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.
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.
LinkedIn was created for business persons to communicate with each other. You can improve the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your profile so that you are more likely to appear on the Google search engine results pages, as well as making your profile more prominent and easy to find on the LinkedIn website itself. LinkedIn is not as prominent on the Google search engine results pages because contacting people on there is not so easy sometimes, but the new Google Hummingbird update may soon change all of that, so it is wise to start optimizing your LinkedIn profile now.
Make sure you fill out every section on your profile
This is imperative, as they are there for a reason. It is not like Facebook where there are parts that you can and cannot fill in and it does not matter. The only time it does not matter on LinkedIn is if the thing it is questioning you about is literally nothing to do with you. For example, if it asked for your limited company ticker number and you where/are not a limited company, then you would leave it blank. Otherwise, fill in every bit of your LinkedIn bio and profile.
Filling out your profile is important
Think about how people are going to read your profile. Google are very eager to make everything all about the user. This means that they are phasing out things that apply directly to the search engines and are trying to make it all about the user in every way. So it is up to you to think about how your website is viewed by others.
Look at the profiles of other people
You can start by going to look at some other profiles to see how they have done it. Look for blank spots on their profiles and look at how glaring it is. Look at how they have filled out their profiles. Take notes on what are bad and what are good. Look at some of the factors they have included and think about how you could include them. For example, are you going to write BA or bachelor of the arts? How have other people written it, and how is it formatted? Look at what looks good to you, and steal the good ideas whilst avoiding their mistakes.
What did other people do to rank so highly?
All of this research is relevant because firstly the LinkedIn results you are seeing on Google are probably the ones that are the best optimized. Secondly, you can pull lots of ideas from their profiles in order to make your profile better, and thirdly you are going to see evidence of why their profiles are ranking so highly. It may be that they have a lot of contacts, but you will also notice that it is because they have been thorough when filling out their profiles, whilst still being concise.
Think about the questions that may lead people to you
This is an idea that Google are playing with a lot these days. They are more interested in questions and less interested in keywords. So, instead of strategically placing keywords on your profile, think about what questions people may ask before they drop on your profile.
Things related to your service are possible, so let’s say that you paint houses, then a suitable question may be “who can clean my house in Randy Town?” If you optimized your profile with a relative answer to this question, then you may do better when it comes to ranking up your profile. This is especially true when it comes to location based queries, as it removes a lot of your competition from other companies online.
Keep up to date with current SEO updates
There are often rule changes internally within social media networks and within the Google search engine. This means you need to keep up to date with the most recent ranking updates for LinkedIn, and for Google. The LinkedIn profiles do appear on the Google search engine results pages, but normally only if you type in a person’s name and it has already shown you the Facebook and Twitter answers for that name. However, the wind is changing, and the hummingbird update is having an effect.
This may mean that optimizing your LinkedIn profile for internal ranking is just as important as ranking for external ranking via something such as the Google search engine. It is also a good idea to update your LinkedIn profile from time to time to make it appear that you are conscientious about keeping your information on there accurate.
There was a cry that was heard amongst many in the search engine optimization world on April 24th, 2012, as if thousands of SEOs suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. It was the day that Google Penguin broke link-building…
…or at least that’s what many thought. Some of us, the ones who were focused on quality rather than quantity, the ones who would work a couple of hours to get one strong, contextual, organic link rather than building tens of thousands of bulk links in the same period of time – we came out better off than we were before the algorithm change.
Google reiterated the importance of inbound links at this year’s SXSW convention and those who survived the SEOpocalypse have found that the right types of links are more powerful than they ever were in the past. Link-building has, in many ways, been replaced by link-earning. You don’t generate links anymore. You generate and expose the content that is worthy of being linked to by other websites (not to mention being shared by individuals, but that’s an entirely other body part to discuss later).
If we’re going to treat search, social, and content marketing strategy as a living organism, then inbound links would be the food that fuels the body. From a purely SEO perspective, it’s what generates the authority that Google and Bing holds so high on their ranking algorithms. As long as it’s done organically and there are no nefarious tactics used in the process, there’s very little risk involved. The upside is huge.
From a social perspective, links can drive the traffic that is necessary to get people in front of your content. Assuming the content is good enough to get links, it’s probably deserving of social media shares as well. Those shares continue to help with search engine rankings but they also help with the purely social marketing area as well.
Last but not least, it does give your website credibility in the eyes of consumers. When your website is featured in a respected website, your potential customers who see the link will be impressed. It’s subtle, but it’s also very powerful.
In the near future, I’ll be going over each of the other parts of the marketing body. In the meantime, take a look at your content and inbound link “earning” strategy and ask yourself a question:
“If I were a website visitor and came across this content, is it valuable enough for me to want to link to it from my site?”
There are those who have been spreading (indefinitely, it seems) the thought that SEO is dead. It never ends, the thought (hope?) that search engine optimization has reached its conclusion. The main reason for these calls is, of course, when “experts” in search marketing start to find that their techniques don’t work anymore. Nothing will make someone believe a practice is dead more than finding out that they’re processes aren’t working.
Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for the rest of us), SEO is alive and well and growing in importance every day. The reasons are many, but here’s a quick breakdown:
- Mobile visibility is driving clicks on the go. Many people are no longer doing the majority of their searches on desktop computers. The computers in our pockets are doing just fine (sometimes better) at delivering the information we need. Mobile’s continuous onslaught on our time and eyeball share means that SEO today must maintain a “mobile-first” mentality. If you can make it rank well on mobile, you can make it rank well on desktops.
- The vision is pretty much set for the near future. Google and Bing are known for frequent updates and since 2011, Google has sent out some big ones. We will see a slow down on the major updates and a focus on tweaks for quality and adjustments to fight spammers. The gameplan is right there in front of us, which means that those who are good at SEO can duck their shoulders down and start barreling through the line.
- Competitors are increasing but true competitors are diminishing. Everyone is getting into the SEO game, but there’s only a handful that truly get it. By focusing on quality of content, links, and social signals, SEOs are able to succeed. Once you introduce shortcuts (and the majority of them do) you lose the effect. This is a benefit to those doing true SEO because it allows them to rise to the top more easily.
Don’t get trapped in the SEO-is-Dead mentality. SEO is alive and well in its purest form. Bad SEO is dying. This is a good thing.
Change is good, sometimes. We all have those moments in our lives when we just want to branch out on our own. This is my moment.
I’ve been working for TK/KPA for the last seven years. I have absolutely nothing but positive to say about the company. They’ve treated me better than I probably deserved and I believe we’ve had a mutually beneficial relationship – both parties have grown as a result. I plan on referring KPA for many of the services that I do not offer because looking at it from the inside and seeing what else is out there, I know that they have what it takes to help their dealer clients find amazing success.
With that said, the company is still a growing corporation and I have wanted to operate in more of boutique situation for a little while. As a result, I am launching my own automotive internet marketing firm that will focus on premium social, search, and content marketing services. Dealer Authority is not for every dealership. The expectations are high and the costs will match. For the vast majority of dealers, the power I’ll be bringing to the table would be overkill. For truly aggressive dealers wanting to make a huge impact on their marketing efforts, I’m here to help.
Check out the website, get a feel for the direction that I’m heading, and make a choice: are you ready to get aggressive?
Titles can make or break a blog. The good ones rock and can draw in an audience that you normally wouldn’t have because of the sharing component. People like to share things that sound interesting on social media and titles can be the difference. In many ways, it’s more important than the content itself.
The one out of the group that I think is most important is #2. This is no longer a world where generalizations or all-encompassing posts are regularly effective. That’s not to say that they can’t be, but as Google and Bing improve their ability to narrow down results to exactly what people want and as people get used to the search engines presenting them answers to even the most obscure questions, it has grown ever-important to solve a problem with nearly every post. In the case of this post itself, the problem could be as simple as someone searching for “blog title tips”. Hopefully, in the next few days, Google and Bing will show them this article.
Search and social sharing are the two most important components of driving new traffic to your blog. If you they can’t find you or they’re not being presented your content in their social streams, they aren’t going to become a visitor. It sounds too simple, almost a “duh” moment, but it surprises me how often this portion of content marketing gets missed.
Many of us who have been doing the hybrid search/social game for long enough remember what it was like to discover Tumblr. I got in pretty early and was able to get Social News as one of my Tumblogs, a pretty decent subdomain that is (unfortunately) completely underutilized and really just focuses on my Instagram pictures. That doesn’t mean that you have to sit around and let Tumblr not work well for you.
SocialMediaToday community contributor Mark Scott posted an interesting piece about using Tumblr as an SEO tool. While there are things in there that aren’t 100% correct such as the concept that all “links you add to all posts on your Tumblr blog are do-follow links” (some are nofollow), but otherwise he gives very sound advice about how to use the platform for something that it’s frankly not very good at for its own self: SEO.
Yes, it’s a great SEO tool and yes, it’s possible to optimize a Tumblog to do well in search, but it’s the benefits that it can bring to other websites where the real juice can come into play. As a supporting site, it’s great for search as long as the content is strong and you’re able to build up a decent following.
Here’s what he said on Social Media Today:
Tumblr essentially functions as a secondary blog you can use solely for the purpose of SEO. You can send optimized links back to the main website, allowing your website’s reach to expand and incoming traffic to multiply. What makes Tumblr great for SEO is the inbuilt promotion and SEO-friendly features that it comes packed with by default.
Read More: Social Media Today