Hello, this is Shaheen over at WebUpon and this is episode number five of Chalk Talk Thursday. Today we’re going to cover something that I love, how to write really good, damn good title tags. As is my custom, I’m going to start off by talking about a little bit of the contention here with title tags, and whether or not they still really matter. Then I’m going to get into how you should think about title tags as headlines, as brand ambassadors. Then, we’re going to break down how to really assess your title tags, where they are, and how to optimize them further.
Just to start off here, a pretty common question I get, and something that’s sort of just floating around is, do title tags still matter? I think it’s a fair question, but at the end of the day when you look at it from the sort of reverse position as far as Google’s concerned, and as far as customers and you as the business owner is concerned, you can still destroy your rankings with a bad title tag. If I can get in there and change my title tags on a page that’s ranking number one, and get it to rank number four, five, or six, or whatever it may be pretty quickly there. That should let you know that despite other tactical factors, and perhaps your brand recognition, you can still really do a lot, or do a lot of damage with title tags. In my mind, they still do matter.
A few things to think about here, and really at the end of the day I think this is driven by the fact that there are developers who sort of view SEO as an amorphous, not legit process, like there’s not enough skillset in there. That’s a pretty fair critique, right? There’s a lot of shady SEO’s out there. But, in 2019 when you hire an SEO, when you hire an SEO agency, you’re getting someone that has experience working within the SERP, and really getting more revenue for your business. I wouldn’t be in SEO if I couldn’t make my clients more and more money over time, and the fact that people don’t think SEO is legitimate is great for me, right? Because, that just means that everyone else is less competitive.
There’s that component to it. There’s also just the fact that if you hire any SEO, you’re going to be getting someone that has this technical knowledge, but they also have experience with CRO, they have experience with content marketing, and they’re really assessing the entire funnel from top to bottom. We’re looking at search queries not as keywords, but as parts of topical areas, and we’re looking at them as opportunities to understand the customer as they’re coming in.
It’s really psychographics applied to how is our specific target customer, Cathy who’s 27 from Omaha, how is she shopping on the site? That’s really how we’re using these title tags, right?
The first question you gotta ask yourself is, how bad are your title tags? If you have terrible title tags, and there’s no keywords that actually match up to the page for the term that you want to rank for in your title tag, or anywhere else on the page. The fact is that, even as smart as Google is in 2019, you’re just not going to rank. It’s not going to happen.
The second thing I will think about is, how goods your site generally speaking? A lot of issues can arise from the fact that you really can’t get around a poorly designed site, or a bad customer experience. Something that looks dated, something that people won’t trust. There’s no amount of technical optimization you can bring into that picture, and actually get it to perform at the end of the day. Just because it’s not good, no one wants to interact with it. Google’s not going to send people there because if we can’t send people there, if it’s not a good result, then we can’t sell ads against it, right? We have to think about Google as a company, and what their goals are, and always be working backwards from that situation, right? This is part of, this is principle number one as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to advanced SEO.
The third thing you should be asking yourself, right? Is this question, title tags don’t matter, I can show you all these large scale ranking studies where they look at millions of keywords, and there’s just no math behind it. In my mind, this is really a correlation versus causation problem. Even though it’s anecdotal, it’s an N of 1. Well, you know, I’m one person but I have thousands of title tags that this has been applied to, and we’ve seen growth there. You should really be considering the fact that any website that’s massive, that’s an Amazon, or a Home Depot. Any large site that may be in your niche, is going to have the advantage of more brand recognition, they’re going to have the advantage of stores, and they’re going to be able to have pretty crappy technical SEO.
The fact is that, anyone that’s a smaller competitor in a market, a smaller business, needs to optimize every single possible thing they can to get an edge. A good title tag is going to help you get that edge. That really just answers the question, do title tags still matter? Yes. Are they the solve all for all the problems you may have on the site? No, absolutely not. There are still going to be technical problems. You’re still going to have to think about how your brand interacts with other people. And, you’re really goin to have to think about the fact that your site isn’t just technical SEO. There’s way more to it. You have customers, and you need to work with those customers to show them something that they want to see.
The reason why I love title tags so much is because it’s relatively cheaper compared to other tactics you could use on a site to influence rankings. If I come to a site and it’s poorly designed, it’s relatively harder to build 100 back links in a month. It’s something we can do over a year, but it’s just not going to happen very quickly. Title tags, as they exist on the organic SERP, until a day where’s there’s no organic searching, it’s just all paid, you can still influence how people are clicking. You can still get reception from real humans that are clicking through, and title tags are really just headlines. They’re advertising headlines, and hopefully they can be had for the cheap compared to these AdWords, the whole Google ads ecosystem.
You need to think about title tags as headlines, as quality advertising copy. And, really the ambassador for your brand on Google, and also these can get used on social networks as well. You have to be thinking about the whole alignment of the brand, and not just the sales. But, obviously we’re just trying to drive sales at the end of the day, right?
The first thing I’ll say here is, as far as any good title tag goes, you need to include some keyword, right? If you find yourself not ranking, it’s probably because you’re not using the keyword that you want to be ranking for in the title tag. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re guaranteed to rank for it, but you gotta mention it somewhere, right?
The second thing to think about with title tags is, at the end of the day it’s really all about CTR, right? If you look at the modern SERP, I just typed in office chair, right? You have Google shopping right here, which is this nice little carousel of products. I’ll talk about this more in a second, right? Then you also have ads. Fun fact, I was running this a second ago. Because I have an international client, I was still on a German server, and they don’t have this extra little ad bit there. We just get tons of ads in the US, which is, you know. It is what it is.
Then, you actually have your organic listings down here, right? You have six organic positions, and then you have a map. This is really what a modern SERP looks like, right? This is what a modern search engine results page looks like. On a cellphone, this is going to be one thumb scroll right here, and this is going to be another thumb scroll. You’re really fighting for attention. It’s very difficult to really get users to see you on the SERP at this point. You want to be thinking about the fact that my title tag is basically an advertisement. It’s an entrée into the brand. It gives users an opportunity to click in and start interacting with you. It’s just getting harder and harder every day, which is why we need to get better and better at it every day as we progress, right?
The third thing I’ll say is, as a general rule of thumb, you want to make sure you have at least one or two keywords in your title tag. Any more than that and you get the old school typical SEO title tag, which is, “Office chair, chairs for office, red office chairs, chairs for cheap, chairs for sale.” No one wants to click on that. Google’s not going to rank it in most cases. You want to just use one or two, and then from there think about the fact that, how do I get my customer, how do I get Jan, how do I get Mike? The people that I sell to every day, to actually click on this title tag?
The fourth thing I’ll say is, as a general sort of strategy tip, I think on large sites you want to be programmatic. If you have 15,000 title tags on a massive eCom store, this is actually one of my favorite things to do. You want to get in there, and you want to actually fix title tags in bulk. If you’re on a smaller site, let’s say you only have 30 pages and it’s a lead gen site, you want to think about them one by one.
Then, just generally speaking, you always, always, always want to be focusing on the pages that are already ranking, right? Focus where, if you’re fourth, think about getting to first. If you’re tenth, thinking about getting to sixth or fifth, right? But, if you’re not anywhere, then you need to sort of start getting towards the top 10, and that will actually get you traffic, right? If you’re one or two you’re going to get so much more traffic than in any other position. You’re going to get seen by most people, you’re going to get that nice brand exposure. But, if you’re seventh, or tenth, or fourteenth, you’re hardly ever going to get seen these days unfortunately. That’s just the reality, right?
The fifth thing I’ll say is, reduce cannibalization. This is an excellent rule of thumb right here. On a large site, typically what I’ll see is, you’ll basically get 100 title tags where the first two keywords are exactly the same keyword, right? I was … Not to call anyone out, but I was look at [Dakine’s 00:09:21] site the other day, right? It was like, “Men’s, outdoor, hoodie.” Down for 300 columns, right? All men, outdoor, hoodie, great. We get it. Then it’s red, XL, red, large, red, medium, red small. Brown, large, brown, you know? On and on and on. Not a lot of variation.
When Google sends a user to that site, when Google’s crawling it as a bot it’s basically saying, “Wait, which page is what? Which one do I care about the most?” Because you’re not optimizing for anything, you’re not spoonfeeding the right answer to Google, you’re really not getting anywhere, right? This is an issue that is basically called cannibalization. You’re making 100 pages basically target the same keyword. What you really want to be doing is, when someone actually types in, “I need a medium, brown sweatshirt.” Or, “I need a large yellow and red outdoor ski pant,” that you’re popping up because you’re so specific that Google is basically about to determine that, that page is focused, hyper focused on that keyword. If I’m just saying ski pants, well then, the use case has really just sent me to a top level category page ’cause they don’t know what I want. I’m going to see hundreds of ski pants, right?
That’s really how Google’s working, and that’s the situation that you need to be optimizing in. Again, rules of thumbs here. When we think about CTR, we want people to click on us, we want to include one to two keywords. I’m sorry, but in most cases if you’re not optimizing a page for some keywords, you’re probably not going to rank for it unless you benefit from having a massive back link profile, or huge brand recognition in the space. That’s why SEO works, right? It’s these little tweaks where we can get people to just move from the seventh position, up to here. And, maybe from the sixth position to the third, then the first. Then we get more, and more, and more market share. That’s what we’re really after here.
Let me just break down how to think about your current rankings, and that will then tell you how you should go about rewriting title tags as you proceed. I like to break this down into four main quadrants. Sam Rush does this as well, and I’m sure other tools make it pretty easy for you to look at your keyword rankings in this exact manner.
The very first category is the one to three, right? The first, the second, the third, and I’ll even say the zero ranking with the search snippet. That’s the very, very top. That’s where you’re going to see most of the traffic. Generally speaking if someone’s going beyond the top three results, they’re probably not finding what they want in those results, so you’re probably selling something a little weirder. That’s a different play, and we can talk about that another time.
Or, the four to 10. This is where you will see some traffic, especially on desktop. But, you’re really not going to be in play on mobile. At this point, I view four to 10 as aspirational for one to three. In my world two years ago, it used to be good to be in the top 10, you used to be able to get some pretty decent traffic. But at this point, everything to me is just spitting distance until you’re in one to three, because once you’re in one to three you’re actually going to get some traffic, you’re actually going to get some revenue, and that’s where you want to focus on.
Then, there’s the 11 to 20, and the 21 through 50. This is page two to three, and then beyond that essentially. Here, you’re in worse off shape than the four to 10, right? You’re either just completely off base, and you’re not going to be able to target anything. Or, you just haven’t optimized at all, and you have a variety of issues. To break this down a little bit, let’s go and look at the SERP again, right?
Here, you got shopping ads. That’s not good for us SEO’s, right? And, we got ads here. Again, this is probably around a thumb scroll or more on mobile. Then, we start having organic rankings right here, right? This is probably what we’re looking for. There are a few different things that you really want to be exploiting in this situation, right?
You probably want to make sure that the keyword you want to rank for is in the first couple words here, very specific again. We want to be very, very specific and precise with how we’re targeting. You probably want to make sure that you have this primary keyword, and the secondary keyword that you want to rank for in there. You probably want to make sure that Google is bolding a few of these terms. I’ll get into meta descriptions ’cause I think that’s an entirely different art that deserves its own video. You want to be focused on these things.
In the one to three range, this is where you’re going to get most of the traffic, right? If you’re two and you’re three, you want to be thinking about CTR. You want to be thinking about, what words can I include in here, that are going to get my users to click far more often, so I can jump ahead of everyone else? You’re going to be wanting, thinking about CRO and dwell time. When people get to my site, are they finding what they want quickly, are they not getting confused, are they staying on my site a long time? Especially if it’s content, or if it’s a product. Really, at the end of the day, are we selling anything, right? You want to be thinking in that way also, ’cause it’s not just about rankings. It’s really about sales.
Then, you want to be thinking about customer fit. If you find yourself number three and you just can’t get out of it. If it doesn’t feel like something that you’re ever able to get out of, that you’re just stuck there. You want to really be focused on asking yourself, am I hitting the things that my customers really care about with this page? Am I getting them to click? Am I covering the product in a way that they like? Are they interested in it, or are they just bouncing out and going down further in the list, or going back to number one and number two? That’s what’s really going to hamstring you from better performance over time.
If you’re in the four to 10 range, and in this SERP for office chair, right? We got shopping carousel, we got ads traditional, then we actually have a map pack, which is even better, right? Being in the top 10 here really means that we got to be in the top six, and then maybe we’re going to be three … You know, we’re going to be the last three or four on the bottom. It’s not ideal. It’s really not good. By the time people are here, they’re probably looking for office chair right now. Even if you’re Amazon, that’s going to be pretty hard to procure.
If you’re in the four to 10 range, or the four to six range in this situation. Just keep in mind, given mobile, given where Google’s going, how are they going to squeeze more profit out of the actual platform, right? It’s just going to be harder and harder to get at this organic spacing, right? If you’re in the four to 10, it’s essentially the same thing. You want to be thinking about CTR, you want … Basically getting people to click. You want to be thinking about CRO, the quality of the experience on the actual page. Then, I would say you want to be thinking about back links, right? Technical SEO. Have I done everything? Have I built enough back links?
Generally speaking in the one to three range, you’ll actually see that there can be a disparate allocation of back links essentially. There may be an authority that’s ranked forever, and that’s what’s going to be number one and number two. There’s other people like Amazon that has a million back links, but they might be number three. The, number one might be a site with a decent amount of back links, sort of above the norm. But, they also have a really great title tag, or they’re really well known in that specific industry.
Everyone else down here, if you’re in the four to 10, you probably should assess whether or not you need to be doing the work on the technical side, to build more back links there so you can actually perform. But, that’s just sort of what you’re left with, right? If you’re in the four to 10, you want to be thinking about the same things, right? It’s all about this customer experience. But, you also want to be saying, “Okay, are there actual technical SEO issues that I need to solve for? Why am I stuck down here, how do I get in the one to three?” Thinking about it in this way is really the way to reverse engineer it as far as I’m concerned.
Then, if you’re in the 11 to 20, or the 21 to 50 range, you’re basically trying to get onto page one. You’re trying to get into this coveted spot, the top 10, the top seven, the top six, whatever it may be given the constraints of the actual Google result page, right? If you’re here, you want to be thinking about keywords and back links, you probably want to be thinking about CRO and general sort of audience fit, quality of the site. If you’re 11 to 20, that’s typically a pretty good achievement I’ll say also, right? If your niche is more competitive, even though you’re way down there, it’s probably fair that you could rank in the top 10. You just have some work to do.
Then, if you’re in the 21 to 50, or even all the way up to 100, we have a ton of work to do. Generally that means that you’re either not targeting the keywords that you want to be ranking for anywhere on the site pages. Or, you’re just not an authority as far as Google’s concerned, which is probably the worst situation to be in, right? If your primary service is something that you can’t rank for, you can’t even rank in the top five pages. That’s a pretty bad spot to be in, right? You probably have some content marketing work to do, some site copy work to do, some general SEO work to do, and just presence. Really, at that stage, you probably just want to be spending aggressively on AdWords, and just getting out there and basically making calls. Because, you’re so far away from where you want to be that it’s always going to be a problem.
The other thing I’ll say too is, if you find yourself stuck in the 21 to 50, you might want to think about niching down. It may just be an issue that you’re targeting something way to broad. “I sell 100% linen sweatshirts with the finest New Zealand wool stuffing inside of them, and they’re the greatest sweatshirt ever. But, I can’t rank top 10 even though I make the best product.” Well, there’s probably some keywords, luxury, sweatshirt, or whatever it may be. There’s probably other keywords that you should niche down on, where you can actually perform well. Because, to the average consumer out there who wants to see 1,000 sweatshirts, you’re just never going to be anywhere on their map.
That is my breakdown for how to write damn good title tags in 2019. If you have any thoughts, or you have further questions, or you think I’m crazy. Please let me know in the comments below, I would love to discuss this further.
It’s important that all business owners make sure that they have complete ownership of their site, social media accounts, ad tools, and any associated collateral. Unfortunately I’ve encountered many situations where business didn’t know what they did and didn’t own. This video will cover all the essential items you should always “own,” especially if you’re leaving a marketing company.
- Domain Name: You should always own your business name, so be sure that you own your domain registration. Now, I’ve encountered some horror situations in the past, where people leave companies and they find out that they don’t actually own their domain name. It is possible to retrieve a domain name, but the process can be lengthy and difficult. It’s much better to make sure you own your domain from the jumpstart through a hosting service like GoDaddy. Be in charge of your brand identity!
- Hosting Service: In addition to your site’s name, you need to make sure to be on top of the servers that are hosting it. While your domain is what you type into a URL bar, your host is the service that actually deploys and executes your sites so that users can retrieve information from it. Consult with a developer or a trusted associate outside of the company and make sure that you retain ownership and control of your domain server.
Note! When taking stock of your site’s hosting service, make sure you own the payment structure as well. If your hosting service isn’t bound to your credit card it could make it harder to retrieve your intellectual property.
- CMS Access: Whatever the content management service (CMS) that your company used, make sure you have administrative or super-administrative access. Be sure that you can control the user flow and the permissions for who can access the CMS. If you are using WordPress or similar service, make sure you have the login credentials yourself. You don’t want people from your former agency updating your content after you’ve left. If you’ve managed to hold onto control of your hosting, it shouldn’t be hard to
- PPC: Make sure you have control over your pay-per-click (PPC) accounts. Make sure that nobody from your former agency can access your accounts, which should be disconnected from the agency’s My Client Center (MCC). Some agencies use contractors for their PPC accounts, in which case you could have random people all over the world accessing your account if you’re not careful.
- Google Analytics: Make sure you own your Google Analytics account. You need to be the end user, because if the views you are trying to access are under a property ID owned by your company, it can be very difficult to transfer them over to a property that you own. Make sure you also have admin control on the GA account, so you’ll be able to remove or add people as you like.
- Social Accounts: For social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, you’ll need to make sure you are managing your users before you leave your agency. There isn’t a password to reset here. Instead, go through the account and remove any users you don’t want having access to the account.
- Other Accounts: Twitter, Pinterest, and some other social networks don’t depend on users in the same way that Facebook and LinkedIn are. In this case, reset your account password to ensure that you’re in control.
- Other Tools: While most people will have the first six steps of this guide locked down, it’s important to remember to preserve ownership of the other tools used by your agency as well. Sometimes, these can be the biggest factor in your success down the line. Commonly, these other tools may be WordPress extensions. extensions. Typically, these licenses will be sold out to a company, so it’s very cheap for me as an agency to maybe buy 30 licenses, but an individual license might be pretty expensive comparatively. So sometimes when you leave an agency, their license is associated with your site, and that may expire after a year, or in more nasty situations, they may essentially have that leverage on you. And this can be another red flag, as well. Or perhaps you may have a paid design service that your company outsources graphics to, or a chat bot or email service. Make sure you’re aware of all the tools that your company uses before you leave. And make sure you own the ones that matter down the road.
- Export Collateral: You never know when you might need an Adobe Illustrator file, a Photoshop file or some version of a dev site or a database export from five years ago. These things do come up, and it’s generally just good practice to get all the information, anything associated with your account, from your former agency. And any good agency will have the organized file that contains all of this information for all the years and months that they were with you. Keep track not just of your accounts, but of the associated content too!
If you stay on top of these nine core items of concern you’ll be in a good position to leave your company behind for greener pastures!
Hey, this is Shaheen over at Web Upon, and this is episode number 4 of Chalk Talk Thursday. Today I wanted to cover how to leave your marketing company, or nine things to grab before you go. Now, no one expects a marketing relationship to turn south or go sour as things proceed, but it’s something that can happen, and it’s very important that every business owner has these nine things handy either before they start a major site redesign project or any sort of marketing, or if you’re leaving a company, these are the essential things that you should really have a handle on and make sure that you grab before you head out the door.
So the first thing you really want to think about here is your domain registrar. Now, I’ve encountered some horror situations in the past, where people leave companies and they find out that they don’t actually own their domain name. Now, it is possible to get your domain name back, especially if you have trademarks associated with your brand, but it’s a pretty lengthy process with a sort of amorphous organization that no one really knows who runs, and it’s really not worth diving into, because you as the business owner just want to own your business name.
You should always own your business name, so be sure that you own your domain registration. This is usually done on a company like GoDaddy, but any host will also allow you to register a domain, and there are tons and tons of companies that do it. So not everyone keeps track of this. Most people know to own their own domain or to make sure that they at least have ownership of it before they’re out the door, but it’s very important to make sure that you own your own domain name.
The second thing I would say is hosting service. Now, your domain registrar is what people type into a URL search bar, and that gets converted into an IP address, which is on a specific server. So this is all happening behind the scenes, but your actual domain registration and the server that you’re using to actually host and execute your site for the end-user are separate services. So you want to make sure that you really own whatever that domain server or service is and that you’re able to log in there. So you should have a developer on your own team or someone that you trust not associated with the company that you’re leaving that’s able to get in there and assess and make sure that you actually do have ownership and control of your domain server.
I’ve also seen some people, where their current dev company basically invoices them for the hosting that they have every month, so be sure that you actually own the hosting payment structure, right, so that your credit card information’s actually associated with it or that it’s not just free-floating and randomly after a year chunk when you initially signed up, and let’s say you fired the company over here, you’re basically just like, “What happened to my site?” one day. So make sure that you own the server and that you own the name associated with it.
The third thing is CMS access. So make sure you actually own the back end and that you have administrator or super-administrative access on that, and that you’re able to control all user flow, people that are coming in and out of the actual CMS. So one really big red flag that I’ll see is some people will build, say, a WordPress site for client, and they won’t actually ever give them admin access to the site. So you as the site owner need make sure that you own the admin or super-admin access on the site, that way that when you leave, you can make sure other people aren’t getting in or can’t still get in once you’re actually out the door of your agency.
So huge thing to keep in mind there, this is typically easily solved, as well, if you have hosting. So if you have control of the hosting server, it’s typically pretty easy to reset the actual CMS access. And again, if using a service that’s controlled, like Shopify or BigCommerce or Squarespace, whatever it may be, I have seen some weird setups where the agency is invoicing you as the client. So again, make sure that you’re actually controlling the billing and you’re the one that’s paying it at the end, so you don’t get a nasty surprise down the line.
The fourth thing I’ll say is as far as PPC, make sure you have control of your accounts. Now, most business owners that set this up sort of have this in their control. I have seen the occasional case where people don’t own it, so another big red flag to look out for there. But make sure that once you leave the agency, especially if you leave on poor terms, that you unlink your account from their MCC, that way they can’t control anything, and that any associated admin users from that agency also can’t access your account.
So again, hopefully you own it, and make sure that you unlink once you’re out the door of that agency, and make sure that your account is safe. And it’s also just a good practice generally to sort of clean this out every so often. I’ve seen some PPC accounts where they have contractors that they were working with five years ago, randos all over the world. They basically have access to your PPC account. And as we all know, you could have a rogue account or a rogue campaign that just spends way more than you want it to. So be sure to be on top of that, especially when you’re leaving a marketing agency that’s been doing sales and advertising for you.
The fifth thing I’ll say is Google Analytics. This is, again, another area where you need make sure that you own it, and generally speaking, if you don’t own it, if it’s in your company’s … their own view or property ID, that can also be a red flag that you might be dealing with a shady agency. Things can sometimes happen if you’re not technically in the know, where people set up a Google Analytics account for you, but you want to make sure that you are the end-user and owner of it. If it’s under their property ID, a view under their property ID, it’s extremely difficult, and you really can’t move the information over from that view onto a new one that you own. So be sure to own this out the gate, and also make sure that you have this admin control, so you can remove or add people as you like, whatever you want. Right?
So the sixth thing I’ll say is social accounts. So big thing here is for Facebook page and LinkedIn pages, you have to add in a user onto your account. There isn’t a password to reset here. So just make sure that you go through there and that you remove any Facebook users or LinkedIn users that you don’t want, because in both platforms, you can run ads off of those things.
The seventh thing I’ll say is other accounts, right? So Twitter, Pinterest, these kinds of social networks, will basically allow you to reset the password. It’s not really dependent on someone joining on as a user in the same way that Facebook and LinkedIn are. So again, here, once you leave, it’s good to just do a little cleanse and reset those passwords, just to make sure that everything’s safe and that there aren’t going to be any big concerns down the line.
The eighth thing I’ll say is any other tools. This can actually be the hugest factor in your success down the line. I see this very frequently. One through six, most business owners kind of have these on lock. They own their social, they own their PPC, they own their registrar and the server and admin access. They have all those things handled, but they sometimes forget that there are other accounts and services that are associated with your site.
So a really common example of this is WordPress extensions. Typically, these licenses will be sold out to a company, so it’s very cheap for me as an agency to maybe buy 30 licenses, but an individual license might be pretty expensive comparatively. So sometimes when you leave an agency, their license is associated with your site, and that may expire after a year, or in more nasty situations, they may essentially have that leverage on you. And this can be another red flag, as well.
A very common thing that I’ve seen, unfortunately, in the past, which has become less frequent, is you’ll have design agencies, quote, unquote, that are really claiming the ownership of these site file pictures on your site, right? So it’s like, “If you leave us, you’re going to lose all the collateral. That nice slider image you love is just going to be out the door.” So it’s very important to be sure that you are sort of thinking about what’s going to happen with all these associated services. At the same time, maybe you have an email service or some other chat bot that the agency built for you, and it’s under their auspices again, and when you leave, there’s no one paying for it, and suddenly it goes south, right?
So be sure that any tools you’re using, it’s good to check in with the rest of the team and make sure there isn’t anything you’re not thinking of that you’re currently using as an organization, and make sure that you guys have the ownership. And again, good idea just to do a cleanse and make sure that all the passwords are owned by your company. Right?
Another thing I would say is export all your collateral. So this is a really good thing to ask for before you’re out the door. In case anything comes up down the line, you never know when you might need an Adobe Illustrator file or Photoshop file or some version of a dev site or a database export from five years ago. These things do come up, and it’s generally just good practice to get all the information, anything associated with your account, from your former agency. And any good agency will have the organized file that contains all of this information for all the years and months that they were with you.
So these are the nine core things that any company, any business owner that’s leaving a marketing agency, should think of before they head out the door. Thank you.
A lot of people love social share data. It’s not as available as it used to be ever since Twitter dropped it off its roster, a lot of other people have basically responded in kind by limiting the information. StumbleUpon has gone the way of the dinosaurs as has Google Plus.
Right now, if you type in a URL, you’re basically left with Facebook Comments and Shares, LinkedIn Shares, Pinterest Pins, Buffer Shares, and Reddit Upvotes. Those are basically the big social networks that still give this information out.
Social shares are clearly an important part of SEO in 2019. But with the focus on this metric, what is getting left out? In this article, I’ll examine five different key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter more than social shares.
- How to Use Keyword Ranking Info
It’s very unusual that the majority of your site’s traffic will be coming from social. Of course there are always going to be businesses that build their entire model around a social network, such as Instagram. Generally speaking, though, you’re going to get the most of your free traffic through organic searches. The thing you need to be looking at is keyword rankings.
SemRUSH is an excellent SEO tool for understanding the way that your website is ranking for different keywords. I’d recommend SEMrush, it’s a great tool that features historical data warehousing. It’s easy to use: just plug in your URL and watch as data from your traffic and keyword ranking populates the page.
In this example, a piece targeting the keyword “prisoner’s dilemma” is being crawled by SEMrush. By visualizing your search traffic and positioning for different keyword searches, SEMrush allows you to adjust how you are targeting different keywords. You can also see the metrics for related keywords, helping you broaden the content funnel you are creating for your topic.
If you see rankings that are very low it’s an indicator you may be missing core topics that could be easily added to improve your rankings. The first KPI you need to look at is keyword rankings. Determine if you are getting keyword rankings and if those rankings are generating traffic for you. Far and away, this is the best KPI for content marketing. That being said, it’s always possible to get a viral hit on social. The downside of it may be that your traffic is short-lived and difficult to sustain.
Jump into a tool like aHrefs, or the Link Explorer at Moz.
With the knowledge of your backlink profile in hand you can reach out to businesses that link to your site, building relationships that will nurture traffic in the future.
While backlinks and keyword rankings will undoubtedly help you understand your site’s performance, to get the full picture you will need to dive into Google Analytics and see the hard numbers. In the next section of this article, I’ll walk through three other important metrics, all of which can be accessed through Google Analytics.
- Location Data
Ever wonder where most of your traffic is coming from? Understanding the geographic breakdown of your site’s users is a great way to begin optimizing your content for strong traffic around the world.
- Referral Data
Referral data is a great way to figure out whether or not you are actually getting a serious amount of traffic from social media on a recurring basis. You will be able to see a breakdown of your traffic origins, giving you a chance to determine where the most efficient place to focus your resources will be.
- Conversion Goals
If you’ve set up conversion goals in Google Analytics it will help you see not only the traffic on your site, but what traffic is actively leading to. Success is not traffic, but the way traffic translates into form submissions, phone calls, and purchases. Go to the “Reverse Goal Path” section of Google Analytics, which will help you see how much meaningful traffic is being generated from your site.
Keeping track of these 5 KPIs will elevate your marketing game. Stand out from the competition
by digging deep into your data to find the metrics that will drive your business into the spotlight.
Hello. This is Shaheen over at WebUpon, and this is episode number three of Chalk Talk Thursday. Today I want to do something a little bit different and talk about a point that I think is pretty important when you’re actually building out your social presence and your content marketing really. If you’re trying to execute a content marketing strategy, I think this is a very important point.
00:21 A lot of people love social share data. It’s not as available as it used to be ever since Twitter dropped it off its roster, a lot of other people have basically responded in kind by limiting the information. StumbleUpon has gone the way of the dinosaurs as has Google Plus. Right now, if you type in a URL, you’re basically left with Facebook Comments and Shares, LinkedIn Shares, Pinterest Pins, Buffer Shares, and Reddit Upvotes. Those are basically the big social networks that still give this information out. Obviously, Twitter is cool with bots but not with sharing social info, so we’re left with this. If you look at this URL here, I have 14 shares on Facebook. I don’t promote this at all so that’s completely organic, and that’s just happened recently since they don’t actually share data that’s historical anymore.
Social Shares Aren’t the Whole Story:
01:13 The point that I would really make to business owners is that even though it’s cool to know what our social share count is, and it can actually be helpful to track it down in these tools that draw from APIs because you get more information than you might be able to just see from your profile, but again, a lot of things that happen privately you can’t really see still. All that said, social share counts are cool, but to me the really big question is, what are the success metrics that you should be looking at besides social share counts?
1) How to Use Keyword Ranking Info
01:41 :Let’s hop over to SEMrush real quick. This one to me is really the biggest KPI or potential for opportunity that you can have as you’re trying to grow out your presence in search, and what I mean by that is social is nice, but given the way that the algorithms are working, and they’re highly restrictive of organic reach for any individual business on their platform. What I mean by that is if you look at a site’s overall performance, you’re not really going to see … it’s very unusual unless you’re built on the platform in the same way that a business like Upworthy is or BuzzFeed, that you’re going to consistently see the majority of your traffic happening on social.
That said, there’s obviously some very successful businesses that have based their model almost entirely on Instagram. That’s like where they actually get their search traffic from. To me, if I look at the vast majority of businesses out there, the people that I interact with, the successful businesses are making most of their traffic off of organic. I don’t think that’s necessarily a sample set thing just because I base most of my business off of SEO. I think that just tends to be an industry trend. Most people are getting the majority of their traffic every month in and month out through direct and organic. And you could spend a lot through paid and make it happen that way too, but generally speaking, you’re going to get the most traffic and the most free traffic through organic.
The first thing you should really be looking at is your keyword rankings. What I did is hop over to SEMrush. This is my favorite keyword search tool out there. There’s a million of them so you can really use whatever you want, but I would just recommend this one because you do have the benefit of historical data warehousing. We’ve only been around for a few months, so you can see the immediate bump that we have going on. But, this is just super-useful because you can see where you’re actually ranking for keywords within the algorithm, and then you can say to yourself, “All right. This is how I’m doing for my Prisoner’s Dilemma piece. What can I expand on, or what can I add to my targeting here so that I can perform even better than I currently am?” Right?
There’s also some handy tools in here where you can actually get in and filter by specific keywords, or you can just go down to include URLs that are containing, and in this sense we’re going to do ‘dilemma’ because that was the actual original social share value that I was checking out. Hop back here.
We’re going to see every keyword that’s ranking on that, and again, this is very helpful because it lets us know okay, if I’m able to rank on this page for a tit-for-tat game, maybe I can write another article about that, and that just gives me another leg to add or another spoke to add in this overall, essentially, content funnel that I’m creating on this topic. Or, if you see a bunch of rankings that are really low, and you don’t know why you’re not ranking or why you’re not getting more traffic, it’s probably a good indicator that you’re missing some core topics here that you should be posing, so what is the prisoner’s dilemma? I should probably add that question in here somewhere because as you can see, I’m able to rank for what is a very short term here. Right? ‘Prisoner’s dilemma,’ 22,000 searches. Highly competitive, but I’m not ranking for this question here, “What is the prisoner’s dilemma?” at only 590. Right there, that should just let you know that my coverage of the topic is actually pretty weak. I need to get in here, and I need to actually introduce these keywords.
The first thing that I would look at, and the first KPI you should really be looking at as a business owner, when you’re thinking about the success of your content, is whether or not you’re generating keyword rankings for your content, and whether or not those keyword rankings are actually generating consistent traffic for you. And if they’re not, you should either add and expand to the article that you’re working on, and if they are, you can just use that as a leverage point, a jumping off point, to add even more content into your ecosystem. Far and away, looking at keyword rankings is probably the best KPI for the success of content in my opinion, especially over social.
Why Social Can Be Deceiving:
05:42 That said, you can sometimes get a viral hit on social that’s not going to have any recurring search traffic on organic, and the down side of that is that you may get a million visits from a bunch of social networks, but over time you’re going to basically drop back down to zero because there aren’t these keywords with recurring traffic that are going to feed your site’s ability to perform over time.
2) The Importance of Looking at Ranking Data:
06:05 The second thing that I’ll tell you, you should look at actually is jump into a tool like Ahrefs, there’s actually a bunch of free backlink tools out there as well that actually work pretty well. Give a special shout out to Open Site Explorer from Moz, OSE, or Link Explorer Now. They still have some free capability in there. You can type in your URL, and you can see what sites are linking to your content, and this is huge for the ability of you to understand how your site is performing.
If you jump over here, type in the URL, you can see who’s linking to your site, and if you don’t have a good relationship with these people, you can actually go out and go and talk to them more, and basically figure out oh, okay. I don’t actually know this guy. I should probably reach out, build a relationship, and maybe I can get him to feature more of my content. And at a macro level, the backlinks are just useful because they enable more ranking, and just tell you that you’ve actually built something with some clout and usefulness because people are willing to link to it.
3-5) The Importance of Using Analytics for Real
07:07 All right. Let’s get into some hard numbers here. This is my Google Analytics. This I think is probably the most important thing that most business owners are missing, right? The keyword rankings you may or may not be aware of these, but you understand their importance. The social shares are super-obvious. You can tell when something’s taking off on social, but when it comes to the hard numbers, I think the really important work to do is just to dive into your actual Google Analytics account, and figure out what’s going on. You’ll probably see something like this.
Google is trying to make this screen more and more helpful over time, and I recommend that all business owners just jump through these so they get a sense of what’s going on. There’s some highly useful information here like where are my visitors coming from? That can answer a lot of questions you may have, especially if you wanted to just ratchet down in the US like okay, in the last week, where was the majority of my traffic coming from, and you might find something surprising like oh, I didn’t know I was blowing up in Florida. That’s the kind of information you can get from Google Analytics that I find extremely helpful.
What I’ll tell you that you should definitely do if you’re trying to evaluate whether or not you have a viral hit on social is jump into the left pane over here, and you’re going to click on ‘acquisition,’ and then you’re going to go down and click on ‘all traffic,’ and then you’re going to click on ‘referrals.’
There are a few different ways that your Google Analytics may be calibrated, but this is actually a great way to figure out whether or not you’re actually getting a serious amount of traffic from social on a recurring basis. I just posted a job for a graphic designer. We’re getting tons of visits from the local Portland Craigslist, so we’re blowing up on referrals there, some sites I haven’t heard of, and then we’re getting some Facebook search, some Pinterest search, another marketing tool site I have, some mobile Facebook search. I don’t know what Facebook is but more Facebook search. This will actually tell you if you’re doing well or not, and you can click down a level as well and see which particular pages people are visiting.
The majority of my Facebook traffic is actually people bouncing back from that page, and going onto the home page. If we look at the actual … sorry, go back to ‘all.’ I’m starting to get a little laggy here. If you click on the Portland.craigslist, we can actually see what pages people are checking out. That basically just lets you know what the referral path is looking like as people hop onto your site. I find that extremely useful. Again, if you think you have a viral hit on your hands, you want to click on ‘referrals’ and see what your breakdown is.
The other thing I’ll caution is if you have a fairly large site with a lot of traffic, you may not actually be able to see through the noise. Again, in this instance, you may just want to see, okay, what are my individual breakdowns of traffic? We’re getting tons of direct. We’re getting a good chunk of organic from Google, which is awesome. We’re getting some good referral from Pinterest and Facebook, which is exceptional as well. You really want to be able to evaluate your performance by looking at these metrics. There’s actually a social tab here as well, so under acquisition and then social, and then you can get a good sense there as well as to what’s happening on some of these social networks and how it may or may not be affecting your overall traffic.
The final thing I’ll note is hopefully you have conversion goals set up, so one thing that I’ll really caution you to … I don’t even have goals set up because it doesn’t matter yet. Just get all phone calls, but you should be able to hop in here and see whether or not people are converting and by clicking on ‘conversion goals’ and then ‘reverse goal path,’ you should actually be able to see that viral hit I have, how much traffic is it actually contributing in a meaningful sense to my site, and that’s really the most important question at the end of the day.
You should hop into Google Analytics if you think you have a viral wonder on your hand, and actually check out how much traffic it’s generating. Check out if it’s actually leading to form submissions or phone call clicks, all that good stuff because that’s really at the end of the day what defines success. These keyword rankings are also extremely helpful because I’m sorry, but if you build it, they will not come.
Viral Success Is Not Enough
11:15 If you have a social success, if you have a viral success, it’s unfortunately going to end up a pretty big spike and a flash in the pan unless you create and coin your own term. It’s not going to provide consistent traffic. What does provide consistent traffic and leads is organic rankings like these ones here, and if you know what you’re ranking for when you have a tool like this, you can figure out what to optimize for.
If you go below in the social share count checker, this URL right here, there’s actually a seven-day free trial link for SEMrush. Best company out there again, and it’s super-legit. They need credit card info, but I’ve never had an issue getting a refund with them. Wink, wink. And again, final steps to this long term. If you’ve been around, you should be in a tool like Ahrefs to see what your backlink profile’s looking like because at the end of the day, that’s still going to have the highest correlation with success in search of any other metric out there, and yeah, just circle back because at the end of the day, if it got you goals, that’s good. Search is cool, and social’s cool, but we all want leads, and we all want real eyes on our website, and that’s really what matters at the end of the day.
I hope you enjoyed this video. I hope that was helpful. Please subscribe and like. If you have any other questions or you just want to make fun of the fact that I don’t have any goals set up in my Google Analytics yet, please just add that in the comment section below. I hope you have a wonderful day. Bye Bye.
Proxies and VPNs are excellent ways to beef up your security online, but are also major obstacles to the work of many digital marketers. But, learning about how they work, and the different times when they are useful will help prepare you for working through any issues that might come up. We like to give you the inside scoop on what’s good, and this post will be no exception.
However, before we can start talking about how to prepare for them, we need to lay a little bit of technical groundwork. Let’s go!
To understand what it is a proxy server does for you, it’s a good idea to have some basic internet knowledge (otherwise, the information is just more jargon).
The internet is a network that’s broken down into two components: physical hardware and information. Hardware is the server that houses information and the devices that we use to recieve it. Information is the data that is passed between that hardware. You’ve probably heard the term “server” before, and all that means is a piece of hardware that’s housing information and then sending it out to “clients” (you on your smartphone or computer).
Now, how do our machines know how to distinguish between different types of information? This is where “protocols” come in. Protocols are specific ways that information is transmitted and govern the way that our hardware interprets and communicates information across the network.
This explanation is already becoming a little long-winded, but there’s a final piece that’s necessary to understand so we can start to talk about proxies. An “IP address” is a protocol that each individual machine utilizes to identify itself on the network. Your IP address is routed through what are called DNS servers to get you to the server that contains the information you need. Then that server sends it back to you. It’s sort of like mailing things to addresses and then receiving a response, but much much faster.
Malcolm in the Middle
Now, there’s a lot of myths around the information that your IP address contains. Your precise location is not being shared. Most of the time, an IP address can be used to identify what internet service provider (ISP) you’re using. Sometimes, that IP address will be linked to a particular city or region. There’s some debate about this, but snoopy folks might be able to put together a picture of a person based on the websites that an IP address visits, and also this information is available to the ISP hosting that IP address.
So, now we have proxies. A proxy server is a middleman. When you utilize a proxy service, it works a lot like a search engine. You type where you want to go, and then the proxy returns your query and you can move on with your internet use. The proxy connects to the relevant server with an IP address that is not connected to yours, and then brings it back to you. Of course, there is an element here that’s important to note–you have to access the proxy service with your IP address to begin with, so the company or individuals that run it will still have your IP.
There’s another type of service that’s known as a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs are much more secure services than most proxy services, as they don’t just hide your IP address. VPNs use encryption to secure all of the data that leaves your device, and then allows you to browse the web and use other internet features in anonymity. VPNs offer a number of different services, and some are better than others, so do your research if you’re going to use either option.
Should You Use a Proxy?
Anyone who’s interested in security might want to check out VPNs and proxies.
However, as this is a marketing blog, we’ll go in depth as to why a proxy or VPN might be useful for understanding and tracking performance indicators in your digital marketing endeavors.
Utilizing a VPN or proxy can be helpful when you’re analyzing traffic data for a marketing effort. If you know what the IP address is, you can filter that out of your Google Analytics data so you can have an accurate picture of pageviews and conversions that isn’t skewed by your organization’s visits to the website. Proxy servers and VPNs can also be utilized to keep employees from visiting certain webpages and types of content, routing them instead to a landing page that tells them why they can’t visit. This can keep you protected from liability in the office in the unfortunate event that an employee is doing something they’re not supposed to be doing.
From the opposite end, it pays to educate yourself about how proxies work, especially in the context of doing local SEO. If you’re trying to serve content or get information in front of a certain segment of customers, you’re going to have trouble if they’re using a proxy server, effectively rendering the local marketing useless. Many of these services can also cause webpages to load strangely, so making sure your websites are clean and optimized can help a lot in content delivery.
Awareness is the name of the game. If you’re looking to work with some of the sharpest digital marketers in the business, get in touch with WebUpon. We’ll help you out.
“What’s in a name?” asked William Shakespeare more than 400 years ago, and the question continues to be one of the most defining ones in the business world.
Just like auditing a consultant, you have to audit your business to ensure that it has the best possible name for use in the real world and the online world. If you haven’t named your business yet, or if you’re considering rebranding to get better play online or with your customers, this guide will help walk you through the steps to creating a good name.
Brainstorm! Brainstorm! Brainstorm!
Every good name starts in the brain. More specifically, the non-judgemental brainstorm. Just start with a bunch of free association. What pops into your head when you think of your business? Write down everything, and never judge any of it. That’s not for right now. What’s for right now is coming up with every last possible idea for naming your venture.
Need a little bit more guidance? Here’s a few models for brainstorming ideas that might jumpstart the process for you.
- Round Robin – The round robin approach is a method that involves bringing in the whole team to help. Maybe you don’t have a team yet, but that’s ok, bring in some friends! Just have everyone take turns submitting one name and write them all down. Then after about 10-15 minutes, take stock of what you’ve got, and do the process again, this time building from the group’s favorite names.
- Mind Mapping – Mind mapping is a classic technique that involves creating visual connections between ideas. Ask yourself what your business does, and what its goals are. Ask who potential customers might be. What names connect with those concepts?
- Steps from Point A to Point B – Think about your customer. They’re at Point A, which is knowing absolutely nothing about your business. Point B is them knowing everything they need to know about you and what your company does, or at the very least, they want to know more. What are the steps necessary to get them from Point A to Point B? What kind of names will help get them there? No name will be perfect, but some might lend themselves to better explanation than others.
- Let’s Do the Opposite – Pick a competitor, or even more extreme, imagine the farthest, most opposite thing you’d want customers to associate with your business. Then, work backward until you’re at a place that feels like what your business is. It sounds odd, but it can be a very useful tool that allows you to work backward and come up with a name that sings.
- Music Time – Speaking of singing, having some musical accompaniment for your brain jam can help lubricate the thought process. Brain.fm is a great place to start.
Test It and Vet It
Once you have several candidates for your business’ name, testing and vetting is the next stop.
There’s a number of ways you can test out your new name. Focus groups are a business world classic, and there’s plenty of ways to do them, both in the real world with a focus group company, or online. Depending on your budget, one might be superior to the other. Also, think about social media. Can your name be shortened, or made into a cool acronym that makes for easy tagging on Facebook or Instagram? Preparing that might seem silly, but social media is an enormous driver for many small businesses, and you don’t want to neglect it.
Once you’ve found a name that many people like, and feels good, it’s important to get in touch with a trademark search firm or a trademark attorney so you can ensure there’s not going to be any copyright issues with the use and deployment of your brand’s new name.
Now, let’s say you’ve got your name. It’s time to create a few potential mockups for how that name will look on logos and other marketing materials.
This is a step that a lot of folks miss, and is an integral part of naming your business. A clever name might not be so clever if you can’t find a good way to visualize it. Another entire blog post could be devoted to logo design, so we won’t do that here, but it’s important not to neglect this step. If you just want to try a few logos out, see how your new name looks in print with some snazzy graphic design, 99 Designs is a great way to make this happen affordably.
Showcase Your Work
It’s time for the big reveal! All of the work you’ve done is about to pay off as you introduce your new business name to the world. Make sure to create catchy social media accounts that play off the name and capture the imagination of your audience. Be flexible and tuned into the way that people talk about your name.
After launch, do some research. Set up Google Alerts for your name, and do the occasional Twitter and Facebook search for possible mentions that may have gone untagged. You’ve created a moniker for yourself, and it pays to see how your audience is responding to it.
Web Upon provides a full suite of digital marketing services, and we’re always available to talk and brainstorm ways to help you take your brand to the next level. Contact us, and see where your business can go next!
Money. We always want it, but we never quite seem to have enough of it. Everyone wants to say that there’s 10 million ways to make money online, but a lot of them, unfortunately, are scams. But, that being said, making money doesn’t always have to be difficult, especially when you have a positive attitude. We’re always trying to cut through the jargon and nonsense, and we’re not going to quit that with this post.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 different ways you can start making money online. Some of them won’t make you money out of the gate, but they’re legitimate, and will help you build the foundations of you own business or even better, help you transition into a more competitive job candidate down the road.
1) Flip Goods on eBay & Craigslist
Buying a product at a low price and selling it at a higher price has always been the foundation of money making 101. With the ease of online marketplaces and most people having cell phones flipping has become a huge avenue for people to make money online. That said While it has become a legit way to make money be aware that “retail arbitrage” from big-box retailers and dollar stores. If you’re trying to find a great way to make money r/Flipping has an excellent guide on getting started. Money Crashers and GaryVee have great guides.
While it’s nearly impossible to make taking surveys into a full time career that’s going to help you pay the rent every month, it can be a way to get a little cash in your pocket on an off day, or if you’re just bored with surfing around online. These surveys take between 10-15 minutes to complete, and they’ll probably net you around 5-8 dollars an hour. Our current favorites are Swagbucks (you get gift cards with this one), Toluna, and MySurvey.
If you’d like to see a whole bunch of different online survey websites, or get a better idea of what’s out there, this blog is super helpful.
Do you have a website or a blog that sees any volume of traffic? Incorporating some advertisements might seem like a bit of a shill, but it can go a long way to padding out that bank account. There’s plenty of affiliate programs that can get you money when people shop from your website, and there’s Google AdSense as well. Both are good ways to start. Make sure to spiff up your website while you’re at it.
4) Freelance Writing
Freelance writing is a great way to make some legitimate cash online. A good place to start is a website like Upwork. You’re not going to have immediate success, but you’ll get the opportunity to cut your teeth on some beginner projects before taking on something larger.
An easy way to drum up freelance work is to look to local businesses. Is there a business you know of or have a relationship with that needs a language facelift on their website? What about developing a better social media presence? Write up a pitch, charge a modest sum, and work on getting that first client so you can start building your portfolio.
Creating a webinar and charging a modest sum for people to take it can be an excellent way to make a little extra cash, as well as generating leads for your business. However, you have to make sure that your webinar will be useful and engaging for your audience, not something that is clearly designed to separate them from their money. But, taking note of a skill or ability that you have, and crafting a webinar around it can be an excellent way to supplement your income.
And, for the digital marketers out there, webinars can be a powerful tool in your kit.
6) Sell Your Old Stuff
Got a bunch of old crap laying around that you don’t use? Why not sell it?
There’s the traditional digital routes, craigslist and eBay, which are great ways to sell things to a large audience or people locally. But, there’s plenty of new, easy ways to make extra income selling, including Mercari and Poshmark. Give them a try, and maybe even start buying things on sale and flipping them!
7) Become a YouTuber
YouTube can be a great source of additional revenue, if you can develop a following. It’s easier said than done, because you have to find something that you’re passionate about and find a way to make that thing accessible and applicable to an audience. As with most creative projects, start with trying to win over an audience of 1, and you’ll be able to build from there.
8) The Gig Economy
Finally, there’s the good ol’ gig economy. If you’ve got a car, why not explore driving Uber or Lyft? Technically it’s not all online, but all you need is a smartphone and a car. Or, if you’re handy, look into becoming a TaskRabbit. And, if all you’ve got is a trusty bicycle, Postmates can be a great way to make a little extra cash.
Do you have special skills or experience that you could sell? Start consulting through your website or over Skype. It can be a lot of work to find clients, but start with a craigslist ad, and focus on making your first sale to your first customer. The world of consulting is wide open, and many consultants work entirely from home.
10) Online Trading
Messing around with the stock market and day trading can be very risky, but many people do it and see returns from their investments. Regardless of whether or not you’re interested in high-risk day trading or not, there are plenty of long term options that can help you prepare for the future. NerdWallet has a great piece on this.
If you’re interested in diving into day trading (which is buying and selling stock on the same day for small profit), this is an excellent article to start with. There’s also a whole suite of apps and websites that can help you get started, including Robinhood and Stash.
Up Your Cashflow
Remember, the key to financial success is increasing cash flow, and one of the best ways to do that is by finding work that nets you a little bit of extra money. If you’d like to learn more about content strategy, content marketing, SEO, and more, browse our other blog posts, and if you’re interesting in working with us, get in touch!
As one of the first major innovations online, the blog spawned an entire hosting, publishing, and promotion industry. Finding a free blog service only requires you to type in a few words in Google. But, the time invested in a blog project can be wasted on the wrong service–and there are so many! This guide will break blog services down into several categories, and offer up a few recommendations along the way. Let’s get going!
If you don’t have much tech know-how, or just want to get a website/blog going quickly with a moderate amount of fuss, there’s a huge amount of choices available to you. Here is a numbered list of options, the common feature between them all seems to be ease-of-use and building websites along a set number of templates. These sorts of websites can be very useful to get off the ground, but it’s also helpful to have a little bit of knowledge yourself so you can expand if needed, and often many of these services are a little gated in their functionality and are often locked behind premium payment plans.
7 Best Free Blogging Tools for For the Casual to Serious Individual Bloggers
Looking to just write, and not currently running a business? Then read on, these are the best choices.
If you’re mostly interested in running a blog and getting your content up online with little mess and fuss, and don’t really care that much about having a larger webpage, storefront, or anything like that, these services will fit the bill. The key thing I’ll emphasize is that for anyone looking to get into blogging as a hobby, personal journal, or as part of a larger media strategy needs to think about the future. It doesn’t matter which blogging platform you use, so long as it’s not going to cause growing pains for you in the future.
1) Medium – the professional choice for long-form
Medium started as an invite-only service that has now expanded to one of the more popular blogging services on the internet. It’s got a clean interface, a standardized font, and it’s built to service quality writing and not much else. If you’re looking to start writing for writing’s sake, Medium is the way to go. It has a supportive community, a variety of engaging “magazines” and groups, and offers excellent design with minimal work. If you just want to write and get your thoughts out Medium is the way to go.
2) WordPress – the market leader across the board
WordPress is one of the most widely-used services for building web pages and blogs on the internet. It’s important to distinguish between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. In this section, we’re talking about the .com version, and we’ll get to the .org later. WordPress is known for its usability and accessibility, and will allow you to create the most customized and functional blog you can think of. Highly recommended. It has a basic free option, as well as more serious plans starting at $3/month. The greatest benefit of WordPress is that it’s massively popular, can expand however you want in the future (if you eventually monetize on a large scale), and features code modules called “plugins” that integrate with thousands of services. Plugins let you do almost anything on WordPress without any coding knowledge.
3) Instagram – blogging for the personal brand
Source: Brittany Krystle’s Instagram
The days of the “Web 2.0” blog are long gone. Long form posts and micro-blogs on Instagram, and Instagram first (and only) businesses are now the norm. If you’re considering starting a blog, jumping right to Instagram may be the best way to go. If you’re looking to build a personal brand, there really is not better place to start. (thought a site you can send people back to is essential) If you’re looking to get into more complex topics, and involve multiple graphics than Instagram is definitely not the place to go.
4) YouTube – as a Vlog (video/blog)
If you’re adept at video a daily vlog (video + blog) may be the way to go. If you’re good on camera and don’t want to write then vlogs may be the way to go. Of course a solid YouTube account lends itself to Instagram and vice versa. Again this strategy is best for anyone creating a personal brand, and still has the downside of you not having a site to anchor all your social media properties.
5) Facebook Page / Group as Blog
Although the heyday of Facebook Groups is long gone (most people have shifted to Instagram or YouTube) it still makes for an easy blogging platform. If you want to utilize Facebook’s integrated blog function or creating an active community and forum like feeling then Facebook is the way to go. A free Facebook “blog” also has the advantage of strong interaction from the 40+ crowd and working well for both businesses and individuals.
6) Blogger – the old, but tired classic
Blogger is an old standby, offering a mess of templates, free and paid, and has a clean, easy-to-use interface. While it’s great for many types of blogs, it’s not exactly the most cutting edge service out there, but it offers a very practical blogging toolkit. They’re part of the Google ecosystem, so it’s easy to sign up. All that said….Blogger is probably worth avoiding at this point.
7) TUMBLR – do you hate normies?
If you think a little outside the box, and want to try something other than a standard blogging or website service, Tumblr can be a fun option. It has a very specific user base and some interesting functionality quirks, but can also help establish you as a bit more hip and experimental. If you’re working on a personal brand, but trying to keep a more edgy/indie feel than TUMBLR may be the way to go.
4 Free Blogging for Business Owners
If you’re trying to get a business off the ground, and need a good website/blog building option, there are many options, almost too many to pick from.
Most of these are free to start, but if you’re going to want to take advantage of the full suite of features, you’ll likely end up shelling out a moderate amount of cash.
Squarespace hands down provides some of the best designs for business owners these days. They have clean templates and make it easy to blog.
9) Google My Business Site
Looking for a new site? Why not get a Google property for your personal site. While not as slick as SquareSpace you benefit from being under Google’s umbrellas.
Easy to use and aggressively chasing business owners. They’ve really improved their templates recently. If you like the feel then this may be the way to go.
Similar to WiX, Weebly offers some great free templates and an easy design interface to work with.
For the power user who’s getting serious
If you’re running and growing a business, then for our money WordPress.org is the way to go. It’s free and open source, and requires a bit of technical knowhow to get going, but once you’ve downloaded the toolkit and integrated it onto your website’s FTP server, you have a massive suite of plugins, themes, and customization options available to you so you can fit your website to your exact needs. Storefront integration can get tricky, but is by no means impossible, and WordPress is constantly updated to remain secure and give users the latest features. It’s also incredibly easy way to maintain a blog over time.
Creating an effective blog is one of the most critical parts of any web endeavor, especially when you’re trying to create a digital marketing strategy. If you’re ready to up your marketing game, get in touch with us, or check out CEO Shaheen Adibi’s
What does it mean to be first to market? Well, the term means being the first to lay a foundational piece of a given area of the market that you’re working in. Simple, right? It’s a lot more complex than that, however, and in this Chalk Talk Thursday video, we’re going to give you some tips and guidance on how you can carve out some nice real estate for yourself.
While it might not appear to glamorous at the beginning to compete for a less competitive keyword, if you predict where the customers will eventually travel, when you are the first in that keyword area, that will give you a strong foundation to compete in more contested areas later.
So, without further ado, here are some strategies for becoming first to market for content.
The Four Benefits of Being First to Market with Content:
1. Establish the niche while it’s in reach
When you’re exploring niche markets to create content for, the idea is simple: if there’s a whole bunch of people competing in a particular niche, it’s going to be difficult to compete. In areas where there are few competitors, it’s more likely that you’ll rank #1 or #2. However, there is a gamble here, as you’re banking on that search term becoming more popular over time.
2. Get the links and media mentions
It feels good to be the person that other people reference as an expert, and adapting this mindset to your content creation can be enormously beneficial. Essentially, if you’re ranking first in the Google results, other people (be they other marketers or media professionals) are likely going to link to your content, which elevates you as an expert in the eyes of the almighty Google search engine. That’s where you want to be.
3. Avoid being also/and in the market
When you think about ride sharing, the name Uber is likely the first name to pop into your head. This demonstrates the power of being first. Even though Uber is facing a lot of difficulties in the market right now, even competitors like Lyft are often referred to as “grabbing an Uber.” Thinking about how people search for information, and how they’ll come across your content, you want to be the first idea in people’s minds for that particular thing, not the first or second.
4. Be responsive to customers
If you’re plugged into what your customers want, you’re going to have a much higher likelihood of success. While that sounds obvious, it can sometimes take a second to wrap your head around. For instance, as the cannabis industry becomes more and more mainstream, HVAC companies that want to get noticed by a new niche (companies that have cannabis grow rooms) want to compete early for the grow room eyeballs that are searching around for proper ventilation for their products.
But how? Tips for Going First to Market With Content
But how, you ask, do we become aware of these opportunities? Glad you asked. There’s an art to discovering new pathways to becoming first to market, but here are some general tips to get you started.
- Monitor social media and be a true friend to your customers – This is an intuitive factor that is surprisingly often ignored. Marketers can often get so caught up in PPC that they forget to think about people, and what their complaints and desires are for a given product or topic. Pay attention to this!
- Use Google trends and study keyword rankings – Google Trends can be a useful tool for tracking the waxing and waning of various popular concepts and ideas, but it can be a bit of a blunt instrument. It’s better to focus on keywords, and try to predict when tangentially related terms or variations on a keyword might be preparing to blow up. But, as an additional side note, utilizing Google Trends’ “related queries” function can be a powerful tool when trying to find alternative niches and avenues for targeting.
- Find topics that competitors haven’t covered yet – Luckily, there’s a pretty easy way to start researching this one. Related to the social media tip above, heading to Wikipedia, subreddits about the topic you’re competing for, and good ol’ internet forums can be a great way to see what the information landscape looks like for a topic, as well as what the community wants.
- Reach out to the front line sales and customer service people for client questions – Being helpful to your salespeople and customers is often the best way to figure out what the needs of your customers are. Salespeople talk to customers daily, and they know the ins and outs. Use their expertise.
- Coin your own terms – This is a risky one, because you’re not going to have a ton of data supporting your choice, but sometimes creating a term can pay off. If you’ve got a good one, try it out.
But…is it better to be second-to-market? (The Downsides of Being Second to Market)
Peter Thiel is famous for noting that while many of the most successful companies didn’t invent the thing that they’re doing, they found a way to do it better than the first to market folks. (Think Xerox inventing the Graphical User Interface, and then Apple making it sing).
Attempting to go second to market is a far more conservative approach, and may provide some benefit for companies that have a limited budget and want to go for a sure thing. You’re exploiting a sure thing (you have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t), and you also have the benefit of hindsight–you can see where the first to market went wrong.
Understanding the basics of SEO is critical to becoming a successful digital marketer. But what about once you’ve moved past the basics?
There are thousands of strategies you could learn in “advanced” SEO, and millions of niches which change how those strategies might apply. Rather than try to dive into a bunch of tactics that represent advanced SEO (and create an extremely long video) we think it’s significantly more valuable to focus on 6 core principles that underpin every advanced SEO campaign.
Principle 1: Understand & Leverage Google’s Existential Threats
For the digital marketer & business owners, Google is simultaneously a competitor and an ally in our quest to gain the attention of potential customers. As marketers we’re stuck in a Faustian bargain with Google where we give them complete access to our sites and optimize for their requests all in exchange for the hope of traffic.
That said, Google is a business.
Google’s business interests are going to affect how we benefit from their services. It’s important to understand Google’s business model and work backwards from there to gain the most value from the platform.
The majority of Google’s revenue comes from search. And more specifically selling ads to searchers. Having the best search engine (and voice AI tool) is fundamental to their existence as a company. Thus Google’s motivation is always going to be to give users the best answers to questions. We as marketers are the ones that provide those answers.
No site exists in a vacuum. While Google pulls us forward in quality (think about how they’ve forced content, speed, mobile etc) marketers also push the market forward through our competition. In that spirit there are three existential threats that will likely shape Google’s behavior over the next decade.
1) Google’s First Existential Threat: eCommerce Competition
Google is currently deep in competition with companies like Amazon (the current top dog) and Jet to create the dominant online storefront. Since 2015 in order to compete with Amazon, Google has responded by valuing content more highly on their platform while simultaneously selling ads.
Google “magnesium deo” you should see something like the following:
Notice how the first result is “6 Benefits of Magnesium in Deodorant | All Natural Deodorant Blog” rather than a product page. Even though it’s a clear product query. Google is valuing content around the subject.
Notice how a major chunk of the SERP after the third result is devoted to more content queries.Notice how even Schmidt’s product announcement page (which has slightly more custom content) ranks with the individual product page for actual magnesium deodorant. Again this is a clear product query, but Google has modeled the algorithm such that content gets valued over a direct product page. (and many SERPs are worse than this, and almost all dominated by content)
Google overvalues content marketing so that it can sell ads above product guides.
Utilizing Google’s intention to sell shopping ads above content is a huge opportunity for savvy markets. Featured snippets and direct answers also present this same opportunity.
2) Google’s Second Existential Threat: Social Media & Influencers
With the ongoing death of Google Plus, Google is officially out of the social media game. When it comes to social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest are the key players. Instagram is currently the top dog when it come to influencing shopping behavior and society right now, as that’s where a lot of consumer eyeballs are. All of these services provide opportunities for both influencers and regular folks to recommend products and serves independently of the Google ecosystem.
What does this mean for Google?
If consumers are taking purchasing cues from influencers on social media or beauty influencers can move tons of makeup pallets direct to consumers (Gen Z’s QVC), they’re not going to be reading the guides you’re competing for on the SERP.
Google can’t really do anything about this. They’ve folded out of traditional social, so for inbound marketers that really means we have to do both. YouTube is arguably a social platform but its peripheral to the daily influence that Twitter & Instagram have. The algorithm does value authenticity and expertise, and it has for some time. But long term maintaining a strong social media presence so you can stay close to your customers is key.
3) Google’s Third Existential Threat: AI
The big specter on everyone’s mind is how artificial intelligence. AI and instant answers will instantly alter the search landscape. Planning a strategy around meeting the demands of AI search is a good bet going forward. Right now featured snippets and instant answers provide a huge opportunity to leap frog competitors with better optimization around them. But…
There will come a day where Google instantly provides answers without our results. Google is already heading towards “zero result” SERPs. This likelihood only underscores the importance of building a direct & meaningful relationship with your customers.
For marketers that don’t respond the entire marketing industry then becomes pay to play.
Principle 2: Balancing Competing Needs
No matter what kind of strategy you decide on, you’re always going to be balancing four factors: the needs of your client, the needs of the user, your ability to optimize with ranking strategies, and the big question: can we rank?
4 Factors SEO Campaigns Must Balance:
- Client needs -What the client wants ultimately drives where any project goes. Sometimes client goals are clearly driven by business needs, other times you’re dealing with vanity and an impossibility. You’re almost always going to have clients that are going to be wanting to do vanity or ego-driven projects. This is a part of the job of every digital marketer and agency out there. As SEO’s we either have to educate clients and set proper expectations/growth goals or fulfill ego goals and risk failure or getting a bad rap.
- User needs – We need to understand how and why our customers search. We almost always have to align how customers search (keywords) with what clients want or believe about that behavior. If those two are out of whack then an SEO campaign is doomed. The key question we always have to ask ourselves is, can we fulfill user needs? And on a micro level, does this page map to the intent of the searcher? If there is a mismatch here we need to fix it, create a page that works better for the term we want to rank, or find a new KW set to target. Additionally, pages need to have an excellent experience for consumers. Which again might be at odds with clients who like their site, or feel like it’s better than competitors.
- Ranking strategies – this is all the SEO strategies you know and love–image metadata, keyword usage, page titles, you know the drill. The big rub here can be that getting changes implemented can often come up with hurdles from internal dev departments. (which is why we almost always offer to implement on site ourselves)
- Can we rank? – Finally, this is the really tough one–ask yourself–do I believe that I can compete for a coveted keyword? The answer should be honest and forthright, considering carefully your resources and available content. You should never optimize a page for a keyword you can’t rank for. Getting 50 extra visitors (who btw want to buy) on a low volume keyword is infinitely better than getting 0 extra traffic from a high volume keyword.
Principle 3: Emulate Top Performers; Every Algorithm Has an Expected Correlation.
Expected correlation is the method by which search engines decide which part of the web page to rank highest in the search listing. Even though Google is now using machine learning algorithms to build algorithms they’re still feeding off the original algorithm. (with all it’s greatness and flaws)
We know what an algorithm will value based on the top results it returns.
When Google, Bing, or Amazon search returns top results for a query, we are seeing the algorithm’s “top picks.” This lets us know what we need to optimize for.
As far as Google goes, there is an expected structure of a website, where links flow from the bottom level (products/services) up to category pages (types of products services) to the tip of the pyramid, the home page.
Think of it like a pyramid, with the homepage of your website taking the point, and category, blog pages, and service/product pages creating the base on down. For inner links the homepage usually “correlates” here as the most linked to page within your site.
Coincidentally, there is often a correlation between homepages having the most external backlinks and lower level pages having few or none.
Given this expectation of structure by Google, “higher level” pages like homepages and category pages have the most capability to rank.
Here’s a helpful (if verbose) guide to how Google evaluates terms for their quality.
Every algorithm for search wether Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go, Amazon, Apple Music, or Spotify will have an expected model that will shape search and the market. It’s our job as SEO professional is to reverse engineer any algorithm we’re trying to exploit.
Principle 4: You’re Always Tied to Market Demands
Market demands and consumers will control any arena we are selling in. If we look at the marketing funnel, and I know we can talk about the user journey all day, but for the sake of simplicity the marketing funnel makes the most sense. Generally we can map keyword traffic directly onto the marketing funnel, with more broad searches at the top of the funnel, and more specific searches towards the bottom as people become more focused in what they’re attempting to buy.
This then causes the following relationship:
- Top of funnel keywords are best targeted by broad content focused on learning and brand recognition, blog posts, interactive content, eBooks etc.
- Middle of funnel keywords tend to be best targeted by category pages that encompass multiple products or services within a singular category.
- The bottom of the funnel is generally dominated by product or service pages.
At the same time, if you break down all the keywords in a specific category and plot lower funnel keywords to higher funnel keywords on the x axis, you’d get a curve with increased search volume similar to the one below. For most keyword niches you’ll also witness increased ranking difficulty as these keywords are getting more traffic. There will be some outliers, but this relationship roughly exists for keyword groups in all markets.
Thus when we’re talking about balancing needs and the importance of asking ourselves can we rank for this keyword we need to realize that all keywords we might target are going to have a specific stage of the funnel they target, which typically maps to certain types of pages, and those pages will have varying abilities to compete for those keywords.
Principle 5: Traffic Volume and The Quality of that Search Will Always Have an Inverse Correlation
As traffic volume for a keyword goes up the value of an individual user will go up. Consider the fact that someone who types in the keyword “backpack” ( 550,000 searches / month ) hasn’t narrowed down what they’re trying to shop for. But when someone types in “red leather laptop backpack” (20 searches / month) they have a significantly better idea of what they want. So even though it’s significantly less traffic each individual visit is going to be worth more per user. (though the net value of “backpack” may be higher overall)
For individual businesses this means that we have to consider what capabilities our sites have to rank. And given our overall footprint decide to either optimize our site for lower volume more specific searches (where we have a chance to compete) or for higher volume keywords, where there may be more middle of funnel traffic we haven’t targeted yet.
Generally speaking smaller and new businesses are better off targeting BoFu keywords with higher purchasing intent rather than higher volume and higher competition keywords. Mid size businesses can move their marketing in either direction, though targeting the bottom of the funnel tends to be more profitable than going after keywords higher in the funnel.
Principle 6: Determine and Target the Ideal Profit Optimization For Your Campaign
Given all the factors that have to be balanced, Google’s current favoritism at the time, and your capability to rank and optimize for keywords every SEO campaign will have an ideal profit optimization equation. Focusing on the best overall targeting strategy given these realities will always be the most essential part of a planning an SEO campaign.
This isn’t another one of those posts that rounds up every link building tactic that’s ever crossed an SEO’s mind. Instead it’s a jumping off point towards understanding where the link building landscape currently stands, and what core strategies you should be thinking about as you proceed on campaigns.
Don’t confuse tactics with strategy.
The ingredients are not the same thing as your slice of the pie.
At the end of the day there are only three core strategies that actually get businesses links. They are what I’ll call SEO link building, content marketing focused link building, and PR based link building. These should inform our strategic focus as we evaluate how to prioritize internal resources. Under those banners, I’ll highlight the 50 core tactics almost everyone uses. I’ve tried to eliminate bloat in this list as much as possible, since there are hundreds of tutorials that go into more detail, but kept as many tactics as possible so you can just go down the list.
Whether we’re dealing with Google, Bing, or Facebook, we’re all playing in someone else’s casino and vying for limited audience attention. Understanding how the “house” actually works will help you make better tactical decisions since links are still so important.
Link building no longer exists in a vacuum. It used to be a singular discipline within SEO, but there are only a few boxes & sneaky tactics that get the job done nowadays.
The 3 Realities of Link Building in 2016:
- Either we’re naturally “earning” or being given links, or generating the links ourselves.
- We’re either generating links through PR strategies, content marketing strategies, and/or SEO focused strategies.
- A good link building strategy ultimately contributes to a business becoming notable or simulates the sense of mattering through those SEO, PR, and/or content marketing strategies.
At the end of the day link-building is the process of simulating & expediting what are supposed to be naturally earned links in Google.
- Link building strategies for 2016
- The virtuous cycle of link building
- PR Link Building: Being Notable
- It’s Not About Search Engines It’s About People
- The Basics of SEO still matter
- SEO Link Building Strategies – or “Getting Links”
- Content Marketing for Link Building
- PR for Link Building – The Art of Influence
- The Basics of Link Building
- What Makes A Good Link
The Virtuous Cycle of Link Building
(Or how you can build links while you sleep.)
Like the marketing fly-wheel, link building should ultimately feed into itself. A business should reach a place where its content is naturally earning links, and has the reputation to get mentioned freely for being awesome.
Source: Moz’s Flywheel
Google has made a discernible move away from technical ranking factors. We live in a two algorithm world wherein “the algorithm” is now building algorithms. While rankings are the smallest part of how google’s algorithm works links are still the single largest component.
Link Building Should Create a Virtuous Circle:
At a basic level the image below describes what we want. Outside of buying links and Spam links (which I wouldn’t recommend) this is generally what the link building link playing field looks like.
It’s Not About Search Engines, It’s About People
Content marketing gets the best results by folding together techniques that are traditionally part of PR and SEO.
Any good content marketing technique is going to lead to PR and thought leadership as well as SEO signals that we would get either way. Most companies you’ve heard of have link building strategies like this including Amazon, REI, and Hubspot.
The Basics of SEO Still Matter
Even though link building is more of an art associated with content marketing than traditional SEO, SEO still matters. Unless you’re planning on being so incredible that you truly captivate your audience you’re going to need traffic from search engines and media outlets.
However, if you want to go full Apple and dedicate almost everything to product dev and the occasional traditional marketing campaign that’s awesome. (The world needs more people jumping shark and winning!)
As someone who cut their teeth doing link-building and still makes a ton of money for clients doing so, SEO basics matter. They can hold back even the most effective link building techniques!
Imagine an iceberg. What looks like a small piece of ice from above the water actually has a large underside holding it up. Good SEO is the part of iceberg under the water that you don’t see, but that holds up the rest of your link building strategy.
Remember that an irrelevant site in Google’s eyes it still worthless, and we build relevancy through the practice of link-building.
Link Building in 2016 Part 1: SEO link building Tactics – Or “Getting Links”
For a large part of the history of search engines, it was possible to largely influence rankings from within the box of SEO. Tactics like keyword stuffing, private link networks, low quality guest posting, or even on-page optimization were enough to get the job done.
These tactics may still work for seasoned experts with the cash flow for quality-ish content at scale, but for the rest of us there needs to be a “cheap” way to get backlinks without going full in on content or the time it would require to become a thought leader.
Remember that all of the below SEO link tactics pretty much work across the board (with some exceptions) but are all things worth jumping down the list and looking into.
The fact is that spying on the competition by seeing where they are getting their links, performing, and how, is always going to be the best initial source of link opportunities. (check out link prospecting tools here for options) Unfortunately in a lot of instances you’ll find that the competition is doing content, are thought leaders, or have solidified some kind of advantage in either cash or resources that you can’t copy. For example I’ve seen niches dominated by one company that has a few big mentions in the likes of the New York Times and Kitchn and otherwise has a few paid placements on extremely expensive directories. The niche is small and lucrative, but there’s no easy way for a company with limited resources to make up that lead.
I mean look at what you’re up against. Read more on how the cards are stacked against us here but the point is you need to be savvy and creative to get ahead.
The outgunned site owner has to fight back, and these link building tactics are a great way to do so without breaking the bank or at a reasonable price. First dissect the competition to better understand what they’re doing, then go down the list and execute these tactics
1: Local Citation and Link Building.
Any business that has a storefront or does business in a locality should have a strong presence in Google Places, Bing Places, and other local directories. This is the first base you need to cover if you have a physical location (though keep in mind PO Boxes and shared spaces won’t work for the above.)
Whitespark and MOZ Local are probably the most cost effective way to reclaim these links, along with a few other options. You should maintain these entries as a way to build legitimacy in Google’s eyes, create entries with the right information on the web, and get links. Here are some great articles that cover all the options that are out there
- The Ultimate List of 200+ Powerful Local SEO Citation Sources (USA)
- Top 25 Local Business Directories | Practical Ecommerce
- The Ultimate List: 50 Online Local Business Directories
- Top Local Citation Sources by Country for USA, CAN, UK & AU – Whitespark
- 60 Business Directories You Need To Be Listed On – Yext
2: Interlink & Site Structure
Even though it should be obvious, many site owners underestimate the value of quality internal linking on a site. Obviously it does not count as traditional link building, but it is worth thinking about.
Be sure to check out a tool like Screaming Frog or Deep Crawl to perform a site audit, this should indicate any large issues in site organization while also helping you determine whether there is a good site structure.
Finally, make sure that your own internal anchor text is actually communicating to Google the importance and substance of pages. This means that category pages should have the most inner links pointing at them, and that anchor text for products or categories should be unique and communicate what the page is about. I.e. Widgets > Blue Widgets > 3 mm Blue Widgets not Widgets > Widgets > Widgets if you have breadcrumbs on your site. There should be a clear hierarchy that your anchor text communicates.
3: Relevant Directories
Many niches on the web have directories that people still use to buy products. If there is a relevant niche for my client I will create links for them there. Many of these directories are paid and overpriced, but may still be worth pursuing.
The best way to find these is either through a google search corresponding to your [niche] i.e. “[niche] + directory” or checking out what the competition have going on. If your competition is massive, URL Profiler makes quick work of crunching competitor backlinks and determining whether a sites type is a directory and how many blog links they’re getting etc. Check out these two articles to get you started:
- 1000+ Niche Citation Sites for 41 Local Business Categories
- Lists of Niche Directories – Find Directories for many Niches – Directory
Remember we’re looking for items like directories, paid directories, non-English directories, chambers of commerce etc. Just make sure that you’re getting at high domain authority sites, check domains in Open Site Explorer.
4: Getting on Your Distributor Directories
This applies best to companies in the industrial segment, but often for sites that do only sell to distributors you can score an exceptionally high-quality link from a supplier who should want to link to you. But again, this is one of those things you can’t fake for just any site, you really have to sell the listed product to appear on one of these directories, just make sure you’re on all of the ones you can be!
The way to go about this is search your vendor’s site or in google: “[product name] distributors” or [product name] “inurl:distributors.”
5: Social Accounts: Basic Authority links
I often sign up for a variety of social and web 2.0 accounts for my clients. It secures a sites reputation across the web and mimics similar symbols from bigger brands. This gives a wider platform to promote your content, allows you to build out your brand, and indicates a basic level of legitimacy to Google.
Making sure your site has the bases covered with things like Pinterest or Vimeo may provide minimal value, but it’s important to secure all these properties, at least for the backlink diversification, and making sure others don’t hijack on account for your domain.
6: Affiliate Program
This is one of the most under appreciated tactics on the web and in my opinion, Amazon’s #1 SEO secret. Look around the Web, all the companies like Amazon, Target, Home Depot, and REI have affiliate programs. If you can afford to share profit margin with referral partners in order to push top line revenue I would immediately do so.
Now this can have it’s downsides, especially if spammers or crappy marketers get involved. However, ideally you’ll gain a ton of link equity from a variety of bloggers and site builders who are serious about generating income.
7: Resource or Newsletter roundups
If a client is relevant to a specific industry, or has a relevant resource, you can ask to be included on a resource page or newsletter roundup from an influencer in an industry. Generally speaking this is more on the content marketing side of the spectrum, but if there is already a resource on the client’s site this could be a great way to gain more links without producing more content and technically staying in the “SEO” side of the field. Check out the below articles on resources and use the same logic for roundups and newsletter in your industry.
8: Blog Commenting
Ahh blog commenting, one of the best tactics marketers ever ruined. Blog commenting works best when commenting on a site that offers do-follow links in an author bio or something like the CommentLuv plugin.
General speaking these kinds of opportunities are going to be rare. Currently, blog commenting is more about leveraging those no-follow backlinks and user interactions on blogs within your niche to stay relevant among an audience, and I would argue, get your site associated within a certain niche. Of course we’re not passing link equity or any authority with this tactic, but we are at least getting Google to interact with our site more frequently.
Answering Q&As is pretty close on the SEO spectrum to blog commenting, but typically presents a better opportunity to build authority with your audience by displaying your knowledge and implanting links where relevant. Be sure to join communities like Inbound, Reddit, Facebook & LinkedIn Groups, Yahoo Answers, and Quora. Below are two great tutorials for leveraging Q&A sites as well as setting up BuzzBundle to scale that.
10: Discounts / coupons
This is far from free for your business and is still going to take some elbow grease, but discounts and coupons can be an exceptional way to get links. There are a number of sites that aggregate discounts and coupons so that creates a good link flow. Ideally you’re doing the work offering discounts to specific sites and bloggers that have audiences that might buy. This gets you some authority links and traffic that can be engaged.
11: Forum/Reddit Posting
Of all the tactics that involve joining communities and helping out this one will probably involve the most work. For a marketer this is a bit of stretch since forums and sub-reddits usually involve the most committed and anti-marketing audiences. If you can sacrifice the time and get (or already have the expertise), some of the most important conversations within niches happen on forums. This of course also means plenty of opportunities to sway the conversation and implant links.
12: Gray hat link building
There are still a few areas on the Web where you can “sign-up” for links and by the virtues of those site pad the backlink profile of our clients or gain some link equity through do follow profile links. I’ll get a list together of some of my favorite, but the best place to find these opportunities is by checking out other successful sites.
This is definitely on the gray hat side of things, and will cost you some pretty significant cash, but offering scholarships on behalf of your are an excellent carrot to attract high quality links and well regarded sites to link to your domain. Check out the tutorials below for getting into this strategy.
- How to Create and Run an Effective Scholarship Outreach Campaign
- .edu and .gov Link Building
- Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty of Scholarship Link Building
14: Join Associations/Organization
This is one of those areas where you can’t fake the funk. I wouldn’t recommend joining any organizations just for links, if you’re already in one I’d recommend checking out their site and seeing if they highlight members’ businesses or profiles anywhere.
15: Unlinked Brand Mention Recovery
There’s an opportunity to recover a back link anytime your brand, product, or an employee gets mentioned on the web without a link. The idea here is to find these unlinked mentions, and then nicely ask webmasters and bloggers to link. It’s a matter of being charming and lucky more than anything else, but ideally for any brand that’s been around for awhile there will be some sizeable untapped opportunity. Check out this guide from AHREFS for more or this guide on converting brand mentions.
16: Wikipedia links
In some niches we can attract highly relevant content to a site by create content that is a relevant resource to the Wikipedia site. While the links can be no-follow wikipedia can be a quality source of traffic based off of reference links in some niches. WikiGrabber is the best tool for the job.
17: Paid Product Review
Like Affiliate links paid reviews can be an exceptional way to get your products name out there. If you’re launching a new business this is probably the link building and reputation growth area to start with. Great sites in the niche include: reviewme.com, payperpost.com, and sponsoredreviews.com
Occasionally crowdfunding and donation pages will includes links to sponsors on their pages. While this will take some serious time and research it can be an exceptional way to gain links from high domain authority sites.
19: Donate to Charities & Non-Profit
This will take some digging in Google and is typically best accomplished by a solid VA, but charities and nonprofits with donation pages that link out provide an excellent opportunity to build links at a reasonable price.
20: Club and organization sponsorships
Like finding crowdfunding campaigns and charities you can donate to, finding clubs and organizations you can sponsor is all about the legwork of finding people who will accept reasonable donations.
21: Existing Domains
DomCop and Flippa both provide excellent opportunities to find sites that have existing backlink profiles and start there, or redirect link equity where applicable to your current site.
22: Alumni Organizations
Schools are always looking to highlight former students use this tactic to milk a little more than student debt out of your alma mater.
23: Intern/Job Postings
Please, please, please don’t invent positions, but keep in mind whenever you do post a new job that it’s worth it to place it in as many places as possible for the typically do followed link equity.
24: Things Not to Do
- Don’t submit to article submission sites or buy anything that looks like 20,000 backlinks in 2 days for 5 bucks. Generally anything that mentions PageRank (officially and thankfully retired in March of 2016) or uses the phrase #1 SEO should be avoided.
- Google says widgets don’t work, will work less, I call BS but it may be worth being careful. That said time will tell.
There you have it, all the most commonly used SEO link building tactics. There are probably thousands more, but this is the main core of them. That said good luck and have fun, link building is the closest you can get to panning for gold ; )
Content Marketing for Link-building
Content marketing is where the biggest wins will be had, but standing out and producing quality content is no easy task. Further if you build it, they won’t come. Proper promotion, or creating content with a clear distribution path is the only way to succeed. This section on building links through content is about two things, and you’ll have to decide which goal makes more sense for you. But keep in mind all of your content marketing activities will ultimately get bucketed into two fields you’ll either be:
- Producing content that generates links on your own site.
- Or creating content for other people’s sites that links back to yours.
The only items that will bridge the gap here are the rare moments when you can get an article syndicated or something like an infographics or interactive content piece that people will share while it’s on your site.
Content marketing in its best form is about delighting customers, building relationships, helping people, and building trust. While we all hope that this trust will lead to sales, it all hinges on well executed good ideas multiplied by proper promotion.
The best case scenario with our content is that as many people see it as possible, we gain a following and we become thought leaders eventually. This then gains us a compounding amount of press and backlinks that give us more audience and ranking signals.
Here are some questions to ask yourself with any piece of content:
- Can I effectively promote this to get backlinks? (i.e. can I “get links” like in #1 for this piece)
- Will my customers love it, and will people, especially journalists and bloggers want to share it?
- Do I have the site authority to perform in this content area (i.e. will my content rank and naturally get me links without em doing much because of my authority in this area.)
That said, content has been warped to include all of the below, so that we may consider anything from a blog post to a game as “content” and I’ll continue that for the sake of simplicity.
This matrix is an excellent heuristic to have and this video is worth a watch if you’re just getting into content production.So with that disclaimer, before I get jumped for bad semantics ; ) the rule of the game is that we need to create content that stands out. Otherwise we pretty much can’t win and can’t stand out in the crowd.
We need to build content that’s 10 times better than the next alternative, 10X content, 10X content, & more 10X content. Standing out from the crowd is a prerequisite for building links. Or as this satirical video stewing in our own buzzwords puts it, create ‘dope-ass ‘tent.”
Because what we really want is…
Or, as I like to call it, cash money.
Thinking outside of the box is key. These are 27 Types of “Content” you might consider leveraging to build out more links. This has been covered better elsewhere for a few examples, but the point is that content is the carrot that drives engagement and hopefully backlinks. There are then a set of tactics we can broadly apply to these content types that we produce in order to generate backlinks with.
Don’t feel like you’re out of options, there are formats for everyone and these are some content options that get links in ascending order of production cost: Blog posts, Monthly Column, Interviews, Surveys, Product Comparisons,Lists or Roundups, How To’s & Tutorials, White Papers, Newsletters, National Holidays, Events Resources, Curate Data, Independent/new unique research, Contests, Glossary of Industry Terms, Printable Resources, Newsjacking, Timely/Seasonal Content, Complete Guide/Resources, Presentations, Quizzes/Tests, Infographics, Case Studies, Ebooks, Webinars, Videos, Games, Plugins or Extensions, and Web Apps or Online Utilities.
Alright, so we’re in the mindset of creating incredible content and understand that promotion and quality are the table stakes let’s build some links, and grow our reputation.
Tactics for Generating Backlinks with Content in 2016
1: Guest Blogging
Google may be viciously trying to turn us away from this tactic but there is no more cost effective way to generate high quality backlinks than guest posts. Even better, they’re largely undecipherable from legitimate behavior because it is legitimate behavior. We’re getting out there and helping site owners get relevant high quality content that their audiences appreciate. It’s a win-win. Any type of content is fair game, and generally the more complex a content type and pitch the higher your chance of success.
Keep a few things in mind:
Bloggers get thousands of pitches, most of them are garbage. You need to stand out and do your best to be personable. We all know when we’re being sold, but everyone loves a good salesman!
The bigger the value or audience of a site the more difficult it will be to get on, and in some instances you’ll need to prove out your expertise before it’s even possible. If you’re just starting out, don’t shoot for the stars, just yet.
Generally a higher ticket item, like a quality infographic or video can open opportunities your reputation may not afford you.
Building relationships, being a genuine fan and online apostle of a site that slowly becomes a real friend is the best way to actually get guest posts.
Guest Posting will give you referrals but even 85% of the time <100 visits will be the norm. The bigger value is in the links, relationships, and reputation you’re building.
You’re putting out quite a bit of work to get these opportunities and create content, even though it feels like you’re giving a lot you need to be a good guest.
Some Important Tips:
- Read the articles below on good strategy
- The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging
- Step by Step Guide to Scale Your Link Building
- An In-Depth Look at Guest Blogging in 2016 (Case Studies, Data & Tips)
- How to Measure Guest Posting ROI
- Guest Post ROI: The Data Behind 273 Guest Posts Says It’s No Good
- Copy of Ryan Robinson (ryrob.com) Referral Traffic from Guest Posts – Ahrefs (Tim)
- You need to create incredible content, usually 800+ words though most sites have editorial guidelines.
- Scout out and create relevant pieces of content you can link to so you can boost how many links you’re getting. But you have to be good, otherwise you could turn sites off. (Don’t abuse this with exact anchors to products that aren’t relevant to the article. )
- If possible create high quality images for your host site, and video resources where possible.
- Treat it as a high quality paper. Link out to other important work in the “field” and preferably to content from your host.
- Keep editing they have to do to a minimum (be a good guest)
2: Skyscraper Technique
The Skyscraper Technique should be your blueprint for any content you produce. The idea here, is that we survey the existing work in a topical; area and outdo the quality of the content. That then allows us to stand out enough to get links naturally, reach out to previous sites that linked to a similar piece of content, and reach out to influencers who would genuinely enjoy our content. At the end of the day the goal is to execute on an idea that we know works and reach out to all the potential people who have expressed interest or shared something similar in the past.
3: Updating Old Content
There are two ways to approach this tactic, you can either update content that has fallen behind the times (since freshness matters) or find content that was once popular but is no longer relevant. Either way this tactic relies on refreshing a proven concept then capitalizing on past promotional success. It should produce an amazing piece of content that everyone in the community will appreciate and (hopefully) be willing to link to. If you want to scale this tactic, either prospect popular pieces that are 3+ years old or find a set of resource pages for a certain niche you want links from, and crawl it for 404s. These 404s are all opportunities to create refreshed version of whatever was being linked to. Though double check that it hasn’t just moved on the original site.
- This ‘Inverted Broken Link Building’ Strategy Will Make You Facepalm
- How to Build Backlinks Using Your Competitors’ Broken Pages
- The Complete Guide to Updating and Republishing Outdated Blog Content
4: Reaching out to interested experts
Anytime you publish a piece of content on your site you should reach out to any experts or bloggers that might be interested. While your total success rate may be low, truly incredible content will get you some traction. You can significantly increase your chances of success if you’re interacting with influencers, liking, sharing, and commenting on content long before you ask them for anything.
5: Content Multiplying: Multimedia/Document Submission
Don’t forget that you can always upconvert any content you create and adapt it for a specific roll. This means that a potentially exhausted blog post can be converted into a slideshow presentation, video, or even gifs for better virality, and more easy backlinks.
6: Quoting experts and influencers
If you have the bandwidth I would recommend always trying to include a quote from an expert, professional in the industry, or influencer as much of possible. This will take some footwork and you’re likely to have much better success if your site actually has a following. But if you can pull this off, you should have strong results with a steady source of experts who may owe you a favor or two.
7: Owned Promotion With Web 2.0 Submission
For the most part owned web 2.0 properties are underutilized by brands. Most people never go beyond posting on Facebook, and the vast majority of sites have 0 other sites linking to them, why not create a mini network of your owned content? These links will have vastly discounted value, but over a long enough time period, and with proper curation across all these properties should move the needle.
8: Directory Submissions for our “Content” assets
Don’t forget that any higher value piece of content you create will have its own associated directores, think Web App Directories, Widget Directories, Theme/Template Directories, CSS galleries, Podcast Directories, Blog Directories, Mobile App Directories,Logo Design Directories, or eBook Directories. You’ll still need to proof out these sites for quality, but this gives you a good multiplier for your content without doing costlier or more difficult tactics. Also be sure to ask your developer about specific technologies used in say a web app or mobile app since those may have “built with” galleries associated with them.
Sometimes we can identify sites that will republish the content we create and give us a byline. Below are some great articles on the topic.
10: Russian Newspaper placements
This is probably one of the most brilliant evil genius strategies I’ve ever heard of. Straight from the brilliant mind of Matt Woodward this tactic basically involves creating content in Russian and then placing it on cheaper news sites over there. (you know where the news can be bought) Is it immoral? Definitely. Can it be scaled across a few countries and languages? Absolutely…Good Hunting.
11: PR placements Press Release Submission
This is far from the glory days, but there are still a solid set of press release sites, that are of moderate SEO value and have some potential of creating backlinks for you.
12: Infographic Submission
Infographics still offer some incredible opportunities for promotion out of the box since there are many sites that still curate them. That said since 2011 this tactic has faded and the novelty is kind of gone. You’re unlikely to get on a site unless you’re creating excellent infographics. There are tons of sites worth submitting to, but not everything is going to actually be a win, start with this list and see where you get.
13: Widget Backlinks
Google has promised to crack down on widget backlinks, but I doubt they will, or will do so effectively. Look for a few examples to get made, but if you actually breakdown how the web works, the said truth is that this tactic is still alive and well.
Remember as far as our goals for content marketing goes, the important long term KPIS for content is not how many links it generates, but whether it build our reputation and generates the quality rankings signals we need.
The TLDR is that we’re never going to capture short keywords, we want to use keywords to capture valuable bottom and middle of funnel traffic, build trust, or get at the long tail!
Strategy 3: Digital PR for Link Building
PR is the final frontier of link building. And the hardest thing to simulate, luckily this means few competitors will go through the challenges and cost of actually becoming a thought leader.
There is no sure and fast way to become an influencer, tastemaker, expert, thought leader or whatever else you want to call it. People gain notoriety thousands of ways. But for the purposes of business, building out a reputation through content is the most reliable strategy to profitability. Providing a strong foundation from which you can fully harness the natural items that come with doing PR. Content can make you an influencer, but once you cross that threshold, your content (or whatever material it is that you use to communicate with your audience) becomes your calling card. You then become the magnet for links.
Industries change and/or you can be toppled from your pedestal but you’ll consistently earn links from just doing what you do. From bios to interviews, speaking at events, getting featured on podcasts or getting quoted by people you’ve influenced, links will pour in. That said there are some tactics that should be applied to the overall strategy of leveraging your influencer status to increase your connections. And as the world increasingly mirrors the web connections do amount to links.
1: Build Relationships
This is the most important part of successful PR and even content marketing. If you’re this far into this article you know this is true, but building relationships, offering value, and maintaining them is key. While journalists will naturally be weary of anyone that looks like a marketer and most people may treat you like a used car salesman (my apologies to those in the profession ) the fact is that if you’re genuine and helpful, most people will actually respond in a positive light. After all who doesn’t want to help a friend out. People buy and link to people they like, so start out by trying to work only build relationships with people you could legitimately see yourself getting along with.
- Genuine Acts of Kindness – You’re probably friendlier than I am, but if you’re trying to become an influencer, and not be known as a jerk, caring and showing that care is key. People get bombarded in thousands Whether it’s a journalist or a famous cyclist you share honey glazed spaghetti squash recipes it’s all about using friendliness to get your foot in the door. At a basic level this is just good sense for being a great and helpful human, if you’re struggling to make connections in business read up on the literature that’s pretty universal as far as American business goes: How to Win Friends & Influence People, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, & Better Than Good: Creating a Life You Can’t Wait to Live
- Help & Participate – Get involved and lend a helping hand to your community. Don’t get out there and just go after who you believe your “target” to be. The better of a community member you are to whatever niche you’re operating in the larger your growth potential. Be sure to comment! The vast majority of blog posts that get written, even by the experts get no love. Better yet the best always answer back! Even the busiest of people will start to see and recognize your name. But aside from that it’s nice to feel like someone is answering back especially when you’re always shouting into the void.
- Go to Events – This can’t be understated, going to events whether it’s a “boring” tradeshow or a local meetup is a sure fire way to meet people who love what you do as much as you do.
- Answer questions – This harkens back to one of the SEO focused link building tactics, but the fact is that answering questions and being helpful across Q&A sites is a great way to be an asset in your community. Obviously you won’t always win or be top comment, but supporting people and lending your area of expertise is a surefire way to grow your footprint.
- Offer value – Be ready to selflessly give. There isn’t going to be a measurable ROI on this, but over time this will also build your reputation as a genuine source of information or help
- Maintain these relationships! – A lot of people aren’t in it for the long haul. If you thought the above tips sounded tedious (and obvious) good because they are. Being a member of the community means putting in the work, and again it’s a hard tactic to follow since most aren’t willing to be genuinely helpful.
2: Write a Column
Writing for the leading publications in your industry is a surefire way to consistently generate links. Additionally this gives you access to some of the highest quality relevant links in your niche. You may need to step down your expectations if you’re still relatively unknown in the niche, but high quality writing with well reasoned opinions is always in demand. It should go without saying, but you need to approach this work with the intent of helping. If you haven’t read Glenn’s piece on “Private Influencer Networks” I think it’s worth a read, This is already happening, and largely speaking the more backs you can scratch now, the bigger chance you’ll have at staying relevant as things get harder or the market shifts.
3: Reach Out
You need to monitor the community for new developments. As new businesses or organizations work their way into or near your niche it’s important to reach out to them and introduce yourself. Nothing may come of it, but building out relationships early (before others get involved) is an important part of staying relevant and hopefully creating some connection arbitrage before other savvy marketers get involved. Obviously there is some strong overlap here with SEO and content marketing tactics like guest posting or resource page suggestions so be sure to magnify your efforts with those strategies.
4: Offer Services to Larger Organizations
Giving away free work is an underutilized tactic. People say give till it hurts, and it will. But being genuinely helpful and donating services or help to organizations that could use it but may not be able to afford it is a sure route to success. Obviously don’t let yourself be exploited, but having your name or service attached to an organization that wouldn’t otherwise be able to hire you can create infinite benefits down the line.
5: Offer Products to Bloggers
We’ve all been on the long slog of building out our businesses. Bloggers and people selling services online all get this, reaching out and reviewing services and products from other sites is an excellent way to provide some genuine help and exposure to someone else.
6: AirBnB Guides
I just came up with this one recently and haven’t started implementing it for our local SEO clients. But explore AirBnB and find every house within less than a mile or two of your business. Listinghave the ability to create guides for the local area. Reach out and offer to write them a guide, it should increase their bookings and also gives them the opportunity to be featured in the cities overall guidebook.
7: Create Local Meetings and Events
Not all PR tactics need to be about national placements or becoming the most famous widget salesman in America. Often people focus to broadly on the rest of the web at the expense of the fact that there are often large and established organizations within a local area. Creating a meet up is pretty easy and obviously creates a tremendous amount of value for the local area. If you can do that or even shoot for something in partnership with a few local organizations that should create some good local buzz and help create a lot of connections in the local business community. Furthermore, it opens up the door to mentions on a local level. Obviously this all would take a great deal of work and organization but it would be worth it.
8: Be Featured in Local Publications.
Do your best to reach out and help out local journalists. The value of building on a hometown advantage cannot be underestimated.
9: Speak at Universities + Volunteer to Speak with Groups
It’s important to give back as much as you can, especially if you have any level of notoriety. Look at all the organizations in your area and see if you couldn’t provide some value by volunteering or providing some expertise that would be of value to the audience. If the answer is yes than think about reaching out. Usually speaking events, or writing opportunities they may create, open up an opportunity to get some mentions on the web.
10: Troll bait or Grabbing Headlines with Controversy
This is kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel. But if you’re ever in need of some attention, assuming a contrary or marginally offensive opinion may create some press. Obviously you’ll want to do this with taste and make sure you can spin/defend your words, but it can help you stand out. Generally speaking it’s best to assume a contrarian view in something like a blog post headline that grabs people’s attention (like calling SEO cosmetic) than create an outright assault on the world. Another option here is to “poke the bear.” If you see an expert in your field whose a waning star or more importantly you think is full of $h%t, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t leverage the press of them responding to you for gains. Additionally, if you end up being historically right it’s a great way to put yourself on the same tier as an established expert and eventually leapfrog them. But played well generating some controversy can renew a brand.
11: Alumni Spotlight
This is straightforward, but if you’re school rounds up or does profiles on successful alumni try to get featured.
These are just some rudimentary tactics and PR based link building will evolve more over time. The bottom line is that experts need to stay engaged and constantly prove their status. In the process of doing so you’ll consistently gain links.
Making Link Building Consistently Work For You
At the end of the day there are obviously a million other reasons to create content, but we marketers no longer have the luxury of living in a world where the cream will rise to the top, we must be proactive about getting as many backlinks as we possible can and growing our web presence day by day. Ready to get your hands dirty? Well, check out the best tools for link building in 2016.
Some Great Link Building Tutorials:
The Basics of Link Building:
Below are the basics of the wonderful world of link building for the uninitiated, for a more serious explanation of link building strategies in 2016, click here.
What is Link Building
From the beginning the secret sauce in Google’s algorithm was that it used hyperlinks between sites to determine the popularity of various sites. If a site was more linked to by other sites, it was then more popular and authoritative on the subject, like a book that is frequently sited or a musician that is claimed by multiple musicians as a muse. Search engines treat links as a popularity vote, and it is the job of search engines to monitor the situation among users and sites, to determine, what people are looking for and mean when they ask questions. While there are a multitude of other important factors that work into an algorithm, not least of which is the basis of whether an item on a SERP ultimately fulfilled a user’s questions the fact is that Links remain to this day one of the single biggest determiners of a sites popularity. Even though they have diminished in recent times, they’re still just one of the biggest factors.
Why Link Building Matters:
So you’re a savvy entrepreneur with a great site, service, or product and you open your site on the web, but there’s no traffic or sales? What gives? The fact is that you can think of links as almost like little roads, if you want to work your way up to main street you have to pay for it (with ads) or make a new main street, build the links and connections that eventually funnel people in and let Google know you deserve it. Basically Google and Bing just want us to sit idly by and wait for the notoriety to build or links to roll in, but they won’t. (Thus why many must pay.)
What Makes a Good Link:
We need to recreate what is supposed to be an “organic” and natural process. Even more interesting not all links are created the same, some links matter more than others.
A Good Link Comes From a Site With Tons of Traffic and Many Sites linking to it:
A link from New York Times is worth more than your Uncle Bob’s Widget Emporium LiveJournal. This is an important distinction to understand because you want to become an example of a highly valued link, read more here.
A Good Link comes from a site that’s an authority in the field:
We don’t want to be linked to from just any where, we want sites that actually cover our vertical. If we run a site about plumbing, getting a link from a blog about it is better than getting a link from your grandma’s yarn blog. It’s important to read up on the difference.
A Good Link Isn’t Spammy:
Don’t just go out and buy random links. A few estimates peg the total amount of spam on the web at 60%. There is tons and tons of garbage out there. Getting a link from it is next to useless, and worse still you’re chasing an algorithm instead of real humans. Try to calibrate your efforts towards real people, not bots! Imagine if you were asking for directions in a new city, and a doctor and the local drunk gave you advice, who would you trust? Google functions on the same sense of trying to establish authority that you or I would use. Governments, Schools, Non-profits, and labs with their .edu and .org domains tend to have a little higher significance, based solely off the fact that they’re organizations with pedigree.
Links should be fresh:
Great sites get mentioned and linked to all the time. Look at a site like Amazon, between its referral links and stirring up controversy over its experiment and stock valuations it’s constantly getting mentioned in the press. The fact is that even a great link will decay over time. Again Google is tracking references and citations, if something becomes less referenced over time by humans that must mean it’s fading into obscurity and mattering less.
How do Social Shares Factor In?
While there is some correlation with social shares, the fact is that Google doesn’t own that realm. They track the people that like and love items, but not what they like and love on platforms that are easily spammed. Which is to say, if million of people are loving a piece of content and going to it on the Android platform or a the chrome browser Google Will know it, and it will likely eventually effect rankings if not click through on SERPs.
Importance of Anchor Text
Ever wonder why those stupid exact match domains used to be so popular?
At the end of the day the “target” keyword anchor tex at the “target page” and “homepage” ages is going to have the largest effect,but we need a good mix of other links to actually grow..
A Note on Domain Authority:
Below are my rule of thumb observations on how domain authority works.
90-100 – For the most part no-follow from sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc
70- 90 Broad – mass market sites with huge appeal, these are the sites that would be recognizable in across much of society
50 – 70 – Sites with large audiences, or approaching mass appeal.
20 -50 Mature sites or with relatively large audiences and strong niche audiences
0-20 – New or young sites (but might still have the audience you care about)