To those of us who have been in the industry for long enough and have enough clients through which to see results, we’ve known all along that inbound links are still an important component of the Google search algorithm. News about the death of links have been proven once again to be greatly exaggerated.
Every year, the various SEO gurus, blogs, and agencies put out what they believe to be the secret formula for ranking better on the search engines. As we’ve discussed in detail many times in the past, there’s one thing that doesn’t change: quality content. If you put great content on your site and make sure that others can share and link to your content, you’ll rank better. It’s that simple.
In the world of food, organic is the growing trend that fuels a $63 billion industry and that is intended to make America and the rest of the world healthier by eliminating the old, bulk, inorganic methodology of growing food that has emerged in the last two decades. In the world of search engine optimization and social media marketing, organic content should be the growing trend that makes websites stronger by eliminating the old, bulk, inorganic methodology of building content that has become prevalent in marketing for a decade.
This has been a long time coming. We knew it was on the horizon and now it’s finally here. Tweets are now appearing in Google search result again after being missing for a few years. When it was announced in February, we went to work integrating Twitter back into the search spectrum of content marketing strategies. Now that it’s here, the initial testing has been pretty strong.
When I first started in digital marketing back in 2006, I had a dream of helping people take over the internet realm for their particular niche. At the time, I had 4 automotive clients and with the thought that content and links were so powerful for SEO while social media was the future, I pictured a product where my clients were blogging several times a week and posting them on several different blogs that fit in with particular topics.
Automotive Social Media, Business Social Media, Featured, Offbeat, Search Engines, Social Media, Social Media Strategy
One of the most amazing parts of my job is spending time reading, watching, and testing the practices of others. It’s conceivable that the true secret to my success over the years has less to do with creativity and more to do with listening and deciphering. You have to listen to the channels like Google and Facebook. You have to listen to your customers. You have to listen to your customers’ customers (if you’re an agency like me).
The annoying part of my job is sifting through the recycled techniques and reinvented terminology that surrounds so many marketing practices. In most cases, it’s the same old things repackaged into a different form or applied from a different angle. Those are valuable, but not gamechanging. Still, it’s important to go through them all in order to find the hidden or not-so-hidden gems that arise. The best practices I’ve found over the years haven’t been on the pages of Mashable, Search Engine Watch, or Social Media Today. The real winners have come from some of the least likely sources.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the point. There are three types of marketing. Despite all of the various names – push and pull marketing, social media marketing, gravitational marketing, search marketing, influence marketing, content marketing – the easiest and arguably most pure way of looking at it is to tackle everything from a perspective of venue and intent. Where are the people going and what are they doing when they get there? It’s important for me as well as business owners to look at it from this perspective because the collision of the various marketing types is forcing a holistic marketing model to outperform niche marketing techniques or specialized strategies.
In other words, if you look at venue and intent, you can craft your overall marketing strategy much more easily. We look at it as following the quest – what are they doing, why are thy doing it, and how can we be there to help them choose our clients. When people buy your products, they are fulfilling a quest. No, they’re not slaying an actual dragon, but if they’re on a quest to buy a car, then your dealership selling them a car is the culmination of that particular quest.
Here are the three types of marketing for 2014 (well, early 2014 at least – it changes so quickly) that we like to tackle:
Fulfilling the Quest
This is the easiest to understand and often the hardest to achieve because of the simplicity of purpose. Everyone knows that if someone is interested in buying a car, they’re probably going to go to Google, Bing, or one of the various classified sites to start looking. They might go to review sites and OEM sites as well, but for the most part they’re ready to seek the fulfillment of their quest, they’re going to try to look for cars.
Search engine marketing of all types, whether it’s SEO or PPC, gives you the opportunity to drive them to your website so they may fulfill their quest. They aren’t searching for Honda dealers to have fun. They have a purpose. They’re in buying mode. This is where you have to be in order to help them fulfill their quest.
Renewing the Quest
More businesses are starting to do this. Many of them tried to do it in 2009-2012 and failed miserably. Part of it was because the venues such as Facebook, banner advertisements, retargeting, and other forms of “passive” marketing arenas weren’t developed to the point that they are today.
Now, the goals have come full-circle thanks to the overall availability of the internet. Mobile devices have made checking social media sites and reading websites the common activity when there are no activities to do. As people ride a bus, wait in line at the bank, or even perform other mundane activities like watching television, they are also surfing the internet. They aren’t going to Facebook to buy things, but they’re open to the concept. They’re open to having their quest renewed.
When they go to Fox News to see what’s going on and the retargeting ad pops up in front of them, they are reminded that they are still on a quest even if they aren’t actively on it at that point. When the business they visited last week pops up on their Facebook news feed, they get that reiteration that they still need to buy something. It might take a dozen instances of seeing a brand and its message before they actually click through, but the statistics are showing that it’s working. Not every sale is made through Google. In fact, some of the most important and actionable clicks come through other venues when they’re not in active buying mode.
Creating the Quest
Of the three, this is the one that’s ignored the most. It’s the hardest to do and the least rewarding when not done right. However, it can be the most rewarding when companies are able to make it sing. This is one that we focus on in particular because in our industry, nobody is doing it right.
In many ways it’s like good old fashioned advertising. No, it’s not like the commercials that we see on television today. Think along the lines of the early days of television when brands were built by establishing a problem that people will see in the normal course of their day and then having that problem solved either in the middle of the initial marketing effort or after further research.
The reason that it’s so hard today is because of attention span. We have seconds instead of minutes to get the message out through most advertising and marketing venues. There’s no longer time to tell a story…
…or is there?
The art of creating the quest is about putting the right content on the right venues that will reach people and establish a need whether they’re in the market right now or not. With this particular article already breaking the 1,000-word mark, there’s not enough time to go into it in detail. We’ll do that next time. Instead, watch the following video that shows two commercials that worked well in their day. Today, having a minute-long television commercial isn’t practical for most businesses, but taking advantage of the various channels online to accomplish the same goal and better is something that we know will move the needle. It’s hard. That’s the point. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
More on that next time. For now, here’s the video:
Given that 93 percent of Internet traffic starts at a search engine, ranking high by using SEO techniques is important for your website. Consider these tips to help improve your search engine ranking.
Create Inbound Links
When someone links to your website, it shows the search engines that your website is authoritative. The more links there are across the web pointing to your site, the higher you’ll rank. But you don’t have to rely on other content creators to set up the links. Use these strategies to create links to your website:
- Guest post on top blogs. Most bloggers allow you to include links to your website in your content or in the author bio when you guest blog on their site.
- Comment on blogs. Blogs that feature the plugin CommentLuv are a great place to start earning links since you can automatically include a link to your most recent content.
- Organize a link exchange. If you have a blog on your site or frequently update content, connect with other people in your business and offer to link to their website if they link to yours.
- Create quality content. If you wow your readers with your content, people will start linking to your site on their own.
Use Keyword Phrases
While search engines have moved toward displaying quality content instead of worrying about high keyword density, using keywords is still important to ensure that your content shows up in front of the proper audience. Choose keywords that relate to your niche, are commonly searched, and are valuable to your content. Place these keywords in your posts, in page titles, in photo descriptions, and throughout other areas of the site where appropriate.
Hire a Third Party
If you don’t understand SEO or don’t have the time for it, consider hiring a third-party. Experienced professionals keep up with the latest changes and techniques to help you rank higher and bring in more visitors to your site. While it may seem like a hefty cost at first depending on your budget and your goals, having an experienced individual organize your site for search engines can end up paying off by helping you sell more products and reach more people. For more information on hiring a third-party and how much to spend, check out these useful tips.
Utilize Social Media
Social media can do several things for your SEO. For one, it’s a great place to share links and build authority in your niche. It also gets people talking about your product and your content throughout the Internet to help you build your authority. When used properly, search engines are going to begin realizing that you’re an authority figure in your field and decide that your content is worth ranking higher.
One example of a company that utilizes social media techniques properly is GearyLSF, a company that engages their audience, shares useful links and media, and knows how to maximize customer visibility. To get the most out of social media and improve your search engine rankings, follow their example while adding a personal touch to your profiles.
Create Quality Content
You’ve heard before that “content is king.” While there are many other aspects to SEO, search engines realize how important quality content is to their users. Therefore, the higher quality content you produce and the more that people get out of it, share it, and engage with you, the higher you’ll rank and the more visitors you’ll attract.
But it’s not just that. When you write for the individual first and then the search engines, people will stay on your site longer when they find worth in your content. Since search engines interpret this longer visit as higher quality content than if the visitor left after five seconds, it can have a huge impact on your ranking.
Use these additional tips to keep people on your site longer:
- Keep your content interesting and engaging.
- Produce useful advice, quality entertainment, and unique content.
- Show your credibility and authority in your about section.
If you’re still confused about SEO or need more tips, check out the results from Moz’s 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors survey.
Have you utilized any of these techniques? Did they impact your search engine rank?
(Image via Forbes)
I’m not a big fan of redundancy, especially on social media. Under normal circumstances, if you have good plugins and widgets properly placed on your blog, there’s no reason to have others. If you want to annoy me with a blog post, put an inline plugin, a floating plugin, and another one at the bottom. Oh, and throw in a “Share It” widget just in case three ways to share weren’t enough.
After years of fighting, I’m actually going to make an exception to the one-place-to-share-them-all rule. I have two Pinterest plugins on my blogs now and they’re both useful. I have, of course, the standard inline plugin. Some like the floating plugin and that makes sense, but it slows the page down a bit too much for my liking and it often isn’t visible on all devices even if your blog is responsive. I follow the unspoken rule of 5, 5, or 5 sharing options (no more, no less) and I prefer the big-5 for my particular blog (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn) but there are variations to this rule that replace LinkedIn with Tumblr if there’s no business-reason to share your site. Reddit is an obscure option of you have truly viral content of general interest or if you’re the mast of a popular niche.
I recently added the jQuery Pin It Button For Images. I have held off for a long time because I’m not crazy about it graying out the images upon hover and I don’t like that it’s an overlay, but I relented and haven’t looked back since. It works. People are pinning more. More importantly, they’re pinning the right link rather than pulling it from an archive or pinning the individual image itself. It’s light on the load and does have a nice little protection of not allowing your images to be right-clicked and saved.
One might ask why I wouldn’t eliminate Pinterest from the standard sharing section. The image button does not have a count and is only visible if people hover. Some people like doing all of their sharing from the same basic area, so they both stay up. Most importantly, it doesn’t work on all mobile devices.
The best part of the button on the image is that it acts as a good reminder to visitors. On a desktop, it whites out the image and displays the Pin It button when they hover over any image with their mouse. This is a prompt, a call to action, and it actually works very nicely.
Pinterest is quickly becoming one of the most important social networks when it comes to search. Some would say that the inclusion in Bing image results was the last surge of importance necessary to put it over Twitter on the effectiveness scale. Regardless of where you place it exactly on the social signal list, it’s definitely in the top 4. It helps with search engine optimization, period.
The traffic that can come from it can be pretty useless if you’re not selling items to a wide audience, but it’s still a good bulk play. Depending on the topic, it can be the second best traffic-driving social network showing up on analytics.
Nobody knows exactly where Pinterest will go and how long it will stay so important in the whole scheme of things for both search and social, but for now, you might as well take advantage of it while the ride is still hot. This plugin is an easy win.
The next age of advertising is right around the corner. With Google’s announcement of +Post ads, we now have a venue through which to advertise and garner true interaction from people as they surf the web. Think of it like Facebook advertising that reaches beyond Facebook – WAY beyond Facebook. With millions of websites out there that display Google ads, this expands the business footprint of Google’s social network in ways that Facebook will likely never be able to touch.
+Post ads take Google+ posts and display them on various websites. The example they use from their pilot programs is Toyota who used these ads to promote the launch of their Corolla earlier this year. They took Google+ posts and put them as ads on automotive sites like Autotrader as well as non-automotive sites that likely had a demographic or retargeted preference towards Toyota specifically or automotive in general.
Rather than just a plain banner that took people to the Toyota website or a landing page, the ads were interactive from the websites themselves on which they were found. If someone wanted to interact with the ad or Toyota in some way, they didn’t have to leave their website. They could comment on, +1, or share the post directly from the website without having to go to Google+.
This opens up doors for businesses to be able to truly interact with people much in the same way they’re doing on Facebook right now. The difference is, of course, that it’s not a walled garden. People will see the ads on many of the websites they visit and be able to engage with companies directly rather than having to click thru or visit the social network itself.
The possibilities are limitless. The potential is high. If Google stays true to this direction (and there’s no reason to believe that they’d make a fatal pivot) then this is going to be one of the most powerful forms of advertising that businesses can use. Small, localized businesses will gain the most benefit if they handle it properly, but big brands will be able to get traction with their own launches and offerings as well.
We will keep you updated. In the meantime, it’s time to get your Google+ pages in order, active, and worth your customers’ attention. Here’s the video describing Toyota’s trial: