Extensive articles and resources on content development, promotion and overall content marketing.

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Using Analytics Data to Improve your Traffic Generation

Measurability is what sets digital marketing apart from other traditional marketing channels.

The accuracy of data collection through web analytics has played a vital role in online marketing for years now, not just because it makes reporting look cooler, but because it helps marketers make better decisions and for campaigns to have better directions.

Web analytics has 4 major uses, and it seems that many of us tend to forget the last one:

  • Collect
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Optimize

As I have been mentioning a lot lately – it’s not about how much data you have; it’s about how you use your data to your advantage.

So in this post, I’ll be sharing several methods that you can implement to get the most out of the data you’re getting from your digital marketing activities.

Improving Site Discovery and Traffic

John Doherty wrote a great piece a month ago on Moz on how to build marketing funnels using Google Analytics, which has also discussed this topic. I highly suggest checking out that post as well.

marketing funnel

In optimizing your website for it to be more visible to your target audience, it’s important to first understand the channels where you are getting the most traction from.

You can start by checking your site’s most visited landing pages, including the mediums that they are able to constantly get new visitors from.

Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages > and on the “Second Dimension” tab choose Traffic Sources > Medium:

site discovery

Determining which sites have referred the most engaged traffic to your website is another data set that you’ll have to consider checking (referring sites with low bounce rates, high visit duration and high percentage of new visits).

Acquisition > All Referrals:

acquisition

On making use of these data:

Putting more efforts on those that have proven to drive results is a conventional wisdom in online marketing.

  • Be consistent in building brand exposure on sites that have constantly driven visitors to your website – by becoming more visible on their sites through continuous content contribution or by making sure that the pages from their domain that passes on traffic to your website will continuously get traffic (by helping them rank better or by building 2nd-tier links).
  • Update and solidify your site’s top landing pages, particularly those that have low engagement rate, as these pages are the ones that help people discover your site/brand.
  • Find sites similar to the websites sending targeted traffic to you (using Google search or Similar Web) and aim to gain more brand visibility from them too (given that they also cater to the same audience you’re targeting).

related search

Understanding the customer journey

Traffic generation is not just about bringing new traffic to your website, as the process’ entirety also involves nurturing your audience (growing your returning visitors) for it to be truly efficient.

What are the things that I can do to keep my visitors on coming back to the site? That’s one good question to always ask. And a few answers to this question are:

  • Continuously growing your content resources (blog, content assets, newsletters, etc…).
  • Building an interactive community within the site (forum, community blog, etc…).
  • Providing free web-based products/services.
  • Making all of your brand’s offerings (ex: whitepapers, newsletters, videos, etc…) very visible on the site’s key pages (as CTAs).

But the main key to really make your site sticky for new traffic is to provide a unique experience (that they’ll want to share and utilize again).

That’s why it’s very important to determine which mediums are mostly used by people to find your site and what possible elements of the site make them want more.

Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths

top conversion paths

Turning to Mobile

Mobile internet usage has clearly been huge for the past decade (and is still continuously growing), making the available data from Google Analytics more valuable than ever.

Aside from the fact that these data can help you decide if it’s really right for you to invest on mobile marketing, it also gives you insights/opportunities on how you can diversify your brand’s growth in terms of traffic generation and product offerings.

Audience > Mobile > Devices 

mobile devices

On making use of these data:

  • Optimize your website for mobile devices (and OS) that are sending conversions to your website – by making your site responsive or building custom mobile versions of the site for devices that are yielding results. This can tremendously affect your site’s ability to rank better on mobile search.
  • Improve the site’s loading speed. For more tips, you can also check out Sean Si’s extensive guide on how to improve site speed.
  • Build site features that are specifically targeted to mobile users (like offering different formats of your content such as audio, video, downloadable PDFs or mobile apps).

Social Traffic

Knowing which social networks that are driving the most traffic and conversions to your site is just the first step. It’s also imperative to identify those that can help diversify your site’s traffic sources.

You can easily determine these social networks by gauging which ones are sending high percentage of new/unique visits, with low bounce rates.

Acquisition > Channels > Social

social

Making use of these data:

  • Start building your following base on these other social platforms, by spending more time to interact with its other users (particularly those that are in the same niche/industry).
  • Create content specifically targeted to these platforms (like developing original images and promoting them through Pinterest, or creating more slide presentations then uploading them on Slideshare, etc…).
  • Cross-promoting your content on these channels on social networks where you are already established.

Improving landing pages with low organic traffic

Export the list of your site’s landing pages into an excel sheet (including the mediums sending traffic to them, by adding it on the secondary dimensions of your landing page’s analytics report).

This way, it’ll be easier for you to sort the list and determine your site’s weak pages in terms of search visibility.

Make a list of these pages, and assess the importance of each, especially with the search terms they’re aiming to rank for.

On improving your weak landing pages:

  • Optimize them to become more evergreen (update the information it contains).
  • Make it more comprehensive – especially if the content provides answers to frequently asked questions (or frequently searched queries in your space). As this can also help unleash your content’s full potentials, such as in optimizing your sales training, as well as customer service awareness.
  • Build more thematically relevant internal links to them, to pass more link value and ranking power. For more tips, you can also check this guide on content optimization.

Do the math in your landing pages

If every page on your site is getting 100 visitors per month on an average, then adding 10 new more unique and useful pages will allow you to attract a thousand more visitors in the next month.

But of course, this is not a precise amount of increase that you can actually expect. However, having a deep understanding of the capability of your site to make its pages earn visibility and traffic is extremely crucial when it comes to growing your audience/customer base.

Always look for opportunities that can help you expand your brand’s reach, like implementing these things:

  • Regularly checking your site’s internal site search data to see what topic areas your visitors are really looking for (Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms).
  • Understanding your target audience’s other interests, so you can come up with content specifically targeted to these users (Audience > Interests > Affinity Categories).

affinity categories

  • Identify countries, cities and languages that you have a strong market, and create content specifically tailored for these site visitors – as this can result to getting more long-tail keywords that you can target and rank for (Audience > Geo > Location or Language).

geo

Make your site more remarkable to improve return visits!

Whether you’re running an online publication, SaaS company, ecommerce site, B2B or an offline business, in the long run, visitor retention will be far more valuable than new visitor acquisition – because these are the people who are ready and willing to spend more in your business.

new vs returning

How to make your website remarkable:

  • Invest on content that people won’t find anywhere else (thought-leadership)
  • Invest on design
  • Invest on building relationships
  • Invest in branding

More helpful resources:

If you liked this post, you should subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

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The ROI in Forum and Comment Marketing

inbound.org

Building and earning visibility through conversations has proven itself to be a very result-oriented approach in online marketing.

Sharing your knowledge and expertise on online communities doesn’t just help you build links (that get clicked more often than not), but it also allows you to build a strong brand presence that will let people in your industry know that you really know your stuff.

And best of all, it can also help you generate leads/sales directly.

Examples

To start off, I’ll throw a couple of samples of how I personally gained from just being active on some of the biggest online communities in the SEO industry in the past.

Note: My links’ actual conversion data (from early 2010 – June 2013) has been wiped out when Google Analytics’ new interface was launched earlier this month.

A few years back, my blog marketing strategy heavily relied on building conversations on other sites (particularly those that I knew where my target customers are) – and I believe they really paid off.

For instance, I used to be active on Warrior Forum in the early days of my blogging career (in which I have contributed 173 forum posts).

Warrior Forum

Over the span of 3 months, I’ve managed to get a few service inquiries:

warrior-conversions

And I was able to work on 2 good projects (for $500/month – that was my monthly rate before).

tony bianco

So if I had a total of 173 forum posts, which could have taken me 2 minutes to make each post (a total of 346 minutes or 5.8 hours), and say I’m paying myself $20/hour. Then the total investment I made for this specific task would be $116.

The return was two $500/month worth of projects. Not bad for an investment right?

Another sample would be my current presence on Inbound.org (being one of the community’s top users).

inbound.org

Which definitely have generated a lot of business leads for Xight Interactive for the past several months:

inbound-conversions

It has been much easier to close deals with prospected clients coming from this community, since they already know what type of service they are looking to get.

inbound-inquiry

Other than getting service leads, it also helps me scale my marketing efforts, as I get more linking opportunities – seeing that other community members perceive my brand as an authority in the field.

link opportunity

Calculating the amount of efforts I’ve done vs. the results I got (as a business owner) was definitely satisfying.

I’ve already shared 1,545 articles on Inbound.org (although I’m not saying it’s about the quantity of your contribution). So let’s say it takes me a minute to share a single post on the site – which actually isn’t, since I believe it’s just a few seconds (a total of 1,545 minutes or 25.8 hours). Then I’ve already spent $516 worth of my time on contributing to Inbound.org (if say I’m paying myself 20 bucks per hour).

The returns were I was able to close a lot of new client inquiries and got more marketing firepower for my blog’s brand – which I can truly say a win/win.

Improving your conversational marketing strategy

Like any other marketing strategy/tactic, conversational marketing also has a few best practices of its own.

Generosity is key.

The more you add value to the discussions or give valuable information to other people in your target communities, the more you can:

  • Make your brand and contributions appear more authentic.
  • Build an authoritative identity for your brand.
  • Standout in discussions that really matter (increases click-through visitors).
  • Help and influence other people.
  • Build better relationships and become more linkable.

I know some people in our industry who have been really generous in sharing their ideas/knowledge, which I think have helped a lot in establishing themselves as an authority in the field.

One perfect example would be Benj Arriola (of Internet Marketing Inc.), who has been so generous in giving people advice (whether it’s on a forum or in a Facebook group).

benj

Invest more time on communities that will actually drive results

Participate on blogs, forums, social network groups and other online communities in your industry that really matter. Choose the communities that have:

  • A strong search share (to ensure that your contributions will be seen by their constantly growing search-driven visitors).
  • Large traffic, an active community and majority of it is your target audience.

Scaling your conversational marketing efforts

There are also a few things that you can do to make the most out of your forum and comment marketing campaigns, such as:

Hire smart people to do the community infiltration for you

If you have a great in-house team that really knows how your product/service(s) work (your sales or marketing people), then adding these small tasks of participating to online discussions can tremendously help you build a solid sales funnel. Just imagine if they can just do this for 15 minutes every day, right?

I’ve been working with Affilorama for the past 3 years, and I know that they’re support and sales team do this on their free time.

Always measure

Check the top referring online communities that are driving conversions on your website (via Google Analytics). Spend more time on the ones that are really working.

Give product samples to other active community members

Get to know the other active users in your target communities, especially those who’re already/somehow considered to be an authority (but not the moderators).

Give them free samples of your products, as these can help you:

  • Get more inputs on how you can further improve your product (which can make your brand more link-worthy in the future).
  • Build rapport with the people who really care about your industry – and eventually build brand evangelists who can voluntarily promote your content within the communities they are active in.

Build more non-linking brand mentions

Instead of aiming for links when using this approach, use conversations to mainly amplify your online branding efforts. Because there are ton of advantages in doing this, such as:

  • It reduces the chances of getting flagged as a spammer (especially on forums), when you’re slightly promoting your own products.
  • It can cultivate more branded search (given that you didn’t provide a link) – which is a very powerful signal that search engines use to determine strong brands.

forumpost

  • Search engines can understand these non-linking brand mentions (through phrase-based indexing and the concept of co-occurrence), which means they will most likely count them as votes for your website to have better ranking ability on search results.

For more tips on comment marketing, watch the video below from one of Rand’s Whiteboard Fridays.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre

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How I Do Link Baiting on @kaiserthesage

J-zz-In-My-Pants-Caps-the-lonely-island-4133367-850-475

This was my slide presentation earlier today for a brainstorming session with WebPros‘ search and content team (they were amazing and a very smart team!). The deck is just a recap of the core inbound marketing strategy that I’ve been implementing on this blog for the past couple of years.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog, then I believe you’ll find many of the ideas from the presentation very familiar.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

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My Best Kept SEO Secret on How to Rank for Competitive Keywords

As expected, SEO has gotten a bit more difficult, especially now that Google is pushing to encrypt a bigger portion of their search traffic data from Analytics (100% keyword not provided).

Knowing the keywords that really work and drive results has been a core factor of why SEO is a force to reckon with. But without it doesn’t really imply the demise of SEO as a marketing practice.

I don’t really give a sh*t if they try and keep all the keyword data to themselves, because as long as people are searching for something – we still have work to do.

Steve Webb has put together a list of the most actionable SEO advice from industry leaders this week, and I thought I’ve already given mine – until I’ve come to revisit this method that I’ve been doing since I started blogging.

The secret is simple – Create content that:

  • is evergreen
  • can be continuously updated
  • can target industry head terms

This is somehow based on Wikipedia’s content model, wherein they publish the ultimate resource about a certain subject (industry-specific terminologies) and enabling the content to be continuously updated.

Examples

To give you a better outlook of how I’ve done this tactic, I’ll share a few actual samples.

Example #1: I’ve shared this first example many times before. It’s a linkable asset that has been here on my blog for the past 2 years now – my “SEO strategies resources page”.

SEO strategies

When I created this list (of my top blog posts), I was originally aiming for it to rank for the keyword “SEO strategies”. And it did.

It’s been consistently ranking on the top 3 spots for the past 2 years now.

SERP seo strategies

That brought thousands of highly engaged organic traffic to my blog every month.

organic seo strategies

And here’s the best part, because of the content’s comprehensiveness, it was also able to rank for 779 other more search terms (like online marketing strategies, SEO tactics list, SEO marketing, etc…).

seo strategies variants

So when I realized that this approach was really driving results, I never got contented and had to try it once more.

Example #2: I then built a new resource page for “Social Media Marketing Strategies”.

social media marketing

The results were almost exactly the same. The page was ranking #1 for the keyword “social media marketing strategies” for almost a year now.

social media marketing SERP

That has also brought thousands of highly engaged visitors on a monthly basis, and was also able to rank for 271 other more keyword variations (such as social media marketing techniques, social media marketing plan, social media marketing tactics, etc…).

social media marketing variants

Factors that make them rank better

There are so many things that I’ve done to optimize them and make them more visible on search results, but the nature of these pages were also somehow enough for them to deserve the rankings/organic traffic they are getting.

  • These 2 resources pages I created were internally linking to many of my blog posts that are comprehensive and evergreen (and thematically relevant). So aside from improving the page’s activity rate (as visitors instantly click-through the list of links), it’s also passing ranking power to my site’s other pages.
  • Since these pages are focused on industry terms, I can easily build contextual links to them – through my continuous content marketing efforts (both internal and external).
  • Once these linkable assets are already ranking for the key terms that they are targeting (that are mostly informational search terms), it’s easier for them to attract and earn natural links – knowing that many of the people landing on the page are doing research about the topic.
  • The pages’ ability to be continuously updated makes room for improvement and sustainability in search rankings. The more changes/updates being made on the page, the more it becomes the best resource on the web covering a particular topic area.
  • The robustness of the page’s content also makes it more deserving to rank for multiple keyword variations – which allows it to get more organic traffic.

What to do if you haven’t invested in Content Marketing yet?

The approach I used was aligned with my past content marketing efforts, as the resources page I have just simply compiled all the popular posts I’ve written since 2010.

There are still other viable options if you don’t have enough content assets to compile:

marketing library

I guess this is not a secret anymore. Anyway, if you liked this post, please do subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

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How to Avoid the Soon to be Guest Blogging Penalty

expanding reach

This entry is a guest post by Jayson Bagio, the owner of SEOTeky. You can follow him on Twitter: @seoteky. The opinions expressed on this post doesn’t necessarily reflect my views as an online marketer.

Have you been using guest blogging to build your online presence? If you are into guest blogging, then this post is for you.

Guest blogging is a helpful way to be in front of other people’s audience. Or should I say, the other bloggers’ audience. It can help you reach your target readers, and it’s also a very powerful platform to share and demonstrate your expertise.

And on top of that, you can also drive referrals from the content that you have shared. Though it can also become a bigger advantage (in SEO and branding perspectives) if you can get a link or two from those blogs where you’ve contributed a content.

But of course, there are thousands of people who see guest blogging as a method to build links. Therefore, abuse and manipulation are becoming an issue again for Google. If you are guest blogging for links, then you should stop it because Google is starting to hunt guest bloggers like you.

If  you are not aware, Google recently updated their webmaster guidelines about link schemes. They warned large scale guest blogging with keyword-rich anchor texts and undisclosed sponsored posts with do-follow links that pass PageRank.

See the webmaster guidelines for link scheme definitions.

We’ll never know how Google would assess if a guest blog is low quality or manipulative.  All we can do is to raise the quality standard of our works in order to dodge the bullet of the soon-to-be guest blogging penalty. So let me share with you five ways to avoid this upcoming penalty:

Defining the Signals or Metrics of a Quality Website.

Choosing where to guest blog is by far the most important method to make the most out of your content distribution efforts. Raising your standards makes it easier to identify quality websites that will really matter for your off-site marketing campaign.

Traffic and Social Stats is the biggest signal that you need to look at. Checking these stats will allow you to determine the true state of the website you’re targeting to contribute a guest post to.

Many SEO’s are doing guest blogging for links and they don’t even consider digging in on traffic and social data. All that is important is that they get a do-follow link and have their anchor texts on the post.

Well if you want exposure and referrals, these metrics are important for you to succeed. The higher the numbers are, the better.

SimilarWeb.com

gp-seoteky

Social Analyzer from RYPMarketing

social analyzer

Pagerank is still a good a metric to use in determining the quality of a website. It is a metric or point system given by Google to websites that measures the site’s importance in its index.

You just have to know if a pagerank is valid or fake using tools available on the Internet. There are webmasters out there who forge Pagerank to attract guest bloggers to get free content.

Quality Score from many of the best and leading tools online is an important scoring basis as well. Some of the most known and reliable site metrics in the industry:

  • MOZ.com’s Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA)
  • Ahrefs rank
  • AC rank from Majestic SEO

These tools can help you decide which ones are quality and not.

Ad Positioning and Usability are also important factors. If the blog is an ad-laden site, pitch your content somewhere else.

Heavy positioning of ads on the page’s above the fold can result in a low quality score from Big G based on the page layout algorithm that Google released early January of 2012. Excessive ads disrupt user experience:

page layout ads

And you don’t want to guest blog on these types of sites.

Link Neighborhood also plays an important part on quality checking. A website that links to bad neighborhood sites like viagra, porn, and casino can hurt you more than help you.

With all these, you can easily measure the quality of the website where you are pitching for guest blog opportunities (hard earned content).

You might wonder, “Why would I trouble myself to check these things out? My client or my site only needs a link, that’s all.” Now’s the time to change your mindset. Guest blogging for links might be your bread and butter, but raising your standards will be beneficial to your site in the long run. Not only through the authoritative links that you acquire, but also with the traffic referral and brand exposure that you get.

Guest blogging is more of a networking tool. And in networking, connecting with the right people is as vital as networking itself.

Getting your site/brand connected with other entities that have strong potentials of progressing in social web and search, can directly influence your site’s ranking ability as well.

Google already laid out the mechanics in this game of guest blogging; all you have to do is follow.

Implementing Authorship for Guest Bloggers

AuthorRank is somehow foreseen as the future of link metrics (and ranking signals). And implementing authorship markup on all of your works (even on guest blogs) is one way to let Google distinguish individual publishers who’re expert on certain topic areas.

On implementing authorhship markups:

List the URL of the website(s) where you contribute guest blog posts to on your Google + account.

Go to your G+ home page, then click About. In the Links Section, click Edit at the bottom. Go to Contribute To. Click Add Custom Link. Type in the name of the website in the Label text box, then insert the URL of the website you are contributing to.

authorship

Click Save when you’re done. Then on your bio or author byline from your guest article, link to your Google+ account’s URL and add the rel=author tag.

Draw The Line on Massive Guest Blogging Campaigns.

Google publicly warned webmasters on massive guest blogging campaigns through their webmaster guideline.  Here is a massive guest blog service inquiry from someone that I received.

skype chat

Imagine 200 guest blogs per month, isn’t that a torture to the SEO company or for your website to have? 200 guest blogs per month – that is massive and really easy to track.

If Google is dead serious about their warning, then these people should be scared right now.

Anyways, I opt not to accept his offer, I do not have the man power to deliver it anyways.

Right now, I don’t see 10 to 20 guest blogs as a massive campaign. As long as you know how to diversify your link profile and have the purpose to genuinely help people solve their problems (and build brand awareness along the process).

If you are doing guest blogging, then don’t forget that you can combine it with other online marketing platforms (relationship/community building, social signals, branding, lead generation, etc…) to make it look more appealing not just to Google – but to you target audience as well.

Nothing Beats Quality and Relevant Content.

This may sound cliché, but content is really the king. We all know how a well-written, relevant article can impact how the audience percieve your brand’s value — it’s a great way to attract more visitors and gain more subscribers.

As you continue to spark the interest of the crowd, you can expect to see more positive results along the way.

Simple ways to generate content:

Feedly is a very good replacement for Google reader. Track your favorite blogs and get content ideas through this feed curator.

feedly

Google Suggest lets you see what topics people search for.

google suggest

Understand Your Horizontal Niche. Think out of the box and find topics that can help you expand your reach. See the image below, fashion can be vertically related to fashion tips, list and trends. But fashion can also be interrelated to parents, money making, apps and so on. This is called horizontal guest blogging.

expanding reach

However, there are still guest bloggers who would rehash content to pitch to different websites. We all know how Google despises spun, scraped content. In the Webmaster’s Guideline, you’ll see those types of content that violate Google’s policy.

If you’re having a hard time to come up with your own article, it would be better to start first with an outline, or have it written by someone who knows more about the niche you are targeting. Pack your content with as much useful information as possible.

Forget Links, Focus On Your Brand.

Link is all that matters – this has been our mindset since day 1 when we started to learn about SEO and link building. Even when I started doing guest blogging for some of my clients, all I wanted is to get dofollow links.

We can all change. Build your brand and become an authority on your niche as they say. I won’t go far on this topic. Just like Jason Acidre, right now this good looking guy gets interview invitations from different authority blogs. And many other opportunities because people consider  him as an expert in the industry. When he writes, people read, when he talks, people listen, when he shares, people click – that is influence at it’s best.

interview search

Jason doesn’t have to think of guest blogging anymore, because he continuously provide solid contents on Kaiserthesage.com, consistently built his rapport in the link building space and established his credibility as one of the best.

Now many SEO’s from local and international scene are begging for a chance to have him interviewed. Some conferences in the international scene are also inviting him. While other SEO experts meet with him whenever they get a chance to be in Manila.

dejan

 

Build your brand, that is the only way you can cut guest blogging in your efforts. “When  we brand things, our brains perceive them as more special and valuable than they actually are” – My favorite quote from Martin Lindstrom, on his book Buyology.

Here are some of the best brand building content that you need to see if you want to further understand branding:

When you build your brand, you become an influence and you win relationships. At the end of the day, when all the link building efforts get boxed-in by Google, all that is left are the relationships that we were able to build.

Google wants the Internet to be a place where REAL people engage in conversations of their chosen interest — that’s why they’re humanizing how algorithms work. Be as realistic as possible; start oozing out those creative juices! Guest blog with a purpose.

Few notes from Kaiserthesage:

  • If you’ve been already active with guest blogging for the past couple of years, you might want to review your already existing links (particularly their anchor texts) and deoptimize them. Use branded links instead.

  • If you’ve penetrated strong industry blogs in the past (robust social, traffic and domain authority), you might want to be in touch with them again, and pitch to become a regular contributor instead. Multiple links from a strong link source translates to relationships/association – which is a powerful trust indicator for people and search engines.

  • Don’t just leave your guest posts once they are published. Participate in the discussions, connect with their audience, and help share the content. These things help build more positive signals to the content. Always remember that “authenticity” is key to succeed in online marketing.

  • Start implementing authorship markups on your guest posts.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre

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12 Scalable Link Building Tactics [Newsletter Edition]

12

UPDATE: This 4-part newsletter series is now published as a blog post on Moz, entitled 12 Scalable Link Building Tactics

Link building/earning is very essential in online marketing, not just because it improves your SEO. But because it also helps a website be discovered (click-through visitors), generate leads, connect with other publishers (relationships), as well as build a stronger online brand presence.

Although establishing yourself as an authority to eventually earn links along the process is what search engines naturally want websites/brands to do, you can’t still disregard artificial link building (link marketing).

Link marketing is an initiative that should also be highly considered, as this practice makes a brand more known in its online space – and for it to genuinely earn links in the future.

This is a 4-part newsletter series that will run for the next couple of weeks (starting this week). In this series, I’ll be sharing comprehensive guides on how to implement some of the most scalable link building tactics (that can be used by agencies, SMBs and enterprise-level companies).

You can use the form below to subscribe.

Get actionable link building tips straight to your inbox.



Also, I’ll be publishing the whole series as a blog post later this month, so if in case you don’t want to be bothered on your email, you can just wait for the full post to be published.

You can also follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre for more updates.

Creating Content on Industries you’re not an Expert in

Content marketing has been the entire buzz since Google started to sniff out all the nasty and manipulative links over the web. Don’t worry, I won’t start with why content is so important in this line of work (yes, yes, I know that you know that content is king).

I’ve been thinking of writing this post for quite some time now, and I’ve even wrote the draft for this post while I was away for a business trip late last week.

Aside from talking content development/marketing with one of our biggest clients last week, I also sat for a very long time thinking how we’ll be able to put our ideas into easy-to-follow processes.

Since almost everyone’s shifting towards this area of online marketing, I believe that this topic is something that might be really handy for a lot of “marketers for hire” out there (especially those who have just recently transitioned their efforts to making real great content).

Obviously, most of us who’re in consulting firms and agencies have worked on lots of clients in different industries that we don’t actually know anything about at all to begin with.

So I’ve thought of some ways you can create expertly-made content on niches/industries that you have zero knowledge of.

Create content assets based on FSQ/FAQs

This is probably the easiest way to build content assets on niches that you don’t know much about.

Basing your content strategy on FSQs (frequently searched queries or FAQs in your client’s industry) is very effective, since there are so many available resources for your content already (content and information provided by your competitors).

The main key to succeed when using this approach is to ensure that you’ll come up with content assets that are far more comprehensive, actionable and informative than what your competitors have already published.

Several things that you may have to check out before creating your own content are:

  • Find the successful web pages/blog posts about the subjects you’ve chosen (use Google search). Evaluate and understand why they are ranking.
  • Make a list of the things/information lacking within their content (such as visuals, personal insights/opinions, data, etc…) – as you can use them to your advantage once you do your own version of the content.
  • Check and make a list of the sites linking to those content and people who have shared them on social networks. You can use tools like Topsy, Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs to extract these data sets. Reach out to them afterwards once you publish yours.

Key: Outdo your competitors’ content.

Get insights from your clients

The first thing that you can do before running a content marketing campaign for a new client (especially those who’re in industries your team has no background in) is to send intake forms that are solely about the solutions that their business provides.

Gather as much data as you can from your clients, as these things can help you out in generating content ideas that match their expertise.

Interview your clients (if possible) and include their insights along with your own perspectives within your content. You can even make your client’s insights the basis of your content development by breaking down each answered question into different posts.

Get insights from industry leaders

I actually mentioned this tip on my post from 2 weeks ago (on scaling content marketing). Instead of interviewing industry influencers (or doing group interviews) and publishing them as an “interview with xxx” type of post, why not just ask for their take/opinion on a particular subject you’ll be writing about (to mainly validate your own ideas).

Advantages of taking this route, instead of full and exclusive interviews:

  • It’s not that time-consuming for the influencers you’re targeting to engage – as you can do this through a short and quick email or even through social networks.
  • It would be easier to get their attention, trust and respect, when they see that you’ve mentioned them in a thorough article with your own thoughts and ideas.
  • You’ll be able to demonstrate your brand as an expert/authority. Given that your ideas are validated by other industry leader(s).

Hire someone who knows and understands the field

Content is an investment that you really have to make if you want to succeed in online marketing. And obviously, the better way to get significant results from your investment is to get not just a great content writer – but a writer that really knows your client’s industry.

If you already have a solid content team, delegation will play an important role. It would be easier if you’ll assign your writers to topics that they are really interested in (or already have a background in).

Like in our team’s case, it has been really easy for our in-house media specialist (Vincent Sevilla) to penetrate a-list design websites/blogs (like Buzzfeed, Behance, etc…) since he’s really into that niche.

vincent

Create your own case studies

Research is a vital process in content development. And sometimes, this phase takes weeks to get done. So why not make the most out it by making your own case studies while you’re doing your research.

There are so many ways to gather data for case studies. It may take you some time to get the content done, but the result it can yield is definitely a force to reckon with.

Below are some of the ways that you can do to get data for case studies (while you’re on your campaign’s research phase):

  • Get actual data from other publishers/bloggers. Since they’ll be benefiting through the exposure they can get when you publish it on your site (or on other sites), the chances getting them to participate may be a bit higher (ex: Nick Eubanks did this type of case study about my blog’s evergreen content strategy and published it on Moz).
  • Consumer surveys using Google Consumer Surveys and/or SurveyMonkey. Use the collected data to create a data-driven content.
  • Ask or request existing data from your client that they are willing to publicized – particularly those that are relevant to their products/services/consumers.
  • Reach out to their loyal customers and ask if they’ll be interested to share their experiences or the results they’ve got in using your client’s products/services.
  • Make your own experiments. You can also document your research process (as well as your findings), as you can transform this as a comprehensive content/research paper.

What’s important is to be able to provide accurate information to your readers. That’s what users consume and share – and certainly what Google will most likely rank.

Further reading:

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How to Scale Content Marketing

Content marketing has grown its importance over the past couple of years in the online marketing realm. And one of the most evident factors of why brands and online marketers have started to embrace this marketing practice is the constant changes (algorithm updates) occurring in the search space.

This branch of marketing has proven its efficiency, especially in demonstrating thought-leadership and the approach’s ability to improve a business’ lead generation process.

I’ve revisited Dr. Pete Meyers’ mind blowing MozCon 2013 presentation about the future of ranking a few days ago. And I’ve come to realize that almost all of the factors (that he has mentioned on the last part of his presentation) – which a brand needs to succeed online are achievable when implementing a scalable content marketing campaign:

dr pete's factors

So below are few tips on how you can scale your content marketing efforts.

Create things that are hard to do

Creating content that’s really hard to replicate is definitely one of the best ways to standout as an authority/expert in your industry. Many of the successful content publishers on the web have taken this route – and perhaps the best sample of this is BuzzFeed’s content strategy.

Some of the core elements of a hard to implement/replicate content are:

  • Comprehensive
  • Data-driven
  • Visually appealing
  • Added functions (interactive content, tools, etc…)
  • Contain solid and unique ideas and insights based on experience or internal case studies.

Invest on continuous creation of evergreen content assets – that are useful, actionable and frequently searched by your target audience. It’s the best way to semi-automate your brand’s marketing and lead generation process.

Optimize content assets for search

It’s undeniable that search is still the most effective medium to constantly attract new traffic and potential customers to a website.

Make it easier for people to find the information you provide by helping search engines better understand your content (check out my comprehensive guide to content optimization).

Improve both owned and earned media

Strengthening both owned and earned media is very vital in content marketing. These channels simply allow publishers to scale the “marketing” in content marketing.

tumblr_inline_mn62nihTLW1qz4rgp

Continuously grow your brand’s readership and following by making it easy and simple for people to subscribe to your email list and feed, as well as to follow you on social networks. You can do this by making this calls-to-action very visible on your site’s high-traffic pages (or placing these CTAs highly visible areas).

You can also check these other comprehensive guides on how to effectively grow your email lists and social follower base:

Tie in these goals with your content efforts. As along the process of building a strong following on both medium (social and email) will eventually help you semi-automate your content promotion.

Scaling Content Discovery

There are many other ways to ensure that your content assets are getting found by people who’re really seeking for them, such as:

  • Build internal links to them or promote through your site’s newer content or pages on your site that’s constantly receiving traffic.
  • Acquiring links/visibility from topically relevant pages/discussions that are getting constant traffic (pages ranking for relevant search terms).
  • Building solid content distribution channels – such as regular columns on other industry publications, guest blogs that will be able to generate constant traffic, and repurposed content on UGC sites such as Slideshare or YouTube.
  • Establishing your brand as an authority on community sites (like Inbound.org, industry forums, subreddits, etc…).

The main point is to get more visibility for your content assets from pages that have higher potentials of ranking better on search results.

Relationships

Everyone knows in this industry how impactful relationships are, specifically with the role it plays in marketing and customer acquisition.

Connect and engage with other influencers and content publishers in your online space, as well as with your own readers.

Having industry peers that will really voluntarily share your piece every time you publish a new content is one of the best ways to amplify the reach of your brand.

Pro tip: In engaging industry influencers, instead of doing an interview of them at the start of your campaign, why not just get insights from them and include them on your posts (along with your own takeaways and ideas).  That way, they’ll be more interested to share the content and connect with you further.

Every content asset is a landing page

A content is far more stronger if it has its own goals. Like landing pages, it’s important for your content assets to become helpful in achieving your business’ short and long-term goals.

Every content that you publish and promote should aim for people visiting it to take actions (subscribing to your newsletter, sharing or following you on social networks, etc…).

Use conversion-oriented approaches to make certain that your content assets will drive results, such as:

  • Optimizing your content’s CTAs.
  • Internally linking to other useful content of the site, to make visitors stay longer.
  • Encouraging discussions/interactions.

Author’s personal branding

Invest on building a strong author portfolio and brand. Having well-recognize authors on board make everything else very easy, may it be in terms of doing outreach, attracting ton of links/brand mentions, and acquiring customers.

Here are few tips on how to build a strong personal brand for authors/bloggers:

  • Get interview opportunities (find bloggers who do interviews and pitch your brand’s authors).
  • Collaborate with other known authors in your field to create shareable content.
  • Implement authorship markups on all of the author’s works (on and off the site).
  • Apply to become a columnist or a regular contributor on popular industry blogs.
  • Establish trust and expertise through interactions (ex: social networking, forum and comment marketing).

The more you set yourself as a credible author in your industry, the more natural mentions you can get to your site’s content.

Serve better content display for mobile devices

Mobile search is growing very fast, and it will never stop. It’s best to analyze how much traffic you’re getting from mobile devices.

mobile search

If it’s a substantial portion of your total traffic, then you might want to start using responsive web design or launching a mobile version/app of your site to improve site usage and user-engagement.

Optimize or create content for local search (if appropriate)

Given that search results are getting more location-based (particularly in mobile), optimizing some of your content to target geo-specific audience can perhaps be a good addition to your content strategy.

Mathew Hunt recently wrote a great piece on doing on-page optimization for local SEO, which I highly recommend for you guys to check out. That post also included a visual sample of an optimized local page:

perfectly-optimized-local-page

Turn successful evergreen blog posts into pages

Pages have higher ranking power than blog posts. Google’s Freshness filters are somehow favoring newer content on search results (on many verticals). Making a lot of older, but evergreen, blog posts become less visible on SERPs.

So if you have evergreen blog posts that have managed to attract good amount of natural links and social shares in the past, then moving them to a page might be a viable approach to sustain and increase its search rankings.

Develop a solid content team and process

People and process are the two main factors that can genuinely scale content marketing.

workflow

Kyra Kuik of Distilled wrote an amazing piece on creating and maintaining a structured content team. The post also includes tips on how to develop a solid process that a team can work around to have scalable content campaigns.

I highly suggest reading that post.

Identify what’s working and do more of them

Content helps brands shape their identities (or the way people perceive the brand – brand perception).

Identify niches, topic areas and/or content formats in which you are getting traction with. Focus on these areas by doing more of them – seeing as you’re achieving better results from them.

In gauging the types of content that have high consumption from your audience:

  • Identify those that have high engagement rate (high % of new traffic, low bounce rates, and have high time spent on page).
  • Have good amount of social shares.
  • Content assets that are generating conversions.

The more you know the topic areas that are helping you achieve your goals, the more you can establish your brand as a thought-leader in those spaces.

Bonus: Scaling Creative Content Marketing

Lee Odden’s slide deck from SES last March on scaling creative content marketing was gold. You might want to check this one out.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.