There 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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
Link bait campaigns
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.
Jason Acidre is the Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive - a digital marketing agency based in the Philippines. He's also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre.