Search engine optimization and link development strategies based on ethical principles, which are mostly focused on scalability and growing business sales as well as conversions.

, ,

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.

Off-Page SEO in 2013 and beyond

A decade ago, off-site SEO has been all about links. But it’s expected for search to progress, given that there’s a continuous evolution in web usage – which also has an effect on web marketing best practices.

These changes allowed search engines to accumulate far deeper understanding of how people make use of the web, and in turn a better ability for them to assess websites worth and deserving of higher rankings.

Off-site SEO factors have been transforming its filters to become more reliant in data that are outcomes from pure marketing efforts (off-page SEO is pure marketing).

off-page SEO

Links

Links will always be a valuable signal for search engines (and users as well), even though many are still abusing this factor to achieve better search rankings.

Google has been strict with link spam detection for the past few years (Penguin and unnatural link penalties), and will certainly continue with it, since the role of links in helping search engines understand web documents is still crucial.

It’s also helpful as a metric in indicating quality, authority and relevance, making links a strong factor in evaluating the overall importance of a website.

Some of the off-page factors that links can help with in influencing a website/webpage’s ranking power:

  • Topical relevance of linking page/domain and context of the link.
  • Authority and quality of the linking page/domain.
  • Position of the link in the page.
  • Number of unique linking root domains to the site/page.
  • Diversity of link types as well as anchor texts pointing to the site/page.
  • Links’ ability to send click-through visitors.
  • In-content links from verified authors/publishers (authorship).

You can also check out some of my older posts on how you can get more links to your site:

Social Data

Social signals” is another trust and popularity indicator that search engines can use by obtaining available data from known social media networks/websites.

User behaviors, in terms of web usage, have been more exposed in social platforms, which is why this ranking factor has been somehow more relevant in determining popular content, personalities and brands.

Although it’s not applicable to every industry, and not really a factor that Google will most likely focus on, it’s still a signal worth pursuing (diversified traffic sources is always good).

Off-page SEO factors that social signals can help in affecting search rankings:

  • Amount and quality of social shares of the page.
  • Authority of the social users/accounts sharing the content/URL.
  • Site-level social signals (total social shares/mentions the domain has).
  • Following, activity and interactions in the site’s social brand pages.

How to get more social shares:

  • Align content strategy with your social campaigns, by producing more content that will most likely be shared by your target audience.
  • Make social buttons very visible in the site’s pages (serving as a secondary call-to-action).
  • Building a strong following base and growing your network – through consistent content development, curation and interactions.
  • Reaching out and connecting with industry influencers.
  • Using paid social services directing to your shareable content (like sponsored tweets, FB stories, paid discovery on Stumbleupon, Reddit’s sponsored links, etc…).

Michael Martinez also wrote a great piece that also explains how search engines could be using social data in their search ranking algorithms.

Brand Signals

It’s obvious that Google is favoring brands more and more, as they update how they rank webpages in their search results. The answer is simple, because well-established brands are more credible and trusted by people.

“The Internet is fast becoming a cesspool of misinformation… Brands are the answer. – Eric Schmidt”

There are several factors in which search engines can gather data that relates and pertains to the strength of a brand’s presence over the web, such as:

  • Amount of brand (linked or unlinked) mentions from external content sources. Phrase-based indexing helps search engines better understand what a brand is about through co-occurrence.

co-occurrence

  • Brand mentions from authority news sites or having the story of a brand covered by a-list media sites.

brand coverage

  • Have employees listed the company/brand in Linkedin as their employers. It’s another signal that search engines can use to verify if the company/brand is real.

linkedin

  • Branded web properties. This may include your social brand pages as well as branded microniche sites under your brand. Think of Moz’s other niche sites (which they have developed and acquired in the past) like Open Site Explorer, Followerwonk and GetListed.org.
  • Branded search. This is definitely one of the most robust data that search engines can count in determining a brand’s strength and the demand for the information, products or services it provides.

branded search

How to improve your online brand presence:

  • Embrace, implement and be consistent in content marketing.
  • Use social media to push the brand out in your market. Connect and build relationships with other known entities in your industry, as these connections will help you get your brand out to your peers’ networks/followers.
  • Launching a display ad campaign can also help get your brand noticed, especially if they are aimed toward your target audience – which can also improve branded searches.
  • Organize events and other offline marketing efforts (like a t-shirt project), which are all effective in terms of branding.
  • Making sure that your product/service stands out in the market (USP).

SERP Performance

Given that Panda is now being integrated to Google’s search ranking algorithm, the performance of your site/pages’ listings in the search result pages will be more important than ever – as an off-page factor.

The data that they can retrieve through search results help them assess relevance (of the page to the search query), usability as well as the engagement rate of the page.

Some of the viable factors that search engines can use to evaluate a ranking webpage’s SERP performance are:

  • The click-through rate of the page from search results.
  • The duration of time the visitor stayed on the page coming from the search result (long-click).
  • If the site’s listings display rich snippets (for videos, authorship, structured data, in-depth, etc…).

How to improve your site’s search listings performance (for CTR and long-click):

  • Optimize meta tags (title tags and meta descriptions) for users and clicks. Make these areas more appealing and enticing to searchers.
  • Make sure that the title of the page is accurate and matches with its content – this can help improve visitor engagement and in making search-driven visitors stay longer on the site.
  • Deindex poor-content, duplicates and pages that won’t be useful to searchers.
  • Implement authorship or publisher markup.

authorship

video snippet

Relationships

Relationship is a strong indicator of trust. The people and brands that you’re associated with speak a lot about your own brand. And which is why social connectivity is a good off-page signal for search engines in determining a brand/content’s value.

social graph

Few ways that this factor may be used by search engines to identify brands with authoritative relationships:

  • Having multiple links/mentions from industry peers from their content.
  • Connectivity on various social networks.
  • Blogroll links.
  • Reciprocity of links (in-content mentions, social sharing, etc…) from the two domains/brands.

On how to build strong online relationships, you can check out some of my old posts that tackle this aspect of online marketing:

Authorship

Building a solid author portfolio doesn’t just occur within your site, as you can also improve authorship through establishing yourself as an expert author on other industry-related sites (and by also implementing the rel=”author” tag on your content contributions).

contributor to

How to prepare for and improve your AuthorRank:

  • Regularly contribute content to or become a columnist on high-domain authority publications in your industry (and implement authorship markup).
  • Grow your network and build authority on Google+.
  • Associate yourself with other reputable authors and publishers in your industry’s online space (getting your brand or works mentioned by them may have a direct impact to your AuthorRank scores in the future).

Information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. – Eric Schmidt

Reviews and Sentiments

People’s sentiments about the brand’s site/products/services are also one of the most significant data that search engines can draw to assess credibility, popularity and market value.

Google is already using sentiment analysis within their algorithm, which is why getting more voluntary and authentic user reviews of your brand will more likely affect your site’s overall ranking power.

How to get more reviews for your site, product and/or services (I’ve already shared the following three pointers on a post I’ve written few months ago):

  • Blogger outreach on a personal level – to actually get experiential reviews. Dan Cristo wrote an excellent post on how to get more reviews of your products 2 years ago, and you might want to check that one out.
  • Create an affiliate program or a referral commission system to attract more bloggers in reviewing your product or services. Offer this as a value proposition when reaching out to bloggers (give higher commission rates to authority bloggers in your industry).
  • Provide great products and services, or be exceptionally great with customer service (think Zappos). This can extremely help you get voluntary online reviews of your products/services. You can also offer freebies (promo codes, discounts, etc…) to customers who own blogs or have strong following on social networks. That might also increase the chances of getting links from them.
  • Consistently provide actionable and useful content to build a strong readership. Avid readers (especially if they’re active online) will almost always recommend your works and share positive things about your brand.

954634_10151651980006118_1304996632_n

Citations

Building citations is a practice that is more known for Local SEO – as it mainly helps in improving a site’s search rankings in a certain location.

Since citations mostly include NAP (business name, business address and phone number), it can then be a strong indicator that the business is real – given that it has the necessary details wherein people can actually find their office/stores.

How to build citations (below is a list of the top local business directories, which was originally curated by Andrew Shotland):

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

,

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.

The True Value of Link Building in Post-Penguin Era

trusted links

There has been a lot of talk around the industry that the ROI in link building is diminishing. Mainly because of the constant algorithmic updates (particularly Penguin) that strongly impact this marketing platform, as well as with the shift that Google wants to take on in revolutionizing its search.

However, I’m still one of those who won’t really believe that link building will soon be over as an effective medium that can help websites/brands earn more and win over their competitions on the web.

Let’s recap several advantages of link building and why it wouldn’t likely be extinct:

  • It can drive referral traffic, especially if the links are contextual and placed on high-traffic and thematically relevant pages/content.
  • Links and brand mentions help businesses become more authoritative and visible to their target audience (link building is more efficient as a branding tool).
  • Links help sites (and web documents) in getting found and discovered, not just by search crawlers, but also by users.
  • Links can also increase a website’s conversions.
  • Link building still directly impacts a site’s ability to rank on search results.

I’ve handled sites that heavily relied on SEO/link building alone for the past few months – without the help of content marketing, social media and other traffic/lead generating channels – but were still able to produce tremendous results (bringing us closer to the business’ goals) in a short period of time.

organic search results

traffic overview

Although we all know that it’s always best to have a diversified source of traffic, it’s given that it’s not the way how it works on other niches.

Perhaps that’s why I strongly believe in link building as a very significant process in this age of online marketing. It can still yield results – overwhelming results.

My thoughts on Penguin and the future of link building

What I really love about SEO, as a profession and an industry, is that it continues to challenge its practitioners. While search constantly enhances and evolves itself, it also tests and changes/improves our own views and principles along the process.

Let’s start digging in through few of my observations based on our team’s available data. Although, I’m sure that I’ll be updating many of the things that I’ll be mentioning in this post in the coming weeks.

Possible Google Penguin filters

Matt Cutts mentioned that the new version of Penguin – Penguin 2.0 – goes deeper on to the site’s inner pages (the links pointing to them), as the first Penguin mainly targeted homepages.

Some practitioners argue that this isn’t true, although our data somehow suggests that it is (which will be shared on the latter part of this post).

Below are the factors which I think Google Penguin 2.0 uses in determining a site’s degree of penalization – based on my initial assessment – listed in particular order (according to each factor’s weight).

  • The quality of the link source. It’s easier for them to identify spammy websites or link networks these days (sites with Panda-prone content, contain tons of manipulative links, and have low user-engagement rate).
  • Degree of penalty could be based on the ratio of # of bad vs. good links pointing to the site’s pages.
  • Thematic relevance of the linking domain(s).
  • Amount of links with exact match anchor text pointing to a page (over-optimization), as well as their positions in the linking pages (sitewide, footer, comment section, contextual, etc…). But these might only serve as supporting metrics for the first factor I mentioned.

Ratio of # of Bad vs. Good linking domains

I think that the degree of the penalty from Penguin 2.0 depends on the ratio of bad vs. good links pointing to a certain site, as I’ve seen a couple of the sites we’ve been handling that were mildly hit by the recent Penguin update.

For instance, the site with the stats I’ve shared above was also hit (by 27% loss in search traffic).

penguin 2.0

The site has only a few linking domains to it, since we’ve only focused on getting links from 3 high DA sites (through regular content contribution).

linking domains

Though the problem is that several spammy sites have scraped the content we’ve published on one of the sites we’ve contributed to. So basically, the ratio of good and bad domains linking to the site is around 4:13.

If Penguin has devalued the other domains linking to the site, then this may have caused the slight decrease in search traffic (as the links are no longer passing ranking value to the site).

Another case is from a huge site we’ve been working on for months now that have thousands of great links, but also have a few hundreds of bad ones, specifically from:

  • Scraped content hosted on spammy websites/content farms.
  • Negative SEO.
  • Directory links, articles and social profiles with exact match anchor texts (built by their previous SEO service provider).

links - sample 2

This was slightly affected by the recent Penguin update, with 17% decrease in organic traffic.

penguin 2.0 - 2

The loss in traffic wasn’t that massive knowing that it has thousands of good links. Although, I will still need to observe it in the next few weeks to ensure if Penguin was really the reason behind its gradual loss in traffic (penalties usually have sudden drop and not gradual decline in search traffic).

The last one is from a small blog that I’ve been helping out in the last 4 months. We’ve managed to grow its search traffic by 500% in the first 3 months, but lost 38% of its organic traffic after the Penguin update last May 22, 2013.

penguin 2.0 - 3

The main reason was I didn’t check its historical link data, and just recently found dozens of spammy links pointing to its inner pages (from link networks) – which were built by the SEO he previously hired (early last year) – as I thought that the site was launched September last year.

Here’s a sample:

sample spam link

This site has less than a hundred linking domains, and the ratio of good vs. bad LRDs directing to it is around 20:45.

links - sample 3

I believe that regaining its search traffic is still very doable, so as to the 2 other sites I’ve mentioned above.

In getting their search visibility back, the link development campaign should focus on three things:

  • Build more quality links from trusted and relevant domains (have high DAs) to outnumber the bad links pointing to the site and its pages.
  • Disavow links that you have no control of via Google Webmaster Tools (disavow tool).
  • Try to remove low quality links (obvious spammy links) by contacting webmasters and requesting for link removal.

Diversity is crucial, but not a requirement

To make a site’s link building really diversified, it needs people (real people) to genuinely link to it. This means you need to really get out there and do remarkable things for people to talk about your brand (this is where content, relationships and other awesome stuff come in).

Artificial link building is promotional work, and no one is saying that it’s not allowed. Don’t forget that link building is also a marketing tool that can help your site get found (by your audience and search engines).

So if you’re going to use artificial link building methods (such as guest blogging, linker outreach, forum marketing, etc…), make sure that you can get the most out of them.

Consider these techniques as mediums to get more traffic and potential linkers to your site’s content, rather than just using them to draw signals to manipulate search rankings. Become more visible in few chosen communities where people are most-likely to share or link to your works.

You don’t need hundreds or thousands of unique LRDs

Number of unique linking root domains allows you to become more competitive in terms of having more ranking power in search results – that is what it was before.

But I think many have misinterpreted this, as many have disregarded the quality of the domains that they are trying to get links from (just to make their sites have more LRDs than their competitors).

I’d still choose and recommend having repetitive link acquisitions from a few chosen strong domains (that are entirely relevant to your site) than link dropping on hundreds/thousands.

Because this approach will make your link profile look more authoritative, based on the relationship that it’s building with other high authority domains in its field (think 5 solid contextual links from SEOmoz vs. 50 links from other not-so-popular SEO blogs).

As I’ve mentioned on the first sample website I’ve shared above, it has only 3 solid link source (in which we’ve continuously contributed content to), but the results were far greater than what most would expect.

Monthly link audit is imperative

You’ll never really know if you’re already a victim of negative SEO. Remember my mistake on the third sample site I’ve shared above? I forgot to dig deeper on its historical link data, and see where it got us.

If only I knew that it has dozens of spammy links (built by its previous SEO) before last week’s Penguin update, then I could have suggested earlier (few months back) to have those links removed or disavowed.

Avail link research tools like Open Site Explorer, Cognitive SEO and/or Ahrefs to easily monitor your site’s new and old links.

Another thing to consider in your link audits is measuring the impact of your existing links, and treating them as a part of your site’s assets (particularly those that are continuously sending referred traffic and conversions – as well as linking external pages that are ranking very well in search results).

Make these incoming links more powerful, by building 2nd-tier links to them.

Relevance and Context

Links are far more powerful when they are being clicked by users. It passes more trust and ranking power, based on the usage of the link, as well as the relationship between the linking page and the destination page of the link.

It’s easier to entice people into clicking a link when they are relevant to what readers/surfers are seeking for or interested in. Several factors that can increase clicks on links:

  • Position of the link
  • Length of anchor text
  • Traffic of the linking page
  • Context and sentiments of the texts surrounding the link
  • Relevance of the content to the link’s destination page

Building more links that can attract referred traffic can definitely send out more positive signals about your site/brand, which impacts your site’s ability to rank better on search and convert more referred visitors.

AuthorRank

Being a verified author (through authorship markups) and having a strong author portfolio (for AuthorRank) is more important than ever.

trusted links

Verified authorship will amplify the strength of the links you are building and other authors are building for your site, since these citations/mentions are expected by search engines to be more credible and trustworthy – based on the level of trust that other people see in your author profile (from both social and web graph).

Image credit: The Evolution of Search by Tom Anthony

Key takeaways:

  • Start growing your author portfolio both in and out of your site.
  • Build relationships with other authors and publishers in your industry.

Anchor text – partial match, branded links and co-occurrence

I have always believed that the most important role of links (in SEO perspectives) is to mainly absorb and pass domain authority back to your site, for it to have more ranking power (making all of its indexed pages capable of ranking highly on search results).

Using descriptive anchor texts was – and is still – the best way to make search engines understand what the link’s destination page is all about.

Although many have abused this ranking factor in the past to manipulate search rankings (and up until now), Google is still able to use other methodologies to understand links – knowing that this is very important to them.

Some of the most efficient anchor text strategies that can help bring more value to your link development campaign are:

  • Using partial-match anchor texts, rather than exact-match. This approach doesn’t just make your links look natural and diversified, but it also makes your links highly descriptive for both users and search crawlers.
  • Build more branded links to your site, as this can still impact your site’s overall ranking ability, given that this type of link can pass domain authority and trust.
  • Since Google is also applying phrase based indexing in their search algorithms, utilizing co-occurrence (placing generic keywords near linked or unlinked brand mentions) to help search engines determine and understand what your brand is about.

co-occurrence

Link building is about building the right signals – to build trust.

Links are gateways to experience. And most of us know that great experience is what makes brands remarkable and it’s also the main thing that Google would really want to serve to their users.

eric schmidt

Great links begin with great content/experience. And great content/experience over the web wouldn’t be accessible to people without links. That’s why link building will still and always be significant.

Link building is valuable, because it’s a part of a bigger process. SEO, branding, content marketing and traffic/lead generation are far more effective with links!

For more advanced link building tutorials, you may check out some of my other posts:

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

44 Creative and Innovative Link Building Experts and Their Strategies

Update: This post was originally published last Sept 3, 2011, which was entitled “26 creative and innovative link building experts and their strategies”. A lot of changes have happened in the link building scene these past several months, which made me decide to update this big list of resources. 

With the constant advancements that occur on various search engines’ algorithms, it is certain that the search and link game will be harder in the days/months/years to come compared to what it was like a decade ago.

