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

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22 Link Building Tips from @xightph

Links will always play an important role in the search, aside from the fact that it’s the core in which most search engines’ algorithms are based on – it’s still the best way to rank content.

Experts also believe that links are still very much important, though it’s known that Google will most probably just value those that are evidently natural and non-manipulative.

Anyway, for the past year and a half, our company/team has been known to specialize in this area of online marketing (although we also offer other technical marketing services, our brand has just been so attached to this particular marketing practice).

Given that we’ve been doing this for quite some time now, I just thought of sharing the things we’ve learned from working with dozens of clients (from different countries, industries, working on various business models), as well as the mindsets that we’ve grown to believe in as a team when it comes to implementing link development strategies.

1. Diversity is one of the key factors to succeed in online marketing these days. That mindset pretty much applies in link building as well.

And the best way to get a good variety of link types (through voluntary given citations/mentions) is to make sure that you’re promoting a great product/service that has a strong unique selling point, which will make people want to share it with their friends.

2. There are 4 major factors that make brands/sites earn editorial and contextual links – content, relationships, expertise and unique value. Being consistent in building on at least 2 of these main factors can certainly help you get ton of hard-to-replicate links to your site.

factors3. Invest on continuous creation of evergreen content assets that aim to solve perennial problems or frequently asked questions in your space. It’s the best way to scale link building, since they’ll almost always be searched and most likely be used as a reference by people finding your content.

link-growth

4. There is more value and advantages in contributing content regularly on high-traffic industry publications than submitting one-time guest posts on hundreds of mediocre blogs. Focus on 5 – 10 top industry sites (that your target audience go to) and get more visibility from them.

5. Create high-value content assets before launching a guest blogging campaign. It’s easier to get guest post opportunities when your prospects already have an idea of the quality of the content you produce. Guest blogging is also more efficient when primarily used to support your site’s strong content – wherein it’s more appropriate to include in-content links back to your site’s relevant assets.

content asset

6. Invest on developing redistributable content such as images (data visualization, memes, cinemagraphs, etc…), slide presentations, videos/kinetic typographies, PDF/whitepapers and badges. Aside from getting natural links from people who might reuse them, these content initiatives can also help you connect with other content publishers, drive traffic and build brand awareness.

7. Invite authority guest bloggers. It’s the easiest way to bait links – knowing that most seasoned bloggers reference their own works. It’s also a great way to expand your network and following base.

8. Build alliances. Make friends with entities/organizations that share the same ideals as yours (preferably emerging influencers in your industry). That way it will be easier to syndicate your content (as well as theirs) – which exposes your content to a wider audience and can result to higher chances of getting natural links.

9. Apply lead generation techniques when doing link building to get more results from it. Find and participate on specifically targeted discussions using search phrases and search operators that target people particularly looking for solutions (ex: “where can I buy + keyword”, “need help with + keyword”, etc…).

search lead gen

10. Promote useful content where it’s appropriate. There are so many channels where you can promote or build links to your content such as related discussions on other blogs, communities/forums, Q&A sites, and even using paid social ads.

But what’s really important is to ensure that your content will really add value to the discussion and to those who can read them.

comment

11. Always track for mentions (linked or unlinked), yours and competitors’. Asking for links that you’ve really earned (unlinked brand mentions or mentions pointing to your social profiles) is the easiest way to get links through outreach.

Tracking your competitors’ brand mentions is also important, as this can help you find new prospects that you can engage and be connected with. You can use Google Alerts or Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer to track these mentions.

12. Think branding. Link building is more efficient when used as a brand building tool. And given that Google is favoring brands on search results, then link building (when done right) can definitely hit more birds with one stone.

Focus more on branded anchor texts (your brand name, products, events, content assets, etc…) when building artificial links (awareness > link).

13. Aim for links that will get clicked, because they’re the ones that can most likely influence search rankings. Some of the most known factors that make links more clickable:

  • Prominent position in the document (the higher, the better).
  • Links that have highly descriptive and longer strings of anchor texts tend be clicked more.
  • If the link is on a high-traffic page.
  • Sentiments of the texts that surround the link.

14. Strengthen your links’ attributes with the help of other signals for them to pass more value (ranking power) to your site.

link attributes

15. Always check assisted conversions (on Google Analytics). It will allow you to identify and understand link types and sources that are sending qualified traffic and conversions to your site, which you can develop a process to make it replicable.

assisted conversions

16. Comment marketing is both overlooked and misused, but it’s definitely one of the most effective inbound marketing techniques out there. Here’s why:

  • It allows you to build relationships with other content publishers.
  • It can help you establish your brand as an expert – particularly if you’re contributing high-value information in the discussions.
  • It opens a lot of opportunities for linking (like being invited to become a contributor, or having your opinions cited by the publishers you communicate with).

Always consider your comments as a part of your content efforts.

17. Start learning how real writers reference other people’s works, because that’s how natural links are done. Use partial match and highly descriptive anchor texts, and understand the concept of co-occurrence.

18. Internal links are the most powerful type of link that you have full control of – make use of them wisely. Make your site’s stronger content (that are receiving natural links, social signals and constant traffic/activity) internally link to your site’s key pages that need more ranking power.

19. Be open to share internal data, especially to content publishers.

sharing data

20. Try to get links from pages that are already ranking well on search results or submit content to domains that have strong ranking ability (high search share). Getting your brand published on domains that have higher potentials of ranking for your long-tails can constantly send relevant traffic to your site.

linkable-asset

21. Update past successful link baits or content assets hosted within your site. I tried this a few months ago on this post, and it doubled the social shares, number of comments as well as the links it generated for that particular content.

updated post

You can even implement the same approach when reaching out to other publishers/bloggers (where you can suggest helping them update their old, but still useful content). Use Bill Sebald’s Outdated Content Finder to track pages that need to be updated.

outdated content finder

22. Use the linker outreach method to get your content in front of prospects that really cares or genuinely interested about it.

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

PS: We’ll be launching our company’s website soon, so it would be really awesome if you can follow us also on Twitter @xightph for more updates. Thanks!

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Advanced SEO in 2013 – SEMTrends 2013 Presentation

Here is my slide deck from SEMTrends 2013 that was held yesterday in Iloilo City, Philippines. The topics I covered on my presentation include some of the most important factors used in the realm of search today such as on-site technology, link development, authority building, online branding, and a few tricks on Analytics.

I had an awesome time with the other speakers – Mark Acsay and Grant Merriel, as well as the event organizers (SEO.org.ph Iloilo chapter) , attendees and friends from the SEO Organization Philippines (Ricky and Cell).

Great people, food and booze, as always. See you guys again next year!

Just me, doing my thing.

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

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Creating Great Experience for SEO

Improving a website’s usage data is very essential in SEO nowadays, as these signals highly reflect the quality of the site and the level of experience it can provide to its users.

Another reason why optimizing for experience is so important in this new age of search is because of the fact that Google Panda filters are now being integrated to Google’s search ranking algorithm.

If in case you’re wondering what Panda has to do with experience, here’s a brief description of what the recent Panda updates do:

  • It targets poor-content pages (pages with low user activity and short-clicks from search results).
  • It targets duplicate content pages (as they also have low user activity).
  • Search listings (amount of pages accessible through search) that have high bounce rates/short-clicks.

Google has also updated their SEO advice recently that strongly hints that webmasters should focus on improving site experience:

“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”

And Rand discussed this update from Google and shared an easy-to-digest list of categories that SEOs should be optimizing their site for in order to rank better on search results:

  1. Make the page more relevant
  2. Make the page higher quality
  3. Make the page more well-cited
  4. Make the page more accessible
  5. Make the page’s listing in the search results more compelling
  6. Make the site the page is hosted on more relevant
  7. Make the site the page is hosted on higher quality
  8. Make the site the page is hosted on more well-cited
  9. Make the site the page is hosted on more accessible
  10. Make the site the page is hosted on a more recognizable and compelling brand

SEO as a marketing practice has clearly evolved – wherein optimizing for humans is far more important than optimizing for engines.

So what are the things you can do to improve the overall experience that your site can offer to its users?

UX and Usability

Have a deeper grasp of what your target customers want for them to explore more on your site. Making a good impression (by making sure that they’ll find your site useful/valuable) is very crucial – given that it can affect other areas of your campaign (particularly in retaining visitors and improving site usage).

Sabina Idler did a great piece a month ago on understanding the user experience, which explains comprehensively how each aspect of UX can be implemented. The dissected aspects of UX include:

  • Usability (availability & accessibility, clarity, learnability, credibility and relevancy)
  • Aesthetics (making the design appealing, effective, pleasurable and memorable)
  • Customer service (building trust and relationships with users – just like SingleHop‘s approach to customer service, making it very visible on every page of the site)

singlehop

  • Brand consistency (which results to customer loyalty)
  • Personal impact (as positive emotions help people remember brands)
  • Readability (content must be easy-to-comprehend and scannable for skim readers)
  • Easy-to-follow site navigational structure (like using breadcrumb links to pass ranking power back to your site’s major categories)

breadcrumb links

For more detailed tips on usability, you definitely have to check out Jason Delodovici’s guide on improving your site’s usability.

“Every page is a landing page” mantra

Pages that you allow to be accessible through search are considerably landing pages that can send leads/sales to your business.

Adapt conversion optimization strategies, not just on your site’s key pages, but also on your overall content strategy.

There are several tactics that you can implement to your site’s inner pages to improve their conversions, or to just help you get your visitors closer to your end-goal. Jessica Collier wrote an exceptional post on different approaches that you can try on optimizing landing pages, which includes:

  • Segmented experience – which focuses on optimizing for unique visitor experience through building different specialized landing pages or content targeted to different set of audiences, rather than building a single landing page targeted to all types of audience. This is also a great method to use in growing your site’s content portfolio.
  • Use of social logins – given that it helps improve user-experience through reduced form fields, faster access and accuracy in data collection.
  • Progressive conversion – wherein the method aims to get multiple interactions from users, which is a better way to build trust and to have better chances of having them convert on your end-goal conversion action.
  • Device optimization – using responsive web design to make sure that your pages are highly-optimized for any device.
  • Creating effective CTAs (on all of your site’s searchable pages)- making sure that they are in context with the content they are hosted on and making them very visible.

Resource-Landing-Page-2

  • Considering eye-tracking and heat maps could also be very beneficial in improving your pages’ ability to attract, retain and convert visitors.

You can also check out Unbounce’s unique landing page strategies for more ideas. And for more conversion optimization tips, you can check out these guides:

Improving visitor engagement, long-click and reducing bounce rate

Improved visitors’ time spent on site/pages is a strong indicator of great experience. There are many ways to optimize your site’s ability to engage visitors such as

  • Making sure that your pages’ titles are accurate and match the information provided by their content, to prevent incoming search visitors from bouncing back to the search results.
  • Displaying social proof and trust indicators in the site’s key entrances (like what Coops and Cages did to their key pages that increased their conversions by 40%).

coopsandcages

  • Increasing internal links in your pages’ content. This can help make your visitors stay longer, especially if you’re internally linking to other useful and relevant resources hosted within your site.
  • Improving readability by testing different fonts, changing content structure (like breaking long paragraphs or designing content for skim readers), and testing/using better page headlines.
  • Blocking access to poor-content and duplicate pages in the site (by adding the noindex tag on these pages). This will improve your site’s ranking power, since it won’t be displaying any unimportant pages on search results.

Site Speed

Google is obsessed with speed, as they try to get people to use the Internet more. There are many ways to improve your website’s performance in terms of speed, especially nowadays that there are available tools that can guide you in optimizing your site – such as Page Speed and Pingdom.

Google’s search team has also been very transparent about site speed being a huge ranking factor in their algorithm. The good thing is that there are tons of available resources on how you can optimize your site’s speed, and you can check out some of them below:

Learning from Analytics data

Your analytics data can help you better understand what your users want and look for. Some of the areas where you can discover more opportunities to improve your content and business strategy are:

  • Your site’s worst landing pages (pages on your site that have high bounce rates and low engagement rates) – as these insights can help you improve them as well as your approach in optimizing all of the site’s pages.
  • Keywords that send good volume of traffic but with no conversions or have low engagement rate. Identifying these keywords and understanding why people aren’t converting can help you in optimizing their designated landing pages.
  • Site search data. As this can get you more information on what your visitors are looking for – which can help you identify other topic areas that your audience is also interested in. For more in-depth tips, you can check out this guide on using site search data to improve content strategy from Search Engine Land.

site search data

Targeted outreach and content distribution

The more you’re visible on highly relevant traffic-referring sources/sites, the more you are able to generate highly targeted and easily-engaged visitors.

Associating your site with other authority online publications where your target audiences are can extremely help you grow your site’s usage signals, especially when people are sharing your content (which is another strong indicator of quality experience).

Focus on acquiring links, coverage and exposure that can generate more actions on your site. This is doable when you’re getting links/mentions from the right places (on sites where your target market is).

Some of the marketing activities that you do to get more qualified traffic (that will actually do stuff when they’re already on your site):

  • Regularly contribute content and/or participate on discussions on high-traffic sites that are topically relevant to yours.
  • Reach out and connect with industry influencers who’ll find value in and most likely share your product/content to their network/followers.
  • Continuously grow your site’s content assets and keep on educating your audience, so that people will have more reasons to share, subscribe and interact with your brand.

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

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How to develop ROI-driven Inbound Marketing Campaigns

Inbound marketing has proven itself to be very effective in terms of helping small to enterprise-level brands reach business-related goals.

This marketing process involves a series of data-driven key initiatives. But the one key component that makes any form of marketing campaign actionable and successful is making certain that every action is goal-oriented.

goal-setting

Aligning methods/tactics to the business’ targets is crucial from start to end. Because this assures that every initiative will have impact (whether it’s big or small) to the business’ long-term goals – and this is the bottom line of what we’re doing.

It’s imperative to have a deeper grasp of what your client or your own business aims to achieve, as this makes it easier to determine which marketing channels to tap and take advantage of.

methods

There are several online marketing practices that are within the inbound marketing realm, and there are also ton of ways to make certain that each approach will be result-driven.

Will this action help us achieve our goals?

Keyword Research, Content Strategy & Consumer Insights

The best way to optimize for searchers and search engines is to be able to provide the information (in great detail and presentation) that your target audience are specifically searching for.

As I’ve mentioned on one of my recent blog posts (on how I win in search and content marketing), it all boils down to understanding what your target audience wants, needs and obviously seek for.

And again, goal setting plays a big role in SEO as well as in building a solid content strategy. Determine how your content will contribute to your organization and consider them as brand assets that can help:

  • Build authority and strengthen brand presence.
  • Generate leads and/or close sales.
  • Nurture potential customers and retain existing customers.

Start with FAQs. Because this is what your target market will continuously search for. Focus your content strategy on topic areas that have greater demand and likeliness to convert readers.

People search for answers. And it’s our job to make it easier for them to find the solutions.

There are many ways to identify and understand what a business’ target consumers may need in terms of information:

  • Getting more search query and content ideas by using keyword research tools.
  • Using Consumer Surveys to get actual insights from your target audience.
  • Studying popular communities (forums, social groups, blogs) in your industry and taking note of the most commonly discussed topics.
  • Using social listening tools, like Topsy, to gather topic ideas that are shareable and have strong social traction.

Integrating consumer insights with your SEO and content marketing will allow you to drive more targeted traffic to your site.

Another advantage is that it’ll be easier to tailor your content assets’ CTAs and special offerings based on what your target consumers need and will most likely convert to.

For more extensive tips on this area, you can also check Heidi Cohen’s checklist for content planning.

Authority Building

Establishing your brand as an authority or expert in your field can heavily influence how people interact with your brand – which often leads to better search visibility (since Google favour brands) and better conversions.

Aside from helping improve brand equity, being an authority may also have an indirect, but positive impact on a brand’s market and mind share.

That’s why investing on building a strong online brand presence is very important these days, as it can be an unfair advantage for a business competing for online-driven customers.

So what are the steps that companies can take to build themselves as an authority in their online space?

Content development

Being consistent in pushing out – not just great content – but content that will certainly be useful and compelling to your audience is the most fundamental step to becoming an authority on the web.

I’ve mentioned this as well on a post I’ve written few weeks ago – that the other key to winning in content marketing is to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ content campaigns.

As these insights will help you build a robust content strategy, which are based on your competitors’ flaws and efficiencies.

Focus on USP

Aim to become a top player in a niche in your industry. Because it will be easier to expand and target a wider audience once you’ve already proven your brand to be an authority.

Getting more coverage for your content and press mentions for your brand (through online/offline activations) will also be a lot easier if your unique value proposition stands out from the rest of your competition.

Strategic content partnerships

Build relationships and establish partnerships with other known publications in your industry. Identify sites where your target audience are, and make your brand more visible on these channels through:

  • Actively participating on their communities’ discussions (blogs, forums, etc…).
  • Regularly contributing content to absorb more readers back to your site (guest columns).
  • Inviting their authors to contribute content to your site as well.

These partnerships can be a powerful asset that can constantly bring more targeted traffic to your site, and improve social proof (that can build trust and brand perception). Think Distilled and Moz.

rand+wil

Social

Identify industry influencers that you want your brand to be associated with (use Followerwonk). Then build alliances to improve or semi-automate your content distribution – and to attract more social shares and followers as well.

For instance, if you look at Link Club, it’s a group that’s comprised of thought-leaders in the SEO industry who specialize in link building. Each individual is helping out each other to get their own personal brands out in the open.

This type of partnership/content collaboration is definitely beneficial to everyone who’s part of the alliance (which can help in terms of branding, lead generation and in discovering more business opportunities).

Email marketing and list building

The more you’re driving targeted traffic to your site through search and authority building (via content, strategic partnerships, link development, social media, etc…), the more it will be important for your organization to have a stronger grip of your continuously growing audience.

And this is where email marketing comes in. Since this is a channel that you have full control of. A robust email list can give your business the capacity to draw visitors (who’re already aware of who you are) whenever you need it, which also have higher chances of converting.

The key to building a strong email list starts with building the right traffic to your site, because they have the reasons to sign-up – which will make it easier for you to grow your list.

Kristi Hines recently wrote an exceptional post on how to effectively build an e-mail list. The post breaks down the most important aspects of list building, which includes:

  • Placing opt-in forms in high-traffic areas of the site
  • Integrating your mailing list with other platforms.
  • Offering specials to subscribers

Other email marketing resources that you might also want to check out:

Analytics – measure, analyse and improve

Understanding the data and results of your inbound marketing efforts is very important, as this gives you insights on how you can scale and how you can make your campaign more efficient.

Data simply guides your campaigns’ actions and it allows you to discover more opportunities that you might haven’t optimized your site for yet.

Several metrics that you should be taking a closer look at in Google Analytics, which can help improve your overall marketing initiatives:

  • Top content assets with high engagement rate and conversions (Content > Site Content > Landing Pages).

landing page

  • Top traffic sources – including each source’s engagement rate (avg. visit duration, % new visits and bounce rates) and conversion data.

traffic sources

  • Top conversion paths (Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths) – to determine which areas of your campaign are driving more conversions to the site.

conversion paths

Once you have measured your campaign’s results and have analysed your data, you can then come up with the necessary actions to further improve your results from a conversion standpoint.

Some samples of areas that you can analyze and then optimize through Analytics’ data are:

  • Assisted conversions – which can help you know which sites are sending you traffic with high conversions, and take advantage of them (ex. contributing more content to them to get more traffic or building 2nd-tier links to linking pages sending high volume of traffic/conversions).

assisted conversions

  • Identifying most effective channels – for instance, if your SEO efforts are driving more targeted traffic and conversions (basing if your site has already increased its ranking power), you can create more landing pages that can target other industry terms and long-tail keywords.Same approach may also apply with content and social, where you can create more content assets based on your campaign’s past successful/failed assets (and on which channels they have been effective in terms of promotion).

effective channels

Determine which methods are working and are able to bring you results. Do more of them.

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

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The Marketer’s Guide to Building a Holistic Brand Experience

venchitoThis entry is a guest post by Venchito Tampon, the owner of DigitalPhilippines.net . You can follow him on Twitter: @venchito14.

The finest brands in the world are known for delivering a unique brand experience to their consumers. Those remarkable experiences enable brands to leverage a day-to-day engagement with their audience and consistently build themselves as an authority in their respective industries.

In simplest term, experience creates brand perception.  It is how your customers think and feel about your product/service.

The way you create perceived value to your audience allows you to get the benefits of a good brand experience:

  • It shows your credibility as a company given that your customers are providing you feedbacks/testimonials and are encouraged for word of mouth marketing.
  • It builds a series of touchpoints to let your prospects see your unique value proposition through unbeatable content that reflects your brand’s vision, mission and core values.
  • It increases the chances of acquiring quality voluntary given links and social shares that are considerable factors in getting higher rankings in SERPs, and thus establishes expertise in the field.

Factors that can Improve Brand Experience

Trust

Trust is king. As you get to establish trust between you and your customers, you’re creating a brand magnet that pulls massive number of links, shares and readers to your site.

And this in turn helps brands introduce, educate and upsell a solution to their potential customers.

Create a genuinely useful product that will help people – so that you can build loyalty (and eventually become brand evangelists) that can help spread your cause.

Luke Summerfield emphasized in his blog post the failure of traditional marketing in today’s businesses and how marketers should adapt the modern business thinking.  This includes the culture of fostering inspiration and creativity to employees and customers. This only means that you need to provide a link and share-worthy content that is tailored to your customers and influencers in the industry.

Identify how your competitors are successfully creating and promoting their brand assets. Do a better copy and ask industry influencers if they’ll be interested to share your page to maximize its potential of gaining traffic and conversion.

Create meaningful conversations with your customers by answering questions posted on Q&A sites like Quora, forum threads and Facebook groups. You can use Facebook Graph Search to find influential groups in your industry.

You can start by typing a keyword in the Facebook Graph search bar.

graph search

Click on groups named after your “keyword”. Find the groups where your target influencers are members of.

graph search2

Use the refined features of Facebook graph to specifically target groups. Join groups where your influencers are actively sharing their insights. Build your own identity by helping others as well.

graph search3

Take this as your advantage in understanding your customers’ behavior and identifying their needs (which can also help in building a solid and targeted content strategy).

Transparency

Be transparent to your audience by giving actual results generated by your services/products (case studies or through the discussions you’re participating on).

Providing data-driven content is one of the best ways to becoming a transparent brand these days – which also helps in building trust and bridging the gap between the consumers and the brand.

Don’t ignore bad comments/complaints. Use Google Alerts and Social Mention to identify good and bad reviews about your company. Answer promptly to your customer’s complaints.

Reach out to unsatisfied customers and ask them what problems they have encountered in using your product /services. Help them to solve it.

Make client/customer testimonials, case studies and social proof more visible on your website. If you’re confident in providing the best to your customers, ask if they can write a short testimony about your effectiveness as a brand.

testimonials

Consistency

Be consistent and keep your brand messaging in line with the brand’s core values when spreading information through various marketing channels (content, social, email, etc…).

It’s also best to align everyone within the company with the company’s overall branding strategy.

This may include personal branding, wherein employees can individually demonstrate the brand’s identity through their own social profiles (as this can also scale your brand’s ability to network and build relationships within your industry).

twitter

Be sure that your message is clear and simple. Don’t over self-promote. Follow the 80/20 rule of social sharing – where 80 percent is from the content that other brands publish, while the 20 percent is from your end.

Brand Ambassadors

The unique personality of your brand includes the feelings and desires you invoke to your customers. You can follow this simple business blogging guide and learn how to build a large number of readers and get them engaged with your brand.

Rand Fishkin, Jason Acidre and Neil Patel are prominent personalities in SEO, while Kristi Hines and Michael Stelzner get the top spots in social media. You remember people based on how they get you involved in their blogs.

Your writing voice and style of your content reflect the core values of your brand and the brand (as a whole) becomes more memorable as you consistently deliver value to your audience.

Build your professional identity in the behind-the-scenes interactions (emails, community discussions, offline events and social networks).

If you’re in a boring industry, there are still ways to make it fun and engaging. Offer free webinars, contests and/or offline events such as conferences and meet ups. Since these initiatives can generate positive emotional experiences for your audience/customers.

Another advantage of having brand personas is that it can make the brand more approachable and transparent to its market.

Sharing photos of the company’s location/office, its employees and the working environment can definitely shape the brand’s identity (which also impacts trust and credibility).

company pictures

Social Media

Applying social media branding in your marketing campaigns is vital to any business building their online presence nowadays. Given that search engines are also using social signals as a factor to identify which sites deserve to be on the top of SERPs.

Several reasons why you need to start optimizing your social media both for search and branding (to specifically maximize its potential to reach your business goals).

  • It taps real-time customers by listening and participating to their conversations (related to your product/brand), since feedbacks/comments are fast in social media.
  • It attracts more links/shares by sharing your content on all social platforms, particularly if your brand is connected with industry influencers that have strong social following.
  • It goes beyond the usual kind of relationship with your customers, seeing that you’re starting out to build relationships with them that can last a lifetime.

It’s also important to integrate your content marketing efforts with social media. This can be done by making social sharing buttons visible in your site’s content and by encouraging readers to follow you on social networks.

Create Facebook events and Google Hangouts and join social communities to increase the chances of being visible throughout the web, where you can demonstrate your expertise on a particular subject matter.

Writing a weekly/monthly round-up post that features the most useful and topically relevant content you found on the web can also be a great way to connect with other publishers in your online space (and to also reach and absorb their followers).

You can also check out trending topics by using Topsy, Social Mentions, Google Trends and Google Alerts. This can help you out in coming up with shareable content ideas.

Let your staff members be involved in sharing your brand on social networks.

benj

Design Interface

User interface is more than just the logo, product or the daily activities of your business. It’s the result that your brand wants to accomplish. Offering a positive experience involves the use of the best tools, methods and the capability to answer to your customer’s needs.

Unbeatable content + Compelling design = Positive User Experience

Develop a top-notch user experience by using an interaction design that understands your customers’ needs towards your business.

The brand’s purpose and the passion of your organization should deeply influence how it delivers an effective brand promise to its customers.

It is essential to test your brand assets and how visually appealing they are to create an impressive judgment from your potential customers.

Always remember that a simple yet easy-to-use interface drives more interaction and equates to clarity.

Use Five Second Test to know if your site is providing a memorable experience. NavFlow and ClickTest are good at analyzing your navigation and design engagement as well.

The initial step towards a purposeful design is to start the conversation. You must deliver a clear and concise message that flows smoothly on each page of your site. Start with a clear value statement that will make your users care about your business, product, service and any kind of offerings.

There’s no argument that UX design and content strategy are both vital to provide a better brand experience to your customers.

UX-content

Richard Ingram of Ingserv created this illustration that also shows the importance of the mixed efforts of UX and content strategy. Together with other important elements like platform, information architecture and functionality, the power to build a holistic brand experience is in your hand.

Content and Relationships

Investing in your top of the funnel marketing like blogging and social media is worth the effort since these inbound marketing strategies have higher chances of attracting ready-to-buy customers.

Use branded content like whitepapers, newsletters and ebooks to nurture your customers (which is also a very powerful platform for relationship building).

Create a content development plan that regularly updates your business blog. Because this is a very effective platform where you can inform and educate possible customers.

Guest blogging on other industry-related websites can also help your brand gain exposure to new prospects and in getting them to follow your brand in the long-run.

Build relationships with thought-leaders in your industry to open more opportunities for your brand, knowing that being endorsed by them will bring you more traffic, leads and business (as the endorsement will also establish trust and authority).

Use the demographic profiles of the different types of your audiences to be able to develop content that are tailored to target their needs.

Company size, organizational roles and type of industry they work in are good factors to consider when choosing the writing voice and the method of delivering your message to your audience.

Relationship building is a long term commitment that allows brands to get better insights from their customers. The great thing about this marketing practice is that it also shows how approachable your brand is.

For more tips on content development and relationship building:

Conclusion

People remember experiences. Your brand’s promotional efforts and your product/services itself are the things that really matters most, since these are the things that can mainly influence buying decisions as well as after-the-funnel activities from users/consumers (such as reviewing your product and/or sharing your product to their peers).

The more compelling your brand experience is, the faster you can build brand loyalty and becoming an authority in your niche.

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How I get quick wins in SEO and Content Marketing

I’m not really used to writing shorter blog posts – and I’m also guessing that most of you already know that I always write long-form content and comprehensive tutorials related to online marketing.

So I’m going to try something new, well not that new, since I’ve written some posts in the past that are just 500+ words in length – although, there’s something that I would want to test on this one.

Anyway, there’s this one question that seems to be asked to me more and more for the past 2 years of being a consultant:

“How do I get quick wins in SEO and content marketing for me and/or for my clients”?

organic search results

My answer is quite simple, I believe that the real key to any effective and result-driven online marketing campaign (whether it’s relying on search or content marketing) is through a solid research phase.

This stage usually includes the following areas to have a sustainable content strategy for both search and social campaigns:

  • Keywords
  • Audience
  • Competitors
  • Methodology

Although, I mostly look out for two things:

  • Understanding what your target audience really needs and seeks for, and then being able to provide those needs.
  • Determining what your competitors have, and basing your methodologies on what appears to be their weaker spots.

By having insights from these 2 research processes – knowing your audience and the strengths as well as weaknesses of your competitors – it’ll be easier for you to come up with the unexpected hooks that you can use for your content.

These are the information and the ideas that you can provide that your competitors aren’t covering yet, and might somehow be needed by your target audience.

Content is an investment

Content is a brand asset that can help you scale your marketing and lead generation. Because a single content can alter how your business will perform in the future.

One blog post can drive you hundreds of leads/sales in its lifetime, so what more if you have dozens or hundreds of this type of high-performing content.

Perhaps, that’s the reason why my main approach when it comes to content marketing only revolves around 3 primary elements:

  • Comprehensive
  • Actionable
  • Evergreen

And how do I come up with a content that’s comprehensive, actionable and evergreen? Back to step 1, I try to understand my audience and I study my competitors’ existing assets.

Surefire Formulas?

With formulas, that’s where I’m not sure. But mindset, there is. Our profession requires lots of complex processes. But I love to simplify things, not just to make it easier for me, but to also make it damn easier for my team.

My principle in SEO is very simple, as you only have to optimize for two things:

seo

And same thing applies in content marketing:

content

The truth is, it’s really easy to promote (great) content when you’re sure and confident about it. And don’t forget to reach out to those who’re really interested about the subject of your content.

Because at the end of the day, search and content marketing will always be a battle of who stands out the best.

Special thanks to: Myles Vives and Benj Arriola. We were supposed to do a video about this topic earlier, but might do it another time.

Also, if you want me to write a longer and more detailed version of this post, please let me know in the comment sections. I would be happy to write one (but not sure when, as I also have 2 big posts coming out this month – off-page SEO in 2013 and beyond and a comprehensive guide to content promotion).

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

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How to Increase Conversions through Brand Strengthening

I remember being asked about the single best piece of advice I can give for improving conversions on a group interview on Crazy Egg late last year. Although there are a lot of factors that can really influence site conversions, I chose the one which I believe has the biggest impact – branding.

I’m pretty sure that there’s a lot, but if I have to choose one, I’d definitely say the perceived value and trust built through the middle of the funnel processes. These processes involve content and strong brand indicators that a site builds to promote itself such as highly-informative blog posts, design/presentation/experience, reviews and mentions from other people/sites, and a lot more.

These things have fueled my business, seeing that most of the clients we have acquired through my SEO services page (3% – 5% monthly conversions) are majorly attracted by what they have seen from my content and from what others are saying about my brand.

The truth is, it’s easier to sell things when people (especially your target consumers) are already aware and fascinated by what your brand is putting out on the web (think Amazon, Zappos and Shopify).

Basically, by building a strong online brand presence, you’ll be able to acquire more qualified traffic that can easily be converted into leads and/or sales.

Conversion Optimization is a broad marketing principle, which encompasses different sets of activities (such as A/B, MVT testing, data interpretation, landing page optimization and more). And if you’re more interested to learn about those stuff, here are some useful resources that you might want to check out:

I’ve shared these guides and tutorials upfront, as I won’t be covering any of the topics discussed on those articles on this post. This guide will be more focused on how brand building can improve your site’s ability to convert visitors.

Brand Positioning Factors that Improve Conversions

Building a strong online presence allows brands to easily communicate with their target market, which deeply contributes to how a brand can persuade its audience in using their products/services.

Awareness

Letting your target consumers know how your brand can help solve their problems – through education – is an important aspect of online branding, as it can influence buying decisions and brings them a step closer to your goals.

Differentiation

Brand attributes such as unique value proposition and pricing, can also increase a brand’s chances of getting more interested users/consumers than its competitors. Highlight how your brand is unique or different in your space through your branding activities (on and off the site).

Perceived value

The way how people see or think about your brand or the quality of its products/services can extremely affect your site’s conversions. It also scales your brand’s marketing process, given that it naturally generates endorsements from satisfied users/customers, which then raises your brand’s credibility.

Online Marketing Mediums used for Brand Strengthening

The efforts you do to get your brand out in the open, opens more great opportunities – like brand mentions, links, social shares, endorsements, brand impressions, traffic – which all can help build trust, authority and conversions.

Content Marketing

This marketing platform is probably the best method to educate potential consumers. It’s also one of the best ways to get discovered over the web, seeing that seeking/relaying information is always the first big step.

Another thing to consider is that this marketing practice blends well with search marketing (and as everyone says – “content is king”).

Popular types of content that you can utilize to communicate and engage with your audiences are:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Visuals (infographics, images, interactive landing pages, etc…)
  • Ebooks and other web-based comprehensive learning materials

Creating the content is just a fraction of the entire process, since promoting them makes content marketing whole.  Here are several content promotional techniques you can try implementing for your content:

You can also check out Quicksprout’s advanced guide to content marketing for more extensive tips on content marketing.

Always remember that the more you push out useful and relevant content to your target audience, the more your brand gets stickier to them.

Social Media

Social media marketing is not just about utilizing different social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and many more) to promote your brand.

It should also involve and integrate other online marketing activities – such as content, relationship, and influencer marketing as well as using it as a customer relationship management platform – for it to be really effective as a branding tool.

Use social media to leverage your site’s existing assets and also to build new ones. Some of the significant factors in which social media can bring to your branding efforts are:

  • Constantly grow brand loyalists and followers through content and interactions.
  • Build relationships (with influencers and target audience), which can help produce more endorsements for your brand (ex: using positive mentions to your brand as testimonials).
  • Forcing virality through relationships and following base.
  • Improving your brand’s perceived value through connections and associations.
  • Build trust and improve brand perception when social media is used to address solutions to customer-related issues.

Authority Building

Becoming a leading brand in your space can certainly translate into more conversions/sales, because people already know what you are capable of providing.

There are so many online marketing strategies that you can implement to gradually become the go-to-brand in your industry. Some of the most effective tactics may include the following:

  • Connecting and getting endorsed by other influencers in your field.
  • Getting press coverage (which is very doable if you’re focusing on promoting your brand’s unique selling point).
  • Publishing content regularly on other popular publications in your industry.
  • Getting interview opportunities.

Another advantage of getting brand mentions from top influencers and publications is that it’s a great trust indicator/seal when placed or showcased within your site (which is a powerful element that can affect conversions).

trust seal

Optimizing for experience and engagement

Offering the best experience possible for your users/visitors is imperative in this age of online marketing. Aside from helping your site perform better in search (as most of Google’s algorithmic updates are based on usage), it can also help make your site become more remarkable to its users.

It’s easier to get endorsements when people are sticking around and getting remarkable experience from your site.

Areas of your site’s pages that you can continuously test to improve experience and visitor engagement are:

  • Call to action
  • Readability
  • Content structure
  • Thematic internal linking
  • Design
  • Accuracy of headlines and meta tags

Improving your site’s engagement rate can definitely increase its conversions, since people are more willing to take the next necessary action.

Other resources that you might find helpful in improving user experience and visitor engagement:

Measuring the impact of your branding efforts

Monitoring and analyzing your marketing activities has been more essential than ever, and that’s the best about doing it online – it’s measurable.

Analytics is a very vital marketing process, because your data gives you better insights on how you can further improve your campaign.

It allows you to easily identify what’s working, so you can do more of it.

There are a lot of ways to determine if your online branding campaign is yielding results, especially when it comes to driving conversions.

But it’s also important that you’ve set up your site’s goals on your Google Analytics account, so you can efficiently measure each branding channel you’re utilizing.

In case you haven’t setup your Goals in Google Analytics, you can check this step-by-step guide from Google.

Monitoring brand mentions/links with conversions

In your Google Analytics dashboard, go to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions and then click on “Referral”.

referral-ac

Monitoring social networks that are sending converted traffic

Go to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions, and then choose “Social Network”.

social-ac

You can also monitor it by choosing Traffic Sources > Social > Conversions.

social-conversions

Monitoring branded content assets with high conversions

Go to Content > Site Content > Landing Pages. It will then display your site’s top landing pages (that will certainly include your content assets).

Once the list of the pages is displayed, check the upper right corner of the traffic graph, and then click on the “Goal Set”.

goal set

This will show your top landing pages’ conversion data.

content-conversions

Monitoring the conversions of your branded search

The best way to determine the conversions of your branded organic keywords (people using your brand name or product’s name when searching) is to create a Custom Channel Grouping.

To create a Custom Channel Grouping, go to either Assisted Conversions or Top Conversion Paths, choose “Channel Groupings” on the primary dimension tab, and then click on “create a custom Channel Grouping”.

channel grouping

In creating your channel groups, you’ll first need to input a name for your grouping and its label rules, and then to set specific rules. For branded organic keywords, you can just set it to only include keywords coming from organic search and then define the brand terms that people will most likely use in finding your brand.

branded keywords

Whereas for the non-branded search, you can just exclude the branded terms that you’ve defined on the branded organic keywords’ group.

generic keywords

This will make it easier for you to monitor how your branded keywords are performing in terms of conversions.

branded vs generic

Again, these things will give a good direction for your campaigns, as the data that you’ll be able to collate will help you identify the tasks that are bringing you great results.

Identify what’s working, and do more of it!

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

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How to become an Influencer through Content and Relationship Marketing

Being an influencer has a lot of perks. Aside from being respected in your industry, it also opens a lot of opportunities for business/professional growth.

Prominence or an influential status is very important in online marketing, since it can almost always speed up the process of getting your audience/customers’ trust.

It’s also a viable metric that search engines will eventually use (AuthorRank) in determining sites/brands that genuinely deserve to be more visible on search results.

There are two major factors that helped me grow my brand and my blog’s audience for the past two and a half years (and I’ve also written about it in the past – 1-2 punch marketing):

  • I’ve written dozens of content that are targeted to my prospects/peers’ audience.
  • Built relationships that regularly shared and syndicated my content.

In any road to becoming an influencer, content will always play a very significant role. Content helps brands and individual publishers communicate and build relationships with their readers, other content publishers and other industry influencers.

My experience as a publisher taught me a lot of things, particularly in making me understand several aspects of marketing that can really help a brand make an impact to its audience.

intelligenthq

I found that visual through one of Instant.ly’s most recent posts about the psychology of influence. Although in this post, I’ll be sharing the things that you can do to get to the different areas of influence mentioned on the graph above.

Peers

Your connections speak a lot about your brand. Getting associated with other known entities raises your credibility in your industry, as well as the perceived value that people will see in your personal brand.

Improving your brand’s social proof by connecting with other like-minded people (especially publishers in your niche) and having their trust to vouch for you will help you build a strong reputation.

Identify those who you can help (and of course help you as well) build a better/stronger brand. Make a list of them and start interacting.

Build conversations through participating on their communities’ discussions or through social networking.

Share their works to your own readers/networks as well, to really get their attention – as they’ll definitely reciprocate as soon as they see that you’re providing content that might also be useful to their followers.

Having industry peers will allow you to scale your content’s social sharing and link building processes, given that it can create a subtle cycle of syndicating both parties’ content.

Share Actionable Ideas

Real influencers educate. And the best way to educate is to make people do things for them to actually understand what you’re imparting to them.

Always keep in mind that if you want to compel your readers, you need them to have something to act upon or try doing after taking your advice.

Actionable content is far more engaging than other forms of content, in my opinion, as it exemplifies authority and expertise.

Whether your content is lengthy or concise, what’s really important is to make certain that your readers can take something from it that they’ll be excited to apply.

Unexpected Hook

I believe that there are two ways to become an authority:

  • Be the first to do or come up with something.
  • Be the best one to interpret that something.

Uniqueness, originality and approach are some of the most known factors that shape industry visionaries and influencers.

Offer something that won’t be found anywhere else, because unexpected hooks and a-ha moments make online publishers more remarkable.

Do a content competitive analysis before creating or while drafting your content. You can simply do this through a quick Google search of the working title of your content.

competitive analysis

Determine what’s missing from their content and be sure to have those areas of the subject included on yours. You can also add your own ideas (based on your experience and expertise) to make the content more personalized, unique and compelling.

Make your content more comprehensive than the ones provided by your competitors – that’s one of the best ways to make your content stand out.

Identity and Value Proposition

Having a strong and clear value proposition as a brand and/or an appealing identity will help you become more competitive and remarkable in your industry’s online space.

value proposition

Committing to your brand’s identity and value proposition is also a great way to be consistent in your content marketing and relationship building activities, seeing that you’re already aiming for something that you want your brand to be known for.

Influence other Influencers

If you can influence other influencers, then you can certainly influence almost anyone in your industry (especially their circles and followers).

The key to getting your industry’s key influencers’ attention is to know the kinds of content that they read and learn from – and be able to provide them.

Start by studying their social media activities. Research on what they usually read and share, particularly those that really get them excited.

Knowing these things will make it easier for you to connect with them (since you’re writing about what they are really interested in).

For instance, I’ve been following Wil Reynolds’ works ever since I started doing SEO (mid 2010). And since my work was heavily influenced by his’, I kind of focused on writing about topics that I know he’s also interested in (hardcore link building and bizdev-SEO).

Eventually, I got really lucky.

Another way is to get to their circles’ radars, to increase the chances of getting them to find your content. We all know that relationship is very important, knowing that it can move your content from one influencer to the next. Continuously grow your network along the process.

SEO

Scale your content marketing efforts by ensuring that your contents are optimized for search. Sharing actionable ideas wouldn’t be as effective if no one can find and consume them.

By integrating SEO to your content strategy, the likelihood of becoming an influencer in your field is higher. Because having good search visibility will allow your content to constantly get new readers and potential followers (especially when your content aims to impress your target audience).

In any industry, being good is not enough, and becoming the best is not necessary. You just really need to stand out.

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