So then we talk about context. This is the other thing that I learned at stacker. So they are all about contextualizing. And this is really interesting from a brand standpoint, because we tend to want to be the news, you know, like, wow, we're really using this product and everyone's going to care. It's so cool.

[00:27:54] And like really most people don't care. And it's good to not think of ourselves as the stars, but rather as the compliments. Piece of what any journalist is working on. And to think of that, that that's an interesting perspective shifts, I think. And it also puts you in the right path to understand how you can actually benefit that journalist and their readers.

[00:28:15] So just on the top level, not even these questions at the top level contextualizing and complementing, it's just a good mentality to go into this with instead of trying to break news, how can you add something to that story? So some questions you can ask, what are the, what is the history of the. And that's not always going to be super compelling.

[00:28:33] But sometimes it is, and it's overlooked. I think a lot of breaking news can be very interesting, like contextualize, if you look at how it got to this point and a lot of Stacker stories have done that very successfully no for main character syndrome. Yes. I love that. How does it compare to other similar things?

[00:28:50] It's hard to illustrate this super well, like comparing to similar different things, but an example that one of the stacker partners told me was if you think about like the budget, right? Like the congressional budget or whatever it is, and they're saying, okay, let's talk about educational, the amount of money we're going to get to education.

[00:29:08] How does that compare to previous years? How much did they give in previous years? And how does that compare to other. Budgets either in the same department or completely different. And how does it compare to military spending? For example, all of those have value, right? They're adding a different perspective and taking the same facts or data point or vent and looking at it differently.

[00:29:32] And that's what I want to challenge all of us to do, because just because something's been talked about doesn't mean, it's been talked about comprehensively. And in a way that's like that there are no other opportunities to shed light on something.

[00:29:48] Okay. That's actually, I think I skipped there. I was like, I skipped the slide. Okay. Data. I was like, this is an important slide. Data is if you've never done this work before, I'd say start here because I think data is the best and easiest way to get covered. The reason being, especially if you're a brand that a publisher has not heard of, or a reader has not heard of that you really need a solid methodology to earn their trust.

[00:30:17] And if you have a data set that you analyze. It goes much further and earning that trust quickly, rather than them trying to figure out how you collected this, this project that you put together, and it's not clear what your methodology was or what data you used. There's a lot of publicly available data out there.

[00:30:34] I mean, just government sites alone. There's a ton of really interesting stuff. If you have internal data certainly worth using, but with a caveat that. It has to be pretty comprehensive and I'm biased. So, you know, there are big companies that do this and they make sense. Like Spotify can put really awesome lists together what people are listening to.

[00:30:55] Right. But we're not all that size and we don't all have that kind of access. So it only makes sense if you're the type of company that has a lot of internal data that they can analyze in a way that's really. If you did a survey of like your 200 employees, that's probably not good enough is my point. And then manually collected.

[00:31:12] So if you do run more comprehensive surveys, if you do manual interviews, even whatever it is, where you're just like going out there, we've done stories where we've collected all in one place and a bunch of different sources to kind of just make sense of a complex topic. Something like that would be more manually collected.

[00:31:31] Any of these things, if you can do this, We'll get you very far. Data has a lot of bonus benefits. It could be broken down by demographic by location. It adds that authority piece that I mentioned. Sometimes it feels even more newsworthy because you're presenting a whole new like data point that nobody's really thought about.

[00:31:51] I think this is a really good way to break into the tension content area. So then you spent a decent amount of time, probably putting a piece of content together. Usually takes like a month. If you're, if you're talking about like one or two people working on something, right. It's not easy when you're trying to create something that the news would pick up.

[00:32:14] So the quick reminder caveat is that this is not conversion focused, and I don't necessarily even say that to you. This kind of speaks to the questions that have come up about how to get buy in for this. A big piece of that puzzle is reinforcing this point over and over again, anytime you present on this or report up on this, it's remember this is not supposed to increase our conversions.

[00:32:37] This is supposed to do this, which leads to this, which leads to this. If you're reporting to an SEO or anybody who knows about SEO, you're able to say we're earning links. Those links are improving our rankings. So those writings are improving our traffic. That story probably makes sense, but if you're reporting higher than that you're going to have to play around.

[00:32:55] What that CMO or that member of leadership is most interested in? Maybe sometimes people really like the vanity stuff, which is super interesting to me because it is not what you would normally report on to like your, your direct manager who knows that that's not great. And if that's the case, like just the brand awareness stuff would get them excited.

[00:33:12] Like you just grow that, show them that screenshot of the Newsweek and they're like, hell yeah, that's awesome. And maybe that's good enough. But if people are really hesitant to. Give you that budget. Sometimes it's a matter of Andy Crestodina gave me this tip a long time ago and I love repeating it.

[00:33:27] It's the FOMO principle, which is show somebody that their competitors are doing this. And then they can't resist doing it themselves. They feel behind, right. Even if it's not a direct competitor, show somebody a brand that they respect doing this. A lot of the time it's hard to just make it tangible for people like they don't understand.

[00:33:48] How it's going to be valuable for them. So if you can show them a real example of how another company is doing it, that helps to, to add some context and we can talk more about this, but the top level goals of tangential concept are brand awareness, brand authority and earning links. So that's what you're going into this setting, that expectation.

[00:34:04] And that's what you're going to report on, on the other side of this. Right? But even within those goals, you're probably going to have one goal that surpasses the. Or maybe you have extra goals thrown in and that's going to impact your distribution or promotion strategy. And that's really important to think about, you want all of this to tie together.

[00:34:26] You want to create a piece of content with a specific objective, and you want to promote that piece of content matching your objectives. So some examples of brand awareness is your big thing. If you're like, nobody knows we exist. We just came out with this really cool report. We just want everyone to know that we are here.

[00:34:41] In this industry now, and we're making a statement in that case, it makes sense to get general like publications, but also probably to really lean into any other audiences that you've already built or got a lot of traction on. So maybe you're going really hard on social when otherwise you wouldn't for SEO purposes, right.

[00:34:59] When you're like, okay, how do we promote this on social? Allocate more time and resources to that. If you're trying to build more authority, it's a really great piece to pitch the most authoritative publications. And maybe you're using it in your email strategy as well to remind your audience. Yes. We know what we're talking about.

[00:35:17] Look at this piece in Chicago. That just got picked up by us, right? So there is a nuance and your north star has to be that objective. And then you decide on your distribution channels accordingly. So for us, digital PR is the other way that a lot of people are familiar with where it's like you're manually pitching publications.

[00:35:39] Right. And who you decide to pitch is related to your objection. If you care about reach and brand awareness, you might be pitching people who, you know, get higher impressions or where you're more likely to be on the front page. But if you're doing it for SEO, you want to pitch the people that have the high domain rank writings, right.

[00:35:57] There's nuance there again at stacker, we're a syndication network, which we're a little bit of a new model because people hear syndication. They think like PR Newswire and stuff like that, where it's a lot of sponsored stuff. We're all earned syndication. We're earned media. So for us, a lot of people come to us with the SEO value in their mind with the other stuff, as the icing on the cake, like, oh, cool.

[00:36:17] We also get the authority and awareness, but we want to earn links at scale. So any of these things can be part of your strategy depending on your primary goal and then your secondary goals. But what you invest the most time in will depend on what you're trying to achieve. I feel like I just said a lot in a very short amount of time.

[00:36:39] So I'm happy to answer any questions. Anybody has Bernard. I see you added another one. Let's see

[00:36:44] Bernard: what else did I did? Awesome. Awesome stuff, man. It's she's like, oh, I have so many ideas. And I have like, oh, That's what they're doing or, you know, now you've given me a, a phrase that I could be like, oh yeah.

[00:36:58] You know, competitor X is doing tangential content. That's why we also need to. Yeah. The, the question that I put into, into the chat is that I I've done that. I dabbled a little bit with tangential content in the past, and sometimes the. News source. We'll just have a text dimension of the brand for the study that you did.

[00:37:27] And clearly, you know, you want the link. So couple of questions here, sometimes new sources will have a link REL no-follow sometimes they won't link. What are the strategies to get them to place a link after they've used some statistic or quoted. Your tangential content for

[00:37:52] Amanda: something. Yeah, this is a racket, isn't it?

[00:37:55] I think every, every digital PR person is, yeah, we can relate to this problem because it will happen no matter what, eventually, if you're doing this at any kind of scale. So firstly with the no-follow and that sort of problem, there are going to be some publications. That no follow everything or, you know, tag everything in a way that you don't like, and the only you can still pitch to those sites.

[00:38:19] But knowing that it's more of a a brand awareness play than it will be an SEO play. So that initial research was really important. Some you're right. We'll just randomly decide to do. That sucks. Usually if they decide to no follow something, I would follow up just because they made a very deliberate decision and it probably has something to do with an internal policy of theirs.

[00:38:36] You could ask for clarification, but if they just left the link out altogether, and I know at fractal, they used to do this, at least you can definitely reach out and say, Hey, you know, in case your audience or your readers are interested in seeing the full report, you can like link to it here. So you're, you're posing it.

[00:38:54] It's still a value to you to include it, not just like, give me the link when that's what we all want to do. So that, that does work a lot of the time. For us, we have partnerships with all these publications and we've reached out to our publishing partners and like, they want to get it right. They're not trying most of us, you know, they're not trying to screw anybody over, especially when the re like for us are republishing the whole story.

[00:39:17] Right. So to not give credit is not ideal. But even for people who are just citing, something that you're doing, I don't, I think it's fine to send one email. That's like, Hey, you know, you can link to this page. In case they're interested in learning more. Now that's also assuming that you're using the strategy of having a page that has all this information on it.

[00:39:36] If you're just trying to get a link to your homepage, that's a little iffier and might not be as easy to, to get a, and you're weighing the pros and cons of is this publisher, someone I want to pitch in the future. Because of it is you're probably not going to be as pushy. If it's somebody you don't care about, really.

[00:39:52] And then you just found this placement online. You're like, I should get a link out of this then. Yeah, you can, you can be a little more assertive about it,

[00:40:00] Bernard: you know, makes, makes total sense. We have a couple coming from the audience. So starting with anonymous, they ask, do you find that there's any value with creating clickbait or buzz feed style tangential?

[00:40:15] I have a search competitor, for example, that has an entire site section devoted to celebrity

[00:40:20] Amanda: news. That's hilarious. I really, I'm very curious what industry you're in. I can tell you, it's like stuff of this stuff just works and it's honestly wild celebrity content. That's very well. Is there any value to it?

[00:40:31] I mean, I think there's value to the better version of. So I wouldn't necessarily copy what your competitor's doing. Like, even if they're skirting by with this, and they're getting a lot of traction out of it that doesn't mean that it's like high quality or that it's going to be sustainable. And those are two things that are really important to think about.

[00:40:47] Especially sustainability. Sometimes these tactics work in the short term and then they taper off. So for lists, we were actually writing a piece about this right now, because at sacrum, we actually create a lot of lists and sometimes there's a connotation around lists because people do. Made really bad ones.

[00:41:04] Sometimes some Buzzfeed lists are not the highest of quality, but the way that we go around that is using the point that I mentioned about data. So when we compile lists or best of, or like places around the country that are XYZ, it's all based on data, which makes it much more legitimate and compelling.

[00:41:23] Then you're just putting a list together for fun. You know, like here's 10 things that three of us at this office decided are true. It's more. Here's what we decided. And we actually will put in the headline, like based on this data or based on, you know, these critics or whatever it is so that people know what they're getting into when they click it, it feels much more authoritative.

[00:41:43] It will get much more traction if you do it that way. I think rather than like, I feel you, you don't want to like stoop to, what's just like the most ridiculous piece of concept I can put out to build links. That's not a sustainable strategy in my opinion. So even if you're seeing it work for your competitors in the short.

[00:41:58] I wouldn't invest in that. I would be like, how do we do this? But better with content that we actually feel good about. And we think people will actually appreciate.

[00:42:07] Bernard: Yeah. So this is why, you know, Johnny Depp is relevant to clear scope and SEO. No, I'm kidding. But yeah, it's, I, I, I don't know what industry that question came from, but I could imagine how it would be like the weirdest thing.

[00:42:22] We started a celebrity category on our, on our non-existent.

[00:42:31] Amanda: We do celebrity content with stacker. And it's interesting because, you know, we try to approach it in different ways because people publishers pick it up and people love it. They eat it up. So it's like, how do you, how do you not like fully just sell out and be like, here's a celebrity blog. Now, even though I'm a pet insurance company, like that doesn't make sense, but you know, you could do a piece of content about celebrity pets.

[00:42:53] Sure. Why not? Because it's still within your tangential sphere. That's how I would think about, I would think about that. All

[00:43:00] Bernard: right. One somewhat technical question here from Josh, he asks with those syndicated pieces, assuming they have a canonical tag. Yeah. For those of you who don't know what a canonical tag is, the canonical tag is an HTML tag that essentially tells search engine bots.

[00:43:19] That one, you are a. It's equivalent to another URL. So it's basically saying, okay, if something's canonical old, there is one piece of content and it exists just over wherever the canonical tag is pointing to

[00:43:34] Amanda: that case. Look at content. Tells Google, right. It's not just stolen and republished. It was. Yeah.

[00:43:41] Bernard: So he asked, yeah, in that case, does that canonical tag pass authority and page rank, and the same question for any internal links in that piece, back to your site. Does Google assign any value to those since they're really just a duplicate of the same piece and link that are already exists on

[00:44:00] Amanda: your site?

[00:44:02] Josh, you are asking the right questions. This was super interesting to me when I joined stacker because I had the same exact question because this is a newer model. And really the question to me was, is it the links or the canonicals? Because our head of SEO actually has a suspicion that the canonicals carry a lot of authority weight.

[00:44:23] And when you think about this from just like a, like leaving Google ads, If you're trying to approximate, how do you tell that something's authoritative or not, or like deserving of some kind of like positive reputation signal? It makes sense that re-publishing something in full is a very powerful. Like vouching of something, right.

[00:44:42] In the same way that linking to something is saying, I want you to see, or like, trust or know that this is the citation that I'm making for this information. I think that it makes a lot of sense, intuitively that a republished piece of content, assuming it's being republished by respectable publication.

[00:44:58] A lot of times these syndication networks that are out there, they're just putting it anywhere. And you're just like, it's increasing range. And you're like, what the hell is this site? Like, I've never heard of them. Do they have an audience? Like what is happening? That's not the same, but if, you know, SF date syndicates, something that's that means that they thought it was good enough to republish on their site.

[00:45:18] Like they're, they, they like it enough. So we have seen that that level of canonical syndication is really effective. Same with the links. Yes. I think that if there's a do follow. Link back to you that that's effective, honestly, in our case, we don't know which one carries the most value because we get both.

[00:45:38] So it's hard to compare. So we usually talk in links because that's what people are used to, but it's very possible. It's actually the canonicals that are driving a lot of the, a lot of the growth for our brand partners. I hope that answers your question, but. Oh, so you're saying I shouldn't just create it out.

[00:45:58] It's a syndicated over and over again. Yeah, exactly. Right. Yeah. It's like the PBS indication

[00:46:06] Bernard: that black hat right there.

[00:46:09] Amanda: Yeah. It's still the same way with lakes. It matters lethality of the site that you're getting the certification from.