Search users’ behaviors tend to grow and change as these developments arise and being employed by search engines, which makes the online marketing space more competitive, especially when it comes to link building.

Many say that link building is tough, well, yes, it is, seeing that the search industry is still in its youth stage and still has immense potentials of growing.

There are also a good percentage of companies all over the world that are still in the juncture of realizing the importance of building a strong web presence for their brands. If this other piece of the pie starts to get involved in the online marketing game, then that might just inundate the web with more sites hungry for links, which clearly means a birth for more spammy linking tactics or a new dawn for more innovative strategies.

Nowadays, in order to be efficient and to truly attain great results from your link building campaigns, you may have to fully require creativity in your strategies for reasons such as:

  • Search algorithms continuously change in order to keep up with their users’ needs.
  • Competition – on any industry – keeps on growing by the day.
  • Web users are getting smarter.

The rules in link building may frequently change, but its essence as an aspect of web marketing will always remain vital, whether it integrate itself to other new developments (like social signals), as it is the most uncomplicated way for search engines to determine websites’ authentic popularity and authority.

Having that said, I decided to list some of the most creative and innovative link builders in the industry that I know, including their works that somehow influenced my views as an SEO, and perhaps to serve as an inspiration in developing your own link building strategies.

Rand Fishkin1. Rand Fishkin, Founder and CEO of SEOmoz“white hat SEO evangelist and the face of modern Search”

5. Eric Ward, Link Evangelist at Adgooroo“link building wizard”
Wiep Knol6. Wiep Knol, Founder of Gila Media“creative link marketing expert from the Netherlands”

Tom Critchlow7. Tom Critchlow, Former VP of Operations at Distilled (now works for Google) – “the face of Search’s next generation”

Michael Gray
8. Michael Gray, President of Atlas Web Service and author of Wolf-howl“legendary link ninja”
Todd Malicoat9. Todd Malicoat, author of Stuntdubl“one of the pioneers of link baiting”
Garrett French10. Garrett French, Founder of Citations Lab“content-based link building expert”
Rae Hoffman-Dolan11. Rae Hoffman-Dolan, CEO and Managing Director of MFE Interactive“the link interrogator”
Ross Hudgens12. Ross Hudgens, author of Authentic Marketing“thought-leader on scalable link building”
Napoleon Suarez13. Napoleon Suarez, SEO Consultant at SEER Interactive“out-of-the-box link building specialist”
Ryan Clark14. Ryan Clark, CEO of Linkbuildr“ingenious link development strategies straight from Canada”

Melanie Nathan15. Melanie Nathan, President of CanadianSEO – “link building extraordinaire”

Hugo Guzman16. Hugo Guzman, VP at Zeta Interactive and author of Enterprise Interactive Marketing“corporate-level link building expert”
Justin Briggs17. Justin Briggs, SEO Consultant – “the link building scholar”
John Doherty18. John Doherty, Director of Distilled NY – “the fastest rising pundit on the Search sphere”
Debra Mastaler19. Debra Mastaler, author of Link Spiel“the link guru”
Dan Cristo20. Dan Cristo, Co-founder of Triberr“the serial web entrepreneur and developer”
Tad Chef21. Tadeusz Szewczyk, SEO blogger at SEOptimise and author of SEO 2.0 at Onreact“Global SEO player from Germany”
Kristi Hines22. Kristi Hines, author of Kikolani“leading media curator in the industry”
23. Jennifer Van Iderstyne, Online Marketing Director at Search Slingshot“the link building artist”
Wayne Barker24. Wayne Barker, Online Marketing Consultant at Boom Online – “the link specialist from Nottingham”
Julie Joyce25. Julie Joyce, owner of Link Fish Media“the link specialist”
26. Michael King, Director of Search at iAcquire – “advanced inbound marketing strategist”
richard baxter27. Richard Baxter, CEO at SEOGadget“the link gadget”
jon cooper28. Jon Cooper, Author of Point Blank SEO“the link building prodigy
paddy moogan29. Paddy Moogan, SEO Consultant at Distilled and Author of the Link Building Book“the link wizard”
d7ac2fd6d788d54f55f94f2650fd838d30. John-Henry Scherck, SEO Consultant at SEER Interactive – “the link mechanic”
d4f22u1a2235x2t0l73432. James Agate, Founder of Skyrocket SEO“the guest blogging genius”
de89d42d1f5abc2c1d4dd05c55a1128133. Kane Jamison, Founder of Content Harmony“the data-driven content strategist”
mypic34. Stephanie Chang, SEO Consultant at Distilled – “the link building teacher”
Back Camera35. Ed Fry, General Manager of Inbound.org“the link baiting prodigy”
cyrus shepard36. Cyrus Shepard, SEO and Content Marketing Consultant for SEOmoz – “the content astronaut”
1675b74ff21652c29edde2c7e82f0a3937. Peter Attia, SEO Consultant at Cucumber Nebula – “Any color of hat link building expert”
anthony pensabene38. Anthony Pensabene, Content and SEO Consultant at Skyrocket SEO – “one of the best writers in the industry” 
bill-slawski-1039. Bill Slawski, Author of SEO by the Sea“the link scientist”
michael martinez40. Michael Martinez, Author of SEO Theory“the link theorist”
chris dyson41. Chris Dyson, Author of Triple SEO – “the link MacGyver”
chris gilchrist42. Chris Gilchrist, MD and Founder of Hitreach“wordpress SEO expert from Dundee”
tim grice43. Tim Grice, Head of Search at Branded3“the link wizz”

Some of my Link Building Posts

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and/or follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre
Image Credit: Justmathing
,

80/20 Link Building Tactics

mozcon

I’ve been practicing the Pareto Principle or the 80-20 rule since the start of this year, which is basically focusing on tasks that can actually get more results, but will only require minimum amount of efforts.

This rule is pretty much applicable in link building as well, even in online marketing as a whole (as explained very well on a recent blog post by Dan Shure) – wherein you can just allocate more of your time on implementing processes that can help maximize the efforts you exert through the results that you’re sure they can generate.

Just like what Dan advises people who want to apply the 80/20 rule in SEO:

  • Figure out what’s working and do MORE of it.

  • Figure out what’s NOT working and do LESS.

In link development, value results to volume. Making sure that you’re brand is offering real value will help ensure the results that you want to expect from it (whether it’s increasing traffic, brand impressions, shares, sales, and most especially – links).

Below are several link building activities that don’t necessarily need lots of efforts but can certainly help impact your business goals.

Evergreen Content

This type of content asset can tremendously help throw a bunch of links to your site over time, as people will always find them useful.

Some of the most known forms of evergreen content are encyclopaedic articles (think Wikipedia), case studies (particularly using your products/services as the solution), and comprehensive tutorials (blog posts, videos, PDFs, etc…).

Having more of this type of content on your site can constantly grow your link profile, knowing that the information within the content will somehow be never outdated (and can be a valid resource that other publishers can reference to).

link-growthFor more tips on this, you can check out my old post on how an evergreen content can automate your business sales and marketing.

Annual Events

Branded events are another asset that companies/businesses have that can improve and scale their site’s linkability, especially when you have a strong landing page for it that will just be updated every year.

Just think of MozCon. It’s one of the biggest events in the industry that takes place once every year. Its landing page gets a ton of links, along the promotions and the reviews it gets (once the event is done).

mozcon

This platform, when used as a link building machine, is very effective because it offers value. And it’s certainly worth linking to.

mozcon links

You can also check out Kane Jamison’s guide on building links with local events for more extensive tips.

Author Profile Pages

If the faces of your brand are active on content marketing as well as in publishing ton of content outside your website (columns, guest blogs, etc…), then you might want to optimize your people’s profile pages.

rand

Why? Because it’s inevitable for them to get mentioned by other content creators. More often than not, other publishers link mostly to Twitter handles, personal sites or none at all, when they mention people.

So start creating these profile pages, so you can easily reclaim unlinked mentions when you see one.

Get links from ranking pages

Pages that have good rankings, even for long-tail searches, are great source of links. Not just because they can pass ranking power back to your site, but also with the traffic that they can continually send to your site (since they are receiving visitors constantly from search).

There are a lot of link building methods that you use to get links from ranking webpages, such as adding value to the existing discussions whether it’s through blog commenting, forum posting, answering on a Q&A thread, and/or even doing broken link building if it’s a resources page.

Try to do a web search of all the long-tail keywords from your list. And check the high ranking pages for each search result and see if you can help add more information on their content.

quora

The more valuable your contribution is, the more it’ll be noticeable to the page’s incoming traffic (which means higher chances of getting more referred traffic from them over time).

I did get a few links in the past that are still sending me good traffic for the past 2 years (wherein some also converts). Think of them as a traffic channel, not just link sources, to get the most out of them.

For a detailed tips on how to do this, you can check out these guides: this and this.

Build pages from other websites that will easily rank

Guest post or regularly contribute on publications that have strong search shares. These are typically the top sites in your industry (which have really high Domain Authority, Alexa Rank and SE Traffic Price – a metric provided by SEMRush).

Distributing content (that also targets some of your keywords) on sites that are obviously winning it on search will benefit you in so many ways:

  • The content will have better chances of competing in the top of the search results, and it can constantly get traffic, which means that it’s capable of sending you more qualified traffic as well.
  • It can help strengthen your brand presence, as it can continuously get impressions.
  • The link obtained through the contributed content will surely pass ranking power back to your site (because of the authority of the site and the topical relevance of the content).

For example, this post that I did on SEOmoz last year is still sending me traffic, good leads and potential clients to my business up to now.

linkable asset

You can also utilize popular document sharing sites in building external pages which can easily rank on search results, such as Slideshare, Youtube, Scribd, Pinterest, and many more. As these user-generated content sites have strong search share and domain authority, which you can use in targeting your other long-tail keywords.

Partnerships and Associations

I don’t really agree that much with other SEOs or link builders who advise that you need one link from hundreds or thousands of unique domains to really compete in search.

Yes, it’s true that you need a diversified link profile (but you also need to keep in mind that it should be natural).

I’d prefer having multiple links from a single, but trusted domain, than manually reaching out to thousands of sites just to do a guest post.

Because having many links coming from an authority and relevant site proves a deeper relationship between the two websites. If you’re getting lots of links from an authority site, then it implies that you’re also an authority, right? And that’s definitely a strong signal that search engines can use to help them determine how important your site is.

Leveraging partnerships is a very strong link building tactic, especially when you’re associated with brands/publications that have high traffic (audience that you’re also targeting). It can grow your own readership/user-base as well as help you improve your site’s search visibility.

There are so many ways to maximize your existing partnerships, such as:

Becoming a columnist for them – contributing content to your partners’ websites on a regular basis will make your brand more visible to their audience. Just look at what Distilled does on SEOmoz’s blog. They are there. Every week!

Cross-promotion of content – have a section in your site as well as in your partners’ websites that can promote each site’s new content. Gizmodo has been doing this for a while, and it’s sending good amount of visitors to its partners for sure.

gizmodo

Blogroll links – yes, they still work, in referring lots of traffic. It’s also good for branding, particularly in letting your audience know who you are associating with. Always remember that trust is a big thing in online marketing (it makes you more linkable).

Get content from other influencers

Inviting guest bloggers (authority bloggers) to write for your blog is probably the easiest way to bait links. Because they are already experts in the field who have readers who’ll share the content or link to it. And most seasoned bloggers link back to their own piece (which can be their guest blogs too) when they need references.

Another way to get great content from industry influencers is through interviews. But the thing is, most interviews don’t get lots of link love because they tend to be unremarkable. Ask really tough and interesting questions so that they’d be more enticed to link (or some of their followers) to it in the future.

Using Images to build links

Images will always be link and shareworthy because basically the web needs it, whether it’s an infographic, meme, photograph, cinemagraph, typography, GIF and the list goes on.

I have an extensive guide that can walk you through this strategy and you can check it out here – Ultimate guide to link building with images.

Product Reviews

Getting reviews of your products is one of the most powerful links you can get over the web, because links from reviews can send you potential customers who’re almost ready to buy.

Another great thing about having your products reviewed by bloggers is that it helps maintain a positive branded search results for your brand/product.

review

Peter Attia recently wrote a post on how to get blogger reviews (with awesome samples of his own outreach), which you might also want to check.

There are several methods to getting your products/services reviewed by bloggers:

Getting your existing customer base to build links for you

Add an optional field on your sign-up form where customers/users can enter their website’s URL. That’ll make it easier for you to find customers who have their own websites/blogs.

If they liked your product/services, then you have higher chances of getting reviewed by them once you start pitching (or sending them free products that they might like to review).

Getting links from your Twitter followers

You can import the list of your followers using Followerwonk. Segment your list and separate those who have websites/blogs. Since they are already following you on Twitter, contacting them wouldn’t be as hard as contacting an unfamiliar prospect.

Create an affiliate program (use OSIaffiliate)

Offering affiliate commissions will not just improve your traffic and sales, it will also increase the amount of reviews that your products are getting (which is good for branding and link development as well).

But a lot of affiliate tracking and program software generate links that aren’t really helpful or good for SEO (which is why most affiliate marketers mask their affiliate links when promoting products).

Although I found one recently that does have an affiliate link technology that allows merchant sites to get SEO value from the affiliate links directing to them or their product pages – which is OSIaffiliate.

Making your ranking pages more linkable

Pages that are ranking highly for informational keywords have great potentials of becoming a link magnet/machine, because they are constantly getting found by researchers (which could be content creators) looking for specific information.

Start digging your analytics’ search traffic and webmaster tools’ search queries data, and find informational keywords that you are already ranking well for.

For example, I recently found out that one of my pages is ranking highly for the search term “social media marketing strategies”.

social media

The landing page is getting good amount of traffic each week and has also managed to get a few editorial/natural links (as it’s somehow a good resource).

analytics

But the page is not that comprehensive yet, so what more if I transform it into the ultimate resource for social media strategies, right? It will surely attract more links over time, with just minimal effort!

In short, find pages from your site that’s already ranking for informational keywords, then improve and optimize the content for researchers/linkers.

Using Zemanta

Zemanta is a paid content distribution platform that has over 300,000 publishers within their network. Basically, it is guiding tool for publishers where it displays content recommendations while working on their new content.

zemanta

Advertisers or paid users can get their content or images be displayed more prominently in the content recommendations area, which can obviously attract more links.

Rand did a quick review of the service back in 2010, and here are some of the notable advantages of the tool/service (that Rand mentioned) on how it can improve and semi-automate your link building:

  • They can improve branding amongst a blogging audience (as bloggers will see your site/brand name while they write)

  • They can draw in direct links (if the blogger chooses to link to your work in the post or as a “related post” at the bottom – or through links from image references)

  • They can attract direct traffic from the bloggers themselves, who are likely to click on links/content that appears to be interesting

Relationship Building and Influencer Marketing

These two marketing principles take time to implement, but investing on them is definitely a must in this age of marketing. Since having industry peers and alliances can benefit your campaign for the long haul (in terms of branding, social sharing, content syndication, absorbing traffic/followers and most definitely in link building).

Start getting involved in your industry’s online community and make friends with other content publishers in your space. Because once you have your own peers, hitting the publish button will only be the hardest task you’ll have.

There are two keys to be successful with this approach:

  • Consistently provide the content that your network of influencers will likely share to their audience.
  • Reciprocate by sharing their works and adding value to their community as well.

For more tips about this marketing initiative, I have an extensive step-by-step tutorial on how to build relationships as well as on building more powerful content that you can check.

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

Enhanced by Zemanta
, ,

5 Inbound Marketing Methods that can Drive Traffic and Conversions

interactive content

Inbound marketing – or combining different online marketing processes such as SEO, content marketing, social media and conversions – has been one of the most effective ways to hit a site’s various business goals in one go, like driving more specifically targeted traffic, improving revenue and/or building a stronger brand mind share.

Aside from involving practices that is measurable, utilizing inbound marketing as an approach to reach a business’ target audience (without disrupting their online activities) has proven itself to be very effective in terms of scaling and growing businesses in a shorter span of time.

Some of the most known advantages of implementing these practices as a whole are:

  • Processes involved are cost-efficient and can be implemented in-house.
  • It works on almost any size of site/business and on almost any industry.
  • Can help cumulatively achieve business goals (like constantly generating traffic, leads, conversions), through all the past and current efforts done to improve the brand/site.

There are so many tactics that you can choose inside the inbound marketing realm that can really help your business grow. Although, in this post, I’ve chosen to highlight a few strategies which I believe can really grow both traffic and conversions when implemented continuously.

Find and optimize for long-tails with high engagement rate

I wrote an extensive guide about this keyword audit process 3 months ago, which I didn’t really expect to become popular and well received.

The whole strategy only requires 2 things: basic SEO skills (basic content optimizations) and your site’s search traffic data from Google Analytics.

As I’ve explained on that recent post, its core concept is based on two aspects:

  • Determining variations of search queries that are sending highly qualified traffic to my site (often keyword variations that I haven’t primarily targeted for my existing pages/posts).
  • Optimizing the pages/posts to match and be ranked/served on those long-tail searches.

Basically, you’ll first need to find and uncover search phrases (that you didn’t really intend to optimize your site’s pages for) that people use to find your site’s inner content.

You can easily identify these search phrases or keywords through your site’s search traffic data (on Google Analytics), by using and depending on engagement metrics such as Average Visit Duration and % of New Visits.

excel

By segmenting your list of keywords using these 2 metrics, you can get the keywords that are working really well on attracting highly qualified traffic to your site (as these new list of keywords are generating highly engaged visitors to your site based on your data).

Once you have already determined which keywords are driving highly engaged visitors to your site, you can then start reoptimizing the pages where those keywords are generating quality traffic.

Areas in which you can use those newly discovered keywords to target for your already existing pages can be through their Title Tags, Meta Descriptions and/or through building internal links using the new set of keywords as anchor texts.

viral-marketing

For more tips on how to do this optimization strategy, you can check out the full case study here.

How does it improve your conversions?

Since you’ll be able to attract more qualified traffic to your site, getting more visitors that will more likely convert and take actions will be a lot easier.

Regularly contribute content on high-traffic publications

Getting regularly seen on high-traffic publications in your industry is one of the best ways to solidify your brand presence in the online space.

That presence doesn’t just help you reach your target audience, but it also helps your brand establish itself as an expert in the field, which makes it easier for your brand to gain your market’s trust (that often leads to increase in conversions).

Trust is a very important factor in the online marketing sphere, whether it’s about building strong trust signals to get better search visibility or getting more people to buy from you. And this inbound strategy is definitely one of those that can really boost the trust that both search engines and real users can see about your brand.

contributor

Becoming really visible in your online community, by contributing on popular blogs/content hubs in your industry, will help you absorb the right traffic back to your website.

And the best thing about it is that the traffic that you’re generating will have higher tendencies of converting, since they’ve found you through known trusted sources over the web.

Finding the top blogs/publications in your industry is easy (use Google Search). Make a list of them and segment your list by using site and traffic metrics to gauge each prospect (I prefer using DA and Alexa traffic rank in determining strong sites).

blog prospecting

Pitching to become a contributor or a columnist is the challenging part. Here are a few tips to increase your chances of getting accepted:

  • Prove your expertise by making sure that you’re also providing exceptionally useful content on your own site. These can serve as your writing samples once your target prospects start asking about what you can offer to their readers.
  • Be a part of their community by participating and adding value in their popular discussions/articles.
  • Know and understand what their audience want and what types of content are working well in their blogs, and use this knowledge as your pitch’s value proposition.

Build content that drive conversions

Content is imperative in this age of marketing, because it can be considered as a platform wherein a business/site can initiate communication with their target audience.

Web-based content assets are stronger when they are created for a purpose or if they have goals set to be achieved, as they can serve as landing pages which can attract your incoming visitors to take actions that will benefit your business. Content goals may include:

  • To increase social media followers or social sharing activities.
  • To attract or acquire links.
  • To build relationships with targeted influencers.
  • To rank for an industry keyword in search results.
  • To increase subscriptions (newsletter, feed, tools, etc…)
  • To drive more leads or sales.

There are plenty of types of content that can help generate conversions to a site, such as:

Case studies

case study

How to increase search traffic through keyword audit on Google Analytics

Comprehensive guides/tutorials

tutorials

The Advanced Guide to SEO

Interactive Content

interactive content

Life of Pi on Digital HD

Ebooks

ebook

Branding in the Inbound Age

Using content assets is certainly one of the most scalable ways to market and grow a business online, seeing that it can almost automate the marketing and sales processes of a website.

Content assets, especially evergreen content, can help websites get found easily (particularly if you’re providing information that is frequently searched). Another advantage of having ton of content assets within your site is that they enable you to continuously nurture potential customers, without the need of directly engaging new traffic/leads.

The more you help your prospected customers understand and be informed with the solutions you are offering (through your content assets), the more it’ll be easier for your site to sell its products/services.

How to create and promote content assets:

There are 4 phases in using content assets as a part of your marketing strategy.

Research

  • Know your content’s primary goals (is it for links, shares, lead generation, etc…).
  • Implement keyword research to ensure that you’ll get maximum results, especially when the content asset gets older.
  • Analyze its potential audience, and determine how you want the content to be consumed by them.
  • Gather all necessary information when drafting the content to make it comprehensive, as well as to make it hard for your competitors to replicate the content asset.
  • Visualize the outcome of the content while on the ideation process. It can help straighten out the development process.

Development

  • Build the content according to your research and outline/draft.
  • Have the content proofread and edited before launching it.
  • Ask other departments or other industry experts/bloggers for feedbacks if necessary.

Promotion

  • Make sure that the content is optimized for search.
  • Reach out to industry influencers, particularly if your content is of high value and can be really useful to their followers.
  • Reach out to known linkers in your industry.
  • Use paid channels to make the content more visible to targeted users if necessary (like Stumbleupon ads, Facebook’s sponsored stories, etc…).
  • Leverage social sharing and linking through existing relationships (through content distribution, guest blogging, their newsletters, etc…).
  • For more tips, you can check out these posts on viral marketing techniques and content promotion strategies.

Measure and Optimize

  • Track your content if they are achieving the goals that you’ve originally set. Learn from your data and make your content marketing process better and replicable.
  • Maximize your content assets by regularly updating their calls-to-action (like promoting your site’s new offers).
  • Study its search traffic data and see what other variations of search terms that people are using to find that content. Optimize the content for those other keywords to generate more traffic to it.
  • Update the content whenever something new comes up (that’s relevant to its topic). This will help the content maintain its search visibility and for it to also be the go-to-source whenever the subject is being discussed (think Jon Cooper’s complete list of link building strategies!).

User Experience and SEO

Improved usage data results to better search rankings, given that search engines are after what users really like.

Offering better user experience also increases the shareability of a site, since users more often share great experiences, and this precisely means more referred traffic for you.

Aligning UX with SEO is very important these days. I really liked what Jonathon Colman mentioned on one of his past presentations, that:

“SEO is about helping people find what they want and presenting it to them in a way that they expect.”

And UX is pretty much based around the same principle. So below are some areas of a site that you can improve to increase both its traffic and conversions.

Site Speed

Optimizing your site’s loading speed can bring tremendous results to your business, such as:

  • In improving customer satisfaction.
  • In improving search rankings, particularly on highly competitive keywords, as Google use site speed as one of its major ranking factors.
  • In reducing bounce rates and improving conversions and transactions.

There are lots of resources over the web that you can check out for improving site speed, such as this, this and this.

Information Architecture

Making it easier for your users to navigate your site is a huge factor that can really increase activity on your website. And this also affects how search engines can easily crawl, access and rank all of your site’s important pages.

Here are few guides on how you can optimize your site architecture:

Here are 9 more tips for creating great user experience:

Absorbing more followers through collaboration

Collaborating with other influencers, publishers or organizations in your industry to create content is another great way to generate free content that can attract more visitors to your site.

Using this strategy to drive traffic to your site is easy, since you can surely get views from the followers of those whom you’ll be collaborating with.

Few great samples of this type of inbound tactic in actions are:

Another way to collaborate and get maximum results from other influencers in your field is to invite them to become guest authors in your site’s blog. It’s one of the easiest ways to get more readers, followers, expertly made content (which can rank on SERPs) and links to your site.

How does it improve your conversions?

Associating with other known brands in your industry can increase your brand’s perceived value, which can help improve your site’s conversions.

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

, ,

Building better Brand Signals to Improve Search Visibility

Online branding has become a very important component of SEO over the years. Given that brand signals, as a search ranking factor, made it easier for search engines to determine a website’s authenticity and authority.

A study from SearchMetrics a year ago also somehow proves how top brands appear to have a ranking advantage, making it more obvious that search engines do favor strong brands on their search results.

Rand also discussed brand signals on a post he did back in 2011, which briefly explained the areas of a site that can be utilized by search engines to assess its brand power.

brand-vs-generic-signals

There are 2 sides to online brand development, in which the other side tackles activities happening off the site. And that’s what I’ll be discussing more in this post.

Search algorithms use several brand-based metrics in determining the strength of a brand’s web presence and importance (which I’ve also explained on a post I wrote 2 years ago on Technorati):

  • Brand mentions from other websites’ content (also based on the authority of the sites mentioning the brand).
  • Amount of branded-anchor text links directing to the site.
  • Volume of search queries for the brand.
  • Brand mentions from social networks.

Basically, the more quality signals coming from external sources that pertain to a brand, the more search engines will understand how important the brand is – and this can simply translate to better search visibility.

So how do you create more brand signals to your site?

Cultivate branded search

Brand keywords are known to drive better conversions, since the searchers are already aware and interested of what the brand is providing.

Mark Leech has explained this very well in a post he did last year on Zazzle Media’s blog:

 “brand keywords will drive the biggest share of traffic, conversion and click-through rate across your search marketing, whilst also delivering the best ROI and CPC/CPA. This is due to both lack of competition on your brand term and the high conversion/interaction propensity of a user searching for your brand”

There are ton of ways to increase the volume of brand searches to your site, and most methods involve real “marketing” initiatives.

Display ads and remarketing

Online advertisements can easily put the brand name out to its target audience, and helps strengthen brand recognition – which often leads to increase in brand-related searches.

For more tips, you can check out this comprehensive guide to remarketing.

Focusing content development on brand’s expertise

Consistently providing useful content about the solutions that your business is capable of providing will allow you to get better market mind share.

A brand’s content makes it easier for search engines to understand what they are about as well, and this allows the brand name to assimilate the industry terms that it’s somehow aiming to be searched for or be associated with.

brand keywords

The more you produce high-utility content about a particular niche in your industry (or the specific expertise you have), the more people will be directly searching for your brand.

Launching and promoting branded product lines

Branded products get reviewed, researched and searched almost always, especially if they offer real value to users and have been promoted well.

branded products

As Mark mentioned (noted above), branded searches tend to have higher conversion rates, and often can create longstanding positive effect to the brand.

Some of the commonly utilized methods by online marketers to promote branded products:

  • Display ads
  • User/experiential reviews
  • Affiliate programs
  • Guest blogging (Bufferapp has been very successful with this method)
  • Content marketing
  • Online PR

Content, Social and Link Building

Content is what drives a successful social and link development campaign. It’s also one of the elements that make a brand unique and incomparable to its competitors in the online space.

These 3 marketing practices are more efficient when they are integrated into a single approach, particularly when primarily intended to be used for improving online brand presence (not just for search).

Here are several content, social and link marketing activities that you can implement for brand building purposes.

Developing content assets

Build content assets that are evergreen and appeals to a large audience to enable your campaign to continually acquire social shares, brand mentions, links, traffic, leads and conversions.

An impressive example of this is Truck Classifieds’ Truckpocalypse:

truckpocalypse

Providing foundational content within your site can help ensure that your brand stays on your audience’s radar, as these brand assets have higher chances of performing well in terms of ranking for industry head terms based on usage and other signals that they can continuously acquire.

Content assets – such as interactive landing pages, free ebooks, extensive resources, etc… – are also easy to promote, seeing that these types of content offer high value information (making it worth sharing and linking to).

Inject real company stuff (#RCS) in your content marketing campaigns. It can tremendously help build a better perception for your brand.

Anyway, I’m planning to write more about this next week, on how to create content assets. But for now, you can check out SEER Interactive’s guide on how to identify RCS content (from your competitors and/or from your own site) for more tips.

Associating with larger publications

Become a regular contributor on larger publications in your space, because they have a lot of traffic (and they have the ones that you’re also targeting) and they have a lot of authority that they can pass through down back to your brand/site (in both branding and SEO perspective).

contributor

This tactic is a scalable way to continuously drive traffic, generate brand impressions, and build trusted signals that search engines can use to gauge your site’s importance and expertise.

Viral campaigns through social media

Investing on building content types that have high potentials of getting socially shared can help your brand be discovered, which is really good when it comes to getting new impressions, followers, readers and potential loyalists.

This is pretty much the same with developing content assets, though the only difference (I think) is the goal of the content.

Create something that appeals to social media users (specifically from or interested in your industry), and you can use several promotional methods to get the branded content out, such as linker outreach and paid social ads (you can check out this post for more tips on pushing your social content).

Building your social media follower base

Having social brand pages on different social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc…) is just the start. The key to make them a marketing arsenal and be one of your site’s biggest sources of branded signals is the activities that take place within those platforms.

Let your content drive your social activities. The more you create useful content (and the more people share them), the more interactions you can make, and definitely more signals they can send out.

Share stuff from others as well, particularly those that you think will be really useful to your followers. It’s also a great strategy in getting to your target influencers’ radars, and eventually in absorbing their followers as well.

Getting press coverage

If you are doing real marketing sh*t and if you’re really offering products/services/solutions that’s valuable, then getting press mentions for your brand is very viable.

One of the most known advantages of getting featured by a-list media sites is it boosts the authority that both people and search engines see about your brand.

as seen in

Here are 2 guides that you might want to check out if you want to try this brand building technique:

Combined branding efforts to get more co-citations/co-occurrence

Your content marketing, SEO, link building and social media campaigns help get your brand’s message out. And as these processes get you ton of marketing opportunities, it also allows your brand to get voluntary mentions/citations from other content publishers (using your brand as a reference).

Unlinked brand mentions from other website’s content that are in close proximity with relevant industry keywords will be more important in the near future. This type of citation is considerably a strong brand indicator that search engines will count and use as a factor in ranking your website.

no-link-mention

Consistency in implementing online marketing processes that are really driving results for your campaign is the key to be the go-to-brand in your niche/industry.

TL;DR

Strong brands can rank and compete for competitive search terms. They also have higher conversions, because they aim for their market’s trust. Brands can easily get links, shares and loyal followers, because they demonstrate authority.

Brands give and share great experiences. And that’s pretty much what SEO is about.

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