Comprehensive articles with actionable tips and strategies on social media and online viral marketing from Jason Acidre.

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How I Do Link Baiting on @kaiserthesage

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

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

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

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

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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 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.

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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.

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Other-Worldly and Alternative Link Building Strategies – Part I

Good day, Kaiser the Sage readers!

Holy shit, I’m proud to be here!

(Looks at scores of previously-pleased link-building faces in the crowd.)

First, let’s engage, shall we?  Please answer the following.

True or False – “People often expect too much of me.”

You don’t have to share your answer out loud.

One’s answer may reflect deeper cognitive habits and psychological routines, which procure an ongoing outlook.

This, from a recent WSJ article:

“This question, from the California Psychological Inventory, indicates a test taker’s “conceptual fluency,” or ability to understand complex concepts, says Rich Thompson, director of research at test publisher CPP Inc. Someone who answers “True” is likely to be easily overwhelmed and may not believe in his or her own talent.”

I believe in you.

We all have limitless creativity; don’t begin thinking down an exhaustive path.  “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” and, “There is no spoon.”

I don’t allow outer world expectation and demand affect me too much.  I retreat into my creativity, tapping into a world of pure imagination.

It all started in the early 1980’s, where young @content_muse was busily at work, procuring his other-worldly creativity with the aid of He-Man, Voltron, and GI Joe toys…

The child-man spent his childhood blending fantasy with reality.

Kids, big and small, like to exercise and conduct creativity; in best moments, dreamers link reverie to reality.  Check this child-like, dreamed machine.

Some visionary, Da Vinci, dreamed of a flying machine in the 15th century.

OH: “Leo, stop playing with your drawing toys, and come help your mother.”

We fast forward to modern-day link building, a place where an aged-by-numbers Anthony engineers out-of-this-realm link building opportunities.

I’ll do my best to concoct an everlasting gobstopper of  new flavor for your building taste buds.

Let’s take a boat ride to the bizarre, inquiring, “How would @content_muse build links?” #hwCMbl

Search for Links to Social Media Accounts

Within many verticals, especially since the advent of ‘content marketing,’ scores of brand-related real estate exists.

Often, authors and curators link to peoples’ social media accounts rather than a particular blog post or authors’ domains.  Let’s take a look at links going to my @content_muse Twitter handle to tickle curiosity.

35 separate domains link to the Twitter handle.  If we wanted to seek future guest posting opportunities, we would pay attention to who/what publications were kind enough to lend a link to social handles and accounts.

Let’s consider fielding a future guest appearance for James Agate, doing as we did above, focusing on Agate’s Twitter handle.

We identify unfounded guest opportunities for Agate perusing the 41 domains linking to his Twitter handle.

We begin perusing URLs with decent authority, engagement, and solidified interest.

Some links are ancillary, originating from past guest posts.  However, let’s devote time in finding unique URLs where James has not yet authored.

We notice authors from SEOworkers.com shared Agate’s tweets.

We may use this observation for a ‘warmer’ initial point of contact,  asking John and crew for a guest opportunity.

As an endeavor of outreach, I may compose the following:

Dear John,

I notice you and the SEOworkers team appreciate the shares and work of James Agate and others in the online marketing space, noticing your curation of tweets from your domain (this particular one on guest posting.)

http://tweets.seoworkers.com/topics/guest-post

James Agate enjoys writing about guest posting, and, being you and team champion his shares and views…

I welcome in-house PR and link builders do the same for CEOs and clients who are active guest authors.

SEOmoz recently released its newest tool, the Fresh Web Explorer.  Bill Sebald of Greenlane SEO finds low-hanging link opportunities, perusing recent mentions of brands and personalities in his post.  Thanks for sharing, #Sebald

Let’s dock for a second and gather our link thoughts.

Acidre Actionable

  • Identify incoming links to author social media accounts. (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus)
  • Use Open Site Explorer, Fresh Web Explorer, and old-fashioned search operators for link building. Try your own derivation of the following:link:twitter.com/content_muse -twitter.com
  • Inquire about a guest post (Or, if the webmaster linked to a social account, ask if they would kindly ALSO include a link to a brand-related URL.)

Pitch Video Guest Posts and Complement Clips

I recently interviewed Dan Shure for LinkBuilding.TV.  Of course, you’ll want to watch the entire thing, but pay special attention to the last couple minutes, where Shure and I suggest ‘pitching guest video content.’  (hint..hint)

Video, at the moment, is a ‘purple dinosaur’ (I trademarked the term.  You can’t have it.) of the SERPs, with schema markups making them more noticeable.

“Since adding video, the conversion rate for this keyword has gone up 399.58% resulting in an increase in gross profit of $978.73 in a six month period for just this keyword.” – John-Henry Scherck

That’s J.H.’s explanation of video influence on SERPs, regarding leveraged online marketing efforts in the medical vertical on behalf of a SEER client.

SERPs are at times void of rhyme and reason; Dr. Pete does a good job of keeping an eye atop the SERP watchtower.

I’m a bit curious as to the added click-through power of video.  I would like to leverage guest videos to engineer more incoming links.

Let’s go to Inbound.org, taking a look at all-time popular posts related a particular topic.   Again, let’s imagine we’re searching for guest opportunities for James Agate, an author often lending insight upon guest blogging.

We’ll peruse the most-beloved posts on the topic.

Next, we’ll take note of authors, publications, and specific information/angles of guest posting.  We can take two, separate approaches at this point – ultimately, we want to urge James to communicate with video rather than text

For one, let’s augment existing content; searching within popular published posts, we’ll contact webmasters in the following manner:

(Pitches will mention Agate’s legacy on the topic and inquire of interest in having James shoot a video to complement existing text.)

Dear [NAME],

I noticed the great reception of your piece on guest posting.  James Agate regularly offers insight to business owners on how to best leverage guest posting for digital advancement.

Rather than add text to your already outstanding content, we thought it would be great for readers and the URL’s presence in the SERs to add video to the existing content.  James would like to shoot a video, offering insight…

Alternatively, we can take the traditional route in asking for a guest post as we did in the first section above, but rather than complementing existing text, we’ll offer video content rather than text.

Remember, marketing is about communication.

Don’t limit online messages; there’s more than one way to communicate.

Let’s take this all in.

“Cat videos increase your ability to meme” – Catt Mutts

Acidre Actionable

  • Use search operators, Inbound.org, or other manner of locating well-received posts.
  • Identify a topic or niche your CEO or client can provide valuable content upon.
  • Pitch either a video complement to existing content or offer to engineer a new piece of video content for the intended hosting URL.

OH: “content_muse, have you pitched mentioned video segments?”

I’m glad you ask.  Yes, actually, I lent video insight on the topic of branding to Kaiser the Sage readers already. 🙂  Look for my newly-included video within the post!

Introduce and Engineer Multi-Part Posts

How many of you out there can’t wait for the next Kaiser the Sage post, like you HAVE to feast your eyes on upcoming link-building goodies straight out the Acidre oven?

It’s understood; Jason has built a readership, fans, much like a number of television series throughout history.

Cliffhangers were made by marketers; savvy marketers want us to come back for the conclusion.  A New Yorker article describes the power of the cliffhanger.

“The idea that viewers would want to watch—and rewatch—a television series in strict chronology and collectively document their discoveries with a group of strangers was once laughable, but is now mainstream,” Mittell writes in “Complex TV.” Television was no longer an ephemeral experience, to be watched and discarded: it could be collected, shared, and analyzed.

Readers, you’re within the third section of this post, likely well invested in the content journey at this point.

What if I left you hanging here (temporarily), sending you to another URL for additional tips?

Taking things a step further, one could offer a longer guest post, extending insight to include another URL.  This would engender a link in the author profile box, but also begetting another link to a deeper, brand-related page.

Television and web publishers host multi-part series often, sometimes introducing new authors.

Rather than introduce a new author on the same URL, a two-part post introduces a new URL.  For example, if an author writes on a popular topic, such as image marketing, they may solidify links on (at least) two separate domains.

Ann Smarty recognized my commitment to image search in one of her recent articles.  Taking my own advice above, I may approach Ann and the Internet Marketing Ninjas for a post on the topic.

One guest post is just a tactic and not a strategy (right?); a series of posts (on the same topic) is better aligned with an ongoing strategy.

Acidre Actionable

  • Brainstorm broad topics associated with your CEO or client, segmenting the broad into more specific points of conversation.
  • During your next outreach campaign, identify several potential suitors.
  • Organize and arrange your ‘guest series’ on multiple hosted domains, or leverage your own URL as a hosting domain, fielding links from preceding series hosts.

Here is an example:

Dear SEOmoz,

We at Skyrocket notice James’ post on guest-post outreach is well revered over one year later.  James is planning on penning a follow-up to the post, hosting Part II on our blog..

We’d love to interlink the pieces for readership UX and continuity of the subject.  Would you be willing to…

Make Learning More Possible

What warrants an incoming link?  Great content? A handy tool?  A convenient resource?

We must be worthy of a link.  How do you we gain attention to place us in contention of being worthy?

Maybe rather than getting, we shall focus on giving, putting the circular wheel of reciprocity into action.

An Italian friend of mine, Giuseppe Pastore, once sent an email suggestion; I thought it was an incredible idea.

Giuseppe understands marketing; Moreover, he observes my niche of marketing is an international enterprise.

I have potential clients and peers across the globe (SEOs in different area codes so to speak).

I have potential relationships, spanning all continents.

What about you and your clients?

Where in the world are your followers?

Could you lend a helping hand, translating content?

Yes, Google Translate is available, but I believe many nuances and vivacity of respective languages are lost in translations.

Like providing a guest post above (which offers value), how could we offer value to our international friends?

Link builder, link builder, link me a match to a well-known marketer…

How about Seth Godin?

Sure, we’d all love a link from a well-seasoned, marketing guru, right?

But, that’s a tall order.  How can we manipulate Godin to link to us?  Maybe manipulate isn’t the correct train of thought; shouldn’t we do something for him, create value?

Alessio enjoyed Seth’s content in English.  Being Italian, Alessio made a connection, linking the idea of sharing the content with other Italians in their native language, making information more available, capisce?

Acidre Actionable

  • Consider this list of international domains.
  • Use Followerwonk or another social-media measurement tool, identifying potential brand friends in international area codes.
  • Can we approach brands/personalities, helping them translate information to another language, potentially exposing both parties to newer markets while inviting opportunity for incoming links of translating appreciation?

Decompression and Reevaluation

…Our ride is coming to a close.  I promise to give more tours in the near future – this is just part one. (That was one of my suggestions, right?)

In the first section, we notice mentions and existing links to social media handles and accounts.  Returning the expression of interest, we’ll seek future guest posting and relationship-building opportunities.

In the second, we introduce video into our marketing mix, contributing to existing content, or originating completely new content, using video as a means of expression and connection rather than written text.

Next, we realized digital content, like traditional content of television, can be offered in a serial fashion.  We can hook our consumers, or get them to subscribe to later iterations, especially when we introduce a serial frame (ex. expressing ‘Part 1’ in a title, or leaving a trail of URLs for them to follow)

Lastly, we understand link building is a means to an end, which offers value.  We get when we give.  Therefore, translating existing content into another language is way to disseminate knowledge, making it more available, getting more people involved.

UPDATE: Excited for more? Check out the 2nd part here: Other-Worldly & Alternative Link Building – Part II

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Digital Marketing Tips from 12 Marketing Professors

The drive to constantly learn new things is a very important attribute for marketers, considering that digital marketing is one of the toughest industries out there and with its nature as an ever-evolving field. Constant reading, practice and analysis are a must, in order to be better at it.

Online marketing is definitely full of challenges, for both starters and seasoned practitioners. But the thing that’s really great about our industry is that there are so many useful resources available over the web, which can help us improve in our own ways and overcome those challenges.

And since, we’ve already been learning a lot from the top experts and practitioners in the field, I’ve decided to ask and get insights from those who’re really passionate about educating other people.

Those who teach in classrooms, and not through webinars, blogging, conferences and other channels that most of us online marketers have already been used to. Because I believe that we can also learn a lot from them, and their advices are certainly worth listening to.

So I asked 12 marketing professors from different universities a single question:

What are the traditional marketing principles that online marketers should highly consider and apply/incorporate with their digital marketing activities (now and in the near future)?

Glen Gilmore

Glen GilmoreGlen Gilmore teaches digital marketing, crisis communication and social media law at Rutgers University. He was also ranked #7 on Forbes’ list of top 50 Social Media Power Influencers. You can follow him on Twitter @GlenGilmore.

The ever-quotable David Ogilvy cautioned marketers that, “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.”  Ogilvy’s classic statement from the golden age of traditional marketing brings to mind several principles that apply very much to digital marketing, now and into the future:

  • Consumers demand truthfulness and transparency.
  • Connecting with consumers requires more listening than talking.
  • Content marketing must inform, before it attempts to sell.
  • Creative marketing cannot compensate for poor products or poor services.
  • Your focus should never be a one-time sale, but on establishing long-term relationship – and that requires a longer-term vision and a determination to create real connections through service and trust.

Deirdre Breakenridge

Deirdre Breakenridge2Deirdre Breakenridge is an adjunct professor at New York University. She’s also the CEO of Pure Performance Communications. You can follow her on Twitter @DBreakenridge.

Your marketing initiatives should always be focused on your audience … it the “what’s in it for me” principle. With an incredible sea of noise and the increasing difficulty to reach and engage with people, it’s so important that marketers know their customers, well beyond the demographics. Social media changes the way we reach audiences today, and also takes engagement to an entirely new level.

However, research is a constant effort that helps you understand your audience’s preferences, critical issues and exactly how they want to participate with you.

Today’s research still uses some good old traditional methods; from polls and surveys to in-person interviews and focus panels (although these methods can be accomplished using newer technology). Taking research into the 21st century also requires “listening” or monitoring keywords and to find opportunities to join the conversations.

Research can also mean using new tools and platforms to uncover influencers, find trending topics, hear important conversations, watch competitor social media activity, receive feedback on products or services, enhance your reputation and gather ideas from crowdsourcing. Although the channels and the technology continue to change, the need to do research will remain a top priority for marketers today and in the future.

Mike Johansson

Mike JohanssonMike Johansson is a visiting professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. Aside from being a lecturer on PR, Advertising and Journalism, he’s also a social media consultant. You can follow him on Twitter @MikeJNY

Traditional marketing principles still apply online, but they must be viewed through a social lens.

Online has become a place where the customers and potential customers have the power via social networks to connect with all of your other customers and potential customers. This means, for example, that if anything less than full transparency in what you’re offering was ever acceptable it is not acceptable now. The online audience can, and does, talk to each other frequently. If youir value proposition is not one of the best everyone will know and very quickly.

It also means that “knowing who you’re trying to reach” is both more complex and easier to research. More complex because there are so many “signals” to be interpreted in the digital world. But easier in the sense that by using social listening skills brands can now pick up on signals from the marketplace that in an earlier generation would have taken weeks and a lot of money to hear.

Dr. Bang Nguyen

Bang NguyenDr. Bang Nguyen is a professor in Marketing at Oxford Brookes University and a visiting research professor at CEIBS in Shanghai, China. You can follow him on Twitter @ProfBangNguyen.

All of it is important. If I had to pick one key principle, it would be to develop systems to monitor and learn customers’ individual wants and needs, so that marketers can satisfy those customers’ needs on an individual basis.

However, marketers cannot just monitor/collect data obtrusively, but must also consider privacy and fairness in their methods.

Dr. Steven White

Prof. Steve White, CCBDr. Steven White is a professor of marketing and international business at University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He’s also the CMO at Garcia Digital Marketing. You can follow him on Twitter @dstevenwhite.

In my opinion, digital marketing has to be grounded in traditional marketing theory. Currently, and in the near future, successful digital marketers are those who understand and can adapt traditional marketing applications for the new social/mobile marketing era. Fundamentally, marketing is about communication.

Digital marketing presents two major advantages over traditional marketing: 1) the ability to engage in conversations and relationships with consumers and potential consumers in real time, and 2) metrics on which to base the evaluation of success or failure of digital marketing efforts.

This is an exciting time to be a marketer. The social/mobile marketing era offers unlimited opportunities to build meaningful relationships with a world-wide audience of potential customers.

Denny McCorkle

Denny McCorkleDenny McCorkle is a marketing professor at University of Northern Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter @TweetRightBrain.

When partnered with digital marketing, traditional methods of marketing (theories, research methods and data analysis, planning and strategies) provide a base for support, growth, and development.

Proper and rigorous analysis methods are still needed for big data and online metrics. New product development processes are still needed for developing digital or e-commerce products. Good research design is still needed for netnography, sentiment analysis, online focus groups, split testing, and online surveys.

Social media tactics need strategies for integration with other marketing media.  Blogs still need good communication, creativity, and persuasion skills. And, all strategies, whether traditional or digital, still need a marketing plan.

Dr. Constantinos Coursaris

Coursaris-Photo-for-Post-smallDr. Constantinos Coursaris is an associate professor in telecommunication, information studies, media and advertising at Michigan State University. He’s also a marketing and technology consultant. You can follow him on Twitter @DrCoursaris.

It would be prudent for Digital Marketers operating anywhere to consider not only traditional marketing principles for their potential applicability in their space, but also survey the plethora of theories, models, and best practices put forth by Communication scholars and in particular those who have focused on Computer-Mediated Communication over the past two decades. Digital channels blur the line of traditional marketing communications and interpersonal communication exchanges.

As such, you have a nuanced form of interactions – and they should be interactions, as hopefully by now, digital marketers have embraced the requirement for dialog rather than a broadcast of brand benefits and calls to action. With that in mind, i.e. the need for leveraging both domains of Marketing and Communication, if I were to highlight just one source from each, they would be:

Marketing: John Dewey’s work gave rise to our contemporary understanding of a consumer’s decision process, often described as five sequential stages —i.e., problem/need recognition; information search; evaluation of alternatives; purchase decision; and post-purchase decision. This understanding highlights the need for tailored messaging at different stages of the decision process—or more generally for achieving diverse objectives. Marketers often forget to strategically develop messages that are appropriate at different times, and engage in unstructured messaging, which carries no reliability with its expected effects or outcomes.

Communication: Viral marketing involves interpersonal influence on the adoption and use of products and services. Joseph Walther’s Social information-Processing theory views online social networks as important sources of information for people’s adoption and usage behaviors and activities. Hence, it focuses on the benefits of computer-mediated communication in online social networks—as opposed to face-to-face communication through offline social networks—for viral marketing in terms of its increased reach; the minimum effort involved; and its simultaneous synchronous and asynchronous nature.

Jim Joseph

Jim JosephJim Joseph is a professor at New York University. He’s also the author of the award-winning book series “The Experience Effect”. You can follow him on Twitter @JimJosephExp.

There is one aspect of traditional marketing that will never go out of style, even in today’s frenetic up-to-the-second digital world:  always lead with a customer insight.

Really understanding your customer and what makes them tick is a marketing fundamental. Every aspect of a brand’s interactions with its customers should seek to build an emotional connection that goes beyond just the product or service itself.

Every marketing element should start with an acknowledgement of the customer and what they need and want. When you lead with something about them, instead of about yourself, then they are more likely to connect, remember, and share.

Rob Petersen

rob petersenRob Petersen is a professor at Rutgers University. He’s also the President of BarnRaisers LLC. You can follow him on Twitter @RobPetersen.

People like to do business with people they know. This timeline principle about business and relationships is a reason why we do marketing. It’s even more relevant for digital marketing.

Blogs, e-mail marketing, videos, comments and sharing give consumers the chance to know and like you. They work because they humanize the people behind any business and the brand they represent. Even as new channels and tactics become available, the truth behind this simple wisdom will only be more apparent.

Dr. Michael Breazeale

Michael_BreazealeDr. Michael Breazeale is an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Aside from being a marketing educator, he is also a marketing consultant. You can follow him on Twitter @MktgMike.

I think that a lot of marketers are so intimidated by digital marketing that they often try to start from scratch with their digital strategy. That’s why I like your question. The biggest mistake we can make is to forget the marketing principles that got us where we are.

Digital marketing does involve a paradigm shift, but at it’s core, it is merely another tool in the marketer’s toolbox. It’s a tool that when used effectively can produce positive outcomes and when used without caution can produce stellar failures.

Three principles that come to mind immediately are the necessity of understanding the target market, the importance of respectful relationships, and the value of customer co-creation and feedback.

We know that the most important asset any marketer has is a thorough understanding of the target market. With digital marketing in the mix, that now includes understanding what our customer wants from us in terms of types and timing of communication.

The real-time capabilities of digital marketing make it very tempting to communicate constantly with customers, but that is not typically what they want from us. Even with digital capabilities we must provide relevant, engaging content that provides some kind of value to the customer and use that content sparingly.

We have known for years that solid relationships between our brand and our customers produce long-term profitability for the firm. Digital marketing provides us a way to be present in our customers’ daily lives in a way that we did not have previously, allowing for stronger, more meaningful relationships.  We must remember, however, that our presence must still be invited.

Push messages are no less annoying to the customer just because they are delivered digitally.  The customer has the right to decide how often we communicate. When we respect that and communicate with the customer on the customer’s terms, we have an increased likelihood of being a welcome relationship partner.

Recent marketing thought has focused on the important role that customers often play in co-creating the value we deliver. From a greater emphasis on self service to the growing customization trend, customers play a greater role than ever in creating value. Digital marketing gives those customers the ability to co-create the marketing message as well.

Customers regularly blog, post in forums, build fan (and enemy) websites, and create viral videos that are as convincing as many of the marketer-created communications that we craft so carefully. Just as customer word of mouth has always been an important component of any marketing program, these digital forms of word of mouth can spell success or failure for our marketing campaigns.

The sheer volume of customer-created content makes it tempting to ignore some of it, or even worse, remove the unflattering content, but this is not acceptable. It is more important than ever to monitor and respond to both positive and negative feedback, for it is this feedback that allows us to deliver what our customers perceive as value and to form strong relational bonds with them.

I am reminded of something that I once heard — Nothing can kill a bad product faster than good marketing. This is more true than ever when digital is part of the mix. This tool allows marketers to communicate more effectively and efficiently than other media, but if we ignore traditional marketing principles, all we are really doing is quickly delivering the wrong message and hastening failure.

Jon Boroshok

jon boroshokJon Boroshok is a professor at Southern New Hampshire University and Emerson College. He’s also Journalist, freelance writer and PR/Marcom specialist. You can follow him on Twitter @JBWrites.

Many “old school” rules still apply to digital marketing and social media. You still need to know as much as possible about your target audience. Demographics and psychographics still matter, especially on social media.

The more you understand who you’re communicating with, the closer to relevant, one-on-one engagement and relationship building you can have. That level of personalization can make the difference between an unhappy former customer and a brand evangelist.

Listening skills still go a long way too – talk with people rather than at them.

Dr. Eric Brey

eric breyDr. Eric Brey is an assistant professor at University of Memphis. Professor Brey has been an advisor to several companies, from tech startups to fortune 500 companies. He has also been a keynote speaker for different international organizations and industry associations. You can follow him on Twitter @ProfessorBrey.

There aren’t many principles rooted in traditional marketing that can be easily replicated within the socially-driven digital world we now live. The basis for marketing has been the 4 P’s but now we live in a world where 4 C’s are generally recognized as the core of engagement. If this is true, then much of what we have looked at needs to be addressed and adjusted for the new reality.

I would argue that much of what we teach in marketing should be adjusted for this new age of the Consumer. BUT, and this is imperative to recognize, the principles of integrated marketing communications can be used in the online space and quickly adapted (amongst some other components, but this one is easily identifiable as important).

At its core, the experience a consumer has with a brand should be seamless and have a similar tone throughout . This is true regardless of their overall brand affinity or level of importance or the channels they access or use to interact with the brand.

I could go on about this but this is my humble opinion on what is certainly a loaded question!

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

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How to Consistently Build 40+ Contextual Links Every Month

ahref

A contextual link is a type of link that’s usually found within the body of content and is in context with the idea surrounding the link. It can be both natural (voluntary links from other websites – ex: link bait) and artificial (manually built – ex: one of your guest posts that links back to your blog/content).

Acquiring links is a vital process in online marketing, as the practice benefits a site in so many ways, such as in building online brand presence, driving targeted traffic/leads and in getting better search ranking positions.

But this belief has somehow led many to focus on the wrong side of the practice.

Link building is a byproduct of the collective efforts and initiatives that a brand/business implements to promote and make itself more known to its target audience/customers. Elements that impact link building positively may include the following:

  • Product development
  • Content and business assets
  • USP and Online Branding
  • Offline Branding (events)
  • Relationships

Contextual link building requires hard work. It’s all about earning the links, not just building them. Because if your product or service is really good, people will certainly talk about you and definitely share it with other people who might need your business.

Build something genuinely worth linking to, whether it’s your products, service, the content you produce or the opinions you share with your industry and peers. It all matters, because they can all result to hard-earned links.

Factors that make contextual link building easier (Autopilot)

Chain of online marketing activities causes a site to become a link magnet. Invest on implementing actions that can help alleviate your site’s visibility through various channels (I believe this list can help).

Because the more people find your content, the higher chances of getting natural linkers to your blog. Below are some of the most important factors that allowed me to consistently attract links to my blog.

Consistency in content development

Being consistent in regularly publishing new content on a blog is hard, especially if you have many other things to do. In my case, I try to publish a new post every week.

I always make sure that every post that I launch will be useful to my current and future readers, and that’s why I mostly focus on creating evergreen content. I treat every post as a business asset that will not just send me ton of links, but potential clients as well.

This also allowed me to grow and have a continual increase in readership on my blog, wherein new readers could be future linkers.

So if a single content can acquire natural links from at least 10 unique linking domains (on an average) on its entire lifetime, and you publish 4 new posts every month, then you’re already able to build 40 links in a month (I’ll share some samples on the latter part of this post).

Content promotion strategies

Creating content is just the initial phase, because they will never move on their own without promotion. There are many ways to promote your content (you can check out this and this for extensive tips).

Content that you don’t promote is content that you shouldn’t have writtenLisa Barone

Making sure that your content really offers value to your readers, community and to your industry will make it easier for you to promote your content, and of course get links to them.

Content promotion is very significant in scaling your contextual link building, as it gives birth to places where people can find your content. This can actually influence how your content can acquire more natural links in the future.

Social Media

Having a strong following base on different social platforms can help get more eyeballs to your content. The multiplier effect of social sharing is very capable of introducing your content to new readers, who might use your content as a reference in their future works.

How to build a strong following base on social networks:

  • Continuously produce great and shareable content.
  • Make it easy for your readers to share and follow you on social networks (use social buttons as a call-to-action on your posts).
  • Build or join conversations on social networks where your target audience is.
  • Share others’ content and let them know about it, particularly individuals who have substantial followers in your niche.
  • Thank the people sharing your content.
  • Build alliances.

Optimize content for search

The best way to really scale your link building is by ensuring that your content will still be found by people even it has already been months after publishing the post.

Content publishers use search engines, especially when they do research for their own content. That’s why optimizing your content to rank better on search results for informational queries is important, to enhance link attraction to your content.

Having so many evergreen content published on my blog helped me to continuously attract lots of new contextual links to my site almost every month.

Absorbing traffic from other communities

2 ½ years ago, when I started blogging, this was the only link building tactic on my arsenal. My main goal back then was just to lead new readers back to my blog through participating on relevant discussions (on other blogs and forums).

That paid off. Because I was able to build relationships with other bloggers and I also get click-through traffic from the blog comments and forum contributions I made almost every day on my first 3 months of blogging (and some of them are still sending new readers to my blog until now).

If you’re providing great stuff on your site that people can really get value from, then this strategy will certainly be a good fit for you.

Find communities that have strong interactions in your space and start getting involved. For instance, I used to be active on Warrior Forum when I was just starting, but now you’ll find me more often on Inbound.org. Both communities are great in sending traffic/readers.

Being active on other industry blogs, forums and community websites is also a great way to build relationships and to strengthen your social following. These relationships will help semi-automate the social sharing process for your content marketing efforts.

Trust signals

Making it evident for readers that you’re hosting credible content on your site is an important element to entice linkers to using your content as a reference.

These signals may come in form of social proof, page layout (appealing design), visuals (images, videos, graphs, etc…) and readers’ comments.

Getting contextual links

Combining all the factors/efforts mentioned above will make it easier for you to get the links you deserve. Links that will get you qualified traffic and will genuinely help you achieve better search rankings.

It takes time and hard work to drive hundreds of high quality links to a site every month, and without actually building them. But no one is saying that it’s impossible.  Because hard work always pays off.

So in this part of the post, I’ll just share some of the links that this blog has naturally acquired this past month, including the factors that helped made the natural link acquisition possible.

Brand mentions

brand mention

I got a few brand mentions from other blogs last month (but sorry, I can’t include or link to the other 8 that I’ve found), below are some samples:

Why I got the link:

  • Because of the blog’s already established brand through continuously providing useful content.
  • Most of the people who mentioned my personal brand on their posts were social followers (and perhaps regular readers, except for Mark, who I work with at Xight).
  • I also got mentions from industry peers (like Moosa and Chris) – relationships!

Referential links

referential

I’ve got plenty of this type of contextual/natural link last month (from articles, other people’s blog comments and forum threads – such as this, this and this). Here are other samples:

Why I got the link:

  • Through search. Most of the posts that have been used as a reference were already months – if not years – old. There’s a high probability that some of them researched the topic using search engines and fortunately landed on my old posts (and used them as a resource).

Roundup links

roundup

3 posts from last month were also featured on different blogs that do weekly/monthly roundups (there were also other non-English blogs that featured my recent posts). Here are a few samples.

Why I got the link:

  • Social sharing. I believe that the majority of these curators found my recently published content through social networks and from my peers who have shared the content.
  • Relationships. Steve is an amazing curator!

The total number of contextual links that I was able to track for last month’s new links is 44 (from both high and low DA sites, and excluding the links from content scrapers) – close enough to reach 50+ (if only I’ve done outreach, right?).

Tracking natural links

I’m not sure if I was able to track all the new links to my blog last month. There are a lot of tools that can be used to monitor new incoming links to a site, though I found most of them inaccurate when it comes to this aspect of link reporting.

Here are several methods that you can do to track new links to your site:

Pro Link Building tools

Link research tools like Ahrefs and Majestic SEO offer a feature where you can view new links to your site that they have crawled and indexed.

But I wasn’t really able to make use of the data that these 2 tools have provided, as both included old linking pages/domains to the site on the report. Nonetheless, I still find both tools very useful.

ahref

Google Alerts

Setting up Google Alerts is also a great tool that you can use to monitor new links and mentions to your site/content.

You can use advanced search operators to filter the web pages that Google will be sending to your email. For instance, you can use this query – “link:yoursite.com –site:yoursite.com” – to only get the pages from other domains that link to any page of your site.

google alerts

Google Search

Using advanced search operators on Google Search (web, blogs, etc…) can also provide you with results of the pages that have recently linked to your site. You can easily modify your searches using the “search tools” feature, to filter the results you want to be displayed.

google search

However, this method may not display all the pages that have recently linked to your site, but you’d be surprised to find some that other tools might have missed.

Google Webmaster Tools

There’s a feature on Google Webmaster Tools that allow site owners to view and download the incoming links to their websites.

Go to Traffic > Links to your site > view more on “who links the most” > Download latest links.

wmt

The report that will be exported in excel format is not that comprehensive as well, but I think it’s still worth looking into.

Google Analytics’ Trackback reports

The trackback report from Google Analytics was the most comprehensive list of new links to the site that I’ve found. I’ve even discovered several links to my blog that I didn’t know that existed.

How to track contextual links through Google Analytics:

  • Go to Traffic Sources > Social > Network Referrals

network referrals

 

  • Click on any of the listed Social Network

socialnetworks

  • Choose on the “Activity Stream”, which is placed on the top right corner of the graph above the table.

activity stream

  • And on the top right part of the screen, you’ll see a dropdown button (next to the name of the social network you’ve chosen) that can display an option, wherein you can choose to see the list of your site’s trackbacks.

trackbacks

 

  • On the bottom left part of the table, show the maximum amount of rows to display all the trackbacks that your site has received in the past month.

rows

  • Export the report in excel or CSV format (you can see the export feature on the top part of the page).

export

  • After exporting, you’ll then have a list of new natural links to your site similar to this:

excelreport

The links extracted through Analytics data may not be the entire new links pointing to your site, since it may miss other link sources that have disallowed sending of trackbacks from their sites. But it’s definitely a good place to start in identifying sites that have voluntarily linked to you.

Why aim for contextual links?

It’s the strongest form of link over the web. Contextual links can be very advantageous to an online business in so many ways.

This type of link can generate more activity to the site. For example, for the past 6 days, the article from Socialmediatoday.com that links to one of my older posts has sent over 500+ visitors to my site (it was published on a weekend as well).

socialmediatoday

Having hundreds of in-content natural links to your site’s inner pages can also help build up your site’s domain authority. And having a strong DA enables a site to compete for highly competitive terms, and it also makes it easier for its pages to be more visible for long-tail search queries.

Given that in-content links are more receptive and are more often utilized by readers/users, they can certainly pass more link value to the destination page that they are linking to. And this can directly impact the search rankings of the link’s landing page.

Lastly, in-content links are very visible to readers (just as I’ve pointed above), which also translates to more brand impression.

It works on other niches

The cycle of gaining natural links on a continual basis doesn’t just work on content-rich and tech-savvy industries (like SEO, social media, technology, etc…). It happens on other niches too.

A good sample of this is Joshua Dorkin’s BiggerPockets.com. It’s a real estate community that produces rich content on a regular basis.

biggerpockets

I’m not affiliated or associated with this site, but I believe Joshua is a reader of my blog (that’s how I got to his site).

Anyway, since they are really active in pushing out useful and engaging content to their community (almost every day), they were able to get ton of natural links to their site’s content.

Like on the most popular post from their blog last month, which was able to acquire links from 16 referring domains. I checked their 4 other popular posts’ link data last month, and each post was able to get 5 – 10 unique linking domains.

Key Takeaways

Contextual link building can be done naturally, but it needs manual push to really scale the process of getting more earned links to a site.

For link building to be really efficient, it’s imperative to consolidate all the other marketing initiatives you do to build awareness to your site.

  • Produce content on a regular basis to constantly grow readership and build more link opportunities.
  • If you can’t produce content on a regular basis, then focus on creating content that no one in your industry can match. Then invest on promoting these assets.
  • Get involved in other online communities in your industry to absorb more readers and possible linkers back to your site.
  • Optimize your content for researchers. They’re the ones who will most likely link back to your content in the future.
  • Work on building an awesome brand through the content you produce, the interactions you make, and the relationships you build.

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

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A Walkthrough to Xight Interactive’s Inbound Marketing Process

Our company celebrated its first year anniversary last month – a really tough year for all of us. And I’m sure that it will be tougher in the coming months, as we all upgrade our goals internally. But overall, our small team is quite proud with what we have all achieved these past 12 months.

Since we’ve reached our first year as a company, a yearly board meeting/planning is certainly a task that we need to undertake. To make sure that we’ll learn from our past mistakes, identify our processes’ pain points, and on how we can build as stronger product from those insights (which is primarily our services/talent pool/culture).

My role – as CEO – has never been more challenging. On our second year, I’ll be focusing more on the big picture, marketing, training and process/strategy development.

And since we have one of the best consultants in the Philippines around to act as our Director of Search (Mark Acsay), and a very promising Content Marketing Director on board (Bev Lopez), the distribution of responsibilities and the leadership that will steer our process have been more solid than ever.

As for the operations, our company’s co-founder/COO – JP Prieto – will be taking over the entire operations. Several of our consultants, associates, creative/tech marketers and content devs are already stepping up to the challenge.

So it’s definitely a very exciting chapter for all of us – and I’m really excited to see how much our team can grow next year.

Enough of us and let’s start discussing more about the same simple inbound marketing process that I’ve proposed from our last month’s board meeting/planning.

Goal Setting

Developing an actionable strategy requires goals. Seeing that setting goals before even launching a campaign will lead you to only take the actions that will help you achieve them.

It’s also important to understand the client’s business/site needs in terms of marketing, not just for content strategy, but also to know the scope of your services that they’ll really benefit from the most.

Several metrics that a sustainable online marketing campaign could be aiming for are:

  • Improving the site’s domain authority (which somehow correlates to the business’ brand authority and search share).
  • Continual growth in targeted traffic (monthly increase in unique organic, direct and referred traffic).
  • Strong brand presence, which can be measured through the links and social mentions being earned by the campaign, particularly on the quality/authoritativeness of publications/sources featuring the site.
  • If improvements are reflecting to the business’ revenue growth.

With these things in mind, you can easily segment the methodologies your campaign will need based on level of priorities. These goals will also allow you to identify tasks that will bring both short and long term value to your campaign (such as knowing how one evergreen content can impact a business as a whole).

Strategy Development

Strategy will always vary, as it highly depends on what you and your client believe that their business really needs. For instance, some might be targeting a smaller market (or could be based on geographical locations) and some could be targeting a wider set of audience (from different places/demographics).

As I’ve mentioned above, it’s best to precisely know what the client and their target customers really need and formulate solutions that will make it easier for them to achieve their goals.

Technical SEO Audit

One of the most vital elements of a solid inbound marketing campaign is making sure that the site is ready for users and for search. That’s why this marketing practice comes first on our list.

A full site audit is very important to know which areas of the site need to be improved, as well as to guide the implementation processes (particularly on both on-page and off-page optimization).

Here’s a simple checklist of the things included on our continuous SEO audit analysis:

Title, Meta Tags and Permalink Structure

Make sure that the title tags, meta tags and URLs of the pages within the site are optimized for both users and search engines. It’s best to use your marketing thinking when optimizing these areas of the site, to entice more search/social traffic to checking out the page(s).

There are several ways and tools that can be used in doing this type of site assessment:

  • Using Traffic Travis’ “My Site” feature (the tool will instantly show if there are problems on your pages’ meta tags).
  • Through Google Webmaster Tools’ HTML Improvements section (under the “Optimization” tab). More details on this post.
  • Importing the site’s sitemap to excel and using Neils Bosma’s free SEO Tool for excel to extract each URL’s (included on the sitemap) title tags and meta descriptions. You can check out this post to see a step by step guide on using the tool.

Site Structure and Hierarchy of pages

Check if the site’s important pages (landing pages/categories) are accessible to both users and search engines. Prioritized important content by moving them up the hierarchy, or by lessening the number of clicks before users/crawlers get to those pages (through internal/navigational linking).

You can also use the sitemap to analyze which pages are important, and which pages should be receiving more link value for them to be able to compete for highly searched/competitive terms. You can check out this post for more tips on optimizing site structure.

Internal Linking

There are so many ways to see how if a site’s internal linking structure is well-optimized. You can start with Google Webmaster Tools (Traffic > Internal Links) to see which pages of the site have more internal links pointing to them, and to also see which pages are lacking internal links.

 

Other things that also be considered when optimizing a site’s internal linking structure are:

  • Checking if the site uses good anchor texts for its internal links and if they are pointing to appropriate/relevant pages.
  • Checking if the site’s inner pages contain broken links (you can use Xenu in doing this task).
  • Manually checking product and content-level pages if they are internally linking to other related pages (that may need more link value and visibility).

Duplicate Content

Finding potential problems within a site that can affect how it’s ranking on search results has been easier these past few months, as tons of tips on uncovering duplicates and thin pages within a site are available over the web.

We normally use Google Webmaster Tools to assess if the site has issues related to duplicate and/or thin pages being indexed by Google (see this post for the extensive version of how to find duplicates/poor content pages with GWMT).

Things to look out for when solving this issue:

  • Compare number of pages from the sitemap vs. the number of pages indexed by Google, to have an idea of how many excess pages from the site have been already indexed by Google.
  • See what URL parameters the site has (for secured version, cart, search feature, paginated version, etc…) and check if these URL parameters are being indexed by Google (you can use search operators like “site:www.example.com inurl:/search/”).
  • Check the site’s key pages (that are competing for the campaign’s major keywords) and see if they have duplicates on other websites (use Copyscape).
  • Once you’ve found the pages that could be harming the site, start blocking search crawlers from accessing and indexing them (through robots.txt or by tagging them to noindex).

Accessibility and Crawling

Check if the site has crawl errors via Google Webmaster Tools (Health > Crawl Errors), and have these assessments included on your list of recommendations and to have them fixed.

You can also use ScreamingFrog to assess if some of the site’s pages could be causing crawling problems (such as 404s or if the site has too many unnecessary 301 redirects).

It’s also best to check the site’s robots.txt to know what content/pages are being blocked from crawlers and if the robots.txt is also directing search bots to the site’s sitemap.

Site Speed

Determine if the site is serving its pages fast to both users and search engines. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights or Pingdom to get more data on the site’s loading speed, especially on the elements that could be causing the site to load slower.

Advanced On-site Recommendations

There are also other technical aspects of search optimization that you can consider when doing a full site analysis such as:

  • Evaluating if the site is ready to implement structured data for rich snippets (like authorship/publisher markups and schema/microdata for the site’s inner pages).
  • If the site’s key pages are serving too much Javascript, Flash or iframes, which could somehow affect how search engines are crawling the site’s content.
  • See if the site is already tracking goals/conversion via Google Analytics. If not, start recommending it.
  • Make sure that the site is canonicalized (or redirects to a single version of the URL – non-www. or www.).
  • Check if the site uses absolute URLs instead of relative URLs.
  • If the site has paginated content, see if the extended pages are being indexed (use dofollow internal links on high priority pages and tag the following pages to noindex).

Content-level Audit

Do a quick run on the site’s important landing pages and see the depth, quality and delivery of content. It’s important that each page can serve its purpose and should provide value/substantial information to its targeted audience.

Another thing that you should also consider when doing content audit is to gauge if the site’s important landing pages are really relevant to the search phrases they are aiming to rank for. This will reduce the exit rate on the site’s important pages, as the intent of the content is specifically targeted to users who are really seeking for what the content should actually be covering.

In doing this task, you can simply start by listing all the important landing/money pages of the site (preferably pages that are generating leads/sales to the business) on an excel spreadsheet. Once you have identified the site’s top pages, you can start assessing and noting how each can be improved in terms of messaging and audience targeting.

Here’s a great guide on implementing content audits.

Keyword Mapping

Relevance is the key in on-site optimization. Ensure that the site’s pages are targeting the most relevant keywords for them, because that’s the best way to have them ranked better in search results.

You can start by assessing the primary search terms that the campaign will be targeting as well as the key pages competing for those keywords. Do a site search with the primary keywords (site:www.example.com “keyword”) to see if the keyword has been overused by the site (to lessen the chances of cannibalizing your primary keywords).

This will help you find and distinguish if the pages are absolutely relevant to the keywords they are targeting, or if you can find another page that’s a better fit for the targeted search term.

Keyword Discovery

It’s imperative to continuously uncover keywords that can help the site draw more relevant traffic through search as the campaign grows. Discovering keywords to target – that will be used for content generation – is not just about getting new keywords, as it can also be about identifying efficient keywords that are already driving conversions.

Some of these keywords could be down the list of mid and long-tail keywords, and can usually be discovered through the site’s traffic activity (via Google Analytics).

Link Profile Analysis

Understand the site’s standings when it comes to linking and popularity to have better insights of how to approach the off-page optimization. You can start by classifying the strength of the links pointing to the site or by equating the ratio of the high quality vs. low quality links to the site.

I’ve shared a guide on link profile audit using Google Webmaster Tools a few months ago (you can use that as a reference):

  • Download the list of domains linking to the site (on Google Webmaster Tools > Traffic > Links to your site).
  • Use the Neils Bosma free SEO Tools for excel to add metrics on each listed domain (I used Alexa Reach rank just to get an initial idea of the domains’ traffic activity and authority).
  • Sort and segment the list by separating high scoring and low scoring domains. By then, you’ll get a rough estimation of the quality of domains linking to the site.

There are also other link analysis tools that you can use for this task, like Ahrefs or Opensiteexplorer.org, which you can use in exploring the types of links that the site has previously been acquiring. If there are too many spammy links pointing to the site, you can then include link removal (or disavowing low quality links) in your campaign/recommendations.

Competitive Analysis

Learn from their competitors’ weaknesses and strengths in terms of business and marketing perspectives. Knowing these things will allow you to fully grasp the elements/edge that will separate the client’s business to its competitors.

Competitive intelligence can certainly help the campaign be more efficient in so many ways, particularly in giving a good direction for the campaign and in overcoming the competition.

Some of the actionable steps that you can implement when doing this task are:

  • Get insights on their approach to content generation. Then offer more than they do.
  • Know the top domains/publications linking to them, to generate ideas on how you can get stronger links and relationships than what they have acquired.
  • Study their top content/pages and learn why they are successful. Replicate, remix and provide better experience.
  • Know the competitive keywords they are ranking highly for (you can use SEMRush Pro version to get this data). Observe how they have reached better rankings for those keywords (assess on and off-page factors).

Online Branding

Surviving the new age of online marketing requires a strong branding campaign. Having a strong brand presence over the web can take a business farther than just search and social.

This is a strong foundation for any online marketing campaign, because no algorithmic update can ever change the perceived value people see in a brand.

In fact, search engines favor brands, because they are somehow known to be credible. When a brand is popular, authoritative and/or trusted, it’s easier to achieve the search rankings it deserves, right?

Below are some of the online branding initiatives that we’ll continuously implement all throughout the campaign.

Local Directory Listings and Citations

If needed, or especially if the client mainly targets a market from certain locations, we’d definitely push through a local listing/citations campaign. Andrew Shotland recently shared a list of the most important local business directories for SEO, and these are definitely the ones that we’ll be primarily targeting.

Social Brand Pages

Check if the site is already utilizing different social platforms for online branding purposes. These channels are very important these days as businesses can use these brand pages to interact with their target consumers and in promoting their own content.

If in case they haven’t integrated their content strategy with social media, here’s a list of social sites where businesses can build brand pages.

Setting up branded pages on these channels is certainly a great way to protect the brand’s search results, as most of these sites have strong domain authority.

Given that these domains have high search share, disseminating content through these platforms can be very effective. Pages from these sites can easily rank for competitive keywords, which can also contribute to adding more visibility for the brand.

It’s important to continuously build on the channels that are really adding value to the campaign (not all the social sites can help the campaign grow, but there are some that can heavily impact the site’s marketing efforts). Along the way, the process will naturally reveal which channels are referring more targeted visitors (that take action).

This type of integration is a recurring process, where the important channels will have to be promoted (through the site, by building links to them, growing their followers, cross promoting via other social sites). Since, it will serve not just as a branding tool, but also a channel where the brand can cultivate its own community.

Ryan Clark also did a great piece on how to benefit more from your social profiles through linking.

Top Domain Prospecting

A huge part of brand strengthening for a site is getting more visibility through the top authoritative domains in their respective industry. Why? Because people who’re really interested in what your client is offering can be found on these places.

Creating a list of these prospected sites/publications where you can build more exposure and where you can exemplify the client’s expertise is easy.

Here’s a quick and easy process in finding potential prospects for content distribution:

  • Download the Mozbar tool for Firefox.
  • Configure Google Search’s settings to display 100 results per page.
  • Start searching for prospects, then export the search results to CSV format.

  • Open the downloaded CSV file, and sort the list by Domain Authority (from largest to smallest). Once the list is sorted, you’ll have a list that’s arranged based on each domain’s DA, and get a better idea of which ones to prioritize/target (we target domains with 40+ DAs, but also consider other factors such as the site’s design, quality of content/community and give more weight on the relevance with the site’s theme).

Getting back to building brand awareness using authority and high-traffic domains, the main objective is to absorb traffic through the exposure you’re getting from them. This can be done through efficient content distribution/placements, which can come in various forms such as:

  • Guest blogging
  • Regular content contribution/column
  • Interactions (participating and adding value to the discussions – comment threads, forum threads, Q&As)

These initiatives will allow you to be a part of the industry’s online community, as people (active in your industry) will see you more often. This helps the brand shape its own identity, given that the approach is more interactive (plus you get to understand more of your client’s industry).

Pro tip: Apply brand building principles in link building (or when placing any form of content on your target sites). The more you emphasize on making the brand look as an authority/expert in the field, the more referred visitors they’ll get from these channels.

Influencer Prospecting

Relationship building is definitely a big part of online branding, especially these days, where most successful content on the web are easily moved across its targeted audience when influential people share/link to it.

This approach to online marketing takes a lot of time (and work most especially), but its returns is definitely a force to reckon with.

Identifying top influencers in your client’s field is not that hard, seeing that there are so many tools these days that people can easily access to gain insights on who to follow and engage, like Followerwonk, Klout and Topsy.

Make a list of the people you feel will be eventually helpful for your campaign (keep in mind that you’ll also need to reciprocate, which means you’ll need to prove yourself to be of some value to them as well).

Several ways you can do to engage them and to be on their radar:

  • Use their content as a resource for your own content (mention and link out to them, and then let them know). Make sure that the content that you’ll create is really good to increase the chances of having them share your content.
  • Share their content on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc…). And let them know.
  • Participate on their blogs’ discussions. Add value and share information/opinions that they (and their audience) will be impressed with.

Once you have their attention, it’ll be easier to earn the links you deserve. Some of the ways you can benefit from building relationships with influencers (or even publishers who have substantial readership/following base):

  • Get them to mention your content on their own piece (especially when they are also finding your materials useful to their audience).
  • Have them share your content on social networks.
  • Acquiring hard-to-replicate links (like natural brand mentions and/or blogroll links).
  • Collaborate on content ideas and/or you can pitch guest posts to them (with higher approval rates).
  • You can invite them as guest authors to your client’s site, which is a solid strategy in building the site’s author portfolio, absorbing followers/traffic and getting more natural links (the more authors who have strong AuthorRank contributing on the site, the more Google will see how credible it is).

Content Asset Development

Creating content assets is the life stream of our campaign, because useful (not just great) content can semi-automate the process of marketing a brand over the web. Content is a significant factor why people will link, share, follow and buy from a brand.

Our process for content development is consisted of 5 phases, and we keep on optimizing our methodologies to meet both speed and quality (though we don’t focus on volume, since we create assets that aim to be relevant and be used for an entire year or more – evergreen).

Content Ideation

Start by listing possible topics that will be used for content distribution (for the site’s blog or to be pitched/submitted to other authority publications). Normally, we do this task every start of the month to guide the content marketing campaign using a content calendar.

For instance, by the time the client’s site is being audited/optimized by our consultants, the content team is simultaneously brainstorming at least 10 content ideas that will be used in the first month of the campaign (which is what we precisely do on a rate of $1,200/month).

The brainstorming meeting takes an hour or two, and mostly includes the following:

  • Coming up with working titles (based on campaign’s theme, highly searched keywords/topics, and possible impact to the campaign’s main goals).
  • Suggested content formats for promising ideas (infographic, interactive HTML5 landing page, kinetic typography, etc…).
  • Prospected publications where some of the content will be pitched to (so the outreach team can immediately create angles on how they can improve response/approval rate, which can be based if the content ideas appeal to their audience).
  • Delegation of tasks (research, outlining, creation and target deadlines).

There are 2 types of content that you can focus on:

  • Content for conversions – topics targeted to potential leads/customers, which usually provides in-depth information to influence buying decisions. These are mostly industry FAQs that are expounded when converted into a full content.
  • Content for awareness – where different content formats are used and tested to acquire natural links, social shares and to spread brand awareness. These may include curation (to engage other authors), rich-media content (infographic, video, HTML5 landing page, Ebook, etc…) and comprehensive guides/tutorials.

For content idea generation, here are a few tips:

  • Use Google Keyword Tool and look for the most searched topics in your client’s industry, or keywords with high search volume and build interesting topics around them.
  • Gather all the frequently asked questions in your client’s niche, and answer them in the most helpful and engaging way (could be visually or by just making the content extremely comprehensive).
  • Check your client site’s already existing content pool, and see if you can repurpose them. Enhance them in all possible ways you can (make them more extensive, add visuals, improve user-experience, etc…).
  • Get content ideas from their top competitors, and see their top and most linked/shared content (you can use Opensiteexplorer.org on this task). Create something similar, but outdo them in terms of information, presentation and promotion. Basically, you’ll have to beat their content on every aspect.

Here’s a quick sample (I’ve actually used this on my presentation at MORCon last September). If I’ll be targeting the keyword “how to get laid”, I’d first want to see the other content that I’ll be competing with.

Apparently, the competition for that topic/search term is pretty tight, though I believe I’ll have better chances of ranking well for that term if I can create something really big and interesting, an asset, like “100 ways to get laid [free ebook]”, right?

The key is to create the best content about your target query. Content that will really entice clicks from SERPs, be shared, linked to, and probably drive more leads/customers to the site.

Content assets have high chances of ranking well and in constantly getting referred traffic. And that’s the point of the strategy.

Topic Research

Research is the core of our content strategy (aside from creativity). This is probably our team’s best asset, as most of us have strong technical research skills and background.

This is a very important aspect for our content development process, as the quality of information of our content outputs heavily relies on this stage. The research phase usually starts once the content/editorial calendar for the campaign is set.

Some of the things that the research phase must implement:

  • To validate the creative ideas mentioned from the brainstorming meeting (see if feasible).
  • To gather necessary data and information for the topic and be included on the outline.
  • To find credible sources (which will also be cited on the content).
  • To check competitors’ similar content and highlight the things they have missed and the aspects of their content is lacking (ex: design, images, coherence, extensiveness, etc…). Use those weaknesses to your advantage.

Content Outline

Outlines serve as guides for content developers (copywriters and/or graphic artists). This is where all the outcomes of the research stage go, and basically the framework of how the content marketers visualize the end product.

Content outlines are usually consisted of the following:

  • The title of the content.
  • Brief description of the content.
  • The logical sequence of the content’s body.
  • The resources that the content developers can use to study and understand the topic.
  • Key phrases and/or elements that the content should contain or reference to (stats, graphs, images, videos, quotations, etc…).
  • Other requirements (which is optional), such as number of words, writing style, where the content will be published (so the writers/designers can have assess the type of audience they’ll be addressing to).
  • Deadline or level of priority.

Content Creation

Once the outlines are finished, the marketing team will then pass it over to the content development team (though we usually send these in batches).

Quality Assurance

We have 2 separate QA processes, in which the finished content will go through, where one is for editorial and the second is for SEO (just to assess if the content will be link/share-worthy and to also include the links for the sources within the content).

When the content has passed these QAs, it will be submitted back to the content marketers/outreach team for publishing/distribution.

Content Distribution and Promotion

The main objective of having content assets is to make them rank. Why? Assets are evergreen, so they’ll practically send ton of traffic to the site overtime, and they have the immense potentials of ranking highly and staying in there for a long time (which means more and constant visibility for the site).

Making these assets strong through promotion will help grow the site’s overall domain authority, which means better chances for the site to rank for the other competitive terms it is targeting (as the authority is passed around to its other landing pages).

When it comes to distribution of content assets, we normally decide on which ones to use for the site and the ones to be submitted to other authoritative domains. It usually comes down to the level of the importance of the keyword(s) that the content assets are targeting.

Choose the assets that you believe will have more impact when placed on the client’s site:

  • If it’ll attract direct leads/customers to the site
  • If it has high possibilities of attracting natural links/social mentions
  • If it can obviously compete for the keyword(s) which your client is primarily targeting

Why give the other assets to other websites, when we can use them all for ourselves? Because placing content assets on sites that already have strong search share can easily rank for competitive search phrases.

This means you get to indirectly attract traffic, links and build brand mind share at the same time, by continuously being exposed to the people who are finding and landing on that content.

Distributing the content really depends on the needs of the site. For instance we can choose to publish 5 of the content assets on the client’s site, and the other 5 on external authoritative sites (to establish the site’s content portfolio and to have most of the keywords targeted within the site).

Below are some of the content promotion methods that you can do to constantly generate traffic to your content assets as well as to get them on the top.

Social and Link Outreach

Find people and sites who’ll be really interested in sharing or linking to your content. There are so many ways and variations in doing this such as:

  • Linker outreach
  • Social outreach (for viral marketing)
  • Broken link building
  • Resource link building

The crucial part in this type of content promotion is making sure that the content you’ll be sharing to your prospects offers real value (not just to them, but should also be relevant to their audience) – value proposition is key to a successful outreach campaign.

Content Seeding

Use other channels to promote your content, particularly by building links/visibility for the content where people who’re seeking for the information it contains can actually find them.

Methods and places where you can seed your content assets:

  • Blog comments, especially on blog posts related to your content asset’s subject and on posts that are continuously getting traffic (have good search visibility). Always remember that you need to add value, for your comments to be really useful and be more receptive to their readers.
  • Related forum threads or creating a new forum thread to share the content. The key is not to just drop the link to the content, but to give solution to the stated problem (and use the content asset as the comprehensive resource that other forum members can reference to).
  • Contributing on Q&A sites (like Quora). Find posted questions that your content can provide answers. Participate and try to answer their questions, and then link to your content asset to redirect them for further reading.
  • Linking back to your content assets through your content distribution campaigns (guest blogging, press releases, etc…). It’s best to make the link very visible to readers (preferably placing the link on the top part of the content, and use longer strings of anchor texts). I’ll be discussing this more on the next part.
  • Sharing the content on different social platforms, where the brand has substantial amount of active followers. Given that most of your assets will be evergreen, sharing them once in a while will be very efficient, so that the brand’s new followers can still get to see the content and make the sharing cycle almost never ending.

Content Stemming

Create more content that will support the idea of the main content asset (or the content that’s capable of attracting more links and/or generating conversions). This will pass more link value to the content assets, which can also affect how they are ranking on search results.

You can utilize user-generated sites – like Slideshare, Scribd, Youtube, Pinterest and many more – when creating support content, since pages on these sites have high potentials of getting searched by users. It’ll be easier to draw more traffic back to your main content asset, when these support pages are already ranking well for high search volume keywords.

Tracking, Analysis and Funnel Optimization

Lastly, we try to enhance the approach of the campaign by monitoring its progress and optimizing every aspect of it, which also implies that we all need to take advantage of every opportunity and important detail we come across.

Tracking progress and reporting

Track all the campaign’s progress, as the more every aspect is being measured, the more enhancements can be made for the campaign’s succeeding months.

This is where all the deliverables will be sent to the client, which usually includes:

  • Full SEO audit report and recommendations.
  • Branding report (link and social tracking).
  • Qualitative report and analysis (summary of the results driven by the content marketing campaign, as well as the opportunities found through these initiatives).
  • Goal report (measuring the campaign’s impact on traffic, rankings and conversions – via Google Analytics).

These documents are used by SEO Consultants to review and visualize the best possible steps to ensure that the actions being taken are aligned with the campaign’s goals, and also to optimize the team’s internal processes (to ensure that we’ll be reaching and eventually expand the campaign’s goals).

Funnel optimization

Another vital part of our inbound campaign is analyzing and understanding more of the site’s funnels (from discovery, purchasing and to getting brand loyalists).

This analysis usually delves in the following areas:

  • Identifying keywords that are really driving conversions to the site, and thinking of ways of how the campaign can get more traffic from it (improving their rankings or the visibility of their respective landing pages).
  • Continuously improving the site’s important landing pages for conversions and visibility (how we can get more traffic to it and on how we can improve the page so visitors will take action). This may be comprised of split testing (MVT or A/B using Content Experiments on Google Analytics) as well as testing CTAs and other page elements.
  • Conversion link building will also be a big fraction of this campaign, where we’ll evaluate the best kinds of links/domains sending traffic with conversions to the site (so we can easily replicate these high-powered links).
  • The content assets that will be built will also be a part of this optimization process, since the content assets will also be tested on which suitable landing pages they should serve as a support (through internal linking or CTA offers).

The findings from these tests will also be included on our analysis and recommendations report, along with the other areas of the campaign that can still be improved.

Marketing and optimization is an on-going process. There’s always something new, and it’s part of our job to make sure that the campaign and the business will be on the right path.

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