Dealing with Penalized Websites

The growth of inquiries for search engine optimization services has certainly increased over the past couple of years.

In the past, businesses mostly contact SEO companies or independent consultants for help to further improve the visibility of their websites – and eventually to increase its traffic. But sadly, these days, perhaps more than half of the businesses looking for SEO help are businesses hoping to recover from algorithmic updates/penalties.

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Campaigns that are mainly designed to recover from penalties (whether it’s Panda, Penguin, manual penalties, etc…) are a bit more challenging than the campaigns that many seasoned SEOs have been used to.

We all know that a one-size-fits-all campaign doesn’t exist, considering that we work with different types of sites on different verticals. Though, I strongly believe that having a “think marketing” mindset can break the barrier that sets a complex recovery campaign from a standard traffic generation campaign.

Because the optimization concepts involved in trying to recover a site from algorithmic penalties are just basically the things that SEOs should be doing to improve a site’s traffic performance in the first place.

The focus areas of search optimization these days aren’t just there to be implemented to future-proof a website. It’s already universal.

Dealing with a penalized website is absolutely the same as dealing with a newly launched or unharmed website. And when we’re cleaning up a site for it to regain its old rankings, we’re just doing what the site should have done before.

Optimize for Experience

A good site experience is the ultimate indicator of relevance. A major factor that search engines use to determine pages/sites they have to reward with better search visibility.

And apparently, analyzing and understanding visitor behavior stats are very crucial to succeed, not just in search, but as well as in actually growing an online business.

Improving the overall experience that your website can provide to its target users can be done through several optimization processes such as:

  • Information Architecture – making it easier for users to navigate and find information available from the site by categorizing topics/information into a coherent structure.
  • Optimizing for long-click – don’t just focus on increasing your search listings’ CTR, but it’s also important to improve the visitor retention rate, once organic traffic lands on your site’s pages. This can be done by ensuring that the information within the content really matches the search query that people use to get to that page. This also means blocking crawlers in accessing and indexing poor-content and duplicate pages from your site, given that they aren’t really useful when served/displayed to search engine users.
  • Technical SEO audits – while optimizing for humans, it’s also best to make certain that your site is search-friendly. Make it easier for search engines to crawl, access and understand what your website’s pages are about. Use this comprehensive SEO audit checklist by Annie Cushing.
  • Site speed – make your entire site load faster. It’ll help improve site activity, conversions, and search rankings. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights to know how your site is performing in terms of its loading speed.
  • Internal links – build more thematic internal links to increase page visits. And this way, you’ll also pass more page authority to your site’s other key pages (and help them rank better on search results).
  • UX design – invest on a conversion-oriented website design (make it responsive or have a mobile version if necessary). Like what I’ve mentioned on my last blog post, design separates successful websites from their competitors.

Sometimes, you just have to forget about rankings and to just remember that your main goal is to make sure that you please your users and be able to provide a remarkable experience for them.

Note: You can also check Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History regularly to determine if you’ve been hit or to identify what type of update have hit your site.

Improve Domain Authority

When it comes to link-related penalties, removing and disavowing bad/spammy links pointing to a site have been the popular ways to recover.

Though sometimes, outnumbering the bad links with quality and hard-earned links is the better approach.

This is also very applicable to websites that aren’t penalized, as the more you build your site’s Domain Authority, the more it will be able to compete for tough keywords (and definitely rank even better for long-tails).

There are two ways to continuously increase a site’s DA:

  • Build more useful/actionable pages that can procure links over time, so that they can improve their Page Authority. The more pages on your site that have high PA, the more it helps increase your domain’s overall authority. And internally linking your site’s pages also allows the link/ranking value flow throughout the website – which helps your other pages rank for the search terms they are designated with.
  • Get more links to your site and its inner pages from other sites that have high domain authority. You can also check this post for more tips on how to get hard-to-replicate links.

Rohit from Techtage.com also did an infographic last year that offers a more in-depth look on how to increase a site’s domain authority:

Increasing Domain Authority

String Entity Optimization

Search engines’ constant evolution, from indexing to understanding (keywords to context), certainly means that it’s going to be a lot more difficult for penalized websites to cope up. Not unless you strike while the entity graph is still in its developmental stage.

Being just relevant for the keywords that you’re targeting will not be enough in the future. Your brand must be synonymous to the industry terms you’re targeting to really win in search (just think of how “Bruce Lee” became synonymous to “Kung Fu” – think branding).

There are several web platforms and methods that search engines can extract data from to better understand entities. Optimizing a brand’s web presence through them could not just help regain lost rankings, but might also help build a solid foundation for a site’s future online presence.

Using the Skyscraper technique

Brian Dean wrote a comprehensive guide on using this content marketing method on his blog, and Nishank Khanna summarized how to do it on a forum thread I stumbled upon last week:

Step 1: Find link-worthy content (authoritative content that people already link to).

Step 2: Make something even better.

Step 3: Reach out to the right people (the low hanging fruit is the people who link to the content you found in Step 1).

Basically, the more you provide extensive content that supports the core keywords that your site is targeting (or the content topics that are frequently searched in your space), the more search engines will understand how important your brand is in its industry’s ecosystem.

It’s also the best approach to be an authority in your chosen niche, as well as to demonstrate your brand’s unique value proposition.

This is actually the core of my own strategy for this blog, where I only focused on creating foundational and evergreen content to eventually establish expertise, relationships, and my brand as a publisher.

So if you have existing content assets that can still be enhanced, updating them could really be a big game-changer.

Structured data

Schemas and Microdata helps search engines better understand what websites and webpages are about (specifically for Semantic web). Implementing these on your website can prepare your campaign for the inevitable advancements that search engines (particularly Google) are currently working on.

Relationships and associations

Social connections also play a big role in evaluating authority, web popularity and in the categorization of entities (industry, location, etc…).

For instance, it’s easier for search engines to determine what industry you’re in when you’re also actively contributing content or participating on discussions from other industry-specific websites.  These interactions can simply tie a brand to the market it belongs to.

It’s imperative to build relationships and a strong social following base nowadays.

Get coverage or mentions from authoritative publications

Search engines rely on other authoritative sites for data and information. Getting mentioned by a-list publications can certainly be a big lift when it comes to understanding more about what your brand is about (co-citation and co-occurrence also matters).

Use HARO to get connected with journalists or influential content publishers.

I’ve been spending more time in using this service to get more brand mentions (not just links) these days. Nishank Khanna (again) shared a great tip (plus the email template he uses) on how to efficiently use this method for getting press mentions:

1. Sign up to get HARO leads (free) and/or PR Leads (paid). Both these services provide you leads on what journalists are writing about.

http://www.helpareporter.com/
http://www.prleads.com

2. Pick the leads that are relevant to you. Don’t waste your time responding to or pursuing leads which you don’t have expertise in.

3. Write 2-3 bullet points with data that would help the reporter on the article they’re writing. Keep the email short, and DO NOT promote yourself in this email — that will come later. Your goal here is to get quoted as a source in the article. The reporter is not going to write an entire piece dedicated to you right off the bat.

4. In the subject line for the email you’ll be sending, use this simple formula:

(HARO|ProfNet): (The title of the lead)

So, for example, if a HARO lead is a journalist writing an article about “how does data loss effect businesses”, your email subject should be: HARO: How data loss effects businesses

Journalists get a gazillion emails a day, so keeping it 100% relevant is the only way you’re going to get noticed. And again, don’t promote yourself in this first contact with the journalist / blogger. Can’t stress that enough. You will build rapport 100x faster when all you’re doing is offering help.

5. For the content of your email, here is what I send (and I’ve split tested this again and again over the years):

Hi Tim,

My name is Nishank Khanna, founder of Bright Journey. Here is how data loss effects businesses:

  • 1-2 sentences.
  • 1-2 sentences.
  • 1-2 sentences.

I’d love to talk more and help you with your article. Just drop me a line atnishank@domain.com or (800) 555-1234.

– Nishank

Connect with me on http://twitter.com/nishankkhanna

That’s it! All it takes is responding to 4-5 targeted leads a day to get press. 15-30 minutes is usually all it took me to pick the leads and craft the message.

Once a journalist quotes you, they’ll be way more receptive to what you have to say in the future. And I don’t mean send them a press release. Press releases must die! Use your valuable time to craft content that journalists want to use, not writing generic press releases.

With this strategy you can start getting a few mentions that’ll lead to traffic and sales. The next way to get press is creating useful content (for example, put a spin on data that your business generates as an industry report). Send this first to the journalists that quoted you earlier. Again, keep the emails short and too the point.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re working on a penalized site or not, we’re all here for the long haul. Today’s best practices may change tomorrow, but what’s important is to always have the right mindset, in order for you to get the right actions to get to your objectives.

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

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12 Inbound Marketing Tips for 2014

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I did a short presentation last week for the first ever startup/marketing meetup that our company has organized.

The pointers from my talk were mostly based on my personal experience for the past 3 years of my career as an online marketer and a business owner – so I was really excited to turn my slide deck into a blog post as well.

Inbound Marketing’s popularity as a medium to exponentially grow a business’ ability to attract customers and establish its brand as a leader in its space, has certainly increased these past couple of years.

I believe that it’s not just because everyone’s turning to it these days, or because it’s not as expensive as paid media.

But mainly because of the scalability and longevity of the results it is capable of providing, knowing that it involves data-driven (and measureable) processes – such as SEO, content marketing, social media, analytics, and conversion optimization.

This approach to marketing has helped me develop a one-man consulting business into a 20+ person company in 2 years.

I witnessed its power firsthand, and I’ll definitely be glad to share the key things I’ve learned from doing it.

#1 Great products make great marketing campaigns, not the other way around

Marketing a business is a lot easier when you’re offering a product that no one else in your market can match.

Users/consumers most likely share a product/service that they find really valuable to their peers (word of mouth marketing). And products that can be considered as one of the best solutions in solving a certain problem are definitely newsworthy.

It’s important to genuinely believe in the product that you’re trying to sell (or market). Because it is the driving force of your marketing campaign.

Although, this core principle doesn’t just apply on the product itself, as the entirety of the branded product can also be heavily affected by other factors surrounding it – like customer support/service, packaging, company culture, etc… (think of Zappos).

So when you’re offering a great product that’s in a very competitive market, then your brand’s unique value proposition will really matter, a lot.

#2 Understand the 2 core factors of SEO (for both site and page-level)

Relevance and Authority.

Search engines use hundreds of factors to determine sites/pages that they’ll be displaying to their users. But many of those factors stemmed out to become more accurate in gauging both relevance and authority.

For instance, optimization methods such as improving information architecture, implementing structured data, proper distribution of keywords, content optimization (title tags, meta descriptions, content matching the given title, internal/external links, etc…) and a lot more, all help search engines better understand what the information/products your site is providing and be able to determine if your site is relevant to what their users might be looking for.

Whereas links, brand signals (social, unlinked mentions, etc…), domain authority and sentiments from other entities about the brand tell search engines how popular and authoritative your brand is.

A good question to ask yourself every time you optimize a site for search:

Is this the most relevant and most authoritative site in this vertical for it to rank for keyword xxx?

If not, then you have a lot of work to do.

#3 Design is 50% of the battle

I actually got this tip from one of Rand Fishkin’s presentations (can’t remember which one though).

The more web consumption grows, the lower an average user’s attention span gets. Design separates many successful websites from their competitors, especially in persuading and engaging new visitors to stay longer on the site, because:

  • Sites that provide better visual experience look more credible and trustworthy to users.
  • It makes it easier for visitors to use and navigate the website (UX, usability and site architecture).

This area of marketing can strongly impact your site’s ability to convert visitors. It’s smart to invest more on it.

#4 To educate is the best way to sell

I learned this from my former employers (Simon Slade and Mark Ling) while working full-time for Affilorama and Traffic Travis.

They’ve been giving ton of valuable information for free (through their content marketing efforts) which helped them established their brand(s) as an authority on their respective fields. And it’s a conventional wisdom in any industry that it’s easier to sell when people see you as an authority.

An effective content marketing campaign almost always aims to educate its target audience. Since having the ability to spread new and/or actionable ideas is one of the best ways to be remembered by your audience (influence).

This is the very reason why I always try to write extremely comprehensive blog posts (with ideas that I don’t usually see on other blogs) for the past 3 years of blogging. Because the more I teach my readers the things I do (and how difficult it is, sometimes), the more I can attract people to avail the services we offer.

#5 Invest on developing more “Big Content”

Content marketing has been the center of all attention these days in the world of online marketing – because it’s the center of it anyway. Content ties everything in digital marketing, that’s why it’s king.

When you have the best content on the web about a certain topic, you can get almost everything you need to fuel an online business:

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And a comprehensive branded content (that’s purely informational) can certainly do well in search results these days (and can even outrank Wikipedia).

REI-1

Many brands in our industry have already been implementing this (ex: Moz’s beginner’s guide to social media and QuickSprout’s advanced guide to content marketing), seeing that they’re getting a lot of good results from it (plus the fact that it’s a scalable landing page – since the content is evergreen).

big content

This marketing initiative can amplify your brand’s online presence, especially when the content is specifically targeted to a set of audience that can potentially be your future customers.

#6 Earn brand visibility from high-traffic industry communities

Google has brought down a lot of link building techniques over the past decade (from comment spams, article directories, badges, reciprocal linking and now to guest blogging). But perhaps, this is the only artificial link building tactic that will not cease to exist – providing real value to other online communities.

I’ve preached this approach many times in the past, because I’ve had many successes with it.

moz

Instead of submitting one-off content to hundreds of blogs in your industry, why not just focus on regularly contributing content to one or two top blogs in your space that are sure to pass on more quality traffic back to your site.

Being associated with high-traffic online publications can improve the perceived value that others see in your brand. Become more visible to your target audience through them.

#7 Content and brand identity fuel social media campaigns

This one’s very basic, but many people seem to forget how content plays a big role (a very huge chunk actually) in social media marketing.

Content initiates interactions in the social web, and content can also display a brand’s identity or what differentiates it from its competitors.

Most successful big brands in social media integrate content with their campaigns (like Red Bull), so why would it be any different to the smaller ones.

Understanding the types of content that typically get shared (a lot) on social networks is crucial to be very effective on this area of inbound marketing.

#8 Personal branding is vital in Inbound Marketing

People tend to follow, interact and listen to other people, not brands.

personas

Aside from the benefit of improving the ability of the site to earn its target audience’s trust, having strong personas behind a brand also serves as a strong signal that search engines can use (for entity search).

#9 Use Analytics to find opportunities and traffic assets. Identify what’s working, then do more of them (80/20)

Many practitioners use analytics for reporting, but forget to use their data to actually improve their sites’ performance.

Identify what’s continuously bringing high-quality traffic and conversions to the site (whether it’s high or low in volume), so you can maintain/improve them and take more advantage of them. These traffic assets could be:

  • Landing pages or existing content assets
  • Keyword rankings
  • Linking domains/pages (via Assisted Conversions)
  • Locations where you’re getting more conversions
  • Mediums (email, social, referrals, search, etc…)

conversions

#10 Optimize for remarkability and experience

Think of ways how you can make every visitor feel different when they’re on your site, because that’s what will make them come back.

In my case, I focused on including ideas on many of my blog posts that I think my readers wouldn’t find elsewhere. That was the unique selling point I planned to focus on for my blog’s content development a couple of years ago.

Because I believed that element will somehow make my brand more remarkable. And I think it kind of worked.

If you’ve built your business for the long haul, this should be a high priority. Knowing that eventually, brands and standalone platforms are what will matter most in the web’s ecosystem.

One good sample of this is CollegeHumor.com. They’ve established their brand very well through consistently providing remarkable content, which also impacts the experience their users get every time they go to the site.

logo_collegehumor

Many of their content get shared a lot on social media, and I believe many of their followers just go directly to the site (due to the consistent content updates they do on their site).

The cult following they have built is enough for search engines to understand who they are.

funny videos

#11 Maximize earned visibility to improve owned media

Use or test multiple CTAs on pages constantly generating new traffic to your website.

Calls-to-action shouldn’t just be used on your site’s transactional landing pages, because there are so many other secondary CTAs that you can use to build up your other marketing activities, such as

  • Encouraging visitors to follow you on social networks.
  • To subscribe to your blog’s feed and/or email newsletters.
  • Check out products you sell that they might find interesting (based on the topic of the content they landed on).

#12 Do everything the hard way

The harder the things you do, the more your work becomes valuable. It also makes it harder for your competitors to replicate what you’ve done to succeed.

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

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A Year without Guest Blogging

First off, sorry for the misleading title, because it’s not entirely true, since I’ve published 3 guest blog posts last year (2 for Moz and 1 for Hit Reach).

overall traffic

I’m not saying that guest blogging doesn’t work, because it really does (when getting published on the right places)!

gb traffic

Although, I’ve handled other sites last year that didn’t really rely on guest blogging (as a link building and traffic generation method) – you can see the full case study here.

case study

Guest blogging, as a marketing method, can add so much value to a campaign. Some of the factors that make it a very tempting process to be integrated to any type of online marketing campaign (when done right) are:

  • It helps you build relationships with other content publishers.
  • It can build brand exposure and improve site discovery, especially if you’re getting published on popular websites in your space that are capable of ranking for keywords that you’re also targeting (which often creates a traffic funnel that can consistently refer visitors back to your site).
  • It allows you to build links (signals) that can help better shape web entities (as well as authorship) and improve domain authority (which eventually impacts a site’s search ranking ability).

The benefits of being active on guest blogging sounds really good, but the reality is many are relying and focusing so much on it, and tend to forget the other important aspects of marketing a business over the web.

A guest blogging campaign involves a very exhausting process – such as prospecting, outreach, content development and tracking – in which most of the available resources are more often than not invested in to these efforts, just because everyone’s overdoing it.

If 50% or more of your current marketing activities are put into guest blogging, then you might want to rethink your campaign this year.

Internally, my focus for this year (on marketing my own sites as well as some of our clients’ sites) will only revolve around 3 simple processes:

  • Technical SEO
  • Content development and promotion
  • Taking advantage of existing (and proven effective) traffic sources (through Analytics data)

Continuous content development

As I’ve mentioned on my post on Moz a month ago, content development has been the driving force of my entire campaign last year. And it has proven itself to be very effective.

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One of my clients’ has been very successful with this approach as well, wherein he didn’t even bother building new links to his website after the first 3 months of full-scale on-site optimization we did for his website.

He just focused on consistently providing new content to his site’s steadily growing readership.

I believe that this approach is far more exciting, given that it’s like running your own magazine/publishing company – particularly in ensuring that every content you come up with is of high quality and targeted.

One valuable content can drive links, social shares, rankings, traffic, and conversions – but having ton of them can certainly tell a lot about your brand.

Things I suggest you start doing:

  • Regularly brainstorm for content ideas. Determine what your target audience wants.
  • Create a content calendar – and strictly follow them.
  • Align your content ideation/planning with keyword research.
  • Invest on other content formats (videos, images, interactive pages, etc…).
  • Always think of or project how your content will affect your branding and conversions.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO and content marketing is a deadly combination, seeing that the more useful pages you continuously add to your website, the more you’re able to build searchable web pages (which increases your search traffic).

Common best practices of technical search optimization:

  • Optimizing title tags – and making sure that the title of your pages match the content/information it provides (optimizing for keyword and topic relevance as well as long-click).
  • Only serving content that’s important and useful to your target visitors, by disallowing access (or using the “noindex” tag) on pages that have poor/thin content or duplicates.
  • Improving site’s speed.
  • Using structured data (schema/microdata) for search engines to better understand your site and its pages.
  • Optimizing the site’s structure and making it easier for users to navigate and use the site (particularly in finding the pages they’re looking for).
  • Proper use of internal links to increase site usage/engagement and for search crawlers to easily find and index deeper pages of the website.
  • Fixing site errors (404s, unnecessary redirects, canonicalization, and other site crawling/indexing issues).

Build on effective traffic sources

One of the best ways to succeed in online marketing is to take advantage of existing traffic channels that are already doing well. It’s just like knowing what your strengths are and focusing on getting even better with them.

Having a diversified traffic source is very crucial these days, and you can never rely on just search (or just social traffic).

It’s imperative to identify which channels are sending traffic and conversions to your website, and to continuously improve them to stay on the top of the game.

As the more traffic you consistently get from the channels that have proven to be effective for your site, the more you can ensure that people will find and be able to consume your future content.

traffic sources

Invest more on what’s already working for you. These traffic funnels and brand assets may come in form of:

  • Keyword rankings and/or landing pages – identify which content assets are constantly sending traffic and conversions to your site. Try to enhance them more (optimize for UX or conversions), so that they can maintain or further improve their search rankings, or for them to become more linkable/shareable.
  • Linking websites/pages – check the list of top domains/external pages referring visitors to your website, as they are considerably assets that you somehow have control of. Take advantage of them by building more brand visibility (getting more links) from them, or building 2nd-tier links to high-traffic pages linking back to you.
  • Online communities – Contribute and provide more value on other niche communities or social platforms that are sending quality traffic to your site (forums, groups, social networks, etc…).
  • Email list – continuously grow and strengthen your email list by sending high-value content to your subscribers on a regular basis. Because loyal visitors are as much as important as your site’s new traffic.

Personal thoughts on Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a very effective branding tool, but it’s a tedious process. I’d rather focus on the 3 areas of online marketing I’ve mentioned above instead of landing 10 new guest posts every month.

meme

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

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Taking your Inbound Marketing Campaign to the Next Level

It’s unavoidable for marketers to get stuck when running long-term campaigns, especially when they are accustomed to following a certain process (that most of us do in agencies).

This mostly happens when we have already exhausted almost every tactic limited on that process, which is not that great when you’re looking at scalability – and in consistently getting results.

And that is why being able to identify areas of the campaign that need to be prioritized (that can drive results almost instantly, or what others call “quick wins”) is very crucial, to make the approach more efficient and ROI-oriented.

But what would you do once you’re done in winning in those areas?

I’ve read an article a few weeks ago where Anand Chandrasekaran (Entrepreneurial Product Leader at Yahoo) shared an advice from “The book of life” that I believe fits very well to today’s marketers (particularly for the technical ones).

Always cultivate a beginner’s mind. Because in the beginner’s mind, the possibilities are endless. In an expert’s mind, the possibilities are few.”

In retention, as well as in growing a project in terms of its marketing end, our job as marketers will always require us to continuously find opportunities, problems and fixes.

With that in mind, you’ll always be looking for something new to study, learn and implement. And that hunger is what will fill the gaps within your campaigns, and what I strongly believe takes it to the next level.

More Traffic Opportunities through Search

SEO is still a vital channel for inbound marketing, and that’s for sure. It’s a continuous process, so there could possibly be some areas of search optimization that you haven’t fully maximized yet that could potentially bring in bigger results for your campaign.

Removing duplicate and poor-content pages

Making sure that your site is not allowing search engines in indexing pages that wouldn’t be that valuable to users can tremendously improve its ability to rank better on search results.

One of the best reasons why is that the “authority/link value” flowing within the site will only be passed around the pages that are really important – which in turn allows them to get better search rankings.

Also, this increases the site activity from users coming from search engines (another important factor that’s used to determine relevance), as people are only able to get to pages that they are specifically looking for.

removed dupes

The best way to determine if you have duplicate/thin pages that are being indexed by search engines in your site is by comparing the number of pages in your sitemap vs. the number of pages indexed by Google.

sitemap vs. indexed

Say if you only have 500+ pages you want to be indexed (based on the number of important pages of your site listed on your sitemap), but Google has already indexed 2,200 pages from your website, then it only means you have 1,000+ possible duplicates and poor content pages showing up on search results.

On finding duplicates, you can start digging through Google Webmaster Tools, and see what URL parameters are configured in your site.

url parameters

Check if these parameters are being indexed by Google – by simply searching for them on Google search.

dupes

If they are showing up, you might want to start disallowing search crawlers from accessing and indexing those pages (you can disallow access to these folders through your Robots.txt, or by adding the “noindex” tag on these pages as well).

It’s very important to only serve the pages you want your users to find.

Improving your search listings’ CTR

Export your site’s search queries report from Google Analytics or GWT, and track the keywords you’re ranking for with high amount of impressions but have low click-through rates.

queries

Start optimizing for click-throughs from search results, as this is something that many SEOs neglect after reaching the top spots of the SERPs.

It’s important to understand why people aren’t clicking through, staying longer on the page or converting – even when you’re already at the highest position. Since being able to optimize for these aspects will enable you to sustain your rankings.

Things you can do to improve your page’s CTR from search results and activity once people land on the page:

  • Apply marketing/sales approach on your meta descriptions, to entice people to clicking on your listing.
  • Implement authorship and publisher markups (rel=”author” and/or rel=”publisher”).
  • Use structured data (schema) for reviews, places, products, events, lists and in-depth articles.
  • Make your pages’ title tags more descriptive of the content they contain.
  • Ensure that the content of the page matches the search query it’s targeting (try to provide the best answer for that query).
  • Invest on design and user experience, to make your landing pages more sticky.
  • Include relevant internal links within the body of the content to make the visitor stay longer on the site.

Optimize for Speed

There has been so many case studies out there that prove how site speed optimization can extremely impact search traffic improvement (you can start with this case study from Neil Patel).

You can also use Page Speed Insights, a free web-based tool from Google that enables its users to easily identify elements of the site that make it slow – which also includes instructions on how to fix those issues.

page speed insights

Build more support pages for your key pages

Content marketing and blogging blends well when integrated with SEO for a lot of reasons:

  • Support contents such as blog posts and other content assets can rank for your campaign’s target long-tail keywords.
  • They pass on link value, page authority, traffic and visibility to your site’s important pages (money pages), especially when they are internally linking to them – which makes your key landing pages stronger (and have better search rankings).
  • These content efforts help your site gradually build a stronger online brand presence, which is an important signal these days for search engines.
  • The more pages you have on your site that has accumulated substantial Page Authority, the higher Domain Authority your site can get. This means more chances for your site to rank for the competitive search terms it is targeting.
  • Builds more channels for your site to generate conversions.

Transform your site into a platform

Platforms are the future of the web (and search engines will most likely be biased towards displaying them on search results). You don’t necessarily need to be the biggest, but rather have the best solutions to offer in your industry to win in the digital age.

Big Content

Start investing on continuous development of bigger contents. This is one of the best ways to become recognized in your space as the go-to-brand when it comes to information.

A perfect sample of this is Neil Patel’s content efforts last year, as Quicksprout has certainly invested a lot of time and effort in creating several advanced online marketing guides and tutorials under the site’s University section.

quicksprout

With those initiatives, Neil’s site is slowly becoming a platform that people will come to, to learn more about online marketing.

There are also other forms of big content that you can spend more time in developing, such as:

  • Apps (web-based and/or mobile)
  • Video series
  • Events

Community Building

If you’ll notice, most of the successful sites (in any industry) have a community wherein people actively discuss and interact, not just with the brand, but with other community members as well.

Cultivating a community can certainly take your brand to a higher level.

For example, Affilorama is considerably one of the biggest names in the affiliate marketing industry. Aside from they almost have everything (content resources, extensive lessons/courses, tools and more), they also have a very active community (on their forum section and user-generated blog).

forum

Affilorama has truly become a platform for affiliate marketers for the past years due to these efforts and investments.

Invite other experts to write for your site

Getting other publishers to contribute content on your site (on a regular basis) also helps attract new markets and audiences, which can strongly demonstrate the strength of your brand, in terms of association and the depth of information and topics you get to share on your website.

This also encourages your visitors to participate more in the discussions, and also in bringing more publishers to write for your site.

Loyalty Marketing

Return visits is as much as important as acquiring new visitors to a website, given that these guys are already aware of your brand and have better chances of converting.

Obviously, the best way to build a loyal following to your brand (customers/readers) is to give them so many reasons to come back.

Consistency in providing high quality and valuable content

Being able to provide the information that your target audience will want to consume constantly is one of the most common reasons why people follow brands on their blogs or in social networks.

Although, as web consumption grows, content marketing also gets more competitive. So it’s important to really understand what quality is to your target audience, in order to genuinely provide value.

I really liked Danny Denhard’s tip from his presentation at the recent Digital Marketing Show – wherein he stated that “you have to understand TV to understand quality content”.

As the more you publish content that will be useful and actionable for your audience, the more you can nurture your audience and more likely for them to visit again (and take actions such as email subscriptions, following you on social networks for updates or availing for your products/services).

Serve content targeted to people who already believe in your brand

Reward your brand’s followers (or existing customers) by giving away exclusive or higher value content. This may perhaps be distributed through email marketing or for people who are already following you on social networks.

Some of the forms of content that you can offer:

  • Free access to your tools/apps
  • Discounts
  • Comprehensive guides, which you can offer to be only available to those who’re already subscribed.
  • Featuring community members on your site’s blog.

Gamification

Apparently, many sites have succeeded in integrating this principle to their product/brand (like Nike, Linkedin, Mint, Moz and Teleflora, to name a few).

Gamification, as a part of your business strategy, can help improve the user engagement of your site, and more often than not, breeds more loyal users/visitors/customers.

Optimize for Experience

Make people’s experience in using your website very remarkable (whether they’re an existing customer or a first time visitor).

Because when people like what they can see, read and/or consume from your website, they’ll definitely be back for more, and share the experience with their peers.

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

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Kaiserthesage’s Top 10 SEO Posts for 2013

2013 has been a solid year for my career, and surely, there are so many things that I have to be really thankful about.

Despite all the ups and downs that have happened to me this year, I just think that I’ve just grew stronger, as I’ve learned a lot of new things and met a lot of amazing people that certainly impacted my profession and my life as a whole.

On the other hand, 2014 looks very exciting for me. One of the main reasons is that starting on the first week of January next year – I’ll be exchanging roles with my business partner (JP Prieto) and take charge of the operations and management at Xight Interactive Asia Inc.

For the past couple of years, my role at Xight was mainly focused on brand marketing, client acquisition, strategy development and big picture. But this year, I’ll be more involved in managing the internal operations of the company – and perhaps more hours on the business development side (this also means I’ll be more hands on for client projects, which really keeps me more excited).

Although, my goals for the company wouldn’t change that much, seeing that my personal objectives for the first quarter of 2014 are to continuously improve our product (which is our people, process and culture) and to grow our revenue exponentially (through improving retention, acquisition and allocating more resources to internal projects).

Why the sudden change?

As I’ve mentioned on my most recent blog post, management hasn’t really been one of my greatest strengths (especially for larger groups, given that our company is growing steadily). And in order to become a full-stack entrepreneur, I have to be effective on that area. I want to become a better leader next year.

So what does this change means for Kaiserthesage?

Not much, since I’ll still try to write and publish a post once a week, especially now that I’m more into the holistic approach to digital marketing (not just, SEO and content marketing). This interest will certainly require me to still do intensive research, testing and documentations on my own time.

Getting back to 2013, I believe we have several highlights and milestones worth remembering, like celebrating our company’s 2nd year anniversary, organizing a successful fundraising event for one of our in-house editors, getting interviewed by the BBC, getting new talented people on board and more.

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“Uhm, yeah. Fcuk Cancer”

Sorry for the inappropriate photo. Anyway, that list wouldn’t end without mentioning the best posts from this blog for this year, since it’s why you’re here in the first place. So with no further ado, here are the best SEO posts I’ve written for the past 12 months.

Top 10 SEO Posts on Kaiserthesage from 2013

1. How I increased my blog’s search traffic by 44% in under a month

increase search traffic

#1 ahrefs

This post was also featured on Moz’s monthly Top 10 newsletter series – and was placed at the #1 spot.

SEOMOZ

2. 22 Link Building Tips from Xight Interactive

#2

#2 ahrefs

This post was also included on Moz’s Top 10 Newsletter (July issue). I also made a slide deck version of this post later this year, and now has over 20K views.

3. 10 Types of Links that Really Matter and How to Get them

#3

#3 ahrefs

4. The True Value of Link Building in Post-Penguin Era

#4

#4 ahrefs

5. Off-Page SEO in 2013 and Beyond

#5

#5 ahrefs

6. Advanced SEO for Blogs – 2013 Edition

#6

#6 ahrefs

7. My Best Kept SEO Secret on How to Rank for Competitive Keywords

#7

#7 ahrefs

8. 80/20 Link Building Tactics

#8

#8 ahrefs

9. How to Consistently Build 40+ Contextual Links Every Month

#9

#9 ahrefs

10. How to Scale Content Marketing

#10

#10 ahrefs

My Guest Posts

I’ve only written 3 guest posts this year:

12 Scalable Link Building Tactics – Moz

moz 1

moz 1 ahrefs

Getting More Social Shares to Your Website – Hit Reach

hit reach

hit reach ahrefs

Simplify Your Inbound Marketing Process: Focus on Content Assets – Moz

moz 2

moz 2 ahrefs

To all my readers, thank you so much for staying with me for the past 3 years. I won’t promise that I’d have an even better blog next year, but one thing is certain – I’ll keep on writing.

Have a rock solid 2014!

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

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How to build and run an SEO Company: @kaiserthesage asks @SEO_Hacker

A few weeks ago, Sean did an interview of me on their blog at SEO-Hacker, and as originally planned – I’m doing the second part of the series here.

Sean-Si-Jason-Acidre

I’ve known Sean Si ever since I started blogging, and he’s one of my closest friends in the industry. We used to work together for a few campaigns (I was part of the SEO-Hacker team when it was just starting).

We’ve also been exchanging a lot of ideas about the practice as well as the business end of SEO for the past 3 years now. So I’m also certain that you guys will learn a lot from him too.

Management hasn’t been one of my strengths as an entrepreneur, which is why I partnered up with JP (Xight Interactive’s COO) who’s an expert on this domain.

So in this post, I tried to pick Sean’s brain, particularly on how he managed his company from ground up. And with no further ado, below are the tips I got from Sean (that you guys might find useful as well).

What has been the biggest challenge in running/growing your team on your own?

I think thus far the biggest challenge I have faced in growing a team is dealing with people. Now I know why there are so many books about people management and leadership and how to deal with people – it’s because it’s really tough!

SEO-Hacker-Team-1024x459

Other people have their own way of thinking, their own perspective and worldview – and we, as leaders have to adapt to that and try to look at things from their perspective. This doesn’t come naturally to us. It’s a skill we have to continually hone. The toughest times for me was when I failed to do this and see things from their end – and spoke too soon.

Leaders and managers shouldn’t say anything until they understand the situation from the team’s point of  view rather than their own. This entails getting to know every single individual you have on your team so as to be able to successfully see and feel clearly like how they would – and address what you want to say or implement in a manner that is positive and acceptable for them.

SEO is continuously evolving, and there have been so many changes on how practitioners implement SEO campaigns these days. What are the key areas of your current service focus on and was there any big change on how you do SEO before than how you guys approach it now?

Certainly. I would be lying if I said we weren’t doing any linkbuilding before. We were. Blog commenting, directory listing, guest posting, you name it. But all in the best sites. And we did everything manually.

After Panda and Penguin and after all the webmasters decided to squeeze guest posts out from their content strategy, we decided to focus more on content marketing for our clients. We shrunk linkbuilding to a bare minimum and we focused our efforts on getting out the awesome content we’re continuously churning out for our clients.

There are tons of platforms and webmasters who will accept your content (assuming it’s awesome and provides a ton of value) and distribute it to their own set of audiences. It takes some research and testing but it works wonders! Just like how you would reach out to a webmaster for a guest post, it takes relationship and skill to be able to build an awesome marketing circle.

People are getting better at content – often times it’s the ‘marketing’ aspect that gets left out. That’s where we’re putting our eggs now.

What was the toughest algorithmic update that your team has worked on? How did it change your process?

This is a tough question. I don’t want to come across as to boast, however I would say plainly that we have not experienced a ranking drop or a penalty with the Google updates that have gone by during our years as an SEO company (Thank God!).

We don’t play with shady tactics when it comes to ranking clients. We make sure to take care of their branding – and that includes their backlink profile, their code and design, their content, even their site’s speed and performance!

Crazy right? We do all of those things for our clients for what we charge on a monthly basis. All-in. That’s what SEO is all about for me and my team – a holistic approach to making an awesome, user-centric website that Google will love to rank.

It’s tough and it takes more effort and money to accomplish – and perhaps that’s why we charge a higher rate than most SEO companies here in the Philippines. But not having to deal with ranking drops and penalties make it all worthwhile.

Plus, the clients are sure to be happy with how we’re managing their branding online. We have a very high client retention rate – which is the most important thing for us. Let’s face it, why would you want to get a new client and go through all the tough work of fixing their site, migrating their hosting to a better, faster one, integrating a blog, and other on-site factors, when you could just take good care of your existing ones and let the profits roll in?

I know that you’ve been a strong advocate of content marketing ever since you started, but how do you scale it or how do you effectively implement it with your clients – knowing that our approaches and methods vary based on the client’s industry and available resources?

Content marketing works. Plain and simple. You and I both know that and we both have experienced it first-hand. It’s not too hard to know what kinds of content would please the client’s target market. We study the client’s brand, products, processes, etc. And from that, we formulate and schedule content topics (that’s content strategy) to be written out and marketed to target platforms that will amplify our content’s reach (that’s content marketing).

No matter what industry you go to (assuming it’s ethical), this approach should work. I’ve written two extensive tutorials that we live by – this has helped our readers when it comes to content strategy and content marketing:

  1. Content Strategy Guide
  2.  Breaking Down Content Marketing

If you are watching our clients closely enough (and this is public information) you’ll be able to see how we’re doing it for them. Not least of which is Uratex, SPI Global’s Think Tank and Innovation Lab and Juan Carlo the Caterer

As the head of your company, what tasks/activities do you focus more on?

That’s a tough question. Right now I’m doing most of what a sole proprietor should be doing. Marketing, Finance Management / Cashflow, Team meetings, Innovation, Sales, Accounts Management, Legal matters, bills, etc. Just a little short of EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong. I love it.

It’s a ton to take in! Thank God I have an awesome team to back me up with some of these things. But if I have to choose 3 activities that I’m most focused on, it would be conversion rate optimization for SEO School, reading / writing for SEO Hacker, and sales / accounts management for SEO services.

seo-hacker school

Those are the three things that I love doing and that no one else in the SEO Hacker team is doing as of now.

There’s also one other thing that I just started doing – that’s improving our communication line and newsfeed with clients to try and improve our client retention and additional orders rate. I found out that it’s much easier to sell a new product to an existing client. So we’ve come up with an internal mailing list to keep them in the loop for algorithm or industry changes and for new or existing products we have to offer them. Of course, we only feed them stuff that are relevant to them and that would help them grow their business.

It’s work in progress and we haven’t launched it yet – but we’re working on it and hopefully it would be out by the turn of the new year.

How does your day look like? And how do you make time for everything or how do you prioritize your tasks, knowing that you’re in-charge of almost all the areas of your business?

In a nutshell:

8am: Waking up, going to my computer and checking my email for urgent / critical issues, checking my phone for any critical messages

8:30am: Taking a walk and getting some sun

9am – 11am: Answering emails, replying to social media messages, reading blogs

12pm – 3pm: Fixing / optimizing client(s) sites, anything technical, checking SEO school for any improvements we can make, researching for my next blog entry

3pm – 6pm: Meetings with the team, clients, calls, etc

6pm – 8pm: Writing, Marketing content, putting tasks and readings in the Trello board for the team

8pm – 10pm: More writing, replying to social media messages, DOTA with my teammates, reading a chapter of a book or two, basketball

10pm – 12am: Checking SEO School for more improvements, putting it in the Trello board, working on side projects with my team (usually contests), sleep

Let’s talk about hiring process. What do you typically look out for from your applicants (or any particular skill sets you highly require)?

Let me build the context of our team first: We are not a purely SEO team. Even if SEO is our forte as a company, our team is extremely diverse in skill and knowledge.

Some of the skills in our team include:

  • Graphic design
  • Front-end web development (CSS, PHP, HTML, Jquery, Scripts, etc)
  • Mobile responsive coding
  • Content marketing
  • Outreach specialists
  • Accounts management
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Powerpoint Content and Design
  • Blog Management
  • IT – (Database, back-end code, etc)
  • Technical SEO
  • Writer/s
  • Editing
  • Project Management
  • Operations Management
  • Social Media Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Making Great Chili Con Carne

You can check out our team here. We’ll be featuring each team member’s individual skills and specializations too – check it out.

All these things (Chili Con Carne included) is aimed towards creating an awesome SEO strategy – holistic content marketing.

What we value in our team is the ability to innovate, adapt, learn, test, courage to fail and ask questions, work hard, meet deadlines, manage his/her tasks and time, and knows how to have lots of fun.

Hiring is easy. If I’m not in the office, our HR and director does the interview. Personally, I like looking people in the eye and trusting on my guts and instincts as to who the person is and if he is the right fit for the team.

I know this might sound too cliché but the most important thing for me is character. A potential teammate has to have the right character from the start – because that is something quite difficult to change. Skills can be learned. SEO can be taught. But character stems from life experience, background, upbringing, and a relationship with God.

Since you’re also managing your team, how do you scale your staff’s training process, especially for the new hires?

That is a very good question. Right now, we have evaluations every 3rd month, 6th month and 1st year for new hires. All of the upper management are to meet up, discuss about the productivity and challenges that the new hire has faced, and decide if the new hire is up for regularization or is to have an extended probationary period, or is not a team fit.

It’s pretty roughly shaped and we’re still in the process of improving this to a quantifiable level. We’re in the process of quantifying our KPIs in light of our goals for next year. This is what we’re all excited about – that way, we can pinpoint whether a teammate or a new hire really does a good job (or is improving) or not.

What are the processes/practices that you’re looking to integrate with your current services in the near future (PPC, CRO, etc…)?

CRO definitely. Remember when web development and design dominated our industry here in the Philippines? Well, now is the age of SEO and PPC and inbound marketing. I’m betting that the next big thing for us is CRO. Especially for our clients who are already looking into e-commerce because of the sales they are generating through their website/s.

We are doing CRO for SEO school and I’m actually excited to launch a new series about how we have changed SEO school over the years and the effects it has had for our users.

Because of the extent of CRO we have gone through with SEO School, I’m confident to launch a new product line on CRO. We’ll be targeting our existing clients since they already have an awesome stream of relevant traffic from search.

The thing about CRO is, it can be expensive. With all the tools and A/B testing we need to implement. So it has to be well explained to the client as to what extent CRO will be applied and what we are expecting to come out of it.

What’s the future of SEO-Hacker?

Only God knows. 🙂

Our vision for SEO Hacker (Services) is to be the best internet marketing company in the Philippines, then Asia, then the world. God-willing.

For SEO Hacker School, it’s to be the destination for up-and-coming SEO specialists who are looking for a simplistic approach to learning SEO and everything in between.

For SEO Hacker (blog) it should remain as it is – an online resource for simplified SEO to beginners and start-ups who are interested in working their way to a more advanced level.

We’re very excited about the future. We have big dreams. And by prayer, hard work and guts, we hope to pull it off soon.

What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned so far in building and running SEO-Hacker?

This is a tough one. There are tons and tons of things I’ve learned as its first managing director and CEO. However, if I have to trim it down to a handful (else this post would drag on), it would be these:

1) There is no self-made man.

Everything is given. The richest people in the world may not tell you the secret to their success but it always has one darn element in it: Luck.

The thing is, I don’t believe in luck. I think everything happens because it is allowed by God. Each ‘surprise’, each ‘lucky break’, each ‘out of the blue client’ is led to you because of a higher purpose and reason.

Don’t ever think you got where you are because some cosmic event in space-time brought about gravity, and stars, and land and fish and evolution and the luckiest monkey has had the DNA to amazingly breed your oh so beautiful face and mind. And it’s all up to you to make your fame and fortune.

You have no lucky stars to thank.

It’s all God.

2) Managing people is tough. Really tough.

You can’t get angry. Can’t lose your temper. Can’t say anything out of emotion. Because at the end of the day, even if you’re right, you’re wrong.

Especially in this day and age where individuality and relativism is so prevalent. The “What’s right for you, may not be right for me” mindset is shaking even the foundations of the corporate world. That is the reason why there are so many turnovers happening left and right in this day and age. Job security is no longer the case. Happiness in the workplace is.

You know what works? Google. Everyone wants to work there. Because they have an awesome environment, a competent but friendly culture, a high pay-grade, and lots and lots to learn.

We’re not Google, but we’re surely trying to make our workplace different. Even so, there are people who are bound to leave for greener pasture. There are people who will not be happy about you. There will be people who have their own opinions and will be passing them on to the rest of the team.

If I can master managing people in my lifetime, that would be an accomplishment to behold.

3) Clients love the little things.

Yes output is important. Yes reports are critical. Yes design and delivery matters. But you know what? The difference between me and a much cheaper competitor is usually the little things.

I personally call clients when they want things to happen. I personally go to their office when they want to meet up because they need to understand our reports. I personally make sure that they know what me and my team are doing for them. That’s what I want SEO Hacker Services to be.

I ask about their life. I care for them. I tell them what’s happening with Google. I tell them what they need and why we’re doing what we’re doing.

The feeling of being taken care of – that’s exquisite. People will pay premium for a company to take care of their brand.

I know I will.

4) Doing things Right pays off

Lots of unethical competitors have come and gone in the first page of keywords I’m targeting. I have to admit: I’ve been tempted to play with grey hat tactics for some time. It wasn’t because we weren’t getting any business. We’re happy with our clients – but it’s just the thought of getting beat in the SERPs by these black-hatters that tick me off.

Well, Google came around and finally made sense about all the “ethical” stuffs they’ve been talking about. True enough, they got a lot of the dirty players off the board. But not after the damage has been done. I’m getting a handful of client inquiries asking for repair and reinclusion lately – footprints of the dirty players that were once ranking on the first page.

Through all this, I stuck with what was ‘right’.

I’m happy I did.

5) Focus on what you’re Awesomely Great at

One thing I would’ve done differently is to get someone who’s strong at the things I’m weak at as a long-term teammate. While I’m extremely happy with my team today as they back me up with my weaknesses, I didn’t start off that way. I wasted a lot of time with things I was totally not passionate about.

Things like: Legal, finance, project management, business development, client billing, etc.

These are just some of the few lessons I’ve learned in starting and running SEO Hacker. I took a more extensive approach about your question in an entry titled: “15 Important Lessons I Learned as an SEO Start-up” or you could also check out my personal blog where I publish some stuffs about leadership, management, entrepreneurship and starting up a company.

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

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9 Easy Ways to Build Links

cyrus

The techniques being used today to build links to a website have certainly evolved along the constant evolution of search. And apparently, the growth of search as well as the increase in competitiveness led to the birth of many creative, advanced and scalable link building tactics.

However, this doesn’t mean that we have to ignore the basics – knowing that “advanced” is just being really good at the basics.

What has change?

Just like before, search engines are getting smarter every day, and they are now smarter than what they used to be.

But the most obvious change is that link building is not just a part of SEO anymore.

  • Link building is a branding tool.
  • Links that can send substantial amount of relevant visitors are valuable (in SEO, branding and conversion or lead generation standpoint).
  • Links affect search rankings, but it also allows websites to get directly discovered by its target audience/customers.
  • Search is now more reliant with marketing-driven metrics. And when your links are authentically byproducts of your marketing, they are much stronger.

So in this post, I’ll revisit several methods that can help you easily drive quick and easy wins when it comes to acquiring solid links to your site.

Link out to others

Linking out or mentioning others’ works, especially those who are in your field, can strongly enhance the linkability of your site, seeing that you’re using other trusted sources as a reference for your content.

Although, the linkability of your site won’t just stop there, since it can also help acquire links through:

  • Getting trackbacks – which is not as bad as most people think, as it can also refer traffic back to your content (and can also serve as a signal that search engines can use to find and index your content).
  • Initiate reciprocation – this is one of the best ways to get into your prospects’ (or target influencers) radar, and if you’re providing good content, then the probability of having them link to you in the future would certainly be high.
  • Getting social links – many have forecasted that social links will be the future of link building, well it is. Publishers tend to share content (especially if they’re good) when they are mentioned in it, and this can somehow drive more relevant traffic and send signals that search engines use as a ranking factor to determine a page’s popularity/authority.

Some of the most popular methods used in getting industry influencers’ attentions:

  • Interviews (group/crowdsourcing).
  • Ego-baiting (making a list of top brands/experts in your space).
  • Writing about or reviewing their company/product/service.
  • Expounding or contradicting their ideas.
  • Curating popular blog posts in your industry.

crowdsourcing

Talk to people

Building relationships, which is very vital in this age of marketing, obviously starts with conversations. The Internet made communication easier for people, so why not invest some of your time and effort in connecting with other publishers and influencers in your industry.

There are so many ways to engage your target link prospects and there are also many ways to acquire valuable links through conversations such as:

  • Blog comments
  • Forum posts
  • Q&As
  • Social networking
  • Email outreach

Relationships are considerably a solid driving force for marketing, knowing that building alliances can help make the syndication and distribution of your content a lot easier. The more you exchange ideas with people in your industry, the more link opportunities you can get.

Bonus: James Norquay recently did a case study on how giving away gifts may result to links and/or shoutouts, and you might want to check that out.

cyrus

Join industry-specific communities/platforms

The web has grown so much this past decade that it seems like any industry that you can think of already has a place online where enthusiasts actively participate/discuss (niche communities).

Inbound.org, Hacker News, Bigger Pockets and a lot of other popular subreddits on Reddit are few samples of these kinds of online communities – that seemed to become a huge part of the modern culture of industries.

hacker news

Establishing yourself or your brand as an authority on these platforms can certainly impact how others see you, which often makes your brand more linkable.

Another approach that you can take advantage of is through finding online publications in your industry that have “community blogs”. It’s easier to get published on these kinds of blogs, but it’s very important to ensure that the ideas and information that you’ll share will be more likely useful to their audience.

community blog

Publish content on popular/linkable websites

If you consider your brand an expert in what you do, then aim to get published on the top blogs in your niche – because there’s so much value to get from that.

moz

The best thing about submitting content on site’s that you know that are highly linkable (and have a huge following) is that aside from building high-value links to your website, you also get to attract 2nd-tier links pointing to the content you’ve contributed.

 ahrefs

This type of content placement easily connects you with other content publishers (which can get you ton more of links), and definitely potential leads/customers to your business, given that your content is visible to thousands of those blogs’ followers.

Repurpose content

Transform your site’s successful content assets into other formats, as you can easily get more links back to your site (as the original source of the content) once you start distributing it to other content platforms.

Some of the formats that you can use to repurpose your existing content assets:

Slide presentation

You can upload your slide deck on Slideshare (and include links on your slides). I’ve done this approach a few weeks ago, and was definitely successful, as the deck (that was originally published as a blog post) managed to get 3,000+ views and send almost a hundred of new visitors to my blog.

Video

You can also convert your guides/articles into video tutorials and upload them on video hosting sites like Youtube or Vimeo. The best part about using method is that videos, particularly from Youtube, have better chances of getting higher search rankings for long-tail search terms. So it can certainly help you attract highly targeted traffic.

video

Ebook

If you have ton of long-form content or series of blog posts that can be combined into one, then turning them into an Ebook is also a great option. Aside from offering it as a giveaway to your readers, there are also a couple of ways to make the most out of your Ebook or PDF documents for link building, like:

  • Uploading it on Scribd or Accel.io
  • Offering it to other bloggers to be given away (or be used as an incentive for their opt-ins).

Infographic

This is one of the most popular (and perhaps effective) ways to repurpose content, as images are easy to distribute and tend to be shared more a lot over the web.

You can submit your infographic to numerous infographic directories:

Or image sharing/hosting sites to get more links.

Other ways to ensure that your infographic will reach more of your target audience:

  • Encourage your readers to use it, by providing an embed code on the original page hosting it.
  • Launch it first on high-traffic blogs/websites in your industry, to ensure that it’ll be seen by your target audience.
  • Promote it through your guest blogging campaigns (by embedding it within your contributed content).
  • Use reverse image search (via Google image search or Tineye) to track blogs who have used your infographic but didn’t link to you.

Transcribe videos from other influencers in your space

This part of the post will actually be a part of Pole Position Marketing’s annual link building secrets free ebook – and I’ve just thought of giving you guys an exclusive preview of how extremely awesome next year’s edition will be.

Many influencers and/or experts from different industries use videos as a medium to communicate their brands’ messages and also to showcase their expertise. Using this content format these days may come in various forms such as:

  • Video tutorials
  • Conference presentations
  • Webinars, hangouts or Q&As
  • Video blogs
  • Infomercials and kinetic typography

Transcribing videos created by thought-leaders in your industry and publishing the transcription in your own website can benefit you in so many ways, seeing that:

  • The method allows you to build a linkable content almost instantly (since the information shared in the content is from an industry/topic expert).
  • It helps you to get into your target prospects’ radar, which will make it easier for you to connect, engage and build relationships with them.
  • You can get links directly from them (through attribution), if they decide to use your transcriptions alongside their videos.

What makes this strategy really viable is that videos – as a platform for online marketing – have been well accepted and widely utilized in many industries, which means the tactic can be replicated on any other verticals.

Example:

Earlier this year, Ross Hudgens did a transcript of Matt Cutts’ webmaster help video on what Google SEO changes are coming next.

Ross notified Matt Cutts about it:

ross-tweet

And Matt obviously liked it:

matt-tweet

Tips on transcribing videos

  • You can do it manually, or you can also use Inqscribe – a video transcription software.
  • Make sure that the transcript is readable (removing the uhms/ahs, breaking the transcript into shorter paragraphs, appropriate use of punctuations, commas, etc…, and including images/screenshots if possible).
  • Don’t forget to give link attribution to the original source of the video content when you publish the transcript on your site/blog.
  • Let the original source of the video content know about the transcript you’ve created, and start engaging.

Regular content contributions

I’ve mentioned this many times before, that regularly contributing on the top domains in your industry is far better than link dropping to hundreds of mediocre blogs through guest blogging.

quote

This is actually my most favorite link building tactic today (aside from link baiting and building evergreen content assets) for many reasons:

  • It establishes trust and indicates relationships – a factor that is very important to search engines.
  • It can help improve AuthorRank (given that you’ll be consistently contributing content on highly credible publications).
  • It can scale relationship building (as you continuously engage with their readers) and content distribution efforts (especially in promoting your upcoming content assets).
  • Great for branding, based on your association with the authority blogs you regularly write for.

Profile pages

Profile pages are easy link acquisitions, and there are ton of places over the web where you can build a profile with a link to your website.

Though it might be easy to get these links, there are ways that you can do to make them hard-to-replicate.

Because it’s not really about the link (whether it’s dofollow or nofollow), it’s about how you make use of your profile pages to make the links coming from it more valuable.

This is done mainly by strengthening the link value that your profile pages can pass back to your website/brand. Here are several methods that you can implement to efficiently integrate your profiles with your campaign:

  • Interactions and activities occurring on your profile page(s) (ex: engaging your followers on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ for them to click-through to your website).
  • Building links to your key profile pages (ex: linking to your Google+ or Twitter account when leaving comments on blog posts you read).
  • Cross linking or promoting your other profiles on networks where you have a larger following base (ex: asking your followers on Twitter to also follow you on Google+).

about.me

Build readership

Lastly, the easiest way to become the ultimate link building machine is to have a strong readership – and most especially if other content publishers are also reading your stuff.

This is not really that easy to pull off, as it requires hard work and consistency (in pushing out content that will make your target readers return for more).

Some of the strategies for content development that I focused on to gradually build my blog’s readership:

  • I created more evergreen content, so I can continuously attract new readers to my blog (as most of them find me through search).
  • I tried to blog regularly (3x – 4x a month) so my existing readers will have a reason to come back.
  • I used to allow dofollow links on the comments section to entice readers (spammers) to comment on my posts (because the higher number of comments new readers see, the more your content gets interesting to them).
  • I focused before on publishing long-form content (with unexpected hooks or ideas that they won’t find anywhere else) to increase the shareability of my blog posts. Because the more social shares, the more you can get new readers, and more potential linkers.

Once you’ve built a strong readership, link building gets a lot easier.

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

Managing Advanced Link Building Campaigns

trello

The link graph has always been a core part of Google’s search ranking algorithm. Even though the popularity of its importance led to the growth of web spam, Google still keeps on finding ways to make it more difficult to manipulate search rankings through unnatural linking behaviors.

Penguin updates and the unnatural link manual penalties just prove how important links are (and they’ll probably remain very vital in the future), as it is somehow addressing businesses to finally move on from the old ways of gaming search.

Link development is still a valuable process in marketing a website, and knowing how to manage your link building campaigns effectively is still an essential skillset.

Goal Setting

In starting a new campaign, it’s best to first understand why do you need links or link building. To give you a few reasons why it’s needed on a holistic digital marketing campaign:

  • To mainly improve the site’s domain authority (DA) and the domain’s ranking ability. As higher a domain authority may help the site gain better search visibility for all the keywords (head terms and long-tails) it is targeting.
  • To improve referred visitors to the website – through the links acquired from other authority websites in your industry (for marketing and content discovery).
  • To improve site indexation, as links can serve as signals that will help crawlers find and index new pages and the continuous changes implemented on the site.

Once you know why you’ll be doing link building, it’ll be much easier for you to establish your campaign’s goals. For instance, to successfully get all the 3 areas mentioned above, you’ll need to:

  • Get highly visible links from high DA sites in your industry – to be able to absorb domain authority as well as relevant traffic back to your website.
  • Be consistent with progressive link acquisition, based on your primary metrics (authority and relevance).

Your goals will help you determine the actions you need to take. This stage will give you a lot of insights, particularly with what methods to focus on in order to meet your campaign’s objectives.

Further reading: 10 types of links that really matter and how to get them

Minimum Viable Service

This is very similar to the business concept that has been popularized by Eric Ries (minimum viable product), wherein you provide different sets of tasks in the initial stage of the campaign that will not require extensive knowledge about your clients’ product/service/company for you to be able to deliver substantial output on your campaign’s first month.

It will mostly be comprised by tasks that don’t need a lot of effort, but can still offer enormous results. A few samples of activities that you can easily provide as a minimum viable service are (while you’re preparing for the high-value tactics):

  • Penalty diagnosis
  • Content asset inventory
  • Technical SEO audit and recommendations (you can check out Annie Cushing’s audit checklist)
  • Easy to acquire links (such as profile pages, web/niche directories, social profiles, etc…).

Including this business strategy in your consulting service’s structure can strongly improve how you head start and handle campaigns as whole, given that these actions can also help you and your clients draw actionable ideas and have a better grasp of the campaign’s path.

Strategy Development and Prioritization

You can then build a strategy or list of actions to implement based on your campaign’s goals and the findings from your initial activities (research phase).

Start by asking yourself what methods you can use to reach your goals.

  • What types of links do we need to improve our DA and click-through traffic?
  • How do we get them? Can we get them fast?
  • Can we expect immediate results (link acquisition, traffic, rankings, revenue, etc…)?

There are so many tactics to choose from, and you can start here.

Breakdown your to-do list based on each method’s level of priorities and difficulty. Start with the ones you know are important, high-value, but not that time consuming.

This will help you create a better and very actionable timeline for your campaign, which is very crucial as you proceed.

Process Documentation

Document all the processes that you’ll implement in your link building campaign, for this will help you scale your staff’s training process (and your client can also use this to train their in-house staff).

process doc

In creating your documentation, make it as comprehensive (and comprehensible) as it can, like including all the steps they’ll need to do for each listed tactic, and including screenshots if necessary.

What this documentation will normally include are:

  • Step by step guide for all the tactics your campaign has to execute.
  • Sample email templates for different types of outreach methods.
  • Tips on improving or making each technique more efficient.

Task Delegation and Communication

Use project management tools to track everything that’s happening in your campaign. This can most certainly help in organizing your team members’ tasks, gaining insights with your campaign’s current state, or to determine if it’s on the right track and what areas are lacking.

It’s also a good way to collaborate with your clients, and to notify them as well with what’s going on in real-time. We use Trello internally.

trello

Aside from having a better outlook of your campaign, this stage should also help you track your team’s performance, as well as initiative. And it’s imperative to discuss with your team the tasks that need more urgency and consistency.

Reporting

Reports – the most critical part of a campaign and perhaps one of the main products of any SEO provider. Paddy Moogan shared a really good template for link building reports on his book (The Link Building Book), and I highly suggest checking that one out.

Aspects of a good link building report would usually include:

  • Executive summary – which briefly explains and highlights all the notable areas for the month of the campaign.
  • Improvements – the things that have improved, which could be increase in organic traffic, referred traffic (through the links you’ve acquired), conversions driven by links (via assisted conversions on GA), increase in domain authority, and there could be a lot more.
  • Actions taken – a detailed report of all the tasks you’ve implemented for the entire month, which could also include the list of links successfully acquired, published content, as well as audit findings and recommendations.
  • Action plans for the succeeding month – including your campaign’s next steps is definitely a good way to impress your clients, as the more you get to learn and understand their business/industry, the more you can suggest result-oriented approaches to your link building.

Continuous Opportunity Discovery

Always be on the lookout for things that will not just improve your link building campaign, but also for opportunities that can help your client take their business to the next level.

This may come in the form of coming up with content assets that will allow them get more links, rankings, traffic, leads/conversions, or it could also be realizing partnerships that may able to help their product development, branding or even just their link building.

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