Year in Review: Our Top 13 Posts of 2013

By Monique Pouget

As we count down the last days of 2013, we’re feeling a little nostalgic here on the Thunder blog. The end of the year is a great time to reflect on our most successful posts and show some appreciation for the hard work that goes into each article, email newsletter, event recap or creative piece of content. Motivating a team to blog is no easy feat, but the Thunder Cats don’t know how to disappoint. Let’s take a look at our most successful pieces of content from 2013!

#13: Mozinar Recaps (22% of Thunder Blog Traffic)

In 2013, three Thunder Cats hosted Mozinars! I kicked off the trifecta with “Building a Community without a Big Ass Budget” in January, Brian showed you how to keep that local search footprint squeaky clean in February, and Shawn shared tips for using Instagram to promote your brand and increase site traffic in April.

Shawn and Monique Battle Roger

I can’t speak for everyone, but my Mozinar experience was really radical. There’s nothing quite like sharing advanced strategies and tactics with a super knowledgable audience, and the Q&A is interesting and rewarding. It looks like Thunder should participate in more webinars next year, since it’s a great opportunity for our experts to shine! The traffic spikes don’t hurt either.

#12: Event Recaps (20% of Thunder Blog Traffic)

In addition to Mozinars, Thunder Cats participated in tons of local and national marketing events throughout the year. Every time we spoke at or attended a conference or meetup, we shared valuable takeaways with the Thunder Blog audience. Here’s just a few of our most popular event recap posts:

#11: Premium Content (18% of Thunder Blog Traffic)

This year, we took it upon ourselves to create some compelling and creative content that went a little above and beyond. Taking a look at the numbers, it totally paid off!

Our most successful premium content of the year was my Scientist of Search Trading Cards, which is probably one of my favorite Thunder posts to date. At the time, we had just hired a “temporary” graphic designer to fill in for Phoebe while she was in China, and this was her first project from start to finish. We decided to keep Bree around, and I’m happy we did, because we both love letterpress and Diet Coke. I dig how these trading cards turned out, and this tweet from Avinash made my year! Maybe I’ll print them one day.

Scientists of Search - Thunder SEO

In February, Shawn made a fun video about brewing engagement with video. Since he loves craft beer, he shared examples of breweries and beer enthusiasts using video to connect with their community. The video was pretty fun, and Shawn even got a shout-out from Stone Greg!

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 3.59.24 PM

In November, or shall I say Movember, Beth got super creative with an infographic about Thunder Cats. From Harry Potter and daily commutes to craft beer and tattoos, it’s all there! The less popular graphics about revenue and office space growth also hold a special place in my heart.


#10: Knowledge Graph Deep Dive: The Impact on SERPs, Adwords & Other Questions

In August, Max pulled together some awesome results from a Knowledge Graph study he conducted after getting some inspiration from Dr. Pete’s Mozcon deck. This post has tons of gems, including the top domains showing up for KG queries, a breakdown of different types of queries and the sites Google most commonly served when searching these queries, as well as the impact of Adwords on Knowledge Graph. Try to wrap your brain around this one, you’ll learn a thing or 30.

#9: Measuring What Matters: What’s the Real ROI of Social Media?

Social media ROI is a hot topic that never goes out of style. In this post from Max, he shared his strategy for showing ROI from social media efforts, including six different equations for calculating return on investment. In true Max fashion, this post is very detailed and groundbreaking, so I suggest you take a gander and impress your c-suite while you’re at it!


#8: Founder’s Corner #1: May the Support Be With You

In March, we launched our first email newsletter, as well as a series about Max’s experiences as Thunder’s founder. Coined “Founder’s Corner,” the series explores growth at Thunder, management tidbits, hiring lessons, entrepreneur inspiration and everything in between. We’ve since moved the series to a video format, but it’s not surprising that the first “Founder’s Corner” made the “Best of 2013” list. This one’s all about finding the support to build a business from the ground up, and it’s a good read.

#7: Put a Spring in Your Step with a Social Media Sweepstakes

At Thunder, we help a lot of our clients with social media giveaways. Since we’ve tried a lot (read: successful & unsuccessful) of different sweepstakes strategies, we decided to share our wins with the Thunder Blog. From tool selection to creative, Georgia’s post has everything you need to know about running a successful sweepstakes.

Free Stuff

#6: Spring Cleaning Your Website: 5 Minimum Effort, Maximum Effect Resolutions

I’m a big fan of spring cleaning, so I came up with this idea for spring cleaning your website. Over time, it’s easy to overlook things like metadata, 404s and keyword cannibalization, but “cleaning” these things out once a year can lead to some really positive results. While nothing in this post is groundbreaking, I’m happy it made the list, because I reference it for my clients quite often.

#5: Big Data: How Smart Companies are Transforming Marketing Strategies

Big Data was something we hadn’t covered on the Thunder Blog before, but once Tati came on board, she suggested we blog about how companies are using Big Data to transform marketing strategies. In addition to explaining what exactly Big Data is, Tati shared some great examples of companies integrating data into different pieces of the marketing funnel. Very cool!

#4: Knowledge is Power: 3 Steps to a Higher Pinterest Education

We had blogged about Pinterest before (Pinterest link building personas anyone?), but there was no basic tutorial for using one of the fastest growing social networks. Kelly jumped in and wrote a post about community boards, creating content for your Pinterest audience and examples of Pinterest giveaways. This post was p. fun, and when it comes to Pinterest, Kelly knows her stuff!


#3: Reporting Made Easy: Using Google Sites for Awesome Impact

While some posts are successful, Max’s post about Google Sites and reporting was life-changing for us at Thunder. For the past four years, we had been manually reporting on campaigns, and as they grew, so did the time it took to compile and analyze the data.

Luckily, Shawn is an API whiz, and he transformed our entire reporting process so that we could spend less time compiling and more time analyzing. After Shawn automated our reports in Google Docs, Max figured out how to integrate our Google Doc charts into a Google Site. Not only did this cut HOURS of time off reporting for everyone at Thunder, but it also gave our clients a dashboard to view anytime during the month. Who says reporting only happens once a month? Not us! Thanks Shawn and Max, you totally rule.

#2: 6 Seconds of Fame: 11 Ways Brands are Using Vine to Break Through the Clutter

This is easily the most surprising post on this list, since it took me less than an hour to create it. I noticed that a lot of brands were hopping on Vine (this was before Instagram video, OK?!), and I wanted to share some cool ways to integrate the app into the sales funnel. After publishing this post, I realized that embedding 20+ GIFs within a blog post probably wasn’t the smartest choice for page loading time, but it’s in the top 10, so must have done something right!

#1: Evaluating Campaign Success with UTM Parameters

In 2012, I wrote a post about UTM parameters to go along with my first SMX West speaking gig. It was really successful, but the post only focused on showing ROI from a social media giveaway. Since I constantly referenced it anyway, I decided to write an updated version with a broader theme. My guess is that it’s number one because there aren’t a lot of great UTM parameter resources out there! Hope it’s helpful for you too.

Variable - Value Pair

So there it is, our 13 most successful posts from 2013! Which one is your fave? Tell us what you’d like to see more of for 2014 in the comments below!

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