[00:46:15] Bernard: Yeah. So I have a churn to data, right? When I did tangential content, my own strategy, it heavily relied upon on data.

[00:46:28] And that was, I guess, for me being kind of a logical sort of person, very easy for me to like fall back on too. And, you know, news sources and new sites love eating up data studies. So a couple of questions, question number one is a, where do you get data? Right? Like obviously you can run surveys and all that good stuff, or you can use a pin to screen.

[00:46:56] You know, data things to create studies and be to follow up with that, how much data. Is a respectable about, of data, right? There's something where you're like, oh, you know, survey 10 people. And, you know, they said this, whereas, you know, like what kind of data quantity will somebody at the Chicago Tribune raise their eyebrow at and be like, all right, that's not enough data.

[00:47:24] Whereas, you know, what sort of data threshold. Are we talking about to make something like, okay, I can trust this and want to cite it.

[00:47:34] Amanda: Yeah, no, that's a great question. So for the first part, I think that if you're like new to this. Definitely using just like publicly available government data is a good place to just play around, but there are two strategies to, to the ideation.

[00:47:49] It's either you find a data set. That's super interesting. And then you try to figure out how to like pull a story from that. Or you have a question. That you don't know how to answer and you're thinking, what data can I find that answers this question? So you can come at it from two different ways. I don't think one way is necessarily better than the other.

[00:48:05] I think if you find a dataset that's really comprehensive, it's like ask yourself some questions. Like, what is your hypothesis about what that data is going to show you and then see if you're approved, right? Or not usually if you're not proven, right. That's even better. It's surprising. So it's, it's worth just digging.

[00:48:19] The joke I always make is, you know, there's all these data sets sitting right online and nobody's just like for funds, like checking them out. Like we're not like throwing them in Excel and be like, let's see what the insights are. It's like, usually they relying on other people to distill that down in an interesting way.

[00:48:33] To the second part of your question, surveys are very tricky. Especially the higher you go in terms of who you want to cover. You can get away with stuff sometimes that obviously I'm like shocked that they get published. Usually you need, if you're talking general audience, you need like at least a thousand or 2000 people to take a survey.

[00:48:54] If you're born niched in that you can get away with fewer, but you're really getting into, like, you have to have a very sound survey methodology if you're doing this on your own and you've never done it before. Like talking to people who are like, oh yeah, let's do this. Let's just run a survey. You probably need a consultant or a vendor that specializes in serving because they know how to frame questions.

[00:49:15] It could get to the point where a publisher is like, all right, show me your survey. Like, show me the questions. And there is an art to that as well. Like you cannot just kind of be like so how do you feel about car insurance and then like skew the scale? Like it's great. It's awesome. It's good. It's fine.

[00:49:29] You know, like whatever, there was like a way that you have to include those ranges. There's a certain way you have to reach out to people. There's a lot of nuance with surveys. So I would, I just exercise caution with serving. So that's why for publicly available data, it's easier. Especially if the source of that data is respected, you kind of skip this whole problem.

[00:49:52] But if you do look at a set of data, either internally or externally, and you're not sure, it really requires you personally to like, look at the methodology of how that was acquired. And like, I would start with a gut check. Like, do you believe this? Like, have you looked at it before you decide to run with it?

[00:50:08] Like, oh, you know, that, that is an interesting dataset, but maybe they're leaving. You know this group of people, or how did they collect this? Did they ask only people predisposed to answer a certain way? Like, did they leave out to the people who would maybe say no to this question? But it, it, it's very tricky.

[00:50:26] A lot of places will have, you know, like we have data analysts and stuff. Like I, I'm not the one doing this cause I would suck at it. Like I don't have the training. So I would recommend if you're, if you're not sure, like get a consultant or something to help you parse through that because it is important.

[00:50:42] Bernard: Totally totally. Well, I have one last question that is actually related to stacker and stocker studio. If people are interested in having stacker newsroom stacker in the studio, you know, I know you had that, that one slide where it was the stacks and the things being distributed and all that, that stuff.

[00:51:05] But, you know, can, can you give us some, some more insight on, you know, do we come prepared with a story and then we have to stock her or, you know, can we get you to create. If we can, you know, like how much does the typical engagement look like if you're, you know, if you can share those details, like what's a in engagement length, and

[00:51:26] Amanda: how does it look like?

[00:51:28] Yeah. So we're end to end. So you do not have to come to us with anything because I know that's stressful. So no, we come up with all the ideas. So we have an internal newsroom, the same newsroom that's creating, like the standard stacker stories is creating the studio stories for our brand partners.

[00:51:41] So. Will you submit to them like, okay, here's the category that we're in. They come up with a list of headlines that they think would be interesting and they know that they can execute on and our brand partners select which ones they liked the best, and our team creates it all. And all of that, our brand partner has to do is publish it on their site.

[00:51:58] We handle the creation of the content and distributing it to the Newswire. And in terms of cost, it's about six to 8,000 per story. And usually we say, you need at least six months because. So the point I made earlier, you're not going to see the results of the. Start changing until at least three months in.

[00:52:19] So we're, you know, we want to work with partners who are in it for the long haul anyway, but pretty comparable in terms of other kind of link earning vendors. Obviously I did a whole other presentation on link building versus link earning and how, if you're just going to buy some links, it's going to be cheaper, but it's also going to be pretty crappy and not do anything for you in the long term.

[00:52:38] That's those, those people kill me because of. Under cut the value of these really high quality links all the time. Like when you get these spammy emails that people pitching stuff. And when you go higher up, like to the, you know, C-suite, they don't understand like the value of some of this stuff, but anyway, that's the general gist.

[00:52:58] That's my rant that I can go on for another hour. But. Yeah. So

[00:53:03] Bernard: you're telling me da 60 plus isn't just $1,200 a pop.

[00:53:08] Amanda: Yeah. Right. It's just like it's so transactional makes me cry. Yeah.

[00:53:16] Bernard: I totally get it. Cause you know, like da 60 plus it's like, where is that coming from? What is it saying? You know, like in, in that, is it even relevant to you or did you just get like, you know, one period like linking to your site, like from the source. So. I feel you, so, yeah, six to 8,000, you know, at least maybe, you know, six, six to nine months.

[00:53:38] What's the cadence that you would recommend, like one, a one a month, two a month, three months in.

[00:53:43] Amanda: Our, our head of SEO is working on a case study on that very question, because again, we had the same question. Usually when we work with folks, we start with just one just to get like everything.

[00:53:52] Set up. But a lot of people do scale up to two to four stories a month because we have seen, if you think about link velocity, like we have seen that an increase in volume per month does help if you're, especially if your goal is like, I need to hit this organic traffic target, like sooner rather than later.

[00:54:08] It helps to have a higher volume because you still need that time. So if you're, if you're still operating in like months before it'll hit, like any benefit, then increase the volume and it'll the impact will be higher sooner. But a lot of people do one story a month, you know, like if you're, if you're like, okay, let's, let's just do this.

[00:54:27] See how it impacts them. They'll do a first engagement and they'd come into renew and they're like, okay, let's, let's double that. So we see that it's trending up. Let's just, you know, continue to invest in this and this work. So I think if you have that budget available, it definitely helps to do more. But I think that one a month can certainly get you a results.

[00:54:50] It's just has to be consistent. You can't like do one drop off for six months, you know, decide, oh, I'll do something. You know, that's when it doesn't really help you a whole lot.

[00:55:00] Bernard: Cool. Well, this was a true treasure and treat. I learned a lot and I hope everybody here did as well. Thanks so much for that amazing presentation.

[00:55:12] Amanda: Thank you so much for having me.

Written by
Bernard Huang
Co-founder of Clearscope

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