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

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How to Automate Link Building

vans

Link building is an outcome, as Ian Lurie shared on his MozCon presentation this year. That’s true, and I couldn’t agree more. You can even automate your link development efforts with that perception alone.

To win in the link building game in the post-penguin era, you must know how to become a link magnet and should start mastering link baiting (no need for super viral content, just content that can potentially attract links). Since that’s where most natural links on the web come from.

Note: I’m not saying that manual link building is dead, because it’s not! Many of us are just using it in the wrong way. It’s a marketing tool, and being a tool for search engine optimization is just secondary. Use it to build awareness, not to improve search rankings. I have an upcoming post that’s related to that, so expect a link to that post from here.

If you’ve been reading some of my stuff on this blog, then I’m pretty sure that you’re already familiar with the tips I’ll be sharing in this post. This is simply just a recap of the things you can execute to automate the process of attracting and acquiring more natural links to your site.

Build insanely awesome products

Link building, and even marketing as a whole, is so much easier if you’re offering a product/service that no one else in your market can match. People will always share things that they find really useful or products that can really help solve their problems.

The best thing about making your products as the fuel of your marketing campaign is that it can help cultivate brand evangelists that will automate your marketing process along the way. You can almost certainly convert consumers to voluntarily share your product(s) to their peers/networks/followers when they find real value and awesomeness from using it.

Just look at Traffic Travis (even though I’ve worked for them in the past, I’ve become an advocate and an avid user of this tool), they have served thousands of Internet marketers all across the globe just by offering a free high-utility toolset.

Because they’re providing something of high value, they have managed to attract and acquire thousands of natural links/press mentions to their site over time (was even featured on Entrepreneur written by one of its brand evangelist from Single Grain).

This approach doesn’t just apply on actual products, as it can also work on other types of businesses or organizations (service-based, B2B, non-profit or membership-based models).

For instance in this blog, my ideas are my products. The more people like my ideas, the more I’ll get links, right?

Start aligning product development with marketing. Know how your clients’ products/services work and help identify areas it can still improve on and possible enhancements that will make it more awesome. Then don’t just promote, evangelize it.

Once your product is all set, start finding and building good relationships with your satisfied customers, particularly those who have written positive reviews or shared the experience about your product/service on social networks. These people will most likely be your brand loyalists in the future.

Aim to consistently satisfy their needs, or offer co-creation for your next product/versions (asking for feedbacks/suggestions). These simple actions will make them feel that they are a part of your product’s growth and will increase the chances of having them spread the word.

Look at Vans (I’m a huge fan of the brand), they allow people to create and customize their own design for shoes:

Become the “Go-to-Brand” in a specific niche of the industry

Build your brand as an authority in a single sector of your industry first. Share your expertise through the content you publish on your site as well as with the content you distribute on other industry sites/blogs. Then gradually scale to other areas of your industry.

For example, I have been known in the link building scene, because I’ve somehow focused on sharing ideas and strategies on link building for quite a while. Along the way of associating my personal brand to that niche led me to ton of linking opportunities:

  • Interviews
  • Group interviews
  • Roundups of best blogs discussing the niche
  • Editorial mentions
  • Invites to do guest blogs

Focusing on one specific niche of your industry is a good way to build a strong mindshare for your brand. Because once you’ve become known and be seen almost everywhere in that niche, you’ll be always on top of mind to people who might want to write something related to your niche.  And that’s certainly one of the best ways to automate and generate natural links/mentions to your site.

Screenshot was taken from Anthony Pensabene’s extremely useful guest post on SkyrocketSEO.

Moving on, seeing that I’ve somehow built a good reputation on that side of the industry, it’ll be much easier for me then to slowly build up my brand on other aspects of online marketing like content marketing, social media, etc…

Offer premium images and offer embed codes

Original high quality images are strong linkable assets that you can use to generate natural links. It’s a necessity when it comes to building great content, so bloggers basically need them.

There are so many ways that you can do to build links using images, but if you want to automate your link building efforts with this approach, it’s best to provide auto embed code scripts for all your sites high-quality images.

Continuously build and promote evergreen content to scale link acquisition

Like what I’ve shared on my previous post, one of the most fascinating attributes of evergreen content is its capability to continuously generate links to your site.

This type of content has high tendencies of getting links over time, as long as the content is providing valuable information that never goes out of date and as long as people will have ways to see/find the content.

The key to efficiently automate your natural link building process through providing ton of evergreen content is to build constant exposure to them or steady channels that will allow them to generate consistent traffic.

Getting constant traffic to these pages will increase the likelihood of getting more links to them (since some might use it as a reference).

Ways to send continuous traffic to your evergreen content:

  • Build contextual links to your evergreen content (both internal and incoming) that will be seen by your target audience. You can build links through related community discussions, your guest blogs and through requesting resource links from other pages related to your content.
  • Promote old evergreen content every so often on social networks, so new followers may be able to see them as well. You can use tools like Bufferapp to schedule your old posts to be shared on different social networks.
  • Make the content rank for its targeted keywords (both short and long-tails) to drive search engine traffic who’re specifically looking for the information it contains. You can also check out this content optimization techniques.

Own informational keywords on SERPs

People, specifically bloggers who do their research, tend to link to pages that rank highly on search results for informational keywords. Given that skilled bloggers will always reference others’ work to establish credibility and trust.

I’ve personally experienced this dozens of times, where I get referential links because I’m ranking at the top of Google search. For example, the link growth of my online marketing strategies resources page had tremendously increased since it reached the #1 spot for “SEO strategies”.

There are many possible reasons why people will link to your content when your content is ranking well on Google:

  • They linked to it and used it as a resource to lessen the need of further emphasizing the subject.
  • To establish trust with search engines (knowing that externally linking to trusted sources are also assessed by search engines).
  • They actually found your content useful and thought it’s worth sharing to their readers.
  • They want to connect and build a relationship with you.

So if it’s a good link bait tactic, how would you make your solid content rank highly on SERPs?

There are 4 ways that you can do to rank better on informational keywords:

  • Create the best content about the subject/keyword. Study your competitors’ similar content and outdo them in terms of information, presentation and delivery.
  • Build links to your informational page through guest blogs, community discussions, link outreach as well as building strong pages in your site that will internally link to them.
  • Improve your overall domain authority by building more authoritative links and pages to your site. This will allow your site’s newer posts/pages to have better chances of getting immediate rankings on SERPs.
  • Build and improve your author portfolio and implement authorship markup to increase your pages’ SERP click-through rate.

Build content targeted to advanced segments as well

Identify communities and content hubs in your industry that are getting the most link love and search share. Study how they generate, deliver and present their content and how they naturally attract links and social shares.

This data mining process will allow you to understand what types of content resonate well to your industry’s advanced segments or those who also write about your industry (bloggers, industry analysts, journalists, etc…).

Target these people through creating content that they’ll more likely read and learn from. You can have better response rates from your outreach if you can provide content that these influencers will be really interested in. With that, you can then easily build rapport with them and eventually get more exposure through their networks.

Leverage Unique Selling Point

Just like providing exceptional products, your brand’s USP is as important. Stress on your brand’s strong points in every online marketing effort you implement (content marketing, link building, guest blogging, display ads, etc…).

Because the more people know what really sets your brand apart from your competitors, the more you’ll get natural referrals from people who have personally experienced your product/service, such as getting mentioned on forum/community discussions and even on getting reviews.

A great example is Zappos’ exceptional customer service. Leveraging that resulted to hundreds, if not thousands, of recommendations from satisfied customers (both on and offline).

Build strong readership, audience funnels and alliances

One reason why content marketing is so efficient in getting more natural links to a site is that it amplifies the reach of your content.

Building solid readership, audience funnels and relationships are basic parts of content marketing that will not just boost your site’s social sharing activity, but also scales the opportunities of acquiring natural links.

Your online peers will always send new readers down your way, as they continuously share your content through social sharing or linking and as they grow their own following/readership. That’s why investing on these kinds of relationships will always be a win/win situation.

The more readers they send to your site will be the higher chances of getting new link sources for your content.

Few tips on building audience funnels and alliances:

  • Create content that are relevant to their interests on a weekly/monthly basis.
  • Encourage readers to share your content and follow you on social networks (make this as your content’s secondary call to action).
  • Interact with people who shared your content on social networks (like sharing their works as well).
  • Build a mailing list (newsletter) to get better insights/feedbacks from your readers too.
  • Cite their works as a resource to initiate reciprocity.

Get linkable people to write for you

Invite people who have large/substantial follower base in your industry to do guest blogs or be a contributor to your site. It will be easier to entice them if you’re already connected with them.

Another option, in case you feel that you’ll be struggling to invite influencers to do guest blogs, is to find and hire niche freelance writers (that already have strong following) in your industry.

You can use Followerwonk in finding freelance writers who can work and create good/linkable content for your site. Having them shared the content to their followers is definitely the plus in doing this method.

Organizing and hosting a blogging contest on your site, and inviting influencers to participate is also another great way to bait linkable authors to write for you. Look at what Unbounce did last year.

Final thought

I really liked what Ross Hudgens said about automating link building – it’s all about automating 90% of the process, and then leaving the 10% to humans who will create 99% of the value. Now stop using those automated link building software, they won’t help you one bit in this era.

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

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How to Maximize your Evergreen Content to Fuel Business Sales and Marketing

Content marketing is a marketing practice that has been recently embraced by a lot of online marketers, especially people in the SEO industry.

Although the principle has existed for decades, continual changes in the online marketing landscape have substantiated the immense weight that Content Marketing can contribute to today’s businesses. Given that it allows small to large brands to be more competitive in their respective industries and this channel enables them to empower both sales and marketing efforts.

Infographic via Junta42

Now that you have a brief background of what content marketing is, let’s head on to the one approach in content marketing that can extremely grow your business in so many ways – pushing out evergreen content on a massive scale. Why? Because this methodology for content strategy can touch several aspects of online marketing in one go (particularly the important ones), such as:

  • Scalable link acquisition
  • Achieving high search rankings for industry terms
  • Continuous social sharing of content
  • Constant traffic generation from different sources (referring sites, social and search)
  • Helping the site’s online conversions in terms of lead and revenue generation
  • Uncovering more opportunities for the site (links, relationships, coverage, partnerships, etc…)
  • Supporting and giving more visibility to the other important pages of the site
  • Growing subscribers, social followers and brand advocates as the content consistently draws traffic to itself.
  • Brand strengthening

We’ll go more on the details and on how to optimize content for each listed aspects below. But before everything else, I just want to share that this post was heavily inspired by Nick Eubanks’ case study of my blog (which will be out soon).

Creating an evergreen content that will create impact for your business

Evergreen content, as the term defines itself, is a content that never relies on current trends and is simply an informational or reference material that somehow never goes out of date (as explained by WiseGeek).

Content marketers commonly use this type of content with the intention to drive consistent web traffic to it (for a long period of time), since this type of content discusses generally searched information most of the time (such as guides and historical information).

So how do you create one? Here are few tips on creating a robust evergreen content that will influence your overall online marketing campaign:

  • Build content based on keywords that a specific segment of your target audience/customers generally seek for (ex. “learn SEO” or “advanced SEO tips”). Use Google Keyword Tool to identify topics that are being constantly searched and appeal to your market.
  • Make your content as in-depth as it can be. Look at how the content is presented on Wikipedia. Their pages are mostly cited as a reference mainly because of the extensiveness of their content.
  • Use visualizations, like rich images, to generate more interest from your readers/viewers.
  • Explore other content formats in presenting content, such as videos, slide presentations and/or data visualizations.
  • Aim to have the best content about that certain subject in your industry’s online sphere. Research your competitors’ similar content. This principle will help you create a better copy and will also be its unique selling point in continuously attracting traffic and activity.

Once you are done with the content, interconnecting other areas of web marketing efficiently will be more often than not its end-results, seeing that you’ll have plenty of time to make use and benefit from it.

Scalable Link Acquisition

Getting voluntary given and editorial links to an evergreen content is almost always certain to happen. It can even work on continuously acquiring natural links to itself over time, as long as people can find it and as long as the content provides useful/relevant information by the time they see it.

Making an evergreen content very comprehensive is so important, because it’s the element that will entice people, especially content creators in your field, in using it as a reference (whether on blog posts, forum threads or other community discussions).

For instance, the link growth for an evergreen post that I’ve published last March 16, 2011 about Ecommerce SEO strategies has been increasing for the past 17 months.

That post also received a link from SEOmoz recently (May 2012, after 14 months of being published). And one reason why the amount of new links acquired on that month increased is because of the sites that have scraped the linking content from SEOmoz.

How to optimize your content for linking:

  • Make sure that the content will be found by people who are specifically searching for it. This will involve optimizing the page/content for several possible search terms that are used when researching for information (both short and long-tail keywords).
  • Build internal contextual links to the content to improve its visibility through search rankings and referred page visits. A useful advice for this method is to use longer strings of texts for their anchors, as longer anchor texts are more receptive to readers and can also allow the destination content to target multiple keywords that they can rank for.
  • Build incoming links to the content from other websites through outreach or content distribution (contextually linking to them through your guest blogs). This will increase the chances of getting more traffic to the page, which can also encourage more people in your industry in referencing the content.

Basically, the key to make your content a scalable link building machine is to build channels that will consistently send traffic to it, whether from search, social or links. The more new visitors the page can get over time, the better chances of getting people who might find and use the content as a resource for their works.

Better Search Rankings for Industry Keywords

Solid content that’s meant to last a lifetime (or almost) has higher potentials of getting good SERP rankings, as they have most of the factors that search engines tend to look for in terms of quality of information/content, page activity, user engagement and ability to continuously attract natural links.

Having good rankings for your content can stretch possibilities for your business’ marketing and sales efforts, knowing that it can almost ensure highly targeted traffic to the page who may take actions (sharing, linking, subscribing and even purchasing).

As soon as your content is capable of generating search-traffic, the likelihood of getting natural links, continuous social shares, followers and potential customers will be higher.

How to get higher search rankings for your evergreen content:     

  • Optimize content for search, especially in making the content absolutely relevant to the keywords it’s aiming to rank for.
  • Build more exposure and authority to the content through both internal linking and content-based link building.
  • Utilize social media marketing techniques to send out more positive signals from the content as well as for the content to be more visible on personalized search results.

Continuous Social Sharing

One of the most awesome things that you can get from an evergreen content is its ability to create a recurring cycle for social sharing.

In social media, even if the content is already months or years old, it can still work for you as long as the content has proven to offer value to its audience.

For example, the “SEO for ecommerce” post I’ve shared earlier is still generating social shares even its publication date was a year and half ago.

These instances can tremendously help in keeping your content alive, as it can generate traffic, possible linkers, subscribers/followers and leads to the site.

Being able to get social shares to already existing content can also generate sudden traffic spikes, depending on the authority/influence of the sharer.

How to optimize your content for social sharing

  • Make the social buttons serve as the secondary call-to-action of the content by making them very visible to your visitors. Place it above the fold and right after the content.
  • Use awesome titles for your posts that aren’t limited by trends (extensive tips, guides and lists are usually effective in this type of content). Check out Dan Shure’s guide on writing effective titles.
  • Implement the “unexpected hook” element when creating content, where you try to exceed the readers’ expectations out from the content. This will increase the likelihood of the content of being shared on social networks.
  • Build more channels to draw new traffic from (sites/pages linking to them or keywords they are ranking for). As the more new visitors the page can get, the more social shares it can eventually generate.

Evergreen Content Generates Constant Traffic

A special feat that a strong evergreen content has is its capability to consistently draw traffic from different sources, particularly from the first 3 areas that I’ve mentioned above (natural links, search rankings and social shares).

Using this approach for your content strategy is like building a marketing army that will promote your brand on autopilot, because it will continuously bring traffic to your site that may:

  • Link to your content
  • Share your content
  • Subscribe to your feed/newsletter
  • Follow you on social networks

Just imagine the power this method can lend to your site if you have tens or hundreds of this kind of high performing content hosted in your domain.

How to drive constant traffic to your evergreen content:

  • Improve its search rankings by optimizing the content for its targeted keyword(s), building internal links to it and acquiring links that will generate traffic (editorial, contextual, and links from relevant discussions from pages/threads that are also getting constant traffic).
  • Update content if necessary to make sure that new visitors will be satisfied with the content they’ll be landing on. This will increase the chances of the established content of being shared.
  • Share your old content on social networks once in a while to send your new followers who might have missed the content.

Grow Conversions (lead and revenue generation)

Given that your content will going to continuously drive traffic to itself, getting potential customers/clients will not be impossible, since the content strongly exemplifies your expertise in your field.

Just like what I’ve mentioned on my guest post on Kikolani, I mostly got my past and current clients because of my blog posts, not through rankings. And this can certainly work for any size of businesses.

To further illustrate what I’m meaning to say, an evergreen content usually acts as a middle of the funnel element that can stimulate the buyer’s decision process.

For instance, the ecommerce post I’ve mentioned as a sample above has generated several client inquiries through my blog’s SEO consulting services page and contact page over the months it’s been live (approximately 14 potential clients out of 443 highly-engaged readers – 3.16% conversion rate).

How to optimize content for conversions:

  • Improve the page’s loading speed. You can use tools like Page Speed Online or Pingdom to see how the page is performing in terms of speed and the areas you’ll need to optimize to enhance load time.

  • Include strong CTAs right after the content to attract leads. Look at how Hubspot attract specifically targeted leads on every end of their blog posts:

  • Internally link to other useful pages or high-converting pages of your site, to improve visitor as well as brand retention and to move them further down through your conversion funnel.
  • Identify the content’s keywords that are sending converted visitors through Google Analytics. Optimize the content for those keywords for them to generate more traffic that have high chances of converting.

Grow Subscriptions and Social Following

Bringing continual traffic to the evergreen content can also successively increase and grow your subscribers (feed or newsletter) and social followers. You can make these aspects be parts or goals of your conversion optimization, by simply adding them to your content’s calls-to-action (placing it on parts where readers can easily see them).

Support and lend visibility to other important pages (through internal linking)

Your evergreen content will continually improve its page authority, due to various activities that will occur within the content over time. It’ll eventually be a strong asset that you can utilize to support your other important pages (useful content, transactional pages, etc…) through internal linking.

These internal links can funnel through your content’s new visitors to your other important pages, and most importantly, the internal links can also pass link value to the internally linked pages, which can help them improve their search rankings as well.

Scale Link opportunity discovery and Relationship Building via social shares

Once your content is already well-established (constantly receives traffic and new social shares), you can start tracking those who have shared your content, as it can lead you to finding more opportunities and easier-to-acquire links.

Monitoring these can also help you build relationships and alliances in your community, which your brand can benefit from for your future content marketing efforts (through social outreach).

How to do Social Reverse Engineering:

For Twitter, you can use Topsy. Monitor and make a list of those who have recently shared your old content, especially those who run or have websites/blogs.

You can also use Google Search in finding people who have shared your content on Facebook

and Google+

Check the ones who own websites (from the search results) and start engaging them.

Initiate conversations by simply thanking them for sharing your old post/content. Building a good rapport will help you get easier – but higher value – link acquisitions or higher response rates once you start pitching for guest blogs and/or link requests.

Online Brand Strengthening

Serving high value content that’s meant to attract traffic for a long time – and being consistent with production – can definitely be a solid ground in creating advocates/loyalists/evangelists for your brand.

Another factor that helps in shaping a unique identity for your brand as a thought-leader, aside from the expertly done content you provide, will somehow rely on the industry keywords that your site is ranking for or your brand’s search share in its specific niche.

Since people, particularly from your industry or interested in your industry, are easily reminded by those who they mostly see when they search for your industry’s major keywords (for both research and consumption purposes).

For instance, I’ve been kind of popular in the link building scene and have been mentioned on several blog posts that mainly discuss link building:

Why? Because I’ve created dozens of remarkable posts about it.

A lot of people also know me as an SEO strategist because I’ve been ranking for this keyword for over a year now:

Creating an evergreen content that appeals to a large audience, which people can also easily find (through search engines), can instantly build perceptions about you as a brand.

If you’re in the SEO industry and you know who Jon Cooper is, then I’m kind of sure that the words “link building strategies” are already playing around your head.

That’s how evergreen content can strengthen and expand your brand presence as well as the perceived value that people see in your business.

Making this content approach as the foundation of your online marketing strategy and having ton of them will scale and almost automate your business’ marketing and sales efforts.

And the best thing about this approach is that even if the content failed to attract massive traffic/links on its initial launch, it’ll still be able to survive and eventually attract people to share/link/consume it… because it’s evergreen.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre. For more tips you can check out my list of online marketing strategies.

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Triangle Offense to Create a Powerful Online Presence

This entry is a guest post by Mark Acsay, the Director of Search and our resident technical SEO expert at Xight Interactive. He also blogs at Webbythoughts.com and you can follow him on Twitter @markacsay

First, let’s talk about content. The foundation of a successful online marketing campaign is strongly based on its content marketing strategy. Thus, if you want to attract customers, clients and buyers, make sure that you have quality content that they would not only read, but share and spread around as well.

Awesome and relevant content also encourages other sites and web bloggers to link to you, which is a good thing, knowing that links to your pages are one of the major traffic drivers over the web.

“Content marketing has almost the same trajectory with the rise of social media.”

There are different types of web content that you can choose to publish in your website. Not one is ultimately better than the others. Some websites are better off with podcasts than white paper contents. Though, you will have to decide which type of content will be most effective in creating your presence in the Internet as well as in your targeted community. Some marketers would also try two or all of the content types just to determine which works best for their niche.

Few Types of Powerful Web Content

Here are the types of web content tools and formats that were proven effective when it comes to online marketing;

  • Videos – These are short recorded videos embedded in your pages that tackle important, controversial, relevant and trending topics. Your videos should be short and direct and it should only be discussing one main topic. Too much fluff and unnecessary talk will turn off your viewers and potential consumers.
  • Blog posts/Articles – These are what the viewers read on your pages. They would be looking for information and good writing. Nothing will bounce a viewer faster than horrible page content. By horrible, it means bad writing, irrelevant content and fluff.
  • White Papers – These are comprehensive and in-depth take on the relevant issues currently trending in your niche. These are longer than the usual blog articles and should offer not only factual data, but also your appropriate analysis and your studied opinion.
  • Podcasts – These are the video equivalent of the white paper. Podcasts are mini documentaries that will exhaustively tackle issues concerning your niche and topics that have major impact on the buying behavior and decisions of your customers. An interview with an industry expert would be a good setup for a podcast.
  • Webinars – These are instructional videos. Many people opt to watch webinars than read text-based content. Unlike the general topic discussions in the videos, webinars answer to the daily “how-to’s” that people are looking up on the web.
  • Webcasts – These are live coverage of events that will interest your target market or the viewers of your site. Make sure that your webcasts will cover topics that are updated and interesting.

Many marketers use more than one type of content to attract viewers and links. Others will use one or two at a time, and then determine the type of content that generates the most viewers and conversion. For more types of web-based content, you may check out an extensive list here from Hubspot.

The key is on giving quality information to your viewers. Interesting, relevant, factual and significant content will keep viewers going back and sharing your page to their network. With that said, your content will be the baseline of all three dimensions of your marketing.

“In this day and age of online marketing, it’s not enough to have quality content, you have to be the “King of Content” in your niche.”

The Three Attacks of the Triangle Offense

There are three major venues that you can utilize in order to drive visitors/readers and eventual customers to your site. Some of the most successful websites over the web work on all these three. That is the most logical option as your customers are most likely to spread out. So, for optimum coverage, take on these three.

But if you are just starting on building a website, you might consider on a venue that you think is the most effective way to reach your target audience. Focus your marketing campaign on that venue and then take on the second and the third once you already created a strong foothold on your primary campaign. Here are the three big ways in which you can create a strong brand presence on the web;

  1. Build Your Base in the Blogging World– Creating a good foundation on your webpage by focusing on the quality of content and stunning presentation will pay off in building up your reputation in your industry’s online community. Being the authority site in your niche is the best way to attract would-be customers and linkeratis as well. Here are some of the benefits of strengthening your blog’s online presence.

  • Build up the trust of the customers – Efficient internet marketing is based on trust, given that Internet buyers will not buy anything from a website that they cannot trust. As there are hundreds other providers and sellers of what you have, they can easily look for another site. A well conceptualized, informative and engaging website/blog can incite trust from the customers.
  • Build on your authority standing – Being the authority in the industry counts a lot. By putting nothing but well-researched and well-written content, you are not only providing knowledge, you are also creating a powerful voice in your niche.
  • Direct communication with your customers – A simple email option form can work a lot in opening a direct communication line to your potential buyers.

Here are some ways to easily build a good following base through blogging:

  • Post interesting articles/videos – This is a sure fire way to generate traffic. Being interesting could be funny, shocking or just plain good read. Make sure that you base all your posts in verifiable facts.A great sample of one of the most successful video marketing campaigns done in the past years is that from Tom Dickson of Blendtec  where he blends anything unimaginable.

  • Get help from the experts – Article pieces or video recorded interviews of known experts in your niche will leverage the value of the information your content has. You may choose to crowdsource your content through interviewing influential players in your vertical niche as well.
  • Engaging Titles– Make your titles as specific to the topic as possible. Adding numbers or names will generate more interest than generally titled pieces. An example would be a specifically titled article “10 Fun Reasons To Visit the Philippines According to NBA Players” is more likely to generate response to a generally titled article “10 Reasons To Visit the Philippines” even though both have the same content. You may play around this Title Idea Generator to kill that writer’s block.
  • Updates, updates – Make sure that your contents are all updated. People would like to see something new every time they visit your site.
  • Spread the news – Let the people in your network know of your web activities. Encourage them to take a look and share the posts that they like. Social media is a very effective tool for this purpose.
  • Be an active participant in your niche – Seek out other authority sites and participate by leaving comments on these sites. Include a link back to your site as much as possible. Be willing to contribute to influencer’s websites through guest posting. It will help you get targeted and relevant traffic as well.
  • Communicate with your tribe – You can encourage them to leave comments, email you or share your posts in their social media accounts.

2. Spread Your Content  In Every Search Engine Landscape  – Search engines, especially Google is the primary search engine used by most web users in finding information, products, services, people and anything else on the web. The best chance of being visited by viewers generated by Google searches is to be on the upper half of the first page list. It would then be very sensible if you focus your marketing campaign aiming for good Google search rankings.

Here are some quick basic on-page strategies to optimize your content.

  • Optimize with the right keywords – First, you have to identify the most appropriate keywords for your niche and product of service offered. Simple SEO maneuvers like putting keywords in the title and in other strategic locations throughout the website will help Google pickup your site whenever a search for that particular keywords is generated. Start with long tail keywords to start getting traction.
  • Optimize with the right URL– Another Google ranking consideration is the URLs of your site’s inner pages. It would help if you have a relevant URL to the niche or business you are offering.  Use pretty URLs so search crawlers and users can easily understand what the page is about (better relevance scores).  This will also tell your visitors that they are in the right place and could attract relevant keyword anchor text from linkeratis.Ugly URL: reviews.cnet.com/4531-10921_7-6648315.html?tag=cnetfd.mt
    Pretty URL: cnet.com/best-ipad-apps-list
  • Optimize with the right content – Again, emphasis on quality content. You can only generate natural backlinks by having great and relevant content, As traffic, user engagement and active links are some of the most notable search engine rank drivers. You should aim to get as much quality links as you can have, and you can easily do that by investing in quality, relevant and interesting content for your visitors. It feels like you’re putting a cap in your marketing at first but as you get traction, you will see the multiplying effect in your overall campaign.
  • Use Authorship Markup – It will give authenticity and credibility to your site. Since search is becoming more social, Google is tying up reputation to an individual author and not just the company. For years, content in the web is static and lifeless data and this factor gives more life and dynamism to your content.

 

One thing that should stay away from is blackhat gimmickry to generate the desired traffic. These might give you temporary surge of traffic, but viewers are easily turned off by false hype, invalidated information and badly conceptualized content pages. You will only have a lot of disappointed people who will not only shun from your products, but will also warn their friends about your site. Worst, Google can penalize and ban you like JC Penny.

If you want to stay in business, avoid the following;

  • Buying Links
  • Cloaking and abusive keyword saturation
  • Blog Networks
  • Putting links that will redirect viewers to irrelevant pages

You can check this list of blackhat SEO strategies that you may want to avoid, BUT some of these methods can also be turned into ethical ones.

3. Swarm the Social Media with Your Message – In today’s internet savvy society, everyone take advantage of the unlimited possibilities offered by the internet. People came to rely on various social media platforms to socialize, communicate and be in the crowd.

Chats and conversation with someone who is thousands of miles away is already the norm. Going out to actually meet friends has already been categorized as luxury and is only done due to necessity.  This is the venue where you can nurture your customers and turn them to be your advocates and loyalists.

“Loyal customers don’t just make your business look trustworthy but they have a compounding effect on your marketing strength”

With most people patronizing the numerous social media tools available for free over the web, it is just logical that marketers use the same to connect with their customers and targeted market. Some of the benefits on focusing your marketing campaign in the social media arena are the following:

  • It is relatively cheaper than maintaining a primetime television spot for TV commercials and you get to reach the whole of the virtual world (and can also be chosen to be targeted to your business’ different market segments).
  • You get a direct communication line to your consumers. You can use social media to listen to their honest comments and feedbacks.
  • You can directly address to their concerns and issues, immediately, as the web empowers you with real time response time, where you can better build trust and loyalty with your clients. Airline companies are already using social media for customer support, why can’t you?

For a more effective social media campaign, you have to make sure that;

  • You’re telling the truth. Your presence in the social media can work both ways. It can effectively promote good products and services fast, and could destroy your hard-built reputation just as quickly. The internet offers many ways to confirm your claims, so you better make it good.
  • You’re ready to address any issues brought to your attention. In the social media, communication is on real-time. Just as customers get impressed with instant attention, they will also be easily turned off by your negligence.

  • You have to know the social media platforms that are most frequented by your customers. If your customer base is mobile and busy people, Twitter might be more effective than LinkedIn or Facebook. You’ll likely get more professional response from LinkedIn. But for general campaigns, Facebook is still the best source of your widest and biggest market base.
  • You’re using relevant business account names.People will remember you easier if your profile handles and account names are in conjunction with your product. People, who might know of your product but are unsure of how to look for you, can use your product name to find you on the web.One example is “purple cow marketing”, which is closely related to Seth Godin’s name.

  • You’re actively participating on most conversations relevant to your niche. Make sure that you leave comments on conversation threads, regularly update your posts and address to inquiries and issues. Because people will easily know if the account is a dummy or inactive.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed.

Author Bio:  +Mark Acsay III is a badminton coach turned SEO consultant and helps SMEs with their inbound marketing campaign. He loves to travel, learn new things and explore new foods. He blogs about SEO at Webby Thoughts.

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How to Improve your Online Business’ Revenue by being an Authority

It’s easier to sell products or services if your target customers trust you, and that’s a conventional wisdom to any form of marketing.

However, it’s a bit quite more challenging, if the principle is taken and implemented over the web, as the more web users grow and learn more of how they can utilize the web efficiently, the more they get shorter attention span and the more they get picky with what they choose to consume from the web.

Being an authority in your industry, especially online, is very vital nowadays, whether you’re into online retailing, affiliate marketing or just offering other web-based services, because it allows you to effortlessly attract more leads that will most likely convert and transact with your business when your audience is already captivated upon first impression.

Competing for attention on the web is continuously rising, seeing that a lot of online-based businesses are now investing more on how they can creatively market their businesses across to their audience who have a successively growing demand for information.

Substantiating and placing your brand as an authority in its industry is certainly one of the best solutions to it, and the ideas that I’ll be sharing below are some of the techniques that you can implement to grow your sales by simply exemplifying your brand as a leader.

Social Proof

Show that your brand is socially active, by making your social badges more visible to your site’s incoming traffic to attract them in taking more interest on what you can offer to them.

Social media has been a very powerful tool for marketing these past few years, and letting your visitors see, particularly your site’s first time visitors, the amount of people following you on different social platforms can simply prove that people trust you as a business entity.

The key to being successful with this approach is to constantly grow your following base on social networks where your target audience spends their time mostly through:

  • Providing more content that your target audience will most likely share on social networks.
  • Using social buttons as your site’s contents’ secondary call-to-action (for them to easily find where they can follow you – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, RSS Feed, etc…).

Increase Middle of the Funnel Offerings

People will not buy instantly on the Internet, not unless they already know what they are really looking for. That’s why nurturing your traffic to eventually become possible leads to your business is so important, as this helps them decide when purchasing what they really need.

Provide more content from your site that attends to your target customers’ needs, in terms of information and free, but of high value materials such as:

  • Expert content, like thorough and useful blog posts.
  • Free rich-media content, like ebooks, video tutorials, podcasts and infographics.
  • Free newsletter subscription.
  • Free trials for your services or free web-based tools.
  • Free lessons.
  • Community forums or Q&A sections.

Giving away premium items for free will allow your audience to understand more of what they might possibly need in the future and they’ll more probably buy from you if you already have these things in place and if you have them contained within your business funnel which keeps them on coming back to your website.

Build More Trust Signals

There are lots of forms of trust signals that you can display to your possible customers within your site. These signals are the ones that can make your visitors stay longer in your site and probably one of the factors that can entice them in purchasing from you.

Here are several trust indicators that you can implement on your site:

  • Social proof, as I have mentioned above, the more followers you have on different social networks, the more credible you’ll appear to your customers.
  • Having a strong community within the site, given that when your followers interact with your brand through blog discussions (comments) and/or sharing your content on social networks, the easily you can entice new visitors to become a part of your community.
  • Showing off press mentions or websites that have featured your business (“as seen in”), client testimonials and/or award badges can elaborate on why you are leading in your industry.
  • Including transparency pages such as About (which should definitely mention people who are part of the management team, etc…), Disclaimer/Disclosure, Privacy Policy, Terms of Usage and Contact us page.

Send Out Massive Brand Signals

Brand retention is the key to scaling a business’ ability to sell its products/services, for the fact that people will know who you are, where to find you and why they should purchase from you instead from your competitors.

  • Build more branded share-worthy content, such as videos, infographics and research-based text content, so when people start sharing and spreading your content, possible viewers can know more of you as a brand.
  • Invest on a visually appealing web design and engaging identity for your site to improve your visitors’ experience when using/browsing your website.
  • Know your business’ unique value proposition and focus on marketing that aspect of your business, through the content you’ll be providing on your website.
  • Invest on launching viral marketing campaigns.

For a more in-depth tutorial, you can check out one of my recent posts on using SEO, content marketing and social media for online branding.

Become known by being everywhere

Becoming an authority also means becoming popular, and building your brand’s online presence by being more involved in your industry’s online community is definitely one of the best ways to do it.

Here are some of the methods that you can do to amplify the reach of your brand online:

  • Participate on high-traffic forums in your industry and build yourself as an authority by giving expert advice to other members.
  • Engage online influencers in your industry as well as their followers by sharing your knowledge to them through joining to discussions on their blog posts, social community (Facebook Fanpage, Google+ brand page, etc…) and eventually become a link magnet when these influencers start realizing how valuable your content is and start sharing it to their networks.
  • Build conversations through social networks (Twitter, Facebook and Google+).
  • Contribute expert content on industry-specific blogs and news websites as a guest blogger or columnist.

The more people see you contributing through these channels, the more they’ll be interested to what your business is offering, see how authoritative you are and probably increase the chances of buying your products/services.

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

 

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How to Construct and Use Personas for Link Building and Social Media

As defined by Wikipedia, a Persona is a role played by an “actor”. In marketing, personas are commonly used to better understand a certain industry’s target market’s behavior based on demographics, needs and interests.

This marketing concept (which is often used in market research) enables marketers to easily build a solid content strategy as well as approach in sending specifically targeted messages to each persona that represents a segment/type of audience.

However, in this post, I’ll be discussing more on how to use created personas in doing actual link acquisition and social media marketing practices, by using them as ambassadors that will help scale the process of marketing a brand over the web.

The great thing about using personas to be used in web marketing is that they can serve as a link magnet and linkable asset that will help generate more natural links and social mentions as well as strengthen a brand’s online presence through continuously building its authority in the industry.

Shape Identity, Value and Thought-leadership

In creating personas, it’s important to first come up with a unique identity that the persona will be embodied with, which should also appeal to a bigger segment of the industry’s market and can cultivate interest through the content that he’ll be producing/sharing (pretty much like being an image consultant).

Let’s say you’re handling a brand that’s in the automotive industry, you’ll definitely want to cover the topics that can easily generate attention (technology, entertainment and/or DIY side of the industry), because it’s easier to build readership and attract links from these areas.

Once you’ve already molded a good target for your persona’s unique role in the industry, you can then start with the basic details that your character would need such as:

  • Name
  • Job title
  • Niche/expertise
  • Profile Picture(s)
  • Profile pages (Twitter, About.me, Google+, etc…)

There are also several approach that you can choose from to ensure that you’ll be benefiting from the persona that you’ll be building up to meet both short and long-term objectives:

  • Choose a member of the organization that will most likely be present as long as the company/organization exists, like the company’s CEO or one of its core members. Build their online presence/personal brand through content marketing, wherein they can just provide data and hire ghostwriters/editors to document and transcribe their content ideas.
  • Create and develop an expert persona from scratch, which you can use and keep for as long as you want.
  • Hire, borrow or rent identity from freelance bloggers in your industry (that have an impressive content portfolio).

Once you have sorted this phase out, it will be easier to build value from it, which will often come from the persona’s perception and influence.

Authorship and AuthorRank

Authorship markup (rel=”author”) could possibly be one of the most significant signals/factors that Google might use in determining authority pages/websites from their indices, and it might as well turn into one of the strongest types of artificial links one can build in the near future.

Build solid authors that will disseminate authority and influence through content contributions on different blogs in your industry, as search engines are more to reward great authors with more prominence in their search results. If search engines know that your brand houses reputable/credible authors, it will easily translate to better search rankings.

Action Plan

This approach to link building and social media may take time for it to harvest tangible results. However there are still plenty of ways that you can do to speed up the process of achieving the campaign’s short and long-term goals – by simply gaining from each action that will be taken.

The best thing about this method is that it can work on small to enterprise-level companies, for the fact that people follow people, not companies and people can easily build relationships, companies can’t.

Phase 1: Research

This stage of the strategy will only take at least 2-3 days to be completed and will involve these processes:

Link prospecting

Find blogs, sites and influencers in the industry that your persona will engage and try to acquire a link from for the succeeding stages of the campaign. You can use this link prospecting method to start off and Followerwonk to find influencers in your industry (and download the list to excel).

Prospect Segmentation

Segment your list by level of difficulty of acquisition and by level of priority. You can easily distinguish the ones that you’ll need to prioritize based on domain-level metrics (PR, DA and traffic data – SEMrush, Compete or Alexa) and brand metrics (social following, readership/subscribers and strength of community).

Create 2 different lists that you can work on immediately, one for speed link acquisition (blogs that you can easily submit a guest post to – using queries like “keyword + write for us”), and the second one for authority link building (high-end blogs and news sites in your industry that you must acquire a link from).

For the list of authority blogs, I highly suggest to start with 10 – 20 prospects that your persona will try to engage and land a guest post on for the initial stage of the campaign (first month).

Content Strategy Development

Make a list of topic ideas that’s based on your persona’s target niche/area(s) of expertise. You can start by listing at least 20 – 30 working titles for your posts that will cover basic to advanced topics.

Sort your list into three different categories (for materials that will be published on the company’s own blog under the persona’s name, for speed guest blogging and for the authority blogs you aim to land a guest post on).

Grow your list of topic ideas along the process to keep your campaign on track.

Few tips on generating topic ideas:

  • Base your content on keywords that your persona’s target audience will most likely use to find the information that the content contains. You can use keyword tools like Google Keyword Tool, UberSuggest and Google Insights.
  • Get ideas from other authoritative blogs in your industry and from your competitors as well, expound their ideas (and give credit to them).
  • Follow and subscribe to news sites in your industry to instantly generate news-related content ideas.

Email Outreach Template Creation

Craft email copies that you can use for your outreach (for guest blogging opportunities). It’s best to make your copies easy to personalize and straightforward.

As for the authority blogs that you’ll be aiming to obtain a high-value link from, I highly suggest making everything personalized (and it will also be better if you’re already on their radar before contacting them for better conversions).

Linkable Asset Inventory

Find existing highly linkable content (hosted on your company’s site/blog) that your persona might be able to use, since some bloggers/editors do ask for writing samples before accepting or entertaining your requests for an opportunity to contribute a guest entry to their blogs.

Phase 2: Content Development

After doing your research, you can then start creating content based on your inventory and content strategy. Start with the content that you’ll use for your own company’s blog, since you can immediately use this to promote the persona and can also be used as a writing sample once you start reaching out to other blogs for guest blogging opportunities.

Have a strict schedule with your content production, as this is the key to building a solid momentum for your content marketing campaign.

Create descriptive outlines for each of your topic idea before assigning them to be written out by your copywriters, so it will be easier for them, as well as to you, in meeting your target standards for the outcome of the content (in terms of information, format, voice and extensiveness of the content).

Continuously create content for the entire period of the campaign, as this will stand as the foundation of the strategy and the persona’s influence.

Phase 3: Connect and engage

Start getting into your prospects’ radar, especially the authoritative/influential ones on your list. You can start on implementing this phase right away after publishing your persona’s first blog post, though this stage is a recurring process that you really need to be consistent with (alongside the persona’s content distribution efforts).

Participate on Discussions

Become remarkable to your target prospects by leaving intelligent remarks on their blog posts. If you’ll be focusing on engaging 10 – 20 people on your campaign’s first month, you can easily build conversations with them through their posts’ comment threads. Be interesting, catchy and intelligent.

Share their works on Social Networks

This one’s pretty basic and very self-explanatory. It’s best to personalize your tweets/shares to make it more appealing to your target prospects, especially if you’re mentioning them on your tweets/shares.

Phase 4: Disseminate Content

Reach out to your link targets for guest blogging opportunities (to both high and low priority prospects), since by this time you already have enough content from your pool that you can submit right away to them. And by this time you’ll also have a rock-solid writing sample that you can present if ever someone asks for it.

This stage of the strategy is doable on the second week of the campaign, particularly if your content writers have hustled on the first week of the campaign in producing content.

Developing and growing a strong social following for the persona will heavily rely on the consistency of his/her content distribution (both on and off-site), making this phase very critical.

There are also other methods that you can do to leverage and promote your persona as an industry expert such as:

  • Mentioning the persona through the site’s other external content distribution campaigns.
  • Conducting a group interviews (crowdsourcing) and including the persona as one of the expert contributors, then publishing the content on high-traffic industry site/blog(s).
  • Pitching bloggers to do an interview with the created persona.

Phase 5: Build Alliances

Track the people sharing your persona’s content, especially those who have substantial following/readership (you can use Topsy), as these people can help you further with your content marketing campaign, if you can have them on your side, sharing your future posts/guest posts.

Build relationships with them by sharing their works on social networks as well and conversing with them (you can easily start by thanking them for sharing your content). Grow these kinds of connections, as this will help you to semi-automate your content promotions in the future.

Phase 6: Scale

There are so many things that you can do once you’ve successfully established an authority figure/expert persona for your brand, as it’s expected to attract and create more linking opportunities through editorial mentions and certainly higher conversions for link requests (guest blogs, resource links, etc…).

Here are some other methods that you can implement to ensure that the persona will be in top shape and stay ahead of its competitors:

Find where other influencers in the industry contribute content to

Expand your list of prospects by knowing where industry influencers absorb more readers/followers from. You can use simply use Google to extract this data and scrape the results using this method.

Setup Google Alerts for the persona’s name

Make sure that you’re tracking your persona’s name on Google Alerts, so you can easily be notified if someone has mentioned it on other blogs/site. With this, you can create more hard-to-replicate links, just by asking people who have linked/mentioned the persona to give attribution to the company’s site as well (like requesting to include the company where the persona works next to his/her name – ex. Jason Acidre, marketing consultant for “Affilorama”).

Start pitching for regular columns

Since the persona has already built its authority and credibility as a source for industry-related information and has created a strong portfolio of content, it will have higher chances of getting accepted as a columnist on authority blogs and news sites.

Momentum is Key

This strategy is very doable and can certainly obtain great results in under a month or two of thorough implementation, just look at Jon Cooper of Point Blank SEO! You just need to know if you’re on the right track, and then push harder if you’ve proven that you’re doing it right.

So how would you know if you’re doing it right? See if people are sharing and finding your content useful. And see if you’re receiving “natural links” from it. If yes, then you are on the right path. Take advantage of that start, and start building the momentum (which means to create and promote more valuable content).

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

Image Credit: Membruto

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Viral Content Ideas for Boring Industries

The incremental evolution of search engine optimization as well as with how information is being served and consumed over the web nowadays has certainly made content marketing a very powerful method, combining link attraction, social, search, branding and lead generation as a single force.

Although, not all niches are gifted with this arsenal, as some might say, but is this really true? Not quite, knowing that all it really takes to make a viral content to spread like wildfire is to have a compelling material and know why, how and where to promote it. There are many types of content that can be built to serve as a buzz generating segment of a website such as:

  • Data visualization (infographics, interactive or video infographics, kinetic typography and/or linked data)
  • Video tutorials or series
  • Expert content (research-based blog posts or articles)
  • Slide presentations
  • Ebooks
  • Contests
  • News
  • Curated posts (curating images, links to external sources, listing experts/influencers/blogs, etc…)
  • Crowdsourcing or group interviews

The types I’ve mentioned above usually have the same elements when it comes to presentation, for them to somehow increase the chances of getting socially shared, linked to and be consumed and effectively satisfy the content’s target audience.

  • Visually attractive design
  • Data-driven
  • Comprehensive
  • Value of information
  • Optimized for search and social sharing
  • Compelling headline
  • Contains a strong call-to-action

In this short post, I’ll just share other content types that might help attract visitors, links as well as fascinated customers to a business, particularly to the ones who think that their niche is not that interesting, to which content marketing and link baiting may not be as feasible if compared to other industries that have larger market.

Explain Your Business Process in HTML5

Samples:

The best thing about investing on this type of page is that it’s scalable, since aside from naturally attracting links and social shares continuously (as long as the page proves to provide value in terms of information), you can also attract possible customers to your business from this page, especially if you have included a strong call to action within the content.

You can constantly bring traffic to this page as well by directing your homepage visitors who want to take a tour of your site and/or learn more about your product/services/business to this high-value content.

Comics as Blog posts

Sample:

The content’s visuals will make it more fun to read and it will easily capture your visitors’ attention, which is very important, especially if you’re looking to generate customers to your website.

You can hire graphic artists to collaborate with your copywriter when conceptualizing for your content. If you can do this to all of your blog posts (merge design, fun and information), you’ll definitely conquer your industry’s blogosphere and stand out as the most captivating content provider in your industry.

Incentivized Videos


Sample:

Produce engaging videos, even if you’re offering a boring product/service, you can always incorporate something cool to it (such as adding an awesome concept, story and/or music with it, like the sample given above) to diversify your content’s target market and to increase the rate for social sharing.

Offer incentives to visitors who’ll watch your video(s), like giving away discount coupons to those who’ll get to see the video until the end (by showing the coupon code at the end of the video).

Interactive Curation and Crowdsourcing


Sample:

Create a list on Listly and embed it to a page on your site. You can practically make a list of anything using this tool (like listing the best cars of the year, most tragic news in your industry, etc…), but the best part about using this feature from Listly is that it allows other people to easily contribute or add an entry that they think best fit the list, which makes your content more socially engaging – and worth sharing or linking to.

There are also other ways and tools that you can use to build an interactive page that can potentially go viral, such as curating tweets (like quotes/ideas from industry thought-leaders, the best links shared by influencers in your industry on Twitter, or interviews made via Twitter) and embedding them to your blog posts. You can also use Storify to curate and embed industry-related discussions to your posts.

Promoting your “Great Content”

The key to most successful viral campaigns, especially on the web, lies on how the content will be promoted. Below are some of my other posts that can give more details on how to promote these types of content, for them to efficiently get across to its target audience, attract more natural links and social shares, achieve better search rankings, and to constantly generate traffic and possible leads/customers:

Final Tip

Always include and continuously improve your calls-to-action on these strong pages, since if these pages are going to attract lots of visitors from various traffic sources, you’ll definitely want a fraction of them to convert to leads and/or sales.

Sorry if I haven’t been able to write a lot this month, I’ve been really busy with our clients and with other offline activities recently. If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

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7 Viral Marketing Strategies to Get Massive Traffic Spikes

interactive infographic

There are times that you get surprised to see a sudden spike in traffic when you check your site’s traffic stats in the morning, and you often wonder where those visitors came from and how you were able to pull it off by accident. Well, what if you can replicate that result whenever you wish to?

It’s very possible, given that all it really takes is to have a really awesome content that people will voluntarily share and to have a plan on how you can put that content in front of that particular kind of audience (to people who will really share your content).

This post will mostly cover the promotional techniques that you can do to drive massive visitors to your content. But to start off, I’ll just share some ideas of what a solid and share-worthy content should look or feel like:

Data Visualization:

LRA Crisis Tracker from Invisible Children

Video (Documentary, Short Films, etc…)

Everything is a Remix – by Kirby Ferguson

Awards:

Mashable Awards

Research-based Text Content:

From LifeHacker

Most of these successful materials have resemblances in terms of attack, and some of their most common characteristics are:

  • Design-driven
  • Offers high-value information/experience and have a unique concept for the content
  • Topics have high share-rate

There are also other formats and types of content that can be used for viral campaigns, but sometimes, the real work and real source of success comes from the backend – on how a great content can efficiently be promoted to its target audience – which I will be sharing below.

Media Coverage

Getting press mentions for your site or your site’s content by having it cited as a resource by high-traffic news sites or authority blogs can certainly send massive referred traffic to your site in a day. Though getting featured by these authoritative sites is not easy, as you’ll need something newsworthy for your content or your brand to be mentioned by these types of sites.

Basically, you’ll need a material that people from the press will find useful to create or back their stories up. Sharing your own data is one of the best ways to do it. Here are some of the steps that you can take when planning for this kind of outreach.

  • Prepare a newsworthy content that authority bloggers and columnists can cover for their next piece.
  • Make a list of the columnists and bloggers who write about your industry, including their contact details as well as the sites where they publish their content. You can start by identifying and listing at least 50 different writers in your field and use Excel spreadsheet to organize the levels of priorities for each.
  • Know your targets by researching more about them, particularly those who write for bigger online publications, as this can help you create a more personalized copy for your email once you start pitching the story to them.
  • Craft a powerful email copy and start sending. Personalize each copy (based on your list’s level of priority). It’s best to keep your email copies short and have an element that will make them more engaged while reading your message (like giving compliments to their previous works and offering a news angle that will really make them interested to cover your story).
  • Keep track of your conversations as well as with their responses and try to build relationships with them, as this can help benefit your campaign’s future efforts.

Chris Winfield, from Blueglass, recently wrote an in-depth guide on how to get press coverage for a brand, which covers most of the things that will be needed to have a business featured by journalists on their columns.

Stumbleupon’s Paid Discovery

Most of Stumbleupon’s users are social-media savvy and can easily be engaged by what they see, so if you’ll provide their users with content that’s really amazing and targeted to their interest, you can almost effortlessly multiply the reach of your content, as these viewers have tendencies of sharing your content through other social networks as well.

Stumbleupon Paid Discovery normally costs $0.10 per page view (and they also offer other packages). Investing $50 – $100 for a day (probably on the day that you’ll launch your content) can get you 500 – 1,000 highly engaged visitors to the page you are trying to promote. And you can also expect for those views to multiply considering that a good fraction of those visitors will have high probability of socially sharing your content.

The great thing about this service from Stumbleupon is that the campaign can be easily modified, particularly in targeting the right audience and demographics for your content through manually modifying the age, gender, location, device and/or interests of the audience you are seeking to acquire.

Lastly, it’s important to make your social buttons within the content very visible (make this as the content’s call-to-action) to ensure that the visitors driven through this method will be enticed and compelled to share your content.

Get Featured on other Bloggers’ Newsletters

Connect with bloggers in your industry that have large lists of email/newsletter subscribers, since these bloggers have followers/readership that will most likely be interested with your content.

Pitch your content to these bloggers before launching it and try to offer something that will benefit both parties (perhaps paying for the link placement or to have the content featured in their newsletters).

However, establishing connections before pitching the idea will make it more interesting to them or much easier for them to approve the request, and that’s why building relationships is very vital to any online-based businesses these days.

Make sure that your content will be useful to their followers, and not too promotional, to improve your requests’ success rate. Incentivize the pitch to make it a win/win situation as well.

The schedule of sending out the emails also plays a big part to get that viral effect, so if you can discuss this part of the campaign to them as soon as they’ve showed interest, the better.

Pro Tip: Start with bloggers that you already have built connections with (exchanged of emails, conversed through social networks, have previously linked to your site/content, etc…).

Social Outreach

It’s easier for your content to reach more people when influential individuals in your industry (that have robust following on social networks) are putting your content in front of your target audience.

Reach out to influencers and ask if they’ll be interested to see your content, but don’t directly ask them to share your content, as they’ll normally spread it if they find it useful for their followers.

Social outreach is mostly effective if it’s planned ahead. You can first start by making a list of at least 50 influencers in (including their contact details) your industry before launching your content. Assess your content if it will be something that these influencers will really take time to review. And to increase your response rate, you might also need to have another reason for contact, such as:

  • Asking for feedback.
  • Notifying them that you’ve mentioned them as a source in the content.

The important thing is to offer a very unique content that can genuinely benefit their readers/followers, and leverage that aspect to get them to share your content.

Promote through Reddit

Reddit has been one of the most highly-utilized community-based news aggregator sites in the world, and certainly a powerful web marketing tool for businesses, if they can make it on Reddit’s front page, where millions of visitors can see a referring link every day.

Yet, it’s not that easy to be featured in their front page, as you’ll mostly need to understand how their story ranking algorithm works. Here’s a great article by Amir Salihefendic on examining Reddit’s default story and comment rankings.

There are other alternatives that you can do to get massive referred traffic from Reddit:

  • Build a solid community that will help you make your story more visible and possibly make your story rank on the front page, by getting scheduled upvotes from your community.
  • Use Reddit’s social button on your content to make it easier for Reddit users to upvote your content.
  • Purchase Reddit’s sponsored link or self-serve advertising (this will cost at least $20 to display sitewide or $30 for an entire day to run on specific Reddits).

Pinterest Marketing

Pinterest has been tremendously growing in terms of usage and sharing these past few months, which prove that getting viral through this channel is very feasible. Personally, this blog has received a lot of referred traffic from Pinterest, through the images (mostly infographics) that some of my readers have shared and pinned through that social platform.

If you’re launching a content that will contain compelling and design-driven images (such as infographics, photography, etc…), then Pinterest is definitely one of the best arsenals that you can have to increase the amount of traffic that your content could be getting.

Marketing through Pinterest is quite similar to how you can market your brand on other social platforms, wherein you’ll need:

  • To build a strong following in your industry within the network, so people can easily check the images you are sharing.
  • To utilize Pinterest’s social button (Pin Button), to entice page visitors to pin and share your images.
  • And to personally share or add your images on the social platform and work your way for people to repin it and make it on the popular images by categories or in the Popular section.

Colby Almond recently shared his experience with Pinterest (viral) marketing and on how he almost got 50,000 page views in a day through the help of Pinterest. It’s a great guide that you should definitely look into.

Multiply Traffic through Social CTA

Strengthen your content’s shareability by allowing your social buttons to serve as its primary call to action. Make them more visible to your audience by placing it on perceptible positions (preferably above the fold).

This is a vital process to make out of the most of the traffic that you’ll acquire from your external marketing efforts, as when you compel your new visitors to share your content, you’re able to increase the chances of getting more traffic to your page and multiply the amount of unique views further (gauging if unique viewers will continuously spread your content through social media).

You can also customize your social buttons (depending on your campaign’s prioritized social channel for a specific type of content) like adding Pinterest button for posts/pages that have high-quality images, Reddit button for materials that you’re pushing to rank on Reddit’s front page and/or giving more importance to Twitter/Facebook/Stumbleupon/Google+, depending on the network(s) where your target audience spend their time the most.

Scaling your Viral Content

Always think of your content’s future and on how you can benefit more from it once its viral effect and your feast in traffic has ended.

It’s important that you sustain the traffic that you have generated through that campaign (or a portion of it) to be able to sell your products/services and build your brand as a leader in your industry. There are many ways that you can do to nourish these relationships to your business and to have long term advantage from your content such as:

Optimize for Search and Social Sharing

Use keywords that get enough search volume from your target market (for your content’s title, permalink and within the body of the content), so you can have better chances of ranking for those keywords on search results. You can also augment and modify your content to be evergreen (after launching it) to still obtain social shares from future visitors to that page.

Second Wave Coverage for Links

Try to get coverage and links from smaller blogs to improve your viral content’s search rankings as well as to own the SERP for particular keywords (especially on events and tools that is associated with your brand).

Optimize the content’s Call to Action

Try to contain the visitors that you’ll be generating by attracting them to avail for your “middle of the funnel” offerings, such as signing up to your newsletter, subscribing to your blog’s RSS feed, following you on social networks and/or signing up for your product/services’ free trials.

You can choose to update this part of your content after its successful launch, or you can also include this right away to capture leads along the process of gaining new visitors to your site.

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Inbound Marketing for Small and Medium Sized Businesses

Inbound marketing or earned media is a marketing principle that merges several online marketing practices that aim to attract visitors/customers to a site – instead of interrupting their online activities through paid methodologies – by simply discerning what its target audience need, search for and find genuinely interesting and providing value to meet those necessities.

Processes that this marketing strategy mostly involves are search engine optimization, content marketing, social media and conversion rate optimization, wherein most don’t rely on heavy marketing budgets, but can provide longevity for its results to a great extent in terms of branding and revenue generation.

Performing well on these other marketing channels can massively improve a site’s search visibility, given that search engines are now using social, usage and trust signals to weigh websites and webpages’ overall authority that allows them to gauge who should be ranking well on their search results.

Gillian Muessig, President of SEOmoz, recently presented about why SEO is more than SEO nowadays, which pretty much explains everything on how inbound marketing works:

 

Inbound marketing is an ROI-focused strategy, and several interesting facts support the idea which somehow proves how powerful it is as a marketing tool today.

  • Methods used in inbound marketing cost 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing, and channels used within these strategies have higher percentage of customer acquisition, which means it can generate higher revenue for a lower cost of investment.
  • Content and blog marketing allows a site to increase its traffic by 55% and 400% more pages to be indexed by search engines (meaning, greater chances of getting found through long-tail search queries).
  • There are 3 billion searches on Google per day, and a huge fraction of those queries are for information about products, services and local businesses.
  • There are already billions of users worldwide on different social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Google+, Linkedin, etc…), which can also improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns through spreading awareness, brand/service/product discovery and interactive communications (in building customer relationships).
  • Getting found through search engines generates revenue, as these visitors already have the intent of knowing more/reviewing/buying a certain product/service. Putting out useful branded content through blogs can then increase customer acquisition.
  • Converting traffic to leads, customers and/or brand loyalists is easier, as most of these marketing channels are measurable and can be improved further through thorough analysis.

Below are some of the processes that small as well as medium-sized businesses can use to grow their website’s traffic, conversions and brand strength.

Merge SEO with Content Marketing

Having SEO in mind before actually launching a full inbound marketing campaign and its content strategy is an advantage, because it will allow you to easily map out the important keywords that your campaign is going to target and on how you can efficiently distribute them to your site’s pages for them to have higher chances of ranking on search engines for their designated search terms.

It’s important to optimize your site for search to be able to have its content (especially the site’s important landing pages and linkable assets) regularly crawled and be ranked by search engines. Some of the optimization techniques that you can implement to your site to support your content marketing strategy are:

  • Making sure that your inner pages will be crawled and can funnel PageRank down to your important pages and categories through good site architecture, canonical URLs, setting up an XML sitemap, readable permalinks, including a robots.txt file and using descriptive keywords/anchor texts for the site’s internal linking, for the reason that this can help your content be more visible on search results.
  • Optimizing for local search results, wherein you can distribute location-based keywords on separate landing pages.
  • Making your inner content sharable by including and making social buttons very visible to users.
  • Determine and optimize the entire site for speed, you can use Google’s Page Speed Online to test how your site is performing in terms of its loading time and to see what elements/aspects of the site are affecting your important pages’ loading process.
  • Put emphasis on implementing trust and brand indicators to your site (about us page, privacy policy, trust seals, disclaimer and social proof), as search engines do use these signals to determine a site’s authoritativeness.
  • Rich snippet optimization such as implementing rel=”author” and microdata to your site’s important pages/content, for them to display more prominently on search results (which can massively increase their CTR).

Keyword research is a vital part of SEO, and small businesses can utilize this process to improve their content development strategy by simply basing their content production to the keywords that their target audience use to find content over the web.

Use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Tool, Google Insights for Search and Ubersuggest to find keywords with sufficient search volume and demand that the site’s projected linkable pages can target (infographics, comprehensive articles, videos, etc…).

Base your contents’ titles on your campaign’s target keywords, as people are more likely to use your pages’ titles (including your keywords) when they begin sharing or linking to your content, which can help boost your contents’ search rankings for each allocated search term.

The foundation of your overall campaign should be centered on creating interesting and useful content for your target market and on how your materials can stress your business’ unique value proposition.

Merge Link Development and Social Outreach

Combining the power of social signals and editorial link attributions to your site’s rich content can speed up the process of obtaining better search rankings for your campaign’s targeted keywords.

That’s why it’s always important to provide high value content that people would really want to link to or share with their networks to be able to scale your content marketing strategy, where links and social mentions will come naturally after its promotion stage.

There are many content promotion techniques that you can do before and after creating and launching a solid content, such as:

Link/Social Outreach

Identify and make a list of heavy linkers and social sharers in your industry that will find your content useful and will have high probability of sharing your content. Try reaching out to them (through email) and ask if they’ll be interested to see your content. You can check out this post for more in-depth tips on how to find linkers and on how to do the linker outreach method.

Content Distribution

You can also support your highly resourceful content by building artificial links directing to it to amplify search visibility and content discovery through social channels. Several ways that you can do to build links as well as to market your content:

  • Contextually link to your content through guest blogging.
  • Link to it through free whitepapers, ebooks and slide presentations.
  • Link to your content from your press release submissions.
  • Participate on highly relevant forums/communities and link to your useful content as a reference for your contributions.
  • Cover industry news and pitch it as a guest blog/column to relevant blogs and/or news websites.
  • Offer your content to be featured on other bloggers’ newsletter, incentivize the pitch or propose a deal that will be beneficial to both parties.

Linking Out

Link out to other people or organization in your industry that have strong following base and readership to have a reason for contact. Most of the time, they’ll share your content (and sometimes link back to it), particularly if the content that’s containing a link to their works or website is offering valuable information.

Engaging influencers and building relationships

Building relationships with bloggers in your industry who have strong following (on their blogs or social networks) can also be a powerful tool for your content marketing and link building campaign, as the more your content can reach their audience, is the more you can enhance your chances of acquiring natural links and social mentions from their networks/followers (seeing that they are vouching for your content).

You can also absorb their followers along the process of gaining their trust and having them share your own content to their networks, which normally leads to more brand followers who will regularly share your site’s new updates (new blog posts, promos, events, etc…).

Competitive Intelligence

Know the factors that make people link to or share your competitors’ content by identifying the top domains linking to them as well as their key followers who continuously share their content on different social networks. You can use tools such as Open Site Explorer to determine their top linked pages and Topsy to find influential people who’re sharing their content.

Assess these factors and try to overcome their approach when it comes to content creation and outreach by understanding the nature of linking and social behavior in your industry through extracting your competitors’ data.

Distinguish why those people link to and share your competitors’ content and how you can get them to share and link to yours as well.

Social Media and Lead Nurturing

Social communities can help businesses spread their brand’s messages effectively, especially nowadays wherein more people are heavily participating on different social channels to share compelling and useful ideas related to their interests.

Developing a robust community within the site’s domain or externally (on social networks) is certainly one of the best ways to scale a business, since online communities will enable you to get more possible leads to your business as the community grows, help spread awareness about your product/services/industry (through social sharing), and can help a business build a strong online brand presence.

Below are some of the ways that you can implement to improve your social marketing and lead generation strategies:

Use Social Badges as Secondary Calls-to-Action

Make your social badges or links to your social profiles very visible on your website to continuously grow your social community, since every time you fascinate new visitors from your site, enticing them to follow your brand on different social networks (that you actively use) will help your campaign disseminate new content in the future.

You can place these CTAs on your homepage (above the fold or on the site’s sidebar) as well as on your inner pages’ (blog posts) closing parts.

Improve Middle of the Funnel offerings

Give your audience more reasons to return to your site, because these types of visitors are the ones who’re most likely to buy from you, since they already know your brand and/or have experienced the value you provide to your community.

You can offer monthly free ebooks (like Hubspot’s free whitepapers), newsletters, comprehensive blog posts (regularly), free tools, free webinars, free extensive lessons (like Codeacademy and Affilorama’s free affiliate marketing lessons) and other downloadable freebies (pdf, videos, plugins, etc…)

By improving on these aspects of content marketing, you can constantly increase and grow the amount of sign-ups to your email list, which will allow you to gather more information on your audience and eventually send targeted messages to them.

Leverage Content to Build Conversations

Communicate with your audience through social networks, since they are more to converse on these channels. You can share not just your content, but also other relevant content (perhaps from your competitors and link prospects) that your audience may find useful.

This can then spark conversations with your followers as well as with your link targets, so take advantage of this. You can also use your social profiles to create user-generated content, as this will definitely strengthen your external community.

Building a Community within your site

It’s very important to develop your site’s ability to engage its user, given that usage-data is one of the ranking factors that search engines use these days, and possible new visitors can also use this aspect of the site to assess if it’s worth their time.

You can engage your users in several ways such as building conversations through your blog’s comment sections, inviting guest bloggers to your site’s blog, launching a forum, organizing contests and/or awards. Make use of these content assets to build more brand followers/loyalists and to funnel more possible leads to your business.

Encourage Social Sharing

The more referred visitors you generate to your site through social discovery, is the more you can grow your readership, following and possible leads. Make it easy for your visitors to share your content by making your social buttons very visible on your site’s pages, especially to your site’s share-worthy content (as people will naturally share them if they find it really interesting or useful).

Measure and Optimize for Conversions

Measuring and tracking your campaign’s performance is vital, since understanding your results and the key areas that might need more of your attention can speed up the process of achieving your marketing campaign’s objectives (for instance, increasing highly engaged visitors and improving customer acquisitions).

There are certain metrics that you should be measuring, most importantly for small and medium businesses that are active with their online marketing, because these metrics basically justify your results and let you see where your campaign should be heading next (like improving on channels that generate you more revenue).

Metrics that you can use to assess your campaign’s performance could be segmented into 4 different parts – traffic, engagement, content and conversions.

Monthly unique visitors vs. returning visitors

Compare your previous months to the current month to see the impact of your online marketing campaign (SEO, social media and content marketing).

Traffic Sources

Identify traffic sources and referring websites that send traffic with high user-activity (have low bounce rates, stay longer on the site and view more internal pages of the site). Knowing which sites send the best type of traffic to your site will enhance your lead generation strategy (as you can then focus on getting more traffic from them).

Top performing pages

Determine what pages of the site are performing well in terms of page views and user activity, because these pages can be your campaign’s possible linkable assets (that can help you scale your link building efforts), and you can as well improve these pages’ CTAs for maximum conversions (given that the traffic they are receiving are highly engaged).

Keyword performances and Search Rankings

Check if your targeted keywords are ranking well on your desired search result location(s) and if they are sending traffic that takes action (based on time on landing page, bounce rate and page visits).

Growth in audience reach

It’s also important to monitor the improvement in the size of your brand’s reach when it comes to social networks, blog subscriptions and email subscribers (to your newsletter) to determine the efficiency of your traffic generation campaign (SEO, social and content marketing).

You can use tools such as Klout, Feedburner, and­ Mailchimp/Aweber to measure your audience size and growth for each different sector (social, blog subscriptions and email subscriptions).

Goal Conversions   

Set up your campaign’s goals on Analytics to see how your site’s important landing pages are performing (if they are capable of converting your visitors into leads/sales). You can also check the traffic sources that are generating traffic that leads to customers to your site, and choose to either improve the traffic generation process or the ability of your landing pages to convert the existing constant amount of traffic they receive.

Test your Landing Pages

Use Google Website Optimizer to test the strength of your landing/product/services pages’ call to action and/or to know what page elements appeal to your visitors for them to convert more to your goals.

If you liked this post, you can follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre and add me on Google+.

Image credit: IndependentConceal