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

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Viral Content Marketing: Creating, Promoting and Scaling Content

Last Saturday, October 29, 2011, I presented about Viral Content Marketing at Mastering Online Ranking Conference. MORCon is one of the most awaited yearly SEO conferences in the country, as several of the country’s top-gun SEOs unite to share their knowledge (and some of their secrets) about the online marketing industry to our small local community of Internet professionals.

I was lucky to be invited to present at this event and definitely fortunate to receive a lot of positive feedbacks about my presentation, given that it was my first ever speaking gig. My slides from MORCon are below, and I might also upload a video of my presentation (though it’s in Filipino) in the coming weeks. Any questions about the presentation, feel free to drop a comment below.

 

Some Images from the Event:

Kaiserthesage presenting

My PresentationJason Acidre and Benj Arriola

With Benj Arriola, SEO Director of Internet Marketing Inc.

Xight InteractiveWith Xight Interactive

I was awarded with a plaque of appreciation by Org president Whin Clores.

Q&A Panel with other speakers.

With Benj Arriola at the after event gathering

Discussing Conversions with PPC Expert Juanito “Cell” Jacella of Cellconversion

With SEOWall owner – Zaldy “Major” Dalisay

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

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8 Awesome Infographics on SEO and Online Marketing that I’ve Seen this 2011 + Resources

where-does-google-make-its-money

Developing infographics or data visualizations has been one of the most efficient ways to market websites in the age of social media, as this method is capable of grabbing attention – probably on any niche – through visual attraction and the substantiality of the information that these design-driven contents contain.

This powerful approach to online marketing can also benefit a site’s campaign in ways such as:

  • Sending out massive brand signals (by simply including the brand’s logo within the infograph)
  • Attracting natural links that are usually drawn through the quality, linkability and shareability of the content.
  • In generating leads as the data conceptualized, structured and presented through the infographic can greatly exemplify the brand’s expertise in the field.
  • Building the site’s social authority, knowing that this method is capable of getting massive social shares on various social networks – especially if the content is well-crafted and promoted effectively.

To start off, the idea for this post was actually inspired by a tweet by Wiep earlier today that was referring to Expedia’s infographic.

Speaking of inspiration, I’ve been also planning to create my first infograph (actually, this one is Oli’s fault, because of his bucket list about the things marketers should do before they die that I’ve read recently, and yes, creating an infograph, by yourself, is one of them). I already have everything in place – the concept for the design, the data and the possible structure of the content – except for one, the time that I’ll have to spend in creating it, since I’m really swamped with work these past few weeks (with new clients and the development of the upcoming new version of Affiloblueprint). I’m just not sure when I will be able to launch my first infograph, but for sure, I will.

Ok, you might think that this post is just a filler, but don’t worry, I’m finishing up another post that is scheduled to be published this week. There are just those days when work has to devour our time. Anyway, here are some of the most awesome and useful infographics that I’ve seen this year. There are also some resources listed below on how to create and promote infographs (links that I’ve personally used for my own research – yeah, I’m really serious about making my first infograph, teehee).

The Noob Guide to Online Marketing – by Oli Gardner of Unbounce

The Noob Guide to Online Marketing - InfographicUnbounce – The DIY Landing Page Platform

DIY Guide to Successful Linkbait – by VoltierCreative

by VoltierCreative

How Online Marketing Drives Offline Success – by KISSmetrics

by KISSmetrics

The Top 20 Most Expensive Keywords in Google AdWords Advertising – by Wordstream

by WordStream

Blog Design for Killer SEO – by Cyrus and Dawn Shepard

hosted on SEOmoz

Facebook VS. Google+ by SingleGrain

by SingleGrain

The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors – by Search Engine Land

 by Search Engine Land

The History of Search and SEO – by SEO.com

by SEO.com

Infographic Creation, Promotion and Inspiration Resources

In Creating Infographics:

In Promoting with Infographics
Inspirations for Infographics:
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Link Magnetism – How to Create an Authority Site that Attracts Authority Links

Link MagnetismBuilding links to a website is easy, I’ve done it many times, and for sure, you have tried doing this many times as well. On the other hand, building authority links is a different story, since – more often than not – it requires time, effort, creativity, persistence in execution and plenty of luck to successfully obtain these types of high-caliber links.

To start off, this post will cover tips and situations that were all based on my experience, and is basically a story of how I got 2 authority links, without asking for it.

When you visualize link building in a plain view, you will somehow realize that there are always two plausible options to link acquisition:

  • You create the link from the target website.
  • You inject to them the idea of linking to your site.

And with these 2 options in mind, it naturally comes down to one simple line of attack – creating the opportunity. Through my experience, I realized that you’ll only need to continuously/insistently develop two facets of your campaign in order to attract and acquire authority links to your site (and this strategy will revolve around these 2 aspects):

  • Reputation = content
  • Link assets = relationships

And along the process of building those opportunities, your reputation and link assets, you’ll mostly not notice that you are already gradually becoming a link magnet.

Why? It’s because of the processes that we mostly implement when we’re trying to create those opportunities, wherein we keep on creating great content, nonstop, with the sole intent of acquiring valuable links/citations from highly trusted websites without realizing the small amount of impact each action is able to create, until it all piles up and boom, you’re already a link magnet.

To the both perspectives of human and search engines, a website’s reputation and the relationships that surround its brand speaks a whole lot for itself. With that said, getting high-value links from other authority websites is more viable if they’ll also see that your site is an authority and is worthy of being contextually cited on their site. To put it simpler: you need to become an authority to acquire authority links.

“Link magnetism = building a credible reputation (continuous creation of highly-exceptional content) + building strong link assets (relationships with industry influencers).”

Stage 1: Creating an Authority Website

To create an authority website, you’ll need tons of exceptional content hosted within your domain. That’s why planning your site’s content structure ahead is imperative, given that a well-staged content development strategy (compiling a good content inventory before even launching the site or its marketing campaign) can nurture the site’s brand identity along the process of marketing it.

If your site is continuously providing solid content that can be really useful to its target audience, then it can send massive and obvious signals to your visitors that they should keep on returning and sharing your content. This in turn builds the noise up that can help attract other authority websites to notice you and possibly link to it in the future.

In building your site’s content inventory, it’s important to cover as much topics as you can (which should all be thematically relevant), wherein you can scale the scope of your expertise through the content that you’ll create. Make each of your content serve as your site’s foundation by making them go viral and/or as comprehensive as you can, which you can deliver in content formats such as:

  • Evergreen
  • Extensive tutorials
  • Rich-media content

Having many strong, viral and high-quality contents hosted in your domain, with social proof, can extremely impact the way others see your site, as it can progressively improve your site’s domain authority, your brand’s social authority, and help build a robust following base for your site – which can certainly epitomize your website as an authority.

Viral Content Creation and Promotion

The easiest way to build your site’s reputation and identity within its field/industry is through the uniqueness of all the content that it’s able to offer. If you can consistently create loads of high quality contents, with high potentials of going viral, then the better chances of garnering authority links to your site, through citations or link opportunities that are a product of those combined efforts, given that all the (viral) content that you’ll be creating and promoting will all add up in building your overall reputation.

How to create a viral content:

  • Content strategy development – do an extensive research about the topic and complete all the necessary details/information that your projected content will need in order for it to be comprehensive and competitive. Try to offer the best content about the subject for it to have higher chances of ranking highly on search results. List all the collected information and make an outline of your content (ex. possible title, format, design and information architecture). It’s also important to know your content’s target audience beforehand, as the approach of the content will highly depend on its aimed results (was the content created to generate links, leads, social shares or just for branding purposes?).
  • Keyword research – your content must be keyword-focused, wherein you can use your target keyword(s) on the content’s page title, post title/headline, URL and the content’s body. A content that has immense potentials of going viral and socially popular can certainly rank for its targeted keywords effortlessly. Use Google Keyword Tool to identify good keywords to target for your content.
  • Competitive analysis – observe and examine your competitors’ similar content. You do this by searching your content’s target title on Google, and see the top ranking pages. Extract all the important details of each ranking page, and make sure that you’ll be including those information to yours (this ensures that you’ll be providing the most extensive content related to the subject). You can also identify the weaknesses of each competing page and use them to your own advantage, as this tactic can help you outrank them on search results.
  • Build a contact list – know the people, blogs and/or organizations that might be interested to share your content before actually creating it, as this will make it easier to promote the content once you have launched it. There are several ways in building a list of link prospects for your content, like gathering contact details from sites that already have history of linking to the same type of content that you’ll provide (most probably sites that have linked to your competitors’ similar content and you can use tools like Yahoo Site Explorer to track these links from your competitors), active Twitter users and other known linkers (bloggers) in your industry. You can list all these prospects in an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Execution – create the content in accordance to the strategy you have devised.
  • Content value assessment – gauge the importance, value and marketability of the finish product and if the content will be able to draw actions from its target audience (was it specifically made for beginners, linkers, customers or industry influencers?). The easiest way to measure the value of your content is by determining the rarity of the information it contains, given that a content that offers valuable and hard-to-find information is very linkable, and this can increase the value of your proposition as well as the success rate of your link requests.
  • Editorial analysis – it’s always important to proofread and edit your work before or after publishing it. Update your content each time you find new information that fits your content’s theme and always test the strength of your content’s call to action to make the most out of the traffic it will constantly receive.

How to promote your viral content:            

  • Get social shares from your personal network.
  • Request links from your list of link prospects (from sites that might be interested to share and link to your content).
  • Reverse engineer links from your competitors’ similar content.
  • Promote the content through your externally distributed content such as whitepapers, press releases, guest blogs and interviews.
  • Participate on relevant discussions and link back to the content to serve as the comprehensive resource of your answers (on forum threads, Q&A sites and blog discussions).
  • Use Stumbleupon ads, as they can probably have thousands of cerebral users who are really into your industry.    
  • Buy sponsored tweets from influential people in your industry – you can check out Buysellads.com for this form service.
  • Offer incentives, like contest prizes, embeddable widgets, free sample products or paid review.   
  • Link out to authoritative brands in your industry to leverage the content’s social visibility, since they are more likely to share your content if it mentions their brands. Target brands that have strong following on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and try to be in contact before launching the content.
  • Create a newsworthy angle for your viral content and pitch your story (using your viral content as its resource) to news websites or online publications. You can also join Helpareporter.com to pitch your story.
  • Maximize your content’s call to action by making it easy for future visitors to link to it or to share the content on various social networks.
  • Continuously promote your content by internally and contextually linking to it from your new blog posts or web pages.
  • Highlight the content on your site’s major traffic entries or landing pages (pages that have high search engine traffic).

For a more in-depth guide on how to promote a viral content, you can check out my old post about getting natural editorial links.

If you can rinse and repeat these content marketing strategies in your site’s future content, like repeating the process 10 or 20 more times, then building a strong reputable site (driven by content) will be very achievable in a matter of months. And that reputation alone can get you more subscribers, followers and natural links (can make you a link magnet), without the need of requesting for them take actions, in which you will be able to semi-automate the process of link acquisition and social sharing every time you publish new content.

Stage 2: Influence Marketing

Influence marketing is a marketing tactic/perspective that necessitates actions and processes that aim to compel a specific set of entities in a certain industry, instead of targeting its real market. These entities are most likely the ones that already have a strong following base or are seen to be somehow influential in the field based on their content and social reputation.

In my case, I’ve created most of my content with the slight intent and objective of exemplifying my expertise to industry influencers, treating them as my primary audience. Then I tried to build connections with them through:

  • Knowing the type of content that they are more likely to read and share to their audience.
  • Interacting with them through social networks and by following their blogs and starting conversations through remarkable comments.
  • Bringing the discussions back to my site and letting them see the relevance and uncommonness of the content I provide.
  • Linking out to them from a highly-linkable content that I have created, as this will increase the chances of them sharing or linking back to the content.

If your content is capable of captivating experts or influencers in your industry, then it can most probably set bigger impact and influence to your real target audience, given that a site that is being constantly vouched by reputable individuals or organizations can easily create more linking opportunities, as people are more to trust the information that the site is sharing.

“Influence marketing, in its simplest form, is creating highly exceptional content and letting other experts know about it and to be influenced by it.” For more in-depth guide, you can check out my old post about 1-2 Punch Marketing.

Stage 3: Branding

In my opinion, creating a strong brand presence to a website is the most vital process of online marketing. A site’s brand name should be the most important keyword of the campaign, as this is the area that gives the distinct identity to a business that’s certainly capable of separating it from its competitors.

It takes time, effort and consistency to efficiently develop a site’s brand, seeing as it will require processes that will need strategic planning:

  • Investing on a visually attracting web design, as it’s one of the strongest indications of longevity and is also the area that’s capable of sending massive brand signals to site visitors.
  • Building noise to your site externally using inbound marketing techniques (like guest blogging, viral content marketing, etc…) to let the big players in your field notice your brand.
  • Disseminating your brand’s identity through efficient and ethical link building, wherein you can focus on using your brand name as anchor texts when building highly-visible links (through content and community discussions).
  • Improving brand mentions by making your brand highly perceptible within your territory, such as inclusion of your brand name on each of your site’s page titles (so whenever people socially share or link back to your content externally, it will include the site’s name), as well as on your externally distributed content such as free whitepapers, infographics, guest blogs, press releases and externally hosted videos.

Brand data – such as branded search and amount of external brand mentions – are now heavily used by search engines to determine the authoritativeness of a website, as they can base sitelinks and trusted pages to be displayed on their search results through these metrics. Having a strong brand can improve your inner pages’ search rankings, as search engines are more likely to trust and return web pages as results when they are hosted by a recognized authority site.

Stage 4: Becoming a Link Magnet

Having the first 3 phases laid out – an authority website that hosts exceptional contents, influential people in the field supporting your cause and a strong brand that’s recognized by search engines – shapes a link magnet.

In this section, I will only discuss how I managed to attract and acquire authority links through some examples. But first, here are some of the ways how I identify a potential source of an authority link:

  • Have fast crawl rates, which can usually be measured through the site’s homepage PageRank.
  • Have a strong brand and following base, which can produce massive social signals.

Example 1: Creating authority and high PR links through reputation

Technorati Post

A few months ago, I was invited by Technorati to be a regular contributor on their business channel. I personally think that the opportunity was molded through the reputation that I have built for myself in the past several months of creating highly-engaging content on this blog. Basically, I was able to attract them through the way I produce content and eventually created that opportunity of obtaining a strong link from them.

Example 2: Attracting authority and high PR links through relationships

KissMetrics Blog

I have been connecting with Kristi Hines of Kikolani for almost over a year now, as I have been following her blog since I started blogging. Being connected with her eventually created a path for my blog to obtain an authority link, seeing that she saw the way how I delivered my content, and perhaps that reason somehow developed how others see my reputation as an SEO and a blogger.

Example 3: Acquiring links from educational sites (.edu)

Edu link

This link is not actually directing to this domain, though I think it’s worthy of being included here, since that cycle of linking is the best way to describe link magnetism and because that .edu page is directing to the article I’ve written for Technorati. The possible reasons why the article got that .edu link could be because of the trustworthiness of Technorati’s reputation and brand as a resource, which actually made it a magnet.

When you achieve those kinds of links, it’s important that you promote those pages as well (by linking to it whenever it’s possible), since it can help build its strength in due course as a link to your site – a link that will be certainly hard for your competitors to replicate.

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

Image Credit: BlackHoleInAJar

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10 Ways to Intensify Organic Traffic

Organic TrafficTraffic is the life and blood of web-based businesses, and I think I have mentioned and used this passage many times in the past. In this line of industry, websites are made, typically, to be visited by people with the aim of meeting a certain end goal, whether it is to sell a product/service or to just get a message out to the public or to a specific audience.

In a simple equation, the more traffic that a website is able to generate, the greater chances of selling the products, services or even ideologies that the site is providing.

There are many methods that can amplify a site’s ability to attract and drive traffic, which can be segmented into two major areas of online marketing – paid and organic. Paid traffic generation techniques are known to return immediate positive results in terms of traffic, though most require expensive investments. They may come in form of:

  • PPC advertising (Google Adwords, Microsoft adCenter, etc…)
  • Social Networking Ads (Facebook ads, Linkedin ads, Stumbleupon ads, etc…)
  • Direct advertisements (banner ad placements, paid reviews, etc…)
  • In-text advertising networks
  • JV Partnerships and Affiliate Programs

Conversely, organic traffic generation requires loads of inbound marketing techniques that do necessitate time and effort in planning as well as in executing, though it’s proven to offer more efficient and sustainable results. Below are some of the ways that can help improve a site’s – new or already established website’s – ability to draw natural traffic.

4 Ways to Intensify Organic Traffic

Acquire contextual links that can produce more links

Getting featured on absolute authority websites such as high traffic news websites, social voting sites and highly-influential blogs can get you links that have greater value, as these citations have high visibility and have the capacity to mount the probability of getting more voluntary links through massive impressions.

Absolute authority websites have strong readership and following, and being highlighted or simply being featured on these sites’ front pages (ex: Mashable, NYTimes, Digg, Reddit, LifeHacker, etc…) carry out multiplier effects, which often leads to more reviews, social shares or editorial mentions of your brand from other websites, as the information can logically reach thousands of readers that will translate to an immense volume of referred visitors to your site.

In aiming to obtain these types of links:

  • You will first need to create a content that will specifically target each “reach multiplier” site’s type of audience, which should aim to cause interest and/or awareness about your site.
  • After producing the content (such as web-based tools, article, research results, etc…), gauge and analyze if the material will be seen by these absolute authority sites as newsworthy.
  • Pitch your story to authority news sites by presenting your content as a resource when tipping them off the story. Most news websites provide contact details or forms on how you can reach them when submitting a news tip. Keep the copy short and concise, though it has to offer as much detail/resource as needed to increase the chance of coverage.
  • Once your story succeeds on getting published on news sites, it will be much easier to get votes from high authority social voting sites like Digg and Reddit, especially when the link submitted is from an authority news site or blog.

Link building will always be about authentic citations.

Build more high quality pages

A high quality and well-optimized webpage can and will always naturally draw search engine traffic, whether it’s through personalized, localized or global search results – as people will always come across an exceptionally created webpage. Building more of them will rationally result to more specifically targeted web visitors (more quality webpage = more landing pages).

Nowadays, SEO seems to be more of a contest of content dilution (perceptible demonstration of authority, popularity and trust), and that’s why it’s important to produce content that gets searched organically (appropriate keyword usage) and have high potentials of being linked to or socially shared by your possible visitors.

Here are some content ideas that can be easily promoted and can constantly attract readers/visitors through search or social channels:

  • Unique content that can’t be found elsewhere like research and case studies.
  • Unconventional or twisted interpretation of trending topics.
  • Crowdsourced content.
  • Comprehensive resource articles or pillar content.
  • Exceptionally written content about popular brands and having the content shared on their social networks (Facebook Fanpage, Twitter, etc…).
  • Rich media content like infographics, slide presentations and high-quality videos.
  • Publishing multiple contents in your domain all at the same time, as this method can naturally draw search engine traffic, particularly if the site has a good domain authority.

In promoting your high quality content:

  • Promote through relevant discussions on forum threads, Q&A sites, social networking sites and blog discussions by referring other readers back to your page for more extensive resource about the topic.
  • Mention your site’s best pages/posts on your guest blog posts, press releases or interviews basing on the topical relevance of the content.
  • Disseminate your site’s top pages through internal contextual links, wherein you can highlight your best content on your recently added pages/posts and other major traffic entry pages, as this can easily attract clicks from new visitors, which can practically make their visit longer and perhaps take actions such as subscribing to your list, buying a product, etc. You can as well use the page(s)’ targeted search terms as anchor texts when internally linking to boost their search rankings.

Advantages of continuously building high quality pages:

  • Improves your site’s link equity, as it allows your site to gain and create strong internal links, which lessens the need of building artificial incoming links.
  • Can progressively increase the amount of new traffic to your site as each newly added page is capable of constantly generating visitors through search engines and other referring sites.
  • Builds a robust pulse for your site, since continuous creation of high quality page that will be useful to your target traffic may outcome to a larger rate of return visits. This can in turn lead to building brand advocates and a strong following base for your site, which can slightly automate the process of marketing your site’s important pages.
  • Develops your site’s domain authority and trust that can help make most of your site’s pages show up prominently on search engine result pages (SERPs).

Syndicate social sharing

Social media has been a vital process and aspect of modern online marketing, knowing that even search engines are now relying on social data and signals to improve their search results. Prominence on social media channels is a good indicator of quality content, seeing as it is shared by users for good reasons.

There are several ways to syndicate the process of sharing your content on various social networking sites, but the basis of this strategy should always root from the relationships that your site/brand has able to develop along the process of marketing it:

  • Use your networks/connections to grow the reach of your content, wherein you can use tools such as Triberr or Twitterfeed to automate the process of sharing your newly published content.
  • Build a strong following base on social networks where your target audience or link prospects are active (Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, Digg, etc…). It’s important to constantly share useful links, relevant information as well as to interact with your followers to make your brand more visible on these networks.
  • Influence influencers in your sector by engaging them through conversations on social networks and eventually through your site’s content. Here are some other ways to get influencers to notice you.
  • You can also contact your connections directly through email, when requesting for your content to be shared on special occasions (launching a link bait, new product, etc…).

Email blast

Another way to utilize your online relationships is through their list of newsletter subscribers. You can use your connections in getting massive traffic to your site by offering something for free (like free reports, whitepapers, ebook, tools, etc…) and asking them if they can feature it on their newsletters.

Building relationships for your online business is essential these days, given that it can benefit both parties in several aspects of marketing, may it be through acquiring high-value links, referring traffic, generating leads as well as in expanding your business as a whole.

6 Ways to Turn Traffic Spikes to Return Visits and More New Site Visitors

Maximize CTAs on major traffic entries

When your site starts to experience a sudden spike in traffic through the various marketing approach mentioned above, you can then encourage new site visitors to follow you on social networking sites, subscribe to your list or RSS feed and to share the content through its call to action, as this will enhance the number of return visitors to your site and possibly invite more visitors to your site as they share the content.

It’s also best to identify the major traffic entries to your site, or the pages that are constantly bringing traffic to your site through search engines or other referring websites. Improve these pages’ calls to action in order to constantly grow your list or followers. Make it easy for your visitors to follow you on social networks through highly-visible or good placements of social buttons.

Showcase your best content on your site’s front page

New visitors have high tendencies of checking the site’s front page if they have found your domain through an inner page (maybe through search or a referring website). Making your site’s best content very visible can make new visitors stay and possibly subscribe to your list/feed or convert to leads/sales.

Make your site’s top content visible on your inner pages

You can highlight your site’s top pages by linking to them through popular posts widgets (on sidebar), related posts plugin or by directly linking to them within your content as a recommended reading. The more your visitors are able to click-through over your best content, the higher chances of getting multiple social shares from a single visitor, especially if you have good placements of social sharing buttons on your pages.

Offer freebies to proliferate traffic

Providing freebies in a downloadable file format (like free whitepapers, ebook, video tutorials, etc…) alongside your traffic-generating content can also help in amplifying the capability of your site to attract more visitors and in establishing a following base to your site. You can use Cloudflood to automate the process of socially sharing the content each time a visitor downloads your free giveaway.

Follow up with more compelling content immediately

After you’ve manage to get new visitors, followers and subscribers, offering more remarkable content (immediately) can significantly impact your brand’s identity as an authority figure in your industry, and this can in turn build and cultivate loyal visitors to your site and brand advocates that can help in spreading your content through linking and social sharing.

Study the sudden spike in traffic and master the process

It’s important to determine how, why and where you have obtained the large amount of traffic to be able to replicate the process in the future. Areas that you’ll want to analyze when studying traffic spikes may include:

  • Major source of traffic (referring website or keyword)
  • Why was it featured on that site? (depth of content/information, type of approach, etc…)
  • Why was it ranking for that search term?
  • Who have shared the content? (you can use tools like Topsy to track social mentions on Twitter)
  • How do you get the same influencers or referring websites share your future content?

Once you know the answers to these questions, it will be easier to make traffic spikes happen again, and those spikes can as well be your site’s permanent daily/weekly traffic stats in the long run of consistently implementing this content strategy.

I’ve been sick for almost a week now (running a high fever) after hosting my kid’s birthday party, so if you still liked this post, you may want to subscribe to my feed and also follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Image Credit: A-landi

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12 SEO Strategies and Marketing Tactics for Photoblogs

PhotographerFew years ago, one of my childhood friends offered me to start a digital photography business with him, though it may not be of my interest, I always opt myself to be a solid wingman in supporting my friends’ personal/professional ambitions. I’m no fan of art, but I do know how to sense and distinguish things that may look appealing to others – commercially or artistically.

Personally, I don’t know anyone who owns a professional photoblog or photography-related website, but I guess this post may serve as an advice for my future self if ever I decide to start a business related to this field, and probably this will be somehow useful to my readers as well.

Well, if you will ask me what I would be covering if in case I decide to build one, I would probably be photoblogging about historical images, since aside from SEO, History is a subject that I’m really passionate about (yeah, I’m sort of a geek in this area, an avid televiewer of the History Channel and owns a huge collection of vintage stamps). Sounds like a good plan, right? Imagine me sharing this instead of SEO blog posts:

Oops, wrong photo. Try the next one.

Manuel Luis QuezonManuel Luis Quezon, taken in 1912 before he seated as the 2nd President of the Philippines, who also celebrates the same month and day of birth as I do

Anyway, here’s a short list of SEO strategies that I would implement if ever I start a Photoblog in the future.

Keywords

Use keywords that receive high search volumes to web pages/blog posts in order to draw organic traffic. It’s important to target search terms that are practically used by search engine users when seeking for information, as it will enhance your site’s ability to consistently grow natural – and somehow relevant – traffic/visitors.

It’s also best to target keywords that will be strictly relevant to your artwork/images when choosing for keywords to use for your site’s pages/posts title, as choosing irrelevant keywords might decrease your traffic conversions. You can use Google Adwords’ External Keyword Tool to identify search terms that will best suit your content.

Look at the size of the competition

Optimize Images

Keyword-rich image elements can also help boost the prominence of your photos on Google’s SERP as well as Image Search results, which can be very constructive in growing natural traffic to your site, knowing that a lot of users do utilize this section of web search. In optimizing your images:

  • Use highly descriptive keyword(s) in your photos’ filenames or Image Title (ex: jose_rizal_photo.jpg)
  • Use your target keyword(s) in images’ alternate text tags (alt tags), as these short descriptions of the photo help both users and search crawlers understand what the image is about if in case the image is not available (ex: “Picture of Jose Rizal”).
  • Use long image descriptions for your photos (longdesc=), as it can improve its relevance scores for search rankings (ex: longdesc=”A photo of Jose Rizal when he was in Paris”).
  • The title of the page hosting the image should also contain the targeted keyword.
  • Always upload the larger version of the image, as large size images are known to have higher quality by search engines, and they often prioritize it in indexing.
  • You can also take advantage of the image’s caption by including the targeted search term there, if necessary.

Add written content to pages hosting your images

Search engines are more capable of understanding written texts than images, and adding more content that will complement your photos will certainly increase your pages’ relevance to its targeted search terms, which of course can help improve your webpage’s search rankings and eventually be found by your targeted audience.

Create a Gallery

Showcase your best photos by setting up gallery pages for each category, as this can help you stage a good internal linking structure for your photoblog (aside from setting up and submitting a sitemap). This process can as well improve your inner pages’ (blog posts) search rankings, especially if you have used your keywords as anchor texts for those internal links from the gallery page directing to the images’ designated hosting pages.

Submit Your Site to Photoblog Directories

There are numerous Photoblog directories and community sites that you can submit your site to and you can also utilize these external resources in terms of finding for link opportunities and/or generating content ideas for your photoblog such as:

Image Bookmarking

There are also tons of image bookmarking sites that you can use to promote, distribute and share your original photos, which can develop your works’ and your brand’s web visibility. Given that your submissions can have more exposure from these external websites that could pass through traffic to your site. Submitting your images to these sites can also build highly relevant links to your site’s inner pages – that in succession results to higher search rankings. I’ve created a list of these sites a few months back on my post about optimizing ecommerce websites (for product images):

Reach out to bloggers and offer your images

Most active bloggers are in need of prolific and unique images to complement their high-quality blog posts, where some are using free stock photos and some are paying to acquire high-quality images for their works. Contact non-photobloggers and offer your images for free, as you can get high-value in-content links when they attribute the photo to its creator through links.

It’s also a good way to establish your brand through this outreach, especially if you have branded watermarks on the images that they have used. When offering your images to bloggers, you can direct them to your gallery pages (as I’ve mentioned above) to make it easier for them in choosing the images that they’ll be interested to use for their content. You can also ask and discuss the types of images that they might need that you can provide.

Network with other Photobloggers

Networking with like-minded people appears to be one of the most powerful tools in modern marketing. Connecting and building relationships with other reputable photobloggers in your niche will certainly increase the noise that your brand is going to create in your field, as these relationships can help your site be more visible through linking, social sharing and recommendations. Here are some ways that you can execute to efficiently network with other photobloggers:

  • Start conversations by leaving remarkable comments on their blogs.
  • Share their images on social networking sites.
  • Try to request if you can submit a guest photoblog post on their sites.
  • Ask if you can interview them and post it on your photoblog.
  • Link out to their posts and notify them.

Note: It’s best to target blogs in your field that are providing high-quality content and have a strong following.

In building your list of prospects, you can use the directories that I’ve listed above or do a manual search on Google. You also need to standardize your network targets through site/domain metrics such as PageRank, traffic data (via Compete.com) and Domain Authority (Mozbar).

Encourage Guest Photobloggers

Invite other photobloggers to do a guest blog on your site, since this can help drive traffic to your site from your guests’ networks and followers as they voluntarily share their contributed content, which can also be very advantageous in setting out your brand and in getting natural links.

You can create a specific landing page in your site that will house your invitation message and guidelines for possible guest photobloggers. Make this page visible through your site’s navigation and mention some of your site’s demographics (optional) to entice contributors.

Stumbleupon Ads for Extremely Interesting Images

If you will be providing images/photographs that have high potentials of going viral (ex. controversial, first of its kind, fascinating, or a huge list of very compelling images), Stumbleupon is the first place that you’ll want to promote your images to, since they have millions of cerebral users, and possibly thousands that are really interested in your field, which can spread your viral content massively. Avail for their Paid Discovery services (paid ads), and utilize it until the target content gets a good momentum of traffic.

Donate your images to non-profit or business organizations

Find and attend events hosted by organizations within your geographic location. Cover the event by taking your own photographs (if possible) and offer your images to them to be published on their site/blog. Typically, these organizations give credit to the original source of the image/photographs, which might just give you a link from authority domains (non-profit, trade, business organizations or news websites).

You can also use these photos on your own blog, if your requests happen to be denied, which makes it a win/win situation.

Organize Contest or Awards

Bloggers secretly enjoy recognition – and photobloggers aren’t an exception. Organizing your own photoblogging contest can help you obtain high-quality links, in-content citations as well as develop a strong brand presence in your field, especially if you are already active in the Photoblogging community. Though for starters, it’s best to find partners and sponsors for the contest’s prizes and in marketing the event, as this will eventually be beneficial to all parties, where:

  • All the organizers and sponsors can benefit from links coming from participants, if it’s included on the contest’s mechanics.
  • Exposure for organizers/sponsors through brand mentions.
  • Participants can also absorb traffic from the site hosting the contest and have chances of winning the contest’s prizes.
  • Allows you to build relationships with other organizers, sponsors and participants, which can be useful in the future.

Same goes with Awards, given that most people in this business are aiming for their works to be rewarded in any ways. There are lots of concepts that you can choose to go with when it comes to awards (like location-based awards, theme or industry based awards, etc…). Once you have conceptualize the theme of your Photoblog awards, you can then develop an embeddable widget for the event, which may include specific badges for nominees/entries and winners for each category. Nominees and winners can proudly use and add these badges on their site that links back to your awards’ landing page.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my RSS feed and Follow @jasonacidre

Image Credit: AlabasterDuchess

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Empowering Search Vol. 3 – My Circle

CircleWelcome to my third edition of curated/roundup post series. This volume is a short one and will be highlighting the recent updates and works from my circle (those that I communicate with over the web) and also some other cool posts, which I think are worth sharing.

My posts

I will be contributing regularly (as a blogger) to Traffic Travis and Affilorama’s blog so you might want to check them out as I will be sharing more SEO-related posts there weekly/monthly. I was also invited by Technorati to be a contributor on their business channel and I’ll be publishing posts there every month. Here are some from the past few weeks:

Resources

Opinions

Hell Yeah

Events

Products

  • Rohan of Techlunatic just released his first wordpress plugin – Google Plus One Social Share WP plugin – which you can download here. I’ve personally tested the plugin, and I must say, it loads faster than the normal button that Google is providing, plus it’s also customizable via the plugin’s settings.
  • Gary of Lawmacs recently launched his first free ebook entitled “Internet Marketing”. You can grab your copy by just subscribing to his email feed (to receive the download link for his free ebook). See more of it on Lawmac’s upper right part of the sidebar.

If you liked this list of links, you can subscribe to my RSS feed and follow me on my new Twitter account. Image Credit: Kaitou Kage

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1-2 Punch Marketing Action Plan for Blogs

1 2 Punch MarketingThere are no known universal solutions or formulas to a successful web marketing campaign, knowing that every industry has to adapt to its own given nature. In fact, online marketing strategies that work for other niches not necessarily mean that they will also work for your niche for reasons such as the size of its target audience, the ability of the industry to be of extreme interest and/or its natural marketability/profitability/sustainability.

However, there is one, which I personally believe can work on any industry over time of efficient execution, where the process will only require you two things to focus on – the quality of content and the quality of conversations.

Inception

The planning stage of a marketing plan is as crucial as its execution phase, given that failing to plan is planning to fail – as mostly stressed by marketing experts. I will be segmenting this phase into 4 parts, which will include outreach list building, link data analysis, content analysis and content conceptualization.

Outreach list building

The most common initial phase of any web marketing campaigns is to gather external resources (your competitors or blogs alike) in terms of link and content intelligence, as identifying the right targets where you can market your blog – indirectly – will help you map a sustainable direction.

In this phase, you can first start by searching for related blogs and listing at least 10 – 30 highly reputable blogs in your industry in an excel sheet, which can include metrics and details such as:

  • Pagerank (homepage)
  • Domain Authority (through SEOmoz toolbar)
  • Traffic performance (measurable through Alexa or Compete.com)
  • Contact details such as Twitter account and contact page or email address

Rough Sample

It’s also important to prioritize blogs that have strict/regular schedule in publishing blog posts and have robust following and readership, since you’ll not just aim to acquire links from them, you will want to fully absorb their followers eventually. Here are some ways to distinguish if a blog has a strong community:

  • Amount of social shares on their recent blog posts
  • Number of comments they are receiving on their posts
  • If the owner of the blog is responding to comments

The outcome of this list will be the ones that you’ll be consistently engaging and connecting with in the following stages of this marketing plan.

Link data analysis

The next step after completing your initial list of link/outreach prospects is to study their blogs’ linking activity. It’s vital to know how they are marketing their blogs, since you can use these information in marketing your own.

  • Extract the best linking domains/pages to each blog. You can use tools like Open Site Explorer, where you can download the data in CSV format for easier link research.
  • Examine how they have obtained the link(s) (was the link requested or was it voluntarily given or content-driven?).
  • Observe the relation between the two linking domains (do they have multiple links coming from this certain domain? Are they blogroll links or editorial links?)
  • Study their top pages through Open Site Explorer, and observe these pages’ nature of linking. Segregate the top domains that are linking to each top page, as you can use these in the latter part of your blog’s link building process.
  • What was the most common link building method they are using (are they doing guest blogs, commenting on other blogs, or getting most links naturally through solid content).
  • Note down every detail that can help you out with your blog’s marketing campaign, from future linking targets to methods that you can use.

Content analysis

Evaluating your target prospects’ content is very important as you’ll be getting most of the concepts for your own content production as well as your marketing campaign from how they present themselves as an authoritative brand in your industry.

  • Observe the blogs’ outbound linking history by skimming through their posts and identify the usual type of content that they are mostly linking to (do they link more on opinionated, highly resourceful, extensive, research-focus, case studies or plainly entertaining posts?).
  • Are they providing content that you will want to link out to?
  • Determine the approximate amount of social shares they are getting for each new blog post, and on which social networks are they active and getting lots of shares.
  • Know the style of their content delivery (are they focusing on offering lengthy content or are they more into rich-media posts like videos, podcasts, infographics, etc…)
  • What are the subjects/topics that the blog is still lacking?

These will help you a lot in decoding their behavior when linking out to other websites as well as in developing your own approach for your content – with the slight intent of manipulating them to link to yours naturally.

Content conceptualization

Develop your content strategy by basing your campaign’s factors on your targets’ history and standards. Build a content inventory wherein you can list all your blog post ideas in an excel sheet and track if there are any available sources on the web (through Google Search) and include the URLs of those similar posts in your list as reference (as you can also use this information for your content’s competitive analysis).

  • Offer content that your targets haven’t offered or explored yet.
  • Plan on making posts that will make your targets “want” to share or link to it (preferably well-thought and well-written posts that will include a link to their blog/post – for starters).

Content

In crafting your content, as an emerging blogger in your field, it’s imperative to offer the best content there is about the subject that you will be writing to truly stand out not only to your possible readers but to search engines as well. And that’s why competitive analysis is very important before even starting to create a blog post.

Note: The only ethical way to target and organically rank for keywords is through your content and not through your artificially built links. So if you are going to target (new) keywords for your campaign, build a page/post that will strictly aim to attain rankings for that certain search term – you’ll get natural links (with targeted keywords as anchors) anyway if your content is worth linking to.

In building your content

  • Before writing your blog post, you should first analyze your possible SERP competitors by searching your post’s targeted keyword(s) through Google (ex: “how to create a blog post”).
  • Examine the best pages retrieved through the top page of search results and identify each competing post’s weaknesses, as this simple process can give you an idea on how you can win over your competitors’ content (are they lacking any information, can you beat the length of their content, can you provide a more comprehensive content than them?).
  • List all the details missing from your top competitors and be sure to include them to yours.
  • Use a keyword-rich headline, as people who will get to read your post will more likely use the post’s title as anchors when linking back to it or when they share your content on social networks.
  • Make an editorial analysis before or after publishing the content (is it link worthy? Will you share it? Does it suck?).
  • Be straight with your call to actions. If you want your readers to share it on social networks, subscribe to your feed or buy your products, then make it easier for them by providing the link(s) at the end of your post.

Once you have some solid content on your blog that you’ll be really proud and confident to show off, then getting links and marketing your blog will almost be an effortless task.

Conversation

Using conversations as a marketing tactic can be an efficient tool in blogging, on any niche, since constant interactions do build relationships that can and will translate to high value links.

The main objective of this phase is to build a strong and authority brand presence on the reputable blogs that you have listed and steal draw their followers and linkers’ attention to develop your own blog’s readership, given that their followers are the ones that are making their blogs an authority.

Build quality conversations that can attract not only your list of prospects to visit your blog but also their followers/readers as well, and let your blog’s content be the second punch that will strike them to staying and probably linking to/sharing it.

Below are some ways where you can start interacting with your list of link/outreach prospects:

Blog comments

Follow your list of blogs regularly and contribute to their community by leaving intelligent comments that will be useful to the discussion. By doing this, you are – in some ways – bringing the discussion back to your own blog, as the blog owner and the other readers may notice your consistent presence and useful feedbacks on that blog.

Suggested mindset – blog comments aren’t made for you to get a link, but rather to attract people to see what your blog is offering. Build conversations, not links.

Social networking

Following them on social networks (Twitter most likely) and sharing their content can help initiate a good conversation. Sharing their posts that have your comments on is also a good way for search engines to index your comments’ links faster, which I think is very advantageous – you get your link indexed and you get to start a conversation.

Cite them as a resource

Using your targets’ posts or researches as a resource, or quoting their statements within your own blog posts can attract them to sharing your content, since this method obviously increases the chances of having your content shared by them (especially if the content hosting the link to their blog is exceptionally crafted). It’s also a good way to start a conversation.

Make a counter-post

As you go further in following their blogs, creating a post that may be on the contrary to their beliefs (but constructive and not offensive content), can get their attention especially if you’ll provide a well-thought blog post. This can as well result to a positive outcome, particularly in displaying yourself as a thought-leader in your industry, as you are able to express your own views and perspectives about the subject.

Guest blogging

Guest blog posting, as always, is the best way to generate referred and specifically targeted traffic from high-traffic blogs, seeing as you get to showcase your expertise in front of their audience. The key to a successful guest blog post is to be as responsive as you can to all the comments that your guest post will receive. And as you build conversations with their readers is the more that you’ll be able to attract them to following you.

Crowdsourcing

As you grow your presence on the blogs you have listed in your outreach list, you can then send a request to them in answering an industry-related question or survey and publish their answers as a blog post, given that the result of this content is very useful to all their followers/readers. Most of them will be certain to share this type of content through the social networks that they are active in and may also allow your marketing processes to extend its reach.

Aftermath

As soon as you have proven your value or have discovered your own place/identity in your community through constant production of high quality blog posts and establishing relationships through conversations over time, you will have to use these connections wisely, unobtrusively and constructively to all parties. You can use these connections through:

  • Twitter-outreach
  • Link bait campaigns
  • Blogroll links
  • Lead referrals

Expand your list to continuously grow your blog’s traffic and readership. Thrive to put your blog on the same level as the ones on your outreach list in terms of quality of content in order to obtain the kind of links/citations they are getting.

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

Image Credit: KalleVictor

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Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs for 2011 – Online Marketing Edition

Disclaimer: This post is a semi-entry for Influential Blogger’s writing project. The content of this page are of my own opinion, observations and perspectives.

First of all, I decided to write this poEmergest because I believe in the cause that they are pushing through, though I won’t be linking out to the sponsors, because I personally want to keep this post’s sincerity and objectivity.

Earlier today, while writing a blog post for Affilorama, I came across a local site that really caught my attention. It is a blog that supports a movement – Janette Toral’s  Influential Blogger – which I think what our country somehow needs at this point of information age.

What I really liked about this project was that they (Janette and the sponsors) are encouraging local bloggers to step up in hopes of uplifting Philippines’ blogosphere by letting participants share and nominate the blogs that they think are influential as based on the award’s requirements:

  • Blogs that started anytime from April 1, 2010 – present.
  • Can be from any part of the globe.
  • Uhm, influential?

Every story has its dark side

After reading the week 2 update and the writing project’s page, I checked most of the participants’ entries through the comments. Honestly, I was excited, at first, knowing that my evil side is sensing heaps of link opportunities. Though later on I realized that some of the nominated blogs from different entries seem to be questionable (I mean, what the hell, it’s my job to identify quality sites, quality content and almost anything about quality on the web).

No offense meant to all the nominated sites, since I did see some that are really excellent in delivering the cause that their blog lay emphasis on (it seems that they are really passionate about what they are preaching), particularly those that really aim to educate (medical, education and culture related blogs).

Well, unfortunately, some may have seen this as an opportunity for their blogs to be more prominent by scheming through their nominations, and if you’re not a member of the circle, you’ll may just have to form your own circle to generate a manipulated winning list of top emerging influential blogs for 2012, which I think is contradicting to what the awards’ impact and influence should be.

That is not true influence, that’s syndication.

IMO

How do you measure influence as a blogger? Authentic influence I mean.

Influence is something that you will use and think about for days, weeks or even years after you have procured, absorbed and internalized the concepts from what you have read.

Influential content is something that you will willingly and voluntarily share, because you have found true value from it, and that’s one good reason why I’m linking out to Influential Blogger, because I believe that their movement is going to be valuable to the community – not just with links and prestige, but with its after effects (you win = you continue, you lose = you hustle to improve, you see the winners = you get inspired).

It’s not just about winning, it’s also about giving your readers what they can really say a good recommendation, that’s why we read blogs in the first place, because we know that we deserve better information when we are seeking for one.

Selling or upselling something does not generate influence, but giving your ideologies that can be beneficial and useful to your readers/visitors for free does. Below is a list of what I can really call “emerging influential blogs”.

My Nominees for Top Emerging Influential Blogs for 2011

Ross HudgensRoss Hudgens

Ross’ ability to captivate his readers through his wickedly sick writing style and with the depth of his content is definitely an impressive feature worth noting. His blog is one of those that I thoroughly read and his works have influenced my own views and principles on Search (particularly this post). I’ve even mentioned his blog when I was asked on an interview of what blogs do I habitually follow, talk about INFLUENCE.

John DohertyJohn Doherty

This guy just started his blog 4 months ago, and the speed of his blog’s growth is tremendously solid. This blog is really worth noting because of that kind of speed – that is some sick marketing skills I must say. He provides highly engaging content on his blog that are well accommodating to those who are just starting with SEO and most of his posts are about practical and actionable methods that his readers can implement to learn more about how they can efficiently improve their sites/blogs in terms of search engine visibility.

Ana HoffmanAna Hoffman

Ana has displayed her expertise in online marketing through her own blog’s results. Traffic Generation Café is one of the most visited and successful rookie blogs that I know, which was able to achieve strong readership and following in just a few months of being launched.

Onibalusi BamideleOnibalusi Bamidele

Oni’s Youngprepro has helped hundreds of online business aspirants in just a short period of time, where he has shared most of his knowledge and experience through his blog posts and information product. He’s a very approachable guy and he personally helps and answers his visitors’ queries whenever it’s possible – surely a characteristic of an influential blogger.

SEO-HackerSean Si

Sean Si, the founder of SEO-Hacker, provides all the basic things that you’ll ever need to know in terms of marketing your website/blog, as his brand is more focal on helping beginners as well as intermediate practitioners and bloggers not just through easy-to-digest blog posts, but also through other channels such as the site’s very accommodating Facebook community and a free basic SEO course that we have launched late last year.

Though our team at SEO-Hacker (yes, I do SEO with them) might be busy working with clients’ websites at this time, we still made sure that we are still able to genuinely contribute to our local community of SEOs, as we are continuously shaping young SEOs’ minds through our Facebook Group.

facebook group - SEO-Hacker

Hugo GuzmanHugo Guzman

Hugo is certainly one of the influential people and thought-leaders in the Search industry today, given that he is well-versed when it comes to corporate and large-scale web marketing campaigns. I mostly agree with his views, except for him being a fan of the Miami Heat.

Zarko ZivkovicZarko Zivkovic

I have been featuring Zarko’s Practical SEO blog here several times before, which I think is already a good signal that his works have pretty much influenced mine in some ways. He is really good in conveying his message to his readers, knowing that most of his posts are about comprehensive tutorials on how to implement many SEO processes. He’s a good SEO friend of mine, and that relationship has no influence on my decision to include him on this list, because he definitely deserves this slot (and this is not an engagement gift to him and his fiancé, congrats man!).

Jason AcidreJason Acidre

As I’ve been nominated by two commentators below (Gary of Lawmacs and Jason Gardose). Currently ranking #53 on Top Philippine Websites (based on Alexa rankings).

My list still has 3 more 2 more (updated) slots available to be completed, so if you know any blog that fits this list feel free to drop me a line. Here are the requirements again:

  • Blogs that have been live since April 2010 – present.
  • Can be on any industry as long as it has a solid readership and fanbase.
  • Can be in any part of the world.

These blogs, you don’t need to follow them or to link out to them, but I do believe that they all deserve to be rewarded for all the hard work that they have done just to help people make better websites.

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

Image Credit: Theevildead